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Topics: House of Representatives

VIDEO: House holds emergency hearing on Ebola outbreak

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With the Ebola outbreak in West Africa dominating headlines in recent weeks, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs convened an emergency meeting Thursday during their summer recess to figure out how the U.S. can help to contain the spread of the disease — and if an experimental drug is the answer.

"Since March of this year, there have been more than 1,700 cases of Ebola, including more than 900 fatalities in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria," explained Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

Two of those Ebola cases are Americans who were working in Liberia. When the patients were extradited back to the U.S. for treatment, they were given an experimental drug called ZMapp.

Both Americans have shown signs of improvement since having taken the drug cocktail, which leaves some in Congress wondering — is this the cure?

"They are reportedly both feeling strong after receiving the drug but it is considered too early to tell whether the drug itself caused improvement in their conditions," Smith said.

President Obama weighed in on the experimental drug Wednesday night at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, saying he's not comfortable saying whether or not he'd authorize sending the drug over to Africa.

"I think we gotta let the science guide us," Obama said. "I don't think all the information's in on whether this drug is helpful."

Congress is asking for more funding to deal with Ebola and other infectious diseases. Smith says funding for pandemic diseases has fallen from $201 million in fiscal year 2010 to about $72 million in fiscal year 2014.

The outbreak is currently contained to several countries in West Africa.

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