BioCryst gets HHS contract for Ebola drug development

CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY by Lisa Schnerring               March 31, 2015

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that it has awarded BioCryst Pharmaceuticals a $12 million grant to continue development of BCX4430, a small-molecule drug designed to treat Ebola and other filovirus infections, and to prepare for large-scale manufacturing of the agent.

Studies in nonhuman primates suggest that the drug is effective against Ebola and Marburg viruses and could be useful as a broad-spectrum antiviral, the HHS said in a statement. BCX4430 is currently in phase 1 human trials, and if results show safety, it could be one of the treatments to be tested for efficacy in clinical trials.

BCX4430 is the first small-molecule Ebola treatment that BARDA has supported. Other Ebola products in development that have received BARDA funding include the monoclonal antibody cocktail ZMapp and three vaccines.
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http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2015/03/biocryst-gets-hhs-contract-ebola-drug-development

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Faulty modeling studies led to overstated predictions of Ebola outbreak

MEDICAL EXPRESS                                                                       MARCH 31, 2015

(scroll down for complete paper.)

Frequently used approaches to understanding and forecasting emerging epidemics—including the West African Ebola outbreak—can lead to big errors that mask their own presence, according to a University of Michigan ecologist and his colleagues.

Last September, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated—based on computer modeling—that Liberia and Sierra Leone could see up to 1.4 million Ebola cases by January 2015 if the viral disease kept spreading without effective methods to contain it. Belatedly, the international community stepped up efforts to control the outbreak, and the explosive growth slowed.

"Those predictions proved to be wrong, and it was not only because of the successful intervention in West Africa," King said. "It's also because the methods people were using to make the forecasts were inappropriate."

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Guinea finds three Ebola cases in the alumina hub of Fria

REUTERS   by Saliou Samb                              March 31, 2105

CONAKRY --Guinea has detected at least three new cases of Ebola in the alumina hub of Fria, according to the national coordination of the fight against the disease, as authorities blamed popular resistance for hampering the battle against the virus.

Fria is home to the only alumina smelter in the West African country, Friguia, which produced some 630,000 tonnes of alumina a year until it was shuttered by Russian aluminium giant RUSAL in 2012.

The report noted the refusal by the local population in Conakry to hand over two other suspected cases, despite the intervention of local authorities. It said families in the town of Coyah, 50 km ( miles) from Conakry had refused to follow contacts of an Ebola case.

The resistance of local communities, which refuse to admit the existence of the disease, has dogged efforts to eradicate Ebola in Guinea since it was detected in March 2014

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/31/us-health-ebola-guinea-idUSKBN0MR1TL20150331

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Center for Climate Systems Research - Earth Institute | Columbia University

                         

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Measures to safeguard schools in Ebola-hit Liberia point to need for continued vigilance

 When students returned to school in Liberia, they learned about the importance of good hygiene. Now they’re teaching others.

UNICEF BY  Tim Irwin                                         March 30, 2015

MONROVIA, Liberia, Classes at the Slipway primary school in central Monrovia resumed only a few weeks ago, but the new morning drill is already well established.

In Liberia, schools were closed for six months because of the Ebola epidemic. Now that class is back in session, students are following a new set of protocols to stave off infection with the deadly disease. Here, children queue to wash their hands before morning devotionals.

“We rub our palms together 10 times, wash between our fingers five times, around our thumbs five times and then scrub around our nails,” says Grace Winnie, who is in Grade 4.

Schools across Liberia reopened on 16 February, following a six-month closure because of the Ebola crisis. UNICEF has helped put in place new procedures aimed at minimizing the risk of infection.

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‘No Confirmed Case’: Liberia Slates Reports on Ebola Return

FRONT PAGE AFRICA  by Stephen D. Kollie                                                       March 31, 2015

Monrovia - The Head of the Incident Management System (IMS), the command center responsible to oversee Liberia’s Ebola response, has clarified that contrary to several reports on social media, including Facebook and other sources, Liberia has no other confirmed Ebola case apart from a lady who tested positive for the virus but died last weekend.

“Since the 20th, we have one confirmed case. Unfortunately, the case has since died,” he said Monday. “No other confirmed cases since then as of this morning (March 30). I am not saying it will not be (a case)if it is tested positive. But the cases are being followed up, nobody is sick yet.”

Tolbert Nyenswah disclosed that out of 211 contacts that were being monitored by the Ministry of Health team, 26 contacts have been cleared while 185 contacts are still under surveillance. “We still are intensifying our normal contact tracing. We are investigating to see whether or not the people should remain on the contact list or it is fair enough to release them,” he said.

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Guinea shuts border with Sierra Leone in effort to end Ebola

ASSOCIATED PRESS by BOUBACAR DIALLO               March 30, 2015

CONKAKRY --Guinea closed its border with Sierra Leone on Monday as part of new efforts to stamp out Ebola, an official said.

... the disease remains stubbornly entrenched in Guinea more than a year after the outbreak started and authorities are now ramping up efforts to eliminate the disease.

Guinean President Alpha Conde announced this weekend that emergency measures would be "reinforced" for a 45-day period in five districts, including some along the border with Sierra Leone. The decision to close the border was made in the context of those new measures, according to Cmdr. Mamadou Alpha Barry, spokesman for the national gendarmerie.

Previously, Guinean authorities had monitored people crossing into the country for symptoms of the disease.

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http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/article16925942.html

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Liberia Ebola Survivors Complain About Lack of Support

VOICE OF AMERICA by Benno Muchler                          March 30, 015
MONROVIA—For Liberian survivors of Ebola, the struggle is not over.  Many have lost property and family members, and often face tremendous stigma after being released from the hospital. Unresolved medical issues are another problem.  Despite their suffering, they are still waiting for support a year into the Ebola crisis.

People shun them.  Landlords terminate their leases.  Some lost their jobs.  Many survivors also suffer from headaches and eye problems.  Doctors do not know yet if these Ebola side effects are only temporary.

To make their voices heard, survivors formed a network under the umbrella of Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare last September.

Korlia Bonarwolo was part of that, but then broke away and formed his own group. He said that after months without support, it seemed to him the government only used survivors to attract foreign aid.

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The End of Ebola? Lessons at the Epidemic's One Year Anniversary

Columbia University                                            March 30, 2015

One year ago, the current Ebola epidemic was announced to the world. Since then, we have learned and accomplished an enormous amount....

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Sierra Leone’s 3-Day Ebola Lockdown is Over

Sierra Leone Ebola lockdown exposes hundreds of suspected cases

REUTERS                                                                                                      March 30, 015

(Scroll down for earlier story.)

FREETOWN - A three-day lockdown in Sierra Leone has exposed hundreds of potential new cases of Ebola, aiding efforts to bring to an end an epidemic that has already killed 3,000 people in the country.

Officials ordered the country's 6 million residents to stay indoors or face arrest during the period that ended late on Sunday as hundreds of health officials went door-to-door looking for hidden patients and educating residents about the virus.

Reports to authorities of sick people increased by 191 percent in Western Area, which includes the capital, during the lockdown compared with the previous weekend, said Obi Sesay of the National Ebola Response Center.

"Tests are being carried out on their blood samples, and the results will be in by Wednesday," Sesay said, adding that 173 of the patients in Freetown met an initial case definition for Ebola.

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Ebola rapid diagnostic kit developed by UK scientists in Sierra Leone

Doctors says the kit, if approved by health authorities, could transform the admissions process with its capacity to deliver results within 20 minutes

THE GUARDIAN    by Lisa O'Carroll                              March 29, 2015

A rapid Ebola diagnostic kit similar to a pregnancy kit has been developed by British military scientists and NHS medics in Sierra Leone.

Health care workers prepare to entering a high risk zone at an Ebola virus clinic in Sierra Leone, where the diagnostic kit has been undergoing tests. Photograph: Michael Duff/AP

It can be administered at the bedside and return its first results within 20 minutes, slashing dramatically the normal 24-hour turnaround for lab results.

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Costa Rica Powered Entirely by Renewables So Far This Year

The country’s tropical climate with high rainfall, mountainous interior and low population gives it a distinct advantage in terms of renewable energy. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Image: The country’s tropical climate with high rainfall, mountainous interior and low population gives it a distinct advantage in terms of renewable energy. Photo credit: Shutterstock

ecowatch.com - March 23rd 2015 - Tierney Smith

For the last 82 days, Costa Rica has powered itself using only renewable energy sources

That means the Latin American country hasn’t had to use fossil fuels at all so far in 2015.

Last week, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) announced that 100 percent of the country’s electricity came from renewables for the first 75 days of the year, as heavy rains boosted the country’s hydroelectric power plants.

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Home> Health Guinea Deploys Police as Sierra Leoneans Flee Ebola Lockdown

ASSOCIATED PRESS  By CLARENCE ROY-MACAULAY AND BOUBACAR DIALLO                  March 28, 2015

FREETOWN, Sierre Leone --Guinea has deployed security forces to the country's southwest in response to reports that Sierra Leoneans are crossing the border to flee an Ebola lockdown intended to stamp out the deadly disease, an official said Saturday.

A team of Sierra Leone health workers walk as they look for people suffering from Ebola virus symptoms or people they can educate about the virus as their country enters a three day country wide lockdown on movement of people due to the Ebola virus in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Friday, March. 27, 2015. Sierra Leone's 6 million people were told to stay home for three days, except for religious services, beginning Friday as the West African nation attempted a final push to rid itself of Ebola. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff) Close The Associated Press

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Liberia Recommends Ebola Survivors Practice Safe Sex Indefinitely

THE NEW YORK TIMES  by Sheri Fink                                                                          March 29, 2015

The Liberian government recommended on Saturday that survivors of Ebola practice safe sex indefinitely, until more information can be collected on the length of time the virus might remain present in body fluids including semen. Previously, male survivors were advised to abstain from sexual intercourse or to use condoms for three months, reflecting that the active virus had been detected for up to 82 days in semen.

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Guinea president announces new emergency measures in Ebola fight

REUTERS                                                 March 28, 2015

CONAKRY - Guinea's President Alpha Conde announced on Saturday new emergency measures enabling authorities to restrict movements in western Guinea where Ebola transmission continues a year after the epidemic was declared.

More than 10,300 people have died from Ebola in West Africa and while cases are thought to have peaked, Guinea is struggling to stamp out the virus partly due to often violent resistance to officials working to end it.

Following a dip in new cases in January, they have spiked again since early March in and around the capital, prompting officials to announce a new phase of the epidemic in Guinea.

"I declare in the districts of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia a reinforcement of emergency measures for a period of 45 days," Conde said on state television late on Saturday.

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http://news.yahoo.com/guinea-president-announces-emergency-measures-ebola-fight-230310066.html

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