Kentucky company: Ebola drug is ‘sole focus’
Kentucky BioProcessing, the Owensboro company that grew the ZMapp compound given to two American Ebola survivors, has gone into full-scale production of the drug.
The plant has put all other projects on hold, said David Howard, spokesman for Reynolds American, which owns the contract production center that grows pharmaceuticals in a special kind of tobacco plants, Tuesday.
“All of our focus is solely on ZMapp production.”
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Kentucky BioProcessing reconfigured its production plans in early August, he said, and it now has more of the ZMapp compound grown for Mapp Biopharmaceutical.
“We’re hoping our efforts can help expedite the drug approval process,” Howard said.
Quantities have been sent to government agencies for testing, but so far no more ZMapp has been requested to treat individual patients infected with the deadly virus that has killed more than 4,000 people, including one man in Texas.
Two Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, recovered from Ebola after being given the ZMapp drug.
Brantly has donated blood to help a Nina Pham nurse in Texas who contracted the disease after treating Liberian victim Thomas Eric Duncan, who died Oct 8.
According to Mapp Biopharmaceutical’s website, the existing supply of ZMapp was used up in August. Representatives of the company did not respond to calls for comment.
“August 12, 2014 at 8:30 AM — The available supply of ZMapp has been exhausted. We have complied with every request for ZMapp that had the necessary legal/regulatory authorization,” according to the site. “It is the requestors’ decision whether they wish to make public their request, acquisition, or use of the experimental drug. Any decision to use ZMapp must be made by the patients’ medical team. Drug has been provided at no cost in all cases.”
Janet Patton (Lexington) Herald-Leader
Nurse infected with Ebola knew risks of her work
A Texas nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian man who later died of the disease understood the risks and tried to reassure her family that she would be safe, a family friend said.
When Nina Pham’s mother learned her daughter was caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, Pham told her: “Mom, no. Don’t worry about me,” Christina Tran told The Associated Press Monday at Our Lady of Fatima church in Fort Worth, where about 30 people gathered for the regular evening Mass and offered extra prayers for Pham.
But despite wearing protective gear that included gowns, gloves, masks and face shields while caring for Duncan, the 26-year-old nurse became the first person to contract the disease within the United States.
On Tuesday, Pham said through a statement released by Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas that she is “doing well,” and she thanked supporters for their kind wishes and prayers. It was her first statement since contracting the disease.
The hospital CEO issued a statement saying that the medical staff is “working tirelessly to help her in this courageous fight. The doctors and nurses involved with her treatment remain hopeful.”
Ebola patient cared for by 70 hospital staffers
They drew his blood, put tubes down his throat and wiped up his diarrhea. They analyzed his urine and wiped saliva from his lips, even after he had lost consciousness.
About 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital were involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan after he was hospitalized, including a nurse now being treated for the same Ebola virus that killed the Liberian man who was visiting Dallas, according to medical records his family provided to The Associated Press.
The size of the medical team reflects the hospital’s intense effort to save Duncan’s life, but it also suggests that many other people could have been exposed to the virus during Duncan’s time in an isolation unit.
A CDC spokeswoman said the agency reviewed the medical records with Duncan’s care team and concluded that the documents were not helpful in identifying those who interacted directly with the patient.
“This is not something we can afford to experiment with. We need to get this right,” said Ruth McDermott-Levy, who directs the Center for Global and Public Health in Villanova University’s College of Nursing.
Ebola cases could skyrocket to 10,000 a week, WHO says
The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that death rates from the Ebola virus could skyrocket to 10,000 new cases a week as U.S. health officials were expected to disclose how many additional people could be put under medical monitoring in the wake of a misstep that infected a Dallas nurse with the deadly virus.
At a news conference in Geneva, WHO’s assistant director-general, Bruce Aylward, said that by December, he envisions 5,000 to 10,000 Ebola cases per week in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the West African countries hardest hit by the outbreak.
As of Tuesday, Aylward said, there had been 8,914 Ebola cases and 4,447 deaths from the virus, which began ravaging the region in March.
The first case of Ebola in this country occurred in Dallas last month, when a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, was hospitalized at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 28. He died last Wednesday. Over the weekend, Nina Pham, a nurse who treated him, tested positive for Ebola.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a misstep at the hospital led to Pham, 26, becoming infected. Though CDC director Thomas Frieden said the nurse should not be blamed for whatever went wrong, the situation has fueled anger among nurses nationwide.
In addition to not having proper equipment to protect themselves from infection, nurses say they are not receiving the training required to handle potential Ebola patients.
“It’s always the nurse who is being blamed,” Zenei Cortez, president of the California Nurses Association, said Monday on CNN. Cortez said it was not enough to simply have CDC protocols if they were not fully enforced. That should include providing nurses with the same protective gear that doctors treating Ebola patients need, she said.
Los Angeles Times
Zuckerberg, wife donate $25M to CDC for Ebola
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are donating $25 million to the CDC Foundation to help address the Ebola epidemic.
The money will be used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola response effort in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the world where Ebola is a threat, the foundation said Tuesday.
The grant follows a $9 million donation made by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen last month. Zuckerberg and Chan are making the grant from their fund at the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
“We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday. “We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome.”
NBC correspondent admits violation of quarantine
NBC News medical correspondent Nancy Snyderman has admitted that some members of her crew violated a voluntary quarantine to protect against Ebola, a misstep that caused New Jersey health officials to make that quarantine mandatory.
NBC said Tuesday that Snyderman and her crew are taking their temperatures regularly and remain healthy. The team was reporting in Liberia alongside cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, who tested positive for the deadly disease and is now being treated in Nebraska.
Snyderman confirmed the violation, but neither she nor NBC representatives would give details.
Heathrow screens for Ebola as Britain bars direct trips
Passengers arriving at London’s Heathrow airport were being screened for Ebola Tuesday as Britain stepped up measures for combating the disease, scrapping plans to allow a resumption of flights to afflicted parts of Africa.
Targeted screening of a “low number” of passengers began at Heathrow’s Terminal 1, which handles 85 percent of travelers to Europe’s busiest hub from affected states. The checks include temperature readings specified by government agency Public Health England and amount to the most stringent in Europe, even though the airport has no direct services to the Ebola area.
“It’s still coming together, but it’s a good precaution,” said documentary maker Clive Patterson, who was screened after flying into Heathrow Tuesday morning after spending more than a week in Liberia filming footage on Ebola. “You can’t rely on the facilities and procedures of another country.”
UN worker dies of Ebola at German hospital
A United Nations medical worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia has died despite “intensive medical procedures,” a German hospital said Tuesday.
The St. Georg hospital in Leipzig said the 56-year-old man, whose name has not been released, died overnight of the infection. It released no further details and did not answer telephone calls.
The man tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 6, prompting Liberia’s UN peacekeeping mission to place 41 staff members who had possibly been in contact with him under “close medical observation.”
He arrived in Leipzig for treatment on Oct. 9. The hospital’s chief executive, Dr. Iris Minde, said at the time that there was no risk of infection for other patients, relatives, visitors or the public.
The man was kept in a secure isolation ward specially equipped with negative pressure rooms that are hermetically sealed and can only be accessed through a number of airlocks. All air and fluids are filtered and all equipment is decontaminated after use, Minde said.
Obama: World not doing enough to fight Ebola
President Barack Obama says “the world is not doing enough” to fight Ebola.
Obama suggested to reporters Tuesday that he plans to reach out to foreign leaders to pressure them to do more. He spoke at the end of a meeting with U.S. and allied military leaders primarily focused on the threat from Islamic State militants.
Obama says the United States will continue to do its part to fight the deadly disease. But he said, “Everybody’s going to have to do more than they are doing right now.”
Obama also offered thoughts and prayers to the nurse being treated for Ebola after she tended to a Liberian man visiting Dallas. Obama says he wants to make sure lessons learned from that case are applied to health centers around the U.S.
Dog of Dallas nurse with Ebola moved to air base
Officials say the year-old King Charles Spaniel belonging to the Dallas nurse hospitalized with Ebola has been given comfortable bedding, toys and other items to entertain him while he stays at a decommissioned naval air base.
City spokeswoman Sana Syed said Tuesday that Bentley is staying in the former residence of the executive officer at the decommissioned Hensley Field, which is owned by the city. Bentley was moved Monday from nurse Nina Pham’s apartment to his new home, where he'll be monitored.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says city officials vowed to do everything in their power to care for Pham’s beloved pet.
There was an uproar in Spain after Madrid authorities euthanized a dog belonging to a nursing assistant sickened by Ebola. Authorities were concerned the dog might be harboring the virus.