The Ebola outbreak, which made headlines just last year, is slowly-but-surely coming under control, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and public health initiatives. Ebola isn't exactly a virus that needs an introduction (explore the history of Ebola here). That early stage then, is the best time for physicians to tackle the disease, which traditionally only boasts a 50 percent mortality rate. This then suggests that while headway in vaccination development gives us hope, containing a similar outbreak among regions where a vaccine has yet to circulate could remain a major problem.
A team led by Thomas Geisbert at the University of Texas, in collaboration with Tekmira Pharmaceuticals in Vancouver, Canada, have been developing therapies that can target specific strains of the Ebola virus. This is achieved through the use of small interfering RNA (siRNA) - short pieces of RNA designed to interrupt the production of key proteins crucial for the virus' survival. These promising results have put the siRNA approach on a fast-track for treatment in humans, with patients in Sierra Leone - a country that still reports nine confirmed Ebola cases a week - taking part in an ongoing phase 2 clinical trial. For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN). Red Cross volunteers prepare to bury the body of an Ebola victim in Pendembu, Sierra Leone, early this month. A nurse helps health workers suit up before treating Ebola patients at an isolation ward run by Doctors Without Borders in Kailahun, Sierra Leone.
Originally published on August 1, 2014 10:59 am For the second time this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised the travel alert for three West African countries, as the death toll in the Ebola outbreak increased at an alarming rate. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the world's deadliest to date and the World Health Organization has declared an international health emergency as more than 3,850 people have died of the virus in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria this year.What is Ebola?Ebola is a viral illness of which the initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope. Healthcare workers are at risk if they treat patients without taking the right precautions to avoid infection.
It was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 since when it has mostly affected countries further east, such as Uganda and Sudan. This year's outbreak is unusual because it started in Guinea, which has never before been affected, and it quickly spread to urban areas. From Nzerekore, a remote area of south-eastern Guinea, the virus spread to the capital, Conakry, and neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.There have been 20 cases of Ebola being imported by someone travelling from a country of widespread transmission to Nigeria, with eight confirmed deaths.
What precautions should I take?Avoid contact with Ebola patients and their bodily fluids, the WHO advises. Emile Ouamouno was just two years old and living in the remote Guinean village of Meliandou when he began suffering from a fever, headache and bloody diarrhoea.
In December 2013, despite his family's best efforts, the young boy died - followed within days by his three-year-old sister Philomene and their pregnant mother Sia. This was the start of an Ebola outbreak so devastating that it would kill more than 5,000 people in a year, leave hundreds of children orphaned and affect thousands more. The village of Meliandou sits deep within the Guinean forest region, surrounded by towering reeds and oil palm cultivations - these are believed to have attracted the fruit bats carrying the virus passed onto Emile. In a pattern that has come to characterise the spread of this deadly virus as it tears into close-knit communities, Ebola infected village health workers before spreading to nearby districts. Add to that a porous land border, with many people regularly crossing into Liberia and Sierra Leone in search of markets to sell their products, and the deadly virus was able to smoulder undetected across unsuspecting communities for three months. Early on, hospitals quickly became Ebola incubators as health workers and doctors who believed they were dealing with cholera or Lassa fever, a much less deadly haemorrhagic virus prevalent in the region, fell ill after treating patients. Of the first 15 deaths documented in the New England Medical Journal's analysis tracing the current Ebola outbreak, four were health staff.
Across the region, the ritual preparation of bodies for burial involves washing, touching and kissing, with funerals often attracting large numbers of mourners from nearby districts. Lack of resources have stymied the battle to combat Ebola in Liberia, leaving the country teetering on the brink of collapse. The first case across the border was confirmed a few days after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak on 23 March.
But it was not until August that the virus really took hold in the capital Monrovia, a densely packed and notoriously poor city in the Montserrado district.
Ravaged by a 14-year violent civil conflict, that ended in 2003 and saw the near-total destruction of its infrastructure, Liberia's health services struggled to deliver basic services long before the Ebola outbreak. With only around 60 Liberian doctors before the Ebola outbreak, the death of a number of its high profile and most competent medical professionals left the country's health staff decimated and demoralised.
Although the infection rate has declined since the summer, the country remains in a precarious position. Liberia's health ministry has also urged people to stop burying their loved ones secretly at night.
Even as knowledge of best practices to protect from the virus infiltrates the entire region, this will perhaps be the hardest thing to stamp out. It was one unsafe burial that ended up leading directly to Sierra Leone's explosion of Ebola cases in the summer.
The country's first diagnosed case, when a pregnant woman was admitted to a hospital in the Kenema district following a miscarriage on 24 May, infected no-one else. Identifying the source of her infection, however, illustrates how the virus entered the country. Health teams working in the region identified a further 13 women who caught the virus attending the same burial, starting a chain reaction of infections, deaths and more funerals. From there Ebola spread to Sierra Leone's capital Freetown where overcrowded living conditions and fluid population movements helped it to spiral further out of control. A tragic footnote at the end of the study produced by doctors and scientists tracing the outbreak into Sierra Leone highlights the ultimate price some health workers have paid.
A country home to 170 million, Nigeria has almost seven times the combined population of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. A rapid response and effective tracing of almost 1,000 individuals who may have been exposed to the virus meant the number of Ebola deaths in Nigeria was limited to eight. Dr Adadevoh diagnosed American-Liberian Patrick Sawyer with Ebola when he was hospitalised in Lagos.
The doctor and her staff physically intervened when Mr Sawyer tried to leave the treatment centre.

Almost a year from two-year-old Emile's death, at least 5,500 people are estimated to have died from Ebola. Efforts to tackle Ebola have been hindered by fierce resistance from local communities with a history of suspicion towards any outside intervention. This has enabled new chains of transmission to pop up and threaten to spiral out of control. Over the last few weeks, health officials admit that the disease is now entering a new phase, with a marked slowing down in the some of the affected areas in the three countries, especially Guinea and Liberia.
One year ago the World Health Organization announced the Ebola virus had reached outbreak proportions.
Now there are fears the 57-year-old, from Cairns, is suffering from the illness she was helping to treat.
Health authorities ordered her to hospital after she reported feeling a fever at 1pm AEST on Thursday. She just returned to Australia on Tuesday after a month volunteering for the Red Cross in the West African nation.
Ms King said her friend of 25 years was used to working in the tough conditions of African nations. Mr Katter said it was 'unbelievable and incomprehensive' how a person could get into Australia from an Ebola-infected country. Mr Katter said Australian aid workers travelling to west Africa, including Ms Kovack, were putting Australia at risk.
Australia will send help if a case presents in the region, for example in PNG, the minister says. In an interview with the ABC last month, she said it was her responsibility to help those in need. She had previously worked with the Red Cross in war-torn South Sudan and had volunteered in Sierra Leone in 2002. The Ebola virus has infected an estimated 7,200 people, according to the World Health Organisation. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is the expansion of MRSA infection, which is caused by bacteria belonging to the group of Staphylococcus.
MRSA is a bacterial infection caused by staph bacteria that can tolerate many of the common antibiotics given under normal conditions.
Hospital Acquired MRSA – Staying in hospital for long periods, and using intravenous tubing or catheters for long-tem or having weakened immunity makes one prone to HA-MRSA infection. CA-MRSA – Living in poor hygiene conditions like military camps or day care centers increases the risk of community associated MRSA infection. More severe form of staph bacteria is difficult to treat since it is resistant to common antibiotics. The doctor would collect complete medical history of the patient after completing the physical exam. For hospital acquired MRSA infection powerful antibiotics are injected intravenously to prevent any complications. Visitors and doctors, nurses who attend the patient should use precautionary measures like wearing protective masks and following strict hygiene. It's no secret that to prevent future outbreaks, experts are scrambling to create an effective vaccine. It has been causing complete disarray in West Africa for the greater part of the last 16 months, jumping from Guinea's most remote regions to its capital, and on to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and other bordering countries.
As shown in several imported cases in North America and France, if the disease is caught early enough, the human body - with the help of a suit of modern medication - has a fighting chance.
And because these RNA pieces fit into Ebola cells like a key in a lock, patients don't have to worry about the inhibitors also disrupting processes in any "friendly" cells. According to a study recently published in the journal Nature, the answer you're looking for is a resounding "yes" - at least for monkeys.
And that is just the beginning: subsequent stages are vomiting, diarrhoea and - in some cases - both internal and external bleeding. It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.
The human disease has so far been mostly limited to Africa, although one strain has cropped up in the Philippines. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus - in some cases, up to seven weeks after they recover. Do not touch anything - such as shared towels - which could have become contaminated in a public place.
The majority of its residents are crammed into rubbish-strewn slums, many of which are built on low-lying swamps and are unconnected to a municipal sewage system. The healer had treated Ebola patients flocking to seek her care across the border from Guinea's Gueckedou region, before dying herself. This action cost Dr Adadevoh and three medical staff their lives when they too contracted the disease. When the individual gets painful pus on the skin or tissue, one should not delay in visiting the doctor.
Symptoms like rash, chills, fever, muscle pain, persistent cough and fatigue are common in this type. For years together antibiotics were wrongly prescribed for common cold or flu and even for viral infections.
In such cases it can cause life threatening problems affecting your lungs, heart, bones and joints spreading infection to the entire body.
In severe cases the doctor would drain off the pus by making an incision on the site of infection. However one can take enough safety measures and follow good hygiene to prevent this infection. Symptoms include severe fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and horrific bleeding from the eyes, ears, mouth, and rectum. However, if the disease isn't addressed until far later - when it is at its most contagious and most deadly -mortality rates can spike up to a stunning 90 percent, as was seen in Sierra Leone. Most importantly, these siRNAs can be redesigned as the Ebola virus evolves, keeping the treatment relevant from generation-to-generation.

Even funerals of Ebola victims can be a risk, if mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in September that the virus might have been successfully contained in Nigeria and Senegal.
This is a problem for many in the West African countries currently affected by the outbreak, as practices around religion and death involve close physical contact. Those who handle the body and come into contact with the blood or other body fluids are at greatest risk of catching the disease. It is two hours to the nearest city on a difficult road and people are accustomed to endemic diseases with early symptoms mimicking those of Ebola.
It appears like pus, boils in the hair follicles of the skin and in the form of large abscesses with heavy discharge of pus. The course of antibiotic drugs has to be completed in full to destroy the bacterial growth. On repeated usage of these antibiotics our body has become resistant to the drugs and they are not powerful in destroying the bacteria anymore. Patients infected with MRSA are placed in separate rooms to prevent further spreading of infection.
That's why it's equally good news to hear that, for the first time, a medicinal approach for treating Ebola has seen some success in early trials.
This is preceded by a brief period of simple flu-like symptoms, such as weakness and body aches that start at least two days after initial exposure. As things stand, there are no approved drugs that can treat or manage the Ebola infection directly.
In October, a nurse in Spain became the first person to contract the deadly virus outside of West Africa, after treating two Spanish missionaries who had eventually died of Ebola in Madrid.
Hugging is a normal part of religious worship in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and across the region the ritual preparation of bodies for burial involves washing, touching and kissing. MSF has been trying to make people aware of how their treatment of dead relatives might pose a risk to themselves.
It can also affect eyelids causing infection known as sty and impetigo which is infection caused in skin or underlying tissue.
In case you discontinue the medicines, the bacteria might survive to cause further infection.
As of April 11, nearly 11,000 deaths from the Ebola infection have been linked back to the ongoing epidemic's December 2013 roots. Instead, doctors have simply worked to boost the human immune system response to buy time for patients. Since March, the World Health Organization has reported more than 1,300 cases and 728 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Those with the highest status in society are often charged with washing and preparing the body. The blisters begin as tiny red bumps with itching sensation and later on develop into infectious pus.
All previous outbreaks were much smaller and occurred in places where Ebola was already known - in Uganda and the DR Congo for example. The infection is contagious and there is every chance for the patient to spread the infection to others by sharing of towels and bath-soaps etc. In response, the CDC is sending at least 50 more doctors and scientists to the region to help get the outbreak under control and stop its spread, Frieden says.
In those places the education message about avoiding contact has had years to enter the collective consciousness. The CDC also elevated the travel alert to "Level 3" — the most serious level — for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. An unrelated outbreak has killed more than 40 people in Democratic Republic of the Congo.Ebola, which can cause fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea, spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood or saliva.
It now advises against any nonessential travel to the three countries because of the "high risk." This advisory level is reserved for grave situations, such as the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the Haiti earthquake in 2010. The Dallas nurse, Pham, became the first person infected by Ebola in the United States while caring for Duncan for much of his 11 days in the hospital. And it also helps to prevent overcrowding of clinics and hospitals with emergencies not related to Ebola.
8.Pham received a transfusion on Monday containing antibodies to fight the virus, according to a Roman Catholic priest in her congregation. Kent Brantly, a physician who survived an Ebola infection, donated plasma to Pham."I'm doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers," Pham said in a statement released by the hospital. He said 76 people who may have come into contact with Duncan after he was hospitalized on Sept. More than 100 doctors and nurses in the region have gotten infected, and about 70 of them have died.
That group includes Pham and other health workers and hospital staff.WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS CDC'S FRIEDENThe hospital has been criticized for not admitting Duncan the first time he sought help, days after arriving in the United States from Liberia.
Two leading doctors in Liberia and Sierra Leone died this week, and two American aid workers are in serious condition at a clinic in Monrovia. Nurses groups have demanded better training and guidance on how to use equipment that already includes face shields, masks, gowns and gloves.Frieden has come under pressure over the response and preparedness for Ebola, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama is confident of Frieden's ability to lead the public health effort.
Despite all of this, Frieden says he's confident that the outbreak can be contained — as long as health care workers are able to "meticulously" track down cases and isolate them before they spread the virus. In fact, in the best-case scenario, it will take at least three to six months to stop the outbreak. It follows the transmission of the virus to a Spanish nurse in Madrid who helped treat a missionary who was repatriated from Sierra Leone and died of Ebola. One reason is that the disease isn't transmitted through the air but rather through close contact of bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat and saliva.

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