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More Global Help Needed to Fight Ebola Outbreak

Window of opportunity to stop its spread closing, CDC and WHO say

TUESDAY, Sept. 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- As the Ebola outbreak continues to overwhelm health care workers in three West African nations, medical experts from the United States and the United Nations called on Tuesday for a concerted international response to stem history's biggest outbreak of the often-fatal virus.

Thomas Frieden, M.D., director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that without a greater global commitment in resources -- both medical and financial -- the epidemic will continue to spread and the number of new cases will continue to grow. "There is a window of opportunity to stop the epidemic now, but that window is closing," he said at a noon ET news conference. "The number of cases continues to increase and is now increasing rapidly," he added. Frieden returned Monday from a trip to West Africa, home to the hardest hit countries -- Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The international group Doctors Without Borders echoed on Tuesday Frieden's warnings about the dire nature of the Ebola outbreak and the race against time to contain it. The group said treatment centers in West Africa have been "reduced to places where people go to die alone." In a briefing to the United Nations, Doctors Without Borders President Joanne Liu, M.D., said that in West Africa, "cases and deaths continue to surge. Riots are breaking out. Isolation centers are overwhelmed. Health workers on the front lines are becoming infected and are dying in shocking numbers. Others have fled in fear, leaving people without care for even the most common illnesses. Entire health systems have crumbled."

World Health Organization Director Margaret Chan, M.D., said Tuesday that the outbreak will "get worse before it will get better." And, like the CDC's Frieden, she said that what's needed is a "larger global response. We need more from you. And we also need those countries that have not come on board," the Associated Press reported.

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