Category Archives: Cuba

EbolaWatch: Numbers, cases, treatment, angst


We begin with the latest educational video from the World Health Organization, released today:

WHO-EMRO: Animated video on Ebol

Program notes:

This two minutes and forty seconds animated video provides basic information and precautions on how to protect self from Ebola virus disease. It also outlines modes of transmission, symptoms, as well as the top-listed frequently asked questions.

Next, improv, from the Associated Press:

Hospitals improvise Ebola defenses, at a cost

On Wednesday, a U.S. Senate committee will hold a hearing on Ebola preparedness. President Barack Obama has asked Congress for $6.18 billion to fight Ebola globally, some of which could be used to strengthen domestic health defenses.

There is no tried-and-true way to build an Ebola ward, but the administrators cobbling them together have been guided by a few key principals gleaned from clinics in Africa and the few full biocontainment facilities in the U.S.

At a minimum, treatment units need a “hot” zone where patients can be isolated, a “cold” zone kept free of anything that might be tainted with the virus, and a “warm” zone where workers can peel off protective gear while spotters watch for any small break in protocol. Most hospitals have also preferred to locate their Ebola treatment areas far, far from other patients.

Global Times covers a potential breakthrough for development new treatments:

US research reports ‘weak spots’ in Ebola’s defenses

US researchers said Monday they have identified “weak spots” on the surface of the deadly Ebola virus that are targeted by the antibodies in ZMapp, the experimental drug cocktail administered to several patients during the recent Ebola outbreak.

The study, led by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute and published by the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provided a 3-D picture of how the ZMapp antibodies bind to the virus.

“The structural images of Ebola virus are like enemy reconnaissance,” said coauthor Erica Ollmann Saphire, a Scripps structural biologist. “They tell us exactly where to target antibodies or drugs.”

Using an imaging technique called electron microscopy, the new study found that two of the ZMapp antibodies bind near the base of virus, appearing to prevent the virus from entering cells.

From the New York Times, quarantined because of his. . .er:

Indian Ebola Survivor Is Under Quarantine at Delhi Airport

A 26-year-old Indian man who recovered from Ebola is being held at a quarantine facility at Delhi airport as a cautionary measure after his semen tested positive for the virus, health officials announced on Tuesday.

When he arrived at the airport on Nov. 10, the man volunteered that he had been successfully treated for Ebola in a Liberian hospital and had been released on Sept. 30.

Though tests of three blood samples came up negative, Indian officials opted to hold him because the virus can linger in other bodily fluids, like semen or urine, for as long as three months, according to a government statement carried by the Press Trust of India. Two samples of the man’s semen tested positive for the virus on Monday.

The Associated Press covers presidential caution:

Obama: West Africa not out of the woods on Ebola

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that West Africa is “nowhere near out of the woods” in its fight against Ebola despite some improvement in the three countries hardest hit by the virus. Obama said the disease remains a threat to the world, including the U.S., and he urged Congress to quickly approve his request for billions of dollars in emergency spending to combat the spread of Ebola at home and abroad.

Meeting at the White House with his Ebola response team, Obama also offered condolences to the family of Dr. Martin Salia. The surgeon contracted Ebola in his native Sierra Leone but died Monday at a Nebraska hospital after being rushed there over the weekend for specialized treatment.

Obama said it’s important to “continue to push forward until we stamp out this disease entirely in that region. Until we do, there are threats of additional outbreaks and, given the nature of international travel, it means that everybody has some measure of risk.”

“We are nowhere near out of the woods yet in West Africa,” Obama said.

Next, the latest Ebola curve from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control [PDF], which reports that as of Monday, 14.415 case have been recorded, with 5,177 ending in death:

BLOG Ebola curve

On to Africa, starting with Mali and some questions from IRIN:

Questions over Mali’s Ebola response

The failure of a top Malian hospital to detect probable cases of Ebola has raised questions about whether the country’s health system is sufficiently prepared to tackle the disease.

“We have several confirmed cases,” Samba Sow, head of the Mali’s National Centre for Disease Control (CNAM), told IRIN. “Our goal is to prevent the virus from spreading.” But the government only released an Ebola emergency plan on 30 October, a week after the first Ebola case.

In Kayes, where a two-year-old girl tested positive for Ebola on 23 October, the hospital was caught off-guard. Only two of its 160 workers had received training on how to detect and treat Ebola patients and how to protect themselves while doing so, said hospital director Toumani Konaré. “The staff had the right protective gear, but they didn’t know how to use it,” he told IRIN.

Vanguard covers mobilization:

Conflict-scarred Mali pulls out the stops to beat Ebola

The leader of the war-torn west African nation of Mali has come in person to galvanise his people as they do battle with the most elusive foe they have ever faced.

On the country’s remote southern border with Guinea, the enemy is not the armed jihadists who wreak havoc elsewhere, but the Ebola virus, which has sparked a national crisis despite just four deaths.

On a strip of dusty asphalt a cavalcade of several dozen government vehicles comes to a halt in the southern frontier town of Kouremale, which is almost perfectly bisected by the border with Guinea.

While the U.N. News Center covers the WHO response:

Efforts by UN health agency under way to step up Ebola response in Mali

The United Nations is intensifying its efforts to keep the Ebola outbreak from spreading in Mali by working to identify all chains of transmission and stepping up social mobilization campaigns to include a range of actors, from religious leaders to truck and bus drivers.

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Mali has officially reported a total of 6 cases of Ebola, with 5 deaths. The virus was re-introduced into the country last month.

WHO is currently assisting the Government of Mali to identify and monitor contacts, and prevent the outbreak from growing. To date, 554 contacts have been identified and nearly all have been placed under surveillance.

The health agency’s focus will be to work closely with the Government to identify all potential chains of transmission and monitor the contacts so that everybody could be monitored for 21 days, after which, the transmission would hopefully stop, said WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic.

On to Sierra Leone and another healer felled, via the Associated Press:

7th doctor dies of Ebola in Sierra Leone

A top health official says a seventh doctor in Sierra Leone has died of Ebola.

Dr. Moses Kargbo, who had been a retired medical officer in the Ministry of Health, died Tuesday at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center east of the capital, Freetown, where he had been receiving treatment. He had been volunteering to help fight the spread of the virus at a government hospital in the central Tonkolili district.

Kargbo’s death was confirmed by Dr. Amara Jambai of the Health Ministry. It comes a day after that of Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone and was transported to a Nebraska hospital over the weekend for aggressive treatment.

From Reuters, still another healer stricken:

Cuban doctor in Sierra Leone tests positive for Ebola

A Cuban doctor treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the disease and will be sent to Geneva for treatment, the official website Cubadebate reported on Tuesday, citing a Health Ministry statement.

The Guardian covers a critical clinical trial:

Sierra Leonean doctors to start clinical trial using blood of Ebola survivors

  • Convalescent serum therapy trial will test whether antibodies from plasma of 200 survivors can help infected fight disease

Doctors in Sierra Leone are to start their own clinical trial, using the blood of Ebola survivors, to speed up the search for a cure for the disease, which has so far killed more than 5,000 people in west Africa.

The trial, organised by a global group of Sierra Leonean medics, will take place in parallel with similar trials announced last week by Médecins Sans Frontières to be run in Guinea in December.

The Sierra Leone Action Group has some 200 survivors registered as possible donors, and hopes to start banking their blood plasma in mid-December after receiving equipment donated by a US medical devices firm. Scientists hope that the antibodies in the blood of people who have recovered from the disease will help other patients fight the infection.

From Agence France-Presse, ancillary impacts:

Spike in pregnancies and abuse in Ebola-hit Sierra Leone

Program notes:

In Ebola-hit Sierra Leone aid workers and health professionals worry that the epidemic is giving rise to a darker trend — spiralling teenage pregnancies and violence against women.

While Vanguard covers action from the top:

S’ Leone leader punishes uncle for breaking Ebola laws

Sierra Leone’s president has suspended his uncle from a prestigious position as a tribal chief for flouting laws designed to contain Ebola, officials said on Tuesday.

Amadu Kamara, the head of the northern village of Yeli Sanda, is accused of covering up secret burials of victims who are supposed to be reported by their families to the authorities.

Bombali District Council, the local authority, said President Ernest Bai Koroma had handed his uncle an “indefinite suspension and fine of 500,000 leones ($115, 92 euros)”.

And on to Liberia, with good numbers from the capital via the NewDawn:

Monrovia’s Ebola cases drop to 25

The World Health Organization says while the number of Ebola cases appears to be declining, with reported cases in Monrovia falling from 75 to 25 daily, a mixed picture emerges in different counties across the country.

The head of the Ebola Response team at the WHO Dr. Bruce Aylward, paid a four- day visit to Liberia to get a better understanding of the Ebola response activities on the ground.

In a press statement, WHO says the transmission of Ebola virus disease is consistently high in Montserrado County while there are declines in Lofa County where zero cases have been reported for more than a week, according to Dr. Aylward. WHO report as of 8 November says Liberia reported a total of 6,822 cases including 2,836 deaths.

FrontPageAfrica voices some healthy skepticism:

Zero Ebola Cases by X-Mas? Complacency Compounds Reality

Amid the optimism many fear that the political atmosphere and people’s perception that the worst has passed Liberia is giving rise to complacency in some quarters, even as infections in Bong County remained stagnant for the past three weeks and Cape Mount and Montserrado report new cases.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director General for Polio and Emergencies who was in Liberia last week, urged Liberians not to begin relaxing the measures aimed at stopping the transmission of the Ebola virus disease that has ravaged Liberia and its two neighbors, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reality, is according to Dr. Bruce Aylward, there are still traces of the virus popping up in a number of areas across the country and any change in attitude in relation to the Ebola fight could be devastating to the population.

According to the latest Ministry of Health and Social Welfare case tracker, new Ebola cases are springing up in Bong, Grand Cape Mount, and Rivercess Counties. Montserrado has seen at least 24 new cases, Rivercess 14, Grand Bassa 3, Bong 5 and 1 new cases in Cape Mount. In contrast, the rest of the country is seeing zero number of cases in the past weeks with Lofa, Sinoe, Grand Gedeh, Bomi, Sinoe, River Gee, Grand Kru, Maryland, Nimba, and Gbparpolu have all reported zero case of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) for the past four weeks, a positive signal that the Christmas goal is within reach.

Dr. Aylward agrees that Liberia stands a good chance to record zero new case in the coming months, but this will only become a reality if Liberians maintain those measures put into place by health authorities to fight the Ebola virus disease. More importantly, person to person transmission has dropped from 45% to 18%.

While the NewDawn covers curious behavior by Asian helpers:

Chinese discriminate at SKD

A Chinese team building a hundred bed Ebola Treatment Unit in Paynesville has been complained to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for “shutting off” power and water supplies to counterparts that are also building another 200-bed capacity ETU at the SKD Sports Stadium in the same community.

But President Sirleaf has told Mr. Liangquan Fu, Managing Director for CICO’s West Africa Headquarters that the Chinese team should cooperate with its colleagues as one team because they are doing the same work for the same people.

During President Sirleaf visit at ETUs in Monrovia Tuesday, November 18, 2014, a local architect working on the World Food Program ETU that will be run by IRC and German Red Cross, Mr. Bennie D. Tickey, said UNICEF “is exploring digging another well” after being shut off by the Chinese.

“We want you to negotiate because they say you cut their water off; you cut the light off. They had people sleeping in an empty place; you say no they must move. You need to cooperate – one team because the same work you are doing for the same people; that are the same objective, so your need to work together,” the Liberian leader urged the Chinese.

From AllAfrica, a plea for days to come:

Liberia: Chief Karwor Requests Land for Post-Ebola Farming

The Chairman of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, Chief Zanzan Karwor, is urging the Ministry of Internal Affairs to request local officials in each county to provide 250 acres of land for farming after Ebola is kicked out of Liberia.

He said the Ministry should instruct County Superintendents to liaise with Statutory District Superintendents to prepare the land for citizens to grow food to avert any post-Ebola food shortages.

Chief Karwor observed that after Ebola is wiped out of Liberia, hunger will be the next to attack the country.

“The hunger that is in this country is too high and if we don’t do something now, after Ebola is gone, the next attack on the citizens will be hunger,” Karwor told the Liberia News Agency at the administration building in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County Tuesday.

While the Associated Press finds a hopeful symptom:

Liberian couples marry, a sign of less Ebola fear

“It is absolutely premature to start being optimistic,” Birte Hald of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Monday in Brussels. She noted that the virus “is flaring up in new villages, in new locations.”

In Monrovia, though, ordinary life is resuming and there are some signs of normalcy that were all but absent during the height of the crisis here. Washing hands before entering is no longer enforced in many shops. Radio stations are not playing anti-Ebola jingles as often as they did two months ago.

And on Sunday, a small park near the Ministry of Health was full of cameramen jostling for space to get the best shots of the newly wedded.

Jordan Jackson, 36, and his bride Jacquelyn, 33, were married on Sunday after more than a decade together. The couple already has three children — 10, 7 and 5 years old — who took part in the ceremony along with them.

“The feeling I am leaving this park with this afternoon is that Liberia is returning to normalcy and things are getting better,” the groom said.

And from AllAfrica, another cautionary note:

Liberia: Unchecked Migration of Ebola Patients Troubling MoH

An official of the Ministry of Health has expressed concern that the migration of Ebola patients from Monrovia to other parts of Liberia is leading to the rapid spread of the virus.

Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services Tolbert Nyenswah blamed the recent emergence of few hotspots of the Ebola virus in Grand Bassa and Bong counties on the movement of Ebola patients to those areas.

He made the statement Tuesday at the Ministry of Information daily Ebola press conference held at the ministry in Monrovia.

EbolaWatch: Warnings, anger, fear, Africa


Especially Africa, thanks to a flood of reports from African media.

We begin with a grim assessment from a leading German physicist who has modeled the epidemic, via Deutsche Welle:

Dangerous Pandemic – Strategies against Ebola

Program notes:

How well can science predict the course of an epidemic? We spoke with Prof. Dirk Brockmann, a physicist at the Humboldt University Berlin.

From the Independent, rage:

WHO chief: Ebola vaccine was never developed ‘because it only affected poor African countries’

There is still no Ebola vaccine 40 years after the disease first emerged because it previously affected only poor African nations, the head of the World Health Organisation has said.

In unusually strident comments, Dr Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO, attacked drug companies and said that the reason clinicians were “empty-handed” was because “a profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay”.

She said that long-standing WHO complaints about the lack of investment in both vaccine development and the healthcare systems of poor states had “fallen on deaf ears for decades”. But the current global Ebola panic put the arguments “out there with consequences that all the world can see, every day, on prime time TV news”.

From her address:

In the midst of these alarming trends, two WHO arguments that have fallen on deaf ears for decades are now out there with consequences that all the world can see, every day, on prime-time TV news.

The first argument concerns the urgent need to strengthen long-neglected health systems, an argument long-championed by your RD.

When heads of state in non-affected countries talk about Ebola, they rightly attribute the outbreak’s unprecedented severity to the “failure to put basic public health infrastructures in place.”

Without fundamental public health infrastructures in place, no country is stable. No society is secure. No resilience exists to withstand the shocks that our 21st century societies are delivering with ever-greater frequency and force, whether from a changing climate or a runaway killer virus.

The second argument is this. Ebola emerged nearly four decades ago. Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure?

Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations. The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay. WHO has been trying to make this issue visible for ages. Now people can see for themselves.

A bit of science from CBC News:

Bats likely carry Ebola to humans, but may also carry cure

  • Ability to carry viruses without getting sick could lead to better treatments

“What is happening now is a public health disaster rather than a problem of wildlife management,” said Marcus Rowcliffe at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which runs London Zoo.

Bats’ role in spreading Ebola is probably a function both of their huge numbers, where they rank second only to rodents among mammals in the world, as well as their unusual immune system, according to Michelle Baker of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency.

Baker, who is intrigued by bats’ ability to live in “equilibrium” with viruses, published a paper with colleagues in the journal Science last year looking at bat genomes. They found an unexpected concentration of genes for repairing DNA damage, hinting at a link between flying and immunity.

“(This) raises the interesting possibility that flight-induced adaptations have had inadvertent effects on bat immune function and possibly also life expectancy,” they wrote.

Homeland Security News Wire covers projections:

U.S. will see between 1 and 130 additional Ebola cases by end of 2014: Experts

Top U.S. medical experts studying the spread of Ebola predict a few more cases will reach America before year’s end, citing the return of healthcare workers currently working in West Africa as the most likely cause of new cases. Using data models that weigh several variables including daily new infections in West Africa, global airline traffic, and transmission possibilities, top infectious disease experts predict as few as one or two additional infections and as many as 130 by the end of 2014.

Top U.S. medical experts studying the spread of Ebola predict a few more cases will reach America before year’s end, citing the return of healthcare workers currently working in West Africa as the most likely cause of new cases. Using data models that weigh several variables including daily new infections in West Africa, global airline traffic, and transmission possibilities, top infectious disease experts predict as few as one or two additional infections and as many as 130 by the end of 2014. “I don’t think there’s going to be a huge outbreak here, no,” said Dr. David Relman, a professor of infectious disease, microbiology and immunology at Stanford University’s medical school. “However, as best we can tell right now, it is quite possible that every major city will see at least a handful of cases.”

From Reuters, a done deal:

Ebola nurse, Maine settle quarantine suit

The state of Maine and a nurse who had treated victims of the Ebola virus in West Africa reached a settlement deal on Monday, allowing her to travel freely in public but requiring her to monitor her health closely and report any symptoms.

The settlement, filed in nurse Kaci Hickox’s home town of Fort Kent, in Maine’s far north, where she returned after being briefly quarantined in New Jersey, keeps in effect through Nov. 10 the terms of an order issued by a Maine judge on Friday.

Hickox returned to the United States last month after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and was quarantined in a tent outside a hospital in New Jersey for four days despite showing no symptoms.

From the Guardian, a scare ends:

Woman tests negative for Ebola in south London hospital

  • Ebola safety process triggered at St George’s hospital, Tooting, after arrival of unwell woman who had recently been in west Africa

A woman who had recently travelled to west Africa has tested negative for Ebola at a south London hospital, it has been confirmed.

The arrival of the unwell woman at St George’s hospital in Tooting on Sunday night triggered protocols put in place to guard staff and fellow patients against the contagious disease. She was treated by health workers wearing full protective body suits, including masks and gloves, and moved to the clinical infections unit, where she had a series of tests, one of which was for Ebola.

The woman will stay at St George’s for treatment. The hospital did not disclose the diagnosis of her illness. “All appropriate actions have been taken by our staff to protect the public and the patient,”it said.

And from TheLocal.fr, an evacuee faring well:

UN Ebola victim ‘stable’ in French hospital

A United Nations employee who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone and was repatriated in France is in a “stable condition,” French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said on Monday.

The Unicef official was “repatriated in secure sanitary conditions” and is being treated at the Begin military hospital outside Paris, Touraine told French radio, declining to give specific details about the patient.

“It’s a person who is at the moment in a stable condition and who will receive the best possible treatment,” she said.

From SINA English, cheapskates:

Ebola crisis highlights China’s philanthropic shortfall

China has contributed over $120 million to fight the spread of the Ebola virus, but its billionaire tycoons – it has more than anywhere outside the United States – have, publicly at least, donated little to the cause, underscoring an immature culture of philanthropy in the world’s second-biggest economy.

As the ranks of China’s wealthy and the success of its corporations grow, donating to good causes has yet to take off in a significant way. China sits towards the bottom of the list of countries where people give money to charity, volunteer or help a stranger, according to The World Giving Index, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation.

Donations to charities totalled 98.9 billion yuan ($16.1 billion) in 2013, according to Chinese government data, recovering from two straight years of declines. For comparison, Americans gave more than $335 billion, according to the National Philanthropic Trust website.

More screens raised, via BBC News:

Singapore imposes visa rule for West Africa Ebola nations

Citizens of West African countries where Ebola is prevalent will require a visa to enter Singapore from Wednesday.

The health ministry said the visa requirement for those from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone would allow for better oversight and tracing.

Authorities have been cautious of a possible outbreak in the city-state and major transport hub, which was hit by the Sars virus in 2003.

Singaporean media have reported at least two suspected cases of Ebola, though both later tested negative.

Canada raises the pharmaceutical barriers, via Reuters:

Canada commits funding for Ebola vaccine research, stockpile

Canada announced new funding on Monday for clinical trials into an Ebola vaccine, and to create a stockpile of the vaccine and experimental treatments for use in the event the deadly disease reaches the country.

Speaking at the laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where scientists developed an experimental Ebola treatment, ZMAb, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Ottawa was committing C$23.5 million ($20.7 million) for research and development of Ebola vaccines and treatments.

“These funds announced today will help support Ebola vaccine clinical trials and to create a stockpile of the vaccine and monochlonal antibody treatments of Ebola for use in Canada in the event of a case of Ebola, and to assist in the outbreak response in West Africa,” Ambrose said.

On to Africa, starting with the Associated Press:

After botching Ebola, WHO to pick new Africa boss

After acknowledging that it bungled the response to the biggest Ebola outbreak in history, the World Health Organization is electing a new regional director for its Africa office this week. Critics say it’s about time.

WHO Africa is widely acknowledged to be the U.N. health agency’s weakest regional office. In an internal draft document obtained by the Associated Press last month, WHO blamed its staff in Africa for initially botching the response to Ebola, describing many of its regional staff as “politically-motivated appointments” and noted numerous complaints about WHO officials in West Africa.

WHO has six regional offices including Africa — all of them are largely autonomous and do not answer to the Geneva headquarters. The U.N. agency was intentionally set up as a fragmented organization in 1948 because it was feared existing regional health organizations wouldn’t want to join WHO unless they had a high degree of independence.

From Reuters, mixed news from the newest Ebola nation:

WHO says currently no Ebola cases in Mali, 39 contacts sought

Thirty-nine people who traveled on buses with a toddler who died from Ebola in Mali are still being sought for checks, although the country is believed to be free of the disease, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

A WHO spokeswoman said 108 contacts were being followed up, including 33 health workers, but epidemiologists believe those who have not been traced are at low risk, as they are unlikely to have had physical contact with the sick two-year-old.

The girl’s five-year-old sister had a fever but was suffering from malaria, not Ebola, tests showed. Other family members are under observation in the same hospital and doing well, with no fever or other symptoms, the WHO said.

The Observer states the obvious:

Western aid is essential to prevent another Ebola outbreak, says thinktank

  • African nations most at risk are ranked near bottom of world health index

The importance of western aid in helping to build effective health systems in the developing world has been highlighted by a respected international thinktank finding that Sierra Leone, an early source of the Ebola outbreak, was the country least likely to be able to deal with the virus.

The west African state has been ranked bottom of a health index compiled by the Legatum Institute, to be published on Monday, examining the governance of public health in 142 countries along with indices such as infant mortality, life expectancy and healthcare spending.

There are 0.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people in Sierra Leone and health spending is $205 per person, according to the research. It has the second highest rate of tuberculosis in the world (674 per 100,000 people), and the highest incidence of infant mortality at 117.4 per 1,000 live births. The Legatum Institute says that, as a result, the country was “singularly ill equipped to deal with a problem like Ebola”.

Science covers Chinese support:

China ramps up efforts to combat Ebola

In the unfolding Ebola crisis, much attention has focused on the relief efforts of Western countries and the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders. Out of the limelight, China is mounting one of its largest aid operations ever, driven in part by increasing political and business interests in Africa.

Already about 200 medical workers and advisers from China are now stationed in the three West African countries fighting Ebola outbreaks: Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. George Gao, deputy director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), runs a mobile testing lab in the capital of Sierra Leone. Reached by phone there in Freetown, Gao says his team performs 40 to 60 blood tests a day. In addition to diagnosing the disease in patients, it’s crucial to test corpses; if a patient has died from Ebola, it’s imperative to refrain from traditional burial practices in West Africa such as washing or touching the deceased or giving a “final kiss,” Gao says.

A veteran of successful efforts in recent months to contain the H7N5 and H7N9 strains of avian influenza in China, Gao and his team of about 30 people from China CDC arrived in Freetown in mid-September and will stay until mid-November, when Chinese colleagues rotate in. Also in Sierra Leone, about 30 medical personnel from Beijing’s 302 Military Hospital, which took the lead during the 2003 SARS outbreak in China, is operating a holding center to keep suspected Ebola patients under quarantine. In the next few weeks, another 480 medical personnel from China’s People’s Liberation Army, including staff involved in fighting SARS, will arrive in Liberia to build and staff a 100-bed treatment center. China is also set to deliver to the region 60 ambulances, 100 motorcycles, and other supplies, including pickup trucks and incinerators, within the month.

From Science again, a harsh critique:

Nigerian virologist delivers scathing analysis of Africa’s response to Ebola

After Oyewale Tomori finished his talk on Ebola here at the International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance, there was stunned silence. Tomori, the president of the Nigerian Academy of Science, used his plenary to deliver a scathing critique of how African countries have handled the threat of Ebola and how corruption is hampering efforts to improve health. Aid money often simply disappears, Tomori charged, “and we are left underdeveloped, totally and completely unprepared to tackle emerging pathogens.”

Trained as a veterinarian, Tomori was the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) regional virologist for the African region in 1995 during the Ebola outbreak in Kikwit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). ScienceInsider sat down with him at the meeting in Vienna; questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Prevention efforts from the Point in Banjul, the Gambia:

German NGO, association sensitize communities on Ebola prevention

Future of Salikene Project, a German NGO, and the Association of Medical Emergency Aid The Gambia has been engaged in community sensitization on Ebola prevention.

The community sensitization in Salikene and the staff of Salikene Health Centre was recently held in the North Bank Region village.

It was organized by Future of Salikene Project, a German NGO in partnership with the association, a charitable organization.

The sensitization exercise was follow by presentations of Ebola materials and equipment to the AFPRC General Hospital in Farafenni, and to Jahally and Brikamaba Health Centre in the Central River Region.

From CCTV Africa, the media front:

Battling Ebola Through Social Media

Program notes:

A major challenge in tackling Ebola has been poor communication. With new cases reported almost daily, it is important for the outbreak to be continuous highlighted to create more awareness. Outside of governments and non-state actors, people have been taking to social media to help educate each other, and to also seek help for affected countries. Here is a look at how such online conversations have been addressing the Ebola outbreak.

After the jump it’s on to Sierra Leone and another doctor fallen, mixed signals from the field, political monitoring of food distribution, future fiscal needs anticipated, conspiracy theories flourishing, doubly afflicted survivors, British aid arrives, and the bizarre abroad, then on to Liberia and optimism abounding with a cause attributed, innovative nursing, secondary victimization, American acknowledgment of Cuban help as one island doctor falls victim to another killer, a warning against complacency, lingering fears in a ravished county, and an expression of sorrow. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Numbers, panic, law, & Africa


Always Africa, the latest headlines from the hot zone press — including gay-blaming — after the jump. . .

First, the latest numbers from Reuters:

Ebola death toll rises, fewer cases in Guinea than thought – WHO

The Ebola epidemic has killed 4,951 people out of 13,567 infected in eight countries, the World Health Organisation said on Friday, slightly revising downwards its figures for cases mainly due to “suspected cases in Guinea being discarded”.

The toll reflects a rise of 31 deaths since the United Nations agency reported its previous figures on Wednesday, while the number of overall cases fell by 136.

“Of the eight Guinean and Liberian districts that share a border with Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), only one in Guinea is yet to report a confirmed or probable case of Ebola virus disease,” the WHO warned in the statement.

The epidemiological curve from the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control [click on the image to enlarge]:

BLOG Ebola curve

And from intelNews, an Ebolahobic Islamaphobe’s worst nightmare:

Are militant groups interested in weaponizing Ebola?

Does the Ebola epidemic present militant groups, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, with the opportunity to weaponize viruses and direct them against Western targets? Earlier this month, United States Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson dismissed in strong terms the possibility that Ebola would be used by Islamic State militants to attack American targets.

Speaking to the Association of the United States Army, Johnson acknowledged that the Islamic State is a “very, very dangerous terrorist organization”, but added that his Department had seen “no specific credible evidence that [the Islamic State] is attempting to use any sort of disease or virus to attack” the US.

A few days earlier, however, Forbes magazine had quoted Al Shimkus, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, as saying that the Ebola outbreak presented Islamist groups with the opportunity to use a low-tech bioterrorist weapon “to attempt to wreak strategic global infection”. Shimkus added that a group like the Islamic State wouldn’t even have to weaponize the virus’ it could “simply use human carriers to intentionally infect themselves in West Africa, then disseminate the deadly virus via the world’s air transportation system”, he said.

On Wednesday, a senior Spanish official told a parliamentary committee in Madrid that the government of Spain was “taking seriously” discussions in Internet forums linked to the Islamic State about using biological weapons against the West.

From Military Times via USA Today, militarizing the domestic response:

U.S. military to train more Ebola response teams

The U.S. military will train more medical personnel to respond to domestic cases of Ebola should they occur, a senior Defense Department official said Thursday.

Plans are under way to form more military Ebola medical response teams similar to the 30-member group that completed training this week at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The official said the Pentagon is anticipating a request from the Health and Human Services Department for more medical personnel who would respond on short notice to civilian medical facilities should they need help treating Ebola patients.

And from Voice of America, as predicted in yesterday’s EbolaWatch:

Lawmaker Blasts US Participation in Cuba Ebola Meeting

One of Washington’s most vocal opponents of the Castro brothers’ regime in Cuba has blasted the U.S. decision to attend an Ebola conference in Havana this week.

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart called the participation of a mid-level official from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the two-day multinational meeting “a disgrace.”

The United States has no official diplomatic relationship with the Communist island nation.

Dr. Nelson Arboleda, Director of CDC’s Guatemala office and Regional Programs, represented the CDC at the conference that ended Thursday.

“It’s been a very rich technical experience in which we’ve learned all the different plans of all the different countries and that helps us, as a bloc, identify the needed areas to be better prepared in our region,” said Arboleda.

From the Los Angeles Times, cool on the coast:

Most voters not worried about Ebola threat in California

Despite an onslaught of news bulletins and some missteps in the nation’s response, a majority of California voters are unfazed by the Ebola threat and confident government officials and medical workers are prepared to handle outbreaks, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll has found.

Nearly 70% of respondents in the statewide survey indicated they weren’t particularly concerned about encountering the deadly virus.

Thirty percent of registered voters said they were very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family would be exposed to the virus. Those fears were most pronounced among Latinos, nearly half of whom said they were at least somewhat worried about Ebola exposure, the poll found.

At the same time, more than half of all respondents said they had a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that local, state and federal officials will be able to deal with Ebola, with nearly 70% expressing similar faith in local hospitals and doctors.

A legal rebuff from the New York Times:

Maine Judge Rejects Ebola Quarantine for Nurse

Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public.

Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left.

The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, “currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.”

The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.

One key detail from the Guardian:

Maine nurse can leave home but must maintain 3ft distance from others, court rules

  • State obtains temporary court order forcing Kaci Hickox to follow CDC’s Ebola guidelines, but Hickox will not be subject to home quarantine

The predictable from Reuters:

Judge’s rejection of nurse quarantine ‘unfortunate’: Maine governor

Maine Governor Paul LePage said on Friday it was unfortunate that a judge rejected the state’s attempts to impose a strict quarantine on an American nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa, but said he will abide by the ruling.

The ruling appeared to end a stand-off between the state and the nurse, Kaci Hickox, who had defied officials by leaving her house and going for a bike ride.

“The judge has eased restrictions with this ruling. And I believe it is unfortunate,” LePage said in a statement. “However, the state will abide by law.”

And an exercise in self-control from the Associated Press:

US Ambassador Says She’s Monitoring for Ebola

The U.S. ambassador who just returned from the three West African countries worst hit by Ebola said Friday she’s self-monitoring for the virus like anyone else.

Samantha Power, the envoy to the United Nations, has been openly critical of the quarantine restrictions that some U.S. states have struggled to put in place as fear spreads over the worst outbreak of the disease in history.

She described herself as “low-risk” and said she had not gone into Ebola treatment units while visiting Liberia, Sierra Leona and Guinea. Now, following federal guidelines, she checks her temperature and calls health authorities twice a day. She also didn’t hesitate to shake hands Friday.

Another exercise in exclusion from the London Telegraph:

Ebola: Oxford academic banned from US conference

  • Piero Olliaro told he will be confined to New Orleans hotel room

An Oxford academic has had to pull out of a conference on Ebola and tropical diseases in New Orleans after being told he would be confined to his hotel room.

Piero Olliaro, a visiting fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, was due to present several papers on research he had been doing on malaria and river blindness.

But Dr Olliaro, who is a senior figure at the World Health Organisation Special Programme Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, has fallen foul of Louisiana’s strict quarantine rules.

He is one of around a dozen experts who have had to withdraw from the conference – the world’s biggest on tropical diseases – because of Louisiana’s strict quarantine rules.

A Spanish patient’s lament from El País:

Ebola nursing assistant: “I don’t want any interviews, I want my dog back!”

  • Teresa Romero speaks on the phone with her husband about their euthanized pet

Thursday was a day of tears and rage for Teresa Romero, the Spanish nursing assistant who became the first Ebola transmission case outside Africa.

The first cause for anger is her dog, Excalibur, which was put down while she remained in intensive care at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid. Romero found out what had happened several days ago from her husband, Javier Limón, who was himself kept in isolation for 21 days because of the risk that he might have contracted the virus through contact with her.

Romero remains isolated at the hospital despite being officially free of Ebola after a second blood test came in negative for the virus. But one last test is being conducted before she is transferred to an ordinary ward to recover from the damage wrought by the virus, especially to her lungs.

Exclusionary excess from the Associated Press:

Ashes from Ebola victim’s apartment in limbo

It took a crew 38 hours to clear out the Dallas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan was staying before he was diagnosed Sept. 30 with Ebola. Hazmat suit-clad workers piled shoes, carpets, mattresses, bed sheets, clothes and kids’ backpacks into 140 55-gallon drums. Only a few items were salvaged: a computer hard drive, legal documents, family photos, an old Bible belonging to Duncan’s grandmother.

The drums were packed, decontaminated and then carted away by Cleaning Guys environmental services employees. The contents were incinerated. But nearly a month later, the ashes sit in limbo at a facility in Port Arthur, Texas, according to Veolia North America, the company that owns the facility, as Louisiana officials fight to keep it out of a landfill there.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says incinerated Ebola waste poses no danger, Louisiana officials earlier this month asked a judge to block Duncan’s waste from entering the state, saying they wanted to determine for themselves that it was not dangerous. On Friday, state officials announced that Veolia has agreed to keep the ash out of the state’s landfill.

Another exclusionary exercise from the Canadian Press:

Canada won’t issue visas to residents of countries battling Ebola

Canada is following in Australia’s footsteps and is suspending visa applications for residents and nationals of the West African countries battling Ebola.

The federal government signalled it would stop issuing visas in the worker, student or visitor class and will not issue any pending permanent residency visas for people from those countries either. Any applications already in the system will also not be processed at this time.

The change, which goes into effect immediately, was announced Friday in the Canada Gazette.

A counterblast from BBC News:

UN chief defends returning Ebola aid workers

  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon says aid workers dealing with the Ebola crisis are “exceptional people”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said discrimination against aid workers who return home from the Ebola crisis in West Africa is “unacceptable”.

Strict quarantine rules are hampering aid efforts when more health workers are needed in order to deal with the crisis, he told BBC News in Nairobi.

International efforts have been insufficient but are now “catching up”, the UN secretary general added. “We have been really trying to mobilise in a massive way,” he said.

Japanese sharing from the Mainichi:

Gov’t to release flight info in cases of suspected Ebola infections

The government will release the flight information of any passengers suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus, under a new policy announced on Oct. 31.

Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota told reporters that under the new information dissemination policy, the government would be allowed to announce the flight number and the number of fellow passengers of those arriving in Japan suspected of being infected with Ebola. The person’s age bracket, gender and where they stayed during their trip could also be released.

Ota pointed out that information disclosure is a serious issue as airport staff and airline passengers are concerned about the spread of Ebola. The government would decide the timing of the announcement. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will release the government’s final decision on the policy as early as next week.

The Diplomat mulls motivation:

South Korea’s Ebola Response

  • Are plans to send a team to two of the most afflicted countries in Africa driven by humanitarian or political motives?

Sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly within the political and economic sights of South Korean government strategy, a strategy designed to bring some measure of stability to South Korea’s fragile food and fuel supplies. Thus, the decision to send a medical team comprising civilian volunteers and military medics recruited by the Ministry of National Defense to help fight the devastating Ebola outbreak in western Africa could legitimately be viewed as something more than a response to an international plea for help. Rather, despite concerns for the team’s safety, it enhances the Park administration’s push to establish itself as a viable development partner for Africa over China or even North Korea.

This enhancement is arguably more pressing given the response by some sectors of the South Korean citizenry to the Ebola outbreak. It is also a useful offset to concern over the involvement of South Korean ships engaging in illegal fishing, which has driven a perception that South Korean engagement in the region is far from benevolent. According to a recent report, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has become a serious economic impediment in the region, with South Korea “increasingly being implicated as a lead villain in the growing controversy … (including) its role in dubious fishing policies in waters in East Africa and off the coast of Puntland.”

Designs for a Chinese screen from CCTV News:

Beijing holds drills to detect travelers with Ebola

On Thursday, Beijing authorities held an Ebola preparedness drill in which a subject had to be identified and quarantined in the quickest, safest manner. Thursday’s scenario involved an individual passing through the Beijing International Airport while being suspected of having the Ebola virus.

The subject was immediately quarantined and transferred to a designated hospital equipped with special facilities to treat and secure the suspected Ebola patient and the medical staff taking care of him/her.  According to procedure, following a preliminary check, the details of the case were reported to China’s disease control department.  Samples were taken and the patient continued to undergo monitoring.

Authorities say that the drill was performed to further familiarize hospitals with the procedures necessary for treating suspected Ebola cases that could show up at a hospital at any time.

And the accompanying video report:

Beijing holds drills to detect travelers with Ebola

Program notes:

On Thursday, Beijing authorities held an Ebola preparedness drill in which a subject had to be identified and quarantined in the quickest, safest manner. Thursday’s scenario involved an individual passing through the Beijing International Airport while being suspected of having the Ebola virus.

After the jump, it’s on to Africa, first with a new pledge from China, charges of failure to aid, an anti-exclusion plea from Nigeria, on to Liberia and a a new facility opens and challenges the Aussies, superpowered survivors, presidential confidence expounded while others take a less confident view of her, a video look at a burial detail, an official cremation espousal, and, finally, scapegoating gays from the pulpit. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Politics, quarantines, Africa


But we begin with another aspect of the crisis from the World Food Program:

Ebonomics: The Price Of Keeping The Ebola Crisis From Becoming A Hunger Crisis

Program notes:

WFP’s Chief Economist Arif Husain visits West Africa to analyse how the outbreak affects the overall economy, particularly the food sector, and explains what types of assistance WFP is offering to different communities depending on their needs.

From Reuters, expectations:

Americans may still see some Ebola cases, Obama says

President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Americans may continue to see individual cases of Ebola in the United States until the outbreak in West Africa is contained.

Obama said it was essential the United States and other countries work to stop the Ebola outbreak at its source in Africa.

Until the outbreak is stopped, he said, “we may still continue to see individual cases in America in the weeks and months ahead.”

“We can’t hermetically seal ourselves off,” he said at the White House.

From the Associated Press, impasse:

Maine in standoff with nurse over Ebola safeguards

Insisting she is perfectly healthy, nurse Kaci Hickox again defied the state’s Ebola quarantine Thursday by taking a bike ride with her boyfriend, and Maine health authorities struggled to reach a compromise that would limit her contact with others.

Hickox, 33, stepped out of her home on the remote northern edge of Maine for the second day in a row, practically daring authorities to make good on their threat to go to court to have her confined against her will. On Wednesday evening, she went outside for an impromptu news conference and shook a reporter’s outstretched hand.

By evening, it was unclear whether the state had gone to court or whether there had been any progress toward ending the standoff that has become the nation’s most closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of Ebola. The governor’s office and Hickox’s lawyers would not comment.

More form the Los Angeles Times:

Maine fails to reach quarantine compromise with nurse Kaci Hickox

It’s the type of battle made for flinty New England, where personal liberty vs. the government’s interpretation of public good has been a frequent theme. A nurse, hailed by some as a hero for helping treat Ebola patients in Africa, has defiantly rejected the power of Maine officials seeking to quarantine her in the name of protecting the public from a virus that the healthcare worker insists she doesn’t have.

Maine health authorities so far have failed to reach a compromise with nurse Kaci Hickox that would require her to keep her distance from other people. Hickox has personified the closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of Ebola since she arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey last Friday and found herself in quarantine.

Early Thursday, Hickox stepped out of her home in Fort Kent, at the remote northern edge of Maine, and took a bicycle ride with her boyfriend. It was the second time in as many days that Hickox had flouted the state’s rules that she stay away from the public until Nov. 10, the end of the 21-day incubation period for the Ebola virus.

Complications from Reuters:

In U.S. Ebola fight, no two quarantines are quite the same

In the U.S. battle against Ebola, quarantine rules depend on your zip code.

For some it may feel like imprisonment or house arrest. For others it may be more like a staycation, albeit one with a scary and stressful edge.

If they are lucky, the quarantined may get assigned a case worker who can play the role of a personal concierge by buying groceries and running errands. Some authorities are allowing visitors, or even giving those in quarantine permission to take trips outside to walk the dog or take a jog.

A month after the first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States, state and local health authorities across the country have imposed a hodgepodge of often conflicting rules.

Politics from CNN:

State Department denies it has a secret plan to admit foreign Ebola patients

The State Department discussed plans to transport non-U.S.citizens infected with Ebola to the United States for medical treatment, but decided to shelve the proposal and insists it was never considered at senior levels.

But Congressional Republicans are seizing on an internal State Department memo outlining a possible joint State-Homeland Security department program to provide Ebola care at U.S. hospitals for non-Americans. They say the memo is evidence the Administration was working on a new plan but wasn’t being transparent about it.

The memo, obtained by CNN, is labeled “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED – PREDECISIONAL” and drafted by State Department officials. It recommends that the two federal agencies come up with a system to admit into the United States non-citizens “as long as they are otherwise eligible for medical evacuation from the Ebola affected countries and for entry in the United States.” It outlines the steps the U.S. government would need to take to contract with a commercial aviation company that specializes in bio containment. It also mentions other non-governmental agencies the U.S. is working with to assist with medevacing health care workers out of West Africa to European countries.

More of the political from the Washington Post:

Politicians fueling Ebola fear before midterms

Program notes:

Polling shows the public is worried about an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. — and politicians on both sides of the aisle are feeding into the fear, just weeks away from the midterm elections.

Strategizing from the Associated Press:

Nations in Americas join in battle against Ebola

Countries from around the Americas have agreed to work together in their response to Ebola, adopting similar procedures in such things as the establishment of epidemiological monitoring centers and coordinating the transport of biological samples.

About 200 epidemiology experts and health officials from 24 countries, including the United States and Canada, met in Havana on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss their response to the epidemic.

A document from the meeting lays out “lines of action” that the countries say they’ll follow to combat the disease.

And a walkout from the Contra Costa Times:

National Nurses Union plans strike to demand greater protections against Ebola

Stepping up demands to protect nurses from Ebola, the national nurses’s union said Thursday that nurses coast-to-coast are planning a National Day of Action on Nov. 12 that includes strikes at 21 Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California.

Zenei Cortez, co-president of the California Nurses Association, which is part of National Nurses United, said Kaiser nurses plan to strike Nov. 11-12.

When it comes to Ebola, “the message that nurses have been getting around the nation is that we are expendable,” said Deborah Burger, co-president of National Nurses United and president of the California Nurses Association. “At first there was shock, then anger — and now we want action.

“They don’t have the appropriate training and protection,” she said of nurses in her organization and nationwide, urging that hospitals provide nurses with hazmat suits, proper protective equipment and training to safeguard against Ebola. “These are human beings. We’re talking about our nurses that are heroes and take care of this country.”

Genetics from the Japan Times:

Ebola symptoms may hinge on gene functions: U.S., Japanese researchers

Ebola’s symptoms may differ depending on whether certain genes in the victim are active or not, a U.S.-based research team said in a paper published in Science magazine on Thursday.

The findings from experiments on mice are likely to help understand why Ebola manifests itself differently from one case to another. They may also aid the treatment of critical patients, the researchers said.

Led by Michael Katze of the University of Washington, the research team includes Japanese scientist Atsushi Okumura and members of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

More from the London Telegraph:

Ebola outbreak: Ebola may not be a deadly disease for everyone, scientists find

  • Researchers have found that natural immunity may exist to Ebola, after discovering that some animals get over the disease quickly, without major symptoms

Ebola may not be a deadly disease for everyone, after scientists discovered that some people are likely to be naturally immune to the virus.

A study in mice showed that genetic variations govern how ill victims will get after contracting the disease.

Some completely resist the disease, while others suffer only a moderate illness. However many still succumb to bleeding, organ failure and shock.

The research was conducted in a highly secure, state-of-the-art bio lab in Montana, US.

Researchers found that all mice lost weight in the first few days after infection. However, nearly one in five of the mice not only survived, but also fully regained their lost weight within two weeks.

The Los Angeles Times covers the seriocomic:

When an Ebola joke becomes a crime

An Ohio man was arrested and jailed after he told a dealer at a Cleveland casino that he was there, ha ha, to keep his distance from his ex, who had come back from Africa with Ebola.

The charge against Emanuel Smith:  “felony inducing panic.” Smith is alleged to have broken a law that in part bans “initiating or circulating a report of an alleged or impending fire, explosion, crime or other catastrophe, knowing that such report or warning is false.”

In Ohio, if a crack about Ebola causes a panic or costs a business money, you could face criminal charges.

Smith’s ex-wife, of course, didn’t have Ebola, but after the remark was reported to management, the casino cleared out the pit where he’d been gambling, which meant lost revenue, and according to the law in Ohio, the more money is lost by the “panic,”  the more serious the felony.

Another joke gone bad from RT:

‘Ebola’ coffee cup puts plane on lockdown at Dublin Airport

An unidentified man who scribbled an Ebola warning on a cup of coffee caused quite a stir on a Dublin-bound flight. After putting the plane on lockdown for nearly an hour in the Irish capital, authorities determined that it was all a hoax.

The incident occurred on Air Lingus Flight EI 433, which had set off from Milan on Thursday. Upon arriving in Dublin, passengers were held onboard for roughly 50 minutes until paramedics were able to investigate the matter.

“Following a minor security incident on board an Aer Lingus flight from Milan to Dublin, passengers were held on board the aircraft after it landed at Dublin Airport just before 1pm today,” a spokesperson for Dublin Airport Authority told the Irish Independent.

From USA TODAY, harkening to the days of the “Dark Continent”:

Ebola fears spark claims of racism in Europe

Italian mothers in suburban Rome recently organized a petition drive to keep a 3-year-old black girl from attending kindergarten after her family traveled to Uganda — a country thousands of miles away from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

In Germany, soccer fans chanted “Ebola, Ebola” when Charles Atsina, a black player from Ghana, came onto the field to play.

Two British landlords refused to rent an apartment to a black Sierra Leone radio newscaster, Amara Bangura, who was moving to England to study. The landlords feared he might bring the deadly virus with him.

As Americans debate quarantining health workers returning from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone or banning travelers from those countries — as Australia has already done — fears of Ebola have also gripped Europe. And that fear is giving some people license to vent racist attitudes.

Entry not denied from Science:

Ebola researchers still welcome at European infectious diseases meetings

As ScienceInsider reported yesterday, the state of Louisiana has told researchers to stay away from the world’s biggest tropical medicine meeting next week if they have been in contact with Ebola patients in the past 21 days—or even if they’ve just visited Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone, the three nations where the epidemic is raging. Many scientists object to the policy; the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), which organizes the event, disagrees but accepts Louisiana’s decision, says incoming president Christopher Plowe.

But Ebola is a hot topic at many special sessions and late breakers these days. Are scientists who may have been exposed to the virus still welcome at other infectious diseases meetings? Here’s a quick sample.

People returning from West Africa are definitely expected, and are welcome, at the European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, held next week in Stockholm. Sweden currently does not have travel restrictions for people coming from affected countries, says a representative for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which organizes the event.

From Voice of America, a map of countries placing some restrictions on trvel from the hot zone:

BLOG Ebola travel

After a ban, back in the hot zone from FrontPageAfrica:

Back to Ebola Zone – Washington Post Duo –DuCille and Bernstein Return

Just days after he was barred from a teaching workshop class at Syracuse University over fears that he may have been infected with the deadly Ebola virus following his recent assignment to Liberia, Washington Post Photographer Michel duCille is heading back to the epicenter of the outbreak. DuCille, along with health reporter Lenny Bernstein will arrive in Monrovia Friday for a second assignment stint since the outbreak in March.

Michel DuCille, a three-time Pulitzer prize winning photographer received the shock of his life recently when he was disinvited by the university over fears that he had Ebola after covering the virus outbreak in Liberia, even though he is symptom-free and has been in the United States for more than the recommended incubation period. FrontPageAfrica’s Newsroom Chief Wade Williams received similar news the same day when she too was disinvited from a previously-arranged speaking engagement at the University of Georgia.

DuCille did not hide his disgust of the University’s decision to disinvite him when he told Time: “I am disappointed in the level of journalism at Syracuse, and I am angry that they missed a great teaching opportunity. Instead, they have decided to jump in with the mass hysteria. They missed a great teaching opportunity here for the students; to show them how to report the facts and practice good journalism Instead they went the alarmist route.”

Asian readiness from Reuters:

In Guangdong, nervy Chinese ramp up Ebola watch

Chinese authorities have identified the southern province of Guangdong, home to Asia’s biggest African population, as a frontline in their efforts to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from entering mainland China.

The province bordering Hong Kong has proven susceptible to infectious diseases in the past, shouldering a large share of SARS and bird flu cases, prompting local authorities to take no chances with Ebola.

Local authorities say they have expanded testing procedures at provincial entry ports and 27 hospitals have been designated to handle possible Ebola cases. Travelers arriving from Ebola-affected nations must leave their contact details.

“The central government has asked Guangzhou to strengthen preventative measures,” Mao Qun’an, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, told Reuters. “Of course in Guangzhou, there are many people from outside China’s borders.”

And another warning from the Japan Times:

Chinese risk of Ebola outbreak ‘not rocket science’: expert

A scientist who helped to discover the Ebola virus says he is concerned that the deadly disease could spread to China, given the large numbers of Chinese workers traveling to and from Africa.

Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said Thursday it’s not “rocket science” that with many exchanges between the two regions the disease could spread.

“The concern I have is that I don’t think you can really stop people from traveling. These patients will show up in any country in the world, but China is quite vulnerable,” Piot said.

“The issue is: What is the quality, the standard of infection control? In public hospitals in China, the ones that I’ve visited, the level of infection control is very poor,” he said.

Unprepared from NHK WORLD:

Hospitals in Japan not fully prepared for Ebola

An NHK survey shows that most hospitals in Japan designated to treat Ebola patients are not fully prepared.

NHK surveyed 45 designated medical institutions across the country, and received responses from 39. Regarding preparedness to accept Ebola patients, 32 hospitals, or 82 percent, said they are not fully prepared.

As for the reason, 75 percent cited insufficient training for doctors, nurses and other health workers. 53 percent said they have not yet carried out drills for accepting Ebola patients. 38 percent cited a lack of supplies such as protective suits to prevent secondary infections of health workers.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore takes it all the way:

North Korea orders Ebola quarantine on all foreigners

Britain, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, issued a travel advisory on its government website on Thursday (Oct 30), detailing the quarantine order which was apparently issued to all foreign missions in the North Korean capital

North Korea has announced it intends to quarantine all foreigners entering the country for 21 days, no matter what their country of origin, as a measure against the spread of the Ebola virus.

Britain, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, issued a travel advisory on its government website on Thursday (Oct 30), detailing the quarantine order which was apparently issued to all foreign missions in the North Korean capital.

According to the advisory, travellers to North Korea from regions or countries that Pyongyang considers affected by the Ebola virus, will be quarantined for 21 days “in a government-appointed hotel under medical supervision”. Travellers from any other country or region will also be quarantined in hotels appointed by the organisation hosting their visit.

After the jump, on to Africa and more World Bank loans for the hot zone, Chinese military help, Nigerian helpers bankrolled, a prescription of trust, and a sad colonial heritage, and a funereal solution prescribed, on to Sierra Leone and cremations enforced, a plea for help from a Japanese volunteer, scenes from a crisis center, a plea to end air embargoes, a campaign against misinformation, and official optimism, then on to Liberia and cremation confusion, waiting in limbo, and the plight of a the multiply victimized, thence to Guinea and ravaged agriculture, Gambia next and actors enlisted for prevention, plus a warning form the World Bank. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Quarantines, panic, pols, & Africa


We begin with root causes, starting with this from the Guardian:

Ebola is a product of a destructive and exploitative global economic system

Deforestation and increasing demands on habitats to produce food don’t just wreck the environment, they are increasing the risk of global pandemics like Ebola

Like a sleepwalker roused from his dream, the world is slowly waking up to the full nightmare of the Ebola outbreak decimating west Africa. With small numbers of cases turning up in western countries, governments here are belatedly pledging action to fight the disease, which has already claimed almost 5,000 lives.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all countries struggling to recover from wars still fresh in the memory – have buckled under the onslaught of this horrific virus. Inadequate, creaking health services have been no match for a ruthless killer. But while the shocking poverty of these countries provides the fertile ground for the disease to spread, there are bigger issues at play that ought to cause us to think about the macroeconomic conditions that brought us to this point.

Ebola – like HIV, anthrax, Sars, avian flu and other pandemics of recent years – is a zoonotic virus, one that has crossed from animals to humans. It was first identified in 1976 during near-simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The strain of Ebola implicated in the current outbreak is thought to have originated from a mutant pathogen found in fruit bats. This is where we see a direct connection with economic development. The conflicts which have done so much damage to the affected countries have also attracted a range of activities – both legal and illicit – including logging and extractive industries like bauxite mining, which have deforested large swathes of the region.

More from The Ecologist:

Oil palm explosion driving West Africa’s Ebola outbreak

The medical response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been monstrously inadequate, writes Richard Kock. But so has been recognition of the underlying causes – in particular the explosive spread of industrial oil palm, which disrupts the ecology of forests and farms, and undermines local economy and traditional governance, leading to a ‘perfect storm’ of disease.

It is poverty that drives villagers to encroach further into the forest, where they become infected with the virus when hunting and butchering wildlife, or through contact with body fluids from bats – this has been seen with Nipah, another dangerous virus associated with bats.

The likelihood of infection in this manner is compounded by inadequate rural health facilities and poor village infrastructure, compounded by the disorganised urban sprawl at the fringes of cities.

The virus then spreads in a wave of fear and panic, ill-conceived intervention and logistical failures – including even insufficient food or beds for the severely ill.

Take for example the global palm oil industry, where a similar trend of deep-cutting into forests for agricultural development has breached natural barriers to the evolution and spread of specific pathogens.

The effects of land grabs and the focus on certain fruit crop species leads to an Allee effect, where sudden changes in one ecological element causes the mechanisms for keeping populations – bats in this case – and viruses in equilibrium to shift, increasing the probability of spill over to alternative hosts.

Next, some possibly good news from the Guardian:

Ebola may have reached turning point, says Wellcome Trust director

  • Dr Jeremy Farrar says international community is belatedly taking the actions necessary to stem the tide of the disease

Writing in the Guardian, Dr Jeremy Farrar says that although there are several bleak months ahead, “it is finally becoming possible to see some light. In the past 10 days, the international community has belatedly begun to take the actions necessary to start turning Ebola’s tide.

“The progress made is preliminary and uncertain; even if ultimately successful it will not reduce mortality or stop transmission for some time. We are not close to seeing the beginning of the end of the epidemic but [several] developments offer hope that we may have reached the end of the beginning.”

Farrar’s comments come as the World Health Organisation confirmed that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia has started to decline, with fewer burials and some empty hospital beds. But the WHO warned against any assumption that the outbreak there was ending.

“I’m terrified that the information will be misinterpreted,” said Dr Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general in charge of the Ebola operational response. “This is like saying your pet tiger is under control. This is a very, very dangerous disease. Any transmission change could result in many, many more deaths.”

Science qualifies the optimism:

Liberia’s Ebola progress real, but epidemic far from under control

The apparent decline in cases could mean that  families are hiding patients and secretly burying the dead, but it is more likely that a combination of factors has reduced the spread of the disease, said Aylward. “There was a rapid scale up in safe burial practices in the month of September,” he said, adding that many people were isolated in Ebola treatment units, further curbing spread. There also has been intensive education of communities about the disease, including how it is spread, the value of seeking care, and self-protection strategies.

The situations in Guinea and Sierra Leone, the other two hard-hit countries, have not changed as dramatically.

In a disconnect with the drop of cases in Liberia, Aylward noted that WHO has tallied 13,703 cases—a jump of more than 3000 from the figures released 25 October. He said the steep increase reflects reporting on a backlog of cases “With the huge surge in cases in certain countries, particularly in September and October, people got behind on their data,” he said. “They ended up with huge piles of paper and we knew we were going to see jumps in cases at certain times that are going to be associated with more new data coming in that are actually old cases.” He said about 2000 of the latest cases came from old data collected in Liberia, where reporting of cases continues to be a problem. “Data for Liberia are missing for 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27 October,” the latest update from WHO notes.

And from Liberia itself, another caution via The NewDawn:

Ellen warns against early excitement – Chinese military team arrives

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has warned against early jubilation over news of reduction in the infection across the country with news of less than 400 cases nationwide.

The Liberian leader is cautioned citizens and residents against a repeat of a scenario in March this year when people got “too happy too soon” over decline in Ebola infection, thereby giving room for the virus to resurface by June when preventive measures were largely downplayed.

“Yes we feel good, but we want to be cautious. We don’t want people to get happy too soon; we got to continue this fight, and we got to continue it with everything that we got,” President Sirleaf said Tuesday in Monrovia when she received an advance Chinese military delegation of 15 personnel to build ETUs here.

Judging from previous scenario, she warned, “This time we want to be careful, we’ll not be satisfied until we are declared that the last Ebola victim has been cured and is freed of this disease.” President Sirleaf’s warning comes as government prepares to conduct a mid-term election for 15 senators in December.

A video report from euronews:

Ebola: WHO announces ‘slowing rate of new cases’

Program notes:

Liberia may be experiencing a slowdown in the rate of new cases of the deadly Ebola virus according to the World Health Organization.

“We are seeing a slowing rate of new cases, very definitely,” WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward announced.

The African country has reportedly seen a drop in burials and new hospital admissions, while the number of laboratory-confirmed cases has levelled out.

While the Associated Press adds more nuance:

Top UN Ebola official: new cases poorly tracked

Authorities are having trouble figuring out how many more people are getting Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone and where the hot spots are in those countries, harming efforts to get control of the raging, deadly outbreak, the U.N.’s top Ebola official in West Africa said Tuesday.

“The challenge is good information, because information helps tell us where the disease is, how it’s spreading and where we need to target our resources,” Anthony Banbury told The Associated Press by phone from the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, is based.

Health experts say the key to stopping Ebola is breaking the chain of transmission by tracing and isolating those who have had contact with Ebola patients or victims. Health care workers can’t do that if they don’t know where new cases are emerging.

“And unfortunately, we don’t have good data from a lot of areas. We don’t know exactly what is happening,” said Banbury, the chief of UNMEER.

Meanwhile, the crisis remains both critical and costly. From Sky News:

Ebola: DEC Launches ‘Unprecedented’ Appeal

The charity group asks the public for money to halt the “explosive” virus – the first time it has done so for a disease outbreak.

The Disasters Emergency Committee is to launch a major television appeal over the Ebola crisis, the first time it has called for donations in response to a disease.

The committee, which is made up of 13 of the UK’s major aid charities, said it took the decision because the killer virus threatens to become a “catastrophe”.

The DEC described the spread of the virus as “explosive”, and said it was devastating communities, health services and people’s ability to support themselves.

Next, California joins the list of states with Ebola quarantine policies, via the San Jose Mercury News:

Ebola: California is latest state to impose 21-day quarantine for those exposed to Ebola

California on Wednesday became the latest state to order a 21-day quarantine for travelers who have been in close contact with Ebola patients.

In an attempt to avoid the criticism lodged against New York, New Jersey and Maine that had blanket quarantine orders, however, California will allow county health agencies to impose the quarantine on a case-by-case basis.

By working with county health departments to assess the individual risks, the California Department of Public Health said it “respects the individual circumstances of each traveler while protecting and preserving the public health.”

And a case at hand, via KCBS in San Francisco:

Stanford Surgeon Under ‘Modified Quarantine’ In San Mateo County After Returning From Liberia

A Stanford surgeon has been put on modified quarantine in San Mateo County after treating Ebola patients in Liberia for the past month.

Dr. Colin Bucks returned to the Bay Area on Friday, but no state or federal quarantine orders were in place at the time. Dr. Bucks is not experiencing any symptoms of Ebola, but he is the first Californian to be quarantined under the new guidelines. Bucks is considered by health officials to be at “some risk.”

The doctor contacted San Mateo County health officials. After consultation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the California Dept. of Public Health, Dr. Bucks was told to stay away from work and to stay away from others for 21 days. However, he can leave his house to go jogging by himself. He is taking his temperature every day and has not developed any symptoms.

Politics of pain, via the Los Angeles Times:

Obama urges Americans to honor aid workers fighting Ebola in Africa

President Obama on Tuesday urged Americans to set aside their fears of the Ebola virus and make sure U.S. healthcare workers who go to West Africa are “applauded, thanked and supported” when they return home.

If those workers are successful in fighting the virus at the source of the outbreak, he said, “we don’t have to worry about it here.”

“They are doing God’s work over there,” Obama said, “and they are doing that to keep us safe.”

And a fundamental lack from the Associated Press:

Funding to tame an Ebola outbreak has fallen short

“We don’t really have a pharmaceutical response for Ebola,” said retired Air Force Col. Randall Larsen, the former executive director of the Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction. “But could you imagine if there were 20,000 sick people in 10 cities and we did not have a pharmaceutical response? We would be completely overwhelmed.”

Emergency preparedness programs ramped up significantly in the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax scare, said Dr. Gerald Parker, a former principal deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Health and Human Services preparedness office. Those efforts included research and development of vaccines and anti-viral drugs.

“It was recognized that there would be a dual benefit from research on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to counter bioterror threats and emerging infectious diseases,” said Parker, now a vice president at Texas A&M Health Science Center.

But a combination of budgetary constraints and politics has delayed many of those plans.

Other quarantine news from the New York Times:

New York State Ebola Policy Allows for In-Home Quarantine

Offering the first detailed account of how New York State’s quarantine order for health care workers returning from West Africa will be put into effect, the Cuomo administration has issued guidelines that go beyond federal recommendations but seek to allow individuals to spend their enforced isolation in a location of their choosing.

The state documents, copies of which were obtained by The New York Times, show an effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration to portray the quarantine in a humane manner.

The protocols are meant to ensure “a respectful and supportive approach” to arriving travelers, who are supposed to be “treated with the utmost respect and concern,” according to a document prepared by the State Health Department that outlines the screening procedures.

While the Guardian covers a controversy:

Ebola: Maine deploys state police to quarantined nurse’s home

  • Kaci Hickox, who was held for days in an isolation tent in New Jersey, says she doesn’t plan on obeying home quarantine in her home state

A nurse freed from an Ebola isolation tent in a New Jersey hospital declared on Wednesday the she will not comply with a quarantine request imposed by state officials, saying the policy is not based on science and infringes on her civil liberties.

“I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines,” nurse Kaci Hickox told the Today show from her home in Maine. “I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me, even though I am in perfectly good health and feeling strong and have been this entire time completely symptom-free.”

The governor’s office said in a statement that Maine state police would monitor Kickox’s home “for both her protection and the health of the community”. A TV reporter with the local WLBZ news channel said as of 1pm ET on Wednesday at least two police cars were parked out front of the home.

More from the Washington Post:

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is seeking legal authority to enforce Ebola quarantine on nurse

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is looking for ways to force a nurse released from mandatory Ebola isolation in New Jersey to abide by a similar 21-day quarantine in Maine.

“The Office of the Governor has been working collaboratively with the State health officials within the Department of Health and Human Services to seek legal authority to enforce the quarantine,” LePage’s office said in a statement Wednesday. “We hoped that the health-care worker would voluntarily comply with these protocols, but this individual has stated publicly she will not abide by the protocols.”

Still more from the Guardian:

Maine prepared to go to court to enforce nurse’s Ebola quarantine order

  • Officials plead with Kaci Hickox to abide by 21-day order
  • ‘I have been this entire time completely symptom-free’

Maine’s top public health official has said the state will if necessary seek a court order to ensure a nurse stays quarantined in her home after returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.

Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of the state department of health and human services, pleaded with Hickox to abide by the state’s 21-day at-home quarantine order.

“We do not want to legally enforce an in-home quarantine unless absolutely necessary,” Mayhew said on Wednesday afternoon.

More quarantine politics from Reuters:

Obama sees different Ebola rules for U.S. military than for civilians

President Barack Obama on Tuesday appeared to back more rigorous procedures for dealing with soldiers returning from missions to Ebola-hit West African countries, even as he criticized moves by some U.S. states to quarantine returning civilian health workers.

Obama said that American military personnel were in a “different situation” compared with healthcare workers. While civilians may be discouraged from volunteering to help fight the Ebola if they are facing quarantine on their return, troops were sent as part of their mission and could expect such inconveniences.

“They are already by definition if they are in the military under more circumscribed conditions,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “We don’t expect to have similar rules for our military as we do for civilians.”

More from USA Today:

Quarantine ordered for troops returning from W. Africa

U.S. troops returning from Ebola-stricken nations will be isolated for 21 days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Wednesday, a day after the White House raised concerns about states imposing strict quarantines of health care workers returning from West Africa.

Top commanders for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps made the recommendation to Hagel on Tuesday. The Army instituted an isolation requirement for 21 days — the incubation period for the deadly virus — on Monday.

Hagel directed the isolation policy be reviewed in 45 days to see whether it was necessary to continue with it, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary.

Still more from the Guardian:

Conflicting Ebola guidelines put US defense secretary in a tough spot

  • Hagel’s choice on quarantining troops returning from west Africa involves rebuking either government scientists or military leaders

The Ebola outbreak has placed the US secretary of defense on the horns of a dilemma: whether to back the military service chiefs about a quarantine for troops or to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends no such thing.

Defense chief Chuck Hagel has received a recommendation for a “quarantine-like program” for all US servicemembers returning from Liberia and Senegal, where they are supporting civilian efforts to contain the disease, Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said on Tuesday.

The recommendation, made by the heads of the military services, would expand across the military a directive made on Monday from the army chief, General Raymond Odierno, to keep soldiers returning from Operation United Assistance in Liberia and Senegal under a 21-day period of “controlled monitoring”.

Kirby said Hagel has yet to make a decision, having received the quarantine recommendation earlier on Tuesday. But imposing a broader military quarantine for returning servicemembers goes beyond new guidance set on Monday by the CDC, which urged a home quarantine only for high-risk individuals, such as those whose body fluids have been directly exposed to Ebola. US troops have not been involved in treating Ebola patients.

And yet more from Reuters:

US isolates troops

The U.S. military has started isolating soldiers returning from an Ebola response mission in West Africa and Australia became the first rich nation to impose a visa ban on the affected countries amid global anxiety about the spread of the virus.

The latest measures, along with decisions by some U.S. states to impose mandatory quarantines on health workers returning home from treating Ebola victims in West Africa, have been condemned by health authorities and the United Nations as extreme.

The top health official in charge of dealing with Washington’s response to Ebola warned against turning doctors and nurses who travel to West Africa to tackle Ebola into “pariahs”.

From Reuters, intranational man of mystery:

In Ebola response, Obama’s ‘czar’ stays behind the curtain

It’s not often that a White House official gets mocked on both Saturday Night Live and a major daily newspaper before he makes his first public appearance.

But Ron Klain’s low-profile first week as President Barack Obama’s behind-the-scenes Ebola “czar” has become another attack point for a White House struggling to show it’s on top of the crisis.

Since starting last Wednesday, Klain has been seen only once, in a photo op on his first day, leaving health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health – and Obama himself – to be the public “face” of the response.

The White House has declined to give details about his activities, especially what role he played as governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey undermined the White House’s attempt to keep the nation calm about the risk posed by healthcare workers returning from Ebola-stricken West Africa.

More predictable politics from the Associated Press:

Jeb Bush: Obama handling of Ebola ‘incompetent’

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday criticized President Barack Obama’s initial handling of the Ebola crisis as “incompetent,” saying it gave rise to unneeded fears among the American public about the virus.

Bush, who is the latest potential Republican presidential candidate to attack the president over Ebola, also said in a wide-ranging discussion at Vanderbilt University that he supports travel restrictions for people who have been to the most severely affected countries in Africa.

Bush said Obama should have been more “clear and concise” about his plans, and lent more credibility to health officials leading the response.

“It looked very incompetent to begin with, and that fueled fears that may not be justified,” Bush said. “And now you have states that are legitimately acting on their concerns, creating a lot more confusion than is necessary.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration made a notable symbolic move sure to piss off some of Bush’s former Florida constituents, via the Associated Press:

US sends health official to Cuban Ebola meeting

The United States has sent a health official to a Cuban meeting on coordinating Latin America’s response to Ebola. The participation of the Centers for Disease Control’s Central America director is the most concrete sign to date of the two nations’ expressed desire to cooperate against the disease.

The two-day meeting that began Tuesday in Havana is sponsored by ALBA, a forum of left-leaning Latin countries founded by Cuba and Venezuela as a counterweight to U.S. influence in the region.

Cuba is sending at least 256 medical workers to West Africa to treat and prevent Ebola. The World Health Organization says it’s the largest contribution by a single government, although there may be more doctors of other nationalities who are sent by non-governmental organizations.

The U.S. has welcomed Cuba’s response.

Ebolaphobia from the New York Times:

Connecticut Child Barred From School After Trip to Africa; Father Sues

The father of a Connecticut third grader filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday, saying his daughter has been unfairly barred from school amid fears she may have been exposed to the Ebola virus while in Africa.

The daughter, Ikeoluwa Opayemi, and her family, who live in Milford, visited Nigeria for a wedding from Oct. 2 to 13, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Federal District Court in New Haven.

When the girl tried to return to the Meadowside Elementary School, she was told by the school district’s health director that she would have to stay home until Nov. 3 “due to concern from certain parents and teachers that she could transmit Ebola to other children,” according to the lawsuit.

More from Ebolaphobics from Science:

Been to an Ebola-affected country? Stay away from tropical medicine meeting, Louisiana says

Ebola fears are interfering with the world’s premier scientific meeting on tropical diseases. Today, Louisiana state health officials asked anyone who has traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea in the past 21 days, or has treated Ebola patients elsewhere, to stay away from the annual meeting of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), which begins on Sunday in New Orleans.

ASTMH doesn’t know exactly how many scientists will be affected, but there are several, says incoming president Christopher Plowe, including representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “They are quite disappointed,” says Plowe, a malaria researcher at the University of Maryland. ASTMH sent all meeting registrants an email today containing a letter from Kathy Kliebert, secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health & Hospitals, and Kevin Davis, director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, that outlines the state’s position. ASTMH referred registrants to the state’s health department for further information.

“Given that conference participants with a travel and exposure history for [Ebola] are recommended not to participate in large group settings (such as this conference) or to utilize public transport, we see no utility in you traveling to New Orleans to simply be confined to your room,” the letter says.

After the jump, an infectious lie, a sole supplier, North Korean Ebolaphobia, Hong Kong preparedness, fast-tracking a vaccine, anger at Aussie exclusion, Japanese angst leads to a task force, then on to Africa and vigilance in the newest addition to the ranks of the stricken while a border remains open, a study of who survive in Sierra Leone, Tokyo lends mobile assistance, Brits train “Ebola warriors,” missing funds, and survivors are shunned, then on to Liberia and the crisis personified, the healthcare worker’s painful conundrum, another blow to overstretched police resources, long overdue pay for healthcare workers, a cultural belief hampering prevention efforts with specific voices heard, Christian leaders call a three-day fast, a Christian tradition invoked, a change in command of American boots on the ground, and a presidential birthday is deferred, thence to Nigeria and an unanticipated arrival, followed by a precipitous tourism decline in Kenya. . . Continue reading

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: Panic, pols, Africa, fear & drugs


And much, much more.

We begin on the lighter side, given what follows.

From Reuters Plus:

Cuddly Ebola toy almost wiped out

Program note:

It’s probably the only time you’ll find Ebola associated with “Add to Wishlist”. Giantmicrobes.com’s fluffy rendition of the deadly virus is completely sold out.

A more serious note — much more serious — from Agência Angola Press:

World must stop Ebola in West Africa or face ‘pandemic’ – Cuba’s Castro

The world must confront Ebola in West Africa to prevent what could become one of the worst pandemics in human history, Cuban President Raul Castro said on Monday.

“I am convinced that if this threat is not stopped in West Africa with an immediate international response … it could become one of the gravest pandemics in human history,” Castro told a summit of the leftist ALBA bloc of Latin American and Caribbean countries in Havana.

Cuba is sending 461 doctors and nurses to West Africa, the largest medical contingent of any single country to fight the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

Another warning from the Independent:

Ebola outbreak: Nowhere is safe until virus is contained in Africa, claims the top doctor who beat it in Nigeria

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the incident manager for Nigeria’s Ebola response, told The Independent that Nigeria was still under threat, and that no state could afford to be complacent.

“Yes we have contained an outbreak, but there’s always a threat that we could be infected again by individuals travelling from affected states,” he said. “The outbreak in West Africa is two different stories, a success story in Nigeria, and a story of human tragedy [in the worst-affected states].

“There are still lot of resources required in Sierra Leone and Liberia to contain the outbreak. We need international clarity that as long as the outbreak continues in West Africa, then no country, no individual in the world is safe from contracting the disease. We need to mobilise resources – human, material and financial – to these countries to contain the outbreak there,” he said.

“Then and only then can we say we have dealt with this as a global community as one human race.”

From Shanghai Daily, a key reason for the win:

Nigeria declared Ebola-free thanks to doctor who died from the virus

The first case in Nigeria was imported from Liberia when Liberian-American diplomat Patrick Sawyer collapsed at the main international airport in Lagos on July 20.

Authorities were caught unawares, airport staff were not prepared and no hospitals had an isolation unit, so he was able to infect several people, including health workers at the hospital where he was taken.

But they acted fast after the doctor on duty, who later herself died of the disease, quarantined him against his will and contacted officials.

Ameyo Adadevoh, the doctor at the First Consultants hospital in Lagos, kept him in the hospital despite his protests and those of the Liberian government, preventing the dying man spreading it further, said Benjamin Ohiaeri, a doctor there who survived the disease.

“We agreed that the thing to do was not to let him out of the hospital,” Ohiaeri said, even after he became aggressive and demanded to be set free. “If we had let him out, within 24 hours of being here, he would have contacted and infected a lot more people … The lesson there is: stand your ground.”

From South China Morning Post, a promise:

WHO chief pledges ‘transparent’ review of its handling of Ebola crisis

  • WHO chief Margaret Chan says agency will be upfront about how it handled disease, after damning internal report details its initial failings

The head of the World Health Organisation said the agency would be upfront about its handling of the Ebola outbreak after an internal report detailed failures in containing the virus – while a senior WHO official praised the precautions China has taken.

In a draft document, the WHO says “nearly everyone” involved in the Ebola response failed to notice factors that turned the outbreak into the biggest on record.

It blames incompetent staff, bureaucracy and a lack of reliable information.

WHO director general and former Hong Kong director of health Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun said on Monday that the report was a “work in progress”. Chan, who was attending a conference in Tunisia, said: “I have promised WHO will be fully transparent and accountable.”

The Wire covers the political:

Democrats Defy Obama in Favor of an Ebola Travel Ban

  • The question of restricting flights to insulate the U.S. has become a classic campaign litmus test

Worried about the political fallout from the Ebola outbreak, vulnerable Senate Democrats are declaring their support for a U.S. travel ban from the afflicted countries in west Africa.

In multiple cases, the Democrats are shifting from their earlier positions on the question, despite arguments from senior U.S. medical officials and the White House that stiff restrictions would only make it harder to prevent an infected person from entering the country. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire joined the crowd on Monday night, saying through a spokesman that she “strongly supports any and all effective measures to keep Americans safe including travel bans if they would work.” Shaheen said last week she didn’t think a travel ban makes sense, but she is facing heavy criticism from her Republican opponent, former Senator Scott Brown, on the issue. Under pressure from Republicans, Senator Kay Hagan came out in support of a ban late last week, and Senators Mark Pryor and Mark Udall have also called for travel restrictions.

More from BuzzFeed:

Democratic Congressional Candidate: Ebola Is Coming To Nevada, Ban Travel From Africa

  • “I wasn’t sure why they didn’t stop tourists visas a week ago from Africa. I wasn’t sure about that, why that hasn’t happened?”

A Democratic congressional candidate says Ebola is coming to southern Nevada and wants to ban travel from Africa.

In a video from last Thursday, Erin Bilbray, the Democrat challenging Republican Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada’s 3rd District

Bilbray said hospitals need to be equipped to handle Ebola saying, “I think it is gonna happen here in southern Nevada, god forbid.”

Next, from Gallup, the trend line revealing declining confidence in the ability of America’s government to handle an Ebola outbreak on this side of the Atlantic:

BLOG Ebola

Now that white folks are getting sick. . .from Homeland Security News Wire:

Congress ready to allocate additional funds to agencies working on Ebola

Some members of Congress are preparing to offer additional funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies, but according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, the Obama administration has not decided how much additional funding it will request from Congress to combat the epidemic.

Efforts to contain and eliminate Ebola in affected countries need more U.S. government funding, according to aid organizations and public health agencies involved in the matter. Some members of Congress are preparing to offer additional funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal agencies, but according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, the Obama administration has not decided how much additional funding it will request from Congress to combat the epidemic.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who heads the Labor and Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, has asked his staff to work with the administration to figure out what resources will be needed to fight Ebola in the United States and West Africa. “Areas of focus in these discussions on funding for the U.S. Ebola response include the need for resources to expand quarantine stations, train and equip health workers, test potential treatments and vaccines, and expand our response in West Africa,” an aide to Harkin said.

From the Associated Press, and why aren’t we surprised?:

Insurer considers Ebola exclusion in some policies

Global property and casualty insurer Ace Ltd. says it may exclude Ebola coverage from some of its general liability policies.

The Swiss company said Tuesday that it is making the decision on a “case by case” basis for new and renewal policies under its global casualty unit, which offers coverage for U.S.-based companies and organizations that travel or have operations outside the U.S.

Ace said in a statement that it is evaluating the risk for clients that might travel to or operate in select African countries with higher exposure to the Ebola virus. It did not specify how many policies this might affect and declined to say if it has put an exclusions of this sort in place yet.

The company appears to be one of the first insurers to disclose that it is making modifications specific to Ebola, but that doesn’t mean it is the only one.

Laying down the rules with the Guardian:

Ebola health workers must be covered head to toe, say new US guidelines

  • Nurses’ groups and others had called for revised advice
  • Stricter CDC guidance provides ‘extra margin of safety

Federal health officials issued new guidelines to promote head-to-toe protection for health workers treating Ebola patients.

Officials have been scrambling to come up with new advice since two Dallas nurses became infected while caring for the first person diagnosed with the virus in the United States.

The new guidelines issued on Monday set a firmer standard, calling for full-body garb and hoods that protect workers’ necks; setting rigorous rules for removal of equipment and disinfection of gloved hands; and calling for a “site manager” to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment.

Nurses’ groups and other hospital workers had pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the new guidance, saying the old advice was confusing and inadequate, and workers felt unprepared.

From the New York Times, preparations:

New York Health Care Workers Gather for Ebola Training

Thousands of health care workers, including janitors and security guards, doctors and nurses, gathered at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan on Tuesday for a combination training session and pep rally to prepare them in the event that the Ebola virus is found in New York.

The workers are being taught how to recognize Ebola and prevent it from spreading. Though many said they had already received training at their hospitals, the session was intended to address concerns that existing practices were inadequate, after two nurses in Dallas contracted the virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died on Oct. 8. The session’s organizers planned to communicate the latest protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had been updated as recently as Monday.

Though several New York hospitals have taken in patients with symptoms signaling Ebola, like high fever, none have tested positive for the virus. To date the only three people to be diagnosed with it in the United States are the three in Dallas.

From CCTV America, another impact of the Ebola crisis in the U.S.:

Liberians in the US facing stigma of the virus

Program notes:

Liberians in the United States say they are facing social isolation as a result of fears that they will pass on the Ebola virus. CCTV America’s Daniel Ryntjes reports.

From TheLocal.de, a call form Germany:

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the conference on Sunday with his own ideas.

“One could possibly conceive of something like the White Helmets. Not an organisation that is always there, but a pool of experts, of doctors, of nursing staff, that one can call upon in these kind of crisis situations,” he said at his key note speech.

At a press conference, Steinmeier added that a coordinated effort is most important to stem the spread of the Ebola outbreak.

Consultation from Agência Angola Press:

WHO’s emergency committee on Ebola to meet Wednesday

The World Health Organization’s emergency committee on Ebola will meet on Wednesday to review the scope of the outbreak and whether additional measures are needed, a WHO spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“This is the third time this committee will meet since August to evaluate the situation. Much has happened, there have been cases in Spain and the United States, while Senegal and Nigeria have been removed from the list of countries affected by Ebola,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a news briefing.

The 20 independent experts, who declared that the outbreak in West Africa constituted an international public health emergency on Aug. 8, can recommend travel and trade restrictions. The committee has already recommended exit screening of passengers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

From The Hill, case closed:

American journalist declared free of Ebola

An American freelance journalist has been cleared of the Ebola virus after he fell ill while working as a cameraman for NBC News and Vice News in Liberia, according to reports.

Ashoka Mukpo tweeted Tuesday night that he’s had three consecutive days of negative Ebola tests and called the discovery “a profound relief.”

Another Northerner cured, from TheLocal.no:

Norwegian Ebola victim free of virus

A Norwegian woman who contracted the Ebola virus while working for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leoneis now free of the virus and was released from an isolation unit on Monday.

“Today I am in good health and am no longer contagious,” Silje Lehne Michalsen told reporters just minutes after Oslo University Hospital announced she had recovered.

Profits aplenty, via the Associated Press:

Ebola causing spike in demand for hospital gear

Manufacturers and distributors of impermeable gowns and full-body suits meant to protect medical workers from Ebola are scrambling to keep up with a surge of new orders from U.S. hospitals, with at least one doubling its staff and still facing a weekslong backlog. Many hospitals say they already have the proper equipment in place but are ordering more supplies to prepare for a possible new case of Ebola.

This gear is made of material that does not absorb fluids and is crucial to preventing the spread of the virus, which has infected thousands across West Africa, many of whom caught the disease while caring for those infected. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact, through cuts or mucous membranes, with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit and feces, and proper protective equipment helps prevent doctors and nurses from accidentally getting any fluids in their eyes, nose or mouth.

Hospitals are paying close attention to the type of protective gear they stock after two nurses contracted Ebola earlier this month while caring for a Liberian man dying of the disease at a Dallas hospital. The nurses were exposed to the disease during what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called a “breach in protocol” at the hospital. But some medical professionals criticized the CDC for distributing guidelines that do not require medical staff caring for infected patients to don full-body suits or wear multiple layers of gloves.

Likewise, from Deutsche Welle:

Disinfection a growing market

  • Demand for disinfection and disease protection gear is booming amidst concern about the Ebola epidemic

The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers amelioration:

Ebola panic may be subsiding in Dallas

Panic over Ebola appears to be waning across much of the Dallas-Fort Worth region as residents drop off the quarantine list and more is learned about how the virus spreads.

Numbers of note from the Washington Post:

U.S. influx of travelers from Ebola-stricken nations slows

During the first five days of screening, there were an average of about 80 travelers a day from the three countries, down from the average of 150 that had been expected.

Enhanced screening at JFK — where about 43 percent of the passengers enter — began on Oct. 11, and was implemented five days later at Dulles and airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark.

The number of West Africans arriving in the United States has been closely held by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

Passengers from Ebola-stricken countries to use five U.S. airports

Passengers flying to the U.S. from three Ebola-stricken countries will have to fly into one of five designated American airports for additional screening, including having their temperature taken, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Tuesday.

The restriction was immediately criticized by House Republicans who want a complete ban on travelers coming from West African countries with high Ebola infection rates.

Starting Wednesday, airline passengers coming from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea must fly into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Johnson said.

More screening from the Japan Times:

India to step up travel surveillance to stop any Ebola outbreak

India stepped up its efforts on Tuesday to prevent an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, conducting mock drills at its airports and installing surveillance systems.

Global health authorities are struggling to contain the world’s worst Ebola epidemic since the disease was identified in 1976. The virus has killed more than 4,500 people across the three most-affected countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

All international airports and seaports in India will soon be equipped with thermal scanners — similar to Nigeria, which has been declared Ebola-free — and other detection equipment, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Japan screens, and more from Jiji Press:

Fears Grows over Possible Ebola Outbreak in Japan

Japan has become concerned about a possible Ebola outbreak in the country, prompting the health ministry to take precautions such as training doctors and implementing preventive measures at airports.

Fears have grown since medical workers in the United States and Spain suffered secondary infections from sufferers who entered the countries from Africa.

In Japan, Ebola hemorrhagic fever is in the Type 1 category of most dangerous infectious diseases. Only 45 designated medical institutions nationwide are allowed to accept those believed to have the virus.    Each institution can admit between one and four patients.

More from the Japan Times:

Japan orders travelers from Ebola nations to report twice daily

Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Tuesday travelers arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are now required to report their health condition to officials twice daily for three weeks, regardless of whether they have had known contact with Ebola patients.

The move comes amid growing fears of a global Ebola pandemic. Japan’s response so far includes the introduction of a bill in the Diet that would give local governments greater power to require patients with an infectious disease to submit samples for testing for Ebola.

Shiozaki said the quarantine requirement for travelers will last 21 days.

Still more from Nikkei Asian Review:

Japan getting the lowdown on Ebola from US military

Japan sent five officials, including members of the Self-Defense Forces, to the headquarters of the United States Africa Command in Germany on Tuesday to collect information about the Ebola outbreak and help prevent the spread of the disease.

One of the five, an Air Self-Defense Force major, will remain at the facility in Stuttgart to gather information on the status of regions affected by Ebola and related activities by the armed forces of other countries. The officer is also expected to support the American military in coordinating transportation of personnel and supplies in affected areas.

Some in the U.S. government reportedly want the SDF to participate in activities in affected areas, including constructing medical facilities and transporting supplies. But Japan intends to stay put for now.

And tuurnabout’s fair play, from the Washington Post:

Now an African country is screening incoming Americans and Spaniards for Ebola

According to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda, the tiny land-locked East African nation has begun screening passengers from the United States and Spain for the deadly virus.

From a note on the embassy’s Web site:

Visitors who have been in the United States or Spain during the last 22 days are now required to report their medical condition — regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms of Ebola — by telephone by dialing 114 between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. for the duration of their visit to Rwanda (if less than 21 days), or for the first 21 days of their visit to Rwanda. Rwandan authorities continue to deny entry to visitors who traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone within the past 22 days.

The screening measures have been in place for two days, and images apparently showing the screening forms have been posted on Twitter.

After the jump, another Carribean travel ban, sparse preparations in Pakistan, British Columbia gets ready, scares and readiness in China, Europe boosts its donations, a new high-speed diagnostic tests as new treatments are rushed into production and vaccine trials commence, Cuba sends more medical teams with thousands of volunteers waiting in the wings, food woes intensify and care gaps wide, the Sierra Leone death tool continues to rise and dubious treatments flourish, retired soldiers are pressed into service, and recovered patients faces growing stigmatization, on to Liberia and a call for border monitors and Kenyans in Monrovia hankering for home, a call for blood, lost survivors, memories of civil war, and tightened controls on the press, Kenya orders border scanners, and the safari business in decline. . .    Continue reading