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Aberdeen Proving Ground Sends Chemists To Help With Ebola Outbreak

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (WJZ) -- Soldiers from Aberdeen Proving Ground are heading to West Africa to help with the overwhelming task the country has in diagnosing those patients with the deadly Ebola disease.

Marcus Washington met with those soldiers who are now fighting a different type of war.

It's a war against time. There is only a small window to recognize the symptoms and get treatment and, for many of the countries in West Africa, they just don't have the resources to meet the growing demand.

The state of Maryland has a fight in the battle against Ebola, as 22 soldiers from Aberdeen Proving Ground head to Liberia in West Africa.

"To set up small laboratories, where we will be testing local national population for Ebola," said Col. Patrick Garman.

This is the first and only Army unit from Maryland hitting the medical war zone where nearly 5,000 people have died from the disease.

"I'm very well prepared and I just can't wait to get there and help a lot of people," said one.

WJZ has learned that, while this unit will go over to West Africa to help the fight against Ebola, they will not have any personal contact with anyone infected with the disease.

"A phlebotomist will draw a sample from the patient, a blood sample, and then those samples will be brought to the laboratory where we'll do testing," said Maj. Michael Backlund.

"They and many other specialized labs are really in the best position to help people in West Africa," said Jim Campbell, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

University of Maryland School of Medicine researcher Jim Campbell says there is no way countries in West Africa could handle this epidemic alone.

"So finding the people who have the disease by making diagnoses using these diagnostic tests and being able to isolate those who have the disease and then not have to isolate those who don't have the disease and just have something else is very important in stemming the epidemic," Campbell said.

The unit from Aberdeen Proving Ground is scheduled to leave for West Africa this week. Their deployment could last up to 12 months.

Those soldiers are all biochemists, microbiologists and lab specialists who have trained for this mission since August.

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