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Empowering local media can make the difference: 5 lessons from the Ebola crisis

DEVEX byAlison  Campbell                                                                          April 23, 2015

The Ebola crisis in West Africa was quickly recognized as being driven as much by misinformation and rumors as by weaknesses in the health care system. Mohamed Komah interviews an Ebola survivor at the Donka Ebola treatment center in Conakry, Guinea. Photo by: Internews

International response agencies invested significant resources in rolling out the Social Mobilization and Community Engagement drive, a wide-scale intensive social behavior change communication campaign. The result was a massive and rather poorly coordinated blast of messaging shared on billboards, in print, on radio and TV, through health outreach workers and community organizations, via SMS and call-in hotlines.

A preliminary assessment done by Internews in November found more than 300 types of social mobilization and messaging systems in the three worst-affected countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This chaotic information landscape consisted mainly of information “out,” with little opportunity for community dialogue....

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Troops get malaria during Ebola deployment

MILITARY TIMES by Patrice Kimm                                                                    April 23, 2015

The unprecedented deployment of U.S. troops to West Africa last year as part of the international response to the Ebola crisis saw no American service members contracting the deadly virus.

But five soldiers did fall prey to another disease. They contracted malaria, a concern that underscores the need for continued vaccine research, according to Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho.

Army officials say three troops contracted malaria in Liberia between October and November and two more were suspected of having a malaria infection.

All responded to treatment, Horoho said.

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http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/benefits/health-care/2015/04/23/us-military-ebola-deployment-malaria/26236769/

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Ebola outbreak likely driving malaria deaths: study

AFP                                                                                                             April 24, 2015
PARIS --The collapse of health services in three west African countries devastated by Ebola may have caused some 11,000 additional deaths from malaria, a preventable and curable disease, researchers said Friday.

Desinfected gloves dry at Elwa hospital in Monrovia, Liberia on September 7, 2014 (AFP Photo/Dominique Faget)

A further 3,900 deaths may have resulted from interruptions in the delivery of insecticide-treated bed nets, according to outbreak modelling data published in The Lancet on the eve of World Malaria Day.

This suggested the haemorrhagic fever outbreak "could have resulted in a comparable number of malaria deaths as those due to Ebola itself," said a statement issued by the medical journal.

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What Did the U.S. Learn from Ebola? How to Prepare for Bioterrorist Attacks

FOREIGN POLICY  by Siobhán O'Grady                        April 13, 2015
When the Ebola virus spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone and Liberia last spring, the initial international response was labeled a failure. By the time President Barack Obama ordered troops to the affected countries in September, more than 2,400 people were dead.

But in the United States, where major hospitals prepared for an outbreak, there were only four in-country diagnoses, one of which resulted in a death. And some see the urgency of that response as a lesson in how the government can prepare for another public health hazard: a bioterrorist attack.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally chairs a House subcommittee that will examine over the next few months the threat of bioterrorist attacks and U.S. preparedness to respond to them. She told Foreign Policy that even if a disease outbreak and the use of a biological agent in a coordinated attack are not completely analogous, the response strains similar systems.

“We can learn lessons from other outbreaks that are naturally occurring,” she said. “We can identify weaknesses in our response and even if it wasn’t terrorism, it presses the system at the same level....”

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US regulators recall 10-minute Ebola test

AFP                                                                                April  23, 2015
Miami  - US regulators have issued an international recall for a 10-minute Ebola blood test made by a California-based company, saying it has not been proven to work and could put lives at risk.

"A recall has been issued for the LuSys Laboratories, Inc., Ebola Virus One-Step Test Kits because the FDA has not cleared or approved the kits for use or sale," said the Food and Drug Administration in a statement emailed to reporters on Thursday.

"The results obtained from these test kits have not demonstrated to be accurate and should not be used as in vitro diagnostic tests for Ebola infection."

Contacted by AFP, a company representative in San Diego said early trials have shown the test to be 86 percent accurate. The problem with the FDA came down to a labeling error, he said. The equipment had not been properly labeled "for research purposes only."

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http://news.yahoo.com/us-regulators-recall-10-minute-ebola-test-193530081.html;_ylt=AwrC1CmnSjlVNDsAZTDQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTByaWg0YW05BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwM4BHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--

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Ebola survivors donate plasma to tackle outbreak

EUREKALERT                                                                           April 22, 2015
UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL -- 
The first donations of plasma, from survivors of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, have been received by an international research team working to help tackle current and future disease outbreaks in West Africa.

The team, led by scientists at the University of Liverpool and colleagues at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Services, Ministry of Health, Sierra Leone, is investigating how plasma from Ebola survivors could help treat patients with the disease at the Ebola Treatment Unit, run by the 34th Regiment Military Hospital group in Freetown.

Dr Calum Semple, from the University's Institute of Child Health, and his collaborators developed a convalescent plasma protocol in readiness for an outbreak, such as Ebola, as part of the outbreak preparatory work of the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium.

The study is one of several being supported by the Wellcome Trust's platform for evaluating experimental Ebola therapeutics in West Africa.

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http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-04/uol-esd042215.php

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More than 26,000 have been infected with Ebola: WHO

AFP 

(Scroll down for complete WHO report                                                                                         April 22, 2015

Geneva - More than 26,000 people have been infected with Ebola since the outbreak began and more than 10,800 have died, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

The UN health body also warned that the decline in confirmed cases appeared to have stagnated, urging increased efforts to stop transmission of the deadly virus.

In all, 26,079 people have contracted the disease over the past 16 months, and 10,823 of them have died, almost all of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone....

In the week leading to April 19, 33 new confirmed cases were reported, with 21 in Guinea, 12 in Sierra Leone and none in Liberia.

That compares to 37 new confirmed cases the week before, and 30 the week before that....

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Mapping of Assessments and Identification of Gaps - Sierra Leone and Liberia

ACAPS                                                                                April 22, 2015

Survey of surveys for Liberia and Sierra Leone, April, 1015

A multitude of needs assessments have been conducted to capture impacts of the Ebola outbreak on affected communities, since March 2014. This paper reviews all of the assessments on Liberia and Sierra Leone made available to the Ebola Needs Analysis Project, between December 2014 and 20 March 2015. Several assessments have been conducted at a regional level. This report focuses only on those conducted on a national level or lower, to allow for disaggregation of results. http://acaps.org/img/documents/t-acaps_mapping_assessments_-identifying_gaps_22_april_2015.pdf

Read complete survey.

http://acaps.org/img/documents/t-acaps_mapping_assessments_-identifying_gaps_22_april_2015.pdf

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Tekmira Ebola drug succeeds in small monkey study

REUTERS by Aharon Begley                                                                    Aug. 22, 2015
NEW YORK --An experimental Ebola drug from Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp cured all three monkeys intentionally infected with the virus, scientists reported on Wednesday, the first such success against the strain of Ebola in West Africa's 2014-2015 outbreak.

Although other experimental treatments appeared to help Ebola patients last year, especially in the United States, those one-time uses cannot prove efficacy against the "Makona" strain, since patients' recovery might be due to other causes. Similarly, drugs, including Mapp Biopharmaceutical's ZMapp, cured monkeys in lab experiments, but in a strain of Ebola different from that responsible for the current outbreak, the worst ever recorded.

"We can't say for certain that an experimental drug that works against one strain will work in another, even if they're almost identical genetically," said Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch, senior author of the study published in the journal Nature.

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Africa: Apes Lack Ebola Protection, Scientists Warn

ALL AFRICA by Sarah Naraghi                    April 2, 2015

(Scroll down for releated report and story.)

Research on potential Ebola vaccines should seek to protect great apes as well as humans to prevent the disease from decimating gorilla and chimpanzee populations, say experts.

                   Chimps play at the on Tacugama Sanctuary in Sierra Leone which is under threat of closure

Work is continuing on trials of potential Ebola vaccines and the rate of fresh cases of the disease in the West African outbreak is slowing.

But unrelated outbreaks among Central Africa's great ape populations could happen at any time, says a report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The study estimates that Ebola has wiped out thousands of gorillas and chimpanzees since the early 2000s, with some rainforests experiencing a 90 per cent decline in their great ape populations...

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