A long compendium today, so straight to it, first with the London Telegraph:
Ebola ‘could become airborne’: United Nations warns of ‘nightmare scenario’ as virus spreads to the US
- Exclusive: Anthony Banbury, chief of the UN’s Ebola mission, says there is a chance the deadly virus could mutate to become infectious through the air
There is a ‘nightmare’ chance that the Ebola virus could become airborne if the epidemic is not brought under control fast enough, the chief of the UN’s Ebola mission has warned.
Anthony Banbury, the Secretary General’s Special Representative, said that aid workers are racing against time to bring the epidemic under control, in case the Ebola virus mutates and becomes even harder to deal with.
“The longer it moves around in human hosts in the virulent melting pot that is West Africa, the more chances increase that it could mutate,” he told the Telegraph. “It is a nightmare scenario [that it could become airborne], and unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out.”
He admitted that the international community had been “a bit late” to respond to the epidemic, but that it was “not too late” and that aid workers needed to “hit [Ebola] hard” to rein in the deadly disease.
And another alarm from RT:
1 month to stop Ebola before it’s ‘totally out of control’ – global aid NGO
The International Rescue Committee (IRC), on behalf of 34 NGOs battling Ebola in West Africa, has warned that the number of cases is doubling roughly every three weeks and the globe has only four weeks to stop the crisis from spiraling out of control.
Sanjayan Srikanthan from the IRC, speaking on behalf of aid organizations and NGOs such as Christian Aid and Oxfam, told delegates that the world has a small “window of opportunity” left to stop the disease spreading further.
“Every day we delay in disbursing resources to affected countries, the more impossible it becomes to contain the disease. The international community has a window of opportunity over the next four weeks to stop the crisis from spreading completely out of control. To do so we must break transmission rates and halt the exponential increase in cases,” he says in a statement prepared for the summit.
And on to the case that’s consuming American media and getting lots of play in Africa as well, first with the Washington Post:
Texas Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, may have had contact with up to 100 people
Texas health officials said Thursday that there are “about 100″ people who may have had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the man being treated in a Dallas-area hospital for Ebola.
“We are working from a list of about 100 potential or possible contacts and will soon have an official contact tracing number that will be lower,” Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Carrie Williams said in a statement.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we’re starting with this very wide net, including people who have had even brief encounters with the patient or the patient’s home. The number will drop as we focus in on those whose contact may represent a potential risk of infection.”
The Associated Press quarantines:
4 relatives of Ebola patient ordered to stay home
Texas health officials have ordered four close family members of the Ebola patient in Dallas to stay in their home, and they’ve posted law enforcement outside to be sure.
Federal and Texas health officials are reaching out to about 100 people to determine if they have had contact with the Ebola patient hospitalized in Dallas.
But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said Thursday they’ve only identified a handful of individuals so far who may really have been exposed and therefore will be monitored.
Texas state health commissioner David Lakey said the unusual quarantine step with the four relatives was so health officials could do the necessary monitoring, including checking them for fevers over the next 21 days.
The New York Times focus on the travel vector:
Man in U.S. With Ebola Had Been Screened to Fly, but System Is Spotty
Since the deadly Ebola virus began spreading rapidly through West Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been pushing the authorities in the worst-hit countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, to implement just that type of screening for departing passengers.
In early August, the C.D.C. sent medical workers to the region to train local government officials and airport workers in Ebola screening, according to Dr. Nicole Cohen, an infectious disease specialist with the agency’s Division of Migration and Quarantine. As part of that process, the agency advises that airport workers ask travelers if they have been exposed to Ebola in the last 21 days, have had a fever, and have had any symptoms including severe headache, muscle ache, abdominal pain, unusual bruising or bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea. The screener is expected to use a hand-held non-contact temperature monitor, a few inches from the travelers’ forehead, to check for fever.
But the system has its limits, relying on the traveler to reveal whether he or she has been exposed. And it leaves it to local officials to conduct the screening as they see fit, Dr. Cohen said. It is unclear how consistently or effectively those screenings are conducted across West Africa, and Dr. Cohen said she did not know how many potential travelers had been caught by screeners — if any.
More from the Associated Press:
Man with Ebola virus flew roundabout trip to US
Details of the man’s 28-hour trip from western Africa emerged Wednesday. He flew on two airlines, took three flights, and had lengthy airport layovers before reaching Texas on Sept. 20.
Still, federal officials say other passengers on the flights are at no risk of infection because the man had no symptoms at the time of his trip.
Thomas Eric Duncan left Monrovia, Liberia, on Sept. 19 aboard a Brussels Airlines jet to the Belgian capital, according to a Belgian official. After layover of nearly seven hours, he boarded United Airlines Flight 951 to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. After another layover of nearly three hours, he then flew Flight 822 from Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the airline confirmed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Duncan sought medical care Sept. 25 in Dallas after falling ill the day before.
The Associated Press again:
United contacting those who flew with Ebola victim
United Airlines said Thursday it is notifying passengers who were on flights with a man later diagnosed with Ebola and telling them how to contact federal health officials.
United said it is also telling passengers that officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the man could not have spread the disease during the flights because he was not showing symptoms and was not yet contagious.
United said it believes that Duncan flew the next day on United Flight 951 from Brussels to Dulles International Airport near Washington and connected to Flight 822 from Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
In a statement, the airline said Thursday that the two planes underwent their routine overnight “thorough cleaning” after the flights, “including cleaning of lavatories and galleys with heavy-duty all-purpose cleaners and wiping tray tables and armrests with disinfectant.” It added that “we continue to clean and route the planes throughout our network as usual.”
From the Los Angeles Times, raising more questions:
Nephew of Dallas Ebola patient says he called CDC to get him admitted to a hospital
Joseph Weeks says he was deeply disturbed when he learned last week that his uncle, Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, had been sent home from an emergency room at a Dallas hospital last Friday.
“I was terrified. Worried. Scared. All of the above,” Weeks, 43, said Thursday outside his tan frame home in this former textile town in North Carolina’s rolling Piedmont.
“They sent him home with those signs and symptoms,” Weeks said. “And I was afraid he might not survive. So I called the CDC.
“I didn’t believe that they were moving fast enough at that time,’‘ he said.
After he contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Weeks said, Duncan was admitted Sunday to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where he was tested and treated for Ebola.
The New York Times covers classroom anxiety:
In Dallas Schools, Fear of Possible Ebola Exposure
There is Ebola, and then there is fear of Ebola.
For the thousands of parents and schoolchildren in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, it is a concern that they wrestled with on Thursday morning after learning that five school-age children had had contact with a man who is ill with the disease.
“My mom, she recommended that I not touch a lot of kids at school,” said Royale Hollis, 15, a freshman at Emmett J. Conrad High School, which at least one of the children attended. “I haven’t been shaking hands, just bumping elbows. People just keep their distance. Girls don’t give boys hugs. We’re all cool with each other but we just don’t want to catch anything.”
From the London Telegraph, a focus on delayed clean-up:
Quarantined girlfriend of US Ebola victim says sheets are still on bed
- The girlfriend of Thomas Eric Duncan, quarantined in an apartment with her daughter and two nephews, tells CNN the sheets and towels he used have still not been removed
The girlfriend of America’s first Ebola patient has been quarantined in their home with three other people where the sheets and towels he used have still not been removed.
The woman, who gave her name as Louise, spoke to CNN journalist Anderson Cooper by phone from inside the apartment she shared with Thomas Eric Duncan.
She told Mr Cooper the sheets that Mr Duncan had slept on were still on the bed they had shared. She was avoiding the bed and sleeping in the living room instead. She told CNN: “I don’t know what to do.”
A complication from the New York Times:
Delay in Dallas Ebola Cleanup as Workers Balk at Task
More than six months after an outbreak of Ebola began its rampage through West Africa, local and federal health officials have displayed an uneven and flawed response to the first case diagnosed in the United States.
In the latest indication, state and local authorities confirmed Thursday that a week after a Liberian man fell ill with Ebola in Dallas, and four days after he was placed in isolation at a hospital here, the apartment where he was staying with four other people had not been sanitized and the sheets and dirty towels he used while sick remained in the home. County officials visited the apartment without protection Wednesday night.
The officials said it had been difficult to find a contractor willing to enter the apartment to clean it and remove bedding and clothes, which they said had been bagged in plastic. They said they now had hired a firm that would do the work soon. The Texas health commissioner, Dr. David Lakey, told reporters during an afternoon news conference that officials had encountered “a little bit of hesitancy” in seeking a firm to clean the apartment.
The Hill covers the hush-hush:
Health officials clam up about effort to contain Ebola in Texas
Health officials are refusing to answer growing questions about their response to the first Ebola case in the United States.
Under intense questioning from reporters, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Texas health department and the City of Dallas repeatedly declined Thursday to provide details about the steps being taken to prevent an outbreak.
Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey, who participated in one press call Thursday, would not identify or describe the four individuals who have been quarantined due to possible exposure to Ebola. They were later referred to as “family members” at a separate press conference.
From the Associated Press, a legal complication:
Liberia to prosecute man who brought Ebola to US
Liberia plans to prosecute the airline passenger who brought Ebola into the U.S., alleging that he lied on an airport questionnaire about not having any contact with an infected person, authorities said Thursday.
Thomas Eric Duncan filled out a series of questions about his health and activities before leaving on his journey to Dallas. On a Sept. 19 form obtained by The Associated Press, he answered no to all of them.
Among other questions, the form asked whether Duncan had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of anyone who had died in an area affected by Ebola.
CBC News interviews the Liberian president about the case:
Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf exclusive interview with CBC News
Liberia Presidenors of the Liberia Airport Authority in Monrovia. The agency took the case to the Ministry of Justice, which will formally prosecute it.
Another U.S. alarm? Via the London Daily Mail:
Now a patient in Hawaii is in isolation with suspected Ebola… but has not yet been tested for the virus and doctors refuse to reveal if they traveled from Africa
- Even though Ebola is a possibility, the patient has not yet been specifically tested for that virus as it is too soon to tell
- The Hawaii Nurses Association said the person is being treated at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu
- Two suspicious factors would be if the patient had a fever and if he traveled to West Africa in the last 21 days but the hospital is not releasing that information
A patient in Honolulu, Hawaii, has been placed in isolation with suspected Ebola, the Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday.
Even though the disease is a possibility, the patient has not yet been specifically tested for it, but is displaying some symptoms.
From BuzzFeed, another question:
Who’s Actually Leading The U.S. Response To The Ebola Epidemic
USAID is currently in charge of the international effort. A key senator says that’s not enough — the White House should appoint a single, high-level official to lead the fight against Ebola.
America’s Ebola effort lacks a leader, a key senator told BuzzFeed News.
With Ebola cases doubling every 24 days in Liberia and showing no sign of slowing, Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran said President Obama needs to appoint an Ebola czar to coordinate the government’s sprawling, multi-agency effort. Moran, the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee’s health subcommittee, said it has been difficult for even lawmakers to find the right person to talk to.
“We’re trying to figure out about the funding,” Moran said. But “there is no person to go to, to tell us how all this is going to be funded,” he said, and “what resources will be needed.”
Some reassurance from the Christian Science Monitor:
Despite new Ebola case, US has good track record stopping pandemics
While the response to the first diagnosed case of Ebola in America has not been perfect, the US and the world have effectively contained several outbreaks of other diseases in recent years, from SARS to H1N1
CDC Director Tom Frieden’s assurances that the US will stop Ebola “in its tracks” is based on a strong track record by public health systems in the US and beyond. Not only have similar viruses to Ebola arrived in the US before and been successfully contained, but four US health care workers diagnosed with Ebola all survived after receiving treatment in the US.
Meanwhile, past predictions of massive casualties from viruses like avian flu, SARS, and H1N1 in the past decade diminished dramatically as world health groups, often spearheaded by the Atlanta-based CDC, responded aggressively.
None of which is to say the world’s reaction to the current Ebola outbreak has been ideal. The political will to send troops and humanitarian aid to West Africa didn’t come until two American health workers were infected and subsequently successfully treated back home. The WHO didn’t declare a humanitarian crisis until August, when thousands had already been diagnosed.
From the New York Times, medical ethics alert:
U.S. Will Increase Production of the Ebola Drug ZMapp, but May Not Meet Demand
Federal officials are planning to sharply increase production of ZMapp, which is viewed by many experts as the most promising experimental drug for treating people infected with Ebola in West Africa.
The Department of Health and Human Services is in advanced discussions to enlist Caliber Biotherapeutics, a Texas company that can produce the drug in millions of tobacco plants, according to federal officials and pharmaceutical industry executives.
Federal officials, along with two of the world’s biggest charities — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust — are also looking at arranging for production of ZMapp in animal cells, the more conventional method used by the biotechnology industry. Although that would take longer, it would allow for greater output by tapping into the biotechnology industry’s huge production capacity.
From The Hill, the inevitable shame game:
Ebola becomes political fight
Ebola is becoming an issue for the midterm election campaign, with several Republicans using the spread of the virus to the United States to criticize President Obama’s leadership.
Republican lawmakers are accusing Obama of underplaying the threat. They say the national response to the discovery of an infected patient in Dallas has been woefully inadequate.
“I am concerned about it, and it’s a big mistake to downplay it and act as if it’s not a big deal,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. He said Obama officials are putting “political correctness” ahead of public health.
Conservatives, meanwhile, are hammering Obama for saying two weeks ago it was “unlikely” that Ebola could ever reach America.
While Breitbart.com conveys a partisan assault using language once reserved for WASP critiques of Jews:
Ingraham: ‘Core Ties’ to ‘African Continent’ Why Obama Hasn’t Declared Travel Ban to Ebola Countries
Wednesday conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said a possible motive behind President Barack Obama not yet calling for travel ban to countries suffering with Ebola epidemic is his close ties to Africa.
“I believe with this failure to stop these planes from coming in from Sierra Leone I think there could be politics involved in that to Obama familial connection with Africa he has an enormous amount of, I think, core ties to the African continent. He’s mindful of his own family history there.”
“Come on its doesn’t make any sense to not stop those flights from coming here,” she added.
An interesting bit of news fro Thailand, via the Bangkok Post:
Siriraj claims breakthrough antibody treatment could cure Ebola
- Mass production of drug more than year away
Researchers at Siriraj Hospital, part of Mahidol University, claim they have developed the world’s first “antibody treatment” that could cure Ebola virus infections.
At least a year away from practical application, the antibody was called a significant step toward finding a cure for the disease, which has killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa this year. Currently there is no cure, although several experimental drugs have been deployed in the battle against the epidemic.
Siriraj’s antibody – developed with the use of human genes, not the Ebola virus itself – is small enough to enter infected cells and access virus proteins within them, doctors said. The antibody is five times smaller than what is being tested in the United States, said Dr Udom Kachinthorn, dean of the medical science faculty at Siriraj.
After the jump, preparations in China, Idris Elba weighs in, Aussie halfway aid measures, Mecca monitors millions of Hajj pilgrims, another patient headed for a German hospital, as British survivor gives blood in the U.S., and of to Liberia, with army Ebola deaths, an optimistic Liberian president, attitudinal obstacles to healing help, criminalizing concealment of infection, and a plea for help from chiefs, and on to Sierra Leone and grim numbers and a frightening outlook, assistance delayed, opening the Sierra Leone air corridor, and a warning to traditional healers, Nigerian healthcare staff demand their paychecks, a call to realism from the Guinean president, and a word from the tech front, and one set of numbers that could spur Washington to action. . . Continue reading