Ebola | KUOW News and Information

Ebola

When Ebola erupted in West Africa a few years ago, it was catastrophic.

But one good thing emerged from the outbreak: The development of an Ebola vaccine-- a powerful vaccine.

When Ebola struck West Africa a few years ago, the world was defenseless. There was no cure. No vaccine. And the result was catastrophic: More than 11,000 people died. Nearly 30,000 were infected.

Now it looks like such a large outbreak is unlikely to ever happen again. Ever.

The world now has a potent weapon against Ebola: a vaccine that brings outbreaks to a screeching halt, scientists report Thursday in The Lancet.

It sounds like the plot of a movie.

Police discover a body in a warehouse. It's a young man who's been stabbed multiple times. They swab the body — and it tests positive for a deadly infectious disease.

Investigators realize the people who killed him — members of a street gang — may now be spreading the virus without knowing it.

This actually happened in the West African nation of Liberia in 2015. The deadly disease was Ebola.

White House Says It Will Cut Ebola Funding To Address Zika

Apr 6, 2016

Top officials with the Obama administration said Wednesday that they'll redirect $589 million toward the Zika virus response. Most of that money was to be used to deal with Ebola virus.

Almost two months ago, the Obama administration requested $1.9 billion from Congress to respond to the Zika threat.

"But Congress has yet to act," Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said in a news conference. "In the absence of congressional action, we must scale up Zika preparedness and response activities right now."

Last Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the end to two horrific years of the West African Ebola epidemic.

Later on the same day, the Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone announced that a patient with Ebola died in the Tonkilli region of that country.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the new case in Sierra Leone was not that it occurred so soon after WHO's proclamation, but that Ebola wasn't diagnosed until after the patient died.

One day after the West Africa region that suffered a two-year Ebola epidemic was declared free of the deadly disease, Sierra Leone has confirmed another death from Ebola. The World Health Organization says there's still a risk of more flare-ups.

Officials are now trying to trace any contacts the person who died may have had, in a desperate attempt to cut short a potential new chain of transmission.

Guinea is set to celebrate with concerts and fireworks Wednesday, following the World Health Organization's announcement that the country is now officially Ebola-free.

On Tuesday, WHO declared that after two years and over 2,500 deaths, the Ebola epidemic in Guinea has officially ended. The announcement marks the passing of two 21-day incubation periods since the last person to have contracted Ebola — a baby girl called Noubia — was cured of the virus.

A 15-year-old boy died of Ebola in Liberia on Monday night, the first person in the country to perish from the disease since July, health officials say.

After twice being declared Ebola-free, Liberia is reporting new cases of the disease.

The first case that was confirmed, according to the World Health Organization, was a 10-year-old boy in the capital, Monrovia. He fell ill on Nov. 14, was hospitalized a few days later and confirmed as having Ebola Thursday.

It's still unclear how the boy became infected, says WHO's special representative on Ebola, Bruce Aylward.

With 42 days having passed since the last negative blood test from an Ebola patient in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization has declared the deadly virus is no longer being transmitted in the country. Ebola killed more than 3,500 people in Sierra Leone's outbreak that began in May of 2014.

Marking the occasion Saturday, Dr. Anders Nordström of the WHO says that in Sierra Leone, "8,704 people were infected and 3,589 have died, 221 of them healthcare workers, all of whom we remember on this day."

So It Turns Out There's A Lot We Don't Know About Ebola

Oct 17, 2015

"If there's anything that this outbreak has taught me, it's that I'm often wrong," says Dr. Daniel Bausch.

He's talking about Ebola. He's one of the world's leading experts on the virus — an infectious disease specialist at Tulane University and a senior consultant to the World Health Organization.

And as he makes clear, he's still got a lot to learn.

A Scottish nurse who recovered from Ebola in January has been medevaced from Glasgow to London in a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane specially equipped for infection control.

Doctors say Pauline Cafferkey is suffering "an unusual late complication" from her previous Ebola infection. They note that "Pauline previously had the Ebola virus and this is therefore not a new infection."

This is a landmark week in West Africa. For the first time since the Ebola outbreak, there were no new cases reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

There are many unsung heroes who deserve credit for this milestone. One of them is Dr. Boie Jalloh, age 30. Ten days after he showed up for his medical residency at 34th Military Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he received a letter requesting his presence at the hospital's newly constructed Ebola unit.

Doctors Without Borders is calling it a "champagne moment." The World Health Organization says it's a "game changer."

In a small trial, an experimental vaccine protected 100 percent of participants who were at high risk for the virus. Although the results are preliminary, they offer new hope of finally stamping out the virus in West Africa — and preventing the next epidemic.

The videos are almost unbelievable. Ketchup slides out of the jar and you don't even have to give it a thump. Glue slips out of the bottle without a molecule left inside. And what about getting that last smidgen of toothpaste from a used tube? No problem.

Welcome to the world of LiquiGlide.

It started in December 2013. A 2-year-old boy in Guinea was running a fever. He was vomiting. There was blood in his stool.

He was most likely "patient zero" — the first case in the Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa.

A few months ago, I met a grandpa whom I'll never forget.

His name is Edwin Koryan. And he's a pharmacist in Voinjama, Liberia. Edwin remembers the moment he felt the first symptoms of Ebola. He was taking care of his 5-year-old granddaughter Komasa. They were sharing a room and a bed.

Time's 'Person Of The Year' Is Feeling Kind Of Lost

Feb 9, 2015

"And now," the public health officer murmured apologetically, "here is the bad news."

I did not need any bad news.

For the past six weeks, I'd faced daily deaths in the Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone where I'd been working as a nurse, a seemingly losing battle with the disease and colleagues falling sick with Ebola.

Seattle E.R. nurse Marc Bouma is back in the Northwest after treating Ebola patients in a remote part of Liberia.

Maj. Dr. Eric Jacobson checks the temperature of a soldier in the controlled monitoring area of Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the morning of Jan. 13, 2015. It was day 13 of the 21 day Ebola monitoring period for the cohort that returned from Liberia.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The 100 soldiers from Fort Carson’s 615th Engineer Company have their temperature recorded twice a day. They’ve been lining up for these temperature checks for more than two weeks now. They’ve gotten so good at it, the whole battalion can get through the line in 20 minutes.

A health care worker gives some much needed maternal care to an infant whose mother died from Ebola.
Courtesy of Karin Huster

Most days, Seattle nurse Karin Huster woke up around 6 a.m. for a quick bucket shower and breakfast before walking over to the Ebola treatment unit in Port Loko, Sierra Leone.

Outside, ambulances would queue up at all times of the day, packed with as many as eight patients at all stages of illness.

Editor's note: Some audiences may find portions of this content disturbing.

The World Health Organization reports that the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone may be leveling off — although nearly 250 new cases were reported there last week.

A few years ago, disease ecologist David Hayman made the discovery of a lifetime.

He was a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. But he spent a lot of that time hiking through the rain forest of Ghana, catching hundreds of fruit bats.

"We would set large nets, up in the tree canopies," he says. "And then early morning, when the bats are looking for fruit to feed on, we'd captured them."

Hayman didn't want to hurt the bats. He just wanted a few drops of their blood.

Dr. Senga Omeonga met us under a huge mango tree outside St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Behind the main building, several dozens of disinfected rubber boots worn by health care workers were propped upside down on stakes planted on a patch of lawn.

This is the hospital where Omeonga works as general surgeon and the head of Infection Prevention Control. It's also where he came down with Ebola on Aug. 2.

He says his days in treatment were "a living hell." And the experience has changed his view of the world — and the way he treats patients.

Ebola may have slid off the nation's worry list, but that doesn't mean the United States is ready to handle an outbreak of Ebola or another infectious disease, an analysis says. That includes naturally occurring outbreaks like dengue fever, tuberculosis and measles, as well as the use of bioterrorism agents like anthrax.

Sixteen people being monitored at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the Ebola virus have been cleared by medical personnel.  

The 15 service members and one civilian returned last month from a mission to Liberia in support of Operation United Assistance. 

The group celebrated Thanksgiving in isolation during their 21 days of controlled monitoring.  They were checked twice daily for signs of the virus by Army medical personnel.

Here's what it takes to design a better Ebola suit: a roomful of university students and professors, piles of canvas and Tyvek cloth, sewing machines, glue guns ... and chocolate syrup.

Even Youseph Yazdi, head of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID), still isn't sure what the syrup was for.

Ebola has killed thousands, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in economic devastation and set off a global panic. But aid officials are hoping it also may help to address long-festering shortcomings in West Africa's health care systems.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea all suffer a dearth of doctors, a lack of supplies and training, and a concentration of clinics in cities rather than in the rural areas where many people still live. Those same problems have thwarted global attempts to eliminate quieter killers, like malaria and tuberculosis, in poor countries.

This Saturday, Liberian Americans living in the Northwest are hosting a fundraiser for Ebola relief efforts in West Africa.

The proceeds will pay for essential supplies. But for the Liberian community in the Puget Sound region, the event is a way to stay involved from thousands of miles away.

Wencke Petersen came to Liberia in late August to do what she normally does for Doctors Without Borders in hotspots all over the world — manage supplies.

But the supplies she was meant to organize hadn't arrived yet. So she was asked to help with another job: standing at the main gate of the walled-in compound, turning people away when the unit was full.

For five weeks, she gave people the bad news.

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