Thousands have been infected with the Ebola virus and that number is rising, along with the death toll. The outbreak in several West African countries is still out of control despite an increase in public awareness, more techniques to contain its spread and race for better treatment options.
Here’s some of the latest news about the potentially fatal hemorrhagic fever that has no known vaccine or cure.
- Yah-oops: On Sunday night, Yahoo News’ Twitter account posted an “unauthorized tweet with misinformation on Ebola.” The tweet said that more than 145 people were infected with the Ebola virus in Atlanta. This tweet, the news service later corrected, should be disregarded.
- Controversy over who gets the drugs: The discussion regarding just who should be in line to receive any experimental drugs to combat the disease started with two American missionaries who were treated in Liberia before being flown back to the U.S. Now, a Spanish priest returned to Spain where he received ZMapp, which the San Diego-based company Mapp Pharmaceutical, has said is scarce in terms available doses. The drug has also not made it through human trials. Even still, the company is cooperating with the U.S. government agencies to increase production as quickly as possible. The ethical issues about who gets the limited drug, which appears to have helped Ebola patients but the results have not been confirmed scientifically, is now a heated topic, especially with Nigerian officials saying they had asked U.S. health authorities about getting the Ebola drug but were apparently not helped. The World Health Organization was debating the ethical situation Monday.
- A vaccine in the works: Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKlein will start human trials this fall for a possible vaccine that could prevent the spread of the Ebola virus, Reuters reported. If successful and if other measures are put in place to allow the vaccine to move forward quickly, the company said it would still not be available before 2015.
- Could we have known about the outbreak before it started? Several days before the World Health Organization announced the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa earlier this year, an online tool was already reporting a “mystery hemorrhagic fever” in the region. HealthMap, which was created by Epidemico, uses algorithms to sift through social media sites, local news, government websites, infectious-disease physicians’ social networks and other sources to detect and track disease outbreaks.
- Shortage of protective gear: Liberia, one of the countries most affected by the outbreak, announced that it is receiving a donation of more supplies to help with the medical crisis. Full-body suits and surgical gloves are being sent to the country from China so health workers can better protect themselves as they treat infected patients. According to Reuters, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf apologized to health workers Saturday. ”If we haven’t done enough so far, I have come to apologize to you,” she said.
- Ebola song: Liberian soccer star George Weah created a song to raise awareness about the deadly disease. The retired player turned politician and singer worked with the Ghanaian musician, Sidney, to record the song with lyrics like, “Let us all arise and come together to fight Ebola; Ebola is real.” Proceeds from any sales of the song will go to the Liberian Health Ministry.
- Was bringing Ebola patients to U.S. a mistake? Dr. Jorge Rodriguez spoke with Mike Opelka on TheBlaze radio over the weekend, sharing why he thought it was a mistake to bring the two American health workers infected with the virus back to the U.S.
- Ebola is NOT in Canada: The results for a patient who was tested for the virus in Toronto came back negative Sunday, according to Reuters. The patient had been in Nigeria, which doesn’t yet have a massive outbreak but has been reporting more and more cases of the virus.
- ‘A devil’: Several pastors in West African churches compared the Ebola virus to the work of the devil over the weekend, according to Reuters. Many people went against government warnings to attend church in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. Reverend Marcus MacKay acknowledged that while he knew they are “in trouble,” he said that “there is no way this devil is going to do its work!” Abu Aiah Koroma, an evangelical bishop in Sierra Leone, also called the effects of Ebola on health and the local economy “a devil,” Reuters reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.