Doctor: Ebola Likely Won't Spread to US

Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 03:17 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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The good news about the outbreak of Ebola is that it likely won't spread into the United States beyond where it is already present in West Africa, Dr. Peter Hotez, infectious disease specialist at Texas Children's Hospital, told Newsmax TV, adding there was also bad news associated with the deadly disease.

"There's good news and bad news. The good news is I'm fairly confident that we will not see an expansion of Ebola beyond the four affected West African countries," Hotez said Thursday.

The bad news, Hotez told "America's Forum," was that the epidemic was still not contained "in Liberia and Sierra Leone," due to recent outbreaks.

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Hotez said the World Health Organization announced Thursday that "40 percent of all the cases of Ebola in this current West African outbreak have occurred over the last three weeks." He explained the reason the virus continued to spread there was due to domestic conditions in West African nations.

"The reason that we're seeing this devastating epidemic in West Africa is this is occurring among countries that are just emerging out of decades of civil war. They've had the total breakdown on their healthcare infrastructure," he said.

It had been "nearly impossible" for the African countries to "implement infection control practices on their own," Hotez said, adding the WHO was requiring "almost $500 million in new assistance in order to get this under control over the next six to nine months."

Hotez said the risk was "remote" that illegal immigrants from Central America would spread the disease into the U.S. He explained the problem was not immigration, but "neglected tropical diseases," which he called "diseases of poverty." He suggested the focus needed to be on the "2 million families" in the U.S. "living on less than $2 a day."

"We can drive into the fifth ward of Houston, Texas, . . and see environmental degradation, poor quality housing, no window screens, discarded tires along the sides of the road, and collecting water," he said. "That's where the focus needs to be — where Texas and the Gulf Coast are on the confluence of poverty."

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