WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The director of the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention said on Tuesday he was "confident" that the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa can be brought under control but that "we are by no means out of the woods."

Speaking at a breakfast meeting in Washington with public health officials and lawmakers, Dr. Tom Frieden said it is vital that every case of the disease is eliminated.

"I remain very confident we can get to zero cases in this epidemic if we continue the way we're going and nothing unexpected happens," Frieden said.

"The largest biggest risk is that it continues to fester, and continues to spread at a low rate, which means it could flare up at any time," he added. "We have to get to zero and then stay at zero and that's going to require monitoring, surveillance."

The Ebola epidemic has killed at least 8,371 out of 21,000 people infected in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

(Reporting by Toni Clarke; Editing by Doina Chiacu)