The World Health Organization (WHO) said the rate of Ebola infections might be slowing in Sierra Leone, according to a Jan. 7 report from Reuters. Although the pace of new infections may be slowing, there were still about 250 new confirmed cases reported in Sierra Leone in the last week.
‘There are signs that case incidence may have leveled off in Sierra Leone, although with 248 new confirmed cases reported in the week to 4 January 2015, it remains by far the worst-affected country at present,’ according to a quote attributed to the WHO.
More than 8,200 people have died in West Africa since the Ebola outbreak began in late 2013. There have been almost 28,000 reported cases of Ebola infections in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the countries described as ground zero for the outbreak.
The WHO said it would attack Ebola with a new battle plan: ‘An increasing emphasis will be put on the rapid deployment of smaller treatment facilities to ensure that capacity is matched with demand in each area.’
BLU-MED Response Systems offers deployable field hospitals and Ebola isolation units that are suitable for use in the fight against the virus. Currently, two BLU-MED Mobile Hospitals purchased by a German charity are providing 44 beds in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia.
Johnson & Johnson: Ebola Vaccine Heads to West Africa
Johnson & Johnson announced that it has started administering the first Ebola vaccinations to volunteers in West Africa, according to a Jan. 7 report on NJ.com. The vaccine is intended to prevent healthy people from being sickened by the potentially deadly virus.
The drug-maker and its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies reportedly produced more than 400,000 regimens of the vaccine for use by April. The same reported stated that a total of 2 million regimens would be available by the end of the year. If needed, production could be ramped up to 5 million regimens in 12 to 18 months, officials told NJ.com
Vatican Earmarks $3.55M for Ebola Care
The Vatican is increasing its assistance to West African countries battling the largest Ebola outbreak in history, according to a Jan. 7 Associated Press report on ABCNews.com. The $3.55 million pledge is to be used for buying protective gear for caregivers, transporting sick patients and caring for children orphaned by the outbreak.
According to the AP, most of the money will be used to help local parishes provide grassroots support to Ebola victims and help fight the stigma faced by many Ebola survivors. The Vatican also plans to use some of the money for training clergy to offer better physical, emotional and spiritual support to Ebola victims.
Reuters: Liberia Sees Surge in New Ebola Cases in Border County
An outbreak of Ebola near Liberia’s border with Sierra Leone reverses a recent trend of fewer Liberians being infected by the potentially deadly virus. From Dec. 1 through Dec. 25, at least 49 new Ebola cases were reported in sparsely populated Grand Cape Mount County, according to a Dec. 29 Reuters report.
More than 3,400 people have died in Liberia in the worst Ebola epidemic on record, and the World Health Organization (WHO) believes the number of fatalities may be underreported. Almost 7,900 people have died in West Africa, the outbreak’s epicenter.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, a government health administrator blamed suspected and probable Ebola victims migrating into the country and denial of Ebola’s existence by tribal leaders for the increase in new cases.
‘This is a serious situation and we are going to Cape Mount (Sunday) along with our international partners and UN agencies,’ said Tolbert Nyensuwah, assistant minister for preventive services and the head of Liberia’s Ebola response. ‘We are going there to open an Ebola Treatment Unit.’
BLU-MED Response Systems® offers field hospitals and isolation units that are suitable for use in the battle against Ebola. Currently, two BLU-MED Mobile Hospitals purchased by a German charity are providing 44 beds in Monrovia. Along with Sierra Leone and Guinea, Liberia is one of three countries considered to be ground zero for the Ebola epidemic.
With 400 new Ebola cases reported in West Africa in just four days, the outbreak has infected more than 20,000 people. Sierra Leone has passed Liberia in the total number of Ebola cases, according to Time’s Dec. 29 report, ‘Ebola Cases Reach Over 20,000.’
In a policy shift, Liberia has eased up on an order demanding cremation of deceased Ebola victims. More than 2,000 bodies have been cremated since government implemented the unpopular policy several months ago during the height of the outbreak.
Ciatta Bishop, head of the Liberia’s Ebola burial team, said the government secured a 25-acre parcel of land where Ebola victims can now be buried, according to a Dec. 30 Associated Press report on the ABC News website.
In other Ebola news, a new study suggests the 2014 Ebola outbreak may have started when a small, insect-eating bat came into contact with a 2-year-old boy in the Guinean village of Méliandou more than a year ago. The boy, Emile Ouamouno, is the infection’s earliest known victim. His death was soon followed by the deaths of his mother, sister and grandmother, according to the National Geographic report, ‘Insect-Eating Bat May Be Origin of Ebola Outbreak, New Study Suggests.’
The National Geographic report cites a study published in EMBO Molecular Medicine, from an international team led by Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin.
In a Dec. 29 report, Scientific American wonders ‘Is Ebola Here to Stay?’ Reporter Dina Fine Maron wrote that, in the future, the virus could be classified as an endemic, or reoccurring malady that does not need to be reintroduced to an area from an outside source. Maron uses the flu in the United States as an example of an endemic.
If Ebola is classified as an endemic it would change how the world responds to future outbreaks. It also would be a black eye.
‘To say it (Ebola) is endemic is, in one sense, to admit failure,” said Christopher Dye, the director of strategy in the office of the director general at the World Health Organization. ‘Our goal, and our expectation, is that we will eliminate infection from the human population.’
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