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UT nasal spray vaccine for Ebola effective in monkeys

By Todd Ackerman                                                                           Nov. 5, 2014

... researchers at the University of Texas-Austin have developed a nasal spray vaccine that has protected monkeys against the deadly Ebola virus even a year after immunization.

The vaccine, a genetically engineered cold virus containing a tiny portion of Ebola DNA, saved 100 percent of monkeys who got a single spray through the nose in a new UT study. Injecting the vaccine only saved the lives of about 50 percent.

 Maria Croyle, a professor of pharmaceutics and the study's principal investigator, said an inhaled Ebola vaccine is more attractive because it would be cheaper and safer than needle-delivered vaccines.

"The main advantage is the long-lasting protection after a single inhaled dose," Maria Croyle, a  professor of pharmaceutics and the study's principal investigator, said in a statement. "This is important since the longevity of other vaccines for Ebola (hasn't been) fully evaluated....

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Treating Those Treating Ebola in Liberia

NEW YORK TIMES                                  Nov. 6, 2014
By Sheri FInk, MD
HARBEL, Liberia — As the number of people sickened with Ebolasoared this summer, American and Liberian officials faced a new challenge: How could they encourage international medical workers, understandably frightened about the risks, to come help fight the disease? The officials knew they would have to provide some assurances to the workers that they would be cared for if they fell ill.

Their answer, a dedicated Ebola field hospital for health workers, is scheduled to open soon outside Monrovia, the capital.

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357 people now being monitored for Ebola in New York

LOS ANGELES TIMES                                                                                        Nov.5, 2014
By Michael Muskal                                      
The number of people who are being actively monitored for Ebola in New York has tripled to 357 people, none of whom has displayed any symptoms, city health officials announced Wednesday.

The vast majority of those being monitored arrived in New York in the last 21 days from West Africa, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation said in a statement. Those under monitoring are being checked out of “an abundance of caution,” the statement said.

The latest announcement comes as Ohio said it was officially Ebola-free and Texas prepared to end its observation period for the last 27 healthcare workers. The Texas group will complete its 21-day monitoring period on Friday, according to state officials.

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Facebook looks to raise awareness, money to fight Ebola

USA TODAY                                             Nov. 6, 2014
by Jessica Guynn

SAN FRANCISCO — Just weeks after Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave $25 million to fight Ebola in Africa, his company is rolling out three initiatives to raise awareness — and more money.

Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg (Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

Unlike the billions of dollars that flowed to relief agencies in the aftermath of major natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis, charitable giving to battle the Ebola outbreak has been trickling into the stricken region.

Which is why Facebook is using its global reach to send an urgent message to its 1.3 billion users: Nonprofit groups on the front lines of the humanitarian crisis in West Africa need help.

Over the next week, a message will appear at the top of News Feeds giving people the option to donate to three nonprofits: International Medical Corps, the Red Cross and Save the Children.

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Ebola crisis draining development budgets in West Africa, study finds

UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME                                              Nov. 5, 2014

New York  -- The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is impairing the ability of governments to raise revenues, increasing their exposure to domestic and foreign debts and may make them more dependent on aid, according to the latest study (PDF) on the socio-economic impact of the crisis carried out by the UN development agency.

Investments in kick-starting economies and long-term development urgently needed

“We need to make sure that the Ebola outbreak does not lead to socio-economic collapse,” said Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “This crisis is already taking a toll on budgets and reducing the governments’ policy leeway to make much-needed investments in critical areas such as health and education for their citizens.” He added that the effects of the Ebola crisis will last long after the epidemic is brought under control.

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Obama Seeks $6.2 Billion for Ebola Fight

UPDATE: Senate Appropriations schedules hearings for Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Moving quickly, the Senate Appropriation Committee announced it wil take up the administration's proposals at a hearng next Wednesday with a full slate of government officials from the key agencies. The committee will remaiend chaired bya  Democat, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, until the end of this Congressional session. The Republican controlled House Appropriations Committee has not yet announced hearings.

See Senate statement., 

Text of White House letter to Congress

See earlier story

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS                                     Nov. 5, 2014


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DoD: Ebola mission won't be scaled back


Air Force personnel helped with the construction of the Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU) in Monrovia, Liberia. (Maj. Adrien Adams / AFRICOM)

MILITARY TIMES                                                                         Nov. 4, 2014 

By Patricia Kime

The Pentagon has no plans to scale back its response to the Ebola outbreak, Defense Department spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday.

The rate of new Ebola infections in Liberia has dropped sharply in the past several weeks, according to the World Health Organization, prompting questions as to whether the U.S. military needs to follow through on plans to build 17 medical treatment facilities in that country.

But despite the decline in cases, Kirby told reporters in a Pentagon news conference that DoD will proceed to build the 100-bed facilities unless told otherwise.

Kirby said the recent decline in the number of cases is “promising, but no one is taking that for granted. The history of the disease is the numbers fluctuate.”

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Researchers Seek Crucial Tool: A Fast, Finger-Prick Ebola Test

NEW YORK TIMES                                  Nov. 5, 2014

Searching for a new way to attack Ebola, companies and academic researchers are now racing to develop faster and easier tests for determining whether someone has the disease.

A researcher checks an Ebola diagnostic test in Marcoule, France.  Credit Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Such tests might require only a few drops of blood rather than a test tube of it, and provide the answer on the spot, without having to send the sample to a laboratory.

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West Africa Short 75 Percent of Needed Beds for Ebola

BLOOMBERG  NEWS                                  Nov. 4, 2014
By Jason Gale and Makiko Kitamura

The countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa are still lacking about three-fourths of the treatment beds needed for patients, the World Health Organizationsaid.

As many as 4,388 beds are required in 50 Ebola treatment units across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and there are now 1,126 beds, about 25 percent of the necessary capacity, Fadela Chaib, a WHO spokeswoman, told reporters in Geneva today. Twelve of 28 laboratories needed are operational, and 20 more foreign medical teams are needed to staff existing treatment centers, she said.

While empty beds exist at some treatment centers in Liberia, it’s important to maintain overcapacity as new cases can appear anywhere across the country, Bruce Aylward, the WHO’s assistant-general in charge of Ebola responses, said last week. International responders to the crisis have a Dec. 1 target to isolate 70 percent of cases and bury 70 percent of dead bodies safely.

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Models overestimate Ebola cases

Rate of infection in Liberia seems to plateau, raising questions over the usefulness of models in an outbreak

NATURE  International Weekly Journal of Science                                     Nov. 4, 2014
by Declan Butler

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has infected at least 13,567 people and killed 4,951, according to figures released on 31 October by the World Health Organization (WHO). Now, in a rare encouraging sign, the number of new cases in Liberia seems to be flattening after months of exponential growth. Scientists say it is too soon to declare that the disease is in retreat: case data are often unreliable, and Ebola can be quick to resurge. But it is clear that mathematical models have failed to accurately project the outbreak’s course.

 The reality of the Ebola outbreak is not reflected by model projections of high case numbers. Daniel Berehulak/NYT/Redux/eyevine

Researchers are now struggling to understand whether reports of empty beds at treatment centres and declining burial numbers are signs that fewer people are developing Ebola, or whether cases and deaths are going unrecorded.....

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