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Chat Transcript

Chuck Todd scores interview with Barack Obama for his debut as host of Meet the Press

CHUCK TODD: Ebola. There’s some anxiety in the country about it. Obviously, it’s something that Africa’s trying to get its hands around.

But there’s obviously anxiety in the United States. How concerned are you and how concerned should Americans be?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the prospects of contagion here in the United States short term.

Because this is not an airborne disease.

CHUCK TODD: I noticed you said “short term” though.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I’m going to get to that. It’s not an airborne disease like the flu. You can only catch it through the transmission of bodily fluids. The problem that we’ve got is in right now a limited portion of Western Africa.

So what I said, and I said this two months ago to our national security team is, we have to make this a natural security priority.

CHUCK TODD: It’s going to be a U.S.-led effort.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: As usual. And we’re going to have to get U.S. military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world.

If we do that, then it’s still going to be months before this problem is controllable in Africa. But it shouldn’t reach our shores.

Now here’s the last point I’m going to make. If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa, but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates, it becomes more easily transmittable, and then it could be a serious danger to the United States.

Excerpt courtesy of NBC News (read the full transcript).