The Obama administration vowed Friday that it is taking action "to stop Ebola in its tracks," even as fears persisted that the deadly virus will spread in the U.S.
"The US is equipped to deal with this, both at home and in the region" of West Africa where Ebola is epidemic, said White House official Lisa Monaco.
"Every Ebola outbreak in the past 40 years has been stopped," Monaco noted. "We know how to do this, and we will do it again."
Officials outlined their ongoing strategy to contain the virus, which has lead to at least one diagnosis of someone in the U.S. so far, in Dallas, and the monitoring of 50 people who had contact with him. That strategy includes sending U.S. troops to West Africa in an effort to contain the spread of the virus there, ramping up monitoring efforts and accelerating efforts to develop a vaccine.
Officials also said the health-care system of the U.S. was the best in the world and the best prepared to beat back the spread of the disease in the country.
"We recognize the concern that even a single case of Ebola creates on our shores," said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. "But we have public health systems and public health providers in place to control the spread of this disease."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of infectious disease efforts at the National Institute of Health, said the U.S. "is well-equipped to stop Ebola in its tracks."
Fauci emphasized that, "although Ebola is an extremely serious viral disease, with a high fatality rate, it is not easily transmitted."
"You must come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person," said Fauci, noting that the virus is not transmitted through the air, as the flu is.
And, it is "important" to note, that "individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious."
Meanwhile, a contractor is set to begin decontaminating the Dallas apartment where the man diagnosed with the Ebola virus had been visiting relatives, a judge said Friday.
At the same time, health officials said that 50 people who had contact or may have had contact with the infected man, Thomas Eric Duncan, are being closely monitored for symptoms of the deadly disease. So far, none of those individuals have shown any symptoms of Ebola, and all of them are doing "well," an official said.
That said, "We need to monitor them closely," said that official, Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, during a telephone media briefing Friday.
Lakey said that most of those 50 monitored people are at low risk of infection, but 10 are considered to be at "high risk." Many are hospital workers, as well as ambulance workers who had contact with Duncan, who is the first person diagnosed with the disease while in the US.
Duncan remains in serious condition as Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Meanwhile, the apartment where he had been living is been decontaminated by a cleanup crew.
Centers for Disease Control chief Dr. Thomas Frieden, who was supposed to attend the briefing for media, instead met national business leaders to discuss how leaders were dealing with the Ebola case in Dallas, officials said.