News & Information About Ebola

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Ebola Update – 22 October 2014

The Red Cross has said that closing borders is not the solution to ending the Ebola Outbreak. This comes on the heels of calls from within the United States to consider a travel ban. On Sunday, Rwanda issued a notice that they would be screening all travelers from Ebola affected countries with an outright ban on travel from four African Nations. Rwanda has not yet been affected by the virus. Here is a summary of the day’s news:


  • The NBC cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo, has recovered from Ebola after contracting the virus in Liberia. He said that he still was not able to pinpoint the exact reason he contracted Ebola but said he had been around many sick people. He also said he was grateful to be alive. He has been receiving treatment from a hospital in Nebraska, USA.
  • The Spanish Nurse, Maria Romero, has officially tested negative for the disease. Four consecutive tests ruled that she no longer had the virus but follow up tests will be performed. Roughly 15 contacts were isolated as a result but none have tested positive so far.
  • Dr. Thomas Frieden of the United States Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has said that all travelers from affected countries will now be monitored. Travelers will have to report their temperatures for 21 days to the CDC and also fill in a health card.
  • South Africa’s Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, said that R32.6 million would be set aside for Ebola control and prevention as well as support for affected nations. The speech was delivered in Cape Town today.
  • A riot broke out in Sierra Leone recently as health workers tried to test a 90 year old woman for Ebola. A group of people went on the rampage allegedly yelling for Ebola to end and damaging several buildings. Meanwhile, the Editor of the largest paper in Sierra Leone has accused the government of deflating the number of deaths. The validity of her claims has not been established.



Ebola Update – 15 October 2014

Ebola has once again come to the forefront of the news cycle. President Obama has cancelled trips to organize a meeting with Officials to discuss the Ebola strategy. Here is a round-up of the day’s news:

The World Health Organization released an official situation report update today.

  • A second US health care worker that was infected with Ebola was on a plane the day before her diagnosis:
    • Passengers are advised that Frontier Airways flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday 13 October 2014 was affected and all passengers should contact the CDC.
    • The crew said that the woman did not display any symptoms while on the flight, but Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC confirmed that she had a fever of 99.5 Fahrenheit or 37.5 Celsius.
    • The health care worker has been named as Amber Vinson, according to Reuters.
    • The Airline said she flew to Cleveland on Frontier Airlines flight 1142 on October 10 2014.
    • Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has received scathing criticisms over the last few days, but denies that there is any institutional problem, according to CNN.
    • Amber was vigilant and was isolated within 90 minutes after reporting a fever.
    • The CDC said that they would trace all 132 passengers that were on board.
    • Frieden also said that she was not allowed to travel on a commercial plane due to the nature of her work. But it later emerged that she had phoned the CDC to confirm and was given the all clear as her fever was considered ‘low grade’.
    • Meanwhile the condition of the first health care worker infected, who received a blood plasma transfusion from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, has been listed as good. The antibodies transferred are believed to help fight the Ebola Virus.
  • A woman who displayed signs of Ebola while giving birth in Belgium yesterday has tested negative for the virus. The woman was rushed from the hospital where she gave birth to Antwerp University Hospital based on its ability to better deal with a potential Ebola case. She and the baby were isolated separately and have both tested negative. She had recently been in Sierra Leone.
  • Ebola panic in the United Kingdom has led to negative social consequences. The Huffington Post UK reports that a student from Sierra Leone spent weeks looking for accommodation after being refused twice over Ebola fears. In a separate story from The Daily Mail it is claimed that workers at the BBC are afraid of guests who come from affected countries. Anyone who displays Ebola-like symptoms will not be allowed in the building, the publication reports. Across the pond in the United States, two students from Nigeria were rejected from Navarro College in Texas. Nigeria has not reported a single case since the 8th of September 2014, Texas reported a new case today.


Ebola Update – 13 October 2014

Here is a summary of the day’s top stories regarding Ebola:

  • The Head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Francis Collins, claims that if it had not been for budget cuts, there would already be a vaccine for Ebola. He claims that they have been researching a vaccine since 2002. The budget in 2004 was around US $28 billion and US $29.3 billion in 2013. This is an increase in pure numbers but a decrease once inflation has been factored in. A bill has been introduced to increase funding but is currently stagnant.
  • The Dallas Nurse who has been diagnosed with Ebola after treating the index patient Thomas Duncan has been unable to identify where her breach might have come from. Additionally, according to WFAA she has been named by family members as 26-year old, former Texas Christian University student, Nina Pham. She apparently grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. The CDC is now monitoring all health care workers carefully to ensure that all protocols are properly adhered to. A Press Conference was also held where Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC, said “I feel awful…”
  • A Canadian-made vaccine licensed by the US company, NewLink Genetics, will begin clinical trials tomorrow. The vaccine will be tested in a lab in Maryland, USA with results expected to be available by December 2014. If the vaccine proves successful and meets safety requirements it could be administered to health care workers sometime during 2015.
  • Some of the Nurses who yesterday protested demanding higher hazard pay in Liberia have arrived for work. The Nurses originally demanded US $ 700 above their monthly salary.
  • The NY Post reports that a Tanzanian man with arrest warrants in the United States claimed he was feverish when airport officials wanted to arrest him at JFK Airport. He was rushed to a hospital in a hazmat suit where he spent Saturday night. It is unclear if he has tested positive for anything, or if he has been arrested since. This took place the same day that temperature monitoring was introduced at the airport.
  • Dallas News reports that facts about how Ebola spreads might be inaccurate. Studies allege droplets that are small enough to float through the air can lead to Ebola infection in animals. The question is whether this applies to humans as well.
  • A person in Jacksonville, US – FL is being tested for Ebola. The person had apparently come into contact with someone who was from West Africa. Officials at Baptist Medical Center say the diagnosis is unlikely but they are following all CDC protocols.
  • NHS Staff in the United Kingdom are said to be panicking due to the fact that many feel they are unprepared for EVD. A few false alarms have exacerbated the situation.
  • A license for German-owned airline Gambia Bird to reinstate direct flights to Sierra Leone from England was also revoked today after being valid for only a short while. The deterioration of the country was cited as the reason. Brussels Airlines is currently the only European carrier flying to Sierra Leone.
  • The World Health Organization has called Ebola “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times”.  More than 4000 people have died since the beginning of the West African Ebola Outbreak. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan called for calm saying that fear of infection has spread quicker than actual infection leading to unnecessary economic challenges.

2nd USA Patient Tests Positive

A health care worker has tested positive for Ebola according to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Thomas Duncan the first American Ebola case was treated. Blood samples have been sent to the CDC for final confirmation. According to reports the nurse showed symptoms of a fever on Friday evening with the initial test results received late Saturday.

No detail or information has been provided as yet however speculation is rife that this is likely one of the health care workers that came into contact with Duncan on his first visit to the hospital when he was sent home. There is a low probability that an infection would have occurred once the hospital knew they were dealing with Ebola. Health care workers have been infected at an alarming frequency throughout the Ebola outbreak.

Contact tracing has already begun following a patient interview by health officials and monitoring off any suspected contacts generated from this case will likely begin immediately. The patient was admitted and isolated shortly after exhibiting the initial symptoms which should minimize the potential time the virus has to spread.

False positive tests are a possibility and the case will only be confirmed as official once the CDC confirms them with a second test result.

UPDATE: The worker treated Duncan on his second visit to the hospital and was following all guideline precautions including PPE.

UPDATE: President Obama has requested an urgent investigation into the case.

UPDATE: The CDC has confirmed the test results officially

Animal Testing and Ebola

Animal Rights activists in Europe have been reeling since they found out the dog of the Spanish Nurse, Excalibur will be put down. Many took to twitter to join the campaign to keep him alive. However, some also view this as an opportunity to investigate previous studies about dogs which are able to carry the virus and allegedly stay asymptomatic. This could form part of the ongoing studies to try and find a vaccine.

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) of the USA protects pharmaceutical companies who may want to use mammals to study Ebola from deliberate attempts to sabotage research. While the rights of those who wish to protest are also respected, clear boundaries are drawn and the bill largely favors medical advancement.

The CDC’s website suggests that all mammals could be potential carriers if they have come into contact with the disease. While many argue that animal testing should be illegal it will certainly not stop anyone from investigating how the disease operates in mammals. There has been no confirmation if Thomas Eric Duncan came into contact with any pets or if any of the contacts have tested positive for the virus. If they have it would be necessary to monitor their pets for symptoms and take necessary action. Water, air and non-mammals including mosquitos are not known to carry the virus.

Pets are considered low risk and there is no need to panic. Livestock meat is also regularly tested, as are the livestock themselves. It is however not clear under the law if the abduction of an animal in isolation would constitute a loss of property under the Act and whether resultant infections would make the kidnappers criminally liable.

UPDATE: The Dog, Excalibur, has been put down.

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