Tag Archive | Ebola virus
The body of a woman who died in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the Ebola virus, less than a week after the last person confirmed to have had the disease was released from hospital, health officials said.
The new death, if confirmed, would represent a setback for efforts to end an 18-month regional epidemic that has infected more than 28,000 people and killed more than a third of them.
In the latest case, a 67-year-old woman from the Kambia District along Sierra Leone’s border with Guinea, died on Saturday.
Sierra Leone’s chief medical officer Brima Kargbo told Reuters that two samples tested in Kambia had tested positive for Ebola. However, he said further tests were being carried out in Makeni, the main town in the Northern Province, and in the capital Freetown.
“We are particularly concerned because Kambia has gone 50 days without a confirmed Ebola case, suggesting the possibility of an error,” Kargbo said.
He added that the woman worked as a trader, though people who knew her said she had not traveled recently. She now becomes the first new case in the country since Aug. 8.
Sierra Leone released what had been its last confirmed Ebola patient from hospital on Monday and began a 42-day countdown to being declared free of the virus.
During the course of the epidemic, the outbreak has ebbed only to flare back again. Liberia was declared Ebola-free in May but a fresh cluster of cases appeared nearly two months later.
Liberia’s last case was subsequently discharged on July 23.
Scientists say sexual transmission is the most likely explanation for the resurgence in Liberia since the virus can live on in semen beyond the usual 21-day incubation period.
Courtesy of reuters.com
Liberia is now free of the Ebola virus that’s killed more than 11,000 people worldwide.
It was welcoming news for people and especially for a local family whose relative was the first person to die of the disease on American soil during the outbreak.
Thomas Eric Duncan died of Ebola in October inside a Texas hospital in October.
Channel 9 talked with Duncan’s nephew by phone Saturday.
“I wish he was here to celebrate with me,” Josephus Weeks said. “It’s very, very good news. We’re ecstatic about it.”
Elated and thankful 42 days have passed since the last confirmed case of the virus in Liberia.
The news came just as Duncan’s family, Texas health officials and members of SIM USA, a mission organization, announced an endowed scholarship fund in Duncan’s name to train doctors, nurses and physician assistants in Liberia.
“More than 4 million citizens being treated by 150 doctors in Liberia,” Weeks said. “It’s unacceptable.”
WHO urged Liberians to remain on high alert as outbreaks persist in neighboring countries.
“It’s urgent,” Weeks said. “We need all of the help we can get.”
Courtesy of wsoctv.com
Guinea has declared a 45-day “health emergency” in five regions of the African country to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola disease.
In a statement published in national media on Saturday, Guinean President Alpha Conde said that he was declaring the health emergency in the west and southwest of the country, adding that the focus of the virus “has shifted to our country’s coastal areas.”
“That is why I am declaring a reinforced health emergency for a period of 45 days in the prefectures of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia,” he said.
Conde added that “strict measures” will also be taken in the capital, Conakry, to “increase vigilance” in communities against the spread of the virus.
“Wherever the need may be, throughout this period, measures of restriction and confinement will be taken,” said the president.
The restrictions include the temporary closure of hospitals and clinics where there have been cases of Ebola, as well as new rules on burials and possible lockdowns.
A health worker prepares a vaccination on March 10, 2015 at a health center in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, during the first clinical trials of the VSV-EBOV vaccine against the Ebola virus. © AFP
The Ebola outbreak began in the African country in December 2013.
More than 24,000 people in nine countries have been infected with the virus, and over 10,000 of them have lost their lives since the Ebola outbreak.
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the three African countries worst hit by the deadly virus.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for Ebola, which is a form of hemorrhagic fever with diarrhea, vomiting, as well as internal and external bleeding as its symptoms. The virus spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.
Courtesy of Press TV
Doctors in Berlin are keeping watch over a South Korean medic who was exposed to the Ebola virus while treating a patient in Sierra Leone. The medic had suffered an injury with a hypodermic needle.
The South Korean arrived on a special flight in Berlin Saturday to be monitored for symptoms of Ebola, doctors at the German capital’s prominent Charité hospital said.
“The person wasn’t flown to South Korea because the Korean government asked Europe to step in,” Dr. Frank Bergmann, who oversees the hospital’s treatment of highly infectious patients, said. “First of all it’s good from a transportation point of view to come here and secondly it’s better for the person’s anonymity to be treated here in Europe,” Bergmann added.
He said both the medic and the government of South Korea had requested as few details as possible be released, so declined to give the medic’s age, gender, profession or employer.
On Monday, the medic had been treating an Ebola patient in Sierra Leone when the patient jolted, causing the needle on a syringe filled with blood to pierce the three plastic gloves the medic was wearing.
“The patient had a very high viral load and died the next day, which means that there was a very high risk of infection,” Bergmann said, although adding that the medic did not currently show any symptoms of Ebola. They will remain under close medical supervision until the end of the three-week incubation period for Ebola. Bergmann added that should the medic develop symptoms, doctors could use experimental drugs.
“With our European standards there should be a good prognosis,” he said.
Previously, three medical workers have been treated for Ebola in Germany – a Senegalese doctor who had been infected in Sierra Leone was treated in Hamburg and survived, as did a Ugandan doctor also infected in Sierra Leone who was treated in Frankfurt. In Leipzig, a United Nations worker from Africa died from the disease after contracting it in Liberia.
Courtesy of DW
An American health care worker who experienced high-risk exposure to the Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone has arrived at a Nebraska hospital for observation.
The patient landed in Omaha Sunday afternoon. Paramedics wearing full-body protective gear drove the patient to the Nebraska Medical Center, which has a specialized bio-containment unit.
Dr. Phil Smith, who leads the unit, says the patient is neither ill nor contagious, and that “all appropriate precautions” will be taken.
“This patient has been exposed to the virus but is not ill and is not contagious,” said Phil Smith, M.D., medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medicine. “However, we will be taking all appropriate precautions. This patient will be under observation in the same room used for treatment of the first three patients and will be carefully monitored to see if Ebola disease develops.”
The patient will be observed for any signs of Ebola throughout the virus’ 21-day incubation period.
Three Ebola patients have been treated at the Omaha hospital.
Dr. Richard Sacra was treated and released in September, NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo was treated and released in October and Dr, Martin Salia, who was gravely ill upon arrival, passed away from the virus after less than two days of treatment in November.
The World Health Organization says more than 8,000 people have died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that began about a year ago.
Dr. Smith, also a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, says the same expert team that cared for the other patients here will care for this patient. “This patient will be observed for development of infection during the 21-day incubation period of the disease, both by monitoring for symptoms and through blood tests.”
Courtesy of 1011 Now
Deadly Ebola Virus in the UK: New suspected case rushed to hospital in South Gloucestershire, as Scottish nurse worsens
A new patient displaying symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus is being rushed to hospital as doctors say the Scottish nurse already suffering from the disease has worsened and is now in a critical condition.
Hospital officials said the unnamed new patient was being transferred to hospital in Swindon by specialist ambulance team after being taken ill after returning from West Africa.
The patient, from South Gloucestershire, will undergo tests at the hospital and if necessary be transferred to the specialist quarantine unit in London where nurse Pauline Cafferkey is already being treated.
A spokesman for the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:
“Any suspected patients will be tested for a variety of things. If there was a confirmed Ebola case, they would be transferred to London.”
The local ambulance service said the patient was being transferred by its hazardous area response team. A spokeswoman said: “That patient has recently returned from West Africa and has made complaints of feeling unwell.”
Two other suspected cases of Ebola last week later tested negative for the disease. A patient in Truro and a woman in Aberdeen were both tested after returning from West Africa, but were found not to have the disease.
Doctors said Ms Cafferkey’s condition had worsened on Saturday and she was now critically ill.
The 39-year-old is being treated in a quarantine tent at the Royal Free Hospital in north London said after she was diagnosed with the deadly virus late last month.
Miss Cafferkey, a Scottish public health nurse who had been volunteering in the stricken West African country, was diagnosed with the disease after returning to Glasgow from Sierra Leone via Casablanca in Morocco.
A brief statement on the hospital’s website said: “The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust is sorry to announce that the condition of Pauline Cafferkey has gradually deteriorated over the past two days and is now critical.”
David Cameron said: “My thoughts and prayers are with nurse Pauline Cafferkey who is in a critical condition with Ebola.”
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the nurse was being given the “best possible care”.
Her deterioration came just days after the team treating her said she was sitting up in bed in her quarantine tent and talking to relatives through an intercom system.
Doctors have been treating her with an experimental antiviral drug and with plasma from another health worker who recovered from the disease. The hospital has been unable to obtain ZMapp, the drug used to treat recovered British nurse William Pooley, because “there is none in the world at the moment”, doctors said.
A senior microbiologist said it was very difficult to judge her chances of survival, because so little was known about how to combat the virus and the new drugs were experimental.
Prof Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said people with the disease can deteriorate “very quickly”.
He said using blood from a recovered Ebola patient to treat her was the “best chance” for recovery.
Prof Pennington said: “We have to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. It’s the luck of the draw unfortunately.
“Some people do recover, but some don’t make it. We still don’t know enough about Ebola.”
She is being treated with an experimental antiviral drug along with the blood from a survivor after the hospital was unable to obtain ZMapp, the drug used to treat recovered British nurse William Pooley, because “there is none in the world at the moment”.
Mr Pennington said: “The plasma is probably her best chance of treatment as that is actual antibodies from people who have recovered from Ebola.
“Because of the small number of people treated with experimental drugs, it’s difficult to judge the percentage of success.
“We also don’t know the circumstances of the infection. That might be important.”
Courtesy of The Telegraph
ANOTHER doctor in Sierra Leone died Thursday due to the deadly Ebola virus, making him the eleventh doctor in the country to die from the disease. Dr. Victor Willoughby, reportedly tested positive for the Ebola virus on Saturday, The Associated Press (AP) reported, citing Dr. Brima Kargbo, the country’s chief medical officer.
The virus has killed more than 350 health workers in West Africa, making it difficult to arrange for personnel to treat the existing patients. Kargbo added that Willoughby, 67, was being treated at a clinic run by medical charity Emergency, near the capital. He died before the experimental drug could be given to him.
“Dr. Victor Willoughby was a mentor to us physicians and a big loss to the medical profession,” Kargbo said, according to AP, adding: “He has always been available to help junior colleagues.”
The new drug ZMAb, which was yet to be administered to him, was developed in Canada and is related to ZMapp, another experimental drug that has cured some Ebola patients. However, it has not been proven how effective the drugs are, yet.
The disease, which is witnessing its worst outbreak, has killed nearly 7,000 people so far and has affected over 18,600 people in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
More than 6,800 people have now died from the Ebola virus, almost all of them in west Africa, the World Health Organization said.
The UN health agency reported that as of December 13, there had been 18,464 cases of infection from the deadly virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and 6,841 people had died, an increase of 258 deaths in three days.
The last update WHO provided showed that as of December 10, there had been 18,188 cases of infection from the deadly virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, of whom 6,583 people had died.
WHO did not provide an update of cases in other countries, but last week said the death toll remained the same: six in Mali, one in the United States, and eight in Nigeria, which was declared Ebola free in October.
Spain and Senegal, which have both been declared free from Ebola, meanwhile counted one case each, but no deaths.
Sierra Leone, which last week overtook Liberia as the nation with the most infections, counted 8,273 cases and 2,033 deaths on December 13.
The toll up until December 10 stood at 8,069 cases and 1,899 deaths.
Liberia, long the hardest-hit country, has meanwhile seen a decrease in the rate of transmission in recent weeks.
As of December 9, the country counted 7,797 cases and 3,290 deaths, up from the 7,765 infections and 3,222 deaths tallied two days earlier.
In Guinea, where the outbreak started nearly a year ago, 2,394 Ebola cases and 1,518 deaths were recorded as of December 13.
Three days earlier, the country counted 2,354 Ebola cases and 1,462 deaths.
Ebola, one of the deadliest viruses known to man, is spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person showing symptoms such as fever or vomiting.
People caring for the sick or handling the bodies of people infected Ebola are especially exposed.
As of the latest figures up to December 7, a total of 639 healthcare workers were known to have contracted the virus, and 349 of them had died, WHO said.
The Ebola virus is spreading intensely across Sierra Leone, prompting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to again revise the death toll upwards to 6,070 out of 17,145 cases.
Sierra Leone recorded 537 new Ebola cases in the week to November 30, compared with 385 new cases the previous week, the WHO said.
“Transmission remains persistent and intense across the country, with the exception of the south,” it said.
World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim announced a $US160 million ($190.3 million) two-year economic recovery plan on Wednesday to help the impoverished country battle the worst Ebola outbreak on record.
Mr Kim said after a closed-door meeting with president Ernest Bai Koroma in the capital Freetown, the cash would go towards regional operations centres and emergency response teams in the hard-hit west and north of the country.
The aid would also focus on the country’s floundering farming sector and rural job creation, he said.
“We are concerned that agricultural production has dropped significantly as a result of the Ebola epidemic and we will help farmers recover by building feeder roads that connect small farmers to markets,” Mr Kim said.
“We must make sure that the Ebola epidemic is not followed by a food security crisis,” he said.
“We will work to improve basic infrastructure such as urban services and access to electricity that will help the wellbeing of citizens.”
Sierra Leone facing recession next year
An increase in cases in Sierra Leone’s west is causing alarm, and the World Bank said the fallout from Ebola would push the country into recession next year.
The West African nation of six million people grew at 11.3 per cent in the first half of the year but has contracted since at a rate of 2.8 per cent.
The country was expected to achieve 4 per cent growth this year and shrink by 2 per cent in 2015.
Gross domestic product could fall $US900 million ($1.071 billion) next year, the bank said.
Food production would also decrease because planting was curtailed from June to August.
Heavy rain in September hit the country’s rice crop and iron ore prices plunged.
A recent United Nations study in Sierra Leone found that 47 per cent of people questioned believed that the crisis had seriously affected their agricultural activities.
Mr Koroma said he was reassured by Mr Kim’s visit.
“The presence of [Mr Kim] will send a signal to the rest of the world that Sierra Leone is still open for visitors,” Mr Koroma said in a joint news conference.
“We are still safe, we are fighting Ebola and our focus is to isolate the virus and not to isolate the country.”
Mr Kim flew to Guinea’s capital Conakry, where he was expected to meet government officials and health experts.
Patient With Suspected Deadly Ebola Virus Being Treated at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, USA
Massachusetts General Hospital is treating a patient suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus, Public Affairs Officer Noah Brown has confirmed to Boston.com.
Dr. Paul Biddinger, Director Of Emergency Preparedness at MGH, said the patient involved in the suspected Ebola case meets the CDC definition of a “person under investigation” to possibly have the Ebola virus.
“This definition involves the possibility of travel to where Ebola is present, the possibility of exposure to that virus, and symptoms that are consistent with that virus,” Biddinger said at a press conference Tuesday evening.
The patient is in stable condition and good spirits, according to Biddinger. He declined to answer specific questions about the patient—including travel history, potential exposure to others, and location in the hospital—citing an inability to comment on individual patient details. Biddiger did say, though, that there is not a reason for panic.
“We feel extremely confident that all of our patients, all of our staff, all of our visitors are completely safe,” he said.
Biddinger did not give an exact timetable for results, but said a diagnosis with a definitive yes or no could take several days. Preliminary tests results will come back in a staggered fashion—some as early as tomorrow—but multiple tests might be needed before the official diagnosis.
Boston Public Health Commission spokesperson McKenzie Ridings said the commission does not comment on suspected cases of any illness. The organization did release a statement later Tuesday night:
It is the policy of the City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission not to comment on suspect cases. For months, BPHC has conducted extensive trainings, public awareness campaigns, and coordination with our partners at the state level and surrounding municipalities. We have full confidence in our departments and healthcare organizations that we can keep Boston residents and visitors safe and healthy.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Steven Hatch, Assistant Professor of Medicine at UMass Medical School, recently spent six weeks in Liberia treating Ebola patients. The Boston physician is an infectious disease specialist.
“All the other patients at Mass General are going to be fine. I’m sure by now all the major hospitals in Massachusetts, as part of a coordinated effort, have their act together.”
Despite having spent time surrounded by confirmed Ebola cases in a Liberian clinic, Hatch said he never feared contracting the disease.
“I never feared what would happen to me while I was over there. Not because I didn’t think something bad might happen. I understood I was putting my life on the line the same way I think a soldier does going into battle. Fear is not going to help you make good decisions.”
MGH sent a message to all of its current inpatients and staff summarizing the same details shared during the press conference. While an exact location of the patient was not given, Biddinger said that the hospital is using a dedicated isolation area with a special team of nurses, physicians, and infection control staff.
MGH has been planning for months to handle the possibility of a suspected Ebola case, undergoing training exercises to simulate the evaluation and management process.
MGH has also been involved in testing devices that would allow them to treat Ebola cases remotely. In a recent demonstration at the Cambridge lab, researchers were able to manipulate the rate at which a ventilator provided air, slowing and speeding the breaths taken by a dummy patient.