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Postmortem Stability of Ebola Virus

CDC  EID JOURNAL                                              Feb. 12, 2015                                   
Study by Joseph Prescott, Trenton Bushmaker, Robert Fischer, Kerri Miazgowicz, Seth Judson, and Vincent J. Munster

The ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has highlighted questions regarding stability of the virus and detection of RNA from corpses. We used Ebola virus–infected macaques to model humans who died of Ebola virus disease.

Assessing the stability of corpse-associated virus and determining the most efficient sampling methods for diagnostics will clarify the safest practices for handling bodies and the best methods for determining whether a person has died of EVD and presents a risk for transmission. To facilitate diagnostic efforts, we studied nonhuman primates who died of EVD to examine stability of the virus within tissues and on body surfaces to determine the potential for transmission, and the presence of viral RNA associated with corpses.

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For Immediate Release February 11, 2015 FACT SHEET: Progress in Our Ebola Response at Home and Abroad

THE WHITE  HOUSE  PRESS OFFICE                                          FEB. 11, 2015

Fact sheet on the Ebola situation

"...Together with our international partners – and the people of the three nations themselves – we have bent the curve of the epidemic and placed it on a much improved trajectory. We have gone from over 1,000 new suspected, probable, and confirmed Ebola cases a week in October, to roughly 150 new confirmed weekly cases in the most recent reports.  Liberia has reported only a handful of new cases per week, a drop of well over 90 percent.  Significant declines also have been reported in Sierra Leone from the epidemic’s peak. Among the accomplishments in this response:..."

Read complete Statement

Also see:

Most U.S. Troops will be withdrawn, posted yesterday, Feb. 11, 2015

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Sarepta drug protects lab monkeys from Ebola

REUTERS   by Sharon Begley                                                                                      Feb. 10, 2015

NEW YORK --An experimental Ebola drug from Sarepta Therapeutics Inc protected six of eight lab monkeys injected with the virus, scientists from the company and the U.S. Army reported on Tuesday.

The drug, called AVI-7537, joins ZMapp from Mapp Biopharmaceutical and a compound from Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp as the agents shown to cure non-human primates given otherwise-lethal injections of Ebola virus.

The ZMapp and Tekmira drugs protected 100 percent of lab monkeys in studies, giving them a possible edge. But, unlike those, Sarepta's drug has been formally tested in healthy human volunteers at high doses and caused no serious side effects.

Sarepta's $300 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop drugs against Ebola and the related Marburg virus ended in 2012 due to government funding cuts. The study was completed just before then but not published until the current Ebola outbreak increased interest in the drug....

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How trials will work for Ebola vaccines

The search for an Ebola cure is gearing up — but there may be too few patients.  (Scroll down for Graphics.)

WASHINGTON POST     by  Amy Brittain                                                                      Feb. 10, 2015                        

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Most U.S. troops will return from Ebola fight by end of April

UPDATE: Obama says US has ‘risen to the challenge’ of fighting Ebola

ASSOCIATED PRESS  BY Edith Lederer in New York and Josh Lederman in Washington               Feb. 11, 2015

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama heralded a “new phase in the fight” against Ebola on Wednesday and said progress against the outbreak in West Africa will allow the U.S. to withdraw nearly all American troops sent to Liberia last fall.

He cautioned the mission was not over, and he set an ambitious goal of eliminating the disease. “We have risen to the challenge,” he said at the White House. “Our focus now is getting to zero.”

Obama said only 100 of the 2,800 troops sent to Liberia will remain there after April 30. About 1,500 have returned home.

...Earlier in the day, he met with philanthropists and foundation leaders who had supported the fight against the outbreak, which had threatened to spiral out of control and fostered fears in the U.S. and elsewhere beyond West Africa.

At the height of the outbreak, Liberia was experiencing 119 confirmed Ebola cases per week. This week there were only three. But Guinea reported a sharp increase with 65 new confirmed cases compared with 39 the week before. Sierra Leone reported 76 new confirmed cases.

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Pope Francis: Christians Have a Duty to Protect Environment


Pope Francis (CNS) - by Conor Gaffey - February 9, 2015

Protecting the environment is a Christian duty not just reserved for ‘green’ activists, Pope Francis said today.

The Pope tackled the topic of creation in his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta, warning that Christians must be the protectors of the natural world, not its masters. . .

. . . The Pope is expected to release his eagerly anticipated encyclical on the environment in June or July ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris in December.

On his flight from Sri Lanka to Manila in January, Francis was reported to have said that human beings are largely to blame for climate change.


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Only 40 percent of Ebola funds reached target countries: study

REUTERS    by Kate Kelland                                                                                 Feb. 3, 2014

LONDON  - Almost $2.9 billion was pledged by the end of 2014 in donations to fight West Africa's Ebola epidemic, yet only around 40 percent had actually reached affected countries, researchers said on Tuesday.

A study by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that tracked international donations showed barely $1.09 billion had reached the worst affected countries by the end of last year, they said.

"These delays ... may have contributed to spread of the virus and could have increased the financial needs," said Karen Grepin, a global health policy expert at New York University who led the study and published it in the BMJ British medical journal.

Read full story.

Link to full study.

International donations to the Ebola virus outbreak: too little, too late?

BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL   by  Karen A Grépin                                                      Feb. 3, 2015

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Lessons From Africa's Hard-Won Victory Over Ebola

BLOOMBERG  Commentary      by Charles Kenney                                              Feb. 3, 2015
...Without good surveillance, disease threats can fester undetected until they are considerably harder to contain. At the moment, countries simply declare they have the capacity to meet global standards and the WHO takes their word for it. There should be a system of independent review, backed up with international assistance and support to ensure that all countries really do have the capacity to track infectious disease outbreaks and control their spread across borders.

....the global health research system is primarily driven by market pressures. The cost of bringing a drug through the regulatory processes to market averages around $1 billion. That's a big reason why pharmaceutical companies would rather spend money on treatments for the diseases of the rich than for conditions that largely affect people in countries like Liberia...

There are two approaches to deal with that problem: lower the cost of drug development and increase the market for the products that emerge. ...

To increase demand, governments can club together to create an "advanced market commitment": If a drug developer produces a vaccine or therapy that meets certain standards, donors precommit to buy it in bulk....

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Ebola: Call for more sharing of scientific data

BBC NEWS      by Helen Briggs, Environment correspondent                                                                     Feb. 2, 2015

The devastation left by the Ebola virus in west Africa raises many questions for science, policy and international development.

One issue that has yet to receive widespread media attention is the handling of genetic data on the virus.

By studying its code, scientists can trace how Ebola leapt across borders, and how, like all viruses, it is constantly evolving and changing.

Yet, researchers have been privately complaining for months about the scarcity of genetic information about the virus that is entering the public domain.

In the last few days, scientists have been speaking on and off the record about their concerns.

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'Good virus' believed to help increase survival chances in Ebola and HIV infections

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS NEWS by Jayalaksmi K      Feb. 2, 2015

A common virus that infects billions at some point of their lives is believed to deliver some protection against other deadlier viruses like HIV and Ebola.

David O'Connor, a pathology professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, found the genetic fingerprints of the virus GBV-C in the records of 13 samples of blood plasma from Ebola patients.

While six of the 13 people who were co-infected with Ebola and GBV-C died, seven survived.

Combined with earlier studies that have hinted persistent infection with the virus slowed disease progression in some HIV patients, researchers think the virus could be beneficial.

"We're very cautious about over-interpreting these results," O'Connor told NPR. He is now waiting to get a bigger sample, to see if there really is a strong connection between GBV-C infection and survival.
Read complete story.

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