The deployment is about two weeks ahead of the initial timetable the CDC first announced July 31 of sending experts to the region over the course of a 30-day period. Last week, the agency went on its highest alert level in response to the outbreak, the first time it has done so since the avian flu pandemic in 2009.
“We are fulfilling our promise to the people of West Africa, Americans, and the world, that CDC would quickly ramp up its efforts to help bring the worst Ebola outbreak in history under control,” Frieden said in a statement. “We know how to stop Ebola. It won't be easy or fast, but working together with our U.S. and international partners and country leadership, together we are doing it.”
More than 350 CDC personnel are involved in the response effort, the agency said, working logistics, communications analytics, management and other support functions.
Part of the agency's response effort will include experts helping to train local healthcare personnel and community health workers, some of whom have refused to treat Ebola patients out of fear of contracting the disease. CDC personnel also will gather information about the spread of the outbreak, as well as set up testing laboratories and train lab workers. Staff also will be involved in educating the public on how to avoid contracting the virus as well as working with airport and border personnel in the affected countries to prevent sick people from traveling.
There are growing concerns that the virus is outpacing efforts on the part of health workers to contain its spread. In its latest update released Wednesday, the World Health Organization said 128 new suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola virus were reported between Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, with 56 deaths. In all, more than 1,060 people have died and nearly 2,000 cases have been reported as of Aug. 11.
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