Ebola Today: Conn. School Tells Student to Stay Home After Trip to Nigeria; Patient Zero Was Little Boy in Guinea

The figure above is a map of West Africa showing the number of new cases of Ebola reported in West Africa during September 28-October 18. Counts of Ebola were highest in the area around Monrovia and in the district of Bong, Liberia; the Freetown area and the northwest districts of Sierra Leone; and the district of Macenta, Guinea.
The figure above is a map of West Africa showing the number of new cases of Ebola reported in West Africa during September 28-October 18. Counts of Ebola were highest in the area around Monrovia and in the district of Bong, Liberia; the Freetown area and the northwest districts of Sierra Leone; and the district of Macenta, Guinea. –Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

7:16 p.m. ET: Maine Will Enforce Voluntary Quarantine if Necessary.

Maine health officials announced on Tuesday that they’re prepared to legally enforce the state’s current “voluntary’’ quarantine on health care workers who have treated Ebola patients.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew did not specifically comment on the case of nurse Kaci Hickox during the news conference, according to the Associated Press. Hickox is currently residing in an undisclosed location in Maine after being quarantined against her will at a New Jersey hospital before traveling home.

Mayhew says that she does not want to have to legally enforce in-home quarantine.

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“We’re confident that selfless health workers who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect resident of their own country,’’ she said. “However, we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers.’’

5:49 p.m. ET: Should this girl have to stay home from school? The family of a Milford, Conn., third grader has filed a federal lawsuit after their daughter was barred from school over fears that she might have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

The Associated Press reports that Ikeoluwa Opayemi and her family traveled to Nigeria to attend a family wedding from Oct. 2 until Oct. 13. When they returned, the Meadowside Elementary School administration informed the family that Ikeoluwa would have to stay home until Nov. 3 in case she was exposed to the virus. The outbreak ended in Nigeria on Oct. 19 and the family did not travel to the countries at the epicenter of the outbreak: Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia.

Ikeoluwa’s father Stephen Opayemi told the local Fox News affiliate that the school system said there was a lot of confusion, and the ruling was because of a climate of fear that had developed around Ebola.

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3:54 p.m. ET: It all began with a little boy. International health officials have identified 2 year-old Emile Ouamouno from Meliandou, Guinea as “patient zero’’ in the current Ebola outbreak that has torn across West Africa.

According to the Associated Press, Meliandou is a village without any health care facilities, more than a two-hour drive from the capital, Conakry. Emile is the first known victim of this year’s outbreak. The toddler fell ill last December with mysterious symptoms of fever, black stools and vomiting. One of his sisters died only a week later, followed by the children’s pregnant mother and grandmother. UNICEF representatives who have visited the village believe that Ebola has killed at least 14 of 500 residents, though health officials estimate the number to be two to four times higher.

3:30 p.m. ET: Fear vs. science. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie doesn’t think that the mandatory quarantines imposed in his state for health care workers traveling back from West Africa will hurt the fight against the outbreak. On “The Today Show’’ Monday morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended the use of mandatory quarantines.

“These folks go over there because they want to help and they want to make a difference, and we applaud them,’’ Gov. Christie said on the morning show. “By the same token, when they’re in direct contact with people actively with the Ebola virus, asking them to quarantine at home for 21 days unless they’re symptomatic, I don’t think is draconian.’’

President Obama couldn’t disagree more.

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“America in the end is not defined by fear—that’s not who we are,’’ Obama said in a press conference at the White House Monday. “We don’t want to do things that aren’t based on science and best practices, because if we do, then we’re just putting another barrier on somebody who is already doing really important work on our behalf.’’

2:50 p.m. ET: It’s hard to tackle an outbreak we can’t track. The United Nation’s top Ebola official in West Africa, Anthony Banbury, told the Associated Press on Monday that authorities are having trouble tracking the number of people contracting Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and where the most affected regions are in these countries. Banbury said this issue is harming efforts of controlling the disease.

“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,’’ he said.

Currently, Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone need at least 5,000 more health workers to successfully fight the spread of Ebola. The UN hopes to give at least 70 percent of Ebola victims access to a treatment center.

“They are extremely ambitious (goals), given the geographical spread of the disease, the numbers of people infected, the very poor information on exactly where those infected are and what the transmission patterns are,’’ Banbury said. “The three things we need the most are people, supplies and money.’’

2:00 p.m. ET: These guys…

… didn’t freak out because of Ebola. They just got to work.

1:30 p.m. ET:“Today is a joyful day.’’ Amber Vinson, the second nurse who contracted the Ebola virus after treating Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas, Texas, has been released and declared virus-free by physicians at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga.

The 29-year-old Vinson was diagnosed on Oct. 15 and transferred to Emory Hospital within the first 24 hours of being diagnosed. She received plasma donations from Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, medical missionaries who also received treatment at Emory for the Ebola virus.

Health care workers ‘‘deeply admire Ms. Vinson’s care and courage in caring for patients with serious communicable diseases,’’ said Dr. Bruce Ribner, who lead Vinson’s treatment and recovery , in a press conference Monday.

Vinson is fourth patient to be successfully treated for Ebola at Emory University Hospital.

“Today is a joyful day at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Amber Vinson is free of Ebola and coming home,’’ Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital officials said in a statement. “Like many of her colleagues, she made a brave choice to volunteer and provide care for a critically ill Ebola patient. That led to a personal fight against the disease, and she is to be commended for her strength and courage. Amber and her fellow caregiver, Nina Pham, are an inspiration for healthcare workers nationwide, and we at Texas Health Dallas could not be more proud of them.’’

Emergency Department nurses, medical technicians and staff physicians at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas joyously gather in a break room to watch Amber Vinson’s live remarks from Emory University Hospital. —Texas Health Resources

7:46 a.m. ET: It’s time for a homecoming: Amber Vinson, a Dallas nurse who was treated for Ebola, will attend a news conference discussing her discharge from an Atlanta hospital Tuesday following tests that show she is now free of the virus.

Vinson was one of two nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died from Ebola. The other nurse, Nina Pham, was released from the hospital Oct. 24.

5:41 a.m. ET: More help needed in West Africa: The president of the World Bank says at least 5,000 more health workers are needed in West Africa to effectively fight Ebola.

Jim Yong Kim said Tuesday he is concerned about finding enough health care workers given the widespread fear of Ebola, according to The Associated Press.

The latest numbers:

Number of cases worldwide in the current outbreak: 10,114

Number of deaths: 4,912

Countries currently affected by Ebola: Mali, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States of America.

Countries where the outbreak has ended: Nigeria (Oct. 19), Senegal (Oct. 17)

And here’s your daily reminder not to panic:

The likelihood of contracting Ebola in Massachusetts remains very low, according to the state’s public health officials. You have to be in direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids while they are contagious (displaying symptoms of Ebola). Even if someone has been exposed, symptoms may appear in as little as two days, and in as many as 21 days, after exposure. The CDC says the average is 8 to 10 days.

Ebola symptoms:

– Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)

– Severe headache

– Muscle pain

– Weakness

– Diarrhea

– Vomiting

– Abdominal (stomach) pain

– Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Need more details? Here’s an MGH physician dropping some knowledge for you.

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