NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. health officials on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to the three African countries hit by an outbreak of Ebola, the largest on record.
The travel advisory applies to non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. As CBS 2 reported, the outbreak in those West Africa countries has resulted in 1,300 cases and killed more than 700 people this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the risk of the deadly disease coming to the United States remains small. The last time the federal agency issued such a travel warning was in 2003 because of a SARS outbreak in Asia.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids and can’t be contracted by simply being in the same room with an infected person, CBS 2 reported.
At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. is looking into Medevac options to bring two American aid workers diagnosed with Ebola, Dr. Kent Bradley and Nancy Writebol, back to the U.S. While the U.S. government would facilitate the response, private companies would be used.
Earnest said that type of response would be consistent with how the U.S. handled other situations, including outbreaks of SARS and drug-resistant tuberculosis, and the goal would be to ensure Americans can benefit from modern medical treatment available in the U.S.
Writebol’s husband, David Writebol, said by phone her condition is improving, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“She’s sitting up and she’s talking with us and she’s able to move about,” he said.
Although the CDC has concluded it’s unlikely Ebola would spread if detected in the U.S, Earnest said the CDC is alerting health care workers in the U.S. and reminding them how to isolate and deal with cases of Ebola.
Travelers at Newark Liberty Airport area are being monitored for signs of the virus, Schneider reported.
As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, some health experts say Ebola would not be as deadly in the U.S. because of better supportive care and especially because of better isolation techniques that would limit the spread of the virus.
“The particular strain of Ebola that is going through Africa right now has been reported to be killing about 60 percent of the people that are infected,” Ithaca College Biology Professor David Gondek said.
The CDC has about two dozen staffers in West Africa to help try to control the outbreak. Officials announced Thursday they will send 50 more in the next month.
Meanwhile, Stamford-based AmeriCares is seeking help to continue providing emergency medical aid to West Africa.
Garrett Ingoglia, vice president of emergency response, said AmeriCares is sending thousands of surgical gloves, masks, caps and other protective gear to hospitals and clinics.
“There is virtually an endless demand for this kind of supply,” Ingoglia told WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau. “The healthcare workers will wear the gloves and the gowns but they have to constantly change these supplies out and dispose of them.”
Ingoglia said there is also a critical shortage of IV fluids, which are often effective in stemming the onset of the virus in its earliest stages.
The organization has not sent any of its own workers to West Africa, but Ingoglia said workers on the ground are natives who desperately need a constant refreshment of protective supplies.
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