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Ebola could become next AIDS, warns US

A top US health official urged swift action Thursday to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from becoming the next AIDS epidemic, while a Spanish nurse was at “serious risk” of dying.

Teresa Romero, 44, is “very ill and her life is at serious risk as a consequence of the virus,” Madrid`s regional president Ignacio Gonzalez told parliament.

She is the first person known to have been infected with Ebola outside Africa.

The United Nations chief meanwhile called for a 20-fold increase in the world`s response to the spread of Ebola, which has killed nearly 3,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year.

Ebola`s spillover into the United States and Europe has raised fears of a wider outbreak, and led the United States, Canada and Britain to start tougher airport screening of passengers arriving from West Africa.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted the number of cases could mount to 1.4 million by January unless strong measures are taken to contain the disease, which is spread though close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

“We have to work now so that it is not the world`s next AIDS,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told the heads of the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund gathered in Washington.

“I would say that in the 30 years I`ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS,” he added, warning of a “long fight” ahead.Nurse Romero had treated two elderly missionaries with Ebola.

Health officials said they would monitor about 50 other people — mostly health staff — who had been in contact with her for the duration of the 21-day Ebola incubation period.

Thirteen other people are in quarantine at the hospital as a precaution, including Romero`s husband and several health workers, according to the latest tally from the hospital.

Among those admitted on Thursday were two hairdressers who had contact with Romero.

One of Ebola`s latest victims is Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient cared for in the United States to die of the disease.

Duncan was the first person diagnosed of Ebola in the United States and the first to die in a US hospital of the hemorrhagic fever that has killed 3,900 in West Africa this year.

Just after his death was announced Wednesday, US officials ordered increased screening at five major airports in Atlanta, Chicago, New Jersey, New York and Washington.

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