Untested Ebola Drugs Begin Trials in West Africa

By James Harding Giahyue

MONROVIA (Reuters) – Medical charities say they have started trials of untested drug treatments on Ebola patients in Liberia and Guinea for the first time in an effort to control an epidemic that has killed more than 8,000 people in the region.

The World Health Organization gave its approval for the use of experimental drugs on West African Ebola patients in August, but it has taken months to organize trials and get limited supplies of the drugs to the affected countries.

Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Tuesday it began giving brincidofovir, developed by North Carolina-based Chimerix Inc, to consenting confirmed Ebola patients this month at the ELWA 3 center in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

Dr. Jake Dunning from Oxford University, which is leading the trials, said the antiviral drug has been effective in laboratory tests against Ebola-infected cells.

“What we don’t know yet is if it will be effective against Ebola in humans. This is why we must do a trial,” he said.

In Guinea, where the hemorrhagic fever first emerged deep in the jungle more than a year ago, trials of an experimental Japanese drug have begun in two Ebola treatment centers – Gueckedou and Nzerekore.

The drug Avigan, or favipiravir – developed by Toyama Chemical, a subsidiary of Japan’s Fujifilm – was created as a flu treatment. It was administered to a Cuban doctor in a Swiss hospital in December after he contracted the virus in Sierra Leone. He survived….




UK Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey has ‘stabilised’

Pauline Cafferkey

A British nurse who was diagnosed with Ebola after returning from Sierra Leone is still in a critical condition, but has stabilised, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says….


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First Human Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus Infection Reported in Americas

January 8, 2014 – Canada has reported the first case of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus ever detected in the Americas. The case occurred in a traveler who had recently returned from China. H5N1 virus infections are rare and these viruses do not spread easily from person to person. Most of the 648 human cases of H5N1 infections that have been detected since 2003 have occurred in people with direct or close contact with poultry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers that the health risk to people in the Americas posed by the detection of this one case is very low. CDC is not recommending that the public take any special actions regarding H5N1 virus in response to this case. For people traveling to China, CDC recommends that people take the same protective actions against H5N1 as recommended to protect against H7N9 or other avian influenza A viruses. This information is available on the CDC website at Travelers Health: Avian Flu (Bird Flu).

According to Canadian health officials, the patient, who died on January 3, 2014, recently traveled to Beijing, China, where avian influenza A H5N1 is endemic among poultry. This is the first detected case of human infection with avian influenza A H5N1 virus in North or South America. It also is the first case of H5N1 infection ever imported by a traveler into a country where this virus is not present in poultry. No such H5N1 viruses have been detected in people or in animals in the United States.

While human infection is rare, it often results in serious illness with very high mortality (60%). CDC has recommended enhanced surveillance measures to detect possible cases of H5N1 in this country since 2003. In 2007, “novel influenza A infections” such as H5N1, became nationally notifiable diseases in the United States. Novel influenza A virus infections include all human infections with influenza A viruses that are different from currently circulating human seasonal influenza H1 and H3 viruses. Rapid reporting of human infections with novel influenza A viruses facilitates prompt detection and characterization of influenza A viruses and accelerates the implementation of effective public health responses.

While the current risk from H5N1 viruses is very low and CDC believes it unlikely that cases of H5N1 have occurred in the United States, CDC will send out a reminder to clinicians in this country about when and how to test for H5N1 infection. The recommendations for testing for H5N1 are similar to those for H7N9 and include recent travel (within 10 days) to a country with H5N1 virus infections in birds or people. The guidance for H7N9 is posted on the CDC website at Human Infections with Novel Influenza A (H7N9) Viruses.

According to CDC, more concerning for Americans right now is seasonal flu, which is widespread in much of the country. The agency urges people who have not gotten their seasonal flu vaccine this season to get vaccinated now. A seasonal vaccine will protect you against seasonal flu viruses.(*)

As mentioned previously, avian influenza A H5N1 is endemic in poultry in China. Since 2003, 45 cases of human infection with H5N1 have been reported in China and 30 (67%) have died. Affected persons have ranged in age from 2 years to 62 years, with an average age of 26 years. Most of the reported cases have had poultry exposure.

The detection of one isolated case of H5N1 virus infection in a returned traveler does not change the current risk assessment for an H5N1 pandemic. A pandemic would only result if the H5N1 virus were to gain the ability to spread efficiently from person-to-person and there is no indication that this has occurred.

CDC is in close contact with Canadian public health partners and has offered laboratory and other support as needed….

Read more @ CDC.gov:



According to USA Today:

Almost all flu cases this season have been a strain known as Influenza A (H3N2). H3N2 seasons are generally worse than others, and this year’s flu vaccine is not a good match, so it will provide less protection than in other years, though CDC officials still encourage people to get vaccinated. . . .


The LA Times (on December 4, 2014) states:

On Thursday [Dec. 4] , the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the flu shots and nasal sprays distributed this year may not be a good match for the most active virus now circulating in the U.S. . . .



2014-2015 Influenza Vaccine Composition

The vaccine viruses recommended by WHO for the 2014-15 northern hemisphere influenza season are the same as those for the northern hemisphere 2013-14 influenza season and 2014 southern hemisphere season.

The WHO Vaccine Composition Meeting for the 2014-2015 season was held February 17 -19, 2014 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. On February 20, the Meeting recommended that trivalent vaccines for use in the Northern Hemisphere 2014-15 influenza season contain the following:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.

The Meeting also recommended that quadrivalent vaccines containing two influenza B viruses contain the above three viruses and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.


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FOLLOW-UP: New (Tick-borne) Virus (in Kansas) Unlike Anything Ever “Identified in the Western Hemisphere”


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100 soldiers begin Ebola quarantine at Lewis-McChord

By Adam Ashton, The (Tacoma, Wash.) News Tribune (TNS); Published: January 2, 2015

(Tribune Content Agency) — A group of 100 soldiers returning to the States from an Ebola-response mission in West Africa arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., on Friday to begin a mandatory quarantine.

The soldiers belong to the 615th Engineer Company, which is based at Fort Carson, Colo. None has shown any symptoms of contracting the Ebola virus, the Army said.

The group spent the past two months in Liberia improving roads so that Liberians and visiting aid workers can have better access to new Ebola treatment facilities, said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Puetz of JBLM’s 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

The soldiers departed Liberia on Jan. 1.

Lewis-McChord is one of five domestic military installations that is equipped to house troops returning from Ebola-response assignments in Liberia and Senegal. The base has the capacity to host about 1,000 troops in barracks that most recently were used for ROTC cadets.

The Defense Department requires troops who spend extended periods of time in West Africa to be quarantined when they return home during the virus’ 21-day incubation period.

About 3,000 soldiers started deploying to West Africa in October as the Pentagon sought to build up treatment facilities to stem the deadly virus. The World Health Organization on Friday reported that Ebola killed more than 8,000 West Africans in 2014.

JBLM in November hosted a smaller group of 15 military servicemembers returning from Ebola-related deployments.

The quarantine program is separate from the monitoring of JBLM Air Force personnel who have flown short missions to West Africa. These airmen tend to spend less than a day on the ground and don’t interact with Ebola patients. They are asked to watch themselves for symptoms, but they’re not quarantined and can continue to work their military and civilian jobs.

©2015 The (Tacoma, Wash.) News Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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US medical worker exposed to Ebola overseas arrives in Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An American health care worker who experienced high-risk exposure to the Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone has arrived at a Nebraska hospital for observation.

The patient landed in Omaha Sunday afternoon. Paramedics wearing full-body protective gear drove the patient to the Nebraska Medical Center, which has a specialized biocontainment unit.

Dr. Phil Smith, who leads the unit, says the patient is neither ill nor contagious, and that “all appropriate precautions” will be taken.

The patient will be observed for any signs of Ebola throughout the virus’ 21-day incubation period.

Three Ebola patients have been treated at the Omaha hospital. Two recovered, while one died.

The World Health Organization says more than 8,000 people have died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that began about a year ago.


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Coldest Temperatures of the Season Are on the Way for Midwest, East


By Linda Lam, Weather.com

As we head into the first full week of January, the coldest temperatures of the season so far will plunge into the Midwest and East.

This blast of cold temperatures will be different than the Arctic chill that ended 2014, which was mainly confined to the northern tier. This time the frigid air will push farther south and east.

Two rounds of Arctic cold will move through much of the U.S. this week. The first blast moves in behind Winter Storm Frona and begins in the Plains on Sunday and into the Midwest on Monday. High temperatures will be up to 25 degrees below average and will not reach above the freezing mark as far south as Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.


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Severe Flu Cases on the Rise in U.S.

Thirty-six states are now experiencing high levels of flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, as this year’s flu vaccine may not fully protect against a strain known as influenza A H3N2 that is currently circulating and tends to be more severe.

Fifteen children age 18 and under have died from the flu as of Dec. 20, compared with four such deaths around the same time last year, according to the CDC. A number of hospitals are outpacing previous years, with some restricting visitors to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Our medical director said that in his eight years at the hospital, he had never seen double digits” in the number of patients hospitalized, said Jill Chadwick, a spokeswoman at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan. It had a record 25 flu cases admitted as of Monday and two deaths. . . .


See also:

CDC FluView: 2014-2015 Influenza Season Week 51 ending December 20, 2014:



The CDC Says The Current Flu Vaccine Everyone’s Taking Might Be A Bad Match For The Virus

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A sampling of flu cases so far this season suggests the current flu vaccine may not be a good match for the seasonal flu strain currently circulating in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

The U.S. health agency issued a health advisory to doctors noting that flu virus samples the agency took from Oct. 1 through Nov. 22, showed that just under half were a good match for the current influenza A flu strain contained in the current H3N2lu shots for 2014-2015, suggesting the virus has drifted. . . .

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