August 6, 2014 at 8:51 am

Facing Ebola fears

Council: Ebola outbreak is 'out of control'

As Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria poses a grave risk of the Ebola virus catching on like wildfire. (Sunday Alamba / AP)

Washington— The deadly Ebola epidemic engulfing three West African countries is “out of control,” health experts at the Council on Foreign Relations said Tuesday.

The virus, which has killed nearly 900 people since March, hasn’t “ever been in control” since Ebola was first discovered in 1976, said Laurie Garrett, the council’s senior fellow for global health.

Garrett spoke on a conference call with reporters as the second American infected with Ebola in Africa, Nancy Writebol, arrived in Atlanta for treatment under strict quarantine, and a day after a patient in New York City was tested for the disease. City health authorities concluded the patient is unlikely to have Ebola.

“There is no strategic plan of how we’re going to bring this under control,” Garrett said. “What will be the global strategy if this disease shows up elsewhere?”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are sending 50 medical professionals to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the next few days to relieve and assist people working on the crisis, Garrett said.

The World Bank on Monday pledged $200 million to help the West African nations contain the spread of infections, and to help their communities fight the deadly disease, which has historically reached fatality rates of 90 percent.

The money will help pay for medical supplies, salaries for medical staff and materials needed to stabilize health systems, the bank said in a statement. The financing was requested by the World Health Organization and officials from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, a total of eight people in Nigeria who were in direct contact with a man who flew to Lagos and died of Ebola now have symptoms of the dreaded and deadly disease and have been placed into quarantine, a Nigerian health official said Tuesday.

Of the eight, only a doctor who treated the traveler has so far tested positive for Ebola. The others are being tested, with results pending, said Lagos state health health commissioner Jide Idris.

The official death toll for the worst-ever outbreak for the disease stood on Monday at 887.

Associated Press contributed.