Aberdeen-based Army unit returning from Ebola mission

Twenty-two members of a mobile Army medical laboratory are returning to Aberdeen Proving Ground after four months fighting Ebola in West Africa.

The 1st Area Medical Laboratory deployed in October for up to a year.

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Family, friends and coworkers plan to welcome them home during a ceremony Monday on the Army installation in Harford County.

The World Health Organization has counted more than 24,000 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of Ebola and more than 10,000 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone during the current outbreak. But new infections and deaths have declined since peaking last year.

The 1st Area Medical Laboratory commanded a joint task force that operated six laboratories in Libera to test blood samples for Ebola. Task Force Scientist included microbiologists, laboratory technicians, civil affairs officers and military police from the Army and Navy.

Over time, the unit's mission shifted from setting up laboratories – typically, in older buildings – to reducing test times. Official said their work cut the wait for results from days to hours.

"Our unit's motto is 'Soldier-Scientist,'" Col. Patrick M. Garman, commander of the 1st Area Medical Laboratory, said in January. "It takes a well-trained soldier deploy an Army lab but it takes a highly educated and professional person to operate a lab."

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