Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) has held three hearings on the Ebola outbreak, bringing top U.S. health officials to testify on the threat. He also calls for a ban on visas on travel from Ebola-affected countries.
As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Africa and global health subcommittee Smith ordered an emergency congressional hearing in August 2014 on the unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus, featuring Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and two U.S. private organizations which have seen workers stricken with the virus.
He held a second hearing on Sept. 17, 2014, featuring an American doctor who contracted Ebola and survived, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. His most recent Ebola hearing on Nov. 18 gave organizations on the front lines of the fight to contain Ebola in West Africa came to Capitol Hill the ability to detail both the hurdles and the progress of the life-and-death efforts to contain the virus and assist the victims of the epidemic.
Smith has held numerous hearings on health threats around the world, including hearings on subtropical diseases in June 2013 and another on “Superbugs” in April 2013.
Information on Ebola
Information provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
Ebola is found in several African countries. The first Ebola species was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.
According to the CDC there are several ways the virus can be spread to others. These include:
• direct contact with the blood or body fluids (including but not limited to feces, saliva, urine, vomit and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
• contact with objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of an infected person or with infected animals
The virus in the blood any bodily fluids can enter another person’s body through the eyes, nose, or mouth or through broken skin. Often, Ebola is spread among family and friends because they come in close contact with the patients bodily fluids.
Exposure to Ebola can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective clothing including masks, gowns, gloves, and eye protection.
Signs and Symptoms
Individuals infected with Ebola are not contagious until symptoms appear. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 – 21 days from exposure but the average is 8-10 days.
Signs and Symptoms of Ebola typically include:
• Fever (greater 101.5°F)
• Severe headache
• Muscle pain
• Stomach pain
• Unexplained bleeding or bruising
When cases of Ebola are recognized appropriate invention control measures are to be taken by medical staff. Those procedures include:
• isolation of patients with Ebola from contact with unprotected persons
• wearing of protective clothing (including masks, gloves, impermeable gowns, and goggles or face shields) by persons caring for Ebola patients
• the use of other infection-control measures (such as complete equipment sterilization and routine use of disinfectant)
• Avoid touching the bodies of patients who have died from Ebola
All information via the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Congressman Smith has held a series of hearing on the Ebola Outbreak in which the Global Health Subcommittee heard testimonies from various government agencies such as: the CDC, USAID, US State Department, the FDA, NIH and US Department of Health and Human Services, as well as several NGOs that have been fighting the epidemic on the front lines in Africa, including, Dr. Kent Branltly, an American doctor who contracted Ebola in West Africa and survived after being flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA.
Congressman Smith remains contact with USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah and CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, receiving frequent updates on the threat and their work combatting outbreak and it’s recent—unfortunate—spread to the United States. Congressman Smith plans to introduce emergency legislation to address the crisis and the ongoing needs to fight and contain the epidemic.
11/21/2014 - Smith's Ebola Bill Passes Key House Committee
11/18/2014 - Smith Chairs 3rd Ebola Hearing - Ebola Aid Organizations Testify on Efforts to Contain the Virus Overseas
10/3/2014 - News12 NJ: Rep. Chris Smith says more should be done at airports to stop spread of Ebola
10/1/2014 – Rep. Smith on Fox Business on the Ebola Outbreak
9/18/2014 – USA Today: Ebola survivor pleads for world to save lives
9/17/2014 - Smith Chairs Second Hearing on Ebola Virus
8/8/2014 – Asbury Park Press Editorial: Don’t Panic Over Ebola Outbreak
8/8/2014 – The Star Ledger: N.J. Congressman urges greater attention, funding for Ebola eradication
8/7/2014 – Rep. Smith on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown on Ebola
8/7/2014 - Smith Chairs Hearing on Ebola Threat
8/6/2014 – Rep. Smith on the Ebola Outbreak with CNN’s Carol Costello
USAID Fighting Ebola
USAID West Africa Outbreak Map
Centers for Disease Control