POLITICS
12/28/2014 01:29 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2014

Ebola Czar Ron Klain: Virus Is Still A Global Threat

WASHINGTON -- White House Ebola czar Ron Klain warned Sunday that the virus is still a global threat and will continue to be until it is completely wiped out.

"This won't be done until we get all the way to zero," Klain said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "It's like a forest fire. A few embers burning and the thing can re-ignite at any time."

He said the United States has made "significant strides" to prepare for the occasional case of Ebola, but West Africa is still struggling with its outbreak. While Liberia has reduced new cases of Ebola from 50 to 100 a day to five to 10 a day, Sierra Leone and Guinea aren't having the same success.

"We're nearing a pivot point in this," Klain said.

Last week, a technician at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was mistakenly exposed to the Ebola virus in a bio-containment lab in Atlanta. The employee has not shown signs of the disease to date but is being monitored for 21 days.

Klain said it is "obviously unacceptable" that Ebola materials were mishandled, and that the CDC director is reviewing what went wrong. But, he said, it's important to put the mishap in context: The CDC lab has been studying Ebola for 20 years without incident, has processed more than 10,000 Ebola samples during the current crisis, and has saved thousands of lives.

"The CDC is a national treasure," Klain said.

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