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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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Diagnosing Ebola – a day in the life of a diagnostics lab in Sierra Leone

 Professor Ian Goodfellow describes an average day in an Ebola diagnostics lab, and challenges the team faced in setting it up, Courtesy of the Wells Trust Blog

BIOMED CENTRAL      by  Ian Goodfellow                                                             Feb. 25, 2015

During the first two weeks in Makeni, Sierra Leone, our focus was very much on getting the Ebola diagnostics lab operational as fast as possible. There was a real lack of diagnostic capacity in this area of the country the lab facility needed to go live prior to the opening of the treatment center.

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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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Traditional healer called back to remove curse of first Ebola-affected village in Guinea

ASSOCIATED PRESS By YOUSSOUF BAH                       Feb. 25, 2015
MELIANDOU, Guinea (AP) — Here at ground zero of West Africa's Ebola outbreak, a local traditional healer returned to complete the removal of a curse residents believe could have been placed on their village in Guinea.

In this photo taken on Feb. 23, 2015, traditional healers, right, take part in a exorcism as villagers hand them a chicken, in Meliandou, Guinea. Here at ground zero of West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, a local traditional healer returned to complete the removal of a curse residents believe could have been placed on their village in Guinea. (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah)

It is the same village where experts believe 2-year-old Emile Ouamouno was the first person to have died from Ebola, on Dec. 28, 2013, in the outbreak that has slowed in recent months but has not been completely stamped out....Hundreds abandoned the village, believing the Ouamouno family or the entire village, was cursed, the village chief Amadou Kamano remembered.

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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.

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Guinea's Conde replaces key minister to boost Ebola fight

REUTERS                                                                                               Feb. 25, 2015

CONAKRY - Guinean President Alpha Conde on Tuesday replaced the minister of territorial administration with an army general in a move the government said was necessary to strengthen the fight against an Ebola outbreak in the West African nation.

 A statement read on state-owned television announced the appointment of General Bourema Conde, considered to be among the president's closest allies in Guinea's army....

More than 14 months after the first Ebola case was reported in Guinea's forest region, the government still faces pockets of often violent resistance to the campaign against the epidemic, undermining its plans to rebuild the health sector and economy.

Bourema Conde replaces Alassane Conde, a civilian who had held the position since President Conde named his first government following his election in late 2010. He will continue to serve as a government minister with an advisory role to the president. None of the three men are related.
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99 Ebola cases in past week, nearly two-thirds in Sierra Leone: WHO

REUTERS                                                  Feb. 25 2015

GENEVA - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone reported 99 new confirmed Ebola cases in the week to Feb. 22, down from 128 the previous week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Sierra Leone accounted for the bulk of the latest infections with 63, signaling a halt to a steep decline recorded from December through January, followed by Guinea with 35 and Liberia just a single case, the U.N. agency said in its weekly report.

"Cases continue to arise from unknown chains of transmission," the WHO said. Sixteen of the new cases were identified in Guinea and Sierra Leone after post-mortem testing of people who died in the community "indicating that a significant number of individuals are still either unable or reluctant to seek treatment."

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Update: Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic — West Africa, February 2015

 CDC  Weekly report                                                                    Feb. 24, 2015

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Ending the Ebola Outbreak

Months of declining cases have fed hopes that the Ebola outbreak might finally be ending. “There are now 10 times fewer people diagnosed with Ebola each week than there were in September last year,”said Dr. David Nabarro, the United Nation’s special envoy on the Ebola crisis.

The number of new Ebola cases fell rapidly in December and January, but officials with the United Nations and the World Health Organization cautioned that ending the outbreak entirely would be extremely difficult.

“The outbreak still presents a grave threat,” Dr. Nabarro said. “We have to really work hard to get to what we call zero-zero — zero cases, zero transmissions.”

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Ebola endemic risk remains in west Africa, scientists warn

THE GUARDIAN      by Sarah Boseley                                                                         Feb. 25, 2015
 Scientists are warning of a real risk that the Ebola virus disease could become endemic in west Africa if efforts to end the epidemic slacken as the number of cases falls.

 All previous outbreaks of Ebola were stamped out within months and the virus disappeared from the human population each time. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, however, have been in the grip of the virus for more than a year. While the numbers of cases dropped dramatically in December and early January, they have now plateaued and there are fears that the disease may not be totally eradicated....

Dr Margaret Harris in the director general’s office of the World Health Organisation said they were at “a bump in the road”.

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The Socio-Economic Impacts of Ebola in Liberia - February 24, 2015

In an effort to measure the economic impact of Ebola on Liberian households, the World Bank, with the Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services and the Gallup Organization, has conducted four rounds of mobile-phone surveys, in October, November, December 2014 and January 2015.

CLICK HERE - The World Bank - The Socio-Economic Impacts of Ebola in Liberia

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