Coon Rapids man who died from Ebola in Nigeria was headed back to Minnesota soon

Categories: Scary
PatrickSawyerEbola.jpg
KSTP screengrab
Sawyer, pictured here with his wife, was quarantined on July 20. He died five days later.
-- Update at bottom --

Last week, Minnesota came close to becoming the first place in the Western Hemisphere to experience an Ebola case when Patrick Sawyer, a 40-year-old Coon Rapids man, was stricken with the disease in Lagos, Nigeria shortly before he planned to board a flight back home.

Though he lived in Minnesota, Sawyer worked for the Liberian Ministry of Finance. Witnesses reported that he started vomiting and had diarrhea during his flight from Liberia to Lagos, where he was headed for a conference.

See also:
Plot of Contagion comes to life as Minnesota woman quarantined on suspicion of monkeypox


That, of course, is particularly worrisome for the 50 other passengers on Sawyer's last flight, as the disease, which has up to a 90 percent fatality rate an extremely high fatality rate, is spread through contact with bodily fluids. (See update below.)

Furthermore, the incubation period for Ebola is up to three weeks, meaning Sawyer very well could've boarded his flight to be back in Minnesota in time for two of his young daughters' August birthdays before falling ill.

Sawyer's widow, Decontee Sawyer, told KSTP, "It's a global problem because Patrick could've easily come home with Ebola... It's close, it's at our front door. It knocked down my front door."

Citing Center for Disease Control officials, the Washington Post calls the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has killed nearly 700 since February, "the worst in history."

Decontee, who lamented to the Pioneer Press that she has "three daughters who will never get to know their father," has teamed with her church community to create the "Concerned Liberians Against Ebola" Facebook page. The goal is to raise $500,000 for two international organizations -- Samaritan's Purse and Global Health Ministry.

:::: UPDATE ::::

After this post was published, we received the following email from Laurel Nightingale, printed here in full:
Hi Aaron,

I am a public health practitioner from Minnesota and I have been in Sierra Leone for the past two months watching this Ebola outbreak unfold. While I appreciate the desire to make the public aware of the issue, you have helped perpetuate some of the falsehoods that are driving this outbreak.

To be explicitly clear: this strain of Ebola does NOT have a 90% fatality rate. In Sierra Leone it has remained relatively constant, closer to 33%. Most major media outlets are over-reporting the number of deaths from the disease. I can't speak for the situation in other countries, but regarding Sierra Leone most articles are quoting at least 70 extra deaths from Ebola, which falsely inflates the fatality rate.

This outbreak is serious, without a doubt, but the misinformation and stigma around the disease are the real problem. Unfortunately, publishing information like you did--which is decidedly untrue about this strain--contributes to the problem. It is not only Minnesotans who read these articles. People here can access the internet and consume media that is geared towards western audiences. The more reporters perpetuate this kind of inaccurate information, the worse the situation is.

Please take this into consideration for future publications.

Regards,

Laurel Nightingale
h/t -- CNN and Daily Mail

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.





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34 comments
Valerie Voeks
Valerie Voeks

I posted an article today from Time Magazine where it states the CDC is urging people NOT to fly into this region, that it is indeed very bad, that they expect to contain it relatively soon. This info is different than what has been discussed here. I continue to question Ms.Nightingales perception, or lack of perception. It's not like any other outreach the US has performed. It's dangerous no matter how much one would like to downplay the very real risks.

Anthony Balster
Anthony Balster

Laurel, thoughts on sending Ebola back to the state?

fknbastages
fknbastages

Hopefully it will wipe us out this time.

Dee Finkelson
Dee Finkelson

So ...what should we do to prevent this scary thing spread all over MN?

Kirk Burback
Kirk Burback

But what about the "poor and starving children"? We should welcome them across our Sothern Border with Mexico.

Valerie Voeks
Valerie Voeks

I did forget to say that squalene has been used as a suspension fluid in vaccines and there are theories about Swine flu/gulf war syndrome and vaccinations in the Congo regarding a potential link to Ebola. We may never know how many of these diseases came about. Once again, it's just positing theories.

Valerie Voeks
Valerie Voeks

One last comment to Ms. Nightingale. Discussion and debate are how people obtain information. One of the really great things about FB. Exactly the thing you are trying to further by what you are doing. I posted articles I think clarify the issue a little. Fear is the most virulent disease of all. Easily remedied with good sense. City Pages has become sensationalist journalism. But good sense prevails as no one wants to further an epidemic through ignorance. It is scary. Discussion helps alleviate fear, it's true. And all that's happening here is we are having a discussion, which is the real point .

Jeanette Werner
Jeanette Werner

A book by Richard Preston is called the hot zone he write about this Ebola ....and yes this is scary

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

PANIC PANIC PANIC DISEASE WE NEED TO BURN THE DEAD I READ THE STAND ONCE AND IT WAS SCARY WHAT IF OTHER STEVEN KING BOOKS COME TRUE WE COULD HAVE MURDER CLOWNS TOMMYKNOCKERS OH PANIC PANIC PANIC WHY HAS STEVEN KING RELEASED THESE HORRORS ON US?????? IN NO TIME DISEASED MINDS WILL TAKE NORMALS AND BREAK OUR ANKLES MISERY STYLE PANIC PANIC QUARANTINE BEFORE RANDALL FLAGG WALKS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!  I HAVE TO GO I HEAR A CUJO.  

Laurel Nightingale
Laurel Nightingale

Oh Eric. You gave me a good laugh. Yes, that's my real name and still totally beside the point. It's unfortunate you need to use personal attacks to try to make your point. Luckily, these kinds of decisions are left up to people who are experts in infectious disease epidemiology, global politics, and public health so that your opinion (or mine for that matter) doesn't really matter. What IS important is that true information about the outbreak is being reported. This strain of Ebola is not 90% fatal, nor does not look like "typical" Ebola (no blood from the ears/nose/eyes/etc), and you are much more likely to survive if you get palliative care.

Valerie Voeks
Valerie Voeks

I meant international borders. I realize attempting to close local borders caused problems early on. I just posted some of the info available. But a man with full blown Ebola getting on a plane spells disaster. We cannot even educate our own people about sexually transmitted disease. The only way Africa is going to heal is through their own reinvention and all attempts otherwise only caused more suffering. Yes, you have the right to help. But most sociologists agree for any culture that the pride of fixing themselves is what brings about change, and I believe you know that.

Eric Shawn Smith
Eric Shawn Smith

Laurel Nightingale You can try and sweep this under the rug with your Kumbaya bullshit all you want. Bottom line if this guy gets on a plane possibly thousands of people are FUCKED. Nice name by the way, Nightingale? Really?

Laurel Nightingale
Laurel Nightingale

You're missing the point. If you want to contain the disease, it's not about closing national borders. Doing that will just further the fear and mistrust that is prevalent on the ground. A better use of resources (and ultimately, better on a global scale) would be to work on the community education, because it IS possible to contain this disease, it's just that the stigma and lack of knowledge around it is perpetuating the outbreak. The current situation is not simply the inevitable result of a virulent hemorrhagic fever. In fact, this strain is much less deadly than other strains of Ebola. The situation has gotten this bad because of misinformation, mistrust, and fear. National quarantine is only going to make all of those things worse (thus leading to more deaths).

Valerie Voeks
Valerie Voeks

Absolutely no one is denying that. That area closed their own borders during the first alarms. Someone getting on a plane with the active disease could wreak havoc elsewhere. Apply your humanitarian mind to the whole picture. You choose to be there, and it's noble. But no one, not even you, knows the potential scope of this disease. Zealotry is dangerous. Our own country is afflicted with this strange mindset, and you don't have to look far to see the truth of this in our ghettoes, dying business, and our own assets flooding out of our country. We cannot possibly assist others effectively until we get our own house in order. Period.

Laurel Nightingale
Laurel Nightingale

I am in Sierra Leone right now. I'm well aware of what the situation is and probably much better informed than you are, considering I am actually speaking to ministers, doctors and aid workers here. Approaching this disease from a "one size fits all" approach is part of what has led to the outbreak being this out of control. There is a serious need for action, but that action should not be closing national borders so the people of West Africa can simply die in isolation and international observers like you can feel safer. There needs to be community level education about the realities of this disease and how it can be prevented. Churches and mosques need to be tapped for support. Schools should be reached. THAT is the kind of action that needs to be taken.

Valerie Voeks
Valerie Voeks

I suggest you dig further. The information is public. No one has been able to conclusively determine the cause. International aid willingly provided is not discouraged. What is ridiculous is risking an outbreak by crossing borders. Sure, Stephen King is a novelist, but he happens to present a virulent plague for what it often is. Failure to act by so-called intelligent people in positions of power. This is a very virulent disease. Look at any virulent outbreak and quarantine is used as one more method to contain further catastrophe.

Laurel Nightingale
Laurel Nightingale

There is absolutely no justification for a quarantine of that level. The number of cases is increasing, but there are millions of people in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. You can't seriously expect that no one should be allowed to leave. Furthermore, that would discourage any international assistance, as aid workers and doctors would also be grounded. This disease is not caused by vaccinations. The outbreak was caused by an animal vector (a specific kind of fruit bat in Guinea). Also, using a Stephen King novel to shape international public health policy is more than a bit ridiculous.

Andrew Berg
Andrew Berg

My condolences to Patrick Sawyer and his family. This is an awful disease. But wow. Just think. This man *could* have boarded a plane for MINNESOTA of all places... carrying EBOLA!

Valerie Voeks
Valerie Voeks

Some documentation links it to a substance in vaccinations performed in Africa. No one from that region should be able to cross any border until this is contained. Read the Stand by Stephen King. Quarantine must be enforced. Millions of people died of the flu in the US in the early 1900's. That's still a risk too.

Bailee Lyn
Bailee Lyn

Ugh worse disease ever, Whyyyy is it surfacing

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

You should call Eric Shawn Smith.  He's a mouthy douchebag coward who takes shots at someone in the trenches trying to solve a serious health issues from his fucking laptop in St Paul.  Go piss up a flagpole, crankbait.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

We should call Batman.  He's a scientist. 

_Joe_
_Joe_

@Valerie Voeks 

Well then why can't we just send them Wizards from St. Mungo's Hosptial for Magical Maladies and Injuries?


Oh, right.  It's a fictional book.

whereisthiskidsdad
whereisthiskidsdad

I have a weak immune system yes I think they should quarantine at that level 

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

So what you are saying is we should be on the lookout for The Walking Dude?    If you see some dude in a jean jacket run away.   Also, stay away from Vegas.  Report to Boulder and start praying. 

_Joe_
_Joe_

@Valerie Voeks 

You know that The Stand is a work of fiction, right?  Like, not real.  It didn't actually happen.  Imaginary.

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