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Guinea president announces new emergency measures in Ebola fight

REUTERS                                                 March 28, 2015

CONAKRY - Guinea's President Alpha Conde announced on Saturday new emergency measures enabling authorities to restrict movements in western Guinea where Ebola transmission continues a year after the epidemic was declared.

More than 10,300 people have died from Ebola in West Africa and while cases are thought to have peaked, Guinea is struggling to stamp out the virus partly due to often violent resistance to officials working to end it.

Following a dip in new cases in January, they have spiked again since early March in and around the capital, prompting officials to announce a new phase of the epidemic in Guinea.

"I declare in the districts of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia a reinforcement of emergency measures for a period of 45 days," Conde said on state television late on Saturday.

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http://news.yahoo.com/guinea-president-announces-emergency-measures-ebola-fight-230310066.html

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Police fire tear gas on crowd during Sierra Leone Ebola lockdown

REUTERS by Josephus Olu-Mammah and Umaru Fofana                                                              March 28, 2015
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone --Police fired tear gas at an angry crowd in Sierra Leone on Saturday after they threw stones at officials during a three-day national lockdown that the government hopes will accelerate the end of the Ebola epidemic, residents said.

Sierra Leone has reported nearly 12,000 Ebola cases and more than 3,000 deaths since the worst epidemic in history was detected in neighbouring Guinea a year ago. New cases have fallen sharply since a peak of more than 500 a week in December but the government says the lockdown, its second, is necessary to identify the last cases and to buck a worrying trend towards complacency.

Officials have ordered the six million residents to stay inside on pain of arrest as hundreds of health official go door-to-door looking for hidden patients and educating residents about the haemorrhagic fever.

Hundreds of people left their homes in the Devil Hole neighbourhood outside the capital to gather at a food collection point. Some residents complained they had not received food and fighting broke out until police arrived to scatter the crowd.

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Combatting Rumors About Ebola: SMS Done Right

When misinformation is a case of life or death, aid workers and communities need an ear to the ground

INTERNEWS   by  Anahi Ayala Iacucci                                                March 26, 2015

 What is now clear to healthcare organizations working on the ground in West Africa is that the Ebola epidemic has been driven as much by misinformation and rumors as by weaknesses in the health system. It is common sense that information is a critical element in combatting disease, particularly when contagion from common social practices, such as bathing the corpses of the deceased, were central to so much of the early spread of the disease. But in the context of a massive disease outbreak, when hundreds of international organizations and billions of dollars flood into a region whose fragile infrastructure has been damaged by years of civil war, information dissemination becomes a powerful challenge.

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The State of Vaccine Confidence

The Vaccine Confidence Project    2015
LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE 

Lead Authors:  Heidi Larson, PhD and Will Schulz, MPH
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Aid workers racing to defeat Ebola before the rains come

USA TODAY  by Samwar Fallah and Gregg Zoroya                                              March 28, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia — Aid workers are rushing into neighboring Guinea to try to stanch a worrisome rise in cases of the deadly Ebola virus, which has been slowed in Sierra Leone and been all but eradicated here.

A man crouches next to the grave of an unknown man (L) at the National Memorial Cemetry on Disco Hill, Margibi County, Liberia, 11 March 2015. The cemetery was established to provide a dignified burial for ebola victims and bring an end to the usual cremation of victims during the outbreak. Liberia on 11 March observed a National Memorial Day to remember, honour, and decorate the graves of the dead. The government of Liberia on 05 March discharged the last ebola patient, thus raising the hopes of the end of the epidemic. EPA/AHMED JALLANZO ORG XMIT: MON107(Photo: AHMED JALLANZO, EPA)

The mission is urgent because the coming rainy season could hamper travel to remote villages where the disease continues to emerge.

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Ebola crisis points to wider global threat on a par with al-Qaida, warns UK medic

THE GUARDIAN by Lisa O'Carroll                                                           March 27, 2015

Ebola should be seen as an early wake-up call to world leaders of the potential for an international health disaster in the same way that the 1998 US embassy bombings highlighted the possibility of further attacks by al-Qaida, a leading British medic in Sierra Leone has warned.

Dr Oliver Johnson has called for “a big political shakeup” at the World Health Organisation and says Britain’s Department for International Development must decide whether to “nationalise” aid and deploy the army the next time a humanitarian emergency hits.

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The tail of the epidemic and the challenge of tracing the very last Ebola case

EUROSURVEILLANCE  by  K. Kaasik-Aaslav and  D. Coulombier                                   March 26, 2015

Upon entering what seems to be the tail of the epidemic and, as in any such moment, the ‘Ebola endgame’ strategy requires adaptation to the heterogeneity of the epidemiological situation. The tools for EVD control need to be fine-tuned and the commitment from the teams supporting local authorities in affected countries needs to be sustained.

While the pressure on clinical and laboratory expertise gradually decreases, the demand shifts towards field epidemiologists to assist local public health experts and support community workers to engage in active surveillance and to monitor remaining transmission chains in affected communities.

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Liberia's sole remaining known Ebola patient dies

REUTERS                                                             March 27, 2015

MONROVIA - A woman who was Liberia's sole remaining known Ebola patient died on Friday at a treatment center in the capital, said Francis Ketteh, acting head of the country's Ebola response team.

The case was Liberia's first in weeks and it set back efforts to halt a virus that has killed more than 10,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Authorities say the woman may have contracted Ebola through sex with a survivor.

"We have been able to trace the people she came in contact with," Ketteh said. "We call on everyone to follow the Ebola preventative measures."

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https://uk.news.yahoo.com/liberias-sole-remaining-known-ebola-patient-dies-223054495.html#Vsr2JM7

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Laboratory support during and after the Ebola virus endgame: towards a sustained laboratory infrastructure

EUROSURVEILLANCE by I. Goodfellow, C. Reusken, and M. Koopmans  

  March 26, 2015                                                              

The Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa is on the brink of entering a second phase in which the (inter)national efforts to slow down virus transmission will be engaged to end the epidemic. The response community must consider the longevity of their current laboratory support, as it is essential that diagnostic capacity in the affected countries be supported beyond the end of the epidemic.

The emergency laboratory response should be used to support building structural diagnostic and outbreak surveillance capacity.

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Scientists argue over access to remaining Ebola hotspots

The slowdown in the West African Ebola epidemic is welcome news and reason to be hopeful—but it’s also creating a new problem. With fewer new cases occurring, it is becoming more and more difficult to test vaccines and drugs. As a result, conflicts are looming over who can test Ebola drugs and vaccines in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

An Ebola treatment unit in Guinea.Samuel Hanryon/MSF

In Guinea, a large consortium that includes Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccinated the first volunteers at risk of Ebola on Monday in a big trial of a vaccine produced by Merck and NewLink Genetics. But the team feels threatened because researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) are looking to move another vaccine study from Liberia, where the epidemic has come to a virtual standstill, to Guinea.

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British medic declared free of Ebola

BBC  by 

A UK female military medic who has been discharged from hospital after being declared free of Ebola said it was thanks to medics that she is alive.

Anna Cross was the first person in the world to be given the experimental Ebola drug MIL 77, her doctors said.

Corporal Cross, aged 25 from Cambridge, caught the virus while working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone.

Doctors at the hospital...described the drug she was given as a close relative of the medicine ZMapp and that MIL 77 was made in China...

It is too soon to know what role the drug played in Cpl Cross' recovery, they added.

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http://www.bbc.com/news/health-32088310

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Ebola whole virus vaccine shown effective, safe in primates

SCIENCE DAILY                                                March 26, 2015

(Scroll down for complete paper.)
An Ebola whole virus vaccine, constructed using a novel experimental platform, has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the often fatal virus.

The vaccine, described today (March 26, 2015) in the journal Science, was developed by a group led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert on avian influenza, Ebola and other viruses of medical importance. It differs from other Ebola vaccines because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it primes the host immune system with the full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, potentially conferring greater protection.

"In terms of efficacy, this affords excellent protection," explains Kawaoka, a professor of pathobiological sciences in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and who also holds a faculty appointment at the University of Tokyo. "It is also a very safe vaccine."

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Two experimental Ebola vaccines pass safety test in African trial

REUTERS    by  Sharon Begley                                                                       March 26, 2015

NEW YORK - Two experimental Ebola vaccines, one from GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the other from biotech start-up NewLink Genetics Corp, "appear to be safe" part way through a clinical trial being conducted in Liberia, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) said on Thursday.

The two vaccines, each given in a single injection, are being tested for safety and efficacy on more than 600 people in Liberia in a mid-stage clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a branch of NIH.

The Ebola epidemic that began in West Africa one year ago has killed more than 10,200 people, but a decline in new cases in the most affected countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, has led to hopes that it may be ending.

Based on the encouraging safety results, the study may now advance to the next phase of efficacy testing, in which additional volunteers are injected with the GSK vaccine, the NewLink vaccine, or a dummy shot and assessed to see whether their immune system responds by producing anti-Ebola antibodies.

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Ebola virus not mutating as quickly as thought

SCIENCE NEWS  by Ashley Yaeger                                                      March 26, 2015

(Scroll down for full study.)

The virus causing the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa is not evolving as quickly as some scientists had suggested.

REGULAR RATE  A genetic analysis suggests that the Ebola virus, shown here in orange, is not evolving as fast as expected.

In a paper last August, researchers reported that the virus (Zaire ebolavirus) was altering its genes almost twice as fast as it had during previous Ebola outbreaks in Central Africa (SN: 9/20/14, p. 7). However, a new genetic analysis shows that the virus is mutating at roughly the same rate as in past outbreaks, researchers report online March 26 in Science. The finding suggests the virus has not become more virulent or transmissible during the West Africa outbreak.

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