Are we Losing the Ebola Fight?

With no specific drug available to effectively treat Ebola, there is a cry for blood, or that is, the blood of those who have had the disease and developed an immunity. Kent Brantly, the American who contracted Ebola in West Africa and was returned to Atlanta for treatment, has given blood to three other Ebola victims, and each is recovering. On average, 50-70% of those infected with Ebola, die from the virus.

Some evidence suggests that some people may develop an immunity to Ebola without ever having been ill. A study was performed during a 1996 Gabon outbreak, where those who had contact with Ebola patients were monitored by researchers, and later found to have antibodies to the virus. Out of the 24 subjects monitored, 11 had antibodies. This suggests that immunization may be naturally occurring to people who are exposed to the virus.

ZMapp, the experiemental drug that was given to workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who contracted Ebola in West Africa, is another potential treatment for those infected with the virus. The United States is in the process of submitting plans to have the drug developed and produced. A task order was submitted on October 16 by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) inquiring about plans, budgets and timetables. Other labs throughout the United States and around the world are working on treatment measures or a possible vaccine for the virus.

As the World Bank in Geneva warns that the fight for Ebola is being lost, the UN pleaded for more money to combat the disease. Deaths from Ebola have now topped 4,500, with the vast Majority in West Africa.  Many countries are concerned about potential victims traveling and exposing others to the disease. In early October, a healthcare worker who helped treat Thomas Eric Duncan, traveled by plane while infected with the Ebola virus. Another health care worker who had direct contact with clinical specimens of the Ebola victim boarded a cruise ship in October. Although she showed no symptoms of the disease, she was isolated in the Carnival Magic ship till it could be returned to Dallas, Texas.

Dozens of people around the United States are being monitored for symptoms of Ebola. Victims of the virus can take from 2 to 21 days to exhibit symptoms of the disease.

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Ebola Updates and News to Date

Nina Pham
What’s New with Ebola? Nina Pham has been transferred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland, and Amber Vinson is at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Texas Presbyterian Hospital released a video of Nina Pham inside her hospital room in Dallas. 

Her doctor, Gary Weinstein took the video just a few hours before Pham, 26, was transferred to NIH. Both Pham and Vinson are being treated with experimental drugs to combat the Ebola virus. As of last night, Pham was listed in fair condition, and Vinson stable condition.

Amber Vinson

Vinson,29, may have had symptoms earlier than at first thought, and the Centers for Disease Control is contacting people from the first flight, Frontier Airlines, 1142, along with people who were in the Ohio bridal shop, Coming Attractions: Bridal and Formal, where she and her bridesmaids were looking at gowns in preparation for her upcoming wedding. The owner of the bridal shop asked ABC News, “What are we supposed to do? The lady was here.” She said her employees are afraid to come to work.

Amber Vinson’s mother has said she was not sick when she first came home to Ohio, and that she was not feeling sick when she went to Dallas. According to Vinson’s family, she never contacted the CDC. They stated she, and other workers who were in contact with Duncan, were told to monitor their temperatures, but were not under any orders to contact the CDC. Her family said she would not have put them or other people at risk had she known she was sick.

One of the nurses who worked with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in early October, and handled clinical specimens taken from the patient, is now isolated on a Carnival Cruise ship off the coast of Belize. Carnival wanted to drop the health care worker in Belize due to the potential for Ebola infection, however, Belize said they would not accept the passenger. The Mexican government also declined to allow the passenger to disembark in the country. 


State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said she thought the situation could have been handled differently and that, “Decisions like this need to be based on information and science, and not fear.” A Carnival spokesperson says she has not exhibited any symptoms to date. Harf said that there are ongoing talks between governments to determine how to handle these situations as they arise. The ship is on its way back to Galveston, Texas and expected to dock on Sunday, October 18.

Texas State Health has sent a message to anyone who was in contact with Duncan to stay away from public places and not board any trains, buses or planes till the incubation period of 21 days has passed. One method that is being used to treat Ebola is blood transfusion. Kent Brantly, the first man transferred back to the United States after having contracted Ebola while in West Africa, had received a blood transfusion from a West African boy who had overcome the disease in order to help combat the virus. 

Now Brantly has given his blood to help three of the victims including Nina Pham, Dr. Nick Sacra, a doctor who contracted the disease while treating patients in West Africa, and NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo. All happened to have type A blood. He offered blood to Thomas Eric Duncan, but their blood types did not match. 

Whistleblower, Brianna Aguirre, has recently come forward to talk about the lack of protocol in Texas Presbyterian Hospital where two of the nurses who treated Duncan later developed symptoms of the Ebola virus. She described the scene at the hospital when Duncan was admitted as “chaos,” and describes how nurses wore three pairs of gloves and booties each, and were covered from head to toe in protective garb, but that there was a gap of a couple of inches where the skin was uncovered in the neck area. She said she, “Threw a fit,” and could not believe that this was happening in the second week of the Ebola crisis. 

 Aguirre said that patients who were suspected of having Ebola were moved between rooms without protection and without disinfecting, and that Duncan was put in an area with at least seven other patient after he arrived via ambulance. Aguirre stated that the infectious disease department was contacted because the hospital had no idea what protocol to follow, and that “there were no special precautions, no special gear.” In addition, she said that they, “did not know what to do with lab specimen.” She went on to say that hospital staff did not have to receive any special training to deal with Ebola, but were told that they could attend an “optional seminar.” She went on to say that she does not think “any institution in the country is prepared for what to look for.” 

Texas Presbyterian Hospital chief Dr. Daniel Varga said that when Thomas Eric Duncan came into the hospital, they were unprepared to recognize the non-specific symptoms. He said that they were prepared to treat Ebola, but not to diagnose the disease. He said, “Mr. Duncans’ second visit came with a neon sign. We’re proud of how we managed that. We wish we had picked that up on the 26th.” When asked how two nurses wearing protective gear got Ebola, Dr. Varga said that Nina Pham was one of the first to have contact with the Liberian man in the emergency department prior to his confirmed diagnosis, and says that her protective equipment was in compliance with CDC recommendations “at the time.“ He said that once they had the serologic evidence of Ebola, hospital staff started wearing hazmet gear. 

U.S. Military Sent to West Africa
The United States government is scrambling to put measures into place to stop the spread of the Ebola virus. A new “Ebola czar,” Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore, will report to Lisa Monaco, the president’s homeland security adviser, and national security adviser Susan Rice on any updates. Klain’s official title is Ebola Response Coordinator. Klain has no previous medical experience or training, and the choice has met with some criticism. 

Many have openly stated they feel countries that have high rates of Ebola should be cut off, however, there is some evidence that may worsen the spread of the disease. U.S. soldiers, who were reportedly only given four hours of Ebola training, were recently dispatched to West Africa to help build hospitals and other infrastructure that will assist in containing the Ebola virus. One of the many things they will be doing on the ground is assisting with building facilities that will enable more people to get help both before and after they contract the virus. 

Some of the reasons the disease has spread so rapidly in West Africa is because the people of that country do not have access to adequate medical care. In addition, they have a ritual of washing the corpses of their loved ones prior to the funeral. People who have died from Ebola are especially contagious. Another possible reason for the continual rapid spread of the virus in that country is the residents’ suspicion that health care workers are out to harm them. The military is not expected to come into contact with any Ebola victims, but is in the country to build the infrastructure that will help health care workers and officials combat many of these issues. 

Ebola Cases Outside West Africa
The World Health Organization has estimated that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could reach the rate of 10,000 new infections per week over the next several months if it is not stopped. Currently, the infection rate is 1,000 per week. The Ebola virus is rapidly spreading throughout Africa. In addition, at least 17 cases of Ebola have been diagnosed outside West Africa. The death rate for this strain of Ebola has gone from 50% to 70%. There has been some success in Monrovia and Nigeria in combatting the Ebola virus, and much of this is due to advanced hospital care.


Airports screenings for Ebola have been put into place, and other measures are being taken at borders and ports of entry. The CDC is communicating with government agencies in an effort to educate their workers on how to screen travelers. President Obama has cancelled recent travel plans to deal with the crisis at home. Obama stated that his aides should monitor the spread of Ebola in the U.S. “in a more aggressive way,” but that Americans should be confident that the government can handle the crisis. He went on to say that other nations need to respond to the outbreak in West Africa as well. He said that if the world ignores this region of the world, the disease could spread globally. The CDC has said that they will send a rapid response team to any hospital in the United States where there is a suspected case of Ebola. 


Check out the CDC website for more information on the transmission, symptoms and care for Ebola. 

Ebola Patient Transferred to National Institutes of Health

Nina Pham, 26, the first health care worker known to be infected with Ebola in the United States, is being transferred to the Washington, D.C., National Institutes of Health for treatment. She will be the last Ebola patient with Ebola at Texas Presbyterian Hospital. There was some concern about the lack of qualified staff available to treat her at the Dallas Hospital. 

Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, 29, were both infected while working with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man first infected in West Africa. He showed up at the hospital in Dallas, and was initially told to go home. He returned three days later and was admitted for treatment, but spent some time in an open area of the hospital before being transferred to isolation. 

  Nina Pham's Tranfer to the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.

 Up to 77 health care workers were directly responsible for treating Duncan, and all are being monitored for signs of Ebola infection, but to date, only two have been infected from exposure to the Liberian man. Nina Pham’s received a blood transfusion from Dr. Richard Brantly, an American physician who was working in West Africa with Ebola patients who contracted the disease and recovered. Pham’s condition rapidly improved, but she continues to need supportive care she has stated, “I’m doing really well thanks to this team, which is the best in the world. I believe in my talented co-workers.” 

  Bently the Dog in Quarantine

Pham’s dog, Bently, was also isolated and is being monitored for symptoms of the Ebola virus. There is currently no more information on his condition.

How do we Stop Ebola? What is Contact Tracing?

How do we stop Ebola from spreading? Contact tracing is one way we are attempting to do that in the United States. Check out the video below to understand steps health officials are taking to stop the spread of Ebola.

Second Healthcare Worker with Ebola Flew on a Commercial Flight while Infected

Amber Joy Vinson, the second person to have contracted Ebola within the United States after working with Thomas Eric Duncan, has been moved to a hospital in Atlanta. We are just finding out that Vinson traveled on a commercial airline flight October 10 from Dallas to Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to returning to Dallas on October 14 via Frontier Airlines, she called the Centers for Disease Control before she got on the flight because she had a fever of 99 degrees. She was told that it was ok to fly because her fever was below the threshold of 100.4. The pilots and passengers of the plane are now being monitored for symptoms of the virus.

Director of the CDC, Tom Frieden stated that he thinks her risk of spreading the Ebola virus is very low because she was not bleeding or vomiting. Dr. Frieden does go on to say that individuals who have been exposed to Ebola should not be traveling on a commercial airline, and that other75  healthcare workers who worked with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States, will not be allowed to fly.

Vinson was visiting relatives in Ohio who are employed at Kent State University. The university has asked Vinson’s relatives to not come to campus and self-monitor for the 21 day incubation period.
Vinson will be receiving treatment at Emory Hospital in Atlanta where both Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, the first patients to be flown to the United States from West Africa after having been infected with the virus, were treated.

Amber Joy Vinson is the second health care worker diagnosed after working with the infected Liberian man at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital. Nina Pham was diagnosed last weekend, and is listed in good condition after receiving a blood transfusion from previously infected patient Kent Brantly. Pham’s dog, Bently, is under quarantine, and no details have been released on his condition.

Frontier Airlines did fly again five times after Vinson’s flight on October 14 before being removed from service for cleaning, including flights from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Cleveland to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Atlanta to Cleveland. The CDC is recommending that customers who flew on flight 1142 Frontier Airlines  on October 10 or 1143 on October 13 should contact the CDC if they exhibit any symptoms of the virus.