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Concept: Guinea

33

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has caused substantial morbidity and mortality. The outbreak has also disrupted health care services, including childhood vaccinations, creating a second public health crisis. We project that after 6 to 18 months of disruptions, a large connected cluster of children unvaccinated for measles will accumulate across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. This pool of susceptibility increases the expected size of a regional measles outbreak from 127,000 to 227,000 cases after 18 months, resulting in 2000 to 16,000 additional deaths (comparable to the numbers of Ebola deaths reported thus far). There is a clear path to avoiding outbreaks of childhood vaccine-preventable diseases once the threat of Ebola begins to recede: an aggressive regional vaccination campaign aimed at age groups left unprotected because of health care disruptions.

Concepts: Health care, West Africa, Public health, Guinea, Liberia, Infectious disease, Epidemiology, Sierra Leone

29

Events such as the 2014-2015 West Africa epidemic of Ebola virus disease highlight the importance of the capacity to detect and respond to public health threats. We describe capacity-building efforts during and after the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea and public health progress that was made as a result of the Ebola response in 4 key areas: emergency response, laboratory capacity, surveillance, and workforce development. We further highlight ways in which capacity-building efforts such as those used in West Africa can be accelerated after a public health crisis to improve preparedness for future events.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Ghana, Nigeria, Economic Community of West African States, Guinea, West Africa, Sierra Leone, Liberia

28

The ongoing West African Ebola epidemic began in December 2013 in Guinea, probably from a single zoonotic introduction. As a result of ineffective initial control efforts, an Ebola outbreak of unprecedented scale emerged. As of 4 May 2015, it had resulted in more than 19,000 probable and confirmed Ebola cases, mainly in Guinea (3,529), Liberia (5,343), and Sierra Leone (10,746). Here, we present analyses of data collected during the outbreak identifying drivers of transmission and highlighting areas where control could be improved.

Concepts: Ghana, Nigeria, Africa, Economic Community of West African States, Guinea, West Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone

27

Social mobilisation and risk communication were essential to the 2014-2015 West African Ebola response. By March 2015, >8500 Ebola cases and 3370 Ebola deaths were confirmed in Sierra Leone. Response efforts were focused on ‘getting to zero and staying at zero’. A critical component of this plan was to deepen and sustain community engagement. Several national quantitative studies conducted during this time revealed Ebola knowledge, personal prevention practices and traditional burial procedures improved as the outbreak waned, but healthcare system challenges were also noted. Few qualitative studies have examined these combined factors, along with survivor stigma during periods of ongoing transmission. To obtain an in-depth understanding of people’s perceptions, attitudes and behaviours associated with Ebola transmission risks, 27 focus groups were conducted between April and May 2015 with adult Sierra Leonean community members on: trust in the healthcare system, interactions with Ebola survivors, impact of Ebola on lives and livelihood, and barriers and facilitators to ending the outbreak. Participants perceived that as healthcare practices and facilities improved, so did community trust. Resource management remained a noted concern. Perceptions of survivors ranged from sympathy and empathy to fear and stigmatisation. Barriers included persistent denial of ongoing Ebola transmission, secret burials and movement across porous borders. Facilitators included personal protective actions, consistent messaging and the inclusion of women and survivors in the response. Understanding community experiences during the devastating Ebola epidemic provides practical lessons for engaging similar communities in risk communication and social mobilisation during future outbreaks and public health emergencies.

Concepts: Psychology, Freetown, Qualitative research, Guinea, Liberia, West Africa, Risk, Sierra Leone

25

Throughout the Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa, field laboratory testing for EVD has relied on complex, multi-step real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) assays; an accurate sample-to-answer RT-PCR test would reduce time to results and potentially increase access to testing. We evaluated the performance of the Cepheid GeneXpert Ebola assay on clinical venipuncture whole blood (WB) and buccal swab (BS) specimens submitted to a field biocontainment laboratory in Sierra Leone for routine EVD testing by RT-PCR (“Trombley assay”).

Concepts: Ghana, Guinea, Incubation period, Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, Viral hemorrhagic fever, West Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone

21

At 6 a.m., our medical team arrives at the Ebola case-management center in the Kailahun district of Sierra Leone to take blood samples. At our 80-bed center here near the borders of Liberia and Guinea, 8 new patients were admitted yesterday, 9 need to have a repeat test 72 hours after their symptoms began, and some we hope to discharge today: at least 18 blood samples to obtain. The center currently houses 64 patients in all, 4 of them children less than 5 years of age. We have already seen 2 patients die today. I have been here for 7 . . .

Concepts: Economic Community of West African States, Kailahun, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, Kailahun District, Liberia, Mende people, Guinea, Sierra Leone

20

 In 1976, the first cases of Ebola virus disease in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (then referred to as Zaire) were reported. This article addresses who was responsible for recognizing the disease; recovering, identifying, and naming the virus; and describing the epidemic. Key scientific approaches used in 1976 and their relevance to the 3-country (Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia) West African epidemic during 2013-2016 are presented.

Concepts: Nigeria, Economic Community of West African States, West Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ebola, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

20

The clinical evaluation of convalescent plasma (CP) for the treatment of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the current outbreak, predominantly affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, was prioritized by the World Health Organization in September 2014. In each of these countries, non-randomized comparative clinical trials were initiated. The Ebola-Tx trial in Conakry, Guinea enrolled 102 patients by July 7, 2015; no severe adverse reactions were noted. The Ebola-CP trial in Sierra Leone and the EVD001 trial in Liberia have included few patients. While no efficacy data are available yet, current field experience supports the safety, acceptability and feasibility of CP as EVD treatment. Longer-term follow-up as well as data from non-trial settings and evidence on the scalability of the intervention are required. CP sourced from within the outbreak is the most readily available source of anti-EVD antibodies. Until the advent of effective antivirals or monoclonal antibodies, CP merits further evaluation.

Concepts: Nigeria, Crab-eating Macaque, West Africa, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Economic Community of West African States, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea

19

An Ebola outbreak of unprecedented scope emerged in West Africa in December 2013 and presently continues unabated in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Ebola is not new to Africa, and outbreaks have been confirmed as far back as 1976. The current West African Ebola outbreak is the largest ever recorded and differs dramatically from prior outbreaks in its duration, number of people affected, and geographic extent. The emergence of this deadly disease in West Africa invites many questions, foremost among these: why now, and why in West Africa? Here, we review the sociological, ecological, and environmental drivers that might have influenced the emergence of Ebola in this region of Africa and its spread throughout the region. Containment of the West African Ebola outbreak is the most pressing, immediate need. A comprehensive assessment of the drivers of Ebola emergence and sustained human-to-human transmission is also needed in order to prepare other countries for importation or emergence of this disease. Such assessment includes identification of country-level protocols and interagency policies for outbreak detection and rapid response, increased understanding of cultural and traditional risk factors within and between nations, delivery of culturally embedded public health education, and regional coordination and collaboration, particularly with governments and health ministries throughout Africa. Public health education is also urgently needed in countries outside of Africa in order to ensure that risk is properly understood and public concerns do not escalate unnecessarily. To prevent future outbreaks, coordinated, multiscale, early warning systems should be developed that make full use of these integrated assessments, partner with local communities in high-risk areas, and provide clearly defined response recommendations specific to the needs of each community.

Concepts: Ghana, Atlantic slave trade, Epidemiology, Guinea, Africa, West Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone

18

Despite the building evidence on violence against children globally, almost nothing is known about the violence children with disabilities in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) experience. The prevalence of violence against children with disabilities can be expected to be higher in LMICs where there are greater stigmas associated with having a child with a disability, less resources for families who have children with disabilities, and wider acceptance of the use of corporal punishment to discipline children. This study explores violence experienced by children with disabilities based on data collected from four countries in West Africa- Guinea, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

Concepts: Atlantic slave trade, Guinea, Ghana, Economic Community of West African States, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, West Africa