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Over 300 Ebola deaths traced back to a healer in Sierra Leone



FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - It has laid waste to the tribal chiefdoms of Sierra Leone, leaving hundreds dead, but the Ebola crisis began with just one healer's claims to special powers.

The outbreak need never have spread from Guinea, health officials  told  AFP, except for a herbalist in the remote eastern border village of Sokoma.

Liberian Security Forces Seal Slum


Associated Press

Security forces deployed Wednesday to enforce a quarantine around a slum in the Liberian capital, stepping up the government's fight to stop the spread of Ebola and unnerving residents.

Liberia has the highest death toll of the four West African countries affected by the dreaded disease, and its number of cases is rising the fastest. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered the quarantine and imposed a nighttime curfew that begins Wednesday, saying that authorities have not been able to curtail the spread of Ebola in the face of defiance of their recommendations. 

"These measures are meant to save lives," she said in an address Tuesday night.

During the raid this weekend in West Point slum, bloody items were stolen and potential Ebola patients fled, raising fears the disease would spread out of control in a densely populated area. It was not clear why people would steal items that might spread infection, but there are still many misconceptions about how dangerous the disease is and how it is spread.

Grain Harvest Fact Sheet

Rice grains.

Image: Rice grains. - August 19th, 2014

With grain providing much of the calories that sustain humanity, the status of the world grain harvest is a good indicator of the adequacy of the food supply.

More than 2 billion tons of grain are produced each year worldwide, nearly half of it in just three countries: China, the United States, and India.

Corn, wheat, and rice account for most of the world’s grain harvest.


WHO: Ebola-Hit Countries Must Screen All Departing Travellers


An immigration officer uses an infra-red laser thermometer to examine a policeman on his arrival at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, August 11, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde - August 18, 2014

GENEVA (Reuters) - Authorities in countries affected by Ebola should check people departing at international airports, seaports and major border crossings and stop any with signs of the virus from travelling, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

The U.N. health agency reiterated that the risk of getting infected with Ebola on an aircraft was small as infected people are usually too ill to travel, and said that the risk is also very low to travellers in affected countries, namely Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

There was no need for wider travel or trade restrictions, the WHO said in a statement.


MSF Begins Admitting Patients to Ebola Center in Monrovia, Liberia


A Doctors Without Borders staffer supervises as construction workers complete the new Ebola treatment center on August 17, 2014 near Monrovia, Liberia.  John Moore—Getty Images - August 18, 2014

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) admitted nine patients today into its newly constructed ELWA 3 Ebola Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia, beginning a process of scaling up operations at the 120-bed facility.

An Ebola outbreak continues to rage virtually unchecked in this city of approximately one million people, far exceeding the capacity of the few medical facilities accepting Ebola patients. Much of the city’s health system has shut down over fears of Ebola among staff members and patients, leaving many people without treatment for other conditions.

CDC’s Disease Detectives Respond to the 2014 Ebola Outbreak

Ute, a CDC laboratory specialist, works on viruses like Ebola. - August 18, 2014

The Most Important Test in West Africa

When a person in West Africa suddenly has a fever, how do you know whether it’s Ebola or something else?  When an Ebola patient gets better, how do you know when that person is no longer infectious to others?

To get answers to both questions, you need a laboratory equipped with state of the art equipment. To get those urgently needed answers quickly, that lab ideally would be located close to an Ebola treatment center.

It sounds difficult to build such a safe, sophisticated lab in a major city – and seems nearly impossible in the remote parts of Africa where Ebola outbreaks occur – but CDC has done it for other outbreaks and is doing it now in West Africa.  CDC mobile labs equipped with real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) equipment already are being set up next to West African Ebola treatment centers.

And Ute, a CDC expert, heads up the teams going with them.  When she’s not traveling to remote regions of the world, she’s at CDC headquarters in Atlanta working to speed diagnosis of the world’s worst viruses.

Syrian forces hit Islamic State in Raqqa, destroy water plant

Reuters - 18/08 16:38 CET

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian government forces struck Islamic State positions in and around the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, residents said on Monday, part of a growing campaign against hardline militants who control a third of the country.

Raqqa is a major stronghold of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which took one of the Syrian army’s last outposts in the city this week to extend its gains across both Iraq and Syria.

Nigeria trains 800 volunteers to fight Ebola

Ebola was first reported to reach Nigeria after an infected Liberian man arrived in the country's airport [AP] - 16 Aug 2014 18:20

Move follows appeal to make up for shortage of medical personnel due to doctors' strike over pay.

Nigeria has said it has trained 800 volunteers to battle Ebola as fears rose that the worst-ever outbreak of the deadly disease could spread across Africa's most populous nation.  Authorities in the capital Lagos last week appealed for volunteers to make up for a shortage of medical personnel because of a six-week nationwide doctors' strike over pay.


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