Congress hears health experts on Ebola threat

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Congress gets an update today on the Ebola outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised its alert to a level one, but the deadly virus is not likely to spread here as it has in Africa.

Could Ebola impact the United States? Thursday, lawmakers hear from the CDC, the State Department and others, including Samaritan's Purse, the relief organization whose two American Ebola patients are in Atlanta being given an experimental treatment.




"I think we've got to let the science guide us. I don't think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful," said President Barack Obama.

The CDC increased its alert to level one on Wednesday, signaling a serious health emergency that could last a while.

As flu season begins, the CDC is pulling people off that and sending 50 more to Africa in the next month. With concerns growing here, experts are clarifying what Ebola can and cannot do:

"If you're just sitting in a room with someone and you're talking to them or you're accidentally walking down the street past one, it's not contagious," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health.

But contact with bodily fluids is highly contagious. That's why we're seeing extraordinary attempts to isolate patients.

"They'll come into an emergency room and say 'I have a fever, I have diarrhea.' The first thing you ask is "What is your travel history?' And if they say 'I've been to a West African country', then immediately you would isolate them and protect the people that are taking care of them," said Dr. Fauci.

That's why experts think an outbreak here is possible, but highly unlikely. Another reason why there's so much concern: Europe has now seen its first case.

The World Health Organization says the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 932.

Two American aid workers, including Dr. Kent Brantly from Indiana and nurse Nancy Writebol, are now in Atlanta being treated for Ebola. They're being given doses of an experimental medication.