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CDC Director 'Confident' World Can Reach Zero Ebola Cases

by VOA News January 13, 2015

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says he remains 'very confident' the Ebola outbreak that has devastated West Africa can be stopped.

Speaking at a meeting with public health officials and lawmakers Tuesday in Washington, Dr. Tom Frieden said the world will get to zero cases in the epidemic 'if we continue the way we are going and nothing unexpected happens.'

He said 'the largest single risk' health officials face is that the disease may become 'endemic,' meaning it would continue to spread at a low rate. He said that is not an acceptable outcome, because it means it could 'flare up' again.

The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 8,000 people of the more than 20,000 infected - most of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Frieden noted progress in the three most affected countries, but said the threat is 'nowhere near' eliminated.

The CDC director said the epidemic has had an outsize impact on the health sector and society.

Two new World Bank Group reports say the socio-economic impacts of Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone are 'far-reaching and persistent.'

The group said Monday its latest mobile phone surveys show both countries continue to experience such Ebola side effects as job losses and food insecurity. As a result, it says the current and future prosperity of households are at high risk.

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