Grand Rapids seminary student evacuated from West Africa amid Ebola outbreak

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jul 31, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-31 17:53:56-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., The deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa has forced Grant Hofman to drastically change his summer plans. The Calvin Theological Seminary student ended a five-week internship in Sierra Leone amid concerns of the virus spreading.

"I knew about it going in, that it was growing more and more," Hofman told FOX 17 News. "What really kind of did it was when we heard that Liberia was starting to close some borders, a few flights to Nigeria were cancelled...We thought it was time to go."

Hofman, who arrived in Sierra Leone July 2nd, returned to West Michigan on July 30. Although no one in his district was infected, Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) decided to evacuate Hofman while he could still safely fly out of the country.

"It was really a sad, sad time, I got really close to a lot of folks in Sierra Leone," he said. " To have to say goodbye that quickly and leave them was really really sad."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a heightened travel warning to countries with Ebola, like Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. More than 700 people have died from the virus so far and hundreds of others are also infected.

The virus, which is spread from close contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person, has no cure or vaccine. Officials say 60-90 percent of the people who contract the virus, die from it.

Someone who has been exposed to Ebola may not display symptoms for several weeks. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and vomiting.