By Heather Sells
CBN News – Thousands of American military personnel are headed to West Africa as the U.S. ramps up its response to the Ebola crisis.
President Barack Obama said the United States will provide medial and logistical support to help overwhelmed health workers and to boost the number of beds needed to treat victims.
The Obama administration is now calling the Ebola epidemic in Africa a “top national security priority” — and not a moment too soon.
The former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the response so far has been “totally inadequate,” while new numbers reveal the staggering potential of the virus.
In the journal Eurosurveillance, a publication by European equivalent of the CDC, scientists say that if current trends continue, anywhere from 77,000 to 277,000 more people could become infected — and all by the end of this year.
Those kinds of numbers have pushed the Obama administration to ramp up its involvement, both for humanitarian reasons and to protect the United States from an outbreak.
“We’re going to have to get U.S. military assets just to set up, for example isolation units and equipment there, to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world,” Obama said.
“If we do that, then it’s still going to be months before this problem is controllable in Africa,” he said. “But it shouldn’t reach our shores.”
The U.S.-led initiative will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but the president is making the case that it’s money well spent, not only to save African lives and promote political stability there, but also to protect Americans.
“If we don’t make that effort now and this spreads not just through Africa but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates. It becomes more easily transmittable. And then it could be a serious danger to the United States,” Obama said.
As people across West Africa pray, U.S. officials are preparing to get U.S. forces on the ground in the next two weeks. They expect to train hundreds of West African health care workers, erect 17 new health care facilities, and distribute hundreds of thousands of home health care kits.
The current outbreak is already, by far, the worst in history and scientists warn it could spread to 15 more African countries, potentially putting tens of millions of people at risk, according to a study from Oxford University in England.
The London Telegraph reports researchers studied how Ebola could spread by wild animals, like bats or chimpanzees, and eventually to humans.
Report via CBN News