A look at the top Ebola developments worldwide Wednesday:
Patient Zero in Ebola outbreak was Guinean toddler
In the Guinean village where the current West African Ebola outbreak began, 14 graves mark the spot where the lethal virus began to spiral out of control.
International aid workers who recently visited Meliandou say nothing is normal anymore and that families have been ripped apart by the devastating toll of the virus.
The first known victim of the current outbreak was 2-year-old Emile Ouamouno, who lived in the picturesque forest village with his parents and three sisters, including 4-year-old Philomene. The boy fell sick last December with a mysterious illness that caused fever, black stools and vomiting. About a week after his death, Philomene got sick and died. She was shortly followed by the children’s pregnant mother and grandmother.
It would be months before international health officials identified little Emile as West Africa’s “patient zero” in a deadly outbreak that continues to double in size every few weeks. So far, Ebola has been blamed for the deaths of nearly 5,000 people among more than 10,000 cases, the vast majority in West Africa.
Connecticut family sues over school’s Ebola fears
The father of a Connecticut third-grader filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday saying his daughter has been unfairly barred from school amid fears she may have been exposed to the Ebola virus while in Africa.
Ikeoluwa Opayemi and her family, who live in Milford, visited Nigeria for a family wedding from Oct. 2-13, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven.
When the girl tried to return to the Meadowside Elementary School, she was told by Dr. Dennis McBride, the school district’s health director, that she would have to stay home until Nov. 3 “due to concern from certain parents and teachers that she could transmit Ebola to other children,” according to the lawsuit. The virus has a three-week incubation period.
Messages seeking comment were left Tuesday for McBride and School Superintendent Elizabeth Feser.
Hagel considering new military-wide Ebola policy
The U.S. military chiefs recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday that he require all troops returning from Ebola response missions in West Africa be kept in supervised isolation for 21 days, the Pentagon said.
If approved by Hagel the move would exceed precautions recommended by the Obama administration for civilians, although President Barack Obama said Tuesday the military’s situation is different, in part because troops are not in West Africa by choice.
“We don’t expect them to have similar rules and by definition they’re working under more circumscribed circumstances,” Obama said in a statement on the South Lawn.
Several hundred U.S. troops are providing logistics and other support for the international Ebola response effort in West Africa, and their numbers could grow to 3,900 under current plans. None are intended to be in contact with Ebola victims.
Administration officials say they don’t want decisions affecting civilians involved in fighting Ebola to discourage volunteer medical professionals from going to Africa to help fight Ebola, which has infected about 10,000 people and killed nearly half of them.
Politics tricky for Christie, Cuomo
The two governors – one Republican, one Democrat – are known for their no-nonsense, take-charge style in a calamity.
But they have set off a furor over their aggressive handling of the Ebola crisis, and the fallout could influence their political prospects.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won praise for their decisive response to Superstorm Sandy two years ago.
But their ordering of automatic, 21-day quarantines for medical workers who have treated Ebola victims in West Africa has run into resistance from the White House, humanitarian organizations and scientists.
Some political observers say the crisis is a “big moment” that could resonate with voters nationally.
Top UN Ebola official: new cases poorly tracked
Authorities are having trouble figuring out how many more people are getting Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone and where the hot spots are in those countries, harming efforts to get control of the raging, deadly outbreak, the U.N.’s top Ebola official in West Africa said Tuesday.
“The challenge is good information, because information helps tell us where the disease is, how it’s spreading and where we need to target our resources,” Anthony Banbury told The Associated Press by phone from the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, is based.
Health experts say the key to stopping Ebola is breaking the chain of transmission by tracing and isolating those who have had contact with Ebola patients or victims. Health care workers can’t do that if they don’t know where new cases are emerging.
“And unfortunately, we don’t have good data from a lot of areas. We don’t know exactly what is happening,” said Banbury, the chief of UNMEER.
Swiss agency approves trial for Ebola vaccine
The Swiss agency that regulates new drugs said Tuesday it has approved an application for a clinical trial with an experimental Ebola vaccine at the Lausanne University Hospital.
Swissmedic said the trial will be conducted among 120 volunteer participants with support from the U.N. World Health Organization. The experimental vaccine is to be initially administered on healthy volunteers who will be sent as medical staff to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
In a statement, the Bern-based Swiss government agency said the trial continues a series that began in the United States, Britain and Mali, using a vaccine based on a genetically modified chimpanzee adenovirus.
There are no proven drugs or vaccines for Ebola, mainly because the disease is so rare it’s been hard to attract research funding. But with governments and businesses now rapidly shifting millions of dollars to fight the Ebola epidemic centered in West Africa, WHO says two leading candidates for a vaccine have emerged.
One of them – now approved by Swissmedic for a trial – is a vaccine co-developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and GlaxoSmithKline, which was funded by the company, its charitable trust and funds from the U.S. and U.K. governments. GSK has said it might be able to make about 1 million doses of its vaccine per month by the end of 2015.
The other front-runner vaccine is licensed by a small U.S. drugmaker, NewLink Genetics, and was initially developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It has been sent to the U.S. Walter Reed Army Institute of Research for testing on healthy volunteers, with preliminary safety results expected by December.