WASHINGTON - An emergency U.S. congressional hearing Thursday examined the international efforts to contain the deadly Ebola virus. Testimony from a volunteer organization made a dire prediction about the spread of Ebola in Nigeria and drew scathing remarks about global response to the outbreak.
Thomas Frieden, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a House of Representatives subcommittee that even though the Ebola virus is out of control in three West African countries, it is a controllable disease.
"It's important that we keep in mind that even without medicines that are specific to Ebola or a vaccine, we do know how to control it, and we can stop it," said Frieden.
Frieden said supportive care saves people's lives. This includes providing fluids and oxygen, if needed, as well as nutrients, and monitoring vital signs. This type of care can help a person with Ebola recover.
Frieden also said the international community can help West African countries with the Ebola epidemic screen travelers and prevent those who are ill from leaving. This, too, can help contain the virus.
Samaritan's Purse is a Christian organization that provides medical support in Liberia. Two Americans who work for the charity, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, contracted the virus and are now being treated at a specially equipped hospital in Atlanta. Spokesman Ken Isaacs said his organization saw the crisis coming in April, but the international community ignored pleas for help.
"The international response to the disease has been a failure, and it is important to understand that,” said Isaacs.
Isaacs warned members of Congress that Ebola is going to emerge with a fury in Nigeria in about three weeks because a man who contracted Ebola in Liberia later traveled to Nigeria, where he died.