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by
Bridget Johnson

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July 29, 2014 - 9:01 am

A leading member of the House Appropriations Committee said the Obama administration needs to get cracking on an Ebola strategy in the event the deadly virus hops a plane to the U.S.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) on the House floor yesterday referenced the growing outbreak in West Africa, which has made two American healthcare workers in Liberia ill.

“This horrible disease knows no borders and has already claimed the lives of 660 people in four countries since it was first detected in March,” Wolf said.

“The White House needs to pull together the CDC, NIH, State Department and USAID with the World Health Organization and other western governments to stave off this outbreak before it spreads further,” he continued.

“I am concerned that there is not a sufficient plan in place either in Africa or in the event that it spreads into the U.S. We live in a global world. We need a clear plan and strong leadership now; we can’t wait until a case shows up in the U.S.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a press briefing yesterday that the agency “has deployed several teams to the region since the outbreak began.”

“As you may have also heard, two American healthcare workers at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, have been infected with Ebola virus. One of the healthcare workers, a physician who worked with Ebola patients in the hospital, is symptomatic and in isolation. The other health care worker developed fever but no other signs of illness. The physician’s family had been living with him in Liberia. Thankfully, the family members had returned to the United States before the doctor got sick and therefore are not at risk for contracting Ebola or spreading it to anyone here. Out of an abundance of caution, the family is currently on a 21 day fever watch,” said Stephan Monroe, deputy director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases.

CDC has issued a level 2 travel notice for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, advising that travelers “avoid contact with blood and body fluids of infected people to protect themselves.”

Level three would be a warning to avoid nonessential travel.

Marty Cetron, CDC director for Global Migration and Quarantine, said airport screening of passengers for symptoms had not been initiated.

“The yield is much, much great greater to try to control the disease at the source, and control the screening and close to the source,” Cetron said. “The vast majority of flights from this region to the United States are indirect, they don’t directly fly from these countries to the U.S., with few exceptions. The more you move through other hub areas the more that gets diluted. The yield of fever being predictive of Ebola goes way, way down. So the kinds of measures that are in discussion right now are close to the scene of the epidemic.”

Nigeria recently was introduced to the virus by a passenger who arrived from Liberia. Monroe said “health authorities are currently investigating whether passengers or crew on the plane or other people who had contact with the ill traveler are at risk for infection.”

“I think border closures for infectious diseases are quite uncommon. As you’re aware with the new international health regulations, there is an international protocol for determining through emergency committees and decisions made by panels of experts that make recommendations to the director general about border measures or screenings as a way to control epidemics. They’re really only sort of called into play for very serious epidemics that require such measures. What I read from over the weekend from Liberia is that certain borders are being closed while other crossings are being opened and they’re able to implement their health exit screening and so on,” Cetron said, adding that he thinks those are the kind of discussions that go on in emergency committees at the World Health Organization.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice told MSNBC that “the United States, from the very beginning of the outbreak in April, has been on the ground with personnel from our Agency for International Development, from the Centers for Disease Control, working with the World Health Organization and others to try and treat and company the regions contain the epidemic.”

“But it is indeed a very worrying epidemic,” Rice added.

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said they “continue to closely monitor the outbreak of the virus.”

“We are aware of reports. You all have reported it that two citizens in Liberia have contracted Ebola,” she told reporters at Monday’s briefing.

Psaki was asked if the outbreak would affect next week’s summit of African leaders at the White House.

“Obviously, we’re taking every precaution, but at this point we don’t believe it will,” she replied.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
Top Rated Comments   
No freakin kidding. Wolf is one of few with any common sense and he is leaving.
I worked on the national pandemic plan for years, the national and state laboratory response plans, the federal interagency response plan (yes, the agencies did not know what to do together during a response).

Let me say this: the CDC pandemic plans we had in place, the ones we had tested, practiced, prepared for.....Obama and the dems over rode them and create ad hoc activities during the epidemic....to suit their needs.

The vaccines did NOT go out to the public in the manner it was planned and the other issues..well, I'm not going there.
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If you think CDC is going to screen high risk passengers from identified countries, think again. People catch flights at other locations and CDC occasionally eyeballs you.

Look to the border. Many people crowded in little rooms and now sent off across the country while symptoms may not show up for days. CDC and PAHO were supposed to be there.
11 weeks ago
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“This horrible disease knows no borders" - Liberalism
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Never let a crisis go to waste."

Just imagine how a scary public health crisis could help the Obama administration shape public health policy toward their own ends!
11 weeks ago
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All Comments   (38)
All Comments   (38)
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Hmmmmm, what is the US federal government doing to safeguard Americans. Hmmmmm, shipping the trespassers all over the country to spread the contagion all over the place.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not a thing. Doing anything would be "racist" just like worrying about pertussis or antibiotic resistant tuberculosis is "racist" against differently documented pre-citizens or whatever the new euphemism is for illegal aliens that are likely to vote Democrat.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"What is the White House doing to Guard U.S. from the Ebola virus?"

It's telling everyone and his brother from not only south of the border, but everywhere else to "Come on Down!", like on the game show.

You could throw a handful of rocks into a crowd and come up with a more competent administration from the random people you hit.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
How about "cancel all flights"? Ebola is a fast-burner, it kills quickly.
11 weeks ago
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alanstorm said: Isn't that casting aspersions on all that Ebolan-Americans have done for this country?

LOL, absolutely! We should give them all free airline tickets and ship them to every state in the union.
11 weeks ago
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Dear Leader will go golfing with underlings.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't think Ebola is a big deal - at the moment, at least. You can't get EVD from people sneezing or shaking hands. Mostly it's transmitted by eating infected bush meat or handling contaminated body fluids. Victims get sick and die pretty quickly, so they don't get the chance to spread it very far. And I guarantee - one case of Ebola in the US and society WOULD be all over it. Epidemics happen in third world countries with weak central and local governments, poor health care infrastructures, and generally lousy living conditions.

We can survive by following two simple rules: One, don't eat monkeys. Two, don't swap bodily fluids with sick people - especially sick people from sub-Saharan Africa who are coughing up blood.

Now, if Ebola should happen to mutate and become airborne...different story.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
You can get EV from body fluids period. Body fluids cover a broader category than sperm and vaginal secretions. The initial infection probably came from contact with an infected animal. More than monkeys have been found to carry it.

The problem of one case in America is where and at what stage in the infectious cycle it is diagnosed. It may not be a big issue or it could explode into a major epidemic especially in large metropolitan areas.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Epidemics happen in third world countries with weak central and local governments, poor health care infrastructures, and generally lousy living conditions."

Sounds like inner cities.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
This strain might be a little different. The mortality rate is only (!) 60%, which means that people may be contagious longer. Also, several physicians - who know how to take precautions - have gotten sick. The worry would be that it would get loose in the poorer, minority sections of society. One of the problems in Africa is that the relatives of the sick don't trust the hospitals and modern medicine; indeed, reports following the abduction of the one sick man (whom they still haven't found) from the hospital by his relatives say that they believed that Ebola was some sort of western plot.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not only don't they "trust" western medicine. THe African way is for the family to sit bedside and feed and wash the person who is sick (mostly because primitive hospitals don't do these things for their patients). Sanitary conditions don't exist, because even the doctors/nurses don't recognize that you have to wash hands and sterilize instruments between patients.

I spent two hours yesterday reading articles written by missionaries and former missionaries who work(ed) in Africa. Sending trillions in aid in food and medical care has increased population, but not increased intelligence or independence or ability to sustain themselves.
It's called the Dark Continent for a reason.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
The reason the mortality rate is lower is that more of the infections have happened in cities and they are receiving medical attention more quickly. That doesn't indicate a different serotype of the virus at all.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
What I mean is, when we ask what Obama is doing to protect us from Ebola, it looks like we're throwing stuff at him in the hope that something will stick. Not sure that's always the best strategy.
11 weeks ago
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11 weeks ago
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I'm sure Obama washes his balls at every tee.
11 weeks ago
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"State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said they “continue to closely monitor the outbreak of the virus.”

“We are aware of reports. You all have reported it that two citizens in Liberia have contracted Ebola,” she told reporters at Monday’s briefing."

Now their on top of it, you guys just told them. Hopefully the Presidents advisor's has protected him from knowing just in case Ebola breaks out here.

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ebola flourishes in equatorial Africa. I don't think it can "break out" similarly in North America. It never has to this point, anyway.

The doctor affected is a young guy who went to Liberia with a missionary group and decided to stay on and help out after the outbreak.

And somehow he came into direct contact, likely with blood or feces of an infected person he was treating.

Any ebola worker has to wear complete covering a space suit contraption in extremely hot weather. For stifling, hot hours. The other American is a woman, not medical, whose (again missionary) job was spraying down the protective suits.

These individuals voluntarily placed themselves in the situations that led to their acquisition of the disease.
11 weeks ago
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