WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ebola was once thought to be an isolated disease but the most recent epidemic reveals its capacity to spread, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) said at a hearing on the threat of the deadly disease.
“Ebola has been thought to be limited to isolated areas where it could be contained. We know not that is no longer true,” Smith said. “We need to take seriously the effort to devise more effective means of addressing this and all neglected tropical diseases.”
He referenced the ability of the disease to spread from its focal point in West Africa around the world via air travel.
“There is also concern that, given modern air travel and the latency of the disease the virus will jump borders and threaten lives elsewhere in Africa and even here in the United States,” he said.
Smith called for a realistic hearing of the facts and said that “planing is underway” to contain the virus.
“What we hope to gain from today’s hearing is a realistic understanding of what we are up against, while avoiding sensationalism,” he said.
Committee ranking member Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) expressed dismay that the media coverage of the U.S. Africa Summit this week focused on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.