Saturday 2 August 2014

International action on Ebola

As health officials in West Africa continue their efforts to contain the region’s deadly Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a $100 million response plan to supply the affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone with needed resources, including “several hundred more personnel . . . to supplement overstretched treatment facilities,” according to a WHO statement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also announced that it is sending around 50 of its experts to West Africa to assist in outbreak containment efforts.

Since March, there have been more than 1,300 confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease reported, including 729 deaths.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the human disease which may be caused by any of four of the five known Ebola viruses. The name comes from Ebola River in Republic of the Congo, where it was first found. One of the common signs of the disease is bleeding from mucous membranes and puncture sites. It is normally fatal.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the infection gets into humans through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs and other bodily fluids from a number of species including chimpanzees, gorillas and forest antelope.

“Ebola is worsening in West Africa,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden told reporters on Thursday. Containing the outbreak, he added, is “not going to be quick, it’s not going to be easy, but we know what to do.”

Frieden noted that “Ebola poses little risk to the U.S. general population.” As a precautionary measure, his agency has issued a Level 3 travel warning, advising travelers not to visit the three countries at the center of the outbreak unless absolutely necessary.

There is no vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease, and no specific treatments for it. Tekmira Pharmaceuticals’s RNA interference (RNAi)-based drug, “TKM-Ebola,” is the only candidate to have reached clinical trials, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put the firm’s Phase 1 trial on hold in early July, pending additional safety data. In a July 21 press release, Tekmira said it anticipates moving forward with the trial by the fourth quarter of this year.

Posted by Tim Sandle

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