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Peace Corps volunteer forced to leave Africa due to Ebola is back in Chicago

Cullen Seaton was teaching math and English in Guinea when he was forced to leave due to the Ebola outbreak.
An Illinois man who served with the Peace Corps in Africa was forced to leave suddenly due to an Ebola outbreak.

Cullen Seaton was prepared for a two-year tour with the Peace Corps teaching math and English in Guinea. He was about 1 year in when he was told to leave the country immediately.

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa had spread to Guinea and Peace Corps was pulling more than 300 volunteers in that region.

"But I was not going to leave without saying goodbye to people in my village. So I got a bush taxi back to my village as quickly as I could, packed up my house, talking to my neighbors, my friends, students and then got right back to the capital to get my flight home," Seaton said.

The University of Chicago graduate arrived at O'Hare Airport on Monday night. In 30 days, he'll learn from Peace Corps officials whether he can return to Guinea.

Seaton, who grew up in Macomb, Ill., said he's happy to see his family again, but he says he was never in fear of Ebola because it's hard to contract and it had not reached his part of the country.

"The outbreak started in the forest region in southern Guinea. I'm, in central Guinea, in the mountain region. It has popped up in various municipalities around Guinea, but it hasn't yet appeared in my prefecture," Seaton said.

There is no cure for the virus, which kills as many as 60- to 80- percent of the people it infects.

While the decision for the Peace Corps to pull its volunteers was out of an abundance of caution, Seaton said leaving the village and his friends without knowing when he will be able to come back was difficult.

"I respect the Peace Corps' decision. I can't say much about what criteria went into making that decision, but I'm sure our safety has to come first," he said.
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health u.s. & world ebola Illinois
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