The White House sought to reassure a jittery public that there will not be an Ebola outbreak in the United States, saying the tools are in place to stop the virus in its tracks even as they conceded there were "missteps" in how the first diagnosis on American soil was handled.
"Every Ebola outbreak over the past 40 years has been stopped. We know how to do this and we will do it again," said Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that was a message Washington would continue to deliver as it attempts to quell the fear that has spiked since a Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, was diagnosed with Ebola this week at a Dallas hospital that initially sent him home.
Asked how Americans could have confidence given that snafu, Fauci said it was more important to focus on the fact that Duncan is now in isolation and his contacts are being traced. "There were things that did not go the way they should have in Dallas, but there were things did go and are going right," he said.
"Certainly it was rocky," he added. "There were missteps, but there were good things that happened also.”
Fauci said the outbreak that has killed more than 3,400 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone is due to an inadequate infrastructure that has failed to isolate those who are contagious and educate the public about how to protect themselves. The U.S. military and the U.S. Agency for International Development director are helping West African countries better treat the ill and prevent the spread of the virus.
Monaco said the White House feels the screening that is being done in West Africa to stop those with symptoms from getting on U.S.-bound planes is adequate and a broader travel ban is not being considered, noting that tens of thousands have traveled from the affected countries before there was an American case. A travel ban would only stop the flow of desperately needed medical personnel and equipment, she said.
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