Saturday, November 7, 2015

Stinky Saturday: Hold Your Breath

Better inhale deeply now.

"Ebola still smolders in rural Guinea; Effort to wipe out virus in villages remains uneven" by Dionne Searcey New York Times  November 06, 2015

TANA, Guinea — This is the last known place on Earth with Ebola.

After nearly 22 months and more than 11,300 deaths worldwide, the deadliest Ebola epidemic in history has come down to a handful of cases in a cluster of villages in rural Guinea, the country where the outbreak began.

Liberia, where more than 4,800 people died of the virus, has gone about two months since its last Ebola patient was discharged. Sierra Leone, where nearly 4,000 died, is hoping to be declared officially free of Ebola as of Saturday, a milestone defined as going 42 days without a single new infection.

And while the virus once raged in Guinea, now it is merely smoldering, with seven new cases reported in recent weeks. Yet it is proving frustratingly difficult to stamp out altogether.

See: Plague of the 21st-Century 

Getting to zero — as the effort to finally stop the outbreak is known — has bedeviled governments and international health experts for months. Workers from aid groups have descended on the villages where the virus is still spreading, a promising experimental vaccine is being given to adults who have been in contact with a victim, and government officials, once reluctant to acknowledge the dangerous outbreak, are helping to wipe it out.

But even with hundreds of millions of dollars spent to fight this outbreak, the approach to stamping out the disease remains uneven, at best. Workers on the front lines are still making rookie mistakes. Guards at Ebola checkpoints skip over some vehicle passengers for fever checks. Health workers use bare hands to touch people who might harbor the virus. Isolated communities experiencing Ebola for the first time are reluctant to take meticulous precautions and do not trust aid workers.

The risk of a flare-up is still very real. “We are all holding our breath, frankly,” said Christopher Dye, director of strategy at the World Health Organization.

So when is the relapse scheduled??

The chain of recent infections in this part of Guinea arrived in mid-September, after a girl staying with relatives in the capital, Conakry, returned home to seek care from a traditional healer and died. She passed through one Ebola checkpoint where she registered a fever but was allowed to continue, Doctors Without Borders says, and dodged others by taking back roads.

The fact that Guinea was never hit as hard as Sierra Leone or Liberia may also explain why Ebola has been so difficult to wipe out here.

“In Guinea, we never had this apocalyptic transmission like in Liberia and Sierra Leone; we never had bodies in the streets,” said Ranu Dhillon, a public health specialist advising the president’s office in Guinea. “We never had that same kind of critical moment in terms of national response.”

Like on CNN?


I'd exhale now, readers, because I won't be back until Monday morning.


"Sierra Leone was officially declared free of Ebola transmissions on Saturday. The World Health Organization made the announcement at an official ceremony in Freetown, the capital, after the nation had passed 42 days, or two incubation periods for the virus, without an Ebola case. Sierra Leone was the hardest hit of any nation during the Ebola outbreak. Nearly 4,000 people died there from the disease; altogether 14,000 were infected. Sierra Leone will begin a 90-day period of enhanced surveillance that will run until Feb. 5, with the aim of quickly detecting any new possible cases." 

At least the contrived crisis helped the pharmaceuticals breath ea$ier.