As the federal government pushes for an evidence-based strategy for dealing with Ebola, some state governors are planning the kinds of quarantines the White House has opposed and that scientists call an ill-conceived overreaction. Meanwhile, hospitals across the country are assessing patients for possible Ebola symptoms while the outbreak continues to spiral out of control in West Africa.
Here’s a look at the latest Ebola developments worldwide:
Ebola cases reach 10,000
The death roll from the Ebola epidemic rose to 4,922 out of 10,141 known cases in eight countries through Oct. 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday. The vast majority of those were documented in the three countries most devastated by Ebola — Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Baltimore hospital assessing possible Ebola patient
Reuters reported Tuesday morning that the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore has admitted a potential Ebola patient for further assessment. The hospital said in a tweet the patient was transferred there at the direction of Maryland’s Department of Health and was “appropriately isolated and receiving further assessment and care.”
NYC child tests negative for Ebola
A child who was being monitored at Bellevue Hospital in New York City for Ebola-like symptoms has tested negative for the virus, according to the New York City Department of Health. According to city health officials, the patient had traveled within the past 21 days from one of the three West African countries experiencing the outbreak. The hospital is continuing to monitor and test the child for respiratory infections. “Out of an abundance of caution, further negative Ebola tests are required on subsequent days to ensure that the patient is cleared,” said the statement from NYC health officials. “The patient will remain in isolation until all test results have returned.”
CDC issues guidelines for returning health workers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out new guidelines Monday calling for voluntary isolation and monitoring of travelers exposed to Ebola, while rejecting the idea of placing asymptomatic people under mandatory quarantines. The updated advice to state and local officials break down travelers’ risk level into categories: high risk, some risk, low risk and no risk. Those at highest risk are anyone who’s had direct contact with an Ebola patient’s body fluids, including health care workers who suffer a needle-stick injury during a patient’s care. The CDC recommends that people in the highest risk category isolate themselves from others for 21 days — far less stringent than the mandatory quarantines enacted in some states.
U.N. head opposes quarantine
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that countries eager to stop the ongoing Ebola outbreak should focus their attention on stopping the disease in West Africa instead of imposing travel bans and mandatory quarantines that “stigmatize” health workers. “Returning health workers are exceptional people who are giving of themselves for humanity,” Ban said through his spokesman. “They should not be subjected to restrictions that are not based on science. Those who develop infections should be supported, not stigmatized.” Ban’s remarks concerning ‘restrictions that are not based on science’ came amid growing criticism of last week’s decision by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to impose mandatary three-week quarantines on all individuals returning from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
New Jersey releases nurse
Nurse Kaci Hickox, who was forced to spend the weekend in quarantine in an isolation tent at a New Jersey hospital after caring for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, was released Monday to return to her home in Maine, where she will be quarantined in her home for 21 days after the last possible exposure to the disease. Hickox tested negative for Ebola the morning of Oct. 27, and the State of New Jersey Department of Health said Monday morning that she has been symptom-free for 24 hours. Hickox called her treatment “inhumane,” and the conditions of the quarantine have been criticized by federal and public health officials.
Ambassador: US in Ebola fight for long haul
Visiting the West African countries hardest-hit by the Ebola outbreak, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the United States will help fight Ebola “for the long haul.” She criticized the lack of international support, saying the the global response “needs to be taken to a wholly different scale than it is right now.” Speaking to NBC News, Power said that too many world leaders were praising the efforts of countries like the US and Britain to accelerate aid to the worst-affected nations, while doing little themselves. “But they themselves haven’t taken the responsibility yet to send docs, to send beds, to send the reasonable amount of money,” she said. Last week, Power warned that the international community “isn’t just losing the race to Ebola – we are getting lapped.”
Doctor with Ebola still hospitalized
Craig Spencer, the New York City doctor who treated Ebola patients in Guinea, remains in isolation at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, where a spokesperson said he was “entering the next and more serious phase of his illness, as anticipated with the appearance of gastrointestinal symptoms.” NBC News reports that Spencer has received a plasma transfusion from Nancy Writebol, the American nurse who survived Ebola this summer. Plasma donated by another American Ebola survivor, Dr. Kent Brantly, has been used to treat Dallas nurse Nina Pham, freelance photojournalist Ashoka Mukpo, and physician Rick Sacra. So far, every American Ebola patient who has received a blood transfusion from a survivor has also survived.
Ebola classes offered
The University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine are launching two free online Ebola education courses for health care workers and the general public, the university said. Nebraska Medical Center is one of only four hospitals in the United States that has biocontainment units and has been practicing for years to treat a highly infectious disease such as Ebola. “The protocols and procedures we have refined here at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are helping to keep health care workers safe nationwide while dealing with potential and diagnosed Ebola cases,” Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., chancellor of UNMC and chairman of the Nebraska Medicine advisory board, said in a statement. “We want to share our expertise with the world.” The two courses provide instruction and information through videos and printable documents. The clinicians course is available now via the iTunes U app for iPad and iPhone, through this direct link, or by searching in iTunes U. The course also is available through Moodle here for viewing on a desktop, laptop or other mobile devices.
Keeping track: The latest facts & figures
Number of cases worldwide in the current outbreak: 10,141
Number of deaths: 4,922
Countries currently affected by Ebola: Mali, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States.
Countries where the outbreak has ended: Nigeria (Oct. 19), Senegal (Oct. 17)
A friendly reminder: The likelihood of contracting Ebola in the United States remains extremely low, according to the nation’s leading public health officials. Ebola can only be transmitted by direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is showing symptoms of the disease. Even if someone has been exposed to the virus, they aren’t contagious until their symptoms appear, which can occur in as little as two days, or as many as 21 days, after exposure. The average, according to the CDC, is 8 to 10 days.
– Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
– Severe headache
– Muscle pain
– Abdominal (stomach) pain
– Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)