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South African brothers create app to help fight Ebola

PALO ALTO WEEKLY by My Nguyen                      March 6, 2015
PALO ALTO, California -- 

...Malan and Philip Joubert, brothers from South Africa who recently moved to Palo Alto to expand their app-development company, Journey, saw the demand for mobile solutions, so they created the Ebola Care app to help aid organizations in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. 

 The app has several core functions, including contact tracing, which identifies and diagnoses people who may have come into contact with an infected person; quarantine management, which tracks and manages the 21-day quarantine period of a patient; psychological assessments to determine the well-being of health workers; social work to build case files for orphaned children; survivor surveys, which are assessments of Ebola survivors upon leaving treatment centers; verification that supplies have been distributed; and event feedback, which captures thoughts from the community after educational events.

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Ebola doctors, nurses no longer recruited for West Africa: Canada

CBCNEWS.CA                                                      March 5, 2015

A national recruitment drive for health-care workers to help with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been halted for now as the number of new cases of the disease is dropping.

The Canadian Red Cross says the focus is shifting from an emergency response to recovery.

Almost 900 Canadians responded to a recruitment drive last fall by the federal government and the Red Cross....

Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada's chief public health officer, said a second mobile lab is on its way back to Canada and should arrive by spring. But he said Canada is not walking away from West Africa.

Instead, he said, the federal government is about to send a team of five new experts into the field for four to eight weeks.  "What we're sending is epidemiologists, border health specialists and some emergency management skills, and in particular we've been asked to send French-speaking experts in those areas," Taylor told CBC News.

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https://ca.news.yahoo.com/ebola-doctors-nurses-no-longer-100000922.html

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A Mishap Sheds Light on an Ebola vaccine

NEW YORK TIMES  by Denise Grady                                                                March 6, 2015

The moment he felt a needle jab into his thumb in September on an Ebola ward in Sierra Leone, Dr. Lewis Rubinson knew he was at risk of contracting the deadly disease. What could he do but wait to see if he got sick, and hope that treatment would pull him through?

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Monkeys at risk for bioterror bacteria put outdoors

USA TODAY  by Alison Young                                 March 6, 2015

More than 175 monkeys that were potentially exposed to a bioterror bacteria inside a major Louisiana research complex were returned to their outdoor cages before officials knew the deadly pathogen was on the loose from a lab accident.

The new admission by the Tulane National Primate Research Center, in response to repeated questions from USA TODAY, raises further questions about contamination of the environment outside of the massive research campus north of New Orleans. The bacteria, which is not found in the United States and can cause severe disease in people and animals, can live and grow in soil and water.

"Some animals were released from the vet clinic early on, but the key thing is that all the animals have been traced," said Tulane spokesman Michael Strecker. Testing of the animals is ongoing to determine if they have been exposed to the bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei.

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/03/05/at-risk-monkeys-released-from-tulane-hospital/24471615/

 

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Maternal health: Ebola’s lasting legacy

One of the most devastating consequences of the Ebola outbreak will be its impact on maternal health.

NATURE  by Erika Check Hayden                                                                                       March 5, 2015
...Ebola is having tremendous knock-on effects for maternal health in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Pregnancy seems to make women uniquely vulnerable to the effects of the disease, and babies born to infected women have not been known to survive.

 

Uninfected but affected: women line up for perinatal care at a Marie Stopes centre in Sierra Leone. Marie Stopes, Sierra Leone, supported by DFID/UKAID

Compounding these individual tragedies, the blood and abundant bodily fluid that accompanies delivery or miscarriage pose enormous risk of infection to health workers. As a result, many refuse to treat patients who are pregnant for fear that they will become infected.

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Ebola’s mental-health wounds linger in Africa

 

Health-care workers struggle to help people who have been traumatized by the epidemic.

 SCIENCE  by Sarah  Reardon                                                                                       March 3, 2015

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may be fading, but its impact on mental health could linger for years. Survivors are often haunted by traumatic memories and face rejection by society when they return home, and those who never contracted the disease may grieve for lost relatives or struggle to cope with extreme anxiety.

 

The trauma caused by death and fear is having long-term ramifications on the people of Sierra Leone.

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Back to School, Though Not Back to Normal, in a Liberia Still Fearful of Ebola

NEW YORK TIMES   by Norimitsu Onishi                                                                         March 5, 2015

MONROVIA --About eight months after governments in the region closed schools to stop the spread of Ebola, uniformed and backpack-carrying schoolchildren have returned to the streets of Monrovia, the capital, perhaps the most visible sign of the epidemic’s ebb.

James Nyema, 9, a second-grader known as J.C., wore pink mittens as students at the C.D.B. King Elementary School in Monrovia rose to sing Liberia’s national anthem. It was their first day back, eight months after schools were closed to stop the spread of Ebola. Many of the children wore long sleeves and trousers that covered as much skin as possible.Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

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What Are the Long-Term Effects of Ebola?

LIVE SCIENCE  by Rahael Retner                             March 5, 2015

Texas nurse Nina Pham, who was infected with Ebola, says she has had ongoing health problems since being cured of the disease, and experts say this is not uncommon for Ebola survivors.

The long-term effects of Ebola have not been well studied, and doctors will likely learn a lot more about the disease's aftermath from the most recent outbreak in West Africa, the largest in history, said Dr. Jesse Goodman, an infectious-disease expert and a professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

 But it is clear that Ebola survivors can experience health problems that remain with them temporarily as a result of their battle with the disease, Goodman said....

 These symptoms may result, in part, from the body's release of certain immune-system chemicals called cytokines. These chemicals fight the disease but make people feel sick. Dehydration, low blood pressure and nutrition problems that people experience during an Ebola infection can also injure a person's muscles or other tissues, Goodman said.

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Ebola in graphics The toll of a tragedy

THE ECONOMIST   by the Data Team                                                                         March 5, 2015

Graphics illustrating the Ebola situation.


See complete set of Graphics

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/03/ebola-graphics

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Guinea to start final trials of Ebola vaccines this week

REUTERS by Kate Kelland and Tom Miles                      March 5, 2015

LONDON/GENEVA --Final stage trials of an Ebola vaccine being developed by Merck and NewLink Genetics will begin in Guinea on March 7, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

Signaling global health authorities' determination to see through trials despite a sharp drop in cases in the West Africa epidemic, the WHO said a second shot, developed by GlaxoSmithKline will be tested "in a sequential study, as supply becomes available".

All three worst-hit countries - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - aim to conduct final-stage trials of vaccines, and Liberia is already testing the GlaxoSmithKline and Merck-NewLink shots, while Sierra Leone is expected to announce plans soon.

But recent steep declines in new Ebola cases will make it far harder to prove whether experimental vaccines work, as the vaccine's effect will be difficult to establish.

The WHO, however, said it was committed to pushing ahead.

Read complete story.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/05/us-health-ebola-vaccine-idUSKBN0M10ZD20150305

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