A top U.S. medical official warned Sunday that barring travel from countries facing an Ebola outbreak could do more harm than good.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the push to isolate those countries could worsen the outbreak, which in turn could cause it to spill to neighboring regions and make it that much harder to control.


“You diminish greatly their ability to handle their own epidemic. If that happens, it very likely will spread to other African countries,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “To isolate them, maybe with good intentions, actually can be counterproductive and make things worse.”

Some policymakers have called for the U.S. to limit or ban travel to the U.S. from West African nations struggling with Ebola. Currently, a handful of high-traffic U.S. airports is scanning passengers arriving from those nations for possible Ebola symptoms.

The concern over Ebola in the U.S. ramped up Sunday, when a Texas healthcare worker tested positive for Ebola after caring for a Liberian man who ultimately died from the disease.

While health officials have said proper protocols to prevent the spread of the disease are in place, Fauci said the worker likely got sick due to inadvertently breaching that protocol.

“People are human, they have inadvertent breaches, and that’s likely what happened here,” he said. “Someone is…fatigued, they’ve been working for a long time and when they take [the protection suit] off, they do something inadvertent.”

Fauci also said it was important for the public to distinguish between a single healthcare worker contracting the disease and a broader outbreak that poses a risk to the public.

“We’re still quite confident because of our ability to reach out ... and isolate people who might be affected,” he said. “That’s a different thing than an individual healthcare worker, unfortunately, getting infected.”

Fauci also pushed for broader international cooperation to combat Ebola in West Africa, where thousands have contracted the disease.