A community health nurse from western New Brunswick is joining the Canadian Red Cross response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

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Heather Cousins, who lives in Grafton just outside Woodstock, will travel to Ottawa Tuesday for a briefing and leaves Wednesday, April 8 for Sierra Leone, according to Red Cross Atlantic Canada spokesman Dan Bedell.  After some Ebola-specific safety training, Cousins will work for up to six weeks as a community health delegate in Kono District in the eastern part of Sierra Leone.

Cousins, who also volunteers locally with the Canadian Red Cross disaster response team for Carleton County, has participated in international humanitarian missions with other organizations including in Haiti and Rwanda.

The World Health Organization reports over 25,000 people have been diagnosed as potential or confirmed Ebola cases, of whom more than 10,000 have died in the current outbreak that began in mid-March 2014.  All Ebola cases are now confined to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and while spread of the disease has declined significantly in recent months, new cases are reported each day, Bedell said.

The International Red Cross-Red Crescent response to date has involved nearly 10,000 volunteers and staff, mostly from the affected West African countries, and supported by international funding, equipment and supplies and close to 400 medical and other specialists from around the world including 51 from the Canadian Red Cross.

For more information or to financially support the Canadian Red Cross response to Ebola, visit them online.

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