Category Archives: Human behavior

EbolaWatch: Scares, pols, meds, Africa


And more.

We begin with a video report that lends credence to suspicions we’ve long harbored. From CCTV America:

Ebola outbreaks associated with deforestation

Program notes:

Experts have been trying to figure out what’s behind the recent rise in Ebola cases. Some have turned to nature, specifically the trees, for a possible answer. Some scientists argue that the shrinking size of forests could put people in closer contact with disease carrying wildlife and that possibility is causing global concerns. For more on the impact of global deforestation, CCTV America interviewed Susanne Breitkopf, the Senior Political Advisor for Greenpeace International.

And next to two notable and sad instances of Ebolaphobia, first from FrontPageAfrica, a Liberian paper doing an exceptional job of covering the crisis:

Georgia U. Cancels FPA Newsroom Chief’s McGill Lectures Over Ebola

The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia has rescinded the decision of the University’s journalism school Grady College to invite FrontPageAfrica newsroom editor Wade C. L. Williams for its McGill Lecture slated for October 22, 2014.

All was set for the trip as the college had already purchased a round trip plane ticket and made hotel reservations for the journalist’s visit when it was forced to cancel last minute to time because of fear she could get sick while visiting the US thereby exposing students to the deadly Ebola virus.

The McGill Lecture, which is free and open to the public is sponsored by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and will be held October 22 at 4 p.m. in Room 250 of the Miller Learning Center but with a new speaker Antonio Mora, a prominent Hispanic journalist who is a two-time winner of the Peabody Award.

“I received a call from Georgia just days before my trip. A woman with a pleasant voice delicately told me that parents were panicking and the general public was against my coming to the university,” stated Williams in a blog post published days after the university reached the decision.

And the second incident, via the Star in Nairobi:

Parents in a British school threatens to pull children out over teachers trip to Kenya fearing Ebola

Parents from a British school have threatened to pull their children from school over a planned trip to Kenya by teachers for fear they will contract Ebola.

The Mirror reports that a 60-signature petition has been circulated at Berkeley Primary School in Crewe in Cheshire demanding that the two teachers planning the trip to Kenya for an exchange programme.

They want the teachers isolated for a three-week ebola incubation period.

But the alarm has baffled the school because Kenya is far away from the ebola danger zone of West Africa.

Now on to the gravely serious, first from the Independent:

Ebola outbreak could be ‘definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation’, warns Oxfam

Ebola is poised to become the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”, Oxfam has warned, with more troops, funding and medical aid urgently needed to tackle the outbreak.

In an “extremely rare” move, the charity is calling for military intervention to provide logistical support across West Africa.

It says the world has less than two months to counter the spread of the deadly virus, which means addressing a “crippling shortfall” in military personnel.

Oxfam said troops are now “desperately needed” to build treatment centres, provide flights and offer engineering and logistical support. While Britain was leading the way in Europe’s response to the epidemic, it said countries which have failed to commit troops were “in danger of costing lives”.

Next, analysis from the Associated Press:

Mission Unaccomplished: Containing Ebola in Africa

Looking back, the mistakes are easy to see: Waiting too long, spending too little, relying on the wrong people, thinking small when they needed to think big. Many people, governments and agencies share the blame for failing to contain Ebola when it emerged in West Africa.

Now they share the herculean task of trying to end an epidemic that has sickened more than 9,000, killed more than 4,500, seeded cases in Europe and the United States, and is not even close to being controlled.

Many of the missteps are detailed in a draft of an internal World Health Organization report obtained by The Associated Press. It shows there was not one pivotal blunder that gave Ebola the upper hand, but a series of them that mounted.

Nearly every agency and government stumbled. Heavy criticism falls on the World Health Organization, where there was “a failure to see that conditions for explosive spread were present right at the start.”

WHO — the United Nations’ health agency — had some incompetent staff, let bureaucratic bungles delay people and money to fight the virus, and was hampered by budget cuts and the need to battle other diseases flaring around the world, the report says.

Al Jazeera English covers a reassessment:

WHO promises to review Ebola response

UN agency pledges to review its efforts to contain outbreak after internal document hints at its failings.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has promised to undertake and publish a full review of its handling of the Ebola crisis after a leaked document appeared to show the UN agency had failed to do enough to contain the epidemic.

The WHO said in a statement on Saturday that it would not comment on an internal draft document obtained and released by the Associated Press news agency, in which the organisation blamed incompetent staff, bureaucracy and a lack of reliable information for its allegedly slow and weak response to the outbreak that has reportedly killed more than 4,500 people since May.

“We cannot divert our limited resources from the urgent response to do a detailed analysis of the past response. That review will come, but only after this outbreak is over,” WHO said.

And the Associated Press covers te case that has Americans on edge:

Ebola lapses persisted for days at Dallas hospital

Just minutes after Thomas Eric Duncan arrived for a second time at the emergency room, the word is on his chart: “Ebola.” But despite all the warnings that the deadly virus could arrive unannounced at an American hospital, for days after the admission, his caregivers are vulnerable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed to lapses by the hospital in those initial days. And Duncan’s medical records show heightened protective measures as his illness advanced. But either because of a lag in implementing those steps or because they were still insufficient, scores of hospital staffers were put at risk, according to the records.

The hospital’s protective protocol was “insufficient,” said Dr. Joseph McCormick of the University of Texas School of Public Health, who was part of the CDC team that investigated the first recorded Ebola outbreak in 1976. “The gear was inadequate. The procedures in the room were inadequate.”

While Defense One covers a regulatory disaster:

Dallas Hospital Had the Ebola Screening Machine That the Military Is Using in Africa

The military is using an Ebola screening machine that could have diagnosed the Ebola cases in Texas far faster, but government guidelines prevent hospitals from using it to actually screen for Ebola.

It’s a toaster-sized box called FilmArray, produced by a company called BioFire, a subsidiary of bioMérieux and it’s capable of detecting Ebola with a high degree of confidence — in under an hour.

Incredibly, it was present at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas when Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan walked through the door, complaining of fever and he had just come from Liberia. Duncan was sent home, but even still, FDA guidelines prohibited the hospital from using the machine to screen for Ebola.

While the Guardian covers desperate ass-covering:

Texas hospital mounts ‘#PresbyProud’ fightback as Ebola criticism mounts

  • Dallas hospital where nurses were infected engages PR firm
  • Union chief says: ‘There has been no leadership’

The hospital in Texas where two nurses became the first people to contract Ebola inside the US is mounting an aggressive public relations campaign to rescue its image, as nursing representatives call for its top executives to be held accountable for the crisis.

Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas hired Burson-Marsteller, a New York-based PR firm, to direct a fightback against sharp criticism it received after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was first sent home by the hospital, died there from Ebola.

It has since published slick video clips of smiling nurses praising their managers and hosted a brief “rally” of medics wielding pro-hospital placards outside the emergency room for television news cameras. Amid fears patients might stay away, the hospital has tried to flood social media with the hashtag “#PresbyProud” and issued rebuttals to allegations about its practices after nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson were infected while treating Duncan, who died on 8 October.

From the New York Times, politics as usual, with a desperate edge:

The Partisan Divide on Ebola Preparedness

After a second case of Ebola was discovered among the staff of a Dallas hospital that treated an infected patient, public concerns are likely to increase about whether the United States health care system can properly respond to an outbreak.

Data from surveys suggest, however, that those views — like so many others — are being shaped by people’s partisan affilations as much as by news about the outbreak itself.

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post survey, only 54 percent of Republicans are confident in the federal government’s ability to respond effectively to Ebola — far fewer than the 76 percent of Democrats who expressed confidence. This finding represents a striking reversal from the partisan divide found in a question about a potential avian influenza outbreak in 2006, when a Republican, George W. Bush, was president. An ABC/Post poll taken at the time found that 72 percent of Republicans were confident in an effective federal response compared with only 52 percent of Democrats.

From the Washington Post, Obama urges:

Obama: ‘We can’t give in to hysteria or fear’ of Ebola

President Obama on Saturday sought to tamp down fears of an Ebola outbreak and defend his administration from Republican critics who have called for a more aggressive response to the disease, including sealing off U.S. borders to visitors from countries battling widespread outbreaks.

“We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world — if that were even possible — could actually make the situation worse.”

Such actions would make it harder for American health-care workers, soldiers and supplies to reach stricken areas, Obama said. It could also cause residents of countries in West Africa where Ebola is still spreading to try to evade screening on their way to the United States or Europe.

The president’s main message was one of calm, coming at a time of growing worry in communities throughout the country. “We can’t give in to hysteria or fear, because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need,” Obama said. “If we’re guided by science — the facts, not fear — then I am absolutely confident we can prevent a serious outbreak here in the United States.”

From the White House, here’s the address:

Weekly Address: What You Need to Know About Ebola

Program notes:

In this week’s address, the President discussed what the United States is doing to respond to Ebola, both here at home and abroad, and the key facts Americans need to know.

Making a list and checking more than twice, via the Associated Press:

More than 100 monitored for Ebola symptoms in Ohio

Health officials in Ohio are monitoring more than 100 people following the visit by a Dallas nurse who tested positive for Ebola shortly after returning to Texas from the Cleveland area.

Officials said Saturday that none of those being monitored are sick.

State officials previously said 16 people Amber Vinson had contact with were being monitored. Officials say the sharp increase is a result of the identification of airline passengers who flew with Vinson between Dallas and Cleveland and the identification of people who also visited the dress shop where her bridesmaids were trying on dresses.

Vinson’s stepfather is quarantined in his home in the Akron suburb of Tallmadge. That is where Vinson stayed during her visit. The stepfather is the only person in the state under such a restriction.

Golden State preparations from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Gov. Jerry Brown says state is working on Ebola safeguards

Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that the state is drawing up plans to protect nurses, other health care workers and the public from Ebola, saying California must avoid mistakes made in Texas in dealing with the disease.

The governor said he has met with public health officers and spoken with national nurses representatives to devise guidelines that hospitals must follow should an Ebola patient be diagnosed in California.

“We’ve got work to do,” Brown said in an interview with The Chronicle. “It’s a fast-moving story.”

He said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the state Department of Public Health, is heading up the effort, and that health officials will meet with Cal/OSHA on Tuesday to discuss “issues of workers’ safety.”

From the Miami Herald, preparations in another state:

CDC responds to Florida’s requests for help with potential Ebola outbreak

The federal Centers for Disease Control agreed Saturday to some — but not all — of Gov. Rick Scott’s Ebola-related requests.

The CDC will hold a conference call with Florida hospitals next week on best practices, Scott said Saturday. The organization has also given Florida the green light to spend about $7 million in federal grant funding on protective suits for health care workers.

“The CDC indicated that we will receive formal approval next week, but based on this preliminary approval, we have already begun using these funds to enhance our Ebola preparedness efforts,” Scott said in a statement.

The governor is still waiting on the CDC to contact passengers on a plane that stopped in Fort Lauderdale after carrying a nurse who was later diagnosed with Ebola.

He also has yet to receive 27 of the 30 Ebola testing kits he requested.

From the Associated Press another oversight failure:

Ebola monitoring inconsistent as virus spread

The inconsistent response by health officials in monitoring and limiting the movement of health workers has been one of the critical blunders in the Ebola outbreak. Friends and family who had contact with Duncan before he was hospitalized were confined to homes under armed guard, but nurses who handled his contagious bodily fluids were allowed to treat other patients, take mass transit and get on airplanes.

“I don’t think the directions provided to people at first were as clear as they needed to be, and there have been changes in the instructions given to people over time,” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, a doctor who did his residency in Dallas.

Local health authorities have said repeatedly throughout the response that their guidance and direction can change.

“Please keep in mind the contact list is fluid, meaning people may fall off the list or new people may be added to the list depending on new information that could arise at any time on any given day,” said Dallas County health department spokeswoman Erikka Neroes on Friday when asked how many people are even being monitored.

From The Hill, a case where Republicans and businesses are on the outs:

Businesses quietly push back at Ebola travel ban

Businesses are pushing back against lawmakers’ calls to impose a ban on travelers from the three West Africa nations at the center of the Ebola epidemic.

Public opposition is coming from U.S. airlines, who have seen their stocks hit because of fears the Ebola scare will lead to a drop in travel.

Other business groups are quietly telling the White House to stand firm in opposing a ban.

They echo arguments from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a ban would isolate Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, potentially making it tougher to slow the epidemic in those countries.

From the New York Times, the first of two stories of life in limbo:

Life in Quarantine for Ebola Exposure: 21 Days of Fear and Loathing

As the Ebola scare spreads from Texas to Ohio and beyond, the number of people who have locked themselves away — some under government orders, others voluntarily — has grown well beyond those who lived with and cared for Mr. Duncan before his death on Oct. 8. The discovery last week that two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital here had caught the virus while treating Mr. Duncan extended concentric circles of fear to new sets of hospital workers and other contacts.

Officials in Texas said Thursday that nearly 100 health care workers would be asked to sign pledges not to use public transportation, go to public places or patronize shops and restaurants for 21 days, the maximum incubation period for Ebola. While not a mandate, the notices warn that violators “may be subject” to a state-ordered quarantine.

When officials revealed that one of the infected nurses had flown from Dallas to Cleveland and back before being hospitalized, nearly 300 fellow passengers and crew members faced decisions about whether to quarantine themselves. The next day, a lab technician who had begun a Caribbean cruise despite possible exposure was confined to a stateroom. Medical workers, missionaries and journalists returning from West Africa — especially from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where Ebola is rampant — are also staying home.

Dr. Howard Markel, who teaches the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, said the quarantines recalled the country’s distant epidemics of cholera, typhus and bubonic plague.

“Ebola is jerking us back to the 19th century,” he said. “It’s terrible. It’s isolating. It’s scary. You’re not connecting with other human beings, and you are fearful of a microbiologic time bomb ticking inside you.”

The second, from Bloomberg, covers another woe:

Ebola Fears Stymie Home Quest for Quarantined in Dallas

Louise Troh and the three other people in her household have spent much of their isolation on laptops and mobile phones, playing video games, tossing a football, speaking to relatives and reading the Bible.

The activities have been welcome diversions for Troh, her son and two young men she considers family — “the boys,” as she refers to her housemates. She’s the girlfriend of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die in the U.S. from Ebola.

When they are released from their 21-day, state-ordered quarantine on Oct. 20, they face an uncertain future in Dallas, owing to continued fears about their closeness to the deadly virus. A new-apartment deal busted up after Troh had already made a deposit, and Dallas’s top county official and Troh’s pastor say people are reluctant to rent to someone who was so close to Ebola.

From New York Times, another complication:

Waste From Ebola Poses Challenge to Hospitals

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured the public this month that most American hospitals could treat cases of Ebola, it was technically correct. Hospitals routinely treat highly contagious diseases, and top-tier ones are extensively equipped to isolate patients who pose special risks.

But the infection over the past week of two Texas hospital workers betrayed what even many of the best hospitals lack: the ability to handle the tide of infectious waste that Ebola generates.

Ebola’s catastrophic course includes diarrhea, vomiting and hemorrhaging of blood, a combination difficult enough to contain in less-communicable illnesses. When they are highly contagious, disposing of the waste and cleaning up what is left behind require expertise and equipment that some specialists said are lacking even in highly regarded medical facilities.

Those shortcomings are compounded, they said, by surprising gaps in scientists’ knowledge about the Ebola virus itself, down to the time it can survive in different environments outside the body.

And from RT, an offer that’s bound to cause heartburn in Foggy Bottom:

Fidel Castro offers cooperation with US in fight against Ebola

Fidel Castro has expressed Cuba’s readiness to cooperate with the US in the global fight against Ebola. Cuba has been on the frontline of international response to the worst outbreak in the disease’s history.

In his article “Time of Duty,” which was published on Saturday, the retired Cuban leader said that medical staff trying to save lives are the best example of human solidarity. Fighting together against the epidemic can protect the people of Cuba, Latin America, and the US from the deadly virus, he added.

“We will gladly cooperate with American [medical] personnel in this task – not for the sake of peace between the two states which have been adversaries for many years, but for the sake of peace in the world,” wrote Castro.

And Sky News covers a plea for help:

Cameron Presses EU Leaders On Ebola Fund

  • The PM urges the EU to double its funding in the fight against the deadly virus, saying “much more must be done”

David Cameron has called for European Union leaders to double their contribution to help tackle ebola, demanding a combined 1bn euro (£800m) pledge.

The Prime Minister has written to the other 26 leaders and European Council president Herman van Rompuy calling for agreement to an “ambitious package of support” at a Brussels summit next week.

He made clear his frustration that other countries are failing to shoulder their share of the burden of international efforts to deal with the epidemic in West Africa which has killed more than 4,500.

Britain has committed £125m to its contribution – the second highest sum after the US. Downing Street said the total contribution from the EU is 500m euros (£400m).

After the jump, the travel industry enters a potential tailspin, cruise ship woes, French flight attendants demand an end to Paris/Conakry flights as France introduces airport screenings, ship screenings in Sweden, travel warnings in Cairo and confidence {SARS-inspired?] in China and a false alarm, a vaccine production delay, Canadian drugs dispatched, on to Africa and a chilling question, Kenyan doctors dispatched, on to Sierra Leone with food on the way, youth join the fight, a street battle with police over a corpse in the street, and an angry bureaucratic shakeup, on to Liberia an a construction shutdown, WHO offers a prescription, a plea for more aid and a promise from Washington, and a warning that things are worse than the press reports, a suicidal leap and an escape in Guinea as contagion spreads into a gold mining region, and from Nigeria, hope accompanied by a warning. . . Continue reading

Suit yourself: Now that’s real Ebolaphobia


From the web page of the London Daily Mail, linking to this article:

BLOG Ebolaphobe

EbolaWatch: Alarms, anger, aid, and Africa


We begin with a brief video report from CCTV America:

More than 8,000 Ebola cases counted, half have died

Program notes:

The number of people infected with the Ebola virus has now risen above 8,000 according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO). Nearly half of those people have died. CCTV America’s Nathan King reports.

Al Jazeera English covers fears of spread:

WHO says East Asia at risk of Ebola

  • Warning comes as the Philippines considers a request to send health workers to Ebola-hit West African countries

East Asia, with its trade and transport hubs and armies of migrant workers, is at risk from Ebola but is improving its defences and may be more ready than other areas to respond if cases are diagnosed, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Shin Young-soo, the WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said on Friday East Asia had been a “hotspot” for emerging diseases in the past and had dealt with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and avian flu, so it was more prepared than other regions to respond after learning the importance of public education, strong surveillance and transparency.

Shin said member countries were putting up strong infrastructure preparedness for Ebola and each had an emergency operating centre linked to the regional office in Manila and the WHO headquarters in Geneva

“All these travel, economic trade, and we have global hubs like Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Philippines is sending a lot of work forces all over the world,” make it a possibility for the virus to reach East Asia, Shin said. But “we are in a better shape than other regions,” he added.

Form the Mainichi, a troubling statistic:

UN envoy: Ebola cases doubling every 3-4 weeks

The number of Ebola cases is probably doubling every three-to-four weeks and without a mass global mobilization “the world will have to live with the Ebola virus forever,” the U.N. special envoy on the disease said Friday.

David Nabarro told the U.N. General Assembly that the response needs to be 20 times greater.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said catching up with “the menacing exponential curve of the virus” demands a massive scale-up of financial resources, medical staff and equipment. He lamented that only one-quarter of the $1 billion that U.N. agencies have appealed for to tackle Ebola has been funded.

“I now appeal to all member states to act generously and swiftly,” Eliasson told diplomats from most of the 193 U.N. member states. “Speed is of the essence. A contribution within days is more important than a larger contribution within weeks.”

The United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response issues a warning [PDF]:

UN Ebola official: ‘No country is safe’

The UN officials leading the anti-Ebola effort in West Africa appealed Friday to the international community to move quickly to provide more resources to battle the deadly outbreak.

“The world must now act to help the people and governments of Liberia, Sierra
Leone and Guinea and, by helping them, to help the rest of the world,” said Anthony Banbury, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), in a briefing to the General Assembly in New York.

“Everyone must play their part.” UNMEER cannot do it alone, said Banbury, who called for a broad global coalition to work together to halt the spread of the disease. “A failure to act now that we have the chance could lead to unpredictable but very dire consequences” not only for the three countries most affected now, but for the rest of the world, he said.

“No country is safe.”

More from Reuters:

Fears grow in United States over Ebola’s spread outside West Africa

Fears are growing in the United States about Ebola with about 200 airline cabin cleaners walking off the job in New York and some lawmakers demanding the government ban travelers from the West African countries hit hardest by the virus.

“The nation is frightened, and people are frightened of this disease,” the U.S. cabinet secretary for health, Sylvia Burwell, said on Thursday, a day after the death in Texas of the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell told a news conference that people were frightened because Ebola “has a very high mortality rate. They’re frightened because they need to learn and understand what the facts are about that disease.”

The New York Times covers a false alarm in Sin City:

Las Vegas Sounds False Alarm as Global Ebola Fears Spread

A commercial plane was briefly quarantined on a Las Vegas airport tarmac on Friday, sending airline shares down as worldwide fears increased that Ebola could spread outside West Africa, where it has killed more than 4,000 people.

Airline and hospital officials said a Delta Air Lines plane was held at McCarran International Airport, but it turned out to be a false alarm and an all-clear was issued. A Delta spokesman said the concerns arose after a passenger on the flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport reported feeling unwell.

It was the second reported Ebola scare involving an aircraft this week. On Wednesday, a passenger on board a U.S. Airways flight from Philadelphia said he had Ebola.

Officials in the Dominican Republic investigated and cleared the aircraft, the airline said. Video from a passenger showed officials in blue-colored protective suits boarding the plane after landing and escorting a man off.

From Reuters, screening begins:

U.S. begins enhanced Ebola screening program at New York’s JFK airport

Stepped up efforts by the U.S. to halt the spread of the Ebola virus will start at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday, where teams armed with thermal guns and questionnaires will screen travelers from West African countries hit hardest by the outbreak.

JFK Airport is the first of five U.S. airports to start enhanced screening of U.S.-bound travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where most of the outbreak’s more than 4,000 deaths have occurred.

Nearly all of those traveling to the United States from those countries arrive at JFK, Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta. The new procedures will begin at the other four airports next week.

From Associated Press, enforcing isolation:

New Jersey enforces isolation order for NBC crew

New Jersey officials have issued a mandatory quarantine order for members of an NBC crew that was exposed to a cameraman with Ebola after they say a voluntary 21-day isolation agreement was violated.

The order went into effect Friday night.

Officials with the state Health Department told The Associated Press the crew remains symptom-free and there is no reason for concern of exposure to the deadly virus to the community.

The NBC crew included medical correspondent Nancy Snyderman, who lives in New Jersey. She was working with Ashoka Mukpo, a cameraman who was infected with the disease in West Africa. Mukpo is being treated in Omaha, Nebraska.

But there’s always that corporate silver lining, as in this video report from Bloomberg News:

Ebola Virus Scare Pushes Hazmat-Suit Maker to Record

Program notes:

Bloomberg’s Pimm Fox examines how the Ebola virus scare is benefitting Lakeland Industries, pushing shares to record highs for the manufacturer of hazmat suits. He speaks on “Market Makers.”

Another false alarm, via the New York Times:

Assurances Are Given and a Deputy Goes Home, but Ebola Fears Persist

DALLAS — So far, there is no evidence the Ebola virus has spread in this vast metropolitan area of 6.5 million people. But fear has.

Officials on Thursday announced that a local sheriff’s deputy examined for possible infection with the virus had tested negative and was sent home from the hospital.

None of the other 48 people who officials say had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola at a hospital here Wednesday, have showed symptoms of infection. Because no one has been exposed in 11 days, officials say, the likelihood of a new case is diminishing.

But live images on local television of an ambulance racing the deputy to the hospital on Wednesday were enough to convince many here that Ebola was more dangerous than officials were letting on.

From the Associated Press, troubling revelations:

Ebola patient’s temperature spiked to 103 degrees

Thomas Eric Duncan’s temperature spiked to 103 degrees during the hours of his initial visit to an emergency room — a fever that was flagged with an exclamation point in the hospital’s record-keeping system, his medical records show.

Despite telling a nurse that he had recently been in Africa and displaying other symptoms that could indicate Ebola, the Liberian man who would become the only person to die from the disease in the U.S. underwent a battery of tests and was eventually sent home.

Duncan’s family provided his medical records to The Associated Press — more than 1,400 pages in all. They encompass his time in the ER, his urgent return to the hospital two days later and his steep decline as his organs began to fail.

In a statement issued Friday, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said it had made procedural changes and continues to “review and evaluate” the decisions surrounding Duncan’s care.

More from the Guardian:

Texas Ebola cases expose troubling contrasts and spark fears of race divide

The faltering response to a Liberian’s Ebola diagnosis in Texas contrasted starkly to the mobilization after the mere suspicion of the disease in a local law enforcement officer. Some wonder whether it was no coincidence

The 5,000- to 10,000-strong Liberian community in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has noted shortcomings in the way Duncan’s case was handled. Official accounts suggest he first developed symptoms on 24 September and went to nearby Texas Health Presbyterian hospital two days later, where staff failed to take his travel history into account and sent him away with antibiotics. By 28 September he was so ill that an ambulance was called to take him back.

Without making any specific judgment on Duncan’s case, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Tom Frieden said at a media briefing on Wednesday that “the earlier someone is diagnosed, the more likely they will be able to survive.”

Three other patients hospitalised in the US after contracting Ebola in west Africa, including one man from Fort Worth, received experimental treatments and survived. On Tuesday, Dallas County commissioner John Wiley Price, who is black, told a court meeting that “if a person who looks like me shows up without any insurance, they don’t get the same treatment … It’s historically what has happened in this community.”

And another false alarm, ending behind an arrest, via the Associated Press:

Ga. prisoner accused of lying about possible Ebola

Prosecutors have accused a prisoner in Georgia of lying about potentially getting Ebola while traveling in Africa, a claim that triggered an emergency response at an Atlanta area jail and hospital.

Harry Randall Withers was indicted Thursday on three counts of making false statements. He was being held without bond Friday at a jail north of Atlanta.

After his arrest for drunken driving, Withers allegedly told officials that he left the United States on Sept. 10 to see a friend in Kenya. Officials said Withers claimed that he had traveled through Nigeria, Liberia and Belgium during his trip.

Authorities said a check of Withers’ passport showed he had not left the United States since 2005.

Hints that “Britain’s first case” may not be, via Reuters:

Alcohol, not Ebola, possible cause of Briton’s death in Macedonia

Doctors in Macedonia have “serious indications” that alcohol, not Ebola, may have killed a British man visiting the Balkan country, a senior health official said on Friday.

The official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said doctors who initially treated the man suspected haemorrhagic fever, given his symptoms of fever, vomiting and internal bleeding.

“The minute they (doctors) suspected that, they alerted supervisors, who isolated the body,” preventing doctors from carrying out an autopsy, the source said.

Now, he said: “We have serious indications from several places that he consumed large amounts of alcohol, so the theory that this might be the cause of death is very much in play.”

On to Spain and what remains for now Europe’s only case contracted in Europe, via El País:

Fear and panic rise among Madrid’s medical and cleaning staff

  • Nurses are resigning over what they claim are inadequate protection measures
  • Staff are also feeling the effects of the Ebola crisis in their personal lives

The cleaning staff at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid say they were not scared about contracting Ebola until Teresa Romero, the nursing assistant who they would see on a daily basis, caught the virus. The same goes for the nurses in the center, who took care of the two Spanish missionaries with Ebola who were brought back from West Africa for treatment at Carlos III, but died soon after.

The staff explain that the “respect” they had for the virus has turned to “fear.” And that fear has spread further than the hospital, which is Spain’s “Ground Zero” for Ebola – it is also to be found in Alcorcón Hospital, where cleaning staff refused to clean up the area in the emergency room where the nursing assistant, Teresa Romero, was treated for nearly the whole of Monday, before she was diagnosed with Ebola and transferred to Carlos III.

There is fear on the streets of Alcorcón too, where some residents are wearing facemasks to protect themselves from the risk of infection, as well as in healthcare centers throughout the region, which have been sent protective suits for staff. These suits, however, are the same ones used during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and only two units have been sent to each center, where as many as 60 people can work.

One manifestation from Sky News:

Ebola Hospital Staff Throw Gloves At Spain PM

  • Questions are raised about safety measures at a Madrid hospital where a nurse with ebola is in a serious but stable condition

Angry staff have been filmed throwing medical gloves and shouting “go away” at the Spanish prime minister after his visit to a hospital where a nurse has ebola.

Teresa Romero, 44, caught the deadly disease while treating a missionary there. He had flown to Madrid after becoming infected in West Africa and later died.

Questions have been raised about safety measures at Carlos III hospital where Mrs Romero is in a stable but serious condition.

And a video report from euronews:

Amid anger, Spanish PM visits hospital where nurse became infected with Ebola

Program note:

Amid growing questions about how a nurse was able to be infected with the Ebola virus while treating patients in Madrid, the country’s prime minister has visited the hospital where it happened.

Mariano Rajoy is under pressure over the case of Teresa Romero who is now in a critical condition. Her dog has been put down and her husband is one of those hospitalised.

The prime minister spoke to the media after his visit but did not take any questions.

El País covers a political response:

Five days after Ebola case confirmed, Deputy PM takes control of crisis

  • Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría replaces Health Minister at helm of government response

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría on Friday took control of the government’s management of the Ebola crisis, which began on Monday when a nursing assistant was confirmed to have contracted the virus while caring for an infected Spanish missionary.

Five days after the news of Teresa Romero’s condition was made public, and with Health Minister Ana Mato yet to give any explanations regarding the chain of errors that have characterised the crisis, the government appeared to be taking control of the situation on Friday, announcing that it would be creating a committee of scientific experts on the virus.

Sáenz de Santamaría will take charge of the crisis committee that will be formed by representatives from the ministries of Defense, Interior, Presidency, Economy and Justice. What’s more, it will be made up of a representative from the Madrid regional health department, the president of the Scientific Committee for Ebola and a representative from Carlos III Hospital, where confirmed patients and suspected cases are being treated. The committee will meet at least once a day and a number of its members will be dedicated exclusively to the crisis.

From the Guardian, pondering precautions:

Ebola: European food safety experts to assess risk of bushmeat to EU countries

  • Scientists said risks were low in April but persistent claims that illegally smuggled meat evades controls prompt fresh evaluation

European food safety experts have been asked to assess the risk of Ebola being spread in EU member states through eating contaminated bushmeat.

The assessment is expected by the end of the month. In April, scientists said the risks were very low but also admitted high uncertainty about their estimate.

There is extremely little data about just how much bushmeat, often from primates but also other wildlife hunted in Africa, is illegally imported into the EU or how it is treated, handled and cooked.

And TheLocal.fr covers another false alarm:

American tests negative for Ebola in Paris

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

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

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

While Punch Nigeria reports on a Latin American concern:

Brazil records first Ebola suspect, quarantines Guinean

Brazil says it has identified a suspected Ebola case who arrived in the country on Thursday.

The patient, Souleymane Bah from Guinea, presented himself after coming down with a fever at a public health centre in the town of Cascavel in the southern state of Parana.

He has been flown to Rio de Janeiro to the National Institute of Infectology. Doctors say he no longer has a fever and blood test results are expected on Saturday.

Health Minister Arthur Chioro said the situation was under control and “all health protocols and procedures were applied efficiently and with great success.”

From the Guardian, so much for the intrepid Aussies:

Australia believes it’s still too risky to send health workers to Ebola zones

  • Julie Bishop will not let the workers go to west Africa until treatment and evacuation plans are in place

Australia will not send health workers to Ebola outbreak zones until their welfare can be guaranteed.

Despite talks with European nations, the UK and the US, Australia has been unable to shore up a treatment or evacuation plan for its personnel should they be sent to west Africa, the minister for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop, says.

“I do not have in place a guarantee that should an Australian health worker – sent there by the Australian government – contract Ebola, they would be able to be transported or treated in a hospital either in the region or in Europe,” she told reporters in Launceston on Saturday.

“And until I have that in place we will not be sending Australian health workers.”

From Sky News, not the way to leave ‘em laughing:

Ebola ‘Joke’ Sees Hazmat Crew Board Plane

  • A coughing man shouts that he recently visited Africa as his flight lands in the Dominican Republic, reports say

Officials in protective suits boarded a US aircraft after a passenger reportedly joked about suffering from ebola.

The US Airways Flight 845 from Philadelphia to the Dominican Republic remained on the tarmac for over an hour after landing as the hazmat crew in blue suits filed past passengers.

The airline said in a statement that the flight “was met yesterday by local officials upon landing due to a possible health issue on board”.

According to Fox News Latino, a passenger screamed “I’ve been to Africa!” just before the flight landed in Punta Cana. Initial reports in the Dominican press and on social media suggested the passenger had shouted: “I have ebola!”

After the jump, on to Africa and an epidemic of fear, American aid expedited, on to Sierra Leone, first with a spike in cases, saving an Ebola-free district, the deadly job of grave-digging, and a blast at Western media, on to Liberia and a rebuke to a presidential power grab, hospitals overwhelmed, another doctor falls, and a chief justice’s driver quarantined, then on to Nigeria and a reassurance to the tourism trade, vaccine trials in Mali, and wise words from Unganda. . . Continue reading

Graphic takes on emerging Ebolaphobia


First from Jack Ohman, editorial cartoonist of the Sacramento Bee::

BLOG Ebola 1

And this from Jim Morin, editorial cartoonist of the Miami Herald:

BLOG Ebola 2

And from Jeff Darcy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

BLOG Ebola 3

Finally, from Bill Bramhall of the New York Daily News:

BLOG Ebola 4

Chart of the day II: The Ebola Fear Factor


As Gallup notes, “In total, six Americans are known to have contracted Ebola since the outbreak began this spring,” with all cases contracted in Africa. While the disease is both gruesome and lethal more often than note, it remains at bay on this side of the Atlantic from West Africa.

By contrast, during the 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic, 61 million Americans caught the very unpleasant illness, and a minimum of 200,000 ending up in the hospital. At least 12,469 cases ended in death.

So how worried were people about catching H1N1 during the height of the 2009 pandemic compared to how worried Americans now worry about catching a much deadlier disease our officials assure us now is no real threat on this side of the Atlantic?

Call the resulting quotient the Fear Factor. . .

From Gallup:

BLOG Ebola data

Quote of the day: Chomsky’s helpful reminder


From a Noam Chomsky interview from Truthout:

Like Britain before it, the US has tended to support radical Islam and to oppose secular nationalism, which both imperial states have regarded as more threatening to their goals of domination and control. When secular options are crushed, religious extremism often fills the vacuum. Furthermore, the primary US ally over the years, Saudi Arabia, is the most radical Islamist state in the world and also a missionary state, which uses its vast oil resources to promulgate its extremist Wahabi/Salafi doctrines by establishing schools, mosques, and in other ways, and has also been the primary source for the funding of radical Islamist groups, along with Gulf Emirates – all US allies.

It’s worth noting that religious fanaticism is spreading in the West as well, as democracy erodes. The US is a striking example. There are not many countries in the world where the large majority of the population believes that God’s hand guides evolution, and almost half of these think that the world was created a few thousand years ago. And as the Republican Party has become so extreme in serving wealth and corporate power that it cannot appeal to the public on its actual policies, it has been compelled to rely on these sectors as a voting base, giving them substantial influence on policy.

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


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

Number of Marburg suspects raise to eight

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

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

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

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

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

CDC Notes Some Progress in Ebola Fight

Program notes:

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

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

Dallas Ebola patient on ventilator and receiving kidney dialysis

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

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

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

A question from the Christian Science Monitor:

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

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

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

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

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

And from the London Daily Mail, the inevitable hyperbole:

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

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

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

Some Ebola experts worry virus may spread more easily than assumed

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

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

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

More from The Hill:

CDC: Airborne Ebola possible but unlikely

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

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

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

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

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

From the New York Times, screening:

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

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

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

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

And the Associated Press covers one measure already implemented:

Coast Guard sector issues new steps on Ebola

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

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

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

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

CDC holds news briefing on Ebola patient in Texas

Program note:

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

The Associated Press covers belated safeguards:

US health providers expand their Ebola precautions

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

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

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

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

And then there’s this from Reuters:

Male Ebola survivors told: Use a condom

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

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

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

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

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

Four hospitalized in Spain after first Ebola transmission outside Africa

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

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

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

More from El País:

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

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

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

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

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

And a video report from Deutsche Welle:

Madrid hospital staff want answers

Program notes:

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

Questions from the Los Angeles Times:

Questions raised about safety measures used for Ebola cases in Spain

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

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

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

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

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

And the Guardian covers the seemingly inevitable:

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

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

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

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

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

But the New York Times covers another angle:

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

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

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

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

While the Guardian suggests a partial explanation:

Spanish nurse Ebola infection blamed on substandard gear and protocol lapse

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

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

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

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

And the Associated Press covers collateral canine damage:

Ebola escapes Europe’s defenses; pet dog must die

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

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

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

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

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

No Ebola screening for arrivals to UK – Public Health England

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

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

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

A contrarian view from the Independent:

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

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

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

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

And the London Telegraph covers preparations:

Ebola: NHS hospitals put on standby

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

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

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

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

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

Ebola virus victim arrives in Norway by special jet

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

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

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

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

Norway to get world’s last dose of Ebola cure

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

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

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

On to Japan and confidence from the Japan Times:

Japan could handle Ebola outbreak, health official says

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

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

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

While the Wall Street Journal covers the Japanese corporate upside:

Fujifilm Drug Gets More Notice as Possible Ebola Treatment

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

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

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

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