Ebola virus can remain live in men’s sperm for up to three MONTHS, health experts warn as the death toll nears 7,000

Ebola virus can remain live in men’s sperm for up to three MONTHS, health experts warn as the death toll nears 7,000

Men who recover from Ebola must abstain from having sex for three months or risk passing on the disease in their semen, health experts have warned.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the virus, which has claimed almost 7,000 lives in West Africa this year, can remain in a survivor’s seminal fluid for 82 days.
The WHO said: ‘Men who have recovered from Ebola virus disease should be aware that seminal fluid may be infectious for as long as three months after onset of symptoms.
‘Because of the potential to transmit the virus sexually during this time, they should maintain good personal hygiene after masturbation, and either abstain from sex (including oral sex) for three months after onset of symptoms, or use condoms if abstinence is not possible.’
Four studies examining a total of 43 patients found three men who survived the disease still had the live virus in their semen 40 days, 61 days and 82 days respectively, after the onset of symptoms.
Experts at the WHO said no case of sexual transmission of Ebola has been documented.
They added it is unclear whether semen that tests positive for the virus is actually infectious.
The four studies were carried out in different countries, and the first dates back more than 30 years.

The disease is highly contagious, and is spread via bodily fluids including blood, saliva and faeces.
More than 16,000 people are known to have been infected with Ebola since the current outbreak began in December last year.
Of those, 6,928 people have died, according to the UN health agency.
The virus causes haemorrhagic fever, and as yet there is no cure or vaccine.
Almost all cases and all but 15 deaths have been in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – the countries hardest hit during this outbreak.
In the last week the WHO reported 600 new cases across the three nations.
Symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting and in extreme cases, internal bleeding.
Two months ago the WHO launched an ambitious plan to stop the outbreak in West Africa.
Experts aimed to isolate 70 per cent of victims in the three hardest-hit countries by December 1.
New data reveals there have been a total of 16,169 cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and approximately three dozen cases elsewhere.

Liberia has recorded the highest number of cases and deaths, but the rate of infection is currently slowing there. In contrast, the disease is now spreading fastest in Sierra Leone.
Out of the three West African countries, only Guinea was on track to meet the December 1 goal, according to an update from WHO.
In Liberia, only 23 per cent of cases are isolated and 26 per cent of the required burial teams are in place.
In Sierra Leone, about 40 per cent of cases are isolated while 27 per cent of burial teams are prepared and ready.
The outbreak of Ebola was first reported in Guinea in March and spiralled out of control after being declared a public health emergency in August.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, who is directing the World Health Organisation’s response to Ebola, acknowledged in October that reaching today’s goal would be ‘really pushing the system hard’.
He said: ‘If we don’t do it in 60 days and we take 90 days: No. 1, a lot more people will die that shouldn’t; and No. 2, we will need that much more capacity on the ground to be able to manage the caseload.’
In recent weeks, there have been some successes in curbing the deadly disease, with cases in Liberia and Guinea appearing to be declining or stabilising.
However, the areas around Sierra Leone’s capital and a district in the country’s north are seeing a severe surge in cases.
Oyewale Tomori, of Redeemer’s University in Nigeria, who sits on WHO’s Emergency Ebola committee, said failing to reach the target now suggests Ebola will spread even further as capacities to respond become even more stretched.

‘We need to redouble our efforts to see what we can do to reduce the spread and catch up with the virus,’ he said.
‘Right now, it doesn’t look good.’
Dr. David Heymann, an Ebola expert who previously worked for the WHO, said: ‘We hope that what we’re seeing in Liberia will continue, but unfortunately what can happen with Ebola is that it can go to new countries, as it has already to Mali.
‘The most dangerous thing would be if people now think Ebola is over and become complacent.’
Earlier this month, the U.S. announced it was scaling back the size and number of Ebola clinics it had initially promised to build in Liberia, citing a drop in cases.
The ultimate goal of WHO’s plan now is to isolate all Ebola patients and provide safe burials by January 1.
They believe that the number of deaths is likely far higher, given the difficulty in collecting comprehensive figures and with Ebola having a high fatality rate.
The first case discovered in the current outbreak was in Guinea in December 2013.
In Mali, the most recent county in the region hit by Ebola, the WHO spoke of eight confirmed cases, six of which had proved fatal.
The tolls in Nigeria (eight fatalitie) and Senegal (one sole case) have remained unchanged for 57 days. Both countries have thus been taken off the danger list.
People caring for the sick or handling the bodies of people infected Ebola are especially exposed.
Health workers have been among the worst hit, with 340 deaths out of 592 cases.
Outside of Africa, there have been four Ebola cases diagnosed in the United States one of which was fatal.
There has also been one confirmed case in Spain, a nurse who has recovered.

Scientists Consider Repurposing Robots for Ebola

Scientists Consider Repurposing Robots for Ebola

Robotics scientists nationwide are pondering an intriguing possibility: Might robotic technologies deployed in rescue and disaster situations be quickly repurposed to help contain the Ebola epidemic?

A robot that could perform even some of the tasks of a human, such as waste removal or the burial of bodies, would have significant lifesaving potential. So, with the assistance of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, scientists are planning a series of brainstorming meetings. The first round will be held Nov. 7 at four locations: Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Massachusetts; Texas A&M; the University of California, Berkeley; and in Washington.

A prototype robot developed by engineers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
A prototype robot developed by engineers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The problem, scientists say, is that the technology is still limited when it comes to medicine. While mobile robots now can disarm roadside bombs and drive cars, they are taking only the first tentative steps toward the human levels of dexterity required in health care.

“You see the situation that the medical teams are facing, and I don’t even know if a robot is a solution,” said Taskin Padir, an assistant professor of robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic and an organizer of one of the meetings.

Still, he has been considering ways to repurpose an existing robot project as a tool for more safely performing decontamination tasks, like spraying bleach solution on clothing exposed to infected body fluids.

“As was the case in Fukushima, the Ebola crisis in Africa has revealed a significant gap between robot capabilities and what is needed in the realm of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance,” said Gill A. Pratt, a roboticist who is a program manager at the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. “We have a moral obligation to try and select, adapt and apply available technology where it can help, but we must also appreciate the difficulty of the problem.”

Many of the countries experiencing the worst of the Ebola epidemic are in no position to deploy robots. But rudimentary models are widely used in medical settings in the United States, and already nervous hospital administrators are reaching out to manufacturers.

The phone has been ringing continually in recent weeks, said Yulun Wang, the chief executive of InTouch Health, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based maker of telepresence robots used in hospitals for stroke diagnosis and other medical tasks.

Clients like Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Baylor University Hospital are asking whether the robots can be used to help diagnose Ebola infection, without a human present, or to facilitate virtual family visits for patients in isolation.

“They acquired our solutions for a very different purpose, and now they are wondering whether they are applicable for Ebola care,” Mr. Wang said.

The company makes a robot that travels around hospital corridors, guided by a physician at a remote location who “sees” via an Internet-connected device. Normally used to observe patients with the aid of high-quality video and audio, the robots could also be programmed to train health care personnel, Mr. Wang said.

“There isn’t a lot of Ebola expertise in the United States,” he said. “We can beam those experts into the 1,000 hospitals that have our systems instantly.”

Robots might be programmed to provide interactive checklists to medical personnel who are putting on and taking off gowns, much in the way aircraft pilots work from checklists on takeoff and landing.

Some experts have also suggested that telepresence robots might help language interpreters offer assistance in the field.

But dexterous robots that move without human guidance are only beginning to appear in laboratories. A robot that could work in close contact with a patient, replacing a nurse or a doctor, is still years away.

Humanoid rescue robots were on display in December in Florida at a contest created by Darpa, part of the Defense Department, which is hoping to spark innovation in the design of machines that are capable of operating autonomously in hostile environments.

But even the best robot, designed by a group of Japanese researchers, could drive a car only in a halting fashion, and only after the robot was attached to the steering wheel and brake and accelerator pedals. The challenges in a health care setting could be even greater.

One small example: Glass beakers and test tubes are extremely challenging for machine vision systems. Even the newest and least expensive versions, like Microsoft’s Kinect, struggle to recognize transparent glass objects.

Research efforts begun now may not bear fruit until the next epidemic, according to a number of the researchers.

Ken Goldberg, a professor of industrial engineering and operations research at the University of California, Berkeley, worries that the robotics researchers might seem opportunistic if they rush forward with unproven technology.

“We don’t want to be seen as capitalizing on the tragedy,” Dr. Goldberg said. “You don’t want to be seen as, ‘We’re sending in the robots.’ It sounds insensitive and crass.”

Scientists also cited cultural obstacles to the adoption of robots for medical uses.

“One of the first things I heard from medical responders is that one of the bottlenecks is in handling bodies,” said Robin Murphy, a specialist in rescue robotics and a professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M.

Families often cannot accept the idea that a loved one’s body might be handled by a machine. “It’s something we can do, but it has to be culturally sensitive,” she said.

North Korea shuts its borders to foreigners over Ebola fears

North Korea shuts its borders to foreigners over Ebola fears

North Korea will bar entry to foreigners on tourist trips from Friday because of worries over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
“We have just received official news from our partners in the DPRK that, as of tomorrow, tourists from any country, regardless of where they have recently visited, will not be permitted to enter,” said Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours, a travel company based in China that runs tours in North Korea.
DPRK is short for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
At least 4,877 people have died in the world’s worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, with nearly 10,000 cases recorded by Oct 19. Is thought, however, that the true toll could be three times as high.
It was not immediately clear if the North Korean ban also covered non-tourist members of the diplomatic or business community with ties to Pyongyang

Liberia deaths ‘far higher than reported’ as officials downplay epidemic

Liberia deaths ‘far higher than reported’ as officials downplay epidemic

Journalist Sorious Samura says people are dying in greater numbers than we know.
Journalist Sorious Samura says people are dying in greater numbers than we know.

The true death toll from the Ebola epidemic is being masked by chaotic data collection and people’s reluctance to admit that their loved ones had the virus, according to one of west Africa’s most celebrated film-makers.

Sorious Samura, who has just returned from making a documentary on the crisis in Liberia, said it is very clear on the ground that the true number of dead is far higher than the official figures being reported by the World Health Organisation.

Liberia accounts for more than half of all the official Ebola deaths, with a total of 2,458. Overall, the number of dead across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has exceeded 4,500.

Samura, a television journalist originally from Sierra Leone, said the Liberian authorities appeared to be deliberately downplaying the true number of cases, for fear of increasing alarm in the west African country.

“People are dying in greater numbers than we know, according to MSF [Médecins sans Frontières] and WHO officials. Certain departments are refusing to give them the figures – because the lower it is, the more peace of mind they can give people. The truth is that it is still not under control.”

WHO has admitted that problems with data-gathering make it hard to track the evolution of the epidemic, with the number of cases in the capital, Monrovia, going under-reported. Efforts to count freshly dug graves had been abandoned.

Local culture is also distorting the figures. Traditional burial rites involve relatives touching the body – a practice that can spread Ebola – so the Liberian government has ruled that Ebola victims must be cremated.

“They don’t like this burning of bodies,” said Samura, whose programme will air on 12 November on Al Jazeera English. “Before the government gets there they will have buried their loved ones and broken all the rules.”

Kim West of MSF admitted that calculating deaths was “virtually impossible”, adding that only when retrospective surveys were conducted would the true figure be known.

Samura believes sexual promiscuity among westerners could play a role in the virus’s spread abroad. Almost immediately after the outbreak was reported in March, Liberia’s health minister warned people to stop having sex because the virus was spread via bodily fluids as well as kissing.“I saw westerners in nightclubs, on beaches, guys picking up prostitutes,” he said. “Westerners who ought to know better are going to nightclubs and partying and dancing. It beggars belief.It’s scary.”

He said another striking feature was that the ineffectiveness of years of aid had been laid bare: “Money has poured in from the west, but it has gone to waste. Ebola should make us think about how the west gives aid to Africa; aid has not been used to create a system able to cope with this challenge. Ebola has exposed the fact it is not working. That money has gone to waste.”

A committee of MPs recently criticised the Department for International Development and the EU for failing to address the problem of aid being misappropriated. It said just £2.4m of £37m of aid had actually made its way to Liberia’s health ministry.

Flawed Ebola protocols left U.S. nurses vulnerable, health official says

Flawed Ebola protocols left U.S. nurses vulnerable, health official says

An Obama administration health official said Sunday that U.S. protocols on Ebola failed because they originally were intended for African field hospitals, while the White House came under another round of attacks for its refusal to restrict travel from nations suffering epidemic outbreaks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the original Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructions for dealing with the virus were taken from the World Health Organization’s protocol for Africa, where conditions are much different from those in U.S. hospitals.

Two nurses caring for an Ebola patient flown into the U.S. from Africa have contracted the virus as a result of those flawed rules, and dozens more people are under observation or could be threatened by contact with those nurses.

“The answer is that the protocol that was originally recommended was a protocol that’s a WHO protocol that’s best fitted for out in the field. It doesn’t cover every single aspect of your skin,” Dr. Fauci said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“That worked in the field,” Dr. Fauci said. “What’s very clear now, if you’re in an intensive care setting, doing things you would never do in the bush or in the field in Africa, very invasive-type procedures, that that is not the optimal way.”

Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital took out full-page ads in two newspapers Sunday to apologize for “mistakes” in their treatment of Ebola patient Thomas Duncan of Liberia, who died Oct. 8 after flying to Dallas to visit family.

Dr. Fauci said the CDC will issue new guidelines soon to state explicitly that no part of the skin should be exposed to the air.

“Very clearly, when you go into a hospital, have to intubate somebody, have all of the body fluids, you’ve got to be completely covered. So that’s going to be one of the things to be complete covering with no skin showing whatsoever,” he said Sunday.

The American Nurses Association and other groups have called for clearer guidelines, though the association’s president lamented the delay in issuing them — they were expected this weekend.

“We’re disappointed that the recommendations are still not available,” Pamela Cipriano said. “Having a lag in official direction from the CDC doesn’t instill the greatest confidence in their ability to rapidly respond.”

The exact means through which Dallas nurses Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson caught the disease remains unknown.

Republican lawmakers said Sunday that those missteps could have been prevented with a temporary travel ban on those with visas from Ebola hot zones such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“The first mistake that was made was allowing Thomas Duncan to get on an airplane and fly to the United States,” Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If he hadn’t flown to the United States, none of the other mistakes would have happened.”

More than two dozen countries in Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere have instituted Ebola-related travel bans, but public health officials continued to insist Sunday that entry restrictions would do little to prevent an outbreak on U.S. soil.

Dr. Fauci, who made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows, said a travel ban would have downsides

Washington Times

US: Fear of Ebola Closes Schools and Shapes Politics

US: Fear of Ebola Closes Schools and Shapes Politics

In the month since a Liberian man infected with Ebola traveled to Dallas, where he later died, the nation has marinated in a murky soup of understandable concern, wild misinformation, political opportunism and garden-variety panic.

Within the escalating debate over how to manage potential threats to public health — muddled by what is widely viewed as a bungled effort by government officials and the Dallas hospital that managed the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States — the line between vigilance and hysteria can be as blurry as the edges of a watercolor painting.

Julian Goldberg, who owns an Army goods store in Louisville, Ky., said several acquaintances had urged him to start selling protective gear along with other items.
Julian Goldberg, who owns an Army goods store in Louisville, Ky., said several acquaintances had urged him to start selling protective gear along with other items.

A crowd of parents last week pulled their children out of a Mississippi middle school after learning that its principal had traveled to Zambia, an African nation untouched by the disease.

On the eve of midterm elections with control of the United States Senate at stake, politicians from both parties are calling for the end of commercial air traffic between the United States and some African countries, even though most public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a shutdown would compound rather than alleviate the risks.

Carolyn Smith of Louisville last week took a rare break from sequestering herself at home to take her fiancé, Zachary Phillips, to a doctor’s appointment. “We’re not really going anywhere if we can help it,” she said. Credit
Carolyn Smith of Louisville last week took a rare break from sequestering herself at home to take her fiancé, Zachary Phillips, to a doctor’s appointment. “We’re not really going anywhere if we can help it,” she said. Credit

Carolyn Smith of Louisville, Ky., last week took a rare break from sequestering herself at home to take her fiancé to a doctor’s appointment. She said she was reluctant to leave her house after hearing that a nurse from the Dallas hospital had flown to Cleveland, over 300 miles from her home. “We’re not really going anywhere if we can help it,” Ms. Smith, 50, said.

The panic in some way mirrors what followed the anthrax attacks of 2001 and the West Nile virus outbreak in New York City in 1999. But fed by social media and the 24-hour news cycle, the first American experience with Ebola has become a lesson in the ways things that go viral electronically can be as potent and frightening as those that do so biologically. The result has ignited a national deliberation about the conflicts between public health interest, civil liberties and common sense.

“This is sort of comparable to when people were killed in terror attacks,” said Roxane Cohen Silver, a professor of psychology in the department of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine.

Ms. Silver studied and wrote about people who heavily consumed media after the bombings at the Boston Marathon in 2013 and “what we found is that individuals who were exposed to a great deal of media within the first week reported more acute stress than did people who were actually at the marathon.”

In Rock Island, Ill., Barhyeau Philips said he and his family would stay home for the next few weeks since the arrival of his daughter Jennifer from Liberia.
In Rock Island, Ill., Barhyeau Philips said he and his family would stay home for the next few weeks since the arrival of his daughter Jennifer from Liberia.

In his work on panic in various disasters, Anthony Mawson, a visiting professor in the School of Health Sciences at Jackson State University in Mississippi, found that while physical danger is presumed to lead to mass panic, in actual physical emergencies “expressions of mutual aid are common and often predominate.” But the threat of an illness that has infected only two people in the United States appears to have had the opposite effect, inciting a widespread desire to hide and shut things down.

“Obviously there’s fear,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview Sunday on ABC. He said fear of the disease is dramatically outstripping current risks. “We always get caught when we say zero,” he said. “Nothing is zero. It’s extraordinarily low, much less than the risk of many other things which happens to them in their lives.”

The health care system, which has urged calm, has at times sent mixed messages that can promote fear. “There are two elements to trust,” said Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon. “One is competence and one is honesty. The hospital in Dallas changed its story three times. So while most people know there are very few cases and this is not an easily transmissible virus, they also know the human system for managing this is imperfect, and they don’t know whether they are getting the straight story about it.”

Republicans, finding both public health and political messages, have made a similar case against the government response.

“If this was one incidence where people thought the government wasn’t doing what the government was supposed to do, it would be much less of a reaction than we see now, where there’s this long list of the government being one step behind, whether it’s the border, the IRS, the Secret Service,” Senator Roy D. Blunt, Republican of Missouri, said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Now this health concern is more real than it would be if there wasn’t a sense that the government is just not being managed in a way that people would want it to be managed.”

With fear riding high, Democrats, particularly those running for office, have supported a travel ban.

“Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community,” said Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, a Democrat in a tight race, “a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the president can take to protect the American people.”

As is often the case in contemporary American life, parents have been at the forefront of the concerns.

Nigeria set to be declared free of virus

Nigeria set to be declared free of virus

_78296866_78296865Nigeria is expected to be declared officially free Today, Monday, after six weeks with no new cases.

Africa’s most populous country won praise for its swift response after an infected Liberian diplomat brought the disease there in July.

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared Senegal Ebola-free on Friday.

The current outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa, most in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone

An estimated 70% of those infected have died in those countries.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to discuss how to strengthen their response to the threat posed by Ebola.

European countries have committed more than 500m euros (£400m; $600m) but the UK is pressing to double that amount.

The money is being sought to help reinforce over-stretched healthcare systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and to mitigate the damage Ebola is doing to their economies.

Ahead of the talks, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggested the EU could send a civilian EU mission to West Africa that would serve as a platform for sending medical staff.

Another diplomat said there were plans for three countries to spearhead aid to the region – the UK for Sierra Leone, France for Guinea and the US for Liberia.

Earlier, the Spanish government said a nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa had tested negative for the virus.

The result suggests Teresa Romero, 44, is no longer infected although a second test is required before she can be declared free of Ebola.

Ms Romero contracted the virus when treating two infected patients in a Madrid hospital.

In another development, US health officials said most of the people quarantined after coming into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had been given the all-clear. The 21-day monitoring period applied to about 50 people.

Two nurses at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas became infected with Ebola after treating Mr Duncan, who was from Liberia. He died on 8 October.

On Sunday, the Pentagon announced it would prepare a 30-person rapid reaction medical support team that could provide help to civilian doctors in the US confronted with possible Ebola cases.

It said the team would not be sent to West Africa.
Nigeria praised

The WHO can declare an Ebola outbreak over if two incubation periods of 21 days pass with no new cases. The last reported case in Nigeria was discovered on 5 September, and the country is now on the verge of a clean bill of health.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says that although the nation is heaving a collective sigh of relief, experts warn that Ebola will probably return to Nigeria.

The outbreak there began when Patrick Sawyer, an American-Liberian citizen, was diagnosed with the illness in July


Nigeria declared a national public health emergency and Mr Sawyer later died of the disease, followed by seven Nigerians.

These included Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, who diagnosed Mr Sawyer and is credited with helping to contain the outbreak at its source.

Dr Adadevoh’s son, Bankole Cardoso, told the BBC that because Mr Sawyer had been so quickly diagnosed, Nigeria was able to trace all those who could possibly have contracted the disease from him.

“That was probably the difference between us and our West African neighbours,” he said.

John Vertefeuille, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that Nigeria had taken the right steps to contain the outbreak.

“Nigeria acted quickly and early and on a large scale” he told AFP news agency. “They acted aggressively, especially in terms of contact-tracing”, he added.

Source: BBC News.

Second Spanish priest dies of Ebola after being evacuated to Madrid

Second Spanish priest dies of Ebola after being evacuated to Madrid

lat-la-fg-spanish-priest-ebola-wre0022354262-20140921A second Spanish priest has died of the Ebola virus, the Spanish Ministry of Health said Thursday.

Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, died Thursday afternoon at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health told the Los Angeles Times.

The priest was medical director of the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, and is believed to have contracted Ebola while working there.

He was evacuated by plane to Madrid on Monday, and was said at that time to be “stable and conscious,”according to health officials.

On Wednesday, officials at the Order of San Juan de Dios said the priest was stable but in grave condition.

Another Spanish priest, 75-year-old Miguel Pajares, was the first European to die of the disease, despite receiving a dose of the experimental drug ZMapp.

Pajares, who worked in a hospital in Liberia, was also transported to the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, where he died Aug. 12.

The Ebola virus is believed to have infected more than 6,200 people in West Africa and killed more than 2,900 of them so far. Healthcare workers trying to fight the disease in Ebola wards are especially vulnerable. At least 208 doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are believed to have died from the virus, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization.

Why I Became an Ebola Vaccine Guinea Pig

Why I Became an Ebola Vaccine Guinea Pig


As the U.S. prepares to send 3,000 troops to West Africa to help fight the deadliest Ebola crisis on record—infecting nearly 5,000 people in West Africa and killing roughly half of them—the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has begun testing an Ebola vaccine in varying doses on humans.

One of NIAID’s vaccine recipients took to Reddit on Wednesday to document his experience in the trial. “Animostic_shep” says he’s the “13th human” to receive the vaccine in a group of 20 participants—and the third one to be injected with the vaccine’s highest dose. He claims he’s pursuing a career in biomedical research and is using money from the trial to help pay for his grad school applications. NIAID declined to provide personal information about the study’s participants.

The Daily Beast combed the comment thread for the most enlightening questions and answers about the trial and Animostic_shep’s response to the vaccine.

Q: It definitely won’t give you Ebola, right? How does it work?

A: No. It’s a viral DNA vector. It causes some of my cells to express Ebola proteins to illicit an immune response. The DNA can’t replicate and will be gone within a couple weeks.

Q: What were some of the possible side effects the doctors warned you about?

A: The worst one is a severe allergic reaction, but they’ve never seen that in the VRC and they’re well prepared if it does. I have to report symptoms based on their scale of “mild, moderate, or severe” where mild isn’t enough to mess with my day-to-day, but severe is “incapacitating.”

Q: So there’s no side effects like uncontrollable diarrhea or bleeding profusely through your eyes?
A: They only have a sample size of 12 (13 with me) so they really don’t know for sure, but the components of the vaccine have been used in other studies, just not this combination. That gives them a general idea. The worst they’ve had is a fever from one of the other two people that got the same dose I did.
Q: How much money are they paying you to participate?

A: $100 for each of 2 pre-trial evaluations. $275 for today. $25 for keeping a 7-day diary. Then $175 each time I come back for blood draws. That amounts to almost $1700 over 48 weeks.

Q: That’s not a lot of money to suffer from serious complications if the vaccine has flaws. What happens if you fall ill?

A: If anything goes wrong and is related to the study, I’ll get free treatment at the NIH Clinical Center. It’s full of most of the best doctors in the world, so I’m not worried. I also never signed anything that says I can’t sue them if something does go wrong. There’s actually a line in my consent form that says I can.

Q: When do you have to check in with doctors?

A: I call to check up tomorrow, then they’ll draw on Sunday, next Wednesday, 3 weeks after that, then it gets spaced further and further until the last one at 48 weeks.

Q: Do you have to be abnormally healthy to participate?

A: I’m supposed to maintain my lifestyle. I’ve been asked to not start any new diets or workouts. I’m not obligated to do so, but if I do it could cause fluctuations in my bloodwork, which will cause problems for the researchers and probably result in me getting stuck with more needles.

Q: Do you think you’ll feel pressure to go to Africa and help since you’re potentially safer than other health care workers? From yourself or outside influences?

A: I would actually love the opportunity, but I don’t even have a passport so it’s unlikely and no, I doubt I’ll be pressured.

Q: Where do I sign up to be a guinea pig?

A: If you’re close to DC/MD/VA, check out the VRC website. If not, researchmatch.org is great.

Source: The Daily Beast.

A MUST READ: Everything you need to know about Ebola.

A MUST READ: Everything you need to know about Ebola.


The deadliest outbreak of Ebola virus on record has sparked fears that the killer virus could spread from West Africa to other regions and continents.The outbreak began with just a handful of cases in Guinea in March. Since then, that number has grown to 909 confirmed cases and another 414 probable or suspected in that country, Sierra Leone and Liberia and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.Some 729 people of the 1,323 total confirmed and possible infections have died, reports WHO as of July 27.The WHO says “drastic action is needed” to contain Ebola, warning that previously undetected chains of transmission are boosting the numbers of sick and increasing the chances that the disease spreads from Africa. “This epidemic is without precedent,” said Bart Janssens, director of operations for Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders. “It’s absolutely not under control, and the situation keeps worsening. … There are many places where people are infected but we don’t know about it.”

What’s the latest?

The Ebola outbreak has been centered in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where authorities have been working to contain the virus. Ebola outbreak kills an American Fighting Ebola on the front lines American doctor battling Ebola In Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced Wednesday that, “without exceptions, all schools are ordered closed pending further directive from the Ministry of Education.” She also declared Friday a nonworking day “to be used for the disinfection and chlorination of all public facilities.” On the same day, the Peace Corps said it was temporarily removing its 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea due to the outbreak.

The announcement comes as two Peace Corps volunteers were isolated after coming in contact with someone who ended up dying of Ebola, a spokeswoman for the group said. She said these two Americans “are not symptomatic,” and the Peace Corps will work to return them to the United States once they get medical clearance to travel.

Concerns about Ebola aren’t confined to those three countries.
Last week, a Liberian government official who had contracted the virus died in isolation at a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria.
Patrick Sawyer, a naturalized American citizen who worked in Liberia, flew to Nigeria intending to attend a conference. After exhibiting symptoms upon arrival July 20, he was hospitalized and died on July 25. He’s the first American to die in the outbreak, though two other U.S. aid workers in Liberia have contracted Ebola and are being treated. Sawyer’s was the only known case in Nigeria, WHO said. And the British government convened an emergency meeting to discuss the threat of Ebola to the UK, even though no case has been reported there. Officials discussed what measures could be taken if UK nationals in West Africa should become infected, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.
Why was someone infected with Ebola allowed on a plane?
It is unknown whether Sawyer was displaying symptoms before he flew from Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, to Ghana and then to Togo to switch planes to fly to Lagos. His Minnesota-based widow, Decontee Sawyer, told CNN that he had cared for his ill sister in Liberia, though she said he didn’t know at the time that his sister had Ebola. When he arrived in Nigeria, he told officials that he had no direct contact with anyone who had the disease. Because it takes between two and 21 days before Ebola symptoms to show, there’s little health officials can do to stop an asymptomatic person from flying to another country, said CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta.
So, serious viruses such as Ebola may be just “a plane ride away” from reaching the developed world, according to Marty Cetron of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mindful of this, Nigeria-based airline companies ASKY and Arik Air suspended operations at the end of July into Monrovia and Freetown, the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone, respectively. ASKY said passengers departing from Conakry, Guinea, would be screened for signs of the virus.Cetron says it is unlikely the virus would spread on an airplane unless a passenger were to come into contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids.

Stressing the key role that those working at airports play in keeping Ebola in check, the CDC spokesman said: “Being educated, knowing the symptoms, recognizing what to do, having a response to protocol, knowing who to call — those are really, really important parts of the global containment strategies to deal with threats like this.”

What else is being done to stop the spread of the disease?
Ebola patients are being isolated by health officials in West Africa, and those who have come into contact with them are being told to monitor their temperatures. President Sirleaf has closed most of Liberia’s borders with neighboring countries, and the few points of entry that are still open will have Ebola testing centers. The President also placed restrictions on public gatherings and ordered hotels, restaurants and other entertainment venues to play a five-minute video on Ebola safety. The CDC has issued an alert to health workers in the United States to watch out for any patients who may have recently traveled to West Africa and could have contracted the virus.

Why does Ebola generate such fear?
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) describes Ebola as “one of the world’s most deadly diseases.””It is a highly infectious virus that can kill up to 90% of the people who catch it, causing terror among infected communities,” it says. The death rate in this outbreak has dropped to roughly 55% because of early treatment.

There is also no vaccination against it.
Of Ebola’s five subtypes, the Zaire strain — the first to be identified — is considered the most deadly.The WHO said preliminary tests on the Ebola virus in Guinea in March suggested that the outbreak there was this strain, though that has not been confirmed. Tracking the Ebola virus in Nigeria Ebola scientist: ‘It’s spectacular’ Ebola epidemic ‘out of control’ Fighting Ebola in urban Africa

What is Ebola, and what are its symptoms?
The Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever, which according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), refers to a group of viruses that affect multiple organ systems in the body and are often accompanied by bleeding.The virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), where one of the first outbreaks occurred in 1976.

Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. These symptoms can appear two to 21 days after infection.The WHO says these nonspecific early symptoms can be mistaken for signs of diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, meningitis or even the plague. MSF says some patients may also develop a rash, red eyes, hiccups, chest pains and difficulty breathing and swallowing.

The early symptoms progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
Ebola can only be definitively confirmed by five different laboratory tests.

How is it treated?
There are no specific treatments for Ebola. MSF says patients are isolated and then supported by health care workers.”This consists of hydrating the patient, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure and treating them for any complicating infections,” it says. There have been cases of healthcare workers contracting the virus from patients, and the WHO has issued guidance for dealing with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.

Carers are advised to wear impermeable gowns and gloves and to wear facial protection such as goggles or a medical mask to prevent splashes to the nose, mouth and eyes. MSF says it contained a 2012 outbreak in Uganda by placing a control area around its treatment center. An outbreak is considered over once 42 days — double the incubation period of the disease — have passed without any new cases.

How does it spread?
The WHO says it is believed that fruit bats may be the natural host of the Ebola virus in Africa, passing on the virus to other animals.
Humans contract Ebola through contact with the bodily fluids of infected animals or the bodily fluids of infected humans.
MSF says that while the virus is believed to be able to survive for some days in liquid outside an infected organism, chlorine disinfection, heat, direct sunlight, soaps and detergents can kill it.

MSF epidemiologist Kamiliny Kalahne said outbreaks usually spread in areas where hospitals have poor infection control and limited access to resources such as running water.”People who become sick with it almost always know how they got sick: because they looked after someone in their family who was very sick — who had diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding — or because they were health staff who had a lot of contact with a sick patient,” she said

Source: CNN