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Ebola Outbreak “Worsening” in West Africa

The Ebola outbreak continues to roil West Africa, with the World Health Organization announcing Thursday that the death toll has climbed to 729 in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 1,300 people are infected.

To help limit the spread of the disease the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the agency is now “surging” its response. Thursday afternoon the agency issued a new level 3 travel warning for the affected countries—asking Americans to halt nonessential travel to those locations and unveiling plans to send 50 additional CDC staff to the affected areas. Once there, CDC workers will help to ramp up airport screenings to ensure that sick people do not leave the country, augment laboratory testing for Ebola and help local health personnel to track individuals who may have been exposed to sick persons. (There is little risk of transmitting Ebola before a person becomes symptomatic, and even then transmission occurs through exposure to bodily liquids, not via the air or water). “The bottom line is that Ebola is worsening in western Africa,” CDC director Tom Frieden told reporters on Thursday. When it comes to controlling this outbreak, “It’s not going to be quick. It’s not going to be easy, but we know what to do,” he says.

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