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U.S. military ends Ebola mission in Liberia

REUTERS    by  James Harding Giahyue                                                          Feb. 26, 2015

MONROVIA -- The United States military officially ended a mission to build treatment facilities to combat an Ebola outbreak in Liberia on Thursday, months earlier than expected, in the latest indication that a year-long epidemic in West Africa is waning.

Washington launched the mission five months ago and the force peaked at over 2,800 troops at a time when Liberia was at the epicenter of the worst Ebola epidemic on record....

"While our large scale military mission is ending...the fight to get to zero cases will continue and the (Joint Force Command) has ensured capabilities were brought that will be sustained in the future," U.S. Army Major General Gary Volesky....

Speaking to lawmakers during a visit to Washington on Thursday, Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the United States for its support during the crisis.

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Ebola Doctor: Media, politicians fueled the public's fears

ASSOCIATED PRESS   by Tom McElroy                                                             Feb. 25, 2015

NEW YORK — A doctor who contracted the deadly Ebola virus and rode the subway system and dined out before he developed symptoms said the media and politicians could have done a better job by educating people on the science of it instead of focusing on their fears.

 "When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we'll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond — and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did," Dr. Craig Spencer wrote in an article published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. (See link below.)

Spencer, an emergency room physician, was diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 23, days after returning from treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. His was the first Ebola case in the nation's largest city, spurring an effort to contain anxieties along with the virus. He was treated at a hospital, recovered and was released on Nov. 11.

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Report Slams U.S. Ebola Response and Readiness

NBC NEWS  by Maggie Fox                                                                               Feb. 26, 2015

The United States fumbled its response to the Ebola epidemic before it even began, neglecting experiments to make vaccines and drugs against the virus, and cutting funding to key public health agencies, a presidential commission said Thursday.

Americans focused on their own almost nonexistent risk of catching Ebola from travelers instead of pressing to help the truly affected nations, the scathing report from the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues says.

They've been acting against their own best interest, the commission said in its report.

"Both justice and prudence demand that we do our part in combating such devastating outbreaks. Once we recognize our humanitarian obligations and the ability of infectious diseases to travel in our interconnected world, we cannot choose between the ethical and the prudential," it reads.

"Ethics and enlightened interest converge in calling for our country to address epidemics at their source."

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Link Removal for the Control of Stochastically Evolving Epidemics Over Networks: A Comparison of Approaches

submitted by George Hurlburt

CLICK HERE - Link Removal for the Control of Stochastically Evolving Epidemics Over Networks: A Comparison of Approaches - Elsevier - February 16, 2015 - doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.02.005


• Disease control efforts are often constrained by limited resources.
• Limited resources can be used more effectively by leveraging network information.
• We compare four link removal algorithms to prevent disease spread under a budget.
• Optimal quarantining performs best for large budgets and structured networks.
• Knowing where an outbreak begins is most valuable at moderate budget levels.


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2 leading Ebola vaccines appear safe, WHO says

ASSOCIATED PRESS by Maria Cheng                                                                                 Feb. 23, 2015

LONDON – The World Health Organization says the two leading Ebola vaccines appear safe and will soon be tested in healthy volunteers in West Africa.

After an expert meeting this week, WHO said there is now enough information to conclude that the two most advanced Ebola vaccines — one made by GlaxoSmithKline and the other licensed by Merck and NewLink — have "an acceptable safety profile."

In a press briefing Friday, Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, who heads WHO's Ebola vaccine efforts, said "the cupboard (for Ebola vaccines) is filling up rapidly."

She said further trials in healthy people in West Africa, including health workers, are scheduled to start soon. Kieny added several other vaccines were being developed in the U.S., Russia and elsewhere.

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New funding announced for US Ebola preparedness

THE HILL                        by Peter Sullivan                                                                 Feb. 20, 2015

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Friday announced around $200 million in new funding to increase Ebola preparedness in the United States. 

The Department of Health and Human Services is giving grants to states to help set up 10 regional Ebola treatment centers, as well as hospitals in every state that can safely care for an Ebola patient until he or she is transferred. Combined with other funds, the move brings the total for local Ebola preparedness to around $340 million.

"Important lessons were also learned during the response effort," HHS said in a statement Friday. "Safety of health care workers must be foremost in health care system preparedness and response activities."

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Leaders of Ebola Fight at U.N. Express Worry About Eradication

NEW YORK TIMES  by Rick Gladstone                                    Feb. 20, 2015

The top two health officials managing the Ebola epidemic cast doubt Friday on a pledge by West African leaders to reduce new cases to zero by mid-April, and expressed concern about a possible rebound of the disease.

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Finishing Off Ebola

NEW YORK TIMES  OP-ED BY Ron Klain, the former White House Ebola response coordinaor                                    FEB. 20, 2015

...The world needs to do a better job of quickly detecting and responding to future outbreaks in unlikely places. The President’s Global Health Security Agenda, the government’s strategy to combat infection disease around the world, will help. But vulnerable countries, including those in Africa, need their own version of our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so that they are not so dependent on ours.

For the hardest task of front-line epidemic fighting, our planet is too reliant on courageous and talented — but underfunded, under-equipped and volunteer-dependent — nongovernmental organizations. The world needs a permanent standing force — or a ready reserve that can be quickly organized — of public health emergency responders who have the training, gear and resources to race into a region in the early phases of epidemic control. The United States military cannot do that job every time; future outbreaks might occur in countries where our troops will not be welcomed as they were in West Africa.

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Texas Ebola quarantine success depended on help with daily needs: CDC

REUTERS      by Lisa Rapaport                                                                                Feb. 19, 2015

Effectively monitoring people exposed to Ebola requires more than just checking symptoms. A quarantine plan also needs to help people keep up with work and school and pay for essentials like housing and food, a U.S. report concludes.

To understand the challenges encountered by ordinary citizens exposed to Ebola, a team led by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed concerns raised by people monitored as part of an Ebola cluster in Dallas last year.

If yet-to-be-identified contacts notice that those who come forward as Ebola contacts are shunned from society and quarantined in their homes, with no way to provide for themselves and their families, they will be less likely to come forward," said lead study author Dr. Charnetta Smith, a CDC epidemic intelligence service officer.

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3 pitfalls Ebola recovery must avoid

DEVEX   by Molly Anders                                                                                         Feb. 19, 2015

...While the Ebola crisis is far from over, officials in government and the international development community have begun to think more the medium and long term. What can they learn from past post-crisis recovery initiatives?

 Health worker Alivin Davis poses next to the a board featuring handprints of Ebola survivors in Liberia. Photo by: Neil Brandvold / USAID / CC BY-NC

Devex asked aid officials and government officials from the region how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls that can plague — haunt, even — recovery and reconstruction efforts. Here are three of them.

1. Quality over quantity.

....By not paying closer attention to the economic effects of foreign aid on the local market, humanitarian groups hurt livelihoods and slowed reconstruction in the country.

2. Prioritize local ownership....

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