DiversityNursing Blog

Liberia's Last Ebola Patient Leaves Clinic

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 11:22 AM

ebola last patient liberia resized 600

Liberia released its last Ebola patient, a 58-year old English teacher, from a treatment center in the capital Thursday, beginning its countdown to being Ebola-free.

"I am one of the happiest human beings today on earth because it was not easy going through this situation and coming out alive," Beatrice Yardolo said after her release.

She says she became infected while caring for a sick child.

"I was bathing her. I used to carry her from the bathroom alone because nobody wanted to take any risk. That is how I got in contact," she said.

Yardolo, a mother of five, said she had been admitted to the Chinese-run Ebola treatment center in Monrovia on Feb. 18.

"I am so overwhelmed because my family has been through a very difficult period from January to now. And to know that it's all coming to an end is a very delightful news. I'm so happy," Yardolo's son, Joel Yardolo, told reporters.

Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant health minister and head of the country's Ebola response, says there are no other confirmed cases of Ebola.

"For the past 13 days the entire Republic of Liberia has gone without a confirmed Ebola virus disease," Nyenswah told reporters. "This doesn't mean that Ebola is all over in Liberia."

After a 42-day countdown - two full incubation periods for the virus to cause an infection - the country can be declared Ebola-free. Officials are monitoring 102 people who have been in recent contact with an Ebola patient.

Since the epidemic started a year ago, Liberia has recorded 9,265 cases of Ebola, with 4,057 deaths. But the World Health Organization says there are almost certainly more cases than that. WHO says close to 24,000 cases have been recorded, and close to 10,000 deaths, in the entire West African epidemic.

-- The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story

Source: www.nbcnews.com

Topics: virus, Ebola, health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, doctors, medicine, patient, treatment, Liberia

Ebola Survivor Nina Pham Suing Hospital to Be 'Voice for Other Nurses'

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Mar 02, 2015 @ 02:10 PM

EMILY SHAPIRO

abc nina pham press conference ebola jc 141024 16x9 992 resized 600

A nurse who contracted Ebola at the Dallas hospital where she worked plans to sue the hospital's parent company, Texas Health Resources, hoping to be a "voice for other nurses," her lawyer said today.

In the suit, which Nina Pham plans to file Monday, the 26-year-old nurse alleges that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital didn't train the staff to treat Ebola and didn't give them proper protective gear, which left parts of their skin exposed, her lawyer Charla Aldous said.

"One of the most concerning things about the way [the hospital] handled this entire process is you've got a young lady who has this disease which she should not have. And if they properly trained her and given her the proper personal protective equipment to wear, she would not have gotten the disease," Aldous said.

Aldous said Pham hopes the suit will "help make sure that hospitals and big corporations properly train their nurses and healthcare providers."

"This is not something that Nina chose," Aldous said, but "She's hoping that through this lawsuit she can make it a change for the better for all nurses."

Pham is still coping with Ebola's after-effects, including nightmares and body aches, her lawyer said.

"She has not gone back to work yet and she is working on recovering," Aldous said. "I don't know if she'll ever be a nurse again."

Texas Health Resources spokesperson Wendell Watson said in a statement: "Nina Pham bravely served Texas Health Dallas during a most difficult time. We continue to support and wish the best for her, and we remain optimistic that constructive dialogue can resolve this matter."

Last fall, Pham cared for Liberian native Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew to the U.S. and was diagnosed with Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Pham took care of Duncan when he was especially contagious, and on Oct. 8, Duncan died from the virus.

Pham tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 11, marking the first Ebola transmission on U.S. soil.

On Oct. 16, Pham was transferred to the National Institutes of Health's hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. She was discharged on Oct. 24.

At the news conference announcing Pham's discharge, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, said she tested negative for Ebola five times, and that it wasn't clear which treatment saved her because they were all experimental.

"I want to first tell you what a great pleasure and in many respects, a privilege ... to have the opportunity to treat and care for and get to know such an extremely courageous and lovely person," Fauci said, adding that she represents the health care workers who "put themselves on the line."

Pham's dog, Bentley, was also quarantined for several weeks, over fears that he, too, would develop Ebola.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: virus, Ebola, nursing, health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, hospital, NIH, survivor

Study That Paid Patients to Take H.I.V. Drugs Fails

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 25, 2015 @ 11:51 AM

DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

24HIV articleLarge resized 600

A major study testing whether Americans would take their H.I.V. drugs every day if they were paid to do so has essentially failed, the scientists running it announced Tuesday at an AIDS conference here.

Paying patients in the Bronx and in Washington — where infection rates are high among poor blacks and Hispanics — up to $280 a year to take their pills daily improved overall adherence rates very little, the study’s authors said.

The hope was that the drugs would not only improve the health of the people taking them, but help slow the spread of H.I.V. infections. H.I.V. patients who take their medicine regularly are about 95 percent less likely to infect others than patients who do not. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that only a quarter of all 1.1 million Americans with H.I.V. are taking their drugs regularly enough to not be infectious.

Paying patients $25 to take H.I.V. tests, and then $100 to return for the results and meet a doctor, also failed, the study found.

“We did not see a significant effect of financial incentives,” said Dr. Wafaa M. El-Sadr, an AIDS expert at Columbia University and the lead investigator. But, she said, there is “promise for using such incentives in a targeted manner.”

Cash payments might still work for some patients and some poor-performing clinics, she said.

Other H.I.V.-prevention research released here Tuesday offered good news for gay men but disappointing results for African women.

Two studies — both of gay men, one in Britain and the other in France — confirmed earlier research showing that pills to prevent infection can be extremely effective if taken daily or before and after sex. Both were stopped early because they were working so well that it would have been unethical to let them continue with men in control groups who were not given the medicine.

But a large trial involving African women of a vaginal gel containing an antiviral drug failed — apparently because 87 percent of the women in the trial were unable to use the gel regularly.

The failure of the cash-incentives trial was a surprise and a disappointment to scientists and advocates. It had paid out $2.8 million to 9,000 patients in 39 clinics over three years, but the clinics where money was distributed did only 5 percent better than those that did not — a statistically insignificant difference.

Some small clinics and those where patients had been doing poorly at the start of the study did improve as much as 13 percent, however.

People in other countries have been successfully paid to stop smoking while pregnant and to get their children to school. In Africa, paying poor teenage girls to attend school lowered their H.I.V. rates; scientists concluded that it eased the pressure on them to succumb to “sugar daddies” — older men who gave them money for food, clothes and school fees in return for sex.

One study presented here at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections estimated that every prevented H.I.V. infection saved $230,000 to $338,000. Much of that cost is borne by taxpayers.

Mathematical modeling suggested that paying people up to $5,000 a year could be cost effective, Dr. El-Sadr said, but $280 was settled on after a long, difficult debate.

Paying more than $280 at some clinics was not an option, she said; achieving statistical relevance would have meant signing up even more clinics. The study had already involved almost every H.I.V. patient in the Bronx and Washington.

“I don’t think anyone has an answer to what amount would be sufficient without being excessive,” Dr. El-Sadr said.

One advocate suggested that more money could work — in the right setting.

“In South Africa, $280 is a lot of money,” said Mitchell Warren, the executive director of AVAC, an organization that lobbies for AIDS prevention. “For that much, you’d definitely get some behavior change.”

The two studies among gay men looked at different ways to take pills. A 2010 American study, known as iPrEx, showed that taking Truvada — a combination of two antiretroviral drugs — worked if taken daily.

The British study, known as PROUD, used that dosing schedule, and men who took the pill daily were protected 86 percent of the time.

In the French trial, known as Ipergay, men were advised to take two pills in the two days before they anticipated having sex and two in the 24 hours afterward.

Those who took them correctly also got 86 percent protection.

“The problem,” Dr. Susan P. Buchbinder, director of H.I.V. prevention research for the San Francisco health department, said in a speech here commenting on the study, “is that studies have shown that men are very good at predicting when they will not have sex and not good at predicting when they will.”

The African study, known as FACTS 001, was a follow-up to the smaller trial from 2010, which showed that South African women who used a vaginal gel containing tenofovir, an antiviral drug, before and after sex were 39 percent better protected than women who did not.

But it also found that many women failed to use the gel because it was messy or inconvenient or because partners objected.

In this trial, there was virtually no effect.

One problem, said Dr. Helen Rees, the chief investigator, was that the women were very young — the median age was 23, and most lived with their parents or siblings.

“They had no privacy for sex,” she said. “They had to go outside to use the product.”

Mr. Warren, of AVAC, said: “The women wanted a product they could use. But this particular product didn’t fit into the realities of their daily lives.”

The development means that advocates are hoping even more that other interventions for women now in trials will work. They include long-lasting injections of antiretroviral drugs and vaginal rings that can be inserted once a month and leach the drugs slowly into the vaginal wall.

Another trial in Africa, the Partners Demonstration Project, conducted among couples in which one partner had H.I.V. and the other did not, found it was extremely effective to simultaneously offer treatment to the infected partner and preventive drugs to the uninfected one until the other’s drugs took full effect.

In the group getting the treatment, there were zero infections that could be traced to partners who were in the study.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Topics: drugs, virus, AIDS, study, health, research, health care, patients, medicine, treatment, infection, Money, HIV, cure

Are we on the road to an HIV vaccine?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 01:16 PM

By Meera Senthilingam

141127180602 new hiv infections by region horizontal gallery resized 600

"It only takes one virus to get through for a person to be infected," explained Dr. John Mascola. This is true of any viral infection, but in this instance, Mascola is referring to HIV and his ongoing efforts to develop a vaccine against the virus. "It's been so difficult to make an HIV/AIDS vaccine."

Those were the words of many working in HIV vaccine development until the results of a 2009 trial in Thailand surprised everyone. "The field is energized," said Mascola, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, describing the change in atmosphere in the vaccine community.

The trial included over 16,000 volunteers and was the largest clinical trial ever conducted for a vaccine against HIV. It was also the first to show any protection at all against infection.

Two previously developed vaccines, known as ALVAC-HIV and AIDSVAX, were used in combination, with the first priming an immune response against HIV and the second used as a booster once the immunity waned. The duo reduced the risk of contracting HIV by 31.2% -- a modest reduction, but it was a start.

To date, only four vaccines have made it as far as testing for efficacy to identify their levels of protection against HIV. Only this one showed any protection.

"That trial was pivotal," Mascola said. "Prior to that, it wasn't known whether a vaccine could be possible."

In recent years, there have been parallel findings of an equally pivotal nature in the field of HIV prevention, including the discovery that people regularly taking their antiretroviral treatment reduce their chances of spreading HIV by 96% and that men who are circumcised reduce their risk of becoming infected heterosexually by approximately 60%.

Both improved access to antiretrovirals and campaigns to increase male circumcision in high-risk populations have taken place since the discoveries, and although numbers of new infections are falling, they're not falling fast enough.

In 2013, there were 35 million people estimated to be living with HIV globally. There were still 2.1 million new infections in 2013, and for every person who began treatment for HIV last year, 1.3 people were newly infected with the lifelong virus, according to UNAIDS. A vaccine remains essential to control the epidemic.

A complex beast

Scientists like Mascola have dedicated their careers to finding a vaccine, and their road has been tough due to the inherently complicated nature of the virus, its aptitude for mutating and changing constantly to evade immune attack, and its ability attack the very immune cells that should block it.

There are nine subtypes of HIV circulating in different populations around the world, according to the World Health Organization, and once inside the body, the virus can change continuously.

"Within an individual, you have millions of variants," explained Dr. Wayne Koff, chief scientific officer for the International AIDS Vaccine Alliance.

HIV invades the body by attaching to, and killing, CD4 cells in the immune system. These cells are needed to send signals for other cells to generate antibodies against viruses such as HIV, and destroying those enables HIV to cause chronic lifelong infections in those affected.

Measles, polio, tetanus, whooping cough -- to name a few -- all have vaccines readily available to protect from their potentially fatal infections. But their biology is seemingly simple in comparison with HIV.

"For the older ones, you identify the virus, either inactivate it or weaken it, and inject it," Koff said. "You trick the body into thinking it is infected with the actual virus, and when you're exposed, you mount a robust immune response."

This is the premise of all vaccines, but the changeability of HIV means the target is constantly changing. A new route is needed, and the true biology of the virus needs to be understood. "In the case of HIV, the old empirical approach isn't going to work," Koff said.

Scientists have identified conserved regions of the virus that don't change as readily, making them prime targets for attack by antibodies. When the success of the Thai trial was studied deep down at the molecular level, the protection seemed to come down to attacking some of these conserved regions. Now it's time to step it up.

In January, the mild success in Thailand will be applied in South Africa, where over 19% of the adult population is living with HIV. The country is second only to bordering Swaziland for having the highest rates of HIV in the world.

"The Thai vaccine was made for strains (of HIV) circulating in Thailand," said Dr. Larry Corey, principal investigator for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, which is leading the next trial in South Africa. The strain, or subtype, in this case was subtype B. "For South Africa, we've formed a strain with common features to (that) circulating in the population." This region of the world has subtype C.

An additional component, known as an adjuvant, is being added to the mix to stimulate a stronger and hopefully longer-lasting level of immunity. "We know durability in the Thai trial waned," Corey said. If safety trials go well in 2015, larger trials for the protective effect will take place the following year. An ideal vaccine would provide lifelong protection, or at least for a decade, as with the yellow fever vaccine.

A broad attack

The excitement now reinvigorating researchers stems not only from a modestly successful trial but from recent successes in the lab and even from HIV patients themselves.

Some people with HIV naturally produce antibodies that are effective in attacking the HIV virus in many of its forms. Given the great variability of HIV, any means of attacking these conserved parts of the virus will be treasured and the new found gold comes in the form of these antibodies -- known as "broadly neutralizing antibodies." Scientists including Koff set out to identify these antibodies and discover whether they bind to the outer coat of the virus.

The outer envelope, or protein coat, of HIV is what the virus uses to attach to, and enter, cells inside the body. These same coat proteins are what vaccine developers would like our antibodies to attack, in order to prevent the virus from entering our cells. "Broadly neutralizing antibodies" could hold the key because, as their name suggests, they have a broad remit and can attack many subtypes of HIV. "We will have found the Achilles heel of HIV," Koff said.

Out of 1,800 people infected with HIV, Koff and his team found that 10% formed any of these antibodies and just 1% had extremely broad and potent antibodies against HIV. "We called them the elite neutralizers," he said of the latter group. The problem, however, is that these antibodies form too late, when people are already infected. In fact, they usually only form a while after infection. The goal for vaccine teams is to get the body making these ahead of infection.

"We want the antibodies in advance of exposure to HIV," explained Koff. The way to do this goes back to basics: tricking the body into thinking it is infected.

"We can start to make vaccines that are very close mimics of the virus itself," Mascola said.

Teams at his research center have gained detailed insight into the structure of HIV in recent years, particularly the outer coat, where all the action takes place. Synthesizing just the outer coat of a virus in the lab and injecting this into humans as a vaccine could "cause enough of an immune response against a range of types of HIV," Mascola said.

The vaccine would not contain the virus itself, or any of its genetic material, meaning those receiving it have no risk of contracting HIV. But for now, this new area remains just that: new. "We need results in humans," Mascola said.

Rounds of development, safety testing and then formal testing in high-risk populations are needed, but if it goes well, "in 10 years, there could be a first-generation vaccine." If improved protection is seen in South Africa, a first-generation vaccine could be with us sooner.

Making an Impact

When creating vaccines, the desired level of protection is usually 80% to 90%. But the high burden of HIV and potentially beneficial impact of lower levels of protection warrant licensing at a lower percentage.

"Over 50% is worth licensing from a public health perspective," Koff said, meaning that despite less shielding from any contact with the HIV virus, even a partially effective vaccine would save many lives over time.

The next generations will incorporate further advancements, such as inducing neutralizing antibodies, to try to increase protection up to the 80% or 90% desired.

"That's the history of vaccine research; you develop it over time," Corey said. He has worked in the field for over 25 years and has felt the struggle. "I didn't think it would be this long or this hard ... but it's been interesting," he ponders.

But there is light at the end of tunnel. Just.

"There has been no virus controlled without a vaccine," he concluded when explaining why, despite antiretrovirals, circumcision and increased awareness, the need for a one-off intervention like a vaccine remains strong.

"Most people that transmit it don't even know they have it," he said. "To get that epidemic, to say you've controlled it, requires vaccination."

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: virus, AIDS, public, health, healthcare, research, nurses, doctors, vaccine, medicine, testing, infection, HIV, cure

Virus hitting Midwest could be 'tip of iceberg,' CDC official says

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Sep 08, 2014 @ 11:50 AM

By Michael Martinez

140907 enterovirus denver jms 2300 718d602acaf6a5be452367152ffe4510.nbcnews fp 840 320 resized 600

A respiratory virus is sending hundreds of children to hospitals in Missouri and possibly throughout the Midwest and beyond, officials say.

The unusually high number of hospitalizations reported now could be "just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases," said Mark Pallansch, a virologist and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Viral Diseases.

"We're in the middle of looking into this," he told CNN on Sunday. "We don't have all the answers yet."

Ten states have contacted the CDC for assistance in investigating clusters of enterovirus: Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

What is Enterovirus EV-D68?

Enteroviruses, which bring on symptoms like a very intense cold, aren't unusual. They're actually common. When you have a bad summer cold, often what you have is an enterovirus, he said. The season often hits its peak in September.

The unusual situation now is that there have been so many hospitalizations.

The virus has sent more than 30 children a day to a Kansas City, Missouri, hospital, where about 15% of the youngsters were placed in intensive care, officials said.

In a sign of a possible regional outbreak, Colorado, Illinois and Ohio are reporting cases with similar symptoms and are awaiting testing results, according to officials and CNN affiliates in those states.

In Kansas City, about 475 children were recently treated at Children's Mercy Hospital, and at least 60 of them received intensive hospitalization, spokesman Jake Jacobson said.

"It's worse in terms of scope of critically ill children who require intensive care. I would call it unprecedented. I've practiced for 30 years in pediatrics, and I've never seen anything quite like this," said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the hospital's division director for infectious diseases.

"We've had to mobilize other providers, doctors, nurses. It's big," she said.

The Kansas City hospital treats 90% of that area's ill children. Staff members noticed an initial spike on August 15, Jackson said.

"It could have taken off right after school started. Our students start back around August 17, and I think it blew up at that point," Jackson said. "Our peak appears to be between the 21st and the 30th of August. We've seen some leveling of cases at this point."

What parents should know about EV-D68

No vaccine for virus

This particular type of enterovirus -- EV-D68 -- is uncommon but not new. It was identified in the 1960s, and there have been fewer than 100 reported cases since that time. But it's possible, Pallansch said, that the relatively low number of reports might be because EV-D68 is hard to identify.

EV-D68 was seen last year in the United States and this year in various parts of the world. Over the years, clusters have been reported in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and various countries including the Philippines, Japan and the Netherlands.

An analysis by the CDC showed at least 30 of the Kansas City children tested positive for EV-D68, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Vaccines for EV-D68 aren't currently available, and there is no specific treatment for infections, the Missouri agency said.

"Many infections will be mild and self-limited, requiring only symptomatic treatment," it said. "Some people with several respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy."

Some cases of the virus might contribute to death, but none of the Missouri cases resulted in death, and no data are available for overall morbidity and mortality from the virus in the United States, the agency said.

Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing and rash. Sometimes they can be accompanied by fever or wheezing.

Jackson said physicians in other Midwest states reported cases with similar symptoms.

"The full scope is yet to be known, but it would appear it's in the Midwest. In our community, meticulous hand-washing is not happening. It's just the nature of kids," Jackson said.

'Worst I've seen'

Denver also is seeing a spike in respiratory illnesses resembling the virus, and hospitals have sent specimens for testing to confirm whether it's the same virus, CNN affiliate KUSA said.

More than 900 children have gone to Children's Hospital Colorado emergency and urgent care locations since August 18 for treatment of severe respiratory illnesses, including enterovirus and viral infections, hospital spokeswoman Melissa Vizcarra said. Of those, 86 have been sick enough to be admitted to the Aurora facility.

And Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children had five children in intensive care and 20 more in the pediatric unit, KUSA said last week.

"This is the worst I've seen in my time here at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children," Dr. Raju Meyeppan told the outlet. "We're going to have a pretty busy winter at this institution and throughout the hospitals of Denver."

Will Cornejo, 13, was among the children in intensive care at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children after he came down with a cold last weekend and then woke up Tuesday night with an asthma attack that couldn't be controlled with his medicine albuterol. His mother, Jennifer, called 911 when her son's breathing became shallow, and her son was airlifted to the Denver hospital, she told KUSA.

Her son was put on a breathing tube for 24 hours.

"It was like nothing we've ever seen," Jennifer Cornejo told KUSA. "He was unresponsive. He was laying on the couch. He couldn't speak to me. He was turning white, and his lips turned blue.

"We're having a hard time believing that it really happened," she added. "We're much better now because he is breathing on his own. We're on the mend."

Restricting kids' visits with patients

In East Columbus, Ohio, Nationwide Children's Hospital saw a 20% increase in patients with respiratory illnesses last weekend, and Dr. Dennis Cunningham said patient samples are being tested to determine whether EV-D68 is behind the spike, CNN affiliate WTTE reported.

Elsewhere, Hannibal Regional Hospital in Hannibal, Missouri, reported "recent outbreaks of enterovirus infections in Missouri and Illinois," the facility said this week on its Facebook page.

Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois, saw more than 70 children with respiratory issues last weekend, and seven of them were admitted, CNN affiliate WGEM reported. The hospital's Dr. Robert Merrick believes that the same virus that hit Kansas City is causing the rash of illnesses seen at the Quincy and Hannibal hospitals, which both imposed restrictions this week on children visiting patients, the affiliate said.

"Mostly we're concerned about them bringing it in to a vulnerable patient. We don't feel that the hospital is more dangerous to any other person at this time," Merrick told WGEM.

Blessing Hospital is working with Illinois health officials to identify the virus, the hospital said in a statement.

While there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses causing up to 15 million U.S. infections annually, EV-D68 infections occur less commonly, the Missouri health agency said. Like other enteroviruses, the respiratory illness appears to spread through close contact with infected people, the agency said.

"Unlike the majority of enteroviruses that cause a clinical disease manifesting as a mild upper respiratory illness, febrile rash illness, or neurologic illness (such as aseptic meningitis and encephalitis), EV-D68 has been associated almost exclusively with respiratory disease," the agency said.

Clusters of the virus have struck Asia, Europe and the United States from 2008 to 2010, and the infection caused relatively mild to severe illness, with some intensive care and mechanical ventilation, the health agency said.

To reduce the risk of infection, individuals should wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick; disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs; and stay home when feeling sick, the Missouri agency said.

Source: http://www.cnn.com

Topics: virus, respiratory, enterovirus, children, hospital

Ebola outbreak: Are hazmat suits necessary or counterproductive?

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 02:35 PM

By LAURA GEGGEL

451439668 resized 600

For health care workers and researchers, wearing pressurized, full-body suits around Ebola patients may be counterproductive to treating the disease, say three Spanish researchers in a new letter published in the journal The Lancet. But other health experts, wary of wearing less protective gear, disagree.

Health agencies often require that health care workers caring for Ebola patients wear hazardous material (hazmat) suits that protect against airborne diseases. But the Ebola virus rarely spreads through the air, according to the researchers at the University of Valencia and Hospital La Paz-Carlos III, in Madrid.

Ebola is transmitted through contact with infected patients' secretions (such as blood, vomit or feces), and such contact can be prevented by wearing gloves and masks, the researchers wrote.

Wearing full-body protection gear is "expensive, uncomfortable, and unaffordable for countries that are the most affected," they said. It may also send the message that such protection against the virus is being preferentially given to health care workers and is out of reach to the general public, they wrote in their article. [Ebola Virus: 5 Things You Should Know].

Moreover, the image of health care workers in hazmat suits could lead to panic, causing people to flee the area and possibly spread the virus elsewhere, they added.

Instead, protective gear such as gloves, waterproof smocks, goggles, masks and isolated rooms may be enough to manage infected patients, so long as they are not hemorrhaging or vomiting, the letter said. "In control of infectious diseases, more is not necessarily better and, very often, the simplest answer is the best," the researchers wrote.

The current Ebola virus outbreak is the worst in history. It began in February 2014 in Guinea and has since infected people in Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, killing more than 1,500 people. Just 47 percent of infected patients have survived.

But other experts disagree with the researchers, saying a high level of protection against the virus is needed in places with struggling health care systems, including the countries in West Africa where the outbreak is raging.

"The authors have a point, but I don't think a very strong one," said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, who was not involved with the letter.

"It must indeed be unsettling for people to see folks in hazmat suits come into their communities," Schaffner told Live Science. "It's very foreign, and often increases their anxiety about events."

But it's better to err on the side of safety, he said. Because the Ebola virus does spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, if health care workers don't immediately clean up such excretions, it's possible these fluids could infect others not wearing appropriate protective gear.

Patients may also start vomiting or bleeding at any time, increasing the risk of infection for health care workers who are not wearing protective suits, he said.

"I would remind us that there are any number of health care workers, including Dr. [Kent] Brantly and Ms. [Nancy] Writebol, were using elaborate equipment in Africa and nonetheless became infected," Schaffner said. (Brantly and Writebol have both since recovered.)

In hospitals with cutting-edge technologies, such as Emory University Hospital, health care workers may not have to wear full-body suits for all Ebola patients, if the patients are on the mend, he said. If they are not displaying symptoms such as vomiting or bleeding, health care workers may be able to scale down their uniforms and use goggles and gloves in lieu of wearing hazmat suits, Schaffner said.

But "when you have a circumstance as hazardous as Ebola, it's important to be secure," Schaffner said.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com

Topics: virus, Ebola, health care, patients, hazmat suits, safety gear, health aids, experts

A Nurse's Story: On The Front Lines Of Ebola Outbreak

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Aug 13, 2014 @ 11:42 AM

By NAOMI CHOY SMITH

img1178

When Doctors Without Borders nurse Monia Sayah first arrived in Guinea in March, she couldn't have known she would witness the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Back then, there were 59 confirmed deaths from Ebola, a virus which can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. The death toll in West Africa has since soared to 932, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. In Guinea, where the first cases were reported in March, Ebola has killed 363 people.

"The fear is palpable," Sayah said, speaking to CBS News in New York after returning from her latest assignment. "People are very afraid because they never know if Ebola's going to hit their family or their village."

Because of the fear and stigma associated with the virus, Sayah said many infected people are choosing to hide their illness and often don't check in to treatment centers until it is too late. By that point, there is very little Sayah and her colleagues can do. They try to rehydrate the patients and administer antibiotics. But there is no proven treatment for Ebola, though an experimental drug is currently being tested.

Concerns have also been growing for the safety of medical workers in the field. A leading doctor died in Sierra Leone last week. A Nigerian nurse who treated that country's first Ebola victim died from the virus, Nigerian health officials said Wednesday, and two American medical missionaries infected with Ebola in Liberia are still battling the virus at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

But Sayah, who has spent a total of 11 weeks in Guinea, said she is not afraid. She and her colleagues take strict precautions to limit their risk of exposure. Before entering a high-risk zone, they suit up in head-to-toe protective clothing including gloves and goggles. "You do have to follow the rules," she said, "but accidents do happen."

She has to limit the amount of time she spends in the infected area. It's hot under the protective clothing, and exhaustion and dehydration are serious concerns. "The risk is you could faint, you could fall. You do not want to fall in a high-risk area," she said. "Maybe your goggles will move up and your eye will be infected."

Working so closely with patients at death's door has taken a personal toll. Sayah described the anguish of stepping outside a treatment facility to take a quick break from the intense heat, only to find that her patient had died in those ten minutes she was away. "It was really hard for me to know that they had died alone," she said, "not with someone holding their hands and reassuring them."

Sayah recalled the "hectic" challenges of setting up some of the first international treatment facilities for Ebola patients. By the end of May, she said, the medical community thought they had almost contained the virus. But soon after she left Guinea, another cluster of infected patients was found in another village. The virus was spreading like wildfire.

Several factors are contributing to the spread. The virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days, according to the WHO, and in West Africa the population is highly mobile, moving easily across porous cross-country borders. Traditional burial ceremonies in which relatives have direct contact with the body can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola.

Sayah found that many local communities distrust the healthcare system and foreigners. "Some have said we brought the Ebola to them," she said. "It's very difficult to contain the outbreak when communities are not cooperating." There were instances of infectious patients leaving the facility, she said, and many weren't receptive to the idea of isolation -- a crucial step in containing the virus.

During her breaks from the field, Sayah stays in touch with her colleagues on the front lines, hoping for the slightest bit of good news. Just this past week, she heard some. One of the patients who'd been under her care was discharged from hospital, apparently free of the virus.

But the situation on the ground remains dire, and Sayah hopes to see a greater response from the international community.

Despite the challenges, Sayah said she will return to West Africa to fight the outbreak. "When you're there and you see how much needs to be done," she said, "there is not a question of 'should I go back or not?'"

Source: www.cbsnews.com

Topics: virus, Ebola, outbreak, infected, nursing, deaths

Second American Infected With Ebola

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 28, 2014 @ 12:28 PM

By Joe Sutton and Holly Yan

140727154609 nancy writebol story body resized 600

A second American aid worker in Liberia has tested positive for Ebola, according to the Christian humanitarian group she works for.

Nancy Writebol is employed by Serving in Mission, or SIM, in Liberia and was helping the joint SIM/Samaritan's Purse team that is treating Ebola patients in Monrovia, according to a Samaritan's Purse statement.

Writebol, who serves as SIM's personnel coordinator, has been living in Monrovia with her husband, David, according to SIM's website. The Charlotte, North Carolina, residents have been in Liberia since August 2013, according to the blog Writebols2Liberia. They have two adult children.

On Saturday, Samaritan's Purse announced that American doctor Kent Brantly had become infected. The 33-year-old former Indianapolis resident had been treating Ebola patients in Monrovia and started feeling ill, spokeswoman Melissa Strickland said. Once he started noticing the symptoms last week, Brantly isolated himself.

Brantly, the medical director for Samaritan Purse's Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, has been in the country since October, Strickland said.

"When the Ebola outbreak hit, he took on responsibilities with our Ebola direct clinical treatment response, but he was serving in a missionary hospital in Liberia prior to his work with Ebola patients," she said.

Deadliest Ebola outbreak

Health officials say the Ebola outbreak, centered in West Africa, is the deadliest ever.

As of July 20, some 1,093 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are thought to have been infected by Ebola since its symptoms were first observed four months ago, according to the World Health Organization.

Testing confirmed the Ebola virus in 786 of those cases; 442 of those people died.

Of the 1,093 confirmed, probable and suspected cases, 660 people have died.

There also are fears the virus could spread to Africa's most populous country, Nigeria.

Last week, a Liberian man hospitalized with Ebola in Lagos died, Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said.

Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, has a population of more than 20 million.

The man arrived at Lagos airport on July 20 and was isolated in a local hospital after showing symptoms associated with the virus. He told officials he had no direct contact with anyone with the virus nor had he attended the burial of anyone who died of Ebola.

Another doctor infected

Confirmation of the death in Lagos came after news that a doctor who has played a key role in fighting the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone is infected with the disease, according to that country's Ministry of Health.

Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan is being treated by the French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres -- also known as Doctors Without Borders -- in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, agency spokesman Tim Shenk said.

Before falling ill, Khan had been overseeing Ebola treatment and isolation units at Kenema Government Hospital, about 185 miles east of the capital, Freetown.

Ebola typically kills 90% of those infected, but the death rate in this outbreak has dropped to roughly 60% because of early treatment.

Spread by bodily fluids

Officials believe the Ebola outbreak has taken such a strong hold in West Africa because of the proximity of the jungle -- where the virus originated -- to Conakry, Guinea, which has a population of 2 million.

Because symptoms don't immediately appear, the virus can easily spread as people travel around the region. Once infected with the virus, many people die in an average of 10 days as the blood fails to clot and hemorrhaging occurs.

The disease isn't contagious until symptoms appear. Symptoms include fever, headache and fatigue. At that point, the Ebola virus is spread via bodily fluids.

Health workers are at especially high risk, because they are in close contact with infected people and their bodily fluids. Adding to the danger, doctors may mistake the initial stages of an Ebola infection for another, milder illness.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: virus, World Health Organization, Ebola, outbreak, West Africa, deadly, infected, doctor

Debilitating Case of Mosquito-borne Chikungunya Reported in U.S.

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 12:54 PM

By Val Willingham and Miriam Falco

mosq resized 600

 (CNN) -- Chikungunya -- a tropical disease with a funny name that packs a wallop like having your bones crushed -- has finally taken up residence in the United States.

Ever since the first local transmission of chikungunya was reported in the Americas late last year, health officials have been bracing for the arrival of the debilitating, mosquito-borne virus in the United States. Just seven months after the first cases were found in the Caribbean, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionreported the first locally acquired case of chikungunya in Florida.

Even though chikungunya is not on the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System list, 31 states and two U.S. territories have reported cases of the disease since the beginning of the year. But only Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported locally acquired cases. All the other cases were travelers who were infected in countries where the virus was endemic and were diagnosed upon returning to the United States.

That ended Thursday, when the CDC reported a man in Florida, who had not recently traveled outside the country, came down with the illness.

As of right now, the Florida Department of Health confirmed there are at least two cases. One case is in Miami Dade County and the other is in Palm Beach County.

Its arrival did not surprise the chair of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board.

"It was just a matter of when. We are prepared in the Keys and have been prepared for some time to deal with chikungunya," Steve Smith said. "From what I am seeing, I'm sure there are more cases out there that we don't know about. It's really a matter of time."

The CDC is working closely with the Florida Department of Health to investigate how the patient came down with the virus. The CDC will also monitor for additional locally acquired U.S. cases in the coming weeks and months.

The virus, which can cause joint pain and arthritis-like symptoms, has been on the U.S. public health radar for some time.

Usually about 25 to 28 infected travelers bring it to the United States each year. But this new case represents the first time that mosquitoes themselves are thought to have transferred the disease within the continental United States

"The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the United States, underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens," said Roger Nasci, chief of CDC's Arboviral Diseases Branch. "This emphasizes the importance of CDC's health security initiatives designed to maintain effective surveillance networks, diagnostic laboratories and mosquito control programs both in the United States and around the world."

The virus is not deadly, but it can be extremely painful, with symptoms lasting for weeks. Those with weak immune systems, such as the elderly, are more likely to suffer from the virus' side effects than those who are healthier. About 60% to 90% of those infected will have symptoms, says Nasci. People infected with chikungunya will often have severe joint pain, particularly in their hands and feet, and can also quickly get very high fevers.

The good news, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, is that the United States is more sophisticated when it comes to controlling mosquitoes than many other nations and should be able to keep the problem under control.

"We live in a largely air-conditioned environment, and we have a lot of screening (window screens, porch screens)," Shaffner said. "So we can separate the humans from the mosquito population, but we cannot be completely be isolated."

Mosquito-borne virus worries CDC

Chikungunya was originally identified in East Africa in the 1950s. Then about 10 years ago, chikungunya spread to the Indian Ocean and India, and a few years later an outbreak in northern Italy sickened about 200 people. Now at least 74 countries plus the United States are reporting local transmission of the virus.

The ecological makeup of the United States supports the spread of an illness such as this, especially in the tropical areas of Florida and other Southern states, according to the CDC.

The other concern is the type of mosquito that carries the illness.

Unlike most mosquitoes that breed and prosper outside from dusk to dawn, the chikungunya virus is most often spread to people byAedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which are most active during the day, which makes it difficult to use the same chemical mosquito control measures.

These are the same mosquitoes that transmit the virus that causes dengue fever. The disease is transmitted from mosquito to human, human to mosquito and so forth. A female mosquito of this type lives three to four weeks and can bite someone every three to four days.

Shaffner and other health experts recommend people remember the mosquito-control basics:

-- Use bug spray if you are going out, especially in tropical or wooded areas near water.

-- Get rid of standing water in empty plastic pools, flower pots, pet dishes and gutters to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.

-- Wear long sleeves and pants.

Source: www.cnn.com


Topics: US, virus, illness, mosquito, Chikungunya, spread, health, disease, CDC

Girl 'Cured' of HIV at Birth Now Has Virus, Doctors Say

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 14, 2014 @ 01:34 PM

By GILLIAN MOHNEY

GTY hiv virus jef 140711 16x9 992 resized 600

A girl believed to be “cured” of HIV at birth now has detectable levels of the virus, health officials said today.

The unnamed girl, dubbed the “Mississippi baby” after being born to an HIV-positive mother in 2010 and quickly treated with an intense dose of antiretroviral medication, showed no signs of the virus for roughly four years, according to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease. But a recent round of tests revealed detectable levels of HIV in her blood as well as antibodies to the virus and a decreased T-cell count -- all signs of the infection.

“Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care, and the HIV/AIDS research community,” NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement. “Scientifically, this development reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body.”

The case of the Mississippi baby made headlines across the globe after being published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Hannah Gay, the University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician who treated the infant at birth, was listed as one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2013.

Gay's decision to give the newborn antiretroviral medication in the days before it was confirmed that she was in fact HIV-positive was controversial, since there was only a 25 percent chance that the girl would contract the virus from her mother.

The girl continued treatment for 18 months before her mother stopped taking her to her clinic appointments. Five months later, when she went back for a check-up, she surprised doctors with undetectable levels of the virus.

At first, Gay and her colleagues said the baby had been “functionally cured” of the virus, but later revised their language to “remission” to better convey that there was a chance the virus could rebound, they said at the time.

Although the girl's positive test results have been described as a disappointment, experts say her case still shows tremendous progress in treating the virus that causes AIDS.

“The fact that this child was able to remain off antiretroviral treatment for two years and maintain quiescent virus for that length of time is unprecedented,” Dr. Deborah Persaud, professor of infectious diseases at the John Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, said in a statement released by NIAID. “Typically, when treatment is stopped, HIV levels rebound within weeks, not years.”

Persaud is one of the two pediatric HIV experts involved in the ongoing analysis of the case.

“This virus is amazingly recalcitrant,” said Fauci. “It’s in reservoirs, except we don’t know every place in the body where the reservoir is going to be.”

NIAID and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development announced today that they would provide funding to analyze the unique case and will take the new findings into account during a new clinical trial.

Source: abcnews.go.com


Topics: virus, cured, baby, HIV

Click me

Article or Blog Submissions

If you are interested in submitting content for our Blog, please ensure it fits the criteria below:
  • Relevant information for Nurses
  • Does NOT promote a product
  • Informative about Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Agreement to publish on our DiversityNursing.com Blog is at our sole discretion.

Thank you

Subscribe to Email our eNewsletter

Posts by Topic

see all