MIAMI, FL -- Infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty was asked to get ready to go to Sierra Leone as part of a World Health Organization team to help combat the Ebola epidemic ravaging parts of Africa.
The Florida International University professor and doctor, who came to the U.S. from Cuba when she was a little girl, told NBC News she is part of a WHO advisory group that is available to either consult on the phone or travel around the world when the need arises. If she goes, Dr. Marty said she will probably be doing some work with patients as well as coordinating data to help do a risk assessment and figure out next steps. Marty added she is familiar with Ebola and how it works, and she "respects" this virus.
Though she said she knows what to do to protect herself, Dr. Marty said her family was worried about her imminent departure. "Of course they're very unhappy that I would put myself at risk, but they know me, they know this has been my passion, to help other people," she said. "I was in the military for 25 years; putting myself in harm's way to defend my country is my nature, so they've adapted," she added.
The Cuban American doctor said she has worked in that part of Africa and is familiar with not just Ebola but other diseases in this region, as well as its people and culture.