US Military to Join Ebola Offensive

Outbreak kills 4th doctor in Sierra Leone
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2014 4:04 AM CDT
Updated Sep 15, 2014 4:10 AM CDT
US Military to Join Ebola Offensive
A health worker is sprayed with disinfectant after working with Ebola patients in Liberia.   (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

The US military is set to join the battle against an enemy other than ISIS: the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa. President Obama is expected to outline what officials describe as a "scaled-up" response to the outbreak this week, reports the Wall Street Journal, which notes that while the chances of the disease spreading to the US are considered low, the chances of the virus mutating to become more infectious increase with every new human infection. There are currently eight US military service members working to contain the outbreak, and the stepped-up military involvement is expected to include much-needed logistical help, though not hospital ships, which officials fear could end up being swept by infection.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of hard-hit Liberia, has appealed for American aid as the disease spreads exponentially, Reuters reports. "Without more direct help from your government, we will lose this battle against Ebola," she wrote to Obama, warning that Ebola treatment centers are being forced to turn away patients and "at this rate, we will never break the transmission chain and the virus will overwhelm us." In neighboring Sierra Leone, a fourth doctor has died of Ebola after a failed attempt to send her out of the country for treatment, reports the AP. The country, which was desperately short of doctors even before the outbreak, asked the World Health Organization for help evacuating Olivet Buck to Europe, but the request was declined. (More Ebola stories.)

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