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The Zuckerbergs' $25M to fight Ebola: Priscilla Chan explains

Two days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the donation, his wife says the goal is "to be able to keep Ebola to a confined state, where we can aggressively intervene."

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg James Martin/CNET

Can $25 million help keep Ebola in check? That's what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are banking on.

When Zuckerberg earlier this week announced the couple's $25 million donation to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation, he wrote of the "need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn't spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio."

Speaking to Marketplace in an interview published Thursday, Chan elaborated on the thinking behind the donation. A practicing pediatrician, Chan said that her work has helped her see "how important it is to act now to keep Ebola from being a massive problem that affects the lives of many, and the importance of prevention and early intervention."

The Ebola epidemic in West African countries including Liberia and Sierra Leone has infected upward of 8,400 people, killing more than 4,000 of them, according to the CDC Foundation. The disease has also begun to reach outside that continent in a handful of isolated cases, including several deaths, in the US and Europe.

There is as yet no vaccine to help combat the spread of Ebola, a virus-borne disease with a high mortality rate.

The couple had initially considered a smaller donation -- that amount was not specified -- but then Zuckerberg took a trip to India, where he was struck by the lack of medical resources for poor and rural communities, Chan told Marketplace. "[We decided] that we need to act now and make a larger gift, to be able to keep Ebola to a confined state, where we can aggressively intervene, rather than have it evolve into something that ends up having to be costly and linger in our worldwide community for decades."

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.