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Ebola outbreak update here and abroad

Ebola virus
Ebola virus
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

The good news is that the man placed in isolation at New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center does not have Ebola, and that the two Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, and aid worker Nancy Writebol are improving at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta where they are being treated with a new experimental drug after becoming sick while tending Ebola patients abroad.

The bad news is that the epidemic is continuing to spread at alarming rates thoughout western African nations, where the World Health Organization has reported 163 new cases of Ebola virus disease and 61 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone between July 31 and August 1, 2014, with Liberia reporting n increase in cases for the 3rd straight week, now at 108.Sierra Leone also reported a sudden increase from last week (89), although the numbers are dropping in Guinea (down to 18). This brings the global total to 1,603 cases (including 887 deaths) since February 2014.

Due to the positive results seen in Brantly and Writebol, the Nigerian government has petitioned the CDC for the new drug cocktail, although President Obama announced yesterday that he needs more information about it before he would “advocate” additional use.

In the meantime, the CDC has issued guidelines for specific Ebola testing of individuals within 21 days of visiting affected counties according to risk level of exposure: High risk exposure (specific known exposure to infected fluids or human remains);Any fever;No fever but symptoms AND abnormal blood findings (platelets < 150,000 and/or elevated transaminases);Low risk exposure (health care workers or household members without specific direct contact with infected fluids); Fever AND abnormal blood findings; Travel to an affected area but no specific exposure;Fever AND symptoms AND abnormal blood findings AND no other apparent cause (consider testing only).

Patients with known or suspected Ebola infections should be kept isolated from others with strict infection control procedures in place.

Note: As of July 31st, the. CDC recommends avoiding all nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone due to the ongoing Ebola outbreak, and noted that civil unrest in many affected areas is causing foreigners to be targeted.