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Pittsburgh Man Heading To West Africa To Help With Ebola Crisis

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- For Andy Pugh, of Squirrel Hill, the check-up is routine, but the purpose is anything but.

He's getting his health clearance to fly to the country of Sierra Leone in West Africa, which is ground zero in the Ebola epidemic.

"I think it's the right thing to do," said Pugh. "I think it's important to stop the disease before it comes to Europe, goes the United States, before it comes here."

Pugh, who spent last year in Haiti, has a lifetime of experience in disaster relief.

This time he'll be working with Save The Children, which has just built an emergency health clinic for Ebola patients and health care workers who might contract the deadly disease.

But many more beds are needed.

In Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the epidemic has spun out of control and the death toll has climbed to 4,500. Hospitals and clinics are full, and the stricken are being told to treat themselves at home.

KDKA's Andy Sheehan: "Are these next two months critical, do you believe?"

Pugh: "Absolutely, they say if we don't stop it in this period October, November, there will be hundreds of thousands of cases. But if we can slow the rate of infection, it will make a huge difference.

So, when asked to be part of that effort, Pugh volunteered and is now packing and getting all the necessary clearances to make the trip. He's fully aware of all the risks involved.

"People tell me I need to wash my hands 50 times a day," Pugh said. "I'm not supposed to come in contact with any Ebola patients. I'm not a health care worker, so I don't wear the protective clothing, so yes, concerned."

When Pugh returns in December, hopefully safe and healthy, he'll need to quarantine himself for 21 days. He hopes at that point the Ebola crisis will be contained in Africa and around the world.

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