While rejecting calls to seal the border from West African travelers who were potentially exposed to Ebola, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden claimed officials can monitor such people as they travel into the U.S.
This assertion comes only days after the CDC cleared the second Ebola-infected nurse to board an airline even though she had an elevated temperature, meaning she could have potentially exposed other passengers to Ebola.
“Right now we know who’s coming in,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told a congressional subcommittee Thursday while arguing against a ban on travel from West African nations. “If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will travel over land, will come from other places…will mean that we won’t be able to do multiple things.”
He also claimed Ebola is “not a significant public health threat to the United States.”
“It is not transmitted easily, and it does not spread from people who are not ill, and cultural norms that contribute to the spread of the disease in Africa — such as burial customs and inadequate public health measures — are not a factor in the United States,” he said. “We know Ebola can be stopped with rapid diagnosis, appropriate triage, and meticulous infection-control practices in American hospitals.”
But Ebola has yet to stop spreading in Dallas, Texas, now that 29-year-old Amber Vinson, a nurse who treated the late Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, tested positive for Ebola only four days after her fellow nurse, 26-year-old Nina Pham, also tested positive for the disease.
Duncan, who was the first diagnosed Ebola patient in the U.S., died from the disease on Oct. 8, but questions remain as to why he was treated at a hospital lacking proper equipment and training to contain a deadly virus.
“RNs from California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Texas described widespread concerns in their hospitals about inadequate preparedness at a time when at least two nurses have been tested positive for the Ebola virus in a hospital where one patient infected by the disease has died,” National Nurses United, the largest association of nurses in the U.S., stated in a press release.