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Ebola experts seek to expand testing

A major problem is that relatively few laboratories in West Africa have the necessary equipment and personnel to test blood samples from people thought to have Ebola (see ‘Delayed diagnoses’). But that could soon change. Experts are gathering in Geneva, Switzerland, on 12 December to work out which diagnostic tools could be used wherever Ebola strikes.

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Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone hit by largely hidden outbreak; WHO says scores of bodies piled up

AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORP.                                                                            Dec. 10, 2014

Health officials in Sierra Leone fear a major Ebola outbreak may have gone largely unreported in a remote district where the World Health Organisation (WHO) says scores of bodies piled up in a hospital.

The WHO said on Wednesday that it had sent a response team to the diamond-rich Kono district following a worrying spike in reported Ebola cases in the district.

"They uncovered a grim scene," the UN health agency said in a statement.

"In 11 days, two teams buried 87 bodies, including a nurse, an ambulance driver, and a janitor drafted into removing bodies as they piled up."

Read full report.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-11/sierra-leone-hit-by-largely-hidden-ebola-outbreak/5959596

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COMMENTARY: When the next shoe drops — Ebola crisis communication lessons from October

CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND POLICY                                                                   Dec. 9, 2014          
By  Peter M. Sandman, PhD, and Jody Lanard, MD  

In contrast to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which started in late 2013 and will last well into 2015 or longer, the US "Ebola crisis" was encapsulated in a single month, October 2014. But there may well be US Ebola cases to come, brought here by travelers or returning volunteers. And other emerging infectious diseases will surely reach the United States in the months and years ahead.

So now is a propitious time to harvest some crisis communication lessons from the brief US Ebola "crisis."

We're putting "crisis" in quotation marks because there was never an Ebola public health crisis in the United States, nor was there a significant threat of one. But there was a crisis of confidence, a period of several weeks during which many Americans came to see the official response to domestic Ebola as insufficiently cautious, competent, and candid—and therefore felt compelled to implement or demand additional responses of their own devising....

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Ebola outbreak: Virus still 'running ahead of us', says WHO

BBC    by Tulip Mazumdar                                                                                                    Dec. 10, 2014

The Ebola virus that has killed thousands in West Africa is still "running ahead" of efforts to contain it, the head of the World Health Organization has said.
Director general Margaret Chan said the situation had improved in some parts of the worst-affected countries, but she warned against complacency.

The risk to the world "is always there" while the outbreak continues, she said.

She said the WHO and the international community failed to act quickly enough....

"It is fair to say the whole world, including WHO, failed to see what was unfolding, what was going to happen in front of our eyes," said Dr Chan.

"Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, if you ask me now... we could have mounted a much more robust response."

Read complete story.
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30400304

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Ebola funding in 'cromnibus' falls just short of Obama request

Senate and House lawmakers have agreed to appropriate $5.4 billion on Ebola treatment and prevention measures in the U.S. and West Africa.

The funding falls just short of the funding request issued by the president last month...

Nearly $2.5 billion would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, which plans to bolster the readiness of U.S. hospitals, speed up the development of vaccines and help monitor airline travelers from Ebola-stricken countries.

Another $2 billion would go to the U.S. Agency for International Development to “scale up” the global response. The State and Defense departments would each receive just over $100 million.

The House Rules Committee meets today  to comb through the bill, dubbed the “cromnibus,” before it goes to the House floor.

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Experts call for faster mobilisation of “overlooked” survivors to contain Ebola epidemic

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS                                                                                  Dec, 10, 2014

In an editorial published online today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, experts from the Departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at Columbia University, New York, are calling for survivors of the Ebola epidemic to be mobilised in a bid to hasten containment of the disease.

We already know that the current Ebola outbreak is unique in its magnitude and for its dispersion in dense, mobile populations. Physicians and nurses face high mortality, and foreign aid in the form of medical supplies and staff continues to be unequal to the scope of the problem. With a case recovery rate of around 30% at the present time in West Africa, survivors already number in the thousands.

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Time Magazine Person of the Year: the Ebola fighters

 

TIME MAGAZINE    by Nancy Gibbs                                                                                                      Dec. 10, 2014

They risked and persisted, sacrificed and saved. Editor Nancy Gibbs explains why the Ebola Fighters are TIME's choice for Person of the Year 2014

 Read complete story

http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-ebola-fighters-choice/

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Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on Ebola

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia speaks via video on the international response to the Ebola crisis during a Senate subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. (SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images)

Update Liberian president warns that Ebola still threatens her nation

LOS ANGELES TIMES                                                                                                    Dec. 10, 2014

liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the Obama administration Wednesday for its efforts in stemming the tide of the country’s Ebola outbreak, but warned that the disease was still a threat in her developing nation.

The American response, a combination of funding and military aid, helped galvanize other countries to join the fight against the epidemic in West Africa, she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over video link.

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Sierra Leone Area to Hold 2-Week Ebola 'Lockdown'

ASSOCIATED PRESS by CLARENCE ROY-MACAULAY                                                    Dec. 10, 2014

FREETOWN--Authorities in an eastern district of Sierra Leone launched a two-week "lockdown" on Wednesday, hoping to halt the spread of Ebola after the area recorded seven confirmed cases in a day.

The lockdown will last until Dec. 23 in the diamond-rich Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone, said Emmanuel Lebbie, a local official.

The action is being taken after the district recorded seven confirmed cases on Tuesday. The decision was made by traditional rulers in the area including Paramount Chief Paul Jabbie Saquee of Tankoro Chiefdom, Lebbie said.

While people can move within the district, no one will be allowed to enter or leave, said Lebbie, who is the area's monitor for the Independent Media Commission.

Read complete story.
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/sierra-leone-area-hold-week-ebola-lockdown-27497818

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WHO: malaria gains 'at risk' in Ebola-affected countries

MEDICAL NEWS TODAY                                                                                                 Dec. 9, 2014

LONDON --Thanks to increased disease control, global deaths to malaria have fallen dramatically, and the number of new cases is steadily declining, say the World Health Organization in a new report. Also, an increasing number of countries are moving toward eliminating the mosquito-borne disease altogether. But the UN agency warns these gains are fragile, and no more so than in countries worse-affected by the Ebola crisis.

 
A new report from the World Health Organization says the number of lives claimed by malaria worldwide fell by 47% between 2000 and 2013, and by 54% in Africa, where the vast majority of deaths occur.

The 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) report says deaths to malaria worldwide fell by 47% between 2000 and 2013. In the WHO African Region, where 90% of deaths to malaria occur, the reduction is 54%.

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