Category Archives: Community

EbolaWatch: Numbers, quarantines, & Africa


Again, always Africa, and we hope you read today’s compendium of reports from African news media [along with much, much more] after the jump.

We begin today’s compendium with grim numbers from United Press International:

Yale study predicts huge increase in Ebola cases in Liberia

  • It projected over 170,000 new cases in the country that includes the city of Monrovia by Dec. 15.

A study by the Yale University School of Public Health suggests a massive increase in Ebola virus cases will affect Liberia within weeks.

A mathematical model of the disease by a group from Yale, working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Liberia, was applied to Liberia’s most populous county, Montserrado, which includes the capital city of Monrovia. As many as 170,996 cases of the disease, with 90,122 deaths in Montserrado alone, were projected by Dec. 15. Those figures reported and unreported cases. Of those figures, researchers expect that only 42,669 cases and 27,175 deaths will be officially reported by Dec. 15.

The report, published in the scholarly magazine The Lancet Infectious Disease, said the international response to the Ebola virus thus far is “grossly inadequate,” that the window of opportunity for “timely control of the outbreak” has closed and that the “risk for catastrophic devastation both in West Africa and beyond might have only just begun.”

And via Voice of America, the staggering casualties anticipated in just one city:

Yale Researchers Project 90,000 Ebola Deaths In Monrovia Alone

Program notes:

The latest figures from the World Health Organization show that Ebola epidemic has claimed nearly 5,000 lives, mostly in West Africa. But as we hear from VOA’s Carol Pearson, that number could be 18 times greater in just one county in Liberia within two months.

Next, Ebola invades yet another African nation, via he Los Angeles Times:

Mali monitors 43 people as it tackles its first case of Ebola

Health authorities in Mali are monitoring 43 people known to have been in contact with a 2-year-old girl, the West African nation’s first Ebola case.

As Malian officials scrambled to head off the threat, authorities in neighboring Ivory Coast were hunting for a Guinean health worker believed to have fled his country, possibly carrying the disease.

The 2-year-old girl, who was not identified, was brought by her grandmother to relatives in the Mali town of Kayes after the child’s mother died of Ebola in Guinea. On the way, she spent 10 days in the neighborhood of Bagadadji. Ten health workers who treated the child are among the 43

And a sober assessment from the Associated Press:

WHO: Mali case may have infected many people

The World Health Organization says a toddler who brought Ebola to Mali was bleeding from her nose during her journey on public transport and may have infected many people.

WHO said it is treating the situation in Mali as an emergency.

This is the first Ebola case in Mali and may expand to many more. The case highlights how quickly the virus can hop borders and even oceans, just as questions are being asked about what precautions health care workers who treat Ebola patients should take when they return home from the hot zone. Doctors Without Borders insisted Friday, after one of its doctors who worked in Guinea came down with Ebola in New York, that quarantines of returning health workers are not necessary when they do not show symptoms of the disease.

In the Mali case, however, the girl was visibly sick, WHO said, and an initial investigation has identified 43 people, including 10 health workers, she came into close contact with who are being monitored for symptoms and held in isolation. The child was confirmed to have Ebola on Thursday.

“The child’s symptomatic state during the bus journey is especially concerning, as it presented multiple opportunities for exposures — including high-risk exposures — involving many people,” the agency said in a statement.

More from Reuters:

Mali isolates nurses amid alarm after first Ebola case

Nurses and other people who have come into contact with the first Ebola patient in Mali were isolated on Friday as concerns mounted that an epidemic that has killed 4,900 people in neighbouring West African states could take hold in the country.

Mali confirmed its first case of Ebola on Thursday and said the two-year-old girl was being treated in the western town of Kayes. She was brought by relatives from neighbouring Guinea, where the epidemic was detected in March, after her mother died of the disease.

On the dusty streets of the capital Bamako, residents voiced alarm after health officials said the girl had spent 10 days in the city’s Bagadadji district before travelling on Sunday to Kayes, some 400 km to the northwest near the Senegalese border.

“I am afraid because, with my job, I am in permanent contact with people but I can’t afford to just stop,” said taxi driver Hamidou Bamba, 46, in Bamako. “Today is Friday so let us pray to Allah that this disease will not spread in Mali.”

And the sad fate of the patient from the Independent:

Ebola outbreak: Two-year-old dies of virus in Mali

A two-year-old girl who was Mali’s first confirmed case of Ebola has died, according to a health official.

The official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that the toddler died in the western Malian town of Kayes at around 4pm (GMT), where she was being treated in isolation.

Next, a classic example of what we call “eugenics by capitalism” from the New York Times:

Without Lucrative Market, Potential Ebola Vaccine Was Shelved for Years

Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal, and health officials called them exciting. The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011.

It never happened. The vaccine sat on a shelf. Only now, with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa, is the vaccine undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans.

Its development stalled in part because Ebola was rare, and until now outbreaks had infected only a few hundred people at a time. But experts also acknowledge that the lack of follow-up on such a promising candidate reflects a broader failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries. Most drug companies have resisted spending the enormous sums needed to to develop products useful mostly to poor countries with little ability to pay for them.

Next, now that the North is threatened by an invisible invasion from the South, mobilization is amazing fast, via the Associated Press:

Millions of Ebola vaccine doses ready in 2015

The World Health Organization says millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines will start being tested in March.

Still, the agency warned it’s not clear whether any of these will work against the deadly virus that has already killed at least 4,877 people this year in West Africa.

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny from the U.N. health agency told reporters that those doses could be available in 2015 if early tests proved that the two leading experimental vaccines are safe and provoke enough of an immune response to protect people from being infected with Ebola.

Trials of those two most advanced vaccines —one developed by GlaxoSmithKline in cooperation with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the other developed by the Canadian Public Health Agency and licensed to the U.S. company NewLink Genetics — have already begun in the U.S., U.K. and Mali.

And follow with a headline from the Associated Press of the sort you’ll never see in a paper in, say, Sierra Leone:

Dallas nurse’s dog tests negative for Ebola

The first Ebola test for the quarantined King Charles Spaniel belonging to a Dallas nurse hospitalized with the virus has come back negative.

The city of Dallas said Wednesday that one-year-old Bentley will be tested again before his 21-day quarantine period ends Nov. 1.

Bentley was quarantined after his owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola. She was the first of two Texas nurses infected after treating an Ebola patient at a Dallas hospital. She’s being treated at the National Institutes of Health, where her condition was upgraded to good.

And the scare-of-the-moment on this side of the Atlantic, albeit one with more grounds for suspicion than most, via the Washington Post:

New York physician who worked in Guinea tests positive for Ebola

A New York physician who recently returned from the front lines of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa tested positive Thursday for the deadly virus after falling ill, days after his arriving back in the United States.

Craig Spencer, 33, remained in isolation late Thursday at Bellevue Hospital, officials said. He was taken to the hospital earlier in the day after reporting a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms. Spencer, who had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea, becomes the fourth person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States — and the first diagnosed outside Texas.

“We were hoping that it didn’t happen, but we were also realistic,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said in a news conference Thursday night. “This is New York. People come through New York. People come through New York’s airports, so we can’t say this is an unexpected circumstance. We are as ready as one could be for this circumstance.”

City health commissioner Mary Bassett said that Spencer had completed his work in Guinea on Oct. 12 and departed the country on Oct. 14. He arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Oct. 17, after a stop in Brussels.

More from the Guardian:

Ebola: New York officials urge calm as cleanup begins at patient’s home

  • Hazardous materials team clean Craig Spencer’s apartment
  • Officials monitor four people who may have had contact
  • New York governor: ‘Ebola is not an airborne illness’

Specialist medical teams were on Friday decontaminating the New York apartment of a doctor confirmed to have Ebola, as the city’s top officials urged a calm response to the diagnosis.

A privately contracted crew of environmental and hazardous material cleaners arrived at the apartment that Craig Spencer, 33, shared with his fiancee Morgan Dixon.

Spencer, who had worked for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, was being treated in an isolation unit at Bellevue hospital in the city, where he was taken after displaying symptoms consistent with those caused by Ebola, including a fever of 100.3F (38C).

Officials are monitoring four people with whom Spencer had contact. His fiancee and two friends have been quarantined, while the fourth person, a taxi driver, was not considered to be at risk.

And from the McClatchy Washington Bureau, plaudits:

World Bank head calls New York doctor a ‘hero,’ says only more volunteers can stop Ebola

The president of the World Bank on Friday praised a New York doctor who became that city’s first Ebola victim, saying the doctor’s decision to volunteer in West Africa was “exactly what is needed to stop this epidemic.”

“Dr. Spencer is a hero,” Dr. Jim Kim, who’s headed the World Bank for the past two years, said, referring to Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old physician who returned to the United States last week from Guinea, where he’d been treating Ebola victims on behalf of the global medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

Praise for a medical volunteer from the president of a global financial institution may seem like an odd way to begin a breakfast with a group of reporters in Washington. But Kim is an unusual World Bank president, the only leader of that institution not to be a career banker or financier. Instead, Kim is an epidemiologist by trade, a noted researcher of infectious diseases who earned renown for developing ways of treating multidrug resistant tuberculosis in the slums of Peru, and who once worked for the World Health Organization, the U.N.’s global health agency. Better health care, he argues, is the path to economic growth. In low to middle income countries, he says, 25 percent of economic growth can be attributed to better health outcomes.

The London Daily Mail covers emetophobia:

Angry lawmaker tells HHS ‘preparedness’ chief to quit over Ebola as he frets about flying home in case someone ‘barfed on the plane’

  • A rambling Florida Rep. John Mica ripped into HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie during an Ebola hearing

‘Are you in charge of being prepared?’ Mica demanded, dropping references to a 1950s parody song about ‘the Boy Scout’s marching song’

He insisted on knowing if the US has a plan in place to sterilize airplanes like it had during the global bird flu panic

Ebola sufferers ‘might have barfed on the plane, there might be excrement, there may be vomit, there may be body fluids,’ he said

After a breathless torrent of questions, Mica got up to go while the hearing continued, saying ‘I have a plane to catch’

And another Republican voice is heard, via United Press International:

Rep. Darrell Issa knocks Ebola czar and Obama’s response to the epidemic

  • “When the head of the C.D.C. says you can’t get it with somebody on the bus next to you, that’s just not true,” claims Issa

And from the New York Times, another Obama retreat:

U.S. to Monitor Travelers From Ebola-Hit Nations for 21 Days

Federal health officials on Wednesday placed new restrictions on travelers from West African countries with Ebola outbreaks, requiring that they report their temperatures daily for three weeks, along with any other potential symptoms of the disease.

Beginning next Monday, under new rules issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all travelers who have visited Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia — and, presumably, any other country in which outbreaks might occur — will be required to provide home and email addresses, telephone numbers and other contact details for themselves and for at least one friend or relative.

Once a day for the next 21 days, they will have to check in with their state or local health department and report their morning and evening temperatures and list any other symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea.

The Associated Press runs the numbers:

AP-GfK Poll: Public wants tighter Ebola screening

The AP-GfK poll found 9 out of 10 people — unusually high agreement on any issue — think it’s necessary to tighten screening procedures for people entering the U.S. from the outbreak zone in West Africa, including 69 percent who say it’s definitely needed.

Some would go even further: Almost half say it’s definitely necessary to prevent everyone traveling from places affected by Ebola from entering the U.S. Another 29 percent say it’s probably necessary to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned since summer that an infected traveler eventually would arrive in the U.S., and it finally happened last month when Thomas Eric Duncan developed symptoms of Ebola a few days after arriving from Liberia. He died on Oct. 8.

More angst from the London Daily Mail:

‘Doctors Without Borders nurse’ is quarantined at Newark airport despite having no virus symptoms amid stricter screening for West Africa travelers

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the woman arrived at the airport on a flight on Friday from West Africa
  • He said that the New Jersey Department of Health determined that a legal quarantine order should be issued due to tightened protocols
  • Dr Seema Yasmin, a doctor in Dallas who is also a CDC ‘disease detective’, tweeted on Friday afternoon, that her friend, a nurse with Doctors Without Borders, was being quarantined at Newark
  • A woman has been quarantined at Newark Airport due to stricter screening protocols on Friday after reporting contact with Ebola victims.
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the woman arrived at the airport on a flight on Friday from West Africa. He earlier announced that additional screening protocols were being implemented at JFK and Newark International Airports.
  • At a joint press conference with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Christie said a health care worker already has been quarantined even though she has no symptoms.

And a riposte, via the New York Times:

After Negative Ebola Test, Quarantined Nurse Criticizes Treatment at Newark Airport

A nurse who tested negative for the Ebola virus but remained under a 21-day quarantine in a Newark hospital on Saturday is angry and frustrated with how she was treated when she returned to the United States from West Africa.

A first-person account by the nurse, Kaci Hickox, of what happened when she landed at Newark Liberty International Airport about 1 p.m. Friday was published on Saturday on the website of The Dallas Morning News.

Ms. Hickox said that four hours after she landed at the airport, her fever registered 101 degrees when it was taken with a forehead scanner by a “smug”-looking female officer in a quarantine section. The above-normal reading, she said, was because she was upset and her face was flush with anxiety over being detained with no reason given. When her temperature was taken later with an oral thermometer at University Hospital in Newark, it registered a normal 98.6 degrees, Ms. Hickox said on the website.

And from the Associated Press, lockdown:

NY, NJ order Ebola quarantine for doctors, others

Alarmed by the case of an Ebola-infected New York doctor, the governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine of all medical workers and other arriving airline passengers who have had contact with victims of the deadly disease in West Africa.

The move came after a physician who returned to New York City a week ago from treating Ebola patients in Guinea fell ill with the virus. Many New Yorkers were dismayed to learn that in the days after he came home, Dr. Craig Spencer rode the subway, took a cab, went bowling, visited a coffee shop and ate at a restaurant in the city of 8 million.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the case led them to conclude that the two states need precautions more rigorous than those of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends monitoring of exposed people for 21 days but doesn’t require quarantine, in which they are kept away from others.

And the newest addition, via the Washington Post:

N.Y., N.J., Illinois to impose new Ebola quarantine rules

While the Los Angeles Times ponders an alternative:

With Ebola, it’s better to screen outbound flights, study suggests

The deceased Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan is unlikely to be the last person to carry the Ebola virus out of one of three West African countries, a new study suggests. Given current infection rates in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, a team of Canadian infectious disease specialists estimates that as many as three passengers a month are likely to board international flights from one of the three countries.

But the research concludes that screening air travelers in a bid to block the virus’ export would be far more effective if conducted in airports inside the three stricken countries than screening done in arrival destinations such as the United States.

The analysis, published online in the Lancet on Monday, suggests that on average every 10.5 days, a single person sick with Ebola is likely to carry the virus by air from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to another country.

From the Guardian, symbolic embrace:

Obama hugs Dallas nurse hours after she is declared free of Ebola

  • White House spokesman says president is seeking to reassure public about medical protocols in place to combat disease

Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans over the risks of Ebola transmission on Friday by way of a hug in the Oval Office with Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who had been declared free of the virus only hours earlier.

White House officials said their invitation to Pham had been made to celebrate her full recovery from the illness at a National Institutes of Health facility in nearby Bethesda.

“This an opportunity for the president to thank her for her service,” said spokesman Josh Earnest. “This is someone who displayed the kind of selfless service to her fellow man that is worthy of some praise.”

But he acknowledged the photo opportunity – just hours after fourth US case was confirmed in New York – was also a way to demonstrate the president’s confidence in medical protocols amid growing political criticism of the administration’s handling of the crisis.

The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers the domestic front line response:

Feds consider tiered hospital system for Ebola patients

Hoping to avoid mistakes made in the treatment of Ebola patients in Texas, federal health officials are considering a plan to designate top-tier hospitals as referral centers for the treatment of potential Ebola cases.

That would limit the number of health care workers who must become expert at taking care of patients with the highly contagious and often deadly disease. Other hospitals still would need to be prepared to identify potential Ebola patients for transfer to the appropriate hospitals for treatment.

The push comes in the wake of mistakes at the Dallas hospital that treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan – and where two nurses subsequently became infected with the virus – and as several nurses’ unions across the country worry about the preparedness level of local medical centers.

While the Los Angeles Times revisits the initial domestic venue:

Texas hospitals prepare in case Ebola strikes again

With two Texas nurses diagnosed with Ebola still hospitalized, a newly formed state task force on infectious diseases met Thursday for the first time to review the state’s medical and public health preparedness to cope with the deadly virus.

The country’s first Ebola diagnosis in Dallas on Sept. 30 led Gov. Rick Perry to form the task force and two “bio containment” treatment centers near the state’s largest metro areas, Dallas and Houston.

Professor James LeDuc, director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said the facility there can treat up to three Ebola patients at a time. Thirty staffers who work there recently met voluntarily with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From the Washington Post, a troublesome undercurrent:

Ebola will make Americans more likely to give up civil liberties

The emerging reaction to America’s newest case of Ebola shows that many Americans are scared by serious contagious diseases.

Recent polling of Americans shows that public concern over Ebola has grown since the first cases arrived in the United States and since the death of the first Ebola patient — with 4 in 10 Americans saying that they are worried about family members contracting Ebola. The symptoms associated with Ebola, such as bleeding and weakness, are frightening, and the death rate in this current outbreak is very high, reaching 70 percent in certain places. Ebola anxiety, while potentially misplaced and harmful, is likely to have an affect on whom Americans trust to handle the disease and what kinds of policies they will support to fight it.

Based on work that we have done on other public health anxieties, such as smallpox and the H1N1 flu, we expect that Ebola anxiety will lead people to seek protection from diseases that may cause harm to them or their family. In seeking protection, we expect that Americans will, at least initially, put their trust in medical experts like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to tell them how to stay safe and will support state powers that may lead to quarantine or other civil liberties restrictions for those suspected of exposure.

After the jump, universities get restrictive, volunteer discouragement angst, France throws up screens, Japan amps up its screening while Rwanda drops one controversial portion of its screening mandate, Ebolaphobia leads to a mule’s demise, North Korea close the borders, quackery flourishes, Ebola lends its name to viruses of another sort and a software mogul coughs up more cash for the fight, China pledges more aid while Europe pledges more euros to the fight, WHO vaccine talks and a Japanese drug, crowdfunding research, dissent over Aussie aid, one nation leads assistance efforts [and it’s not the U.S.], on to Africa, first with help for the newest nation to join the Ebola list and a neighbor closes the border, more devastating regional consequences, a major commitment from other African nations, illegal immigrants targeted, next to Sierra Leone and victory for a few, and on to Liberia and a call for a regional strategy, cremation fears fuel an epidemic of hidden patients and secret burials while a politician blames the fears for spreading the disease [while Nigeria orders corpse confiscation], hunger in quarantine prompts escape fears, one county nears a victory while another suffers from a surge, and, finally, robots to the rescue. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: More alarms, profit, pols, Africa


Always Africa. . .

We begin with the crassly commercial, via the Guardian:

Ebola: you’ve read about the disease, now buy the merchandise!

  • Everyone knows about Ebola – which makes it a dream marketing possibility for  companies unhindered by sensitivity. Here’s a selection of their varied wares

Perhaps compulsively buying Ebola products is itself a disease? If so, an epidemic of that too is brewing. Some people think the virus is all part of a conspiracy that must be exposed. Others believe it is the dawn of an apocalypse and are planning their survival. Then there are the people who just need to laugh in the face of so much sombre news (thankfully, we don’t see many of the faces of the people dying). Where there is this kind of demand, there will be supply.

One example of what’s on offer:

BLOG E-thong

Ebolaphobia, via the New York Times:

In U.S., Fear of Ebola Closes Schools and Shapes

A crowd of parents last week pulled their children out of a Mississippi middle school after learning that its principal had traveled to Zambia, an African nation untouched by the disease.

On the eve of midterm elections with control of the United States Senate at stake, politicians from both parties are calling for the end of commercial air traffic between the United States and some African countries, even though most public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a shutdown would compound rather than alleviate the risks.

Carolyn Smith of Louisville, Ky., last week took a rare break from sequestering herself at home to take her fiancé to a doctor’s appointment. She said she was reluctant to leave her house after hearing that a nurse from the Dallas hospital had flown to Cleveland, over 300 miles from her home. “We’re not really going anywhere if we can help it,” Ms. Smith, 50, said.

More from the Guardian:

Panic: the dangerous epidemic sweeping an Ebola-fearing US

  • The fact that a school principal has been to Zambia (2,000 miles from west Africa) is not a good reason to keep your children home

Panic is less a side-effect of Ebola than its own sort of infectious disease, spread by misinformation and fear, a sickness that frays and tears the ways people usually get along. Hysteria shuts down schools and airports, paranoia undermines health workers and law enforcement, and fear encourages some of people’s worst instincts. As of Monday, there’s a lot more panic in the US than Ebola.

In Strong, Maine, an elementary school put a teacher on leave because she travelled to Dallas for a conference and stayed in the Hilton Anatole – “exactly 9.5 miles away” from the hospital where two nurses contracted the virus. The school board said parents feared the teacher could have contacted someone who contacted the nurses, or maybe someone who contacted someone who contacted one of the nurses – a rationale that would have fenced Maine off from Dallas, even though dozens have been declared healthy there.

In Georgia, a school district barred enrolment for students from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea unless they can present a doctor’s clean bill of health. In Hazelhurst, Mississippi, parents pulled children from a middle school after learning that the principal had been to Zambia for his brother’s funeral. Zambia, just a country away from South Africa, is well over 2,000 miles away from the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

Nor is the mania limited to parents. Syracuse University “disinvited” a Pulitzer-winning journalist from speaking because he recently went to Liberia for work. Curiously, the dean who made the call said that while “this is not what you want to do as the dean of a premier journalism school,” she was “unwilling to take any risk”. The journalist, Michel du Cille, who has shown no symptoms and even been to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for work since his return, said he is “completely weirded out that a journalism institution that should be seeking out facts and details is basically pandering to hysteria”.

The Hill poses a question:

Ebola fears: Blame Hollywood?

Losing sleep over Ebola? Blame “The Walking Dead.”

Scholars say the outpouring of public angst about the virus is partly rooted in Hollywood, where film studios have for years cranked out TV shows and movies such as “Outbreak” and “Contagion” that show the world ravaged by an unstoppable virus.

The silver screen portrayals have added to the challenges for public health officials as they try to maintain public calm about a virus that is killing an estimated 7 out of every 10 people it infects in West Africa.

“They’re fictional. They’re meant to entertain,” said Nancy Tomes, a historian who has studied the causes of  “germ panics.”

“They have no obligation to virology. They’re for entertainment. But they do shape the ideas that people have available to make sense of something like this.”

But UN Daily News offers a different, more serious take:

Ebola no longer ‘localized emergency,’ UN health officials tell regional summit in Cuba

Ebola is no longer a localized public health emergency, top UN officials said in Havana today as they commended Cuba for sending doctors and nurses to the affected countries in West Africa, and addressed regional leaders gathering to discuss ways to resolve the emergency and halt spread of the virus to regional States.

Speaking at the Summit of Heads of State of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our Americas (ALBA) on Ebola, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, said cooperation and solidarity are essential, and Cuba and Venezuela, with their contributions, have already demonstrated this.

“I urge countries in the region and around the world to follow the lead of Cuba and Venezuela, who have set a commendable example with their rapid response in support of efforts to contain Ebola,” he said.

Saying that Cuba’s solidarity with other developing countries is well established, Dr. Nabarro commended the Government of the Caribbean island for dispatching a team of 165 medical aid workers to West Africa in early October.

“Cuba’s proud tradition of training doctors from developing countries has also helped improve medical care around the world,” Dr. Nabarro said.

Washington ramps up on the domestic front, via Reuters:

Using military and new protocols, U.S. ramps up Ebola response

The United States is issuing new protocols for health workers treating Ebola patients and a rapid-response military medical team will start training even as Americans’ anxiety about the spread of the virus abates with 43 people declared risk free.

The government’s new guidelines, which were set to come out at 7 p.m. EDT on Monday, were expected to tell health workers to cover skin, eyes and hair completely when dealing with patients who have the virus that has killed more than 4,500 in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

There have been just three cases diagnosed inside the United States, a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in Dallas, Texas, on Oct. 8 and two nurses who treated him and are now themselves patients. Among those released from monitoring were four people who shared an apartment with Duncan and had been in quarantine.

And RT raises questions:

US Army withheld promise from Germany that Ebola virus wouldn’t be weaponized

The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.”

Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

And a refusal from The Hill:

Obama’s Ebola czar declines to testify

The White House’s new Ebola czar will not testify before lawmakers Friday on the U.S. response to the epidemic.

Ron Klain, a Democratic operative, was named as the Obama administration’s point man on Ebola last Friday and will assume the job Wednesday.

Two days after that, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the government’s Ebola response, with Klain among those invited to testify.

The White House declined the invitation on Monday, according to a source close to the back-and-forth.

Clearances from the Los Angeles Times:

Cautious optimism in Dallas as 43 people declared ‘Ebola free’

Dallas County officials on Monday expressed relief with the end of Ebola monitoring for most of the first group of 48 people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the virus on Oct. 8.

“Today is a milestone day, it’s a hurdle that we need to get over,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said at a morning briefing.

Duncan, 42, was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sept. 28, and the group began their 21-day monitoring soon after, including daily visits from public health workers who took their temperatures daily and checked for other symptoms of the deadly virus.

From the Los Angeles Times again, litigation looming:

Ebola patient Amber Vinson’s family disputes CDC story, gets a lawyer

Health officials gave Texas nurse Amber Vinson permission to fly to Ohio and back even though she voiced concern about Ebola, her relatives said Sunday, adding that they have retained a high-profile attorney.

Their statement contradicted a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention account of what took place before the nurse was diagnosed with the virus.

CDC officials said last week that Vinson had been told to avoid public transportation, including commercial airlines, while monitoring herself for symptoms. CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said her trip to Ohio, which began before fellow nurse Nina Pham had been diagnosed with Ebola, violated that restriction. The agency has acknowledged approving Vinson’s return flight.

The Associated Press points to the deficient:

Urgent-care clinics ill-equipped to treat Ebola

A new concern over the spread of Ebola surfaced recently when a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy who searched the apartment of the first patient to die from the virus in the U.S. started feeling ill and went to an urgent-care center.

The clinics popping up rapidly across the nation aren’t designed to treat serious illnesses and are ill-equipped to deal with suspected Ebola cases.

Doctors are urging patients to avoid smaller medical facilities and head to emergency rooms if they think they’ve been exposed to the virus that has put a focus on weak spots in the U.S. health care system.

The Christian Science Monitor covers political divisions:

Sharp divide in how key voters view US government’s Ebola response

  • Republican voters in electoral battleground states have far less confidence in US efforts to fight Ebola than do Democrats, a new poll shows

Anxiety is the dominant emotion among voters in battleground states and districts heading into Election Day, according to a poll released Monday by Politico.

From Ebola and the Islamic State to health care and the economy, voters are feeling shaky about the nation’s ability to cope with a variety of challenges. Overall, this sense of skepticism has not given either party a strong advantage in the midterms. Forty-four percent of battleground voters plan to vote Democratic, versus 41 percent for Republicans.

But on the federal government’s response to the Ebola virus, Republican voters in battleground races are much more skeptical than their Democratic counterparts, the poll found. Among the voters in that sample who plan to vote Republican on Nov. 4, only 43 percent said they have “a lot” or “some” confidence that the federal government is doing “everything possible to contain the spread of Ebola,” the poll found. Among Democratic voters, the number was 81 percent.

The Los Angeles Times covers absent impacts:

Ebola scare has had minimal effect on business travel, survey finds

The Ebola scare that has prompted calls for a travel ban and a quarantine of visitors from West Africa has done little to dampen business travel from the U.S.

Nearly 80% of corporate travel managers surveyed said the Ebola outbreak had either no or little effect on scheduled international travel, and more than 90% said the disease had no or little effect on domestic travel.

The survey of 421 corporate travel managers by the Global Business Travel Assn. was taken Oct. 13 to 15, about the time of news that a Dallas nurse flew on two Frontier Airlines flights before testing positive for the deadly disease. Amber Vinson, 29, contracted Ebola while treating a Liberian man who died of the disease.

Troubles unresolved from  Homeland Security News Wire:

States’ waste disposal laws limit hospitals’ Ebola-related disposal options

As U.S. hospitals prepare their staff for the possibility of admitting Ebola patients, many are concerned with the laws governing the disposal of Ebola-contaminated medical waste. Protective gloves, gowns, masks, medical instruments, bed linens, cups, plates, tissues, towels, and even pillowcases used on a single Ebola patient treated in a U.S. hospital will generate roughly eight 55-gallon barrels of medical waste each day. The CDC recommends autoclaving or incinerating the waste as a way to destroy the microbes, but California and at least seven other states prohibit burning infected waste.

As U.S. hospitals prepare their staff for the possibility of admitting Ebola patients, many are concerned with the laws governing the disposal of Ebola-contaminated medical waste. “We fully expect that it’s coming our way,” Jennifer Bayer, spokeswoman for the Hospital Association of Southern California, said of the virus. “Not to create any sort of scare, but just given the makeup of our population and the hub that we are, it’s very likely.”

Protective gloves, gowns, masks, medical instruments, bed linens, cups, plates, tissues, towels, and even pillowcases used on a single Ebola patient treated in a U.S. hospital will generate roughly eight 55-gallon barrels of medical waste each day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends autoclaving or incinerating the waste as a way to destroy the microbes, but California and at least seven other states prohibit burning infected waste. “These are some pretty big issues and they need some quick attention,” said Bayer.

A costly discharge, from the London Daily Mail:

German clinic forced to scrap two machines worth £1m because Ebola patient vomited on them

  • Patient was infected while treating Ebola victims in Sierra Leone
  • Was airlifted to hospital in Hamburg for specialist care
  • He recovered after five weeks of intense treatment
  • Not before vomiting on two expensive machines that now must be replaced

A German hospital is counting the cost of treating a single Ebola patient after being forced to write off £1million worth of equipment after a man infected with the virus vomited on it.

The University Clinic Eppendorf in Hamburg, a specialist centre for contagious diseases, gave the man intensive treatment for five weeks after he became infected while working for the World Health Organisation in Sierra Leone in August.

The treatment worked and the patient was declared Ebola-free and released earlier this month.

And from the Toronto Globe and Mail, capitalism at its finest:

As Ebola raged, Ottawa sold masks and gowns to highest bidder

Ottawa continued to auction off stockpiled medical supplies to the public, even after the World Health Organization requested the protective gear amid an Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa.

Sales of so-called Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes surgical masks and isolation gowns, also apparently took place despite requests that are said to have been made this summer via both Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the U.S. and a Canadian aid organization for donations to equip front-line health-care workers. And some of the low-priced auctioned gear landed in the hands of entrepreneurs who then tried to hawk the items for a profit.

An estimated $1.5-million worth of stockpiled Public Health Agency of Canada medical supplies were auctioned for just a fraction of that figure, raising questions about the true value of Canada’s contribution to the global fight against Ebola – and Ottawa’s own handling of it.

Drug news from News On Japan:

Fujifilm says to make Avigan anti-flu drug for more Ebola patients

Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp said on Monday it was expanding the production of its Avigan anti-influenza drug to reach an additional number of Ebola patients.

France and Guinea plan to conduct clinical trials of Avigan 200 mg tablets, made by Fujifilm group company Toyama Chemical Co, in Guinea to treat Ebola in mid-November, Fujifilm said in a statement.

“Some research papers report that Avigan also shows efficacy against the Ebola virus in animal testing with mice, and Avigan has already been administered as an emergency treatment to several (Ebola) patients evacuated from West Africa to Europe,” the company said.

After the jump, screening in Hong Kong, quantifying the likelihood of air transport infections, Chinese aid contributions lag [but so do America’s], one group at the forefront, on to Africa and another fatality on the U.N. staff, Nigeria gets a clean bill of health and sets the bar for other African nations plus the secret of their success, Britain ups Sierra Leone aid, on to Liberia and a case of tragic superstition, a ravaged village, connecting the dots, a presidential son’s arrogance, and death in the military barracks, plus the challenge of journalism in the hot zone. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Crisis, Pols, Scares, & Africa


And please do read the African coverage after the jump, featuring stories from newspapers in the Hot Zone. . .

First up, from BuzzFeed, alarms shrieking:

WHO Says Ebola Is The Worst Modern Health Emergency

The World Health Organization calls Ebola “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times” and says “the world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained, and threatening public health emergency.”

In a statement emailed to reporters on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed Ebola “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times,” saying that most countries where Ebola has spread have failed “to put basic public health infrastructures in place.”

Encouraging people and health officials to get informed about how to prevent Ebola, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan explained that 90% of economic losses during the outbreak of any disease comes from “the uncoordinated and irrational efforts of the public to avoid infection.”

“We are seeing, right now, how this virus can disrupt economies and societies around the world,” she said.

More from the New York Times:

W.H.O. Chief Calls Ebola Outbreak a ‘Crisis for International Peace’

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, said Monday.

Dr. Chan, who dealt with the 2009 avian flu pandemic and the SARS outbreaks of 2002-3, said the Ebola outbreak had progressed from a public health crisis to “a crisis for international peace and security.”

“I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries,” she said in a statement delivered on her behalf to a conference in Manila and released by her office in Geneva. “I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure.”

More from BBC News:

Ebola epidemic ‘could lead to failed states’, warns WHO

The Ebola epidemic threatens the “very survival” of societies and could lead to failed states, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

The outbreak, which has killed some 4,000 people in West Africa, has led to a “crisis for international peace and security”, WHO head Margaret Chan said.

She also warned of the cost of panic “spreading faster than the virus”.

The Nation goes for context:

How the World Let the Ebola Epidemic Spiral Out of Control

  • A swift international response could have contained the outbreak

Despite its frightening virulence, Ebola can be contained through robust public health efforts. It thrives in chaotic and impoverished environments where public health systems are frayed and international assistance weak. Though experts will debate the roots of this current crisis for years, one point on which many agree is that local poverty and global indifference played starring roles. “This isn’t a natural disaster,” international health crusader Paul Farmer told The Washington Post. “This is the terrorism of poverty.”

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are among the poorest countries on the planet, with health systems that have been shattered by years of neglect and conflict. As many as 90 percent of Liberia’s healthcare workers fled the country during its long civil war, and some 80 percent of its health facilities were closed. By the time the Ebola outbreak was declared an international emergency, Liberia had less than 250 doctors. Scientists could not have devised a more nurturing environment for a deadly virus if they had designed it in a laboratory.

But if local conditions created the opening for the epidemic, it was global inaction that helped it to flourish. For months, organizations like Doctors Without Borders begged the World Health Organization to begin marshaling resources to fight the crisis. But after years of budget cuts and the gutting of its epidemic-response unit, WHO failed to act with anything approaching the necessary speed and competence. Nor was it alone: governments around the world have stalled, unwilling to recognize this outbreak as the global humanitarian crisis it is. Even now, far too few have stepped up to provide the medical resources and technical expertise that are so desperately needed.

And the perspective on the handling of the outbreak from a German specialist on tropical diseases from Deutsche Welle:

The Global Fight against Ebola

Program notes:

Dr. Peter Tinnemann, head of the global health sciences unit at the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, offers insights into the global fight against Ebola and explains what the World Health Summit can do to help solve global health problems.

The New York Times raises questions:

New Questions of Risk and Vigilance After Dallas Nurse Contracts Ebola

Dr. Joseph McCormick, regional dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Brownsville, said he was shocked that none of those monitored by officials were hospital workers caring for Mr. Duncan after he was put in isolation. Dr. McCormick worked for the C.D.C. in 1976, when he helped investigate the first epidemic of Ebola in central Africa.

“You know that once this guy is really ill and he’s hospitalized, there’s going to be a lot of contact, manipulation of blood specimens, cleaning up if he’s vomiting or if he’s got diarrhea,” Dr. McCormick said. “You certainly can’t assume that because he’s hospitalized and in this unit that everything is fine and everything that goes on will be without any risk. I mean that’s just ludicrous to think that.”

State and federal health officials seemed to be, in a sense, starting over, two weeks after Mr. Duncan’s diagnosis of Ebola on Sept. 30. They spoke of stepping up precautions and of conducting a new investigation, in order to evaluate and learn more about a group of health-care workers they had initially failed to regard as potentially at risk.

“So in light of this case, we’re looking at the ongoing monitoring of all health care workers and looking at going forward having an epidemiologist see them and more active surveillance for these individuals,” Dr. David L. Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, told reporters Sunday.

The Washington Post assesses:

U.S. hospitals not prepared for Ebola threat

With reports that a nurse who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas has been infected, one thing urgently needs to be made clear: Our hospitals are not prepared to confront the deadly virus.

It is long past time to stop relying on a business-as-usual approach to a virus that has killed thousands in West Africa and has such a frighteningly high mortality rate. There is no margin for error. That means there can be no standard short of optimal in the protective equipment, such as hazmat suits, given to nurses and other personnel who are the first to engage patients with Ebola-like symptoms. All nurses must have access to the same state-of-the-art equipment used by Emory University Hospital personnel when they transported Ebola patients from Africa, but too many hospitals are trying to get by on the cheap.

In addition, hospitals and other front-line providers should immediately conduct hands-on training and drills so that personnel can practice, in teams, such vital safety procedures as the proper way to put on and remove protective equipment. Hospitals must also maintain properly equipped isolation rooms to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff and harden their procedures for disposal of medical waste and linens.

The Associated Press sets the healthcare frame:

CDC urges all US hospitals to ‘think Ebola’

The government is telling the nation’s hospitals to “think Ebola.”

Every hospital must know how to diagnose Ebola in people who have been in West Africa and be ready to isolate a suspected case, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.

He said the CDC is working to improve protections for hospital workers after a nurse caring for an Ebola patient in Dallas became the first person to become infected with the disease inside the U.S.

“We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control,” Frieden said, “because even a single infection is unacceptable.”

Fears from the Los Angeles Times:

Louisiana A.G. opposes burial of burned items linked to Ebola victim

Burned items associated with a Liberian man who died from Ebola in a Dallas hospital last week could be barred from a Louisiana landfill if the state’s attorney general gets his way.

Atty. Gen. Buddy Caldwell said he plans to ask for a temporary restraining order to keep the incinerated items out of Louisiana. The request could be filed as early as Monday, said a spokesman for Caldwell.

In a statement late Sunday, Caldwell cited reports that “six truckloads” of items from the Texas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan was staying are set to be dumped at a Louisiana landfill after being burned at a Veolia Environmental Services plant in Port Arthur, Texas. Duncan fell ill with Ebola in Texas and died Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that incinerated Ebola-associated waste is no longer infectious.

More of the same from the Associated Press:

Company won’t take ash from Ebola victim apartment

A Louisiana waste disposal facility says it will not accept the ashes generated when a Texas Ebola victim’s belongings were incinerated, at least not until state officials agree that it would pose no threat to the public.

Chemical Waste Management Inc.-Lake Charles said in news release Monday that it is permitted to accept such material and that it poses no threat to the environment or human health.

But, the company says, “we do not want to make an already complicated situation, more complicated.”

The Hill covers troops dispatched:

‘Surge’ of Ebola personnel sent to Dallas

A “surge” of personnel and other resources has been sent to Dallas to help discover how a nurse was infected with Ebola, top health officials told President Obama during an Oval Office meeting on Monday.

The president stressed that the investigation into the second U.S. infection “should proceed as expeditiously as possible and that lessons learned should be integrated into future response plans and disseminated to hospitals and healthcare workers nationwide.” He said officials should move “as expeditiously as possible,” according to the White House.

Obama was briefed on the Ebola case by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department; Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, and Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, participated via telephone.

From The Hill, but of course:

GOP amplifies calls for Ebola czar

At least six lawmakers, including one Democrat, are now calling for a single Ebola authority to oversee the government’s efforts at home and abroad. The U.S. plan to combat Ebola costs at least $1 billion and crosses multiple layers of government, from the Department of Defense to airport security staff to local health departments.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who has worked closely with federal officials on the city’s Ebola cases, told reporters last week that the response had been “at best, disorganized.”

The White House maintains that it has a clear chain of command about how to confront Ebola, and it starts with Obama’s top homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco. But Republicans believe the lack of a prominent point person who can focus solely on Ebola has slowed the nation’s response to the epidemic.

Salon lays some blame:

The right’s scary Ebola lesson: How anti-government mania is harming America

  • It’s time to admit the truth: People who cut health funding and don’t like government have not helped this crisis

If not for serial budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health, we would probably have an Ebola vaccine and we would certainly have better treatment, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins tells the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein. This comes on the heels of reporting that the Centers for Disease Control’s prevention budget has been cut by half since 2006, and new revelations about how botched protocols at the Dallas hospital that turned away Thomas Eric Duncan and then failed to treat him effectively also led to the infection of one of Duncan’s caregivers.

Yet most of the media coverage of the politics of Ebola to date has centered on whether President Obama has adequately and/or honestly dealt with the disease. “I remain concerned that we don’t see sufficient seriousness on the part of the federal government about protecting the American public,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters. Cruz is probably the wrong guy to talk about seriousness: his government shutdown forced the NIH to delay clinical trials and made the CDC cut back on disease outbreak detection programs this time last year.

I find myself wondering: When, if ever, will the political debate over Ebola center on the way the right-wing libertarian approach to government has made us less safe?

A Dallas patient update from Sky News:

Ebola Infected Dallas Nurse Nina Pham ‘Stable’

  • Barack Obama urges health officials to quickly investigate how Dallas nurse Nina Pham became infected despite precautions

An American nurse who contracted ebola while treating a dying patient is in “clinically stable” condition, US health officials have said.

The healthcare worker, identified as 26-year-old Nina Pham, has been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas since Friday.

Ms Pham was one of several caregivers who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who succumbed to ebola on 8 October.

The White House said that the president wants an update on steps under way to ensure the national health system is prepared to deal with the disease, which has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa.

A video report from Reuters:

CDC: Infected nurse “clinically stable,” others possibly at risk

Program note:

Dr. Thomas Frieden says CDC doesn’t know how nurse became infected with Ebola, and says staff are assessing care protocols, and materials used for protective suits and equipment.

Reconsideration from the New York Times:

C.D.C. Reviewing Procedures After New Case of Ebola in Dallas

Health authorities have expanded the number of health care workers who were part of a group that may have had contact with Mr. Duncan to at least 50 people, which doubles the number of those being monitored to more than 100.

The action comes as questions were being raised about why the hospital workers who had been caring for Mr. Duncan from Sept. 28 until his death last Wednesday had not been on the initial list.

Officials had previously never made it clear that the 48 people being evaluated did not include those treating him after his admission to the hospital.

On Monday, health authorities said they were conducting interviews with employees at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to try to determine who might have come into contact with Mr. Duncan and were monitoring their health to ensure that they had not contracted the virus.

Unlike Spain, where the dog of a nurse who contracted from a patient was put down, via Reuters:

Dog of Ebola-infected Dallas nurse to be cared for, officials say

The dog of the Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola when treating a patient infected with the virus is still in the woman’s apartment and will be kept safe while its owner is in isolation at a local hospital, officials said on Monday.

The 1-year-old King Charles Spaniel will be moved to an undisclosed location where its health can be checked, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ office said in a statement.

“We are working to remove the dog from the apartment this afternoon,” the office said. Jenkins, the chief executive for Dallas County, is working to share photos of the patient’s dog with her family, it added.

American network talking head goes AWOL, gets whole crew confined, via News Corp Australia:

NBC News crew under quarantine after correspondent Dr Nancy Snyderman snuck out for soup

AN NBC News crew was ordered under mandatory quarantine for possible Ebola infection after the network’s chief medical correspondent was allegedly spotted on a food run to a New Jersey restaurant, according to a report.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman and her crew had agreed to a voluntary quarantine when they returned to the United States from West Africa last week following their exposure to a cameraman who contracted the deadly virus, The New York Post reports.

But Snyderman, who lives in Princeton, New Jersey, was spotted outside the Peasant Grill in nearby Hopewell on Thursday afternoon, according to Planet Princeton.

A screening update from The Hill:

CDC: 91 passengers at JFK airport flagged for Ebola screenings

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said Monday that 91 passengers had been flagged for additional Ebola screening at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“Ninety-one such individuals were identified, none of them had fever,” Frieden said during a press briefing. “Five of them were referred for additional evaluation for CDC. None were deemed to have exposure to Ebola.”

Kennedy airport is one of five in the U.S. where passengers arriving from West African countries battling the deadly disease receive extra checks for symptoms. The Obama administration has also implemented the additional screenings at Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, O’Hare in Chicago and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

From RT, vaccine hopes:

70-90% efficiency: Russia to send Ebola vaccine to W. Africa in 2 months

In two months, Russia is planning to send a new experimental vaccine against Ebola to Africa, according to the country’s health minister. The efficiency of the drug, which is to be tested on the ground, is about 70-90 percent.

“Today we are discussing that we will have enough of Triazoverin vaccine in two months so that we can send them to our personnel in Guinea and test its efficiency in clinical conditions,” Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said.

The vaccine has so far proved efficient against various hemorrhagic fevers, including the Marburg virus which is very similar to Ebola. “The efficiency ranges between 70 and 90 percent and this is a very good indicator,” Skvortsova said.

Russia’ Virology Institute is preparing a whole group of drugs.”They are basically genetically engineered drugs which can work both for disease treatment and prevention,” Skvortsova said.

Another vaccine, via the Guardian:

Canadian-made Ebola vaccine begins human trials in US

  • Experimental vaccine has shown to be ‘100% effective’ in preventing spread of Ebola when tested on animals

An experimental Canadian-made Ebola vaccine that has shown promise in tests on primates is beginning clinical trials on humans in the US.

The vaccine will be tested on healthy individuals Monday to see how well it works, whether there are side effects and what the proper dosage is, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said.

“The Canadian vaccine provides great hope and promise because it has shown to be 100% effective in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus when tested on animals,” she said.

From the Guardian again, a defense:

Spain defends Ebola repatriations

  • We did what we had to do, says foreign minister, despite nurse becoming first person to contract virus outside of west Africa

Spain’s foreign affairs minister has defended the government’s decision to repatriate two Spanish nationals with Ebola, despite a nurse who treated them becoming the first person to contract the virus outside of west Africa.

“The government did what it had to do,” José Manuel García-Margallo told El País newspaper. “The duty of a state is to protect its citizens – and even more so when they are in difficult circumstances far from Spain. All the developed countries who have had this problem have done the same.”

The two missionaries, Miguel Pajares, 75, and Manuel García Viejo, 69, died in August and September, days after being evacuated to Madrid for treatment. Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos tested positive for the Ebola virus shortly after. She remains in a stable but serious condition.

An Aussie nurse returns to Africa after a false alarm, via the Guardian:

Cairns nurse in Ebola scare urges volunteers to fight virus in West Africa

  • Sue Ellen Kovack says medical professionals thinking of travelling to West Africa to help in public health crisis should not be deterred

The nurse at the centre of the Australian Ebola scare has urged other health professionals to travel to West Africa to help fight the virus.

Sue Ellen Kovack, 57, was released from Cairns hospital on Monday after returning a second negative result for the virus. Kovack returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone last Tuesday and was taken to hospital on Thursday after developing a low-grade fever, sparking fears she could have brought the virus to Australia.

In her first public statement since being admitted to hospital Kovack urged Australians to donate to the Red Cross to send more help to West Africa.

“It has been so inspiring and it has really kept me going in the past few days to know there’s growing public support for action to help people affected by Ebola in West Africa,” she said.

The British numbers, via the Independent:

Jeremy Hunt: UK Ebola victims won’t exceed ‘a handful’

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended Britain’s response to the Ebola crisis which was described by the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the biggest danger posed by a disease in modern times.

Unveiling new measures designed to halt the spread of the deadly virus from arriving in the UK and to identify those in the early stages of infection, Mr Hunt told MPs that he did not expect the number of victims to exceed a “handful of cases” – fewer than 10.

He was challenged by Labour to describe the “worst-case scenario” and sought to reassure the public that the risk posed by the disease was low. However he said it was possible that the number of infections could rise and the situation was likely to get worse before it improves.

Screens up, via BBC News:

Heathrow Ebola screening from Tuesday

Ebola screening will begin at London’s Heathrow Airport on Tuesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says.

Passengers from at-risk countries will have their temperature taken, complete a risk questionnaire and have contact details recorded.

Mr Hunt said screening at Gatwick and Eurostar terminals would start in the coming week.

The Chief Medical Officer says the risk to the UK is low, but expects a “handful” of cases.

Aerial Ebolaphobia, via the Guardian:

Ebola: UK cancels resumption of direct flights to Sierra Leone

  • Department of Transport cites deteriorating public health for revoking Gambia Bird’s licence to fly to Ebola-hit country

The first direct flights to resume from the UK to Sierra Leone have been cancelled after the British government revoked Gambia Bird’s recently granted permit because of fears over Ebola.

The Department of Transport cited the deteriorating public health situation for the revocation when it notified the German-owned airline on Friday evening.

The airline said it would appeal against the decision, especially as its licence was only granted on 26 September.

Spanish reassurance from El País:

Ebola outbreak is under control, says government spokesman

  • Scientific committee confirms that only nursing assistant can now transmit virus in Spain

“The patient is still in a very serious condition.” That was the latest news from the authorities on the health of Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who was diagnosed with Ebola last week and has been receiving treatment in Carlos III Hospital in Madrid ever since.

The person delivering the message was Fernando Rodríguez Artalejo, a member of the scientific committee put in place by the government late last week, during a press conference at midday on Monday at La Moncloa prime ministerial palace.

Rodríguez went on to confirm that none of the people with whom Romero had come into contact, and who have been voluntarily put into isolation at Carlos III for monitoring, are showing any symptoms of the virus.

“Right now there is no other person in Spain who is capable of transmitting the virus other than the patient,” he said in reference to Romero, who contracted Ebola while caring for a Spanish missionary who had been repatriated from west Africa after becoming infected. “We are in a situation of total calm,” Rodríguez added.

TheLocal.es gives the date:

‘Spain Ebola-free in two weeks if no new cases’

Spain will be free from the threat of further contagion from Ebola on October 27th if all those who had close contact with an infected nurse remain without symptoms by then, a hospital director said on Monday.

Concerns that Ebola could spread in Spain have been high since the nurse, Teresa Romero, on October 6th became the first person diagnosed as having caught the deadly haemorrhagic fever outside of Africa.

A Czech Ebola alarm from RT:

Suspected Ebola carrier wrapped in plastic after Czech police seal off rail station

Czech police and hazmat suit-wearing doctors have seized a traveler from Ghana at Prague’s main railway station. The man, suspected of suffering from the Ebola virus, was wrapped in black plastic by the authorities and taken away.

The police dispatched some 15 officers from the capital’s rapid response squad to cordon off the station’s lobby, iDNES.cz news website reported. The operation didn’t interrupt the normal operation of the railway station, but probably scared passengers who were in the vicinity.

Footage from the scene showed a man wearing biohazard suit pushing a luggage cart with a person sitting on it almost completely covered by black plastic.

The target of the police operation was a student from Ghana, who arrived in Prague earlier Saturday evening. He managed to get through medical screening at the airport and was caught later at the railway station.

Here’s the raw footage, via Media News:

After the jump, on to Africa with a bankster’s alarm and a regional economic alert, on to Sierra Leone and football affected, Liberia next, with journalistic accusations, a strike averted — or was it?, an account from one facility, a protest over dismissals, clinic expansions, a new outbreak reported, an innovative clinic covered, justices pledge salaries to the Ebola fight, And a warning against healthcare worker abuse, then on to Nigeria and anti-Ebola measures in schools, and an Ebola drugs medical trial, plus high praise in Gambia. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Fear, politics, alarms, Africa


First, adding complexity to urgency, via Al Jazeera America:

Operating on fear: Performing surgery in a time of Ebola

  • Doctors hope new recommendations will help stop Ebola from preventing routine medical procedures

Security forces shot 16-year-old Shacki Kamara in the legs as he protested against a quarantine the government of Liberia had imposed on his neighborhood, the poor and densely populated slum of West Point.

At Monrovia’s JFK Hospital, the emergency room was short-staffed because two doctors had died of Ebola. The second stop for Kamara was Redemption Hospital, where life drained away as he lost blood and bodily fluids.

“There is no reason he should have died, those were survivable gun shot wounds,” said Sherry Wren, chief of surgery at the Palo Alto VA Hospital and a professor of surgery at Stanford University, after seeing pictures of his injuries which were circulated widely online.

Kamara was an “untold” victim of an invisible crisis wrecking West Africa, dying not from Ebola but from the lack of medical resources and medical staff fears of contracting the disease, which is transmitted through bodily fluids.

The Hill covers politics:

Dems, GOP play Ebola politics

Democrats are trying to turn GOP-backed budget cuts to health agencies into a bigger political issue, seizing on the Ebola outbreak to argue the cuts have slowed the U.S. response.

They are pointing their fingers at the sequester, which introduced automatic spending cuts to the government in 2013 that Democrats say hurt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, told The Hill the bulk of the cuts were “dictated primarily by the sequester,” and argued Democrats and President Obama have offered proposals that would repeal it.

“All you have to do is compare the budgets and you’ll find the president’s budget and budgets proposed by the Democrats had more responsible funding levels for these agencies — funding levels that would allow them to fulfill their responsibilities in a more effective manner,” he added.

On to cases in the media, first with the Associated Press:

Ebola: 3 more people under observation in Spain

hree more people were under observation for Ebola in a Madrid hospital, boosting the number being monitored for symptoms to 16. A nursing assistant infected with the virus remained in serious but stable condition Saturday.

The latest three are a nurse who came into contact with nursing assistant Teresa Romero, a hairdresser who attended to her and a hospital cleaner, all of whom were admitted to Madrid’s Carlos III hospital late Friday.

A government statement said none of the 16 in quarantine, who include Romero’s husband, five doctors and five nurses, have shown any symptoms.

More from the London Telegraph:

Spanish Ebola victim conscious and sitting unaided

Teresa Romero, the only known person to catch the virus outside of west Africa, is doing much better

The Spanish nurse infected with Ebola was conscious and sitting unaided on Saturday, as three more people joined the 13 admitted to hospital in Madrid to be monitored for signs of the deadly disease.

Teresa Romero, 44, is the only person known to have caught the virus outside Africa. None of the 16 others under observation has been diagnosed with Ebola so far, though the Spanish government is under fire for its handling both of Romero’s case and the threat of a wider outbreak of the disease.

Reuters images showed Romero alert and sitting upright in her hospital room with an oxygen mask strapped to her face and responding to the hospital staff attending to her. She had taken a turn for the worse two days ago, health authorities said, and is still considered critical.

And an American case from the Associated Press:

Ebola patient shows modest improvement for 2nd day

For a second straight day, an American video journalist being treated for Ebola has shown modest improvement.

Dr. Phil Smith is director of the Nebraska Medical Center’s 10-bed isolation unit where 33-year-old Ashoka Mukpo is being treated. Smith said Saturday that Mukpo “is still very weak, but his condition has improved” since the day before.

Mukpo, of Providence, Rhode Island, is the second Ebola patient treated at the Omaha hospital.

More recriminations in Texas from the New York Times:

Ebola Victim’s Family Blames Hospital and State

Relatives of the first person to die of Ebola in the United States, joined by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., continued on Saturday to denounce the treatment he and his family had received from a hospital here and from Texas officials, claiming that he had been cremated without their knowledge or permission and given substandard care because he was African.

Josephus Weeks, a nephew of the Ebola victim — Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, a Liberian who died Wednesday at the Dallas hospital where he had been found to have Ebola on Sept. 30 — said his uncle had been “handled poorly, unfairly, and an injustice was done.”

Mr. Weeks spoke to reporters on Saturday in Chicago with Mr. Jackson and Mr. Duncan’s mother, Nowai Gartay. They asked why Mr. Duncan had not been taken to Nebraska Medical Center, where two Americans who contracted the disease in West Africa have been treated. And they said the Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian, had not immediately informed them that Mr. Duncan had died and had led them to believe that he was still alive.

More from the Associated Press:

Remains of Ebola victim who died in US cremated

The remains of a man who became the first person to die of Ebola in the United States have been cremated.

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services announced the development involving the remains of Thomas Eric Duncan in a terse email Friday. Spokeswoman Christine Mann did not say when, where and by whom the remains were cremated.

Also Friday, items feared contaminated by Duncan’s disease were incinerated in Port Arthur.

From Sky News, stating the obvious:

Risk From Ebola In US Cannot Be Cut ‘To Zero’

A health official says new measures at airports to screen travellers from west Africa will not stop the disease entering the US

It will be impossible to completely eradicate the risk to the American public from ebola, according to a director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr Martin Cetron, a director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, was speaking as a new heightened level of screening was being introduced at American airports.

Passengers arriving at New York’s John F Kennedy Airport, New Jersey’s Newark Airport, Washington DC’s Dulles Airport and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport from West Africa will all face a stricter series of tests.

But Mr Cetron said that whatever measures were brought in, it would be impossible to offer complete protection against more ebola cases occurring on US soil.

The Independent incentivizes:

Ebola outbreak: US government offers $1m for best hazmat suit design as demand surges

The US will award $1 million in funding to whoever can design the best hazmat suit, as the Ebola crisis has driven demand for the protective gear to record highs.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is calling on the internet to design an anti-contamination suit that will better protect aid workers from catching Ebola.

Part of the initiative “Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development,” USAID is hoping to solve hazmat suit hazards such as tropical heat stress from the African climate and the risk disease exposure as the suit is being removed.

USAID has given no indication of existing hazmat suit standards, seemingly hoping to benefit from some outside-the-box thinking.

Anticipation from the Independent:

Ebola: UK should expect ‘a handful of cases’ within coming months

Britain’s Chief Medical Officer has warned the UK should expect a “handful” of Ebola cases within the next few months.

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical advisor to the UK government, said any cases of Ebola in the UK would be a “spill over” from West Africa.

Defending her advice to introduce airport screening at some UK airports, Dame Sally admitted that it was a “blunt instrument” but insisted it would save lives. She rejected criticism from a senior consultant who described screening as a “political gesture” in a leaked email, the BBC reports.

Confirmation and quenching of a media hoopla about “Britain’s first domestic case” from Sky News

British Man In Macedonia Did Not Have Ebola

The 58-year-old businessman had died from severe internal bleeding shortly after being taken to a hospital from his hotel.

A British man who complained of ebola-like symptoms before he died in Macedonia did not have the disease, according to tests.

“The patient did not have the ebola virus,” Macedonian health ministry spokeswoman Jovanka Kostovska said.

Thirty-five people quarantined after they were believed to have come into contact with him were expected to now be released.

Zvonko Milenkovic, the director of Skopje’s clinic for infectious diseases, said an autopsy will be carried out. The tests for ebola were carried out at a German laboratory.

A diagnostic advance, from MercoPress:

Argentina claims in can detect the ebola virus in patients in less than 24 hours

Argentina has developed a molecular biological method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in a patient in less than 24 hours, the Argentine health ministry has announced

The method was developed by the Malbran Institute with the help of genetic material of the virus sent from a reference center of the World Health Organization (WHO) and which is the only kind that exists in Latin America.

The center managed to design a “primer” that allows the genome of the Ebola virus to multiply if it is found in a blood sample or other bodily fluids, and thus confirm or discard a case.

Argentine Health Minister Juan Manzur said Thursday that “Argentina is the first Latin American country which has a diagnosis method for Ebola” and said that the technique developed was validated by a WHO reference center.

Preparations from the Guardian:

Ebola crisis: actors used to assess UK readiness for virus in nationwide test

  • Actors simulate symptoms of deadly virus as part of eight-hour exercise including hospitals, labs and emergency services

Britain has carried out a national exercise to test the preparedness of the emergency services and the government for an Ebola outbreak.

Actors were deployed to simulate symptoms of the deadly virus while ministers joined dozens of medical professionals from hospitals, the ambulance service and Public Health England as they played through scenarios.

In one case, a person who “collapsed” in a Gateshead shopping centre was placed in isolation at the Royal Victoria infirmary in Newcastle after being assessed.

Samples were sent for urgent testing at the Porton Down government science laboratories in Wiltshire and, after returning an Ebola diagnosis, the patient was transferred to the Royal Free hospital in north London.

And video coverage from the London Telegraph:

Is Britain prepared for Ebola? NHS carries out emergency drill

Program notes:

The Health department stages simulation of suspected Ebola outbreak to test readiness.

Health workers in the UK were on high alert on Saturday as an eight-hour nationwide drill was carried out to test Britain’s preparedness for a possible Ebola outbreak.

In this video released by the Department of Health, health professionals are seen responding to a possible scenario of a sick person who has recently returned from Sierra Leone, one of the countries worst affected by the disease.

The footage shows an actor pretending to collapse in a shopping centre in Newcastle and the ensuing precautionary steps taken by NHS emergency workers.

More preparations from TheLocal.se:

Swedes stand ready for Ebola case

Sweden has established clear quarantine guidelines if a passenger aboard a plane to Sweden shows signs of Ebola infection.

The routines include redirecting the plane to one of five designated quarantine areas.

“It’s always the captain of the aircraft who is responsible if they suspect that there is an infected traveller. They then alert the air traffic control tower where they are headed,” said Ulf Wallin, press officer at Arlanda Airport.

Another Parisian false alarm from TheLocal.fr:

American tests negative for Ebola in Paris

Testing has revealed an American woman being treated at a Paris hospital is not, as was feared, infected with the Ebola virus. It’s the second false alarm in as many days in France.

Just a day after fears a case of Ebola had been detected near Paris proved to be a false alarm, testing revealed a second suspected case was in fact not the deadly disease, French Health Minister Marisol Toraine said.

According to French media reports the American patient had been under observation because doctors considered her to be potentially infected and she was placed in an sterilized isolation room as a precaution while awaiting the results.

False alarm confirmed in Brazil from BBC News:

Brazil says first suspected Ebola case tests negative

Brazil says a Guinean man who had been suspected of having Ebola has tested negative for the disease.

The man arrived in the country on Thursday and had been quarantined.

Souleymane Bah went to a public health centre in the town of Cascavel in the southern state of Parana after suffering a fever.

He was flown to the National Institute of Infectology in Rio de Janeiro but fears he was the country’s first case of Ebola infection proved unfounded.

On to global politics, first with The Hill:

Administration points fingers on Ebola

White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice says other countries “haven’t done enough” to help stop the deadly disease Ebola from spreading.

“We are pushing very hard for everybody to do more. This is going to take all hands on deck,” she told NBC’s Chuck Todd, in an interview set to air Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly centralized to three countries in Western Africa. The outbreak has caused skepticism of international health workers in some of those communities, who fear the workers could be spreading the disease instead of helping cure it.

More form the New York Times:

Global Response to Ebola Highlights Challenges in Delivering Aid

A senior European diplomat in Geneva involved in health issues, who was not authorized to speak publicly, lamented the limited international response. “The scale of the epidemic is what the international community is still not getting,” the diplomat said. “It’s becoming obvious that what you need is to scale up by a factor of 20. There’s not enough international coordination and imagination going into this.”

In Sierra Leone, which with Guinea and Liberia is bearing the brunt of the epidemic, Ms. Cuesta will join a treatment center that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies opened last month.

The unit is one of several initiatives aimed at bolstering Sierra Leone’s fight against the disease. Cuba sent 165 doctors and nurses last week, China has expanded a medical team deployed there, and British personnel are scouting sites for at least five new centers and 700 additional beds that will bring the total closer to the World Health Organization’s target of about 1,300 beds.

In neighboring Liberia, the capacity of treatment centers has nearly doubled to about 615 beds in the past two weeks, according to the latest W.H.O. update, on Wednesday. It is expected to jump again in the next month or so to around 2,500 or more beds as the United States delivers on a pledge to provide up to 17 100-bed units, said Dr. Ian Norton, who is coordinating foreign medical teams for the W.H.O. In Guinea, the W.H.O. says there are four treatment centers working with 160 beds available, with 100 more beds needed.

After the jump, it’s on to Africa, with Cuba taking the lead in support on the ground, another presence at the front, the ethics of vaccine trials in a lethal epidemic, maintaining the right focus, Ebola patients spurned by medevac firms, on to Sierra Leone and a tragic concession from a system on the brink of collapse, then on to Liberia, on to Liberia and UN staff in quarantine, while some Liberians resist the same isolation, a video report, a warning to stay-at-homes, and a report on orphans. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Marburg, U.S., European fear, Africa


Much ground to cover in the increasingly dramatic unfolding of the Ebola crisis, but we begin with that other hemorrhagic fever outbreak that is causing great concern,. From the Daily Monitor in Kampala, Uganda:

Number of Marburg suspects raise to eight

The Ministry with the support of MSF and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on Monday trained a total of 103 health workers from Mengo Hospital in Marburg prevention, treatment and control

Eight people who earlier got into contact with the Marburg confirmed case have developed signs of the disease, according to the Ministry of Health.
Samples have also been taken from the eight suspects and are being investigated at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

The Director General of Health Services Dr. Alex Opio said four of them are from Mpigi, two from Kasese and two from Kampala district.

“Preparations are underway to quarantine the suspects as a preventive measure for the spread of the disease. To date there is only one laboratory confirmed case that has been reported in the country. This is the first case that was reported at Mengo Hospital and has since died,” Dr Opio said in a statement issued on Monday evening by the Ministry of Health.

And on to Ebola, first with a brief video report from the Associated Press:

CDC Notes Some Progress in Ebola Fight

Program notes:

The CDC says there is some progress in the fight against Ebola. Dr. Thomas Frieden says so far no one who had contact with the Dallas patient is sick, and cases recently have ‘plummeted’ in a key region of Liberia

The Japan Times gives an update on America’s patient:

Dallas Ebola patient on ventilator and receiving kidney dialysis

The Ebola patient fighting for his life in a Dallas hospital is on a ventilator and a kidney dialysis machine to help stabilize his health, the hospital said on Tuesday.

Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with the deadly virus on U.S. soil, has also been given the experimental medication brincidofovir. A hospital in Nebraska said it is using the same drug to treat an American journalist who was airlifted from Liberia and arrived Monday.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said in a statement that Duncan’s liver function declined over the weekend. It said although it has since improved, “doctors caution that this could vary in coming days.”

A question from the Christian Science Monitor:

Why didn’t Texas Ebola patient receive experimental drug sooner?

Doctors were concerned about the risks the experimental drug posed to the Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. But a worsening condition appears to have changed the equation.

News that Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient in Dallas, is receiving an experimental antiviral drug is another chapter in a fast-moving geopolitical drama exploring, patient by patient, the frontiers of medicine and ethics.

As the global community scrambles to contain the virus, and as the cases outside Africa grow, questions have been raised about why Mr. Duncan, a Liberian war survivor who came to the United States to marry his son’s mother, hasn’t received the same experimental drug that doctors say may have played a role in the recovery of two American medical workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and aid worker Nancy Writebol.

The medical community, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is scrambling to find a medicine to stave off the disease. Two potential Ebola vaccines are now being tested on humans, but even if they’re deemed successful, it will be months before they’re available.

And from the London Daily Mail, the inevitable hyperbole:

EXCLUSIVE: First picture of Ebola victim’s quarantined ‘wife’ – as DA threatens charge of aggravated assault with a DEADLY WEAPON after he lied to get into America

  • Thomas Eric Duncan could face the charge – which carries a sentence of up to 20 years – if he survives and is charged
  • Dallas DA said it is something they are ‘taking seriously’ after Duncan lied on forms about his exposure to Ebola to get on a plane to America
  • Meanwhile, a gofundme set up for him has only raised $50 in six days
  • Commentors on the page expressed anger that he had been deceitful
  • Jesse Jackson flew into to Dallas on Tuesday to support the family
  • Duncan remains in a critical but stable condition with a slight improvement after being given an experimental drug

While the Los Angeles Times focuses on a more troubling concern:

Some Ebola experts worry virus may spread more easily than assumed

U.S. officials leading the fight against history’s worst outbreak of Ebola have said they know the ways the virus is spread and how to stop it. They say that unless an air traveler from disease-ravaged West Africa has a fever of at least 101.5 degrees or other symptoms, co-passengers are not at risk.

Yet some scientists who have long studied Ebola say such assurances are premature — and they are concerned about what is not known about the strain now on the loose. It is an Ebola outbreak like none seen before, jumping from the bush to urban areas, giving the virus more opportunities to evolve as it passes through multiple human hosts.

Dr. C.J. Peters, who battled a 1989 outbreak of the virus among research monkeys housed in Virginia and who later led the CDC’s most far-reaching study of Ebola’s transmissibility in humans, said he would not rule out the possibility that it spreads through the air in tight quarters.

More from The Hill:

CDC: Airborne Ebola possible but unlikely

The Ebola virus becoming airborne is a possible but unlikely outcome in the current epidemic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said Tuesday.

The outbreak involves Ebola Zaire, a strain that is passed through bodily fluids, not the air. But some experts have expressed fear about viral mutations due to the unprecedented — and rising — number of Ebola cases.

Frieden sought to allay those fears during a call with reporters.

“The rate of change [with Ebola] is slower than most viruses, and most viruses don’t change how they spread,” he said. Frieden is unofficially spearheading the U.S. response to Ebola.

“That is not to say it’s impossible that it could change [to become airborne],” he continued. “That would be the worst-case scenario. We would know that by looking at … what is happening in Africa. That is why we have scientists from the CDC on the ground tracking that.”

From the New York Times, screening:

U.S. to Require Tougher Ebola Screening at Airports: Senator

U.S. health officials are preparing to require tougher Ebola screening at American airports this week to keep the deadly virus from spreading to this country, Senator Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday.

The new measures may include screening air travelers for fever when they arrive in the United States from the worst-stricken countries in West Africa, on direct or indirect flights, Schumer said in a statement.

He said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told him the agency might adopt some of the recommendations Schumer had made on Ebola screening over the weekend.

And the Associated Press covers one measure already implemented:

Coast Guard sector issues new steps on Ebola

One U.S. Coast Guard sector says it will contact ships that have recently been to Ebola-affected countries to ask whether passengers have symptoms of the virus before they are allowed into port.

The sector, which includes parts of New York and Connecticut, issued a bulletin to the maritime community in Long Island Sound on Monday that describes protocols being put into place due to Ebola.

“We wanted to have those specific steps identified in advance so we’ve prepared the captains of these vessels doing business in our ports for the questions we’re going to ask,” said Capt. Edward J. Cubanski III, the sector commander.

Here is the full CDC briefing, via the Washington Post:

CDC holds news briefing on Ebola patient in Texas

Program note:

The CDC gives members of the media an update on the condition a man in Dallas who was diagnosed with Ebola.

The Associated Press covers belated safeguards:

US health providers expand their Ebola precautions

Public hospitals in New York City are so concerned about Ebola, they’ve secretly been sending actors with mock symptoms into emergency rooms to test how well the triage staffs identify and isolate possible cases.

A small Ohio hospital has hung up signs imploring patients to let nurses know immediately if they have traveled recently to West Africa.

And across the U.S., one of the nation’s largest ambulance companies has put together step-by-step instructions for wrapping the interior of a rig with plastic sheeting.

There hasn’t been a single confirmed case of an Ebola infection happening on U.S. soil; the case confirmed in Dallas involves a man who, like several health care workers treated in the U.S., contracted the virus in Liberia. But health care providers are worried enough to take a wide variety of precautions.

And then there’s this from Reuters:

Male Ebola survivors told: Use a condom

Sex could keep the Ebola epidemic alive even after the World Health Organization (WHO) declares an area free of the disease, one of the discoverers of the deadly virus said on Tuesday.

The WHO is hoping to announce later this week that Nigeria and Senegal are free of Ebola after 42 days with no infections — the standard period for declaring an outbreak over, twice the maximum 21-day incubation period of the virus.

However, it appears the disease can last much longer in semen. “In a convalescent male, the virus can persist in semen for at least 70 days; one study suggests persistence for more than 90 days,” the WHO said in an information note on Monday.

“Certainly, the advice has to be for survivors to use a condom, to not have unprotected sex, for 90 days,” said Peter Piot, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a discoverer of Ebola in 1976.

On to Spain, and Europe’s first home grown patient, via Reuters:

Four hospitalized in Spain after first Ebola transmission outside Africa

Four people have been hospitalized in Spain to try to stem the spread of Ebola after a Spanish nurse became the first person in the world known to have contracted the virus outside of Africa, health authorities said on Tuesday.

The nurse, who tested positive for the virus on Monday, her husband, who is showing no symptoms of the disease, and two other people are being closely monitored in hospital, health officials told a news conference in Madrid.

One of those hospitalized is a health worker who has diarrhea but no fever. The other is a Spaniard who traveled from Nigeria, said Rafael Perez-Santamaria, head of the Carlos III Hospital where the infected nurse treated two Spanish missionaries who contracted the disease in Africa.

More from El País:

Nurse’s assistant came into contact with 21 people at Alcorcón Hospital

  • Staff including doctors, nurses and ambulance crew will be monitored for symptoms

A day after news broke that a Spanish nursing assistant had become the first person in Europe to contract the ebola virus, health authorities were working to close the net around people with whom the 40-year-old woman could have come into contact.

The nurse’s assistant, who was part of the health team who looked after two Spanish missionaries with ebola who had been brought back from Africa for treatment in Madrid, was initially treated in Alcorcón Hospital in the southwestern suburb of the same name. The hospital has so far identified 21 members of staff with whom the patient came into contact, including an ambulance crew and doctors and nurses, according to health sources contacted by EL PAÍS.

All of them have been contacted by the health center and told they will have to be monitored for symptoms of the disease. They will have their temperature checked twice a day, but can continue with their normal day-to-day lives, given that the virus is not contagious until symptoms, which include fever, appear.

And a video report from Deutsche Welle:

Madrid hospital staff want answers

Program notes:

Medical staff at the Madrid hospital where a nurse contracted ebola, are angry. They want to know how the woman could have become infected, despite safety measures. The nurse had treated two priests who caught the virus in West Africa.

Questions from the Los Angeles Times:

Questions raised about safety measures used for Ebola cases in Spain

Questions were raised Tuesday about the quality of the protective equipment and training received by Spanish medical personnel caring for Ebola patients as three more people were placed in quarantine for possible exposure to the virus.

Spain’s Health Ministry announced Monday that a nursing assistant at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid had tested positive for the virus, the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside Africa in the current epidemic.

Healthcare workers have been among those hardest hit in the outbreak, which has killed more than 3,400 of the nearly 7,500 suspected and confirmed Ebola patients in West Africa.  As of Oct. 1, 382 healthcare workers were reported to have developed Ebola, including 216 people who died of the disease.

The case in Spain was a reminder that medical personnel can be at risk in Western hospitals, as well as at under-resourced and overwhelmed African facilities. The Ebola virus is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of symptomatic patients.

The patient had helped care for Manuel Garcia Viejo, a 69-year-old missionary in Sierra Leone who died of Ebola on Sept. 25 after being evacuated to Spain for treatment. She entered the priest’s room twice, once to help care for him and once to collect his belongings after he died, hospital officials said.

And the Guardian covers the seemingly inevitable:

Ebola in Europe is unavoidable, says WHO as Spain rushes to contain case

  • WHO’s European director says continent remains at low risk and one of the best prepared places to respond to the infection

The World Health Organisation has said it is ready to provide support for Spain as authorities in the country scrambled to contain the first case of Ebola infection within Europe.

The WHO’s European director, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said it was “quite unavoidable … that such incidents will happen in the future because of the extensive travel from Europe to the affected countries and the other way around”.

She added: “The most important thing in our view is that Europe is still at low risk, and that the western part of the European region particularly is the best prepared in the world to respond to viral haemorrhagic fevers including Ebola.”

But the New York Times covers another angle:

Spain Is Pressed for Answers After a Nurse Is Infected With Ebola

Spain’s government came under heavy criticism Tuesday as it dealt with the repercussions of Western Europe’s first Ebola case, quarantining three more people and monitoring dozens who had come into contact with an infected nurse.

Health care workers, who have been sparring with the government over cutbacks, said they had not received proper training or equipment to handle an Ebola case. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, asked for an explanation, according to news reports. And some opposition politicians called for the health minister, Ana Mato, to resign.

At a news conference in Madrid, officials insisted that they had taken all appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus. But in a sign of the government’s unease with the possible political consequences, a lower-ranking official, María Mercedes Vinuesa, director of public health, went before Parliament on Tuesday to answer questions, not Ms. Mato.

While the Guardian suggests a partial explanation:

Spanish nurse Ebola infection blamed on substandard gear and protocol lapse

  • Staff at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital say protective suits do not meet WHO standards as second nurse undergoes tests for virus

Staff at the hospital where she worked told El País that the protective suits they were given did not meet World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, which specify that suits must be impermeable and include breathing apparatus. Staff also pointed to latex gloves secured with adhesive tape as an example of how the suits were not impermeable and noted that they did not have their own breathing equipment.

The nurse was part of a team attending to missionary Manuel García Viejo, 69, who died four days after being brought to Carlos III hospital on 20 September. The same team, including the nurse, also treated missionary Miguel Pajares, 75, who was repatriated from Liberia in August and died five days later.

Staff at the hospital said waste from the rooms of both patients was carried out in the same elevator used by all personnel and, in the case of the second patient, the hospital was not evacuated.

And the Associated Press covers collateral canine damage:

Ebola escapes Europe’s defenses; pet dog must die

Health officials scrambled Tuesday to figure out how West Africa’s Ebola outbreak got past Europe’s defenses, quarantining four people at a Madrid hospital where a Spanish nursing assistant became infected. Determined to contain the spread of the deadly virus, they even announced plans to euthanize the woman’s pet dog.

The nursing assistant in Madrid was part of a special team caring for a Spanish priest who died of Ebola last month after being evacuated from Sierra Leone. The nursing assistant wore a hazmat suit both times she entered his room, officials said, and no records point to any accidental exposure to the virus, which spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sickened person.

The woman, who had been on vacation in the Madrid area after treating the priest, was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday after coming down with a fever, and was said to be stable Tuesday. Her husband also was hospitalized as a precaution.

Madrid’s regional government even got a court order to euthanize and incinerate their pet, “Excalibur,” against the couple’s objections. The government said available scientific knowledge suggests a risk that the mixed-breed dog could transmit the virus to humans, and promised to use “biosecurity” measures to prevent any such transmission.

On to an anxious Old Blighty, first with BBC News:

No Ebola screening for arrivals to UK – Public Health England

There are no plans to introduce Ebola screening for those arriving in the UK, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

President Barack Obama said on Monday that the US planned to screen incoming air passengers for the virus.

But PHE said this was not recommended by the World Health Organization and would mean screening “huge numbers of low-risk people”.

A contrarian view from the Independent:

Ebola outbreak: Britain needs to start screening for the virus, says Home Office minister

A Home Office minister has said Britain should consider introducing screening for Ebola carriers arriving at airports, after a Spanish nurse became the first person to have caught the virus in Europe.

Public Health England said it had no plans to bring in screening for the disease, which has already claimed 3,400 lives in West Africa. Rates of infection are set to increase dramatically.

The Home Office also insisted there would be no change of policy. But Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat minister in the department, described Ebola’s arrival in Europe as a “very concerning development” and said the case for increasing screening in airports had to be examined. He told The Independent: “We need to consider whether existing controls are adequate.”

And the London Telegraph covers preparations:

Ebola: NHS hospitals put on standby

  • Hospitals on standby as health officials admit ‘real risk’ Ebola could reach British shores and Prime Minister convenes emergency Cobra committee to discuss the threat

Major NHS hospitals across the country have been put on standby, as health officials warn of a “real risk” that the deadly Ebola virus could spread to Britain.

The Prime Minister will convene a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee on Wednesday morning to discuss the growing threat to the UK from the spread of Ebola.

Four major NHS hospitals in England have now been identified as units to take patients with Ebola if the need arises.

Next, on to Norway and other European evacuated via TheLocal.no:

Ebola virus victim arrives in Norway by special jet

The Norwegian woman, diagnosed with Ebola while working for a charity organization in Sierra Leone, will arrive in Oslo for treatment on Tuesday.

The woman, who was working for Médecins Sans Frontières, fell ill at the weekend and was placed in isolation on Sunday. On Monday she was confirmed as having contracted Ebola and is scheduled to be flown into the country on a specially constructed private jet plane. The craft, normally used for business flights, is equipped to provide medical care for the patient and ensure the airborne virus is not spread beyond the infected invidual.

Secretary general for Médecins Sans Frontières, Anne Cecilie Kaltenborn, said at a press conference in Sierra Leone on Monday: “We regrettably confirm that one of our Norwegian field workers tested positively for Ebola. The person was on a mission in Sierra Leone, where Médecins Sans Frontières has 1,200 employees. 86 of those are international aid workers.”

TheLocal.no, with a choice certain to star ethical debate:

Norway to get world’s last dose of Ebola cure

The Norwegian woman, infected by the Ebola in Sierra Leone and currently receiving treatment in Oslo, will get the last dose of the virus treatment medicine ZMapp available in the world.

The news was released by the Norwegian Medicines Agency on Tuesday, according to NTB. Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said to Dagens Medisin: “It looks like we could get the last available dose of ZMapp to Norway. The medicine is now in Canada.”

According to the professional medic’s magazine, the agency has given Oslo University hospital the authorisation to import Ebola medicines not approved of in Norway.

On to Japan and confidence from the Japan Times:

Japan could handle Ebola outbreak, health official says

The news that a nurse in Spain has become the first person to contract Ebola outside the outbreak zone in West Africa has raised concerns that it might happen in Japan.

However, the nation has a system in place that could handle potential patients safely, a senior official at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Tuesday.

Although Japan has not yet had to deal with an actual case of infection and therefore lacks Ebola-specific procedures to diagnose and treat it, Masayuki Saijo, head of one of the institute’s virology departments, said his team has handled suspected cases that turned out to be negative.

While the Wall Street Journal covers the Japanese corporate upside:

Fujifilm Drug Gets More Notice as Possible Ebola Treatment

An anti-influenza drug from Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp. has gathered international attention as a potential treatment for Ebola virus, helping send the company’s shares to a six-year high on Tuesday.

The Japanese camera and imaging company said Monday the governments of France and the West African nation of Guinea were considering trials of the drug, called favipiravir, beginning in November.

The company said it has also been contacted by several other nations and international organizations about providing the drug and will respond to the requests in coordination with the Japanese government.

After the jump, the latest from Africa, including a shortage of sanitation and engineering help in the Ebola fight, a plea for help, the Pentagon sets a price on its African Ebola effort and announces that U.S. soldiers will — contrary to earlier denials — be in immediate contact with Ebola patients [plus a video of the full Pentagon briefing], fears that Ebola angst will trump even deadlier healthcare woes, British Airways blasted for hampering aid flights, on to Sierra Leone and aid shipment Bureaucratic gridlock, a presidential plea for help from Ebola survivors, and epidemic-devastated villages, then on to Liberia and arriving Cuban medical teams, a strike threatened, and a press crackdown underway, and lastly, on to Nigeria and Ebola-spawned school closures ended. . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: Need help? Ask the poor


Or such our late and wonderful Grandma Brenneman used to say.

And there’s proof of that, thanks to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which notes that at precisely the moment when the rich have cornered a larger share of the nation’s wealth, their giving to charities has declined relative to those who have been looted by their greed:

As the recession lifted, poor and middle class Americans dug deeper into their wallets to give to charity, even though they were earning less. At the same time, according to a new Chronicle analysis of tax data, wealthy Americans earned more, but the portion of the income they gave to charity declined.

Using the IRS data, The Chronicle was able to track gifts to charity at the state, county, metropolitan-area, and ZIP code levels. The data were for gifts to charity among taxpayers who itemize deductions on their tax forms. It captured $180-billion that was given to charity in 2012, or about 80 percent of the total amount given to charity as tabulated by “Giving USA.”

The Chronicle study found that Americans give, on average, about 3 percent of their income to charity, a figure that has not budged significantly for decades. However, that figure belies big differences in giving patterns between the rich and the poor.

The wealthiest Americans—those who earned $200,000 or more—reduced the share of income they gave to charity by 4.6 percent from 2006 to 2012. Meanwhile, Americans who earned less than $100,000 chipped in 4.5 percent more of their income during the same time period. Middle- and lower-income Americans increased the share of income they donated to charity, even as they earned less, on average, than they did six years earlier.

And if you dought the rapid growth of the wealth share held by elites, consider this from the Economic Policy Institute:

BLOG Wealth shares

EbolaWatch: Alarms, American angst, Africa


We begin with another illness, and just as scary via Reuters:

Outbreak of Ebola-like Marburg fever kills man in Uganda

A man has died in Uganda’s capital after an outbreak of Marburg, a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola, authorities said on Sunday, adding that a total of 80 people who came into contact with him were quarantined.

Marburg starts with a severe headache followed by haemorrhaging and leads to death in 80 percent or more of cases in about nine days. It is from the same family of viruses as Ebola, which has killed thousands in West Africa in recent months.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Marburg virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva and blood or by handling infected wild animals such as monkeys.

The health ministry said in a statement that the 30-year old radiographer died on Sept. 28 while working at a hospital in Kampala. He had started feeling unwell about 10 days earlier, and his condition kept deteriorating. He complained of headache, abdominal pain, vomiting blood and diarrhoea.

From the Observer, alarming words:

‘In 1976 I discovered Ebola, now I fear an unimaginable tragedy’

  • Peter Piot was a researcher at a lab in Antwerp when a pilot brought him a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had fallen mysteriously ill in Zaire

Why did WHO react so late?

On the one hand, it was because their African regional office isn’t staffed with the most capable people but with political appointees. And the headquarters in Geneva suffered large budget cuts that had been agreed to by member states. The department for haemorrhagic fever and the one responsible for the management of epidemic emergencies were hit hard. But since August WHO has regained a leadership role.

There is actually a well-established procedure for curtailing Ebola outbreaks: isolating those infected and closely monitoring those who had contact with them. How could a catastrophe such as the one we are now seeing even happen?

I think it is what people call a perfect storm: when every individual circumstance is a bit worse than normal and they then combine to create a disaster. And with this epidemic there were many factors that were disadvantageous from the very beginning. Some of the countries involved were just emerging from terrible civil wars, many of their doctors had fled and their healthcare systems had collapsed. In all of Liberia, for example, there were only 51 doctors in 2010, and many of them have since died of Ebola.

China Daily sounds another alarm:

Ebola could reach France and UK by end-Oct

Scientists have used Ebola disease spread patterns and airline traffic data to predict a 75 percent chance the virus could be imported to France by October 24, and a 50 percent chance it could hit Britain by that date.

Those numbers are based on air traffic remaining at full capacity. Assuming an 80 percent reduction in travel to reflect that many airlines are halting flights to affected regions, France’s risk is still 25 percent, and Britain’s is 15 percent.

“It’s really a lottery,” said Derek Gatherer of Britain’s Lancaster University, an expert in viruses who has been tracking the epidemic – the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

From the Los Angeles Times, expectation:

U.S. official ‘would not be surprised’ if new Ebola case emerges in Texas

The federal government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the people who had close contact with the Ebola patient in Dallas contracts the deadly virus.

But the official, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, along with Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on four Sunday TV talk shows to stress that U.S. health authorities are taking aggressive steps to prevent an outbreak here even if another case appears.

The mixed message came as Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who was the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the virus that is suspected of killing more than 3,400 people in West Africa, remained in critical condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

“It’s really understandable that people are scared. It’s a deadly virus,” Frieden said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

From the New York Times, an update:

Ebola Patient in Dallas ‘Fighting for His Life,’ C.D.C. Director Says

The Ebola patient in Dallas is “fighting for his life,” but he remains the only confirmed victim of the disease in the United States, and public health officials remain confident about their ability to contain the disease, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.

While expressing such confidence about the American effort, the director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said on the CNN program “State of the Union” that in Africa, “the virus is spreading so fast that it’s hard to keep up.”

As top public health officials worked to educate the American public about the highly deadly disease without fueling a sense of panic, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said on Sunday that there was nothing to support fears that the disease is more readily transmissible than previously believed, or that American troops setting up medical facilities in West Africa could spread Ebola upon their return. Both possibilities had been raised by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

CBC News sounds an alarm:

Dallas Ebola case: Officials seek ‘low risk’ homeless man linked to Ebola case

  • 50 people being monitored for signs of the deadly disease who may have had contact with patient

Officials in Texas are looking for a homeless man who may have had contact with an Ebola patient hospitalized in Dallas. The man, who walked away from a health facility Saturday after having his temperature tested, is considered at low risk.

“We have a great place for him to stay and we can attend to his every need. We just need him to be a hero to his community and to come forward,” Clay Lewis Jenkins, Dallas County judge, said at a news conference Sunday.

Jenkins added that police and other public officials are looking for the man, who is part of a larger group of 38 people who may have been around Duncan when he was showing symptoms of the disease.

And the Associated Press damps it down:

Officials locate possible Ebola patient contact

Authorities say they’ve located a homeless man who needs to be monitored because he may have had contact with the lone Ebola patient in the United States.

Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said the man was located Sunday, a few hours after officials first said he was missing.

The person is not considered to be one of the 10 people who definitely had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who is in critical condition at a Dallas hospital.

Reassurance from the Christian Science Monitor:

CDC official: ‘We know how to stop Ebola’

Authorities around the country are investigating reports of Ebola-like symptoms among patients. But so far, there is just one confirmed case of the disease in the US, and the head of the CDC says, “We can stop it in its tracks.”

As concern mounts over Ebola, US officials in charge of dealing with the infectious disease have one basic message meant to address public fears:

“The bottom line here is we know how to stop it,” says Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Dr. Frieden explained his confidence: “It’s not going to spread widely in the US, for two basic reasons. We can do infection control in hospitals, and we can do public health interventions that can stop it in its tracks. We do that by identifying every possible contact, monitoring them for 21 days and if they get any symptoms, isolating and monitoring them as well.”

While the Washington Post looks at the bigger picture:

Out of control

How the world’s health organizations failed to stop the Ebola disaster

The virus easily outran the plodding response. The WHO, an arm of the United Nations, is responsible for coordinating international action in a crisis like this, but it has suffered budget cuts, has lost many of its brightest minds and was slow to sound a global alarm on Ebola. Not until Aug. 8, 4-1/2 months into the epidemic, did the organization declare a global emergency. Its Africa office, which oversees the region, initially did not welcome a robust role by the CDC in the response to the outbreak.

Previous Ebola outbreaks had been quickly throttled, but that experience proved misleading and officials did not grasp the potential scale of the disaster. Their imaginations were unequal to the virulence of the pathogen.

“In retrospect, we could have responded faster. Some of the criticism is appropriate,” acknowledged Richard Brennan, director of the WHO’s Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response. But he added, “While some of the criticism we accept, I think we also have to get things in perspective that this outbreak has a dynamic that’s unlike everything we’ve ever seen before and, I think, has caught everyone unawares.”

The epidemic has exposed a disconnect between the aspirations of global health officials and the reality of infectious disease control. Officials hold faraway strategy sessions about fighting emerging diseases and bioterrorism even as front-line doctors and nurses don’t have enough latex gloves, protective gowns, rehydrating fluid or workers to carry bodies to the morgue.

More from Reuters:

Aid workers ask where was WHO in Ebola outbreak?

In the first days of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, as aid workers and health authorities battled to contain the deadly virus, Mariano Lugli asked himself a simple question: where was the World Health Organization?

Lugli, an Italian nurse, was among the first responders from medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to reach the remote forests of Guinea in March where the hemorrhagic fever – one of the most lethal diseases known to man – was detected.

When the epidemic spread to the capital Conakry, Lugli set up a second Ebola clinic there. He encountered a foreign medic and a logistician sent by the U.N. health agency but saw no sign of a WHO official in charge of handling the escalating outbreak.

“In all the meetings I attended, even in Conakry, I never saw a representative of the WHO,” said Lugli, deputy director of operations for MSF Switzerland. “The coordination role that WHO should be playing, we just didn’t see it. I didn’t see it the first three weeks and we didn’t see it afterwards.”

More reality — and its lack — on the ground via the South African Government News Agency:

Fight against Ebola hampered by gaps in data, hidden cases

Ebola’s rapid spread through West Africa has been quickened by the difficulty of keeping track of the deadly disease, and filling in the huge gaps in knowledge about the epidemic is key to eventually containing it, health experts say.

UN and World Health Organization data show the number of cases across the region had reached 7 423 by September 29, including 3 355 deaths. That is widely agreed to be an underestimate.

Many patients are not counted because they never get medical help, perhaps hidden by fearful families or turned away by overwhelmed clinics. Some villages have turned into “shadow zones” where villagers’ resistance or the remote location makes investigating numerous deaths impossible.

In Liberia, a surge of previously unknown patients who appear whenever a medical facility opens “suggests the existence of an invisible caseload of patients”, the WHO said in August.

Last week, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control estimated there would be 8 000 cases reported in Liberia and Sierra Leone by September 30, but said the true figure would likely be 21 000 after correcting for under-reporting.

CCTV Africa covers another side of the ongoing public health disaster:

UN estimates there are almost 4000 young children orphaned by Ebola

Program notes:

Ebola outbreak is having a huge impact on children in the West African region. The UN estimates ebola has orphaned almost 4,000 youngsters already – and says the number could double in coming weeks. Many of the orphans are shunned – but for some, there is help.

And another frightening number from Reuters:

Sierra Leone records 121 Ebola deaths in a single day

Sierra Leone recorded 121 deaths from Ebola and scores of new infections in one of the single deadliest days since the disease appeared in the West African country more than four months ago, government health statistics showed on Sunday.

The figures, which covered the period through Saturday, put the total number of deaths at 678, up from 557 the day before. The daily statistics compiled by Sierra Leone’s Emergency Operations Centre also showed 81 new cases of the hemorrhagic fever.

The overall death toll from the epidemic reached 3,439 out of a total of 7,492 cases in West Africa and the United States as of Oct. 1, the World Health Organization said last week. The U.N. agency’s statistics varied from those compiled by Sierra Leone.

TheLocal.se lends a hand:

Sweden boosts Ebola fight funds

Sweden has announced that it is boosting funds to be used in the fight against the spread of Ebola with most of the aid channelled through the UN and NGOs.

“If we don’t stop the spread of the disease we are heading for a catastrophe,” said Ewa Nunes Sörensson, Sweden’s ambassador to Liberia to the Dagens Nyheter daily.

Sweden has decided to boost its provision of aid funds from 35 million kronor to above 100 million kronor with most of the money to various NGOs such as Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders.

United Nations organisations such as WHO, Unicef and Unhas will also benefit from the funds.

The Los Angeles Times traces etiology:

From Guinea to Dallas: Tracing the Ebola threat

It began in a village deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea, when a 2-year-old boy named Emile developed a mysterious illness.

Nothing, it seemed, could stem the child’s fever and vomiting, and he died within days. A week later, the illness killed his 3-year-old sister, then his mother, grandmother and a house guest.

The grandmother consulted a nurse before she died. Friends and family gathered for her funeral, and soon the illness was spreading down rutted dirt tracks to other villages and towns.

Local health officials were alarmed, but it would take nearly three months from the boy’s death in December to identify the culprit: the dreaded Ebola virus. By then, the lethal virus had reached Guinea’s bustling capital, Conakry, and there were suspected cases across the border in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Via New Zimbabwe, concerns in a country a long way from the West African hot zone :

Stop Ebola Scare Tactics, Parirenyatwa

HEALTH Minister David Parirenyatwa has urged health workers to partner the government in spreading information about the deadly Ebola virus but warned them not to scare the people.

Parirenyatwa told a gathering of pharmacists in Victoria Falls on Saturday that people had been misinformed on the symptoms of the epidemic sweeping across West African countries where 3 300 people have been confirmed dead so far since its outbreak in March this year.

“There is no Ebola in Zimbabwe contrary to reports going around and we hope we will remain free from it,” he said. “All you have to do is help spread the correct information to the citizenry that coughing and sneezing which people always associate with symptoms are not signs of the disease. “There must be contact first for one to contract the disease as it spreads through contact,” he said. Parirenyatwa, who is also chairman of Sadc Health Ministers, allayed fears of any outbreak in Zimbabwe saying the country was Ebola-free although it will remain on high alert.

Punch Nigeria covers a familiar process, the politcalization of peril:

APC frustrated by Nigeria’s success on Ebola containment -PDP

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has lambasted the All Progressives Congress for what it described as its yet another failed attempt to discredit the PDP-led Federal Government and relegate its efforts in the containment of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement in a Abuja on Sunday, said the APC was frustrated and unhappy because Nigerians are happy with the PDP-led Federal Government for “the speed and energy with which it tackled the scourge and brought it under control.”

“We know that the APC prefers that the Ebola scourge continued unabated in Nigeria so as to have what to blame the PDP-led government for. Now that it has been contained, the APC is frustrated because the people are happy with President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP-led Federal Government for the proactive manner with which the disease was confronted and overcame,” the party said.

And from Punch Nigeria again, metaphor become reality:

Akon performs in giant bubble to avoid Ebola

In an effort to guard against contracting the Ebola Virus Disease, a United States-based R&B star, Akon, last Sunday climbed inside an airtight blow-up during a performance in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

The singer rolled over the crowd, pushed along by the outstretched hands of 60,000 screaming concert-goers while performing at a concert.

The performance was part of a larger free concert held by charity, ‘Peace One Day,’ to help promote and support the United Nations’ International Day Of Peace.

Akon was, however, accused of going to extreme lengths to avoid catching Ebola during a concert in Africa by crowd-surfing inside a giant plastic bubble.

CCTV Africa covers voluntary confrontation with peril:

Liberia’s ex- police chief joins Ebola fight

Program notes:

The raging Ebola outbreak has taken more than two thousand lives in Liberia. This has prompted some people to divert their careers from the usual path, as part of joint efforts to contain the spread of the deadly disease. Former Police Commissioner Samuel Nimley is usually in charge of police work involving Interpol matters.

From TheLocal.fr, another Northerner saved:

French nurse cured of Ebola

A French nurse who contracted Ebola while volunteering for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Liberia has been cured of the deadly virus, the French health minister said Saturday.

The nurse, who has not been identified, “is now cured and has left hospital,” Marisol Touraine said in a statement.

The first French national to be infected with the virus was airlifted back to France on September 19 and received experimental treatment at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris.

From Raw Story, the merger of Ebola and GOP extremism focused on black people:

Former SC GOP director: Execute anyone who comes into contact with Ebola — ‘it’s just math’

The former general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party is coming under fire for the novel solutions to the Ebola epidemic he is posting on Twitter.

The vehemently pro-life Todd Kincannon began by arguing that anyone who contracts Ebola should be summarily executed.