The latest Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) case count in the three countries with widespread transmission; Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia has risen to 24754 total cases, with 14646 being laboratory confirmed. In addition, 10236 people have died, according to data released on March 20.
Liberia’s first case in weeks
After the World Health Organization (WHO) reported Wednesday the exciting news that “Liberia reported no new confirmed cases for the third consecutive week“, the celebration was short lived as officials reported a 44-year-old woman from a town near the capital of Monrovia tested positive for Ebola.
Although it’s not clear how the woman who works as a food seller contracted the virus, the Liberian Information Ministry says, “initial suspicion is that it may be the result of possible sexual intercourse with an Ebola survivor”.
Increase in Guinea cases due to “hidden” patients
There were 95 new confirmed cases reported in Guinea in the week up to Mar. 15: the highest weekly total for the country in 2015. Although that news sounds distressing, WHO officials say it could be a sign that aid teams are at last gaining access to hidden patients, rather than a surge of new cases.
Jean-Marie Dangou, the WHO’s Guinea country representative, said the uptick in cases was explained by previously hostile communities opening up to Ebola teams.
WHO slow to declare Ebola an emergency: E-mails
The WHO was criticized early on in the outbreak by organizations like MSF that were on the ground and up to their elbows in Ebola who were shouting that this was big, very big.
Now, internal emails obtained by the Associated Press show the UN agency resisted sounding the international alarm over West Africa’s Ebola epidemic for two months. Declaring an emergency was “a last resort,” Dr. Sylvie Briand, who runs WHO’s pandemic and epidemic diseases department, said in a June 5 email to a colleague who floated the idea. “It may be more efficient to use other diplomatic means for now.”
A growing risk of outbreaks of measles, pertussis, and other vaccine-preventable diseases in countries affected by Ebola must be countered by urgent scaling up of routine immunization activities, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We are calling for the intensification of routine immunization services in all areas, and for mass measles vaccination campaigns in areas that are free of Ebola transmission,” says Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO.
“Any disruption of immunization services, even for short periods, will result in an increase in the number of susceptible individuals, and will increase the likelihood of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks,” according to a WHO note sent to countries this week.
Google provides Android tablet for use in Ebola zones
In order to help health providers in the three Ebola countries with their medical notes and records in the dangerous conditions in a Ebola hospital, Google helped build a specialized Android tablet where doctors could record medical info from inside the high-risk zone and then send it wirelessly to servers on the outside, according to a Wired report.
What about the contamination of the tablet itself? The tablet is encased in polycarbonate, so that it can be dipped in chlorine and removed from the facility, and the server runs on battery power, the report describes.