Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. health agency who just
returned from West Africa, said he expected the number of Ebola
cases to accelerate in the next two weeks and urged governments to
"We're likely to see significant increases in cases. Already we have
widespread transmission Liberia. In Sierra Leone, we're seeing
strong signs that that will happen in the near future," he said.
Frieden said the outbreak was the first epidemic of Ebola the world
has ever known, meaning it is spreading widely in society and is
"threatening the stability" of affected and neighboring countries.
"The challenge isn't knowing what to do. The challenge is doing it
now," Frieden said on a conference call with reporters.
On Tuesday, a second U.S. doctor contracted the virus while working
with obstetrics patients at a missionary hospital in Monrovia,
Liberia, according to the church-affiliated organization SIM USA.
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based group did not identify the
physician but said he was not treating Ebola patients and that he
had isolated himself immediately when symptoms began.
Since it was detected in the remote jungles of southeastern Guinea
early this year, the Ebola outbreak has killed some 1,550 people,
according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Frieden, who has been providing regular briefings to President
Barack Obama on the outbreak, said there is still a window of
opportunity, but said "that window is closing."
Separately, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on
Tuesday it would accelerate development of an experimental Ebola
treatment by California biotech Mapp Biopharmaceutical.
It pledged up to $42.3 million in funding for the drug, known as
ZMapp, and said the company would manufacture a small amount for
early stage safety studies.
The drug has not been tested in humans, but a handful of healthcare
workers, including two U.S. aid workers, have received it during the
In laboratory testing, ZMapp cured all 18 of the monkeys infected
with the virus, including those just hours from death, scientists
reported on Friday.
Frieden told the briefing that efforts to develop vaccines and
treatments are welcome, but development takes time, and they cannot
be counted on to stop the epidemic.
"We need action now to scale up the response. We know how to stop
Ebola. The challenge is to scale it up to the massive levels needed
to stop this outbreak," he said.
[to top of second column]
Swift response helped tire manufacturer Bridgestone Corp contain
Ebola when an employee at its Firestone plant in Liberia became
Frieden said the company built isolation rooms and identified 73
contacts of the infected individual, then placed them in quarantine
for 21 days. Eleven of those employees became ill, and they were
treated in an isolated treatment ward the company built. The effort
completely contained the outbreak, Frieden said, adding that that
type of response was widely needed.
According the Bridgestone/Firestone website, Firestone Liberia
provides jobs for more than 6,100 Liberians. http://www.bridgestone-firestone.com/corporate/firestoneliberia/index.html
Frieden said the virus has not mutated in a way that makes it more
transmittable, but the risk of such a mutation increases each day
the virus circulates within human populations.
During his tour of clinics, Frieden donned the same gear that local
Ebola healthcare workers are wearing to protect themselves from the
"It's roasting hot. It's very difficult to move. It's a very
distressing environment. Sweat pours down into your goggles and into
your eyes," he said.
Frieden appealed for healthcare workers and hospital administrators
experienced in this type of work in low resource countries to
volunteer their services through organizations such as the CDC
Foundation and Doctors without Borders.
"The virus is moving faster than anyone anticipated. We need to move
fast," he said.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Toni
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