Latest Updates / Ebola Death Rate Increases to 70 Percent

Doctors Without Borders loses nine medics to Ebola; infected Dallas nurse receives plasma transfusion from doctor who survived; U.S. health officials launch review of Ebola treatment procedures.

AP

Click here for Monday's updates on the Ebola outbreak

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Latest updates:

Reuters

10:55 P.M. "The world as a whole is not doing enough" about the Ebola threat, said U.S. President Barack Obama, calling on nations "with capacity" to step up to the fight. (Reuters)

6:11 P.M. A World Health Organization official says the death rate in the current Ebola outbreak has increased to 70 percent.

WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward gave the figure during a news conference Tuesday.

Aylward said that the 70 percent death rate was "a high mortality disease" in any circumstance and that the UN health agency was still focused on trying to get sick people isolated and provide treatment as early as possible.

Previously, WHO had said the death rate was around 50 percent.

WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward says if the response to the Ebola crisis isn't stepped up within 60 days, "a lot more people will die" and there will be a huge need on the ground to deal with the spiraling numbers of cases. He said WHO estimated there could up to 10,000 cases per week in two months.

Aylward said for the last four weeks, there have been about 1,000 new cases per week, though that figure includes suspected, confirmed and probable cases. He said WHO is aiming to have 70 percent of cases isolated within two months to reverse the outbreak.

WHO increased its Ebola death toll tally to 4,447, nearly all of them in West Africa, and the group said the number of probable and suspected cases was 8,914.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been hardest hit. Aylward said WHO was very concerned about the continued spread of Ebola in the three countries' capital cities —Freetown, Conakry and Monrovia. He noted that while certain areas were seeing cases decline, "that doesn't mean they will get to zero."

He said the agency was still focused on trying to treat Ebola patients, despite the huge demands on the broken health systems in West Africa.

"It would be horrifically unethical to say that we're just going to isolate people," he said, noting that new strategies like handing out protective equipment to families and setting up very basic clinics — without much treatment — was a priority. (AP)

4:04 P.M. International aid organization Doctors Without Borders said that 16 of its staff members have been infected with Ebola and nine of them have died.

Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg Tuesday, the head of Doctors Without Borders in South Africa Sharon Ekambaram said medical workers have received inadequate assistance from the international community. She said that while many pledges had been made publicly they have not improved the situation in the affected countries.

Juli Switala, a doctor working for the international aid organization who just returned from Sierra Leone, said the number of those who have died from Ebola is probably an underestimate because many families hide their sick and dying loved ones. (AP)

1:23 P.M. A battalion of 800 Sierra Leone soldiers awaiting deployment as peacekeepers in Somalia has been placed in quarantine after one of its members tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, military officials said on Tuesday.

The soldiers were due to relieve the West African nation's contingent already deployed with Somalia's African Union peacekeeping mission, known as AMISOM. They are now expected to be subject to a 21-day isolation period. (Reuters) 

11:10 A.M. A UN employee from Liberia who was transported to the eastern German city of Leipzig after contracting Ebola died overnight into Tuesday, the hospital said. The 56-year-old man had been transported to St Georg hospital in Leipzig on October 9 for treatment.

He had arrived in a modified Gulfstream jet equipped with an isolation chamber, and was met by a medical team in biohazard suits and two ambulances. The hospital has six rooms in its tropical medicine clinic. Hospital authorities said there is no risk of further infection.

Another Ebola patient, from Uganda, remains in a hospital in Frankfurt, and a third, from Senegal, was released in good health from a Hamburg clinic after five weeks' treatment. (DPA)

10:26 A.M An initial blood test on a man in Poland suspected of being infected with Ebola showed he does not have the virus, a health official said on Tuesday. The 31-year old man was hospitalized in the city of Lodz, central Poland, after reporting Ebola-like symptoms and saying that on a visit to Germany he had come into contact with people from Guinea, in west Africa, where the virus is present. 

"Samples of the patient's blood are now being tested. I know the first sample gave a negative result (for the presence of Ebola), but two samples are always tested," said Jan Bondar, spokesman for Poland's Chief Sanitary Inspectorate. "I think that we should get the final result about noon," he said. Polish health officials have said it was unlikely the man could have been infected with Ebola and that they were carrying out the tests on him purely as a precaution. (Reuters) 

9:45 A.M. A Dallas nurse who caught Ebola while treating a Liberian patient who died of the disease has received a plasma transfusion donated by a doctor who beat the virus. Nurse Nina Pham was among about 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, according to medical records. 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.

The 26-year-old nurse was in his room often, from the day he was placed in intensive care until the day before he died. Pham and other health care workers wore protective gear, including gowns, gloves, masks and face shields — and sometimes full-body suits — when caring for Duncan, but Pham became the first person to contract the disease within the United States. Duncan died on Wednesday.

On Monday night, members of the church that Pham's family attends held a special Mass for her in Fort Worth. Father Jim Khoi, of Our Lady of Fatima Church, said Pham's mother told him the nurse had received a transfusion that could save her life. (AP)

5:44 A.M. The Texas nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a dying Liberian man repeatedly visited his room from the day he was admitted to the intensive care unit until the day before he died, medical records show.

Nurse Nina Pham and other health care workers wore protective gear, including gowns, gloves, masks and face shields — and sometimes full-body suits — when caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, but the 26-year-old Pham became the first person to contract the disease within the United States.

Federal health officials on Monday urged U.S. hospitals to "think Ebola" and launched a review of procedures for treating infected patients, while the World Health Organization called the outbreak "the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times." (AP)

2:10 A.M. The American video journalist being treated for Ebola in Nebraska is showing signs of improvement, family members and hospital officials said Monday.

Dr. Mitchell Levy told The Associated Press that his son, 33-year-old Ashoka Mukpo, has been improving in recent days and currently has no symptoms of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Levy said everyone is "really, really pleased with his progress."

Mukpo contracted Ebola in West Africa. He arrived at Nebraska Medical Center on Oct. 6 after being flown back to the U.S. to be treated at the Omaha hospital's specialized unit.

Shelly Schwedhelm, nursing director of the hospital's biocontainment unit, said Mukpo is sitting up, eating food and drinking liquids. She also said he's conversing with staff. (AP)

1:52 A.M. Emergency crews in protective gear removed five passengers with flu-like symptoms from a commercial airliner that arrived at Boston's Logan Airport on Monday, but U.S. health authorities played down the possibility of Ebola.

Emirates flight 237 from Dubai landed at Logan around 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) and emergency medical workers escorted the ill passengers off the aircraft, authorities said.

Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman Matthew Brelis said none of the ill passengers had recently been to West Africa, which is struggling with a deadly Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 4,000 people since March, but alarms were signaled after their arrival "out of an abundance of caution."

Brelis was unable to provide further details but a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and said no Ebola threat had been reported to the agency by airport officials. (Reuters)

12:30 A.M. U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with French President Francois Hollande on Monday about the urgent need to establish treatment centers for the Ebola outbreak in affected African nations, the White House said. (Reuters)

11:45 P.M. Media reports and a church rector have identified the second Ebola patient in Texas as a 26-year-old nurse infected while caring for a man from Liberia.

WFAA-TV in Dallas reported that Nina Pham's family reached out to identify her as the nurse infected with Ebola. A rector at her family's church told The Associated Press that Pham's mother told him Pham has Ebola.

Officials say Pham wore protective gear as she cared for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after he was diagnosed with Ebola and put in isolation. He died last week.

The graduate of Texas Christian University's nursing school was monitoring her own temperature and went to the hospital Friday night as soon as she found out she was running a low fever. She's now in isolation and in stable condition. It's the first known case of Ebola being transmitted within the U.S. (AP)