Press Release - VHFC continues response to ongoing outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease

KENEMA, Sierra Leone - The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium (VHFC) remains deeply concerned about the ongoing outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa. As of 27 June 2014, the WHO reports 176 cases and 46 deaths from confirmed cases in Sierra Leone. In response, the VHFC is mobilizing an additional team to provide immediate support at Kenema Government Hospital (KGH).

Suspected EVD patients and samples in Sierra Leone continue to be monitored and tested at KGH, under the direction of Physician In-Charge Dr. S. Humarr Khan and Laboratory Director Augustine Goba. The Lassa Laboratory at KGH has long served as a leading center for viral hemorrhagic fever clinical care and research and has been tasked by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation with responsibilities for clinical care, outreach, and testing during the Ebola outbreak.

Following reports of EVD in neighboring Guinea in March 2014, VHFC mobilized multiple response teams comprised of collaborators from Tulane University, Harvard University, and the Broad Institute. Ebola testing was established at KGH in March 2014 in preparation for the outbreak’s potential spread to neighboring regions in Sierra Leone. Efforts to establish EBV testing were led by a team comprised of Dr. Robert Garry, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Tulane University School of Medicine, and Principle Investigator of the Consortium; Dr. Lina Moses, Field Sites Manager; and Dr. Kristian Andersen and Stephen Gire of Harvard University and the Broad Institute.

As the case numbers continue to climb, KGH staff and collaborators are strained by the growing demand for outreach and lab equipment. In response, VHFC collaborators Stephen Gire and Dr. Nathan Yozwiak, both of Harvard University and the Broad Institute, will visit KGH in early July with the goals of collecting epidemiological data, enhancing diagnostic protocols, and delivering testing reagents and protective equipment for the continued biosafety of the hospital and surrounding community.

According to the WHO, as of June 27 the disease has affected at least 635 cases (including laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspected cases) and killed more than 367 individuals in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, marking this as the most deadly EVD outbreak since Ebola virus was first identified in 1976. This is the first documented outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa.

Partnerships for the ongoing efforts at KGH include VHFC, Metabiota, and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease (ACEGID).

Please see the following websites for further information:

ProMed
WHO Africa
WHO Frequently Asked Questions on Ebola virus disease
ACEGID

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