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Editorial: U.S. leadership is needed to stop Ebola

Liberian soldiers deployed to assist nurses retrieve looted

Liberian soldiers deployed to assist nurses retrieve looted items from the MV Massaquoi Elementary school that was used as an Ebola isolation unit in West Point, Monrovia, Liberia, on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: EPA / Ahmed Jallanzo

With Ebola raging in West Africa, the World Health Organization says it will take $430 million to bring the deadly outbreak under control. Two months ago, the estimate was $71 million.

The escalating cost, mounting death toll, and a second outbreak reported Tuesday in the Democratic Republic of the Congo make an urgent case for doing whatever it takes to control the disease as quickly as possible.

Control in this instance means halting the increase in infections within two months and putting an end to transmission of the Ebola virus in the affected regions in six to nine months, according to the WHO. To get that done will require a more determined international effort, including larger contributions of cash, medical workers and supplies from governments, development banks and the private sector. President Barack Obama should lead by example and rally the international community to provide the urgently needed resources.

As of Friday, 2,615 people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria had been infected and 1,427 had died. Visiting the affected region this week, Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said there has never been an Ebola outbreak of this scale.

Officials of Congo said the virus also had killed two people there, bringing the death toll from Ebola-like symptoms in that country to 13 in recent weeks. The Ebola strain found in the Congo is different from the one in West Africa. But the appearance of the disease about 3,000 miles southeast of the earlier outbreak is troubling.

A response that fails to meet the desperate need would mean more deaths and provide an opportunity for the infection to spread even more widely.

This is a manageable crisis. It must not go unchecked.