CDC director: ‘Hard to keep up’ with Ebola outbreak in Africa

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The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday admitted that Ebola was spreading fast enough in Africa that it was “hard to keep up.”

{mosads}CDC Director Tom Frieden said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the U.S. and other nations were achieving a “more rapid, more effective response” to the disease in West Africa, the only sure way to keep it from spreading internationally.

“But it’s going to take time. The virus is spreading so fast that it’s hard to keep up,” he said. “That’s why it’s terrific the president has deployed the Department of Defense there in support of the disease control efforts. This is exactly what’s needed and it’s going to make a difference, but it’s going to take time.”

Frieden acknowledged mistakes in how the first U.S. Ebola patient was handled in Dallas last week, calling it a “teachable moment.” It took two full days for those who’d come in contact with that patient to be contacted by officials for monitoring.

“After this incident I’m certain there’s a lot more concern and attention beign paid” to tracking potential patients’ travel history, he said. “The bottom line here in Dallas is contact tracing, making sure we’ll stop this in its tracks.”

There have been no other positively identified Ebola cases besides that patient. 

Frieden also said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that producing drugs to cure or vaccinate against the Ebola virus is a slow process.

“The drug pipeline is going to be slow, I’m afraid,” he said.

Frieden said there’s “no more” of the most promising drug and “it takes months to make just a bit.” He argued that even without new drugs, “just restoring the patient’s fluid balance, can save a lot of lives,” saying that that care doubles survival rates.

–This report was updated at 10:56 a.m.

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