Latest Updates / WHO: Ebola Toll Rises to 4,877 Out of 9,936

Drugmakers to join forces to make millions of Ebola vaccine doses; Liberian passenger who flew into NJ hospitalized over Ebola fears; U.S. Ebola Red Cross official: Ebola can be contained within four to six months; Hospital: U.S. video journalist now free of Ebola.

Reuters

Latest in-depth reporting from Haaretz: Is climate change to blame for the Ebola outbreak? (Ruth Schuster) | As Ebola spreads: Scientists working on new drugs to treat viruses (Asaf Shtull-Trauring) | Israelis on the front lines of Ebola (Ido Efrati) | No, Ebola isn’t the ‘most severe health crisis,’ expert says (Ruth Schuster)

Click here for Tuesday's updates on the Ebola outbreak

Latest updates:

3:03 A.M. Doctors don't detect Ebola in nurse's body

Doctors no longer detect Ebola in a Texas nurse who flew to Ohio and back before she was diagnosed with the virus, her family said Wednesday.

Officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention couldn't detect Ebola in Amber Vinson as of Tuesday evening, her family said in a statement released through a media consultant. Doctors usually do two tests a day apart before saying they can't detect the virus. It's unclear how many tests Vinson has had.

Vinson's mother, Debra Berry, spoke to her Wednesday, and Vinson has been approved for transfer from isolation, the statement said. (AP)

October 22

11:28 P.M. Obama: Cautiously more optimistic about Ebola situation in U.S.

President Barack Obama expressed cautious optimism about the Ebola situation in the United States on Wednesday after the U.S. government imposed new screening measures for travelers from West Africa.

Obama sat down for talks with his Ebola response coordinator, Ron Klain, on Klain's first day on the job since he was appointed last Friday. They were joined by other top officials.

Obama, speaking to reporters, said he is confident that hospitals in Texas and Ohio are prepared if cases of Ebola emerged there. A nurse at a Dallas hospital that treated Ebola victim Thomas Duncan had flown to Ohio a day before she had symptoms of the virus.

The president said modest signs of progress in the fight against the Ebola virus are being reported in hard-hit Liberia.  (Reuters)

8:37 P.M. Drugmakers to join forces to make millions of Ebola vaccine doses
Leading drugmakers plan to work together to speed up the development of an Ebola vaccine and hope to produce millions of doses for use next year.

U.S. firm Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday that it aims to produce at least 1 million doses of its two-step vaccine next year and has already discussed collaboration with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline, which is working on a rival vaccine.

There is currently no proven vaccine against the deadly disease and drug companies have been wary in the past of pouring resources into Ebola since previous outbreaks have been small. As a result much of the research effort to date has been driven not by concerns about sporadic outbreaks in Africa but by fears in the West that Ebola might become a bioterror weapon. (Reuters)  

7:42 P.M. WHO: Ebola toll rises to 4,877 out of 9,936

Ebola is now believed to have killed 4,877 people globally and that the spread of the lethal virus remains "persistent and widespread" in West Africa, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. In a new update, WHO also said there have been 9,936 probable, suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It said transmission remains "intense" in the capital cities and that cases continue to be under-reported.

WHO said two districts in Guinea reported an Ebola case for the first time in the last week. One region is on the border with Ivory Coast and the other is on a major trade route with Mali. All but one of Liberia's 15 districts have now reported at least one Ebola case, but the virus is spreading quickest in Monrovia, with 305 probable, suspect and confirmed cases reported this week.

In Sierra Leone, WHO said that two districts where Ebola had appeared to be slowing — Kenema and Kailahun — have both seen a resurgence of the virus.

WHO reported that 443 health workers have now been infected with Ebola, killing 244. It said "exhaustive efforts" are being taken to get protective equipment for them. (AP)

4:29 P.M. U.S. Ebola 'czar' to start work; military team begins training

The new American Ebola "czar" starts work on Wednesday and a military medical team begins training as the Obama administration ramps up its response to the potential spread of the virus in the United States. The Pentagon's 30-member emergency team, including 5 doctors, 20 critical care nurses and 5 trainers who are experts in infectious disease protocols, were scheduled to gather at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the creation of the rapid-response team to support civilian medical personnel after three people were infected in the United States with the virus that has killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in West Africa. U.S. President Barack Obama was scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday with Ron Klain, his new Ebola response coordinator, amid rising Republican criticism ahead of congressional elections next month.

The administration has ratcheted up its response but has so far stopped short of a travel ban from West Africa, demanded by some lawmakers. (Reuters) 

2:45 P.M. Some 50 Cuban doctors and nurses arrive in Liberia to fight Ebola

A plane carrying some 50 Cuban doctors and nurses arrived in Liberia on Wednesday to help treat victims of Ebola in the West African country, where a U.S. military mission is also deploying to fight the deadly virus.

An Air Cubana jet carrying the 51 medical staff touched down at Monrovia's Roberts International Airport. Another group of around 40 doctors from the communist-led Caribbean island were due to arrive in neighboring Guinea on Wednesday. (Reuters)  

1:37 P.M. Liberian passenger who flew into New Jersey hospitalized over Ebola fears

A Liberian passenger who flew into New Jersey on Tuesday was taken to hospital over fears he had been exposed to Ebola, media reported.

The man, who had flown from Liberia to Brussels and then caught a connecting flight to Newark, had a fever, NBC New York reported, citing unnamed officials.

The passenger was "identified as reporting symptoms or having a potential exposure to Ebola," a spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told the network. The CDC was not immediately available for comment. (Reuters)  

9:48 A.M. Red Cross official: Ebola can be contained within four to six months

A top Red Cross official says he is confident the Ebola epidemic can be contained within four to six months.

The secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Elhadj As Sy, told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday that the time frame is possible if there is "good isolation, good treatment of the cases which are confirmed, good dignified and safe burials of deceased people."

The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people since it emerged 10 months ago. Most of the deaths have been in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The humanitarian network is holding its four-yearly Asia Pacific regional conference in the Chinese capital. (AP) 

9:12 A.M. U.S. video journalist to be released from Nebraska hospital after Ebola recovery

An American video journalist who has recovered from Ebola will be released soon from a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Nebraska Medical Center says Ashoka Mukpo is scheduled to be discharged Wednesday morning from the hospital's biocontainment unit. Medical staff involved in his care plan to speak about his recovery at a news conference.

The hospital said Tuesday that Mukpo's blood tested negative for the virus. He arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center on Oct. 6 and was the second Ebola patient to be treated there. The first, Dr. Rick Sacra, has also recovered.

Mukpo, of Providence, Rhode Island, contracted the virus while working in Liberia as a freelance cameraman for NBC and other media outlets. (AP)

2:37 A.M. Hospital: American video journalist now free of Ebola

An American video journalist being treated for Ebola is now free of the virus and will be released soon, the Omaha hospital where he is being treated said Tuesday.

A recent test showed Ashoka Mukpo's blood is negative for the virus, according to the Nebraska Medical Center. The test was confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mukpo will be allowed to leave the hospital's biocontainment unit Wednesday.

12:48 A.M. U.S. Ebola nurse's status upgraded to good from fair

The medical status of nurse Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola when she helped treat the first patient to be diagnosed with the disease on U.S. soil, was upgraded to good from fair on Tuesday, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced.

Pham was admitted to the NIH Clinical Center Special Clinical Studies Unit in Bethesda, Maryland, on Oct. 16. (Reuters)

Tuesday:

10:39 P.M. U.S. to funnel travelers from Ebola-hit region through 5 airports

The United States ratcheted up its safeguards against Ebola on Tuesday, requiring travelers from three countries at the center of an epidemic in West Africa to fly into one of five major airports conducting enhanced screening for the virus.

The restrictions on passengers whose trips originated in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea were announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and were set to go into effect on Wednesday. The precautions stop well short of the travel ban sought by some U.S. lawmakers to prevent further Ebola cases in the United States.

Affected travelers will have their temperatures checked for signs of a fever that may indicate Ebola infection, among other protocols, at New York's John F. Kennedy, New Jersey's Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta, and Chicago's O'Hare international airports, officials said. (Reuters)

10:05 P.M. Poll: Americans back travel ban from Ebola outbreak countries

Nearly three-fourths of Americans support a ban on civilian air travel in and out of the West African countries that have experienced an Ebola outbreak, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows, suggesting growing pressure on President Barack Obama over the issue. (Reuters)