Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/29/2014 8:30 PM

Ebola spreads to 5th nation

Vaccine shows promise in lab tests

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Liberian soldiers patrol the seaside of West Point Wednesday by boat, an area that has been hit hard by the Ebola virus, with local residents not allowed to leave the West Point area,  as government forces clamp down on movement to prevent the spread of Ebola, in Monrovia, Liberia.

      Liberian soldiers patrol the seaside of West Point Wednesday by boat, an area that has been hit hard by the Ebola virus, with local residents not allowed to leave the West Point area, as government forces clamp down on movement to prevent the spread of Ebola, in Monrovia, Liberia.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal -- A university student infected with Ebola evaded health surveillance for weeks as he slipped into Senegal, carrying the deadly virus to a fifth West African nation showing how quarantines, border closures and flight bans have failed to contain the outbreak.

Now health officials must try to identify and monitor all of his contacts in Senegal's capital of Dakar -- no small feat in a metropolitan area with more than 2 million people that serves as a major transportation hub and popular destination for European tourists.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

The student from Guinea finally showed up at a hospital in Dakar on Tuesday, seeking treatment but concealing that he had been in contact with other Ebola victims, Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck said.

The next day, an epidemiological surveillance team in neighboring Guinea alerted Senegalese authorities that they had lost track of a person they were monitoring three weeks earlier, and that the person may have crossed into Senegal.

The student, who is in satisfactory condition, was tracked down in the Dakar hospital the next day and immediately quarantined, Seck said. Authorities also sent out a team to disinfect the home where he was staying.

Drug working

An experimental Ebola drug healed all 18 monkeys infected with the deadly virus in a study, boosting hopes that the treatment might help fight the outbreak raging through West Africa -- once more of it can be made.

The monkeys were given the drug, ZMapp, three to five days after they were infected with the virus and when most were showing symptoms. That is several days later than any other experimental Ebola treatment tested so far.

The drug also completely protected six other monkeys given a slightly different version of it three days after infection in a pilot test. These two studies are the first monkey tests ever done on ZMapp.

"The level of improvement was utterly beyond my honest expectation," said one study leader, Gary Kobinger of the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg.

"For animal data, it's extremely impressive," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which had a role in the work.

It's not known how well the drug would work in people, who can take up to 21 days to show symptoms and are not infected the way these monkeys were in a lab.

Several experts said it's not possible to estimate a window of opportunity for treating people, but that it was encouraging that the animals recovered when treated even after advanced disease developed.

The study was published online Friday by the journal Nature.

ZMapp had never been tested in humans before two Americans aid workers who got Ebola while working in Africa were allowed to try it. The rest of the limited supply was given to five others.

Travel bans useless?

Senegal is among the African nations banning flights from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, where the accelerating outbreak has killed more than 1,500 people. Senegal also has closed major border crossings, but West Africa's frontiers are so porous that it would be impossible to seal borders altogether.

Doctors Without Borders and other public health organizations say such measures hamper relief efforts and further stigmatize people from infected countries.

"The Senegal case is not unexpected. All countries in the region should be getting ready for a possible case of Ebola," said Peter Piot, a co-discoverer of Ebola who directs the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"I think it illustrates the ineffectiveness of closing borders and canceling flights. People will still find a way to get around," Piot said.

Health officials instead call for checking travelers' symptoms at airports and land crossings.

Cases accelerating

More the 500 new cases were recorded this week, far outpacing the 400 cases from the week before, WHO announced Friday.

"Emergency action needs to be taken to reverse the situation to avoid a catastrophe," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden warned while visiting Sierra Leone on Friday.

But a top official from Doctors Without Borders said "the World Health Organization can't handle" this crisis. Mego Terzian, the group's president for France, told France Inter radio that the U.N. Security Council should intervene and that countries with military medical units should get involved.

"We can't create a prison in the region and watch the Africans die," Terzian said.

Severe measures such as cordoning off entire neighborhoods can backfire by provoking unrest and instability that makes controlling the disease even more difficult, he warned.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.