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UPDATE 3-South Korea confirms third case of MERS virus; 64 isolated

reuters.com - May 21, 2015

South Korean health officials confirmed the country's third case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on Thursday, with the two latest cases found in people who had been in contact with the first patient after he returned from the Middle East.

Authorities have isolated as a precaution another 64 people who are family members or medical workers treating those three patients, said Yang Byung-guk, director of the health ministry's Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Test results came back positive for a 63-year-old woman, the wife of the first proven case, as well as for a 76-year-old man who shared a hospital room with him, the ministry said.

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Doctors Link Risky Burials to Ebola Rise in West Africa

          

nytimes.com - by Adam Nossiter - May 19, 2015

Only days after declaring the lowest number of new Ebola cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone this year, officials at the World Health Organization said Tuesday that there had been a nearly fourfold increase during the most recent week of reporting, to about 35 new cases.

With Liberia, the other West African nation at the center of the epidemic, being declared free of Ebola this month, the recent drop in infections in Sierra Leone and Guinea had offered hope that the worst Ebola outbreak in history might end soon. . . .

. . . Health officials said that sharp falls and rises were normal as an epidemic approached its end. But they also said that some persistent risky practices, like unsafe burials of Ebola victims in Guinea, had contributed to the rise.

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After Ebola, a Look at How Africa Can Respond to Future Health Emergencies

                 

undp.org - theglobalobservatory.org - by Michael R. Snyder - May 14, 2015

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Guinea - Resurgence of Ebola in Boffa, Forecariah and Dubréka (Matam)

africaguinee.com - by BAH Aïssatou - May 16, 2015

(English translation provided below)

(Links to most recent WHO and UNMEER Situation Reports provided below)

Ebola : Nouveau rebondissement de l’épidémie en Guinée…

CONAKRY- Alors que l’épidémie Ebola tendait vers sa fin en Guinée,  elle vient de faire  un rebondissement dans certaines préfectures situées en basse Guinée et à Conakry.  20 cas confirmés ont été enregistrés ces derniers jours, a appris africaguinee.com.

Cette information rapportée par le chargé de  communication à la Coordination de  Lutte Contre Ebola, Fodé Tass Sylla  indique aussi que 5 cas positifs ont été enregistrés à Boffa, Dubréka et Forécariah et  (Matam), dans la seule journée du jeudi 14 mai.  Avec un total de 27 cas d’hospitalisation dont  18 cas  confirmés dans les Centres de traitements d’Ebola. 

 Les raisons  de cette situation  s’expliquent  par le déplacement des malades et des personnes contacts d’une localité  à une autre ;  et le déplacement des personnes vers les cérémonies funèbres, affirme Fodé Tass Sylla

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Nurses with Tablets and Bikers with Smartphones Join Ebola Fight

reuters.com - by Joseph D'Urso

. . . For a two week trial, researchers employed locals to scoot around the province on small motorbikes known as okadas, collecting household, health and population data from villages on simple smartphones.

They travelled in pairs, one riding the motorbike and one using a GPS-enabled smartphone running an Android operating system, preloaded with a specially designed, simple programme for storing the necessary information.

When they arrived in a village they interviewed a village leader or representative to gather as much information as possible, and log GPS coordinates, essential in a region where village names are often duplicated or spelt differently.

Nic Lochlainn said it takes a long time to learn to use the sophisticated satellite devices usually used for mapping but users could master this software in hours and the data let experts assign Ebola cases to specific villages more accurately.

The scheme covered 950 villages in two weeks, and the cost was "very modest" compared with sending foreign aid workers into the field or commissioning detailed satellite imagery, she said.

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Ebola Virus Evolved at Normal Rates During Epidemic, Scientists Say

submitted by George Hurlburt        

        

(John Moore/Getty Images)

theverge.com - by James Vincent - May 14, 2015

Chinese scientists report that the Ebola virus responsible for the outbreak in West Africa last year mutated at a normal rate, further alleviating fears that the virus had been able to evolve more rapidly than usual thanks to the prolonged and widespread nature of the epidemic. Ebola, like HIV and influenza, belongs to a class of virus with a high rate of mutation, and scientists had previously warned that it might evolve to become more contagious, and, in an extreme scenario, even airborne.

This latest report published in Nature corroborates an earlier study from March, showing that while the virus did mutate as it spread to new areas, it did so within the bounds of expected behavior.

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CLICK HERE - REPORT - Genetic diversity and evolutionary dynamics of Ebola virus in Sierra Leone

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The Pain of the New Normal: Guinea After Ebola

      

Children wash their hands before entering a classroom in Gueckedou - Photo: Jennifer Lazuta

irinnews.org - by Jennifer Lazuta

GUECKEDOU, 13 May 2015 (IRIN) - “Life is back to normal, but everything has changed,” said 30-year-old Yawa Keterine Camara as she slowly stirred a boiling cauldron of sauce outside her mud-brick home in southeastern Guinea. “I live again like before, but nothing is quite the same.”

Camara, who lost her husband to Ebola in November, said her life, like many, many other Guineans, is now divided in two: pre-Ebola and post-Ebola, the before and after.

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WHO Director-General Addresses High-Level Meeting on Ebola R&D

                                                           

From crisis to sustainable development: lessons from the Ebola outbreak

who.int - May 10, 2015

. . . three changes will do the most to improve the world’s collective defence against the infectious disease threat.

First, invest in building resilient communities and well-performing health systems that integrate public health and primary health care. Ideally, health systems should aim for universal health coverage, so the poor are not left behind. This requires new thinking and a new approach to health development.

Second, develop the systems, capacities, and financing mechanisms needed to build surge capacity for responding to outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies.

Third, create incentives for R&D for new medical products for diseases that primarily affect the poor. A fair and just world should not let people die for what boils down to market failure and poverty.

These three things also fit well with the coming agenda for sustainable development that seeks to distribute the benefits of economic growth more evenly and respects our planet’s fragile resources.

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Ebola-Free, but Not Resilient

nytimes.com - by Judith Rodin and Bernice Dahn - May 10, 2015

. . . A resilient health system combines active surveillance mechanisms, robust health care delivery system and a vigorous response to disease. When the first signs of contagion appear, a system should be able to act quickly to stop it in its tracks — all without compromising its core functions. . . .

. . . Resilient systems share several characteristics. One is awareness, which in the case of health systems means, first and foremost, strong disease surveillance. A second characteristic is the ability to adapt to changing conditions. . . . 

. . . A third characteristic is diversity: the ability to address a broad range of challenges. . . .

. . . resilient systems are integrated: information is shared across different levels of government. . . .

. . . When a resilient system is in place, cities and countries alike are prepared to yield what we call a “resilience dividend” — benefits that are independent of crises. Building trust with the public, enhancing access to quality care, and investing in public health are all wise investments at any time, helping to increase productivity and growth. . . .

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Block By Block, Health Workers Lead Liberia To Victory Over Ebola

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO by Jason Beaubein                                              May 9, 2015

MONROVIA -They were the ones who went door to door to stop the spread of Ebola. They were accused of passing on the virus and had water hurled at them. They were the community health workers — the unsung heroes of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.

Caroline Williams is a community organizer in New Kru Town, a suburb of Monrovia. Here's how she got her message through to Liberians about preventing Ebola: "We talk to them, talk to them, talk to them. At last they started listening to us. All the methods that we been giving them, by God's will, they accepted."Jason Beaubien/NPR

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