Fighting Ebola with Data, Satellites and Drones

Healthcare workers in Sierra Leone spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Kenema, on September 24, 2014.

Image: Healthcare workers in Sierra Leone spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Kenema, on September 24, 2014. - September 25th, 2014 - Patrick Tucker

Current Centers of Disease Control estimates suggest that the disease could infect more than 1.4 million people by January. To limit Ebola’s spread, researchers need better on-the-ground intelligence about where it’s moving. But the virus’s deadly mortality rate, 70 percent for this strain, makes up-close observation as difficult as gathering data on a deadly human adversary. 

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Heart-Rending Test in Ebola Zone: A Baby

NEW YORK TIMES                     Oct. 10, 2014

By Sheri Fink, MD

 The human tragedy of Ebola;, illumnated by the plight of a newly born infant whose mother just died of the virus.


A relative held Diana Dormeyan, the granddaughter of Annie Yarkpawolo, left, on Sunday after the death of the bay's mother.   Daniel Berehulsk for the New York Times.  

SUAKOKO, Liberia--

.... for the child, "there were no clear protocols. No one touched the tiny girl, aside from the grandparents holding her. No one at the center had any experience in dealing with babies in the Ebola crisis, nor could they fully evaluate the dangers. They were caregivers, after all, at a place of last resort. In a country devastated by a terrible disease, where the fear of it is pervasive, what do you do with a vulnerable infant?"

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WHO: Ebola Death Toll Rises to More Than 4,000

ASSOCIATED PRESS                   Oct 10, 2014, 4:36 PM ET

MONROVIA -- Liberian lawmakers on Friday rejected a proposal to grant President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the power to further restrict movement and public gatherings and to confiscate property in the fight against Ebola. One legislator said such a law would have turned Liberia into a police state.

The proposal's defeat came as the World Health Organization once again raised the death toll attributed to the Ebola outbreak. The Geneva-based U.N. agency said that 4,033 confirmed, probable or suspected Ebola deaths have now been recorded.


Liberians stage a protest yesterrday outside the National Assembly against the government not doing enough to fight Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia.  (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

All but nine of them were in the three worst-affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Eight of the rest were in Nigeria, with one patient dying in the United States....

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Here's How Nigeria Beat Ebola


  MOTHER JONES                       Oct. 10, 2014


LAGOS -- Nigeria's success in stopping the outbreak could have implications for other countries, including the United States. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dispatched a team to the country this week to learn what went right.

So how did local and international health authorities curb Ebola in Nigeria while infections have continued to rise dramatically in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea?

Read full article, with charts and posters

An Ebola warning at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos

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Structural Adaptivity Facilitation Examples - Part III

Here are my last three Facilitation Examples, proposed activities by planners and others to influence the development of the built environment toward structural adaptivity and resilience as we progress into an ever more uncertain and unpredictable future. 


Rethinking Homeownership.  Conventional owner-occupied land and buildings in the US many times tie the owners into long-term tenures.  It makes moves, to other locations, overly cumbersome even when such moves are in the occupants’ best interests.  Adaptivity requires the ability to make quicker changes than in the past, including the self-initiated movement of people and businesses to other locations when beneficial.  Alternative types of ownership or tenure must be facilitated, types which are more adaptable to quick change.


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The fight to save the last Ebola-free district in Sierra Leone

THE WASHINGTON POST                               OCT. 10, 2014

... The last region in Sierra Leone untouched by Ebola sits in the rugged, mountainous north, in a place called the Koinadugu district. It is a poor place, dependent on small farms and gold mines, the largest of the country’s 14 districts by land size and home to 265,000 residents. The district borders Guinea, where the current Ebola outbreak began and first spilled over into Sierra Leone. Koinadugu is surrounded by districts dealing with hundreds of Ebola cases.

But Koinadugu has kept the virus at bay.

Momoh Konte, shown at his office in Freetown,  returned to Sierra Leone from Washington to help his home district fight against Ebola. (Photo by Tanya Bindra for The Washington Post)

It is a remarkable feat, a source of pride for district residents, a source of hope for the entire struggling nation, and a curiosity to epidemiologists tracking the worst Ebola outbreak in history...

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Small drugmakers can't scale up quickly enough to get ahead of the virus

Two overviews of efforts by drug makers to produce Ebola medication.

WASHINGTON POST                 Oct. 10, 014

by Lenny Bernstein and Brady Dennis

WASHINGTON ..."It takes time. You end up with a situation where the companies weren't set up to ramp up productio. You don't just go from that to making 10,000 does overnight."  -- Prof. Thomas Galsbert, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

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SCIENCE INSIDER                                        Oct. 8, 2014

By Jon Cohen and  Kai Kupferschmidt

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Ebola Outbreak's Grim Equation

by Joel Achenbach, Lena H. Sun and Brady Dennis         October 9

WASHINGTON---  When the experts describe the Ebola disaster, they do so with numbers. The statistics include not just the obvious ones, such as caseloads, deaths and the rate of infection, but also the ones that describe the speed of the global response.

Right now, the math still favors the virus.


Global health officials are looking closely at the “reproduction number,” which estimates how many people, on average, will catch the virus from each person stricken with Ebola. The epidemic will begin to decline when that number falls below one. A recent analysis estimated the number at 1.5 to 2.

The number of Ebola cases in West Africa has been doubling about every three weeks. There is little evidence so far that the epidemic is losing momentum.

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US military planes deliver more Marines into Ebola hot zone; African leaders plead for help


By the  Associated Press                       Oct 10, 2014

An overview of developments in Africa and the West on efforts to counter the epidemic.

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U.S marines disembark upon their arrival at the Roberts International airport in Monrovia, Liberia, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Six U.S. military planes arrived Thursday at the epicenter of the Ebola crisis, carrying more aid and American Marines into Liberia, the country hardest hit by the deadly disease that has devastated West Africa and stirred anxiety across a fearful world. At a World Bank meeting in Washington, the presidents of several West African countries struggling with Ebola pleaded for help, with one calling the epidemic "a tragedy unforeseen in modern times." (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

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CDC Develops Ebola Modeling Tool While WHO Trains Health Workers

HOMELAND SECURITY TODAY               Oct. 9, 2014

 By Kylie Bull, Managing Editor

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a dynamic modeling tool called Ebola Response that allows for estimations of projected cases over time in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

 The Ebola Response modeling tool can construct scenarios to illustrate how control and prevention interventions can slow and eventually stop the Ebola epidemic. Importantly, it can help public health and other planners make more informed decisions about emergency response resources to help bring the outbreak under control. The new tool allows input of data reflective of the current situation on the ground in affected countries and communities.

 The Ebola Response modeling tool is intended to help local governments and international responders generate short-term estimates of the Ebola situations in countries, districts and villages. The tool, in the form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, is to be made freely available online.

Meanwhile, in Liberia, the World Health Organization (WHO) has established a new training program for health workers on Ebola care.

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UK to introduce Ebola screening as death of Briton reported in Macedonia

THE GUARDIAN                         Oct. 9, 2014

By Robert Booth

London --Travellers arriving at Heathrow and Gatwick airports from west Africa are to be screened for symptoms of Ebola, Downing Street announced on Thursday night after a day of confusion over the government’s response to the virus that has claimed more than 3,800 lives.

People travelling from the worst-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – will face a questionnaire about their recent travel history, who they have been in contact with and their onward travel arrangements.

 People travelling from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will be screened for Ebola symptoms.Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty  Images

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Ebola Cases Surpass 8,000


Over 8,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have been infected with Ebola, according to new data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The numbers show there were 2,799 new cases in the last 21 days. Of the 8,011 people infected, 3,857 people have died. “The situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone continues to deteriorate, with widespread and persistent transmission of [Ebola],” says the WHO in a statement.

The WHO cites problems gathering data in Liberia, and says it should be emphasized that “the reported fall in the number of new cases in Liberia over the past three weeks is unlikely to be genuine. Rather, it reflects a deterioration in the ability of overwhelmed responders to record accurate epidemiological data.”

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CDC director calls for action to stop Ebola from becoming “the world’s next AIDS”

WASHINGTON POST                                                   Oct. 9, 2014

WASHINGTON -- Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the AIDS epidemic at a conference Thursday morning at the World Bank.

"In my 30 years in public health, the only thing that has been like this is AIDS," Frieden said at a conference at the World Bank attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Guinean President Alpha Condé, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde and representatives of governments and not-for-profit organizations around the world....

"We have to work now so that this is not the world's next AIDS," Frieden warned....

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In wake of Dallas patient death, health providers across US are reinforcing and testing infection control procedures

Associated Press
New York                              Oc. 9, 2014

... There hasn’t been a single confirmed case of an Ebola infection happening on US soil; the case confirmed in Dallas involves a man who, like several health care workers treated in the US, contracted the virus in Liberia. But health care providers are worried enough to take a wide variety of precautions.


    It isn’t yet clear whether these preparations are overkill, or not nearly enough. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

It isn’t yet clear whether these preparations are overkill, or not nearly enough.

But health care experts say that at the very least, the scare is providing a chance to reinforce and test infection control procedures....

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Mobile Technology Key to Containing Ebola in West Africa


BY Kim Lewis                                                               October 09, 2014

Description of the use of contract tracing and a mobile data collection and messaging software tool that expedites vital information to people in Africa and other regions of the world, in crisis situations.


   Workers inside a call center, where people can phone to state their concerns about the Ebola virus, in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014

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