Ebola

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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.

 

WHO: Situation Report – 15 October 2014

Widespread under-reporting and a lack of reliable data continues to place strain on efforts to provide detailed information regarding the 2014 Ebola outbreak. It has claimed at least 4493 lives according to the latest official report from the World Health Organization. Senegal and Nigeria are nearing the 42 day mark after which the outbreaks in those regions will be declared over if no new infections are reported. It is noteworthy that information released earlier this week indicated that the 21 day incubation upper limit was relevant to 95% of cases with 5% of cases occurring beyond the 21 day limit.

Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia continue to deteriorate with very little slowdown in sight. Case counts in most districts continue to increase despite the claims of under-reporting. Liberia which has been accused of attempting to hide Ebola cases after a recent ban on foreign media has reported 4249 cases in total. The total case count for the West African cluster has increased to 8973. The death tolls continue to exceed the number of confirmed cases particularly in Sierra Leone which, according to the report, is showing rampant spread of the virus.

The case count in Spain has remained constant with a single case reported while the official count for the USA has grown to 2. The US count excludes the third case which was announced earlier today. The United Nations has urged high risk countries to bolster their readiness in expectation of further global spread. The UN also warned that if the outbreak cannot be contained by the end of November the situation could be “unprecedented”.

The unrelated outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains stable with all contacts clear of symptoms after their 21 day follow-up suggesting that the outbreak in the Congo has been successfully contained.

WHO Situation Report – 15 October 2014

Ebola Update – 14 October 2014

According to the World Health Organization report on the 10th of October 2014 there have been 8470 confirmed cases of Ebola and 4076 deaths. Officials in many countries are doing their best to implement policies that will help reduce the spread of the virus. Here is a round-up of the day’s news:

  • After a US Nurse was infected with Ebola many people are asking whether American hospitals are ready to treat the virus. Officials have maintained that they are ready but some health care workers are calling for more training. According to The New York Times, researchers at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta found high levels of the Ebola Virus in patients’ bodily fluids and even on their skin. This could mean that stricter precautions must be taken. A Spanish Nurse, Maria Theresa Romero Ramos, allegedly contracted the virus when she touched her face with her hazmat suit glove.
  • Reports surfaced claiming that Ebola had spread to Kenya after a woman travelling from South Sudan died at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport of Ebola-like symptoms. The woman was attended to by medics in protective suits and it was later confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Kenya Medical Research Institute that she didn’t have Ebola.
  • Assistant director-general Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization says the epidemic is expanding in West Africa. He expects that the number of cases will shoot over 9000 this week. He also said that decline of infections in some areas could not be seen as a success because the outbreak was affecting more areas overall and spreading quickly. He also warned that the world could see between five and ten thousand cases a week if intervention continued to be delayed. He also confirmed that the death rate of Ebola currently sits at 70%.
  • A Sierra Leone soldier has contracted Ebola but is not part of the group scheduled to travel to Somalia on a peacekeeping mission, the Associated Press reports. The group will allegedly be fighting for the interests of the Somalian government.
  • President Koroma of Sierra Leone recently told a World Bank roundtable that the country needed five more strategic laboratories as the country’s current four could only process less than 150 samples a day. He also stressed security of samples to prevent possible bio-terrorism threats. He also stressed equipment, the need for psycho-social support to reduce stigma for survivors and help society through the devastation of loss, kick-starting the economy and sustainability of emergency response mechanisms.
  • Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla have donated US $25 million to the CDC foundation for the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

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.

WHO Roadmap Update 10 October 2014

The World Health Organization has published it’s Roadmap Update which now includes data from Spain. The official case count now totals 8470 including the initial outbreaks in Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, the United States of America as well as the unrelated outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 4076 deaths have been reported across all regions. WHO noted serious concerns about the quality of data provided in recent reports from the so called “hot zone” countries earlier this week. Based on current data the growth of the outbreak is no longer exponential if the data is accurate.

The World Health Organization has been particularly active this week raising several concerns about the global impact of Ebola. East Asia is considered to be at risk according to WHO. The large trade and transport hubs in the region are of particular concern. The first transmission of Ebola in Spain raised additional alarm bells and resulted in announcements that further cases in Europe would be inevitable.

Liberia remains of particular concern. A report from the Health Ministry today showed no new cases raising concerns around the ability of the country to collect data on the outbreak. Journalists and Media have been banned from being near Ebola treatment centers or making contact with Ebola patients without explicit permission from the Health Ministry. Speculation about the situation in Liberia has been fierce and generally concerning.

Guinea has seen a significant increase in the number of patients particularly in Conakry where Donka Ebola management center has been severely stretched by a large intake of patients. The center is now well over its 60 bed capacity after admitting at least 22 patients on the 6th of October.

WHO Road-map 10/10/2014

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