TIME World

A CDC Epidemiologist Talks About Life on the Front Lines of the War Against Ebola

Redd, right, with local medical student Francis Abu Bayor.
Redd, right, with local medical student Francis Abu Bayor. Christina Socias—CDC

The CDC's Dr. John Redd spent weeks in Sierra Leone, combatting Ebola. He talks with TIME about the experience

Dr. John Redd, a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service, was sent in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to Sierra Leone, one of the three West African countries most devastated by the Ebola epidemic. The 52-year-old was assigned to Makeni, the capital of the northern district of Bombali (pop. 434,000). After six weeks battling the deadly disease, Redd returned to his home in Santa Fe, N.M., where he described his experience to Time Inc. senior editorial adviser Richard B. Stolley.

 

THE ROLE OF CDC DOCTORS DEPLOYED TO FIGHT EBOLA IS NOT PATIENT CARE. WHY?

I am a medical epidemiologist, and epidemiologists control disease at a population level. I volunteered to go to Sierra Leone with CDC to help control the outbreak and support local efforts to slow it down.

 

WASN’T IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU NOT TO TREAT PATIENTS?

I was treating patients, but not one at a time. That’s public health. I was supporting the system of outbreak control so that there will ultimately be fewer patients to treat.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR GOAL?

To slow down the spread and reduce transmission, because that’s what really controls an outbreak like Ebola. It’s the public health measures that will end the outbreak, not treatment, as important as treatment is.

 

HOW DID YOU PROCEED?

First is case identification or case finding. That means helping local authorities find people in the community as early as possible who have the disease or may have it, moving them into holding centers so they are removed from their community while their labs are pending, and then sending patients who are positive to an ETU, Ebola Treatment Unit. That’s where personnel from Doctors Without Borders, the International Red Cross and other aid organizations work – the part of the Ebola system most people are familiar with.

 

WHAT WAS THE LOCAL MEDICAL INFRASTRUCTURE LIKE?

Though extremely under-resourced by American standards, there is an existing public health surveillance system, just as in the U.S., where we have systems to count cases of diseases like influenza. In Sierra Leone, it had been used for diseases other than Ebola, like malaria and typhoid fever. The country also has an existing clinical medical system, which starts with very small health stations in many villages. In my district there were more than 100 of those, leading all the way to the government hospital in Makeni.

 

WHAT WAS THE EBOLA SITUATION WHILE YOU WERE THERE?

We investigated more than 800 patients with suspected Ebola, and more than half were confirmed with the disease. There were over 100 deaths, but that is probably an underestimate. There’s a delay in reporting deaths from ETUs, and some deaths in rural areas are not reported. By the time I left, the numbers in our district had begun to decrease. But in -areas around Freetown—the capital of Sierra Leone—cases are still on the rise.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CONTACT WITH A PERSON WITH EBOLA?

I saw my first patient the day after I arrived, through a window in a holding center in Makeni. We could not go inside. We had three holding centers with a total of 140 beds, with a physical gradation according to patient risk. In the middle of each center were confirmed patients waiting transit to an ETU in another district. They were vomiting, had diarrhea and were very weak. Anyone who treated those patients, mainly nurses from Sierra Leone, needed to be in full protective gear in spite of the heat – near 100ºF – and high humidity. Those nurses were incredibly heroic. There was another section for patients waiting for blood test results, and a third for patients being observed for 21 days after their tests turned out negative. This separation of patients, and the nursing procedures, were all designed to minimize the risk that someone who was negative could get the disease there.

 

WHEN DID YOU WITNESS YOUR FIRST EBOLA DEATH?

It was the same morning. As many as eight people were dying some days.

 

HOW DID THE SURVEILLANCE PROCESS WORK?

We had about 100 college and public health students from Sierra Leone, mostly men, some women, whose classes had been cancelled because of Ebola. For now, school isn’t happening in Sierra Leone. They were the team’s disease detectives. Every morning they would ride their motor bikes out to respond to alerts that a household member was ill or had died. They would call an ambulance to remove the body or take the patient to a holding center. We had only four ambulances, so sometimes we would have to ask patients to walk to the holding center. We had to be very practical about it. Then the surveillance officer would talk to the family about who might have come in contact with the patient. These contacts would be followed for 21 days.

 

WHERE WERE THESE FAMILIES LOCATED?

Mostly in the south of the district, around Makeni. But some were in villages in the rural north. Many did not have electricity, and most did not have running water or flush plumbing. Unfortunately these conditions are conducive to the transmission of Ebola.

 

THESE INVESTIGATORS WERE GOING HOUSE TO HOUSE AND LITERALLY KNOCKING ON DOORS?

That is correct.

 

YOU SEEM TO HAVE GOTTEN CLOSE TO THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE. HAVE YOU STAYED IN TOUCH?

Yes, especially with a med student named Francis Abu Bayor. We worked side by side over there, and we’ve been emailing since. He was the leader of the surveillance team and in charge of our database on all the patients. He was an absolute optimist. His phrase was “challenge.” He would say, “Dr. John, we have a challenge” and that could mean anything from a new Ebola outbreak in a previously unaffected neighborhood to the printer being out of paper. Everything was just a challenge to be overcome.

 

IS HE STILL THERE?

He’s waiting for medical school to reopen. On my last day there, we gave him a stethoscope, which is traditional in medicine. My parents gave me one when I graduated from med school. Getting hold of a stethoscope was pretty convoluted. I ordered it from Amazon.com and had it delivered to a doctor in Atlanta who was coming to Sierra Leone. When he arrived in Freetown, he gave it to another doctor who was staying in my hotel. Then the three of us who had worked with Francis — Brigette Gleason, Tiffany Walker and I — presented it to him. He told me he was so inspired by his connection with CDC that he was going to make his career in public health.

 

WHAT WERE OTHER OBSTACLES YOU HAD TO OVERCOME?

Fuel was a constant problem because the investigators had to travel so far. So I put in a request to the CDC Foundation for fuel money, and it was granted. One of my jobs most afternoons was to take those fuel vouchers to the gas station and fill up the vehicles that were transporting the blood samples. And sometimes I’d fill up the investigators’ motor bikes as well.

 

WAS A SICK PERSON EVER RELUCTANT TO GO TO THE HOLDING CENTER?

Sometimes, at first. I helped in a few cases. We would talk to the head of the household and to the chief of the village. And we talked to the sick person, of course. To make sure I myself was not exposed to Ebola, I never passed over the threshold of a house. I’d ask the person to come out and we would talk from a distance in the street, usually a dirt path or road. Nobody was taken against their will, and I never saw anyone refuse to go. People were quite aware of Ebola because the education they had received had been very effective.

 

HOW DID FAMILIES REACT WHEN THIS HAPPENED?

It could be tragic. In some cases, it was the last time they ever saw their loved one. They would say goodbye in the house, and because they were contacts, they would have to remain there and be monitored for Ebola. Getting information on that patient in the holding center could be very difficult, though the surveillance officers tried. If the person turned out to be positive, he or she would be taken away to a distant treatment unit, where sometimes they died. Those were some very touching situations.

 

ONCE IN THE HOLDING CENTER, WHAT HAPPENED?

Patients with possible Ebola would receive medications for malaria and typhoid fever, intravenous fluids and also oral rehydration solution, which contains water, sugar and salt. And the blood draw would go as quickly as possible. That had to be done in full protective equipment. It’s quite a heroic job for someone to be drawing blood on Ebola patients all day long. Their dedication is hard to imagine. I was there 42 days, which I found very challenging, physically, mentally and emotionally. But the local health workers have been working like that for months.

 

HOW WERE THE BLOOD SAMPLES TESTED?

They had to be driven four to five hours to a CDC run lab in a town called Bo, which would email or telephone me the results. We had more than 800 samples sent for testing while I was there, and our goal was to have no more than 48 hours between someone’s lab test and learning whether they were positive or negative. It’s below 48 hours now, which considering the logistics is a real victory.

 

THEN WHAT?

There were many days when I would go to the holding centers to deliver blood test results to the nurses and help with the disposition of patients. If positive, we would get that person to a treatment center as quickly as possible, but it was three to four hours away. We, the lab and the treatment center were all in different locations. One way to conceptualize this is to imagine someone is suspected of Ebola in Dallas, has to be taken to Fort Worth to draw blood, then the blood is driven to Wichita, Kans., and if positive, the patient is transported from Fort Worth to Little Rock, Ark., for treatment. That is based on the actual drive times in Bombali.

 

HOW WERE THE ROADS?

Mostly dirt. It was the end of the rainy season, which meant that they were often mud. The vehicle carrying the lab samples crashed twice in one week because of road conditions. One of the scariest moments for me was hearing about those two accidents. I worried that there were unsecured blood samples at the site, but they were packed in a strong puncture-resistant container, and the samples were fine and were tested normally.

 

WHAT WAS THE CDC PRESENCE IN YOUR DISTRICT?

About 60 CDC personnel were in Sierra Leone at any one time, and we had seven staying in Makeni and working in Bombali and the adjacent district, Tonkolili. Six were doctors or epidemiologists, and one was a communications specialist because a vast part of outbreak control is educating people. We all stayed in the same hotel, and often ate breakfast and dinner together. Lunch was a PowerBar at our desks. Most everybody worked until midnight or 1 a.m., but one evening we all got together to relax and watch a movie I had on my laptop —Die Hard—and some of the hotel employees watched too. It was a nice diversion. I felt extremely close to the CDC colleagues I was working with.

 

ANY CHANCE TO EXERCISE?

Four or five times a week, I got on the elliptical at the hotel for an hour at the end of the day. It didn’t plug into the wall, didn’t need electricity. So when the power went out, which happened frequently, I kept going in the dark. The other people in the gym would laugh, but exercise is very important to me, both at home and traveling. When the lights were on, I was on my BlackBerry most of the time on the elliptical. That was routine multi-tasking.

 

HOW DID YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM EBOLA?

The most important thing was no touching. No shaking hands, no hugging. It was a massive societal change. I’d never been to Sierra Leone before, but I’d heard that the people are affectionate and physical. It was really something to live in that reality where you never touch another person — except a couple of times when I inadvertently bumped into someone at a meeting. Also, before being posted, we were trained at CDC in Atlanta in the use of personal protective equipment which all of us carried in backpacks at all times. Fortunately I never needed to put mine on.

 

DID YOU EVER GET SICK OVER THERE?

I got mild food poisoning after a weekend trip to CDC headquarters in Freetown. At first, I didn’t know what it was, but I followed all our established procedures. I isolated myself in my hotel room for 24 hours. We had a supply of MREs [meals ready to eat] so I didn’t have to leave. I checked my temperature and reported it to my supervisor so a decision could be made as to how to handle it, depending upon the symptoms, and if needed, discussions with Atlanta. My symptoms went away quickly, and I never had a fever. It wasn’t Ebola.

 

WHAT WERE BURIALS LIKE?

Every person who died, no matter what the circumstances were, was supposed to be tested for Ebola with a cheek swab and then buried safely. The body was quickly placed in a body bag, which was sprayed with chlorine by a protected burial team. Then it was taken to a new and separate communal cemetery especially set aside for this purpose. To the burial teams’ great credit, they were extremely respectful. Families could not say goodbye at a funeral and could not be at the burial, but could wait nearby. And after the ground was also sprayed with disinfectant, loved ones could leave small memorials and markers there. Seeing that cemetery was one of the most moving experiences of my entire life.

 

THESE WERE HIGHLY EMOTIONAL MOMENTS. DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF IN TEARS?

I did cry a couple of times, but only in the evenings at the hotel, not in public. I think most of the CDC workers cried at one time or another. All of the CDC people supported one another a great deal, because everyone realized how stressful it was. So I never felt alone. I felt emotional very frequently, and tears were close, but the days were so busy and long that I was able for the most part to keep my attention on the matters at hand.

 

DID YOU FINALLY GET ACCUSTOMED TO THE DANGER?

I never felt personally threatened, but of course my risk was not zero. To keep it at zero, I would have had to stay home. We were all accepting some level of risk. But it was more the constant psychological cost of having to worry about it, of never touching people, maintaining distance, having to stay disconnected from potential patients. It was like a blanket over all our activities. On a human level, it was very difficult, many hours a day, seven days a week, and it was frequently very sad.

 

WHAT WAS THE FEELING ABOUT AMERICANS THERE?

I didn’t feel a negative vibe even once. People said thank you routinely. It was really touching. When I spoke to the young men and women we were working with, I would emphasize that we were brothers and sisters in the fight against Ebola. We were all on the same team. I think that’s the way everyone felt.

 

HOW DID YOUR OWN FAMILY FEEL ABOUT YOUR ASSIGNMENT?

They were very supportive. My wife, Bernie, actually encouraged me to go to Sierra Leone. She is a physician herself and understood both the gravity of the situation and the contribution I could make to it. Most deployments are for 29 days, and when the CDC asked me to stay longer, she said it sounded like a good idea. We kept in touch mostly by email, but I bought a local phone card and we talked a couple times each week. The connection wasn’t bad. I was able to see my daughters at college on Skype from time to time. It helped that they didn’t seem worried. When we talked or e-mailed, I tended to emphasize the positive aspects of what we were doing and minimized the sad things I’d seen.

 

NOW THAT YOU’RE BACK HOME, ARE YOU IN QUARANTINE?

Technically, I was not. I was in a category that’s called low risk, but not zero risk for 21 days. I had to report on my temperatures twice a day to both the state of New Mexico and CDC. I wasn’t supposed to go to work, but Sandia National Laboratories was very supportive and understanding. I am detailed there by CDC as an epidemiologist on their International Biological Threat Reduction team. I could leave home briefly to buy food or something like that, but my wife was happy to take care of those things. I was told to report any illness or symptoms immediately. It ended November 19, and I’m fine.

 

WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN SIERRA LEONE?

As a physician, I learned how quickly someone can get terribly sick from Ebola and die. As a medical epidemiologist, I saw that the public health efforts to which CDC is contributing are going to be what eventually ends this outbreak. As a human being, I learned how hard working, brave and heroic my Sierra Leonean colleagues were. At no time did I feel that what I was doing was futile. Ultimately, what I really learned about Ebola is that it is controllable.

 

WOULD YOU GO BACK?

Without question.

TIME ebola

U.S. to Grant Temporary Protection Status for People From Ebola-Hit Nations in West Africa

Liberia Battles Spreading Ebola Epidemic
A mother and child stand atop their mattresses in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward on August 15, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. John Moore—Getty Images

People from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone who were in the U.S. as of Thursday

The United States will issue a temporary protected status to people residing in the country from the three nations hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, homeland security officials said in a report Thursday.

Reuters reports that people from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone who were in the U.S. as of Thursday would be eligible for deportation protection for at least 18 months and could also apply for work permits. The 8,000 people estimated to be eligible will be unable to visit home and return in a bid to prevent more Ebola cases arriving in the U.S.

Any extension of the protection will be reassessed after 18 months based on how severe the Ebola outbreak remains in West Africa, the report adds. More than 5,000 people have died from the virus in the worst outbreak in recorded history, the World Health Organization reports.

Read more at Reuters

TIME

Ebola Virus In Semen: Everything You Want to Know

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LARRY MULVEHILL—Getty Images/Photo Researchers RM

An Indian man who survived Ebola was quarantined when his blood tested negative but his semen tested positive

An Indian man who survived Ebola in Liberia was quarantined at an airport in Delhi when his semen tested positive for the disease.

What’s confusing is that man had multiple blood samples tested for Ebola and they all came back negative. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, that means he’s free of Ebola. Still, the issue raises some questions that perhaps you’re too squeamish to ask. So we asked the CDC for you.

The answers to these questions were provided by CDC spokesperson Salina Smith.

1. So, Ebola can live in semen?
Yes, it can. The CDC says semen can test positive after clinical clearance—a negative blood test for Ebola—for up to three months. The agency recommends those who have survived Ebola abstain from sex, including oral sex, for at least three months. If abstinence cannot be followed, condoms should be worn.

2. Why does Ebola survive in semen longer than blood?
Semen and blood are different types of body fluids, and scientifically, the testes are known as immunologically “privileged” sites. Basically it’s easier for the virus to hide and avoid being attacked by the immune system in the reproductive system.

3. Why is someone deemed “cured” of the virus if it’s negative in their blood, but positive in their semen?
Theoretically it’s possible that Ebola could be transmitted via contact with Ebola-positive semen, but there is no evidence to date that this has ever happened. It may be that the virus is a more efficient transmitter in blood. What we know for a fact is that exposure to blood that’s positive for Ebola can infect other people.

4. Does the CDC explicitly recommend abstinence to every patient who survives Ebola?
The CDC’s guidance in the field is this: If the patient is a man, he should be informed that his semen can still be infectious for three months and that he must avoid or have protected sexual relations during this period. The patient and his partner are well counseled on this, and must have it clearly explained to them. A CDC medical team is supposed to provide them with enough condoms for that period. The CDC recommends this warning also be included on the patient’s discharge papers.

5. Does the CDC ever test patients’ semen?
The CDC does test the semen of patients who are medically evacuated to the United States. The agency also asks if patients in the United States would like to have their semen tested periodically so that the CDC can gain a better idea of how long the virus lasts.

6. Was it unusual that the Indian patient’s semen was tested?
No.

TIME TIME for Thanks

Tom Frieden: What I’m Thankful For

Tom Frieden Director of the CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden poses for a photo in downtown Washington on Sept. 12, 2013. Douglas Graham—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

This Thanksgiving Day, 170 CDC disease detectives, public health experts, and communication specialists will not be home celebrating with loved ones. They’ll be in West Africa, working to contain the Ebola epidemic.

Some of them are deep in remote areas, far from the home comforts we take for granted. Some are traveling on dangerous roads, by helicopter, and in dugout canoes to help stop outbreaks of Ebola. They do many critical things such as trace contacts so they can be isolated, and treated if necessary, to improve their survival and prevent spread of the epidemic. Others swelter in personal protective equipment to prepare blood samples for Ebola testing in mobile labs. Still others stay up late into the night poring over epidemiologic data to see where teams will need to be sent the next day.

Our workers on the front lines are supported by hundreds of equally hard-working staff back in Atlanta who keep CDC’s Emergency Operations Center running 24/7. They’ve been working at full speed for more than four months, and will keep going until the job is done. Thousands of other equally dedicated CDC workers continue to protect Americans from other health threats, ranging from influenza to drug-resistant infections and more. And there are teams to jump in at a moment’s notice in the event there is another case of Ebola here in the United States.

None of these extraordinarily dedicated women and men are strangers to work on holidays, weekends, or after-hours. They aren’t doing it to get rich or famous. And they won’t get thank-you letters from the millions of Americans and others around the world who won’t get sick or injured because of their work. Public health successes are usually invisible – the “dog that doesn’t bark in the night.”

Please join me in recognizing them on this day of Thanksgiving. Epidemiologists, lab scientists, public health specialists, world experts in every aspect of public health, and so many more – we all owe them thanks for the work they do at home and abroad to keep us safe and healthy.

Tom Frieden is the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TIME ebola

Cost of Ebola for West Africa Far Lower Than Once Feared

Financial toll for hardest-hit region could fall between $3 billion and $4 billion, or about one-tenth of what the World Bank initially forecast. In its latest report on the global Ebola epidemic, WHO counted 5,177 deaths out of 14,413 reported cases of the disease

An aggressive response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has reduced a massive $32.6 billion economic tab initially forecast by the World Bank, a top official at the organization said Wednesday.

Francisco Ferreira, the World Bank’s chief economist, said at a lecture in Johannesburg that the outbreak’s total financial toll in the region could fall between $3 billion and $4 billion, according to Reuters. Ferreira pointed to successful efforts to contain the disease in some West African countries as a sign that the World Bank’s worst-case scenario is unlikely. But, he also warned that Ebola could still spread if those efforts are not maintained.

“It has not gone to zero because a great level of preparedness and focus is still needed,” Ferreira said, according to Reuters.

In its latest report on the global Ebola epidemic, the World Health Organization counted 5,177 deaths out of 14,413 reported cases of the disease. Liberia has seen the most deaths by far, at greater than 2,800, followed by Sierra Leone and Guinea at more than 1,000 each. The United States has had four reported cases of the disease and one confirmed death.

This year’s outbreak has affected businesses in West Africa and worldwide. A number of airline stocks dipped last month following reports that a potentially-infected woman had flown from Cleveland to Dallas on Frontier Airlines. Meanwhile, the stock market in general suffered in October, in part due to investor concerns over the spread of the disease.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME ebola

Nearly Half of Liberia’s Workforce Is Out of a Job Since Ebola Crisis Began

Liberia is the hardest hit nation in the Ebola outbreak

Nearly half of Liberia’s working population at the beginning of the Ebola crisis is no longer doing so, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The West African nation has been the hardest hit in the regional outbreak, accounting for more than 7,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. To measure the economic impact of that devastation, the World Bank, Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services and the Gallup Organization conducted phone surveys and found that not only is a massive part of the country’s work force out of job, but food insecurity is worsening.

Wage workers and the self-employed have taken the biggest hit, the report finds. Prior to the epidemic, more than 30% of working household breadwinners were self-employed, but now that rate is just above 10%. Many people lost jobs because their business or government offices closed.

Agricultural workers were significantly burdened at the start of the outbreak, too, since transportation routes were interrupted and people avoided large gathering spaces like markets, but the report shows Liberians are beginning to return to work as the harvest approaches.

Read the full report here.

TIME ebola

Cuba Says Doctor Catches Ebola in Sierra Leone

Cuban doctors and health workers unload boxes of medicines and medical material from a plane upon their arrival at Freetown's airport to help the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, on Oct. 2, 2014.
Cuban doctors and health workers unload boxes of medicines and medical material from a plane upon their arrival at Freetown's airport to help the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, on Oct. 2, 2014. Florian Plaucheur—AFP/Getty Images

(HAVANA) — A member of the 165-member medical team Cuba sent to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with the disease, according to state media.

Dr. Felix Baez Sarria is being treated by British doctors in Africa but he will be transferred to a special unit in Geneva at the recommendation of the World Health Organization, Cuban state media said, citing the island’s Ministry of Public Health.

Cuba won global praise for sending at least 256 medical workers to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to help treat Ebola patients. State officials have emphasized the medics’ high state of readiness for the mission, saying the doctors, nurses and support staff received weeks of instruction in protective measures and equipment.

Once in Africa, the Cubans got two to three weeks of additional training before heading into the field. They were to be quarantined in Africa for weeks at the end of their six-month mission before returning to Cuba.

State media said that Baez, an internal medicine specialist, came down with a fever of more than 100 degrees on Sunday and was diagnosed with Ebola the following day.

Cuban officials did not say how he caught the disease or immediately release any other information about the case, the first reported among the health workers the island sent to Africa.

Early symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, body aches, cough, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, and patients aren’t contagious until those begin. The virus requires close contact with body fluids to spread so health care workers and family members caring for loved ones are most at risk.

Ebola has killed more than 5,000 people in the west African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Cuba is one of the largest global contributors of medical workers to the fight against Ebola, a commitment that has drawn rare praise from the U.S. and focused worldwide attention on the island’s unique program of medical diplomacy, which deploys armies of doctors to win friends abroad and earn billions a year in desperately needed foreign exchange.

Cuba has more than 50,000 medical workers in more than 60 countries, many in nations like Brazil that pay hundreds of millions a year for their services. Others are on humanitarian missions that generate good will abroad.

Despite a recent set of pay raises, most Cuban doctors’ salaries don’t top $75 a month, less than many workers in tourism or other sectors that bring in money from abroad. The foreign missions almost uniformly offer the chance to earn extra pay, in many cases enough to buy a bigger home or new car.

Critics of Cuba’s communist government have accused it in the past of exploiting the doctors by giving them only a small portion of the money paid for their services and keeping the rest.

TIME ebola

Gates Foundation Gives $5.7 Million to Help Develop Ebola Cure

Physician demonstrates testing of blood sample at quarantine station for patients with infectious diseases in Berlin
Doctor for tropical medicine Florian Steiner demonstrates the testing of a blood sample at the quarantine station for patients with infectious diseases at the Charite hospital in Berlin Aug. 11, 2014 Thomas Peter—Reuters

Potential donors will undergo tests to ensure their blood is completely free of Ebola and other diseases

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $5.7 million towards the fight against Ebola, specifically focused on finding a cure for the disease through plasma collected from the blood of survivors.

In a statement on Tuesday, the foundation said it will work with a host of private sector organizations focused on producing and researching a potential remedy with guidance from the World Health Organization.

Dr. Papa Salif Sow, a senior program officer and infectious diseases expert with the foundation’s Global Health Program, said the funding was for research and development efforts on potential cures that could be quickly delivered if proven effective.

“We are committed to working with Ebola-affected countries to rapidly identify and scale up potential lifesaving treatments for Ebola,” he said.

Potential donors will undergo tests to ensure their blood is completely free of Ebola and other diseases before their plasma — the liquid portion of the blood that contains antibodies — is separated out to study and develop.

TIME ebola

Woman’s Remains in New York Test Negative for Ebola

Nurses from the New York State Nurses Association protest for improved Ebola safeguards, part of a national day of action, in New York
Nurses from the New York State Nurses Association protest for improved Ebola safeguards, part of a national day of action, in New York City November 12, 2014. © Mike Segar—Reuters

She had arrived from Guinea about three weeks earlier

The remains of a woman in New York who died while under observation for potential Ebola exposure have tested negative for the virus, health officials said Wednesday.

The woman arrived from Guinea, one of the three nations hit hardest in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, nearly three weeks ago and was being monitored out of “an abundance of caution” because her trip fell within the virus’ 21-day incubation period, the New York Times reports. She had shown no symptoms for the disease.

She was one of some 300 people being monitored by New York City as a potential case. The city’s sole diagnosed case to date, Dr. Craig Spencer, was successfully treated and released.

[NYT]

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