The Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

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Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been struggling since March to stop what has become the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. The disease is causing widespread fear and disruption in West Africa, and shows no signs of being brought under control.

CHRONOLOGY OF COVERAGE

OCT. 31, 2014
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as first elected leader after devastating civil war, has pushed the country to economic growth, but gains have been halted by the Ebola outbreak; she is Nobel Peace Prize winner and arguably most recognized African leader, but Ebola threatens to derail that legacy.
OCT. 31, 2014
Study in journal Science says researchers working with mice have found laboratory animals, like humans, can have range of responses to Ebola, and that in mice, responses are determined by differences in genes; study identifies two genes that are crucial in determining whether the mouse will die or whether infected mouse will even become ill.
OCT. 31, 2014
Governors of both parties, in response to public anxiety over Ebola, are struggling to define public health policies on the virus; they are leaving confusing patchwork of rules regarding monitoring, restricting and quarantining health care workers who have treated Ebola patients, whether domestically or abroad.
OCT. 31, 2014
New York Gov Andrew M Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announce they will offer employee protection and financial guarantees for health care workers joining fight against Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
OCT. 31, 2014
North Korea will impose 20-day Ebola quarantine on all travelers returning from overseas trips from anywhere in the world.

by staff writer at The New York Times
OCT. 30, 2014
Stumbles in the government’s handling of Ebola crisis and Islamic State are fueling speculation that Pres Obama may shake up his foreign policy team; Obama has already brought in Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Pres Joseph R Biden, to manage the response to Ebola and Gen John R Allen, former commander in Afghanistan, to marshal the coalition against the Islamic State.
OCT. 30, 2014
Kaci Hickox, nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, says she will take State of Maine to court if she is not freed from quarantine there immediately, heightening a debate on how to balance public health and public fears.
OCT. 30, 2014
World Health Organization, three months after declaring West Africa’s Ebola epidemic a global emergency, says new infections in Liberia appear to be declining; warms against complacency in international efforts to fight the disease.
OCT. 30, 2014
Some nurses and medical workers at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan report being discriminated against as a result of working at the hospital, which has been handling the New York City’s first Ebola case.
OCT. 30, 2014
Third grade student Ikeoluwa Opayemi, of Milford, Conn, has not been allowed in class since she returned from a 10-day trip to Nigeria, due to Ebola fears; her family files discrimination lawsuit against school district, which imposed 21-day quarantine, accusing it of violating Americans with Disabilities Act.
OCT. 29, 2014
Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are seeing fewer patients and more empty beds, raising question of whether disease is abating or whether it continues to rage out of public eye; experts, unable to explain why numbers of patients, and percentage of people testing positive for disease are dropping, say it is too early to celebrate; there is near universal hesitance to call outbreak under control.


OCT. 29, 2014
Connecticut Gov Dannel P Malloy affirms a case-by-case approach to quarantines, aiming to strike a middle path on issue, and avoiding public criticism that has buffeted his counterparts in New York and New Jersey; some critics in Connecticut argue that ad hoc system exposes travelers to abusive treatment.
OCT. 29, 2014
Administration of New York Gov Andrew M Cuomo releases detailed guidelines for how quarantines will be put into effect for travelers returning from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa; guidelines go beyond federal recommendations but seek to allow people to choose where to spend their enforced isolation.
OCT. 29, 2014
Doubts and anxiety persist for Bronx neighbors of five-year-old boy who has been cleared of Ebola diagnosis; some remain suspicious that test results are inaccurate, and continue to take excessive precaution.
OCT. 29, 2014
Father of Ikeoluwa Opayemi, Connecticut third grader who was barred from school amid fears that she may have been exposed to Ebola virus in Africa, files federal lawsuit; Opayemi’s family visited Nigeria for a wedding in October.
OCT. 29, 2014
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen Martin E Dempsey recommends that all service members working in Ebola-stricken West African countries undergo mandatory 21-day quarantines upon their return to the United States.
OCT. 28, 2014
Federal government announces guidelines that require people who have been in contact with Ebola patients to submit to in person checkup and phone call from local public health authority; policy stops short of tough measures in New York and New Jersey, and officials say they were carefully devised not to harm effort to recruit badly needed medical workers to West Africa.


OCT. 28, 2014
Health workers in Liberia and elsewhere in West Africa are rationing care due to limited time they can spend in Ebola wards, risk of certain procedures and the amount of medicines available; nurses and doctors have had to improvise as they work under constraints they often find frustrating (Series: The Ebola Ward).
OCT. 28, 2014
New Jersey Gov Chris Christie dismisses those who question his handling of Kaci Hickox, nurse who became first public test case for a mandatory quarantine that both Christie and New York Gov Andrew M Cuomo put in place, saying he never reversed himself; Hickox, who had been treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and was placed in what she calls ‘inhumane’ quarters, is released and heads home to Maine.
OCT. 28, 2014
Three days of apparent reversals on Ebola and lack of clear standards from both New York Gov Andrew M Cuomo and New Jersey Gov Chris Christie over their quarantine policy leave both critics and allies questioning whether the policy was fully worked out before taking effect.
OCT. 28, 2014
Political Memo; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose administration is overseeing care of Ebola patient Dr Craig Spencer, has reined in his often-florid speaking style to stress in plain words the difficulty of transmitting the Ebola virus; his demeanor is in stark contrast to what many viewed as a jumbled performance from Gov Andrew M Cuomo, whose response has drawn criticism for his policy shifts and off-key remarks. MORE
OCT. 28, 2014
New York City calls on workers for Bio-Recovery Corporation, which helped the city during the anthrax scare in 2001, to sterilize the Harlem apartment of Dr Craig Spencer, city’s first Ebola patient; crew also scrubbed down the Brooklyn bowling alley Spencer had visited.
OCT. 28, 2014
Researchers say that viruses like Ebola have been acting as parasites toward living cells since first cells arose on earth nearly four billion years ago; some even claim that viruses actually predate their hosts, and that viruses are creative agent that invented cells as means of making new viral particles.


OCT. 28, 2014
Editorial criticizes New York Gov Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov Chris Christie for imposing mandatory Ebola quarantines despite lack of scientific justification, feeding panic; welcomes more level-headed monitoring rules and guidelines introduced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
OCT. 27, 2014
Governments and doctors in Asian countries are now much more worried that region’s densely populated cities and towns could be vulnerable to Ebola, after two nurses in Dallas and one in Madrid fell ill; senior officials in China and India have been scrambling to prepare their countries’ medical systems to cope with possible cases.
OCT. 27, 2014
New York Gov Andrew M Cuomo says medical workers who have had contact with Ebola patients but do not show symptoms will be allowed to remain at home and receive compensation for lost income; shift follows fierce resistance from White House and medical experts to strict new mandatory quarantine policy; Kaci Hickox, nurse who has emerged as public face of opposition after becoming first person isolated under new protocols in New Jersey, retains civil rights lawyer to mount legal challenge.
OCT. 27, 2014
Public health and legal experts say that New York and New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine of medical workers returning from Ebola-afflicted areas of West Africa is virtually without precedent in nation’s modern history; similar, if less stringent, policies in Florida, Illinois and Connecticut have put states into unfamiliar legal and medical territory; analysis of the history of American quarantines and legal powers related to them described. MORE
OCT. 27, 2014
Kaci Hickox, nurse who became first person affected by new quarantine policy for medical workers returning to New York and New Jersey from West Africa, says she ultimately decided to criticize New Jersey Gov Chris Christie about rigid quarantine policy because she continues to be asymptomatic.
OCT. 27, 2014
Wikipedia’s main Ebola Virus Disease article has had 17 million page views in the last month, rivaling pages from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Wikipedia has lately become more trusted Internet source of information.
OCT. 26, 2014
Carefully planned response to Craig Spencer, doctor just back from treating patients with Ebola in Guinea, after he fell ill with the virus in New York City shows honed protocol; reaction was in stark contrast to scene that unfolded when Thomas Eric Duncan fell ill with virus in Dallas month before; health workers and officials took different approach, learning from mistakes made in Dallas.


OCT. 26, 2014
Kaci Hickox, nurse who was being quarantined at New Jersey hospital after working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, criticizes her treatment as overreaction after initial test finds she did not have virus; Hickox was placed in quarantine under new policy announced by New York and New Jersey Govs Andrew M Cuomo and Chris Christie.
OCT. 26, 2014
Morgan Dixon, fiancee of Dr Craig Spencer, New York City’s first confirmed case of Ebola, has been quarantined as precaution; friends describe her as kind person who shares Spencer’s passion for helping others in need.
OCT. 26, 2014
New York City health commissioner Dr Mary Travis Bassett, has proved to be calming presence as city grapples with confirmed case of Ebola virus; has appeared on television to deliver firm, clear message that average New Yorkers need not fear Ebola.
OCT. 25, 2014
Vast majority of medical professionals who have been fighting Ebola in West Africa say tougher restrictions, like those adopted by New York and New Jersey, could cripple volunteers’ efforts at the front lines of the epidemic; federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets baseline for recommendation standards on Ebola, but state and local officials have prerogative to tighten the regimen as they see fit.
OCT. 25, 2014
New York Gov Andrew M Cuomo and New Jersey Gov Chris Christie order quarantines for all people entering country through Kennedy International and Newark airports who had direct contract with Ebola patients in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; new measures go beyond what federal guidelines require and what infectious disease experts recommend, and also are allegedly taken without consulting New York City’s health department. MORE
OCT. 25, 2014
New York Gov Andrew M Cuomo unexpectedly shifts his policy on Ebola outbreak, opening up a public rift with fellow Democrat New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Cuomo, after offering soothing words to worried New Yorkers with de Blasio at Bellevue Hospital Center, joins Republican New Jersey Gov Chris Christie, and says medical personnel returning to New York after treating Ebola patients in West Africa will be automatically subject to 21-day quarantine. MORE
OCT. 25, 2014
Friends and former classmates of Dr Craig Spencer, first New Yorker to test positive for Ebola virus, describe him as driven and with unshakable belief in helping others no matter the consequences; they are outraged by comments made by New York Gov Andrew M Cuomo suggesting that Spencer put people at risk by not behaving as if under quarantine.

OCT. 25, 2014
Nina Pham, first nurse who became infected with Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, makes full recovery and travels to White House for meeting with Pres Obama.
OCT. 25, 2014
Isolation ward at Bellevue Hospital Center, which has long been on the front line of global health crises, is being used to treat New York’s first Ebola patient Dr Craig Spencer; hospital has policy that no employees will be forced to work with a patient with the disease against their wishes, and so far none of the workers on the unit have opted out.
OCT. 25, 2014
Mali reports that 2-year-old girl who traveled from Guinea to Mali while showing symptoms of Ebola has died; dozens of contacts are being traced, but it is unlikely that everybody who encountered the child on public transportation will be identified.
OCT. 25, 2014
Public health authorities say they hope to begin trials of Ebola vaccines in West Africa as early as December 2014 and could know around April 2015 whether they were effective, clearing the way for possible mass inoculations to stem the epidemic.
OCT. 25, 2014
Locations in New York City where Dr Craig Spencer, who has contracted the Ebola virus, traveled before his hospitalization are being sanitized, while city officials work to restore order.
OCT. 25, 2014
Op-Ed article by author and television host Steven Johnson observes increasing speed with which information about disease epidemics can spread via technology; compares 1854 London cholera outbreak, in which disease spread rapidly but information leaked slowly, to Ebola outbreak in which information has circulated quickly; contends high-speed dissemination of information contributes both to public safety and public anxiety.
OCT. 24, 2014
Ebola vaccine developed nearly decade ago is only now being tested in humans after sitting on shelf for years; testing is belated, with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and epidemic raging out of control in West Africa; experts say that vaccine’s delayed development reflects disease’s former rarity, as well as failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries.
OCT. 24, 2014


Craig Spencer, New York City doctor who returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea, is first person in city to test positive for virus; development has set off search for anyone who may have come into contact with Spencer after his return; case highlights challenges involved in containing virus, especially in crowded metropolis.
OCT. 24, 2014
Toddler from Mali tests positive for Ebola virus and is put in isolation; Mali is the sixth West African country to confirm Ebola case, indicating again the disease’s barely controlled spread across porous regional borders. MORE
OCT. 24, 2014
Flu season will bring a virus that spreads far faster than Ebola, and will kill thousands of people; Ebola, unlike the flu, does not lead to the kinds of coughs and sneezes that create a cloud of aerosols around a patient; scientists who track the spread of Ebola have found that close contact with an infected person is necessary to become infected.
OCT. 24, 2014
Federal officials and pharmaceutical companies are planning to start two large clinical trials of Ebola vaccines in West African countries devastated by the outbreak; trials will run separately, one in Liberia, the other in Sierra Leone, and involve different designs to ensure at least one produces usable information.
OCT. 24, 2014
Britian pledges to sharply increase its funding to fight Ebola and pushes its fellow European countries to contribute more; virus has killed nearly 5,000 Africans and is still spreading rapidly.
OCT. 24, 2014
Friends and neighbors of Ebola patient Dr Craig Spencer in Hamilton Heights section of Upper Manhattan say he is friendly and hard-working.

 

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