Ebola virus – This Week in Global Health

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TWiGH is a weekly “live” roundup of Global Health news. This episode deals with the Ebola epidemic. It will start at 7pm London / 2pm EST. To subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get the “show notes”, click here: http://bit.ly/TWiGH_ShowNotes

The Evolution of the Ebola outbreak:
• Researchers believe that the first human case of the Ebola Virus disease leading to the outbreak appeared in Guinea in December but it was not until March 2014 that the MoH of Guinea reported an outbreak of Ebola virus disease.

• By the end of August, the disease had spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal (http://bit.ly/1q2QYyg) (http://tmsnrt.rs/1m5ZSNI).

• 35 people have also died from a separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

• The outbreak in this country stems from a different virus strain, which appears to be less drastic that the one ravaging West Africa.

• The Congo outbreak, in contrast to the West-Africa outbreak, is confined to four villages in one county, and is linked to one initial case, first reported to the health organization on Aug. 26.

Facts about Ebola Virus Disease
Incubation period 2-21 days
Early symptoms: headache, fever, sore throat, weakness
Later: vomiting, diarrhoea, organ failure, bleeding
Ebola is not airborne but DOES have the potential to become (Ebola-Reston virus 1989)
The Ebola-Reston virus popped up again in the Philippines in 2008 (5 people who worked on a pig farm – nobody died)
It is more likely that as it spreads, due to selective pressure, those strains of the virus that spread more easily become more prominent.
For more information to go the WHO webpage: http://bit.ly/1s37EKM

Current status of the Ebola epidemic
• The death toll from the Ebola outbreak has risen to more than 2,400 and this is likely to be an underestimate, as remarked by the World Health Organisation’s director general Margaret Chan.

• Of these casualties, approximately 1,137 have been reported in Liberia, 557 in Guinea, 524 in Sierra Leone, and 8 in Nigeria (http://bbc.in/Y3UEHt) (http://bit.ly/1m5XCGn)
Include screenshot of map illustrating spread of disease (http://bbc.in/Y3UEHt)

• Ebola has reaped a high toll on health workers who have acted as first responders. Liberia alone has lost at least three doctors to the virus and 32 health workers.

Vaccines and drugs for Ebola
Because of the Ebola crisis situation, several experimental drugs and vaccines have been given a green light into clinical trials and testing faster than they normally would.

There are two experimental vaccines currently being tested or soon to be this month by US, UK, or Canadian groups. Both use viral vectors as their backgrounds and have been shown to be effective in monkeys.

Two experimental drugs are being tested in this epidemic. ZMapp, a cocktail of anti-Ebola antibodies has been given to 4 people and 2 have survived. Another drug TKM-Ebola disrupts the virus’s ability to replicate.

Another very promising therapeutic may be using whole blood transfusions or convalescent serum from survivors containing antibodies against the virus. This testing has already started and may be a very good strategy since so many people have been infected and many are surviving

Jobs at MSF

MSF recruits medical and non-medical staff to work in its projects, all of whom bring professional abilities, experience, and a commitment to and concern for the people they help.
Of the highest priority right now are field staff:MSF UK is currently interested in receiving applications from medical staff who would be willing to work in Ebola response projects in West Africa.

If you meet the general MSF requirements for the position you are applying for, have significant, recent clinical experience in infectious diseases, and would be available to spend four to six weeks in the field, please apply online and mention in your motivation letter that you are applying to work within the Ebola response.

Visit http://bit.ly/1ARIQUX to determine if you are suited and qualified to work as a member of MSF field staff. Please read all of the information carefully before submitting your application.

Please watch: “Know how interpret an epidemic curve?”


1118marilyn says:

Thanks so much, this was great! Not sure if you saw my comments on the side chat during the live stream – but I wanted to ask what you think is the main factor that makes this different than other outbreaks in the past that have been contained more quickly? How much of a role does it play that this is a more virulent strain? 

Jessica Taaffe says:

If you follow me on Twitter (@JessicaTaaffe) you already know how much I obviously enjoyed participating this show on Ebola! 😉 We weren't able to go into great depth of all of the topics surrounding the current Ebola crisis, but we covered a lot of very important points and perspectives!  And, I hope @Doctors Without Borders / MSF-USA got our virtual hugs and applause for their heroic work during the epidemic.

Global Health with Greg Martin says:

Watch last nights episode of TWiGH which focussed on Ebola #globalhealth   #ebola  


Great talk. I enjoyed hearing about the vaccines and drugs for Ebola. Looking forward to the next talk about MOOCs because MOOCS are amazing. Last year I discovered MOOCS. I took Epidemics during the last session and I really enjoyed it. 

Anna Neary says:

Loved watching your video and learned alot about ebola. It was very informative. What is next on the agenda for Twigh?

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