Sunday, August 2, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: African Guinea Pigs

"Ebola vaccine highly effective during clinical trial in Guinea; Results suggest the drug may be ‘game changer’" by Sheri Fink New York Times  July 31, 2015

Constant Gardner.

NEW YORK — Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, said if the preliminary results are confirmed, the vaccine ‘‘is going to be a game-changer.’’

‘‘It will change the management of the current Ebola outbreak and future outbreaks,’’ Chan said, while noting that it was not a silver bullet to head off future outbreaks. “There is no replacement for very strong and good, resilient health systems with the capability for surveillance.”

And who could ever argue with those concerned about your health and dressed in hazmat suits, huh?


Researchers working at the Public Health Agency of Canada created the experimental vaccine, which combines a piece of the virus’s covering with an animal virus to set off an immune response against Ebola. It was licensed by NewLink Genetics, a biopharmaceutical company based in Ames, Iowa, in 2010, and then in November by Merck Vaccines, a unit of New Jersey-based Merck & Co.

Dr. Mark Feinberg, chief public health and scientific officer at Merck Vaccines, said, “In the past, I think there wasn’t a strong belief that we needed an Ebola vaccine or that it would actually be possible to develop an Ebola vaccine. Now I think there’s unanimity.”

Everyone on the $ame page, huh?

Because no placebos were used, volunteers knew whether they had received the vaccine, which could have influenced the study’s outcome. Choices like this, some of which were highly contentious on ethical and scientific grounds, were made to be pragmatic in the context of an emergency, said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, a major supporter of the research.

These guys are scary.

The fact that promising results were obtained despite certain compromises in scientific rigor, he said, “in a sense vindicates the design and approach that was taken and moves the field forward.” 

I don't want to roll up my sleeve.

This was the first time in memory that a vaccine’s effectiveness has been studied with a so-called ring vaccination approach, inoculating all of those around the occurrence of an infectious disease, according to one of the study’s senior authors, Dr. John-Arne Rottingen of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. That vaccination strategy was used to help eradicate smallpox.

The pile of money to be made....

“I thought the only way to be successful would be to follow the epidemic and try to vaccinate in high-risk individuals,” Rottingen said. This approach ended up producing results even when the country only had a small number of cases, distributed across a large area.

Other studies in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the virus also raged, are continuing, but they are not expected to produce results on the effectiveness of the vaccine given the low numbers of patients in recent weeks, and the design, which did not target contacts of Ebola patients.

The WHO reported seven confirmed cases last week in the region, the lowest number of new Ebola patients in well over a year. On Friday, the United Nations secretary-general was expected to announce the end of a special mission for Ebola emergency response.

So Ebola has been beaten, but it will linger in the background if needed.

Vaccinations began in late March in Guinea. The plan was to vaccinate 10,000 people in 190 rings. But because of the positive interim results, a safety monitoring board recommended that the study be published and that the design be altered to provide immediate vaccination to all eligible volunteers.

How long until they are mandated?

California bill mandates vaccinations for schoolchildren
California governor signs strict school vaccine legislation

That answers that question

Of course, it's not like they would ever get the wrong one or anything.


Basically there are three different scenarios regarding the Ebola epidemic. One posits that the crisis as reported by the propaganda pre$$ is entirely accurate. A second suspects covert U.S. biological warfare as there are research facilities in the region, and a third is that it's a hoax based on some suspicious CNN footage that looks like crisis acting. You will have to decide what hues closest to the truth yourself.

The end result of all three are twofold: a greater U.S. military presence in the region is combined with pharmaceutical products that will need to be purchased.

While in the part of Africa....

"Sierra Leone tries to contain Ebola" Associated Press  June 12, 2015

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Sierra Leone’s president imposed new restrictions Friday preventing people from entering or leaving two chiefdoms in the northern part of the country that are experiencing a resurgence of Ebola.

While neighboring Liberia has defeated an outbreak of the deadly disease, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been battling new cases, particularly along their shared border.

The vaccines arrived just in time.

Sierra Leone had 15 new cases last week, according to the World Health Organization, in the highest weekly total since late March.

On Friday, President Ernest Bai Koroma said people would be barred from entering or leaving the affected parts of Kambia and Port Loko districts in northern Sierra Leone. Also, a curfew will be in effect from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for 21 days, officials said.

Eleven of the country’s 14 districts have gone more than 42 days without an Ebola case — the benchmark for declaring an Ebola outbreak over — and another has gone nearly two weeks without a new case.

The new cases in Port Loko have been linked to an Ebola victim whose body was washed by relatives.


"New cases of Ebola diminish hopes; Sierra Leone and Guinea cite travel" Associated Press  June 25, 2015

CONAKRY, Guinea — Despite hopes that the deadly Ebola outbreak could soon be contained in West Africa, it shows no signs of abating in Guinea and may be flaring up in Sierra Leone as people are flouting rules limiting travel meant to stop it.

The election in Guinea in October adds a new layer of worry for Guineans and health workers, with some residents saying that campaign events, in which people crowd together, shouldn’t be held yet.

The deadly virus, which has killed more than 11,100 people mostly in West Africa in its worst outbreak ever, has been stamped out in neighboring Liberia, but is hanging on stubbornly in Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak was first reported in March 2014.

‘‘Ebola is on the rise again because of population movements. People move from one place to another,’’ said Dr. Amadou Talibe, an Ebola response worker in Dubreka, 19 miles from the capital, Conakry. ‘‘People who have come into contact with Ebola but have not been identified, they go to another village and only then develop the symptoms of Ebola and then contaminate others.’’

In Dubreka, a burial team put on protective equipment and sprayed themselves before entering a facility to collect the body of a baby, not even 20 hours old. They left with the newborn, wrapped and on a stretcher, for safe burial.

The virus, which is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone showing Ebola symptoms, has killed more than 2,400 people in Guinea, officials estimate. New cases keep cropping up because some communities refuse to follow safe burial practices, among other reasons.

Intense efforts are being made to identify the chain of transmission for recent cases, including checkpoints on roads and tracking down those infected. Some people are nervous about election campaigning.

‘‘You have a lot of people gathering here. We are at risk of Ebola, yet we are gathering here. There are no preventative measures for us,’’ Abubacar Sylla said at a campaign event in Conakry last week for President Alpha Conde.

Ebola also returned to Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, last week after being absent for 18 consecutive days, officials there said. A fourth case was confirmed in government figures released Wednesday.

The first new case popped up in Freetown after a young man sick with the disease elsewhere in Sierra Leone ran away from a quarantine area and came to Freetown, said Patrick Fatoma, National Ebola Response Center spokesman.


At least it's been licked in Liberia:

"Liberia reports a new Ebola death" Associated Press  July 01, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberian authorities on Tuesday quarantined two households after a 17-year-old boy died of Ebola, sparking fears the West African country could face another outbreak of the disease nearly two months after being declared Ebola-free.

‘‘Liberia has got a reinfection of Ebola,’’ Tolbert Nyenswah, deputy health minister and head of Liberia’s Ebola response team, said.

The boy died at his home and was buried safely to avoid spread of the disease, Nyenswah said.

Teams are investigating how the boy became infected, Nyenswah said.

The area is not near Liberia’s borders with Sierra Leone and Guinea, neighboring countries that still have Ebola cases.

The World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola-free on May 9, after it went 42 days without a new case.

Liberia had been hardest hit with more than 4,800 deaths from this outbreak’s total of more than 11,100 fatalities.


"New Ebola case confirmed in Liberia" Associated Press  July 02, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberian officials confirmed a second Ebola case Wednesday in the same town where the disease was detected days earlier in a teenager who had died.

The second person was moved to Monrovia for treatment, said health officials.


Also Wednesday, more than 100 Ebola center workers stormed the Ministry of Health in eastern Monrovia demanding hazard pay that they said they haven’t received since the country was declared Ebola-free May 9 by the World Health Organization.

Health Minister Bernice Dahn said Liberia has paid hazard benefits to ‘‘99 percent’’ of people who worked in the Ebola treatment units in addition to their regular salaries. She said if there are people who believe they have not been paid, ‘‘they should come forward’’ and make their case with the ministry.

Where is all the money going in this world?

Also Wednesday, workers exhumed the body of the 17-year-old male student whose infection, detected after his death, sparked fears of the return of Ebola to Liberia. The country was the hardest hit in the region, with 4,800 deaths, before it was contained.

New tests will help determine the mode of transmission to the teenager, said an official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to media.

The World Health Organization said the 17-year-old first became ill June 21 and went to a local health facility, where he was treated for malaria and discharged.

Those tracking the case have identified 102 contacts, although that number is expected to increase as investigations continue, WHO said.

Experts warn that Ebola remains a threat to West Africa until it is eradicated from Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The West African outbreak of Ebola has killed more than 11,200 people.

They just crosshead another threshold.


RelatedAnother Ebola death reported in Liberia

And about the money:

"Nations hit by Ebola seek $3.2b in aid" Associated Press  July 11, 2015

UNITED NATIONS — The presidents of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone appealed for $3.2 billion Friday to help their countries recover from the Ebola epidemic, which has battered their economies, severely damaged the social fabric of their nations, and killed at least 11,000 people.

Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, speaking on behalf of the three countries, told a UN conference that international support would give millions of people a chance to rebuild their lives and promote regional stability.

‘‘The world as a whole has a great stake in how we together respond to this global threat,’’ she said, adding that ‘‘virus diseases, just like terrorism, know no national boundaries.’’

(Blog editor's chin slumps to chest. If all this is to be believed, it's Mother nature. Now she's a terrorist).

Dr. David Nabarro, the UN special envoy on Ebola, told the conference ‘‘the end of the outbreak is tantalizingly in sight.”

I'm getting a lot of mixed messages here.


Does that mean no money?

Time to bring it on home:

"Mass. General is designated center for treating Ebola" by Virgie Hoban Globe Correspondent  June 13, 2015

Federal authorities Friday designated Massachusetts General Hospital, in partnership with the state health department, as a special regional center to treat Ebola.

So when does it get released in Boston and in what black immigrant neighborhood?

Eight other major hospitals across the country will serve in a similar capacity, treating Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.

Dr. Erica Shenoy, assistant chief of the Mass. General infection control unit, said the hospital had been steeling itself for Ebola since last summer, in response to the outbreak in West Africa. Along with rigorous staff training and modifications to isolation wards, the hospital has invested heavily in remote systems to enable safe communication among doctors, patients, and their families.

“For Ebola, the guidance has really said no contact — family members aren’t allowed in the room,” Shenoy said. “It’s really important for patients to have the support of their family . . . that’s a very different type of care.”

As part of their selection as a special regional treatment center, Mass. General and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health will receive about $3.25 million over five years through the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Hospital Preparedness Program. The grant is part of the $339.5 million in emergency funding appropriated by Congress to bolster the nation’s state and local health care systems in the wake of the Ebola outbreak.

That's another thing; it always the government to toss tax dollars at going concerns.

“This approach recognizes that being ready to treat severe, highly infectious diseases, including Ebola, is vital to our nation’s health security,” Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said in a statement. “This added regional capability increases our domestic preparedness posture to protect the public’s health.”

And you can't argue with that. You can argue the martial law in response to gun violence. Not this.

Mass. General had previously been part of a national network of 55 Ebola treatment centers, but will now have enhanced resources as a special regional center. Additional building modifications must be made to meet requirements stipulated by the grant, such as the capacity to treat at least two Ebola patients simultaneously.

“While the risk for Ebola in Massachusetts remains extremely low, these combined efforts demonstrate that our state is well prepared,” Dr. Monica Bharel, the Massachusetts public health commissioner, said in a statement.

Okay, doc.


Also see:

"In 2014, Dr. Kent Brantly, the first Ebola victim to be brought to the United States from Africa, was safely escorted into a specialized isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where he recovered from the disease."

RelatedHospital clears traveler who was monitored for Ebola

Any other flu going around?

US not ready to say bird flu outbreak is over

Not much buzz about it, but cage-free can't help:

"Want to snuggle with your chickens? Stop it, CDC warns" by Beth Teitell Globe Staff  July 21, 2015

It sounds like a joke that mocks hipsters who keep backyard chickens. But in the wake of salmonella outbreaks linked to live poultry, the stern advice that came from the Centers for Disease Control this month was real: “Do not snuggle or kiss the birds,” the agency warned. “Do not let live poultry into the house.”

Most people don’t need to be told to keep their lips off a bird. Or informed that chickens make terrible roommates. But with the country in an urban-farming swoon — and 181 people sickened, including one in Massachusetts — public displays of human-bird affection are not as uncommon as one might imagine.

Local celebrity farmers include model Gisele Bundchen, who told Food & Wine last year that she had a “beautiful garden” in Los Angeles where she raised chickens, and former pitcher Curt Schilling, who recently blogged about getting 20 chicks. “Time to meet some of the new girls,” he headlined a post introducing the new members of his flock.

That reminds me. I didn't give you the latest sports report.

Last week, as the CDC advisory zipped around Facebook and chicken circles, Joy Lapseritis, a farmer from Cape Cod, said she got the chickens for the eggs and tick control, but finds herself surprised by her devotion to the birds....

Some person was wearing "a T-shirt proclaiming, “I kissed a chick and I liked it”— and “people don’t realize it, but chickens are very affectionate.” 

Ever hear of a peck of a kiss?


Better stay indoors these days:

Official: Mosquito-borne diseases could hit state ‘anytime now’

Mass. reports season’s first West Nile-infected mosquito

Risk of West Nile infection rises in 12 Boston-area communities

It rarely kills anyone; however, the pre$$ screams about it every year.

Unvaccinated child isolated with measles

Child misdiagnosed with measles on Martha’s Vineyard

Remember the measles scare?

Boy dies after flu-like illness

Some sort of bacterial disease they say, or maybe Lyme disease.

CDC links medicine to birth defects

Antidepressants are topic of study, and they can't be helping; however, it is always anything and everything that may be the cause -- except the vaccines!


US teens having much less sex, CDC says

N.Y. expects more Legionnaires’ cases