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Aug 28, 2014

White House orders U.S. labs to take inventory of infectious agents

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The White House has ordered federally funded labs working with infectious agents to conduct an immediate inventory of the pathogens in their labs and review their safety and security protocols, according to a memo released on Thursday.

The order follows a trio of high-profile mishaps at federal labs in recent months, including the mishandling of anthrax and bird flu by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the discovery of decades-old samples of smallpox in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration lab on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Aug 28, 2014

Gene studies of Ebola in Sierra Leone show virus is mutating fast

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Genetic studies of some of the earliest Ebola cases in Sierra Leone reveal more than 300 genetic changes in the virus as it leapt from person to person, changes that could blunt the effectiveness of diagnostic tests and experimental treatments now in development, researchers said on Thursday.

“We found the virus is doing what viruses do. It’s mutating,” said Pardis Sabeti of Harvard University and the Broad Institute, who led the massive study of samples from 78 people in Sierra Leone, all of whose infections could be traced to a faith healer whose claims of a cure attracted Ebola patients from Guinea, where the virus first took hold.

Aug 27, 2014

Scientists find mild cases of MERS among patients’ families

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Fewer than half of Saudi Arabian patients in a study passed the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus to household members, and many of those who developed secondary infections contracted mild cases of MERS, global researchers reported on Wednesday.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed observations that the virus can cause mild disease, but overall transmission rates are low.

Aug 7, 2014

U.S. ratchets up Ebola response, officials on high alert

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO, Aug 7 (Reuters) – The director of the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers
on Thursday he has activated the agency’s emergency operation
center at the highest response level to fight the worst Ebola
outbreak in history.

Dr Thomas Frieden testified at an emergency hearing that the
CDC has more than 200 staff members in Atlanta working on the
outbreak, and will soon have more than 50 disease experts in
West Africa.

Aug 7, 2014

Ebola emergency turns spotlight on experimental drugs

CHICAGO/NEW YORK, Aug 7 (Reuters) – With hundreds of
patients in Africa suffering the devastating effects of Ebola,
health experts are scrambling to determine which drugs might
offer the best experimental treatment, and researchers are being
pressed by government officials to speed up their work.

Three treatments have shown especially promising results in
monkeys, the researchers said. One, produced by tiny California
biotech Mapp Biopharmaceutical, gained international prominence
this week when it was given to two U.S. aid workers who
contracted Ebola in West Africa and have since shown signs of
improvement.

Aug 5, 2014

U.S. biosafety experts watch every step in care of Ebola patients

By Julie Steenhuysen

COLUMBIA Mo. (Reuters) – A U.S. hospital caring for two Americans carrying the deadly Ebola virus has tapped biosafety experts to ensure doctors, nurses and other staff do everything needed to prevent the virus from escaping from an isolation ward in Atlanta.

The two patients, humanitarian aid workers who became infected with Ebola in West Africa, are believed to be the first Ebola patients ever to be treated on U.S. soil after being flown separately to Emory University hospital.

Aug 2, 2014

U.S. FDA says ‘stands ready’ to work with companies developing Ebola drugs

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The worst Ebola outbreak in history is heaping new pressure on U.S. regulators to speed the development of treatments for the deadly virus, which has killed more than 700 people since February.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday said in an emailed statement the agency “stands ready” to work with companies and investigators working with patients “in dire need of treatment.”

Aug 1, 2014

Ebola patient coming to U.S. as aid workers’ health worsens

By Julie Steenhuysen and Colleen Jenkins

CHICAGO/WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (Reuters) – A U.S. aid worker who was infected with the deadly Ebola virus while working in West Africa will be flown to the United States to be treated in a high-security ward at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, hospital officials said on Thursday.

The aid worker, whose name has not been released, will be moved in the next several days to a special isolation unit at Emory. The unit was set up in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jul 31, 2014

U.S. advises against non-essential travel to countries hit by Ebola

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday issued a travel advisory against non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to curb the spread of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has claimed more than 700 lives.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said his agency will send an additional 50 disease experts to assist with efforts to contain the highly deadly virus, in what he called “the largest, most complex outbreak that we know of in history.”

Jul 21, 2014

U.S. CDC says it ‘may never know’ how bird flu mishap occurred

CHICAGO, July 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention “may never know” how a fairly harmless
form of bird flu was cross-contaminated with a dangerous bird
flu strain before it was sent to a laboratory outside of the
CDC, an agency spokesman said on Monday.

That’s because most of the materials used in the experiment
to culture the virus were discarded shortly after they were used
by the scientists performing the work, which occurred in March,
CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told Reuters.

    • About Julie

      "Julie Steenhuysen has been covering health and science topics for Reuters for the past decade, first as a medical device correspondent, then as team leader for the equities team covering U.S. pharmaceuticals and healthcare companies. For the past 4 years, Julie has worked as U.S. health and science correspondent, focusing on coverage for a general news audience."
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