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Ebola 'out of control' in Africa; 'We can stop it' in America, says head of CDC

The director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta says that experts in their ranks can stop the Ebola virus if it were to ever present inside the borders of the United States, ABC News reported (via Yahoo News) Aug. 3, even as the worst Ebola outbreak in history has African authorities scrambling to gain some sort of hold on an enemy that cannot be seen until it has nearly killed the human that carries it. States of emergency have been imposed, borders have been closed, but the viral pathogen continues to ravage the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Containment is the key, but what is it about the United States that would make it easier to shut down the spread of the virus?

"Ebola is scary... But the plain truth is that we can stop Ebola," Dr. Tim Frieden, CDC director, told the host of ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos. He continued, "We know how to control it: Hospital infection control and stopping it at the source in Africa."

Dr. Frieden went on to say that the borders of the U. S. could not be "hermetically sealed" due to American interdependence on the international community for food, trade, and tourism. But, he repeated to emphasize, the "singlemost important" way to stop the spread of Ebola was at its source in West Africa.

But all reports out of Africa contend that the outbreak, which has also touched a fourth nation (Nigeria), is that overwhelmed resources and facilities, widespread ignorance about the disease and how it spreads, and superstition and distrust have hampered attempts of local and regional governments to clamp down on the deadly virus. In short, as has been stated numerous times and in various ways, the disease is raging "out of control." Chief among the factors contributing to Ebola's spread is that the virus can have a rather lengthy incubation period (as many as 21 days), which is why those known to have been in contact with anyone that has contracted Ebola should notify authorities and sequester themselves away from the general public or allow themselves to be quarantined by health officials.

As of August 4, the number of dead from the current epidemic had reached 887, according to the World Health Organization, out of a total of 1,603 confirmed cases.

Fears of an Ebola viral outbreak in the United States began shortly after it was announced that two Americans who had contracted the deadly hemorrhagic fever were being transferred for treatment to the U. S. Dr. Kent Brantly, who contracted the virus and became symptomatic in Liberia, landed via airplane in Atlanta Saturday, where he, under his own power (he walked, albeit with assistance), made his way to a sealed area at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Nancy Writebol, a missionary heath worker who also contracted the virus in Liberia, arrived Monday and was immediately transported to Emory University Hospital as well.

So, are doctors and experts who study the virus and work to eradicate it when it rears its head to be believed? That, specifically, an Ebola outbreak in the U. S. like that in Africa cannot happen? Or are they working toward the greater good by attempting to quell panic in a populace that is better suited to fight such a menace because of widespread communications outlets and readily accessible medical facilities?

And while it is well and good to say the best way to combat the dreaded virus is by containing it at its source, it now has gone beyond theory that Ebola can be spread via airplane. To drive the point home to Americans, the case of the world's first ever known airflight transfer of the pathogen was that of the Liberian Ministry of Finance official who landed in Lagos, Nigeria, and feinted at the airport. Symptomatic, Patrick Sawyer, a naturalized citizen of the United States, died less than a week later. In a few weeks, he was to come home to the U. S. to visit with his family in Minnesota.

At the same time, although the U. S. issued a travel advisory to those flying to and/or visiting the Ebola-stricken nations, the government says it has no plans to ban flights from those same nations.

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