A WEARSIDE serviceman has spoken of his trip to Africa to help efforts to combat the deadly Ebola virus.
Private Matthew Storey, from Houghton, was part of a team of 100 soldiers who spent seven weeks in Sierra Leone, as part of a scheme to prevent the spread of the illness.
The outbreak has mainly affected three countries in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
More than 17,000 cases and more than 6,000 deaths have been reported by the World Health Organisation, making it the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.
Private Storey, 24, who is part 35 Squadron, Five Medical Regiment, who is now on leave for Christmas, said: “The experience was great.
“With help from the World Health Organisation we’ve been teaching people what to do if in case there’s an Ebola outbreak in their area. We’ve been trying to make a difference and everyone’s been pretty pleased.”
The soldiers helped to train 4,200 health workers and volunteer hygienists about halting the spread of the illness.
A person infected with Ebola virus will typically develop a fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, a sore throat, and intense muscle weakness.
These symptoms start suddenly, between two and 21 days after becoming infected.
Although the threat is now further under control in West Africa, extra efforts are being made to keep it from spreading.
“It’s still there, but we have done our best to eradicate it as best we can,” added the former Houghton Kepier School pupil, who is stationed at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.
“I don’t think Five Armoured Medical Regiment will be going back, but I’m sure there will be opportunities for other people to go.
“I certainly think, in terms of the experience and getting the responsibility of helping people in those situations, is great for the development of your career.”
Their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Phil Carter, who went with the medics, said: “The operation out there and the various organisations that are working together is definitely gathering pace.
“We handed over to a UN organisation which is going to continue the training programme that we developed.
“We certainly found that people were very pleased to see us.”