Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ebola Updates ( August 20 , 2014 ) - As Ebola plague villages pop up , as countries close borders - how is the UN Food Programme possibly going to feed a million on more Ebola victims in so called plague villages ( with two heilcopters ? )

"Isolation Procedures Put In Place" After Ebola Suspect Dies In Ireland; Ebola-Like Disease Claims 70 In Congo

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Last week Ireland rushed to deny that a man with Ebola-like symptoms who was being tested in Dublin, did not have the disease. It may find such a refutation more difficult this time after Irish Times reported that a man was found dead last night in Donegal, after working in Sierra Leone, the epicenter of the current Ebola outbreak, and where "it is understood that a number of colleagues had contracted the virus." The deceased was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital where the HSE is carrying out tests to see whether the death resulted from Ebola.
Letterkenny General Hospital. Photograph: Google Street View
From the Irish Times:
In a statement, the HSE said it was currently assessing a suspected case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Donegal.

“The public health department was made aware earlier today of the remains of an individual, discovered early this morning, who had recently travelled to the one of the areas in Africa affected by the current Ebola virus disease outbreak,” it said.

“The appropriate national guidelines, in line with international best practice, are being followed by the public health team dealing with the situation. This means that the body of the deceased has been isolated to minimise the potential spread of any possible virus.”

The statement said blood samples had been sent for laboratory testing to confirm whether or not this individual had contracted Ebola virus disease.

“Until a diagnosis is confirmed, and as a precautionary measure, the individual’s remains will stay in the mortuary pending the laboratory results which are expected late tomorrow.”
As usual, attempts to minimize a panic were implemented and the HSE said the risk of transmission of any disease was considered to be “extremely low”. Nonetheless while tests are being carried out for the Ebola virus, "isolation procedures have been put in place."
Dr Darina O’Flanagan, head of the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, said: “In general, the risk of contracting Ebola virus disease is extremely low and would involve very close personal contact with the infected individual or their body fluids for there to be any risk at all.” “We await the outcome of the laboratory tests before we will know whether or not this individual had contracted Ebola virus disease. The appropriate public health guidelines are being followed at every stage in this process as a precaution.”
And while Ireland awaits results of the latest Ebola test, the Congo, where as we reported yesterday a mysterious Ebola-like disease had claimed the lives of 10 people, has denied the diseases is Ebola, even as the death toll has now soared to some 70 casualties according to Reuters.


Residents of a Liberian slum are protesting riot police enforcing a quarantine and curfew in the shadow of an Ebola crisis.

The sanctions imposed Wednesday cut the Monrovia seaside slum known as West Point from its coast and confines about 75,000 of its residents to curb the spread of a deadly virus that has already killed about 1,350 people in West Africa.

Liberia has experienced the brunt of this epidemic, leaving more dead at 576 than any other country in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization’s latest count between Aug. 17 and 18.

The Ebola Task Force sent security forces into the seaside slum to keep mobs of people from climbing over barbed-wire fences and infecting the capital, but protesters are fighting back with rocks after soldiers rescued a West Point commissioner, Miata Flowers, and her family.


Government officials are being blamed for setting up a holding center for suspected Ebola patients in the shanty town.

Photos taken Wednesday show walls of armored soldiers walking down the muddy streets and using batons to beat residents who protest the quarantine.

The New York Times reports soldiers used live rounds to hold back hundreds of residents from breaking out.

Fighting a virus in a slum is described by WHO physicians as difficult because the chances of Ebola spreading is increased by residents living in cramped conditions, the Times reported.


Ten Killed From "Ebola-Like Symptoms" In Africa's Second Largest Country

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While the world awaits the test results from an Ebola suspect in Sacramento to learn if Ebola has now officially entered the US, the epidemic in Africa has now drifted away from the confines of its original hotspots of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and after spreading to Africa's most populous nation Nigeria, and the third most populated city in the world, Lagos, it appears to have just entered the second largest country in Africa by area, and fourth most populous African nation: the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Reuters reports that the Democratic Republic of Congo has sent its health minister and a team of experts to the remote northern Equateur province after several people died there from a disease with Ebola-like symptoms, a local official and a professor said on Wednesday.

"An illness is spreading in Boende but we don't know the origin," said Michel Wangi, a spokesman for the governor's office. "The government has sent a team of experts from the INRB(National Institute of Biomedical Research) this morning led by the health minister (Felix) Kabange Numbi and acting governor Sebastian Impeto."

A professor accompanying the delegation in the presidential plane confirmed that they were en route this morning to find out "the exact nature of the illness that caused the Boende deaths".

An Equateur resident who asked not to be named said that around ten people had died, including four health care workers, after suffering from fever, diarrhoea and bleeding from the ears and nostrils - all symptoms of the deadly Ebola virus.

It was not immediately clear if there was any connection with Ebola. An epidemic of that disease has killed more than 1,200 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
We expect that it will be "clear" quite soon, at which point one can add the DRC to the list of increasingly more confirmed countries where the Ebola epidemic, so far completely "priced in", has spread to.

Two suspected Ebola patients flee hospital in Saudi Arabia – Nigerian doctor, released and said recovered from Ebola drops dead – virus may have mysterious latent triggers

August 2014 – SAUDI ARABIA - Two men, displaying suspected symptoms of the Ebola virus, ran away from a rural health center located in the Madinah province of Saudi Arabia on Sunday, a Saudi daily reported. “The two African nationals, who did not have residency permits or any other documentation, came to see the doctor at the health center, complaining of difficulty breathing and bleeding while passing urine,” an official who requested anonymity told Arab News. Medical officials were unable to conduct a thorough examination and confirm that the patients were infected with the Ebola virus as they ran away after being asked to produce their residency permits. The doctor present had instructed the center to take the patients to a hospital with better facilities before the duo took off. The matter was reported to police instantly, the source said.
The police are still searching for the patients, the report added. The Health Affairs Directorate in Madinah said the patients were from East Africa, a region not affected by Ebola, although their precise nationality had not been identified. The deadly Ebola virus, declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), has killed over 1,140 people in West Africa and is spreading rampantly. Saudi Arabia has been taking several measures to prevent the entry of the virus into the country, and earlier this year declared that haj and umrah pilgrimage visas will not be granted to people from Ebola-hit countries. Earlier this month, a Saudi businessman who returned from a business trip to Sierra Leone showed symptoms of the virus and later died in a hospital in Jeddah. However, test results later confirmed that he had not been infected with Ebola. –Gulf Business
Nigerian Doctor
Nigeria reports 5th Ebola death: A senior doctor who treated Nigeria’s first Ebola patient has died, taking the death toll in Africa’s most populous country to five, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said on Tuesday. Chukwu said the doctor was “the most senior who participated in the management of the (first Ebola) patient” in the country. Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, 40, died in a Lagos hospital on July 25, five days after arriving at the city’s airport visibly unwell on a flight from the Liberian capital, Monrovia. “With this unfortunate development, the total number of Ebola virus-related deaths in Nigeria now stands at five,” Chukwu added. –Yahoo News
There is much about the Ebola virus that we don’t know. Ebola is a virulent level-4 pathogen with a near 90% mortality rate. The virus didn’t acquire its pernicious ranking by being predictable. It’s an insidious, mysterious killer that is subject to further evolutionary development or mutations just like any other virus that replicates. I warned in my radio address that the virus may also have latent triggers that could trick the infected patient into thinking they have recovered when, in fact, he or she may be just a stumble or two away from death, and is only further aiding in the transmission of the virus. We may be in for more nasty surprises from the Ebola virus.  –Alvin Conway

New Mexico woman, other patient in Calif. both being tested for Ebola virus

The 30-year-old New Mexico woman is currently in isolation as a precaution at the University of New Mexico Hospital after experiencing symptoms similar to the virus which has killed more than 1,200 people overseas as of Tuesday, according to health officials. The woman recently returned from Sierra Leone. In Sacramento, Calif., a patient 'who may have been exposed' to Ebola is under observation, officials there said.


Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 5:40 PM

Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014, 10:12 PM

    In New Mexico and California, Two Women Tested for Ebola Virus

    In New Mexico and California, Two Women Tested For Ebola Virus
    In New Mexico and California, two women are being tested for the Ebola virus. The female in Albuquerque recently returned from Africa, stated New Mexico state health officials. The woman in California is located in Sacramento and hospital officials there say she might have been exposed to the Ebola virus and she has been placed in isolation as samples of her blood are tested to see if she has the virus or not.
    The New Mexico woman, age 30, is also in isolation as a provision at the University Of New Mexico Hospital after she experienced indications of the virus. Ebola has killed over 1,200 people abroad as of Tuesday, stated international health representatives.
    The woman in Albuquerque had no known contact with the disease but had been doing teaching in Sierra Leone. That is one of numerous African countries that has many documented cases of Ebola.
    The health officials explained that the blood work from both females was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta where each vial would be tested for the virus. It is expected that the results will be back by the week’s end.

    Al Jazeera.....

    Liberia declares curfew in Ebola battle

    Government calls 9pm-6am curfew and says it is considering even tougher restrictions on movements as deaths mount.

    Last updated: 20 Aug 2014 00:11

    Liberia recorded the most new deaths between August 14-16 [EPA]
    Liberia's government has imposed a nationwide night curfew in an effort to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, state radio said.
    Lewis Brown, Liberia's information minister, told the Reuters news agency that the authorities were considering even tougher restrictions on movements in addition to a 9pm-6am curfew.
    The epidemic of the hemorrhagic disease has killed nearly 1,300 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and has also affected Nigeria. Between August 14-16, Liberia recorded the most new deaths, 53, followed by Sierra Leone with 17, and Guinea with 14.
    The World Health Organisation said it was working with the UN's World Food Programme to ensure food delivery to one million people living in Ebola quarantine zones cordoned off by local security forces in a border zone of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
    "Providing regular food supplies is a potent means of limiting unnecessary movement," it said in a statement.
    Besides infection in border zones, Liberia is fighting to stop the spread of the virus in the poorest neighbourhoods of its capital, such as the West Point slum where at the weekend a rock-throwing crowd attacked and looted a temporary holding centre for suspected Ebola cases, 17 of whom fled.
    "We are glad to confirm that all of the 17 individuals have been accounted for and have now been transferred to JFK Ebola specialist treatment centre," Brown said.
    He also said that after meetings with religious and community leaders, a task force was being set up to go door to door through West Point, a labyrinth of muddy alleys, to explain the risks of the disease and the need to isolate infected patients.

    Ebola nations urged to screen all travellers

    WHO calls on virus-affected countries to do screenings at major airports, seaports and land crossings.

    Last updated: 19 Aug 2014 12:09

    Kenya, although not yet facing an Ebola outbreak, has begun screening travellers for the virus [EPA]
    West African nations affected by the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola have been urged to screen "all people at international airports, seaports and major land crossings" in order to stop its spread.
    The World Health Organisation said on Monday that authorities should stop anyone with signs of the virus from travelling, days after it warned that the magnitude of the outbreak was "vastly underestimated".
    The WHO reiterated that the risk of getting infected with the virus on an aircraft was small and there was no need for wider travel or trade restrictions.
    Senegal faces roadblocks in Ebola fight
    "Any person with an illness consistent with Ebola should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation," the UN agency said.
    Cameroon meanwhile closed all its land, sea and air borders with Nigeria in a move to prevent the spread of the disease, a government spokesman told the AFP news agency on Monday.
    No cases of Ebola have been recorded in Cameroon, which shares a 2,000km border with Nigeria, where the virus has killed four people and infected about a dozen others.
    The outbreak in West Africa has already killed 1,200 and infected more than 2,000.
    'Runaway patients found'
    Liberia's information minister said on Tuesday that all 17 suspected Ebola-infected patients who fled a quarantine centre in West Point, Monrovia on Sunday have been found and transferred back to treatment centres.
    "We are glad to confirm that all of the 17 individuals have been accounted for and have now been transferred to JFK Ebola specialist treatment centre," said Lewis Brown.
    He also said that three infected African doctors who had received the experimental Ebola drug Zmapp were showing "remarkable signs of improvement", quoting an assessment by the doctor overseeing their treatment.
    The virus spreads through bodily fluids.
    The authorities are now considering sealing off the area, which is home to around 75,000 people.
    "All those hooligans who looted the centre are all now probable carriers of the disease," said Brown. "To quarantine the area could be one of the solutions."

    Cameroon Blocks All Nigeria Borders As Ebola Cases Rise, 17 Liberian Escapees Recovered

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    On the bright side, Nigeria claims it is "cautiously optimistic" about the spread of Ebola in Lagos; however, 3 more cases reported andthe fact that Cameroon has decided to block all borders with Nigeria because "it is better to act preventively rather than have to heal" suggests things are anything but under control. The 17 quarantined Ebola-symptomatic patients that escaped from a Liberia clininc have been found and put back into quarantine in another clinic. The WHO reports the rate of cases and deaths are accelerating further with 1,229 deaths and 2,240 reported cases with Austria the most recent nation to get a scare as APA reports two cases found.

    In Lagos, it was a case of mixed fortunes for the nation, yesterday, in the management of the Ebola Virus Disease..
    Three fresh cases were discovered, while four of those earlier admitted at the isolation centre in Lagos were discharged.

    "What we have now is that, there are four people dead, including the index (Mr. Patrick Sawyer). We have eight in the isolation ward
    Cameroon blocks borders to Nigeria...
    Cameroon has closed all its land, sea and air borders with Nigeria in a move to help prevent the spread of the Ebola virus, the government spokesman told AFP today.

    "All borders (land, sea and air) between Cameroon and Nigeria are closed. Our thinking is that it is better to act preventively rather than have to heal" later those who may fall ill, said Issa Tchiroma Bakary, who is Cameroon's communications minister.

    No cases of Ebola have been recorded so far in Cameroon which shares a nearly 2,000-kilometre-long border with Nigeria, where the virus has claimed four lives with about a dozen people infected.
    A group of suspected Ebola patients who escaped a quarantine centre in Liberia have been found and put in another clinic.

    The 17 people reportedly fled a facility in Monrovia on Saturday after protesters broke down the doors and looted the building, sparking fears that contaminated items would spread the deadly disease further.

    Lewis Brown, Liberia’s information minister, said all the patients have since been accounted for and transferred to the JFK Ebola specialist treatment centre.
    And Austria has 2 Ebola cases...
    Two men who arrived in Austria last week from Nigeria have been hospitalised on suspicion of carrying the Ebola disease, a regional Austrian governor said today.

    Blood samples were sent to a laboratory in Germany with results expected later today, Josef Puehringer, governor of Upper Austria province said.

    The two men were hospitalised in Voecklabruck after developing a fever following their return from Lagos and were currently being held in quarantine, Puehringer said.

    Authorities were also trying to locate anyone the pair may have been in contact with in case further action was needed, he said.
    As WHO reports...
    World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show 1,229 people have died among the 2,240 reported cases in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

    The latest numbers include 84 additional deaths from 113 new cases reported between Thursday and Saturday.
    The UN World Food Programme is preparing to deliver food to 1 million people over the next three months.
    “I think now there is a high vigilance in all countries,” Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for WHO, told reporters in Geneva. “I can't remember the last time we fed 1 million people in a quarantine situation.”
    *  *  *
    But apart from that, it's all under control

     »  »  »  » UN to Feed One Million in Ebola-hit Countries

    UN to feed one million in Ebola-hit countries
    United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

    The United Nations is to fly in food aid for up to a million people affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

    According to the World Food Programme, an arm of the UN, the agency is bringing in its own aircraft to make sure food gets through to quarantined areas in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

    The organisation said it would come to the aid of these worst Ebola-hit countries due to the problem of food crisis there.

    The WFP Spokesperson, Fabienne Pompey, said, “The restrictions on movement in the most affected areas threatens food security. Commerce is affected; people cannot get to their fields; and prices rise at the markets; so the poorest have trouble feeding themselves.”

    As a result of the Ebola outbreak, the WFP said it had already started feeding several thousand people in the worst affected areas, including the families of victims who have been quarantined, orphans, old people and hunters hit by the ban on the sale of bush meat.

    With several commercial carriers suspending flights to the region because of the epidemic, she said the agency would start a new humanitarian service on Saturday (today) with an aircraft based in Conakry, Guinea which would link the capitals of the three countries.

    She said two helicopters would also be brought in to deliver aid to the most isolated areas.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    Liberia quarantine creates ‘plague villages’ at Ebola epicentre

    Liberia quarantine creates ‘plague villages’ at Ebola epicentre

    ‘To try to control the Ebola epidemic spreading through West Africa, Liberia has quarantined remote villages at the epicentre of the virus, evoking the “plague villages” of medieval Europe that were shut off from the outside world.

    With few food and medical supplies getting in, many abandoned villagers face a stark choice: stay where they are and risk death or skip quarantine, spreading the infection further in a country ill-equipped to cope.’

    Fear & loathing in Liberia as Ebola ‘plague villages’ pop up in countryside

    Published time: August 18, 2014 16:52
    Edited time: August 19, 2014 12:47

    Locals stand at a market in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 16, 2014. The death toll from an Ebola outbreak that began at the start of the year stands at 1,145 in four afflicted west African countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. (AFP Photo / Carl de Souza)
    Locals stand at a market in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 16, 2014. The death toll from an Ebola outbreak that began at the start of the year stands at 1,145 in four afflicted west African countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. (AFP Photo / Carl de Souza)
    In scenes reminiscent of medieval Europe, “plague villages” have appeared across Liberia as the West African nation faces the spreading Ebola epidemic. The World Health Organization is urging people leaving the disease-hit countries to get screened.
    Liberia’s remote villages, quarantined off from the outside world, appear to be the only hope for the crude containment of the deadly fever. However, very little food and few medical supplies are getting in, Reuters reports. This means the sick are left with a stark choice: either get out and risk inflicting suffering on others, or stay put and risk death there.
    And that suffering has consequences in more ways than one: in Lofa County, one Joseph Gbembo, who survived the disease, is now struggling to raise 10 children under the ages of five, while also taking care of five widows, after nine members of his family succumbed to the illness.
    Even the healthy in the communities are being torn apart by fear. Gbembo’s neighbors will no longer speak with him, blaming him for bringing Ebola into his village, Boya. Worse still, he says, “I am lonely… nobody will talk to me and people run away from me.” On top of this, he receives no food, healthcare or benefits for the children.
    For the NGOs currently in Liberia, it’s only a matter of time until the infection spreads, one way or another. Tarnue Karbbar, a worker for charity Plan International based in Lofa County, told Reuters that "if sufficient medication, food and water are not in place, the community will force their way out to fetch food and this could lead to further spread of the virus."
    The Ebola epidemic is now widely considered to be the worst crisis in Liberia since the bloody civil war that ended there in 2003. Medical roadblocks and quarantine facilities have been imposed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The roadblocks themselves are similar to containment methods used in medieval Europe.
    The military has also been brought in to keep the infected indoors, but that is of little use when most of the infection isn’t contained: hospitals are either full or people simply don’t go there.
    And not everywhere is the suffering inflicted by Ebola taken seriously, despite the horrendous toll on the population. An attack on one quarantine center in the capital Monrovia on Saturday evening proved to be a massive setback for containment.
    The situation was brought on by a distrust of the government, the belief that the infection was a big hoax, and also by fear that the quarantine center was accepting too many patients from other regions, making the facilities into “death traps.”
    As angry protesters stormed the center, some freed loved ones, while others looted blood-stained, contagious mattresses, as well as medical equipment, all but ensuring that the infection spreads freely.
    A top police official speaking anonymously told the BBC that it was “one of the stupidest things”he has ever seen in his life, fearing that the slum area of West Point could be next in line for infection – that means 50,000 more potential victims in an already catastrophically underfunded and underprepared Liberia.
    There are now conflicting reports as to the whereabouts of 17 patients who vanished after Saturday’s looting. The BBC learned that the 17 were not among those who were taken by their relatives, of which there were 10.
    Others are currently being relocated to other centers.
    The WHO has declared the infection an international health emergency – a status it has given out only three times in the last 66 years. On Monday the organization also called on the countries affected by Ebola to check people departing at international airports, seaports and major border crossings and stop any people with signs of the virus from traveling.
    “Any person with an illness consistent with EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation," the UN health agency said in a statement.
    It will take about six months to bring the Ebola epidemic in West Africa under control, and this will require greater leadership from the World Health Organization, the head of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Friday.
    “If we don’t stabilize Liberia, we will never stabilize the region,” Reuters quoted Joanne Liu as saying said in Geneva after a 10-day trip to West Africa. “Over the next six months we should get the upper hand on the epidemic, this is my gut feeling,” she said. However, more experts are needed on the ground, she added.
    MSF believes that containment must involve the rollout of a massive program aimed at prevention and training.
    "Quarantines expose healthy people to risk – which is why the effectiveness of states is so important in supporting preventive measures that will minimize this," says Robert Dingwall of Nottingham Trent University, who specializes in health policy responses to infectious diseases.
    But casualties are mounting and the country simply can’t keep up: just one town has been deserted by 2,000 residents, who either fled or died, according to a UNICEF official.
    Reporting systems are just as important as food and medical aid. Both are very scarce in Liberia, where there are only 50 doctors for a population of over 4 million.
    What’s worse in Liberia’s particular case is that the areas most affected by the infection are the food-producing ones, while the healthy ones cannot feed themselves. According to another UNICEF official, signs of this problem are beginning to show.
    The death toll in the country has reached at least 410, and many more undocumented deaths are feared. As of Friday, the death toll in West African countries Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone stood at 1,145 people, while the overall number of infection cases in the outbreak has climbed past 2,100.