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Sierra Leone Seeks U.S. Military Help to Fight Ebola


Health workers spray themselves with chlorine disinfectants after removing the body a woman who died of Ebola virus in the Aberdeen district of Freetown, Sierra Leone, October 14, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Josephus Olu-Mammah - by Emma Farge - November 26, 2014

(Reuters) - Sierra Leone appealed to the United States on Wednesday to send military aid to help it battle Ebola as it falls behind its West African neighbors Guinea and Liberia in the fight against the virus.

The worst recorded Ebola outbreak has killed at least 5,689 people, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, as the virus has overwhelmed African countries with weak infrastructure and healthcare systemS.



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Saving lives without new drugs

SCIENCE        By Jon Cohen                                                                                         Nov. 21, 2014

...Just a handful of basic interventions to fight the killer effects of Ebola, including dehydration and secondary infections, could dramatically lower the CFR there, says Michael Callahan, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston..

With so much room for improvement in supportive care, the current international focus on drugs is “misguided,” says Callahan, who has recently worked in Monrovia and provided care in four previous Ebola outbreaks. “While we wait for months for forthcoming experimental therapies, many lives can be saved, certainly hundreds and possibly thousands, using inexpensive and simple therapies,” he says.

Callahan is helping an international team develop guidelines dubbed Maximum Use of Supportive Therapy (MUST), aimed at keeping more patients alive. It includes intravenous (IV) drips to replace massive fluid loss from diarrhea and vomiting, a risk factor for shock; balancing of electrolytes such as calcium or potassium, which prevents kidney and heart failure; nasogastric tubes for feeding; and testing and treatment of secondary infections such as malaria. Introducing MUST will also make it easier to study new treatments, Callahan says...

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Projected Impact of Vaccination Timing and Dose Availability on the Course of the 2014 West African Ebola Epidemic

PLOS CURRENT OUTBREAKS                                                                              Nov. 21, 2014
By David Fisman and Ashleigh Tuite, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

As removal of population-level susceptibility through vaccination could be a highly impactful control measure for this epidemic, we sought to estimate the number of vaccine doses and timing of vaccine administration required to reduce the epidemic size. Our base model was fit using the IDEA approach, a single equation model that has been successful to date in describing Ebola growth. We projected the future course of the Ebola epidemic using this model. Vaccination was assumed to reduce the effective reproductive number. We evaluated the potential impact of vaccination on epidemic trajectory under different assumptions around timing of vaccine availability.

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Here’s How the Ebola Vaccine Trial Is Doing

TIME MAGAZINE By Alexandra Sifferlin                          Nov. 25, 2014
 By  Alexandra Sifferlin                       

Scientists are scurrying to get their Ebola vaccines through the necessary safety trials before they can be used widely. That includes the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which recently kicked off the latest step in their research: figuring out the appropriate dosing for the vaccine that’s both effective and safe.

The University of Maryland is one of a handful of institutions involved in the testing of an experimental but promising vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The hope is that the vaccine will pass through early trials needed by end of December so that the World Health Organization (WHO) and a panel of outside experts can decide whether to move on to a large efficacy trial, which would mean vaccinating a lot of people in West Africa to see how well it works.

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The US Is Stockpiling Ebola Survivors’ Plasma to Treat Future Patients

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WIRED                 BY Katie M. Palmer                                                    Nov. 24, 214

The FDA announced Friday that it would start developing a stockpile of blood plasma from Ebola survivors, treated with a pathogen inactivation system that’s never been used before in the United States.

So far, the US has had some amazing success in curing Ebola, possibly thanks to experimental plasma treatments. Drawn from survivors, the stuff comes enriched in antibodies that could help to fight off the disease—but it also has the potential to carry other diseases, like malaria, that are common in west Africa where Ebola is raging. The new system will kill off any extra contaminants that may be lurking in this potentially live-saving serum.

It’s the same one, Cerus Corporation’s Intercept system, that will be used in a Gates Foundation-funded study of Ebola treatments in West Africa. The pathogen-killing molecule at the heart of the system is amotosalen, part of a class of three-ringed molecules called psoralens....

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Ebola Mappers Track Epidemic in Real Time 

NBC NEWS       By Nikita Japra                                                                                     Nov. 23, 2014
In a darkened Boston conference room, staring at projections from a laptop, John Brownstein is far from the front lines of the fight against Ebola. But the epidemiologist’s work may help change the course of the epidemic.

The disease forecaster and his team are combing through news reports, tweets and Facebook posts to anticipate the disease’s next move — and help those on the ground head it off before the crisis grows....

Brownstein’s HealthMap scours social media and local news from around the globe to locate potential hot spots and display them in an interactive map. In the past, HealthMap has spotted outbreaks ranging from H1N1 swine flu to Dengue fever. Today, the team is building interactive maps that can guide the response to the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded.

While official numbers from government agencies can take precious time to confirm, Brownstein’s team looks to more immediate, unconventional sources to help target the right communities at the right time.

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The suit designed to come between NHS Ebola workers and death

THE TELEGRAPH     By Rosa  Silverman                                                                                      Nov.23, 2014

With its domed helmet, protective outer apron and thick boots, this is the kit National Health Service medics are depending on to save their lives as they fight Ebola in Africa.

More than 30 volunteers from the UK arrived in Sierra Leone today, prepared to join the effort to combat the deadly virus.

The medics, who came from across Britain and flew from London’s Heathrow airport on Saturday, were the first batch of NHS volunteers to be deployed by the Government after more than a thousand came forward to offer their services.

Among them are GPs, nurses, psychiatrists and emergency medicine consultants, all of whom will work in treatment centres built by British Army Royal Engineers and funded by the Department for International Development.

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An Ebola Clinic Figures Out A Way To Start Beating The Odds

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO                                                                                                        Nov. 21, 2014
by Nurith Aizenman

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone

Description of how the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center in Freetown, Sierra Leone is having success by having experienced nurses useIV's to counter the dehydration of Ebola patients.

Health workers are disinfected with a chlorine solution after treating patients at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center in Freetown.

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First British volunteers fly to Sierra Leone to battle Ebola

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS                                Nov. 22, 2014

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- The first wave of volunteers from Britain's National Health Service arrived in Sierra Leone Saturday amid what the World Health Organization has described as an "intense" surge in cases.

A sign reading 'Kill Ebola Before Ebola Kill You', on a gate is mounted as part of the country's Ebola awareness campaign in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Sept. 14, 2014. (AP / Michael Duff, File)

More than 30 NHS staffers, including general practitioners and nurses, were expected to stay in Freetown, the capital, for one week of training before moving to treatment centres across the country, Britain's Department for International Development said in a statement.

They join nearly 1,000 British soldiers, scientists and aid workers already in the country participating in the Ebola fight, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said.

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Researchers Develop Real-Time Monitoring for Ebola Outbreaks

VOICE OF AMERICA                                                                                                        Nov. 20, 2014
By Joe DeCapua
Knowing where the Ebola hot spots are in a country is crucial to getting an outbreak quickly under control. Many have criticized the initial slow response to the West Africa outbreak, saying it’s a big reason the virus quickly spread. Now, a German research center is developing a project to monitor Ebola and other outbreaks in real time.

Professor Gérard Krause said the new project – called EBOKON – uses real-time monitoring to better manage an outbreak.Krause is head of the Department of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research – and EBOKON project leader for the German Center for Infection Research....

He said, “This is an information technology tool that we are developing together with colleagues from Nigeria that will take care of all those management aspects.”

The EBOKON project calls for setting up a command center, so to speak, in the capital of affected countries. Then health workers would use cellphones to relay in real time information on suspected cases around the country.

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