Ebola tests for UK military worker

PRESS ASSOCIATION                                                                                                     Feb. 2, 2015

LONDON --A second UK military healthcare worker has been transported back to England after likely exposure to Ebola via a needle-stick injury while treating someone with the virus in Sierra Leone, Public Health England said.


               Press Association - The healthcare worker has been admitted to the Royal Free Hospital in London

The healthcare worker arrived in the UK today and has been admitted to the Royal Free Hospital in London where they are undergoing an assessment.

They have not been diagnosed with Ebola and do not have symptoms, Public Health England added.

It comes after another British military healthcare worker was flown back to England for monitoring after suffering a needle-stick injury, also in Sierra Leone.

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Health Ebola Vaccines Trial Starts in Liberia

ASSOCIATED PRESS by JONATHAN PAYE-LAYLEH                                                        Feb. 2, 2015

MONROVIA--A large-scale human trial of two potential Ebola vaccines got under way in Liberia's capital Monday, part of a global effort to prevent a repeat of the epidemic that has now claimed nearly 9,000 lives in West Africa.

The trials in Liberia are taking place after smaller studies determined that the vaccines were safe for human use. By comparing them now with a placebo shot, scientists hope to learn whether they can prevent people from contracting the ghastly virus that has killed some 60 percent of those hospitalized with the disease.

Yet despite the trials' promise, authorities still must combat fear and suspicion that people could become infected by taking part. Each vaccine uses a different virus to carry non-infectious Ebola genetic material into the body and spark an immune response.

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In pursuit of next-generation Ebola stockpile vaccines

REUTERS   by Kate Kell and Ben Herschler                                                                        Feb. 1. 2015
LONDON --As West Africa's devastating Ebola outbreak begins to dwindle, scientists are looking beyond the endgame at the kind of next-generation vaccines needed for a vital stockpile to hit another epidemic hard and fast.


Research assistant Georgina Bowyer works on a vaccine for Ebola at The Jenner Institute in Oxford, southern England January 16, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

Determined not to lose scientific momentum that could make the world's first effective Ebola interventions a reality, researchers say the shots, as well as being proven to work, must be cheap, easy to handle in Africa and able to hit multiple virus strains.

That may mean shifting focus from the stripped-down, fast-tracked vaccine development ideas that have dominated the past six months, but it mustn't mean the field gets bogged down in complexities.

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Kids in Liberia go back to school — in a building where dozens died of Ebola

              Parents resister pupils at Massaquoi less than a month after the last Ebola patient left the school.

WASHINGTON POST   by Martin Sieff                                                                             Feb. 1, 2015

MONROVIA--As the Ebola epidemic fades here, with fewer than 10 new cases reported per week, Liberia is beginning the massive challenge of resuming normal life. Many of its public institutions have been shuttered since June. Its economy has been paralyzed. More than 3,600 Liberians have died of the disease.

Those who endured the crisis are now grappling with a new set of predicaments: whether to sleep in the rooms where relatives died, to have babies in hospitals where Ebola patients were treated. In a country where containing Ebola meant persuading people to fear it, the public may remain traumatized for some time to come.

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As Ebola Ebbs in Africa, Focus Turns From Death to Life

NEW YORK TIMES  by Normitsu Onishi                                                                Feb. 1, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia — Life is edging back to normal after the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history....

FEAR FADING Beachgoers in Monrovia, Liberia, recently ravaged by Ebola. As fear of the virus ebbs, Liberians are slipping back into their daily rhythm. John Moore/Getty Images

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Ebola crisis update - 30 January 2015

Médecins Sans Frontières                                                                   Jan 30, 2015

During the last weeks, a downward trend of new cases has been reported in Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Ebola management centres across the three affected countries, with 50 confirmed cases in its eight centres last week.

While this is a promising development, the World Health Organization reported that only about half of new cases in both Guinea and Liberia are from known Ebola contacts, while in Sierra Leone there is no data available. There is almost no information sharing for tracing Ebola contacts between the three most-affected countries.

Since a single new case is enough to reignite an outbreak, the level of vigilance should remain high in order not to jeopardise the progress made in stemming the epidemic....

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What worked in controlling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

One Lesson: Rush to Help, not to declare victory

EDITORIAL    THE WASHINGTON POST                                Jan. 31, 2015

THE WORLD’S tardy response to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has killed 8,810 people, demands that lessons be learned.

 Toward that end, a fresh batch of scientific reports has emerged in recent days to guide future responses. The World Health Organization, which stumbled in the initial period, seems to be recognizing its mistakes and looking for ways to correct them.... it is vital to keep medical interventions in place for long periods — and a big mistake to declare victory too early. The research also shows that most transmission of Ebola occurred in families....

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Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

submitted by George Hurlburt

arxiv.org - November 22, 2014
Adeline Decuyper, Alex Rutherford, Amit Wadhwa, Jean-Martin Bauer, Gautier Krings, Thoralf Gutierrez, Vincent D. Blondel, Miguel A. Luengo-Oroz
arXiv:1412.2595 [cs.CY]

Recent studies have shown the value of mobile phone data to tackle problems related to economic development and humanitarian action. In this research, we assess the suitability of indicators derived from mobile phone data as a proxy for food security indicators. We compare the measures extracted from call detail records and airtime credit purchases to the results of a nationwide household survey conducted at the same time. Results show high correlations (> .8) between mobile phone data derived indicators and several relevant food security variables such as expenditure on food or vegetable consumption. This correspondence suggests that, in the future, proxies derived from mobile phone data could be used to provide valuable up-to-date operational information on food security throughout low and middle income countries.

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

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Ebola crisis: Liberia delays school re-opening

BBC                                                                                               Jan. 30, 2015

Liberia has delayed planned re-opening of schools, saying they are not not yet fully prepared to prevent the spread of Ebola.

The schools - closed in July - had been due to open on Monday, but teaching will now begin on 16 February.

The BBC's Mark Doyle says several schools he has seen are woefully unready to prevent Ebola infection.

He says they are lacking chlorinated water for hand-washing and thermometers to check pupils don't have fever.

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Ebola likely to persist in 2015 as communities resist aid: Red Cross

REUTERS  by  Stephanie Nebehay                                                                                   Jan. 30, 2015

GENEVA --West Africa will be lucky to wipe out Ebola this year, as the local population remains suspicious of aid workers, especially in Guinea, the Red Cross said on Friday.


 Healthcare workers prepare to disinfect an ambulance transporting a newly admitted Ebola patient at the entrance to the Save the Children Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre outside Freetown, Sierra Leone in this file photo taken on December 22, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

The virus is "flaring up" in new areas in the region and not all infections are being reported, said Birte Hald, who leads the Ebola coordination and support unit of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"We are also seeing that in places like Sierra Leone and especially in Guinea that it is flaring up in new districts all the time, with small new chains of transmission, which means that it's not under control and it could flare up big-time again," Hald told a news briefing in Geneva.

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How Bad Data Fed the Ebola Epidemic


Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

nytimes.com - By RACHEL GLENNERSTER, HERBERT M’CLEOD and TAVNEET SURI - January 30, 2015

. . . Valid, credible and timely data is essential during a global crisis. Without reliable data, efforts to assist affected people and to rebuild damaged communities can be misdirected and inefficient. . .

The West African Ebola outbreak first hit Sierra Leone in May 2014, followed by an explosion of cases in the capital Freetown in the autumn. . .

The early days of the crisis were characterized by a sense of immense fear, anxiety and alarm, regionally and globally. .

Misleading reports, speculation and poor projections from international agencies, government ministries and the media about the Ebola outbreak exacerbated the problem.


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Global Health Security: The Next Five Years

onlinedigeditions.com - Andrew C. Weber - Christine Parthemore

The next five years will see crucial changes in the global health security landscape, profoundly shaped by two key events in 2014:

The Ebola response in West Africa, and the successful first year of the Global Health Security Agenda, an initiative of dozens of countries and non-governmental organizations to make tangible commitments for preventing, rapidly detecting, and effectively responding to infectious disease threats.(1) 

Both events brought to light signs of measurable progress, and profound gaps that must be prioritized in the years ahead. Pressing needs include expanding emergency operations center capacity, better leveraging technological innovation, and closing the gap between the health and security communities.


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Do Ebola educators make a difference?

THE GUARDIAN by                        Jan. 29. 2015

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- The initial Ebola case in Tambakha [a remote chiefdom near the Guinea border] coincided with the proper training of the first set of Ebola educators. They were deployed in mid-October to educate local people on the prevention and control of Ebola and to help monitor the advent of newcomers into their communities, possible carriers.


Health workers conduct a campaign raising awareness of the Ebola virus in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photograph: Tanya Bindra/EPA

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Botswana Doctor Is Named to Lead W.H.O. in Africa

NEW YORK TIMES  by Donald G. McNeil, Jr.                                                               Jan. 27, 2015

A defining moment in the life of Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s new regional director for Africa, came when she was 9 and her father realized that her little sister’s mathematics textbook was below even the level he had studied as a poor child on a South African farm.

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Weekly Ebola cases below 100, WHO says endgame begins

REUTERS  by Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay               Jan. 29, 2015

The number of new confirmed Ebola cases totaled 99 in the week to Jan. 25, the lowest tally since June 2014, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, signaling the tide might have turned against the epidemic.

"The response to the EVD (Ebola virus disease) epidemic has now moved to a second phase, as the focus shifts from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic," the WHO said.

"To achieve this goal as quickly as possible, efforts have moved from rapidly building infrastructure to ensuring that capacity for case finding, case management, safe burials, and community engagement is used as effectively as possible."

But Guinea reported 30 confirmed cases in the latest week, up from 20 in the previous week. The epidemic is also still spreading geographically there, with a first confirmed case in Guinea's Mali prefecture bordering Senegal, which reopened its border with Guinea on Monday.

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