A "doomsday scenario" that calls for sealing off entire Ebola-stricken countries could be nightmarish but necessary if the deadly virus keeps spreading across national borders, an infectious diseases expert told Newsmax TV
"I don't think it's contained at all," California physician and medical researcher Jorge Rodriguez told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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Rodriguez generally applauded the decision to send 3,000 U.S. troops
to Africa to help overwhelmed governments and healthcare workers combat the unprecedented outbreak, which has killed an estimated 2,500 people in a growing number of west African countries.
"I would prefer trained medical professionals there, but there are few and far between that can do that," said Rodriguez.
He acknowledged that boots on the ground also raise the question of the U.S. military's role, and whether it could expand from assisting with medical efforts into more controversial areas such as enforcing population quarantines.
Rodriguez noted the chaos that resulted in Liberia last month when local forces attempted to cordon off just one impoverished neighborhood in Monrovia
, the capital, where Ebola had claimed victims.
"It created a riot. It created people trying to sneak around, and a black market for trafficking people," he said.
Multiply that effect by millions and "you are bringing up a doomsday scenario," said Rodriguez.
"But it might be possible to just have to quarantine a country," he said. "That's how Ebola was treated [in past outbreaks]. You quarantined a village. Unfortunately, a village has maybe 40 people; a country has 40 million."
But he said the U.S. troop contingent can do enormous good even under the current difficult circumstances.
"We have a force that can go there, construct hospitals that are necessary, take information — which is crucial in stopping Ebola: things as simple as people's addresses, and where they are," said Rodriguez.
Having that basic informational infrastructure is one reason the U.S. is less likely to suffer an uncontrollable Ebola outbreak, he said.
"We know how to trace contacts; we have people's addresses," said Rodriguez.
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