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Ebola ebbing in West Africa but vigilance needed: WHO

REUTERS by Stephanie Nebehay                                                                        Jan. 22, 2015

GENEVA (Reuters) - The Ebola epidemic in West Africa appears to be ebbing, with fewer than 150 cases reported in the past week, but efforts must be pursued to stamp out the deadly disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

Sierra Leone remains hardest-hit, accounting for 117 of the 145 new confirmed cases, against 184 there the previous week and 248 the week before that, the WHO said in its latest update.

"Case incidence continues to fall in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone," the United Nations agency said, adding that disease surveillance was being stepped up in border districts of Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal....

The WHO's Emergency Committee on Ebola said on Wednesday that passengers should still be screened on leaving Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for temperature or other signs of infection.

The independent experts said in a statement that "more than 40 countries have implemented additional measures, such as quarantine of returning travellers and refusal of entry. Such measures are impeding the recruitment and return of international responders.

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Ebola mutations could make some drugs ineffective

BALTIMORE SUN     by Scott Dance                                                   Jan. 20, 2015

In the year since Ebola began spreading across West Africa, the virus has mutated in more than 600 ways that change it slightly from versions studied in labs and used to develop treatments, according to researchers at Fort Detrick. And 10 of the mutations could make some drugs used to treat the virus ineffective, they wrote in research published Tuesday.

The "genomic drift," as the scientists called it, could make agents similar to the experimental drug ZMapp unable to bind to the virus anymore.

While the changes affect only a tiny fraction of Ebola's genome, they offer new lessons about the virus that might not have been learned because of the wide scope of the outbreak, larger than all others combined
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http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-ebola-mutation-20150120-story.html

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Ebola, Air Disasters Hit Trust in Institutions: Edelman

                                               (TO ENLARGE - CLICK ON IMAGE BELOW)

      

cnbc.com - by Matt Clinch - January 20, 2015

CLICK HERE - 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer

A rash of unforeseen events in 2014 has left trust in global institutions at six-year lows, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.

The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer - released to coincide with the beginning of the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos - surveyed 27,000 people from 27 countries using 20-minute online interviews.

The results of the annual survey - which is now in its 15th year - revealed an "alarming evaporation" of trust across governments, businesses, media outlets and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

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U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades


Workers at an Ebola treatment center relax Jan. 10, 2015 in Tubmanburg, Liberia. The facility was built by the U.S. military. (Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON POST  by Kevin Sieff                                                          Jan. 19, 2015

UBMANBURG, Liberia — Near the hillside shelter where dozens of men and women died of Ebola, a row of green U.S. military tents sit atop a vast expanse of imported gravel. The generators hum; chlorinated water churns in brand-new containers; surveillance cameras send a live feed to a large-screen television.

There’s only one thing missing from this state-of-the-art Ebola treatment center: Ebola patients.

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Ebola Death Toll Rises in West Africa While Americans' Interest Wanes

       

cbsnews.com - by Jessica Firger - January 8, 2015

Although it's largely dropped out of the headlines in this country, the Ebola outbreak continues to ravage West Africa. . . . Six out of 10 patients currently hospitalized with the virus will die, and a huge number of victims still aren't receiving medical care, which has allowed this public health crisis to continue to escalate at an alarming pace.

Yet many Americans may be under the impression that the Ebola crisis is winding down.

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‘We Are Fighting an Enemy, and the Enemy Is Ebola’

Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky's 2,500 soldiers have spent months battling a rampant killer in Liberia. Is the fight over, or has the front line shifted?

FOREIGN POLICY   by Brian Castner                                                        Jan,. 14, 2014

When Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky arrived in Liberia in late October to assume command of the U.S. military effort to help beat back the Ebola epidemic there, he was handed a to-do list by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Liberian government: build 17 temporary treatment facilities across the country, train a mix of international and local Liberian health-care workers to staff them, and use the Pentagon’s high-end medical equipment to test patients’ blood for the deadly virus.

Nearly every item is now checked off, leaving three options: go home, stay and wait in case the outbreak worsens, or move to start on a similar list in Sierra Leone and Guinea, where the number of Ebola cases has eclipsed that of Liberia.

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At Least One Major Oil Company Will Turn Its Back on Fossil Fuels, Says Scientist

Jeremy Leggett: 'One of the oil companies will break ranks and this time it is going to stick.'
Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

submitted by Margery Schab

Jeremy Leggett, former industry adviser, warns over plunging commodity prices and soaring costs of risky energy projects

The oil price crash coupled with growing concerns about global warming will encourage at least one of the major oil companies to turn its back on fossil fuels in the near future, predicts an award-winning scientist and former industry adviser.

Dr Jeremy Leggett, who has had consultations on climate change with senior oil company executives over 25 years, says it will not be a rerun of the BP story when the company launched its “beyond petroleum” strategy and then did a U-turn.

“One of the oil companies will break ranks and this time it is going to stick,” he said.

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White House Moves to Rein In Methane Emissions

       

New EPA standards will aim to significantly cut methane emissions from oil and gas sites in the U.S.

The Obama administration makes its latest move to take on climate change.

usnews.com - by Alan Neuhauser - January 14, 2015

In the Obama administration’s latest use of executive authority to address climate change, the White House announced plans Wednesday to impose new regulations on the oil and gas industry that would nearly halve methane emissions from wells, drill sites and pipelines in 10 years.

The new standards, to be developed by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act, would aim by 2025 to cut methane emissions by up to 45 percent from levels recorded in 2012. They would also slash the spread of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, key components of ground-level smog that have been linked to cancer, neurological conditions and other illnesses.

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Fast track development of Ebola Vaccines

Principles and target product criteria

THE CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DESEASE AND POLICY                                              Jan 12, 2015

The unprecedented morbidity and mortality from the 2013- 2015 Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa has challenged every aspect of our global ability to effectively detect, respond to, and control such a rapidly emerging infectious disease crisis.

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Magic Blood? Emory's Ebola Plasma Bank

NBC NEWS   by Maggie Fox                                                                      Jan. 14, 2015
Cup by cup, Emory University is collecting bags of liquid gold from the small club of American Ebola survivors.

They're collecting the plasma as part of an experiment to see if transfusing blood from people who have lived through the horrific infection can save the newly ill. Many of the survivors have been given this so-called convalescent plasma, but no one knows if it's actually helping.

"The protocol allows us to collect and transfuse convalescent plasma from U.S. Ebola survivors," says Dr. Anne Winkler, the Emory pathologist overseeing the study. "This is a completely voluntary process."

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