WASHINGTON -- The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that health officials are making progress in the fight against the Ebola virus both abroad and at home.
"We know how to stop Ebola," CDC director Tom Frieden said at a press conference in Atlanta. "That’s what’s happening in Dallas today. That’s what’s beginning to occur in West Africa."
Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., contracted the virus in Liberia before falling sick in Dallas on Sept. 25. Duncan, 42, is being treated with an experimental drug while isolated in critical condition at a Dallas hospital.
Frieden noted that there have been no additional cases of individuals contracting Ebola in the United States since Duncan was diagnosed last week. He said the CDC is monitoring "10 definite and 38 possible contacts" of Duncan's and that none had developed Ebola symptoms. (The virus, however, can incubate for up to three weeks before symptoms show.)
"Each and every one of them is having their temperature monitored," Frieden said. "As of today, none of them are sick. None of them has a fever."
Turning to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Frieden cited progress in Liberia's Lofa County, which borders Sierra Leone and Guinea. "That district, that area, has had at times the most cases in all of Liberia, but over the past few weeks, cases have plummeted," Frieden said.
He attributed the positive development in part to improved infrastructure in Lofa County. "Now, we're not sure of all of the reasons, but part of it is that there were enough isolation beds in those facilities," he said.
As for Duncan himself, a spokeswoman for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said in an email Tuesday that he remained in critical but stable condition.
"He is on a ventilator and receiving kidney dialysis," the spokeswoman said. "His liver function, which declined over the weekend, has improved, but doctors caution that this could vary in coming days. He will continue to receive the investigational medication brincidofovir."
The Obama administration announced Monday that it was exploring additional travel screening protocols to protect the U.S. from Ebola, though it hasn't elaborated on what those protocols might be. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he expected the CDC to announce tougher domestic screening sometime this week.
"As each day brings additional cases of Ebola and new countries are being forced to confront the epidemic, it makes eminent sense for the CDC to step up their efforts to keep this disease from taking hold in the United States," said Schumer.
Some leading Republicans have called for bans on travel from West African countries, an idea the White House and CDC have resisted.