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News & Updates on Ebola and Ebola Outbreaks

Ebola Update – 27 October 2014

The two year old toddler, Fanta Kone, who is believed to have contracted Ebola from her late father, has died in Mali. While the country works to trace contacts and isolate those considered most at risk, questions around the ethics of isolation have arisen in other parts of the world. Here is a summary of the day’s stories:

 

  • The NBC cameraman, Asoko Mukpo, who recovered from Ebola has described his battle with the virus to the Associated Press as being “at war” with his body. Meanwhile a nurse who was quarantined after she returned from Sierra Leone criticized the New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, for the mandatory isolation implemented for all volunteers returning from affected countries in the state, as well as the State of New York after Dr. Craig Spencer was diagnosed last week. Kaci Hickox said to Candy Crowley of CNN that she felt like her “basic human rights have been violated.” A civil rights lawyer, Norman Siegel, planned to represent the nurse and said the isolation was against her “constitutional liberty.” However, it was announced earlier today that she will be released. Hickox was kept in a tent at the back of the hospital which lacked a television, reading material, flushable toilet and shower facilities. The Nurse has tested negative for the virus to date.
  • Dr. Craig Spencer, the fourth person diagnosed with the virus in the United States, has moved into the next phase of the disease which includes gastrointestinal symptoms. He has been treated with antiviral drugs since arriving at Bellevue Hospital and has now also received plasma therapy. His fiancée will be sent home but remain under quarantine. At the same hospital a five year old is currently being tested for the virus after arriving home from a family trip to Guinea. The boy’s family is in isolation at their apartment. It is also believed that Bellevue Hospital employees are now being refused service from local stores and restaurants.
  • American soldiers who were sent to Liberia to aid in the fight against Ebola have been isolated in Vicenza, Italy. CNN, CBS and Reuters all report that 11 soldiers have been placed in quarantine, but none have shown symptoms. The pentagon described the isolation as ‘controlled monitoring’ and said that they would not be allowed to return to the United States until the 21-day period was over.
  • Australia’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has announced new restrictions on people trying to enter the country on humanitarian grounds from affected nations. He said that applications will temporarily cease to be processed but added that all visa applications that have been processed prior to the change will be honored provided applicants submit themselves to a 21-day isolation before departing their home countries. Today an 18 year old who moved from West Africa to the country tested negative after being admitted for what was suspected to be the virus. The teenager will be retested on Wednesday.
  • The Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority, Mrs. Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, has said in a press conference over the weekend that revenue collection has been negatively impacted by the Ebola outbreak. Liberia exceeded its target in the first quarter but has seen a decline as the virus has become more widespread in the nation.
  • The impact of the West African Outbreak in Sierra Leone has been widespread. It was reported that over 700 bodies have been buried in the outskirts of Freetown in the Western Rural Area since the beginning of September. Many healthcare workers have also been affected by the virus often leaving behind families who are now without income and opportunity. In response, Sierra Leone has launched the Foundation for Children of Ebola Affected Medical Workers to help aid in bringing a sense of normalcy and new education opportunities to hard hit communities.

Mali and New York Confirm First Cases

On seemingly opposite ends of the globe two new cases of Ebola have been confirmed by respective health authorities. The Ministry of Health in Mali has confirmed the infection of a 2 year old who traveled from Guinea while New York has confirmed that a Doctor who recently returned from Guinea has tested positive for the virus.

Mali is the sixth country in West Africa to be affected by the largest recorded outbreak. It is understood that the 2 year old girl was placed in isolation along with all direct contacts on the the 23rd of October 2014. The Ministry of Health released a statement confirming the importation after a suspected case was identified at Fousseyni Daou Kayes Hospital. It is strongly suspected that at least one of the girls parents has died from Ebola recently.

In the USA a suspected case appeared at Bellevue Hospital when Dr Craig Spencer was admitted with symptoms. Significant concern has been raised about the time line for this infection after it emerged that Dr Craig Spencer may have been symptomatic while using the subway and taxi cabs. Research suggests that Ebola can survive without a host for several days. CDC officials have been dispatched to assist with the case and contact tracing has begun.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations raised concerns about the risk of case importation for Mali and Côte d’ Voire in recent weeks after reports began to emerge that the outbreak was continuing to spread in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The confirmation of a case in Mali reaffirms the statements from officials and experts in recent weeks. The outbreak must be contained in the West Africa “Hot Zone”.

Ebola Update – 23 October 2014

San Diego’s Genalyte has claimed that it’s designed a test for Ebola which can deliver results in as fast as ten minutes. The test uses one drop of blood and can allegedly detect the virus at early non-symptomatic stages. The FDA paperwork has been submitted and official confirmation of their claims is expected in a few weeks. Here is a list of the other stories of the day:

 

  • The American Nurse, Amber Vinson, is said by family members to be Ebola-free. Amber was one of the nurses caring for index patient Thomas Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. She was treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Nina Pham, another nurse infected by the same patient at the same hospital continues treatment at the National Institutes of Health Medical Center in Bethesda. Her dog, Bentley, has tested negative for the virus.
  • A Lebanese man who arrived in Beirut from West Africa and suspected that he might have Ebola has tested negative.  Officials took the opportunity to test their protocols even though they knew the man was unlikely to have the virus. Lebanon has a large diaspora which could increase their risk of importation.
  • The WSJ Asia reports that North Korea has decided to close their border due to a perceived threat of Ebola. Tourists won’t be allowed to enter the nation as of this Friday. No details have been given as to when the border will be reopened.
  • State radio in Liberia has reported that dozens of people who are currently in quarantine for Ebola have threatened to break free due to a lack of food. A dispute has arisen with people suggesting the World Food Program has stopped delivering on account of the virus, and the World Food Program maintaining that they had never delivered to that location before or after Ebola. However, the WFP said they had made arrangements to have food delivered after hearing about the quarantine of the village.
  • Nestle has warned that if Ebola continues to spread through West Africa chocolate and other products using cocoa could face dramatic price increases. The company is especially concerned about Côte d’Ivoire noting that if the virus spread to the world’s largest producer it would cause stagnation in the industry.
  • A man was arrested with 633 wax folds of heroine which he branded, Ebola. Drug buyers have a long history of using common names from news stories to refer to the specific product they want. Bin Laden, Hello Kitty and Twin Towers have all made the cut according to the New York Daily News.

Ebola Update – 20 October 2014

 

The last few days have seen some positive progress in the fight against Ebola but still the virus continues to wreak havoc in some parts of West Africa. Here is a summary of the top stories:

  •  The Spanish Nurse, Maria Theresa Romero Ramos, who contracted Ebola after treating a missionary in Madrid, seems to have recovered. She was treated with antibodies donated from an Ebola survivor. No confirmations were given as to which experimental drugs she received but it was reported that the Spanish government had secured a dose of ZMapp. She will be tested over the next 3 days before it becomes official.
  • Brussels has begun screening passengers from affected countries. This comes a short while after Belgium publicly defended their decision not to impose screening methods. A spokesperson for Brussels Airport said that everything went well.
  • After rumors surfaced that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) was looking for alternative hosts for the African Cup of Nations, South Africa has come out saying they would not host the January 2015 event. Sports Minister Fikile Mbabula called it a “NO NO” and said that it would negatively affect the budget that had been laid out for the country.
  • People who were monitored by the CDC after having being exposed to index patient Thomas Eric Duncan have been released from isolation. They were released because they have shown no symptoms after the virus’ incubation period. Among those kept in isolation were his fiancée, her children and family who were kept under armed guard at a gated home in Oak Cliff, Dallas.
  • The woman from Nigeria who was hospitalized and isolated in Dublin, Ireland has tested negative for the virus. Meanwhile, Nigeria has not had a single case for six weeks and has therefore been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization.
  • The British Nurse, William Pooley, who had been flown from Sierra Leone to London to be treated for Ebola has returned to the West African nation to help fight the virus. Pooley survived the virus after extensive treatment and receiving the experimental drug ZMapp. It is believed that once a person has had Ebola they are not as susceptible to the particular strain they had.
  • President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia has called for global action to help fight the virus in her country. She said that a generation was being lost and asked for assistance in terms of all necessary equipment to prevent further tragedy in her country.
  • The family of Nurse Amber Vinson has spoken out against critics and said that she was in no way negligent or careless. The family of index patient Thomas Duncan have also spoken to media, telling WFAA that they are thankful for health care workers’ sacrifice and saying that while they were happy to be out of isolation it was now time to mourn Thomas’s death.

Ebola Update – 17 October 2014

At the Congressional Hearing in the United States yesterday commitment from the relevant stakeholders was reaffirmed in the fight against Ebola. Yesterday as well, at the United Nations Headquarters, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to the International Community to raise at least US $1 billion to reduce the rate of transmission by December 1st, 2014. Here is a update on some of the latest developing stories regarding Ebola:

  • Senegal has officially been cleared of Ebola, the Associated Press reports. Senegal had an imported case from a man who entered the country on the 29th of August 2014. The Government responded by monitoring all contacts, isolating the man and launching public awareness campaigns. Today, given that enough time for potential incubation periods have passed, the UN Health Agency was able to declare the outbreak over. It was called “a good example” in a statement by the World Health Organization.
  • Nina Pham, who arrived at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda today, appeared in a Youtube clip where she appeared to be in good spirits despite her diagnosis. The rationale behind the move was to give her state of the art care and also lighten the load on Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where many staff are now being actively monitored. A worker from the same hospital is currently in isolation aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship near Belize. The worker is 19 days away from her last exposure and did not work directly with the index patient but may have handled blood samples. At the time she left for the cruise the CDC had not yet switched from self-monitoring to active monitoring protocols.
  • On Thursday, 16 October 2014, four people were tested for Ebola in Spain and Tenerife. All preliminary results are now in and all are negative. This includes a person who traveled in the same ambulance as Teresa Romero, the man who presented with fever on an Air France flight from Nigeria via Paris to Madrid (he has Malaria), a missionary who had returned from Liberia and the last in Tenerife, a Red Cross nurse who was in Sierra Leone. Teresa Romero remains the only person currently known to have Ebola within Spanish borders.
  • England will begin screening at two more airports, Manchester and Birmingham, and France says it will begin screening visitors arriving on a once a week flight from Guinea.
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