Obama: Ebola not 'short-term' threat to US

President Obama said Americans should not be worried about an outbreak of Ebola in the U.S. in the near future.

"Americans shouldn't be concerned about the prospects of contagion here in the United States, short term," Obama said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Because this is not an airborne disease."

ADVERTISEMENT

Obama stressed that the disease can only be transmitted through bodily fluids. And once the person carrying it is isolated and run through a tight protocol, it isn't difficult to contain.

He admitted that Ebola is "breaking loose" in western Africa, due to poor quarantines and "people aren't being trained properly."

The outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Obama said, will require U.S. military assets to set up isolation units and equipment.

"If we do that, then it's still going to be months before this problem is controllable in Africa," Obama said.

"Now, here's the last point I'm going to make," he added. "If we don't make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa but other parts of the world, there's the prospect then that the virus mutates.  It becomes more easily transmittable. And then it could be a serious danger to the United States."

Obama said the Ebola outbreak is a perfect example of the ongoing argument he has with getting approval from Congress to act.

"This is an example of where U.S. leadership is important in dealing with crisis," he said, adding when the public asks why the U.S. is spending money to contain the outbreak in Africa, it's because the short-term investments will pay off.

"It really pays off a lot of dividends in the future," Obama said.