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Despite the threat of the Ebola crisis growing exponentially in West Africa, Americans have little reason to fear the disease spreading to their homes, two experts told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Laurie Garrett, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told NBC’s Chuck Todd that many are vastly underestimating the potential spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. "It's doubling every two weeks," Garrett said. "We're going to be looking at 100,000 cases by the time we sit down for Thanksgiving. We're going to be looking at 200,000, 300,000 cases by Christmas."
"We're looking at an exploding epidemic. And it's out of control because it's in the general population."
Garrett also detailed the difficulties workers face in treating the disease. "And when the virus, in particular, begins to wreak havoc with the central nervous system, people become deranged, they can become violent," Garrett explained. "So that's dangerous for the health worker. And the sorrow of it is very extreme."
"But Americans need to relax. We need to be realistic. Because the real problem is not one, two cases here in the United States. The real problem is that this epidemic is completely out of control in Africa."
Dr. Gabe Kelen, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, agreed with Garrett’s assessment. "The American people do not need to worry that there’s going to be someone with Ebola deranged in their shopping mall going rank nuts," he said. “I mean you are so sick at that point, you are not going to be out in public.”
Kelen believes that hospitals like Johns Hopkins have been applying the lessons of the past to today’s problems. "We've been preparing for this going all the way back to the late '90s when bioterrorism was a big deal ... and so the kind of programs that you'd put in upfront to screen for patients, we have been drilling and have experienced already over the last decade," said Kelen. "And so all we did was modify to have it specific for Ebola, the kind of screening that goes in."