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WHO informal consultation on how science can inform our response to Ebola virus disease outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) has convened an informal consultation on how science can inform the response to Ebola virus disease.

A group of scientists with expertise in Ebola control will work with WHO to review the current science and information emerging from the countries experiencing epidemics of Ebola virus disease. This expert advice will be used to inform WHO directions and actions in this current response and any future Ebola outbreaks.

Objectives of the consultation

The objective of the consultation is to obtain perspectives from the review of the available science in relation to diagnostic and virological findings, clinical features, epidemiology and the impact of Ebola disease control measures on the evolution of the outbreak.

These observations may be used by WHO to:

  • Consider if any changes in our control strategy are warranted, either immediately or later after further observations have generated stronger or clearer data and information.
  • Facilitate or coordinate the gathering of important data, which is currently not available, but is needed to achieve a more profound understanding of the situation for purposes of decision making.

Ebola virus claims first US victim

The patient with the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the US, Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, died in isolation at a Dallas, TX hospital on Wednesday, October 8th. The Liberian man was at the center of a widening concern about a potential health threat by the virus, which has claimed thousands of lives in several countries in West Africa. Duncan died more than a week after he was diagnosed with the Ebola virus on September 30th. He received treatment from an experimental antiviral drug, called Brincidofovir, following the approval of the drug’s use on an emergency basis by the US Food and Drug Administration.

CDC director announces new Ebola protocols

Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Tom Frieden said at a news conference yesterday (8th October) that the US is stepping up its response to the deadly Ebola virus. He said that Ebola should be considered “top of mind” for both healthcare providers and individuals when diagnosing symptoms. Dr. Frieden said that despite efforts to date “We can‘t get the risk (of Ebola) to zero in this country.”

Joining Dr. Frieden in the press briefing was Alejandor Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the DHS, who described new “enhanced measures” to be launched at major airports that will improve screening of potential Ebola cases. Airports to launch this program include JFK Airport in New York City; Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, NJ; Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago; and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Among the new screening measures are more detailed screening questions plus the taking of temperatures with a non-contact thermometer if there is a particular concern. The program starts at JFK Airport on Saturday, October 11th. The other four airports will launch their programs the following week. Dr. Frieden said only about 150 travelers per day enter this country from Ebola-affected areas. As such, it is very important to identify and properly screen them as soon as possible.

Dr. Frieden warned that people with Ebola-like symptoms may in fact have malaria, which is very common in West Africa. He encouraged Americans to take malaria precautions when traveling to potential “hot zone” areas.

•Date: 9th October 2014 • World/US •Type: Article • Topic: Pandemic planning

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