App comes to the rescue in 'worst' Ebola outbreak

Countries in west Africa like Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau should be ready

The World Health Organisation has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.

“We want other countries in West Africa to be ready,” WHO Ebola specialist Pierre Formenty said on Friday. “I’m talking about bordering countries like Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau.” 

Those countries are among 11 nations due to attend WHO-brokered talks on the crisis in Ghana next week. 

To date, there have been 635 cases of haemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, most confirmed as Ebola. A total of 399 people have died, 280 of them in Guinea. 

While calling for “drastic action” to fight the deadliest Ebola outbreak on record, WHO might be cheered with help in the form of a new application developed at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The Epi Info viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) application is a new software tool that will allow disease detectives to help find people exposed to the deadly virus faster. It will help to speed up one of the most difficult parts of disease detection called contact tracing. This means finding everyone that was exposed to, and possibly infected by, someone with a contagious disease. 

Specifically designed
The Epi Info VHF tool is specifically designed for outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola. In addition to facilitating contact tracing, the tool assists with the collection and management of epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory information for every case. 

This data is crucial for developing outbreak countermeasures.This is good news for a disease as contagious as Ebola, and for this particularly bad outbreak that has traveled across borders and which Doctors without Borders have labeled as “out of control”.


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