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House Convenes Panel to Hear About Ebola Crisis

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The Ebola outbreak in West Africa prompted members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to return from recess Thursday and hold a special hearing on the crisis.

Panel members heard from Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While expressing the seriousness of the situation, Frieden told lawmakers that he expected the international health community would be able to get the current outbreak under control.

Frieden explained, "We can stop Ebola. We know how to do it. It will be a long and hard fight and the situation in Lagos, Nigeria, is particularly concerning but we can stop Ebola."

However, Bisa Williams, deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs, painted a slightly different picture, saying local customs and lack of education about the virus was hampering efforts to stop Ebola from spreading.

According to Williams, "Local tradition such as public funerals and cultural mourning customs including preparing bodies of the deceased for burial have contributed to the spread of the virus and have led locals to block access to patients."

Other obstacles that have to be overcome before Ebola can be stopped, according to Williams, are getting locals to lose their mistrust of health care providers and the treatment methods they use.

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ABC News Radio