- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2014

A top U.S. public health official warned Monday that imposing travel bans or closing off West Africa to stop the spread of Ebola virus could actually make the situation worse.

“It is understandable that thought, ‘Let’s just close them off.’ But that just doesn’t work,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.”

“From a public health standpoint, that really doesn’t make any sense,” Dr. Fauci said. “To completely seal off and don’t let planes in or out of the West African countries involved, then you could paradoxically make things much worse in the sense that you can’t get supplies in, you can’t get help in, you can’t get the kinds of things in there that we need to contain the epidemic.”

Dr. Fauci’s warning came as a specially equipped airplane carrying the fifth American diagnosed with Ebola landed in Omaha, with the patient headed for Nebraska Medical Center.

The 33-year-old patient, Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance cameraman working with NBC News to cover the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, was diagnosed with the deadly virus Thursday.

Meanwhile, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil continued to fight for his life at a Texas hospital. Another possible case of Ebola, this one involving a child, was being investigated at a Delaware hospital.

Still, Dr. Fauci cautioned Americas against the knee-jerk react to close the border to travelers form West Africa.

“The best way to protect America is to suppress the epidemic in West Africa,” Dr. Fauci said. “If we completely isolate them … we know from experience with public health, that marginalizes them. You can have civil unrest, [and] governments can fall. Then you wind up having spread of the virus to other countries in West Africa, which would only compound the problem.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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