Holiday Ebola Update, Sat, 11/29: Less following rules in Liberia/how ZMapp works/Fruit bats and cocoa   Leave a comment


Dear Colleagues:  This past Thursday through Sunday is the Thanksgiving Holiday in the U.S.  Most journals, science magazines, media sources have given their staffers the 4 day holiday off work.  But some EBOV news is still available:

l.  Gregg Zoroya of USA Today is based currently in Monrovia, Liberia.  Zoroya reports yesterday that Liberians wish to take the ’emergency’ sense of EBOV behind them.  People are less diligent in avoiding handshaking and bodily contact in the cities.  Rural vilagers are suspicious of Red Cross ambulances coming to take deceased EBOV patients away for cremation.  I think it is time for the Red Cross to remove their insignia from their ambulances so that villagers do not hide bodies from the teams traveling to villages to remove bodies.

2.  The Lancet 19 November published correspondence critical of the Canadian government for its sale of rights to VSV-ZEBOV to NewLink because NewLink had not developed, tested, or distributed the vaccine for use in the several years ZEBOV held its rights.  Fortunately, subsequent to 19 November NewLink sold the rights to VSV-ZEBOV to Merck so that the vaccine can be ‘scaled up’.  NewLink’s action was a humanitarian action as previously noted.  To protect the public, I believe a ‘compassionate use’ clause should be included in any governmental contract selling rights to vaccines or drugs to private corporations.  See The Lancet correspondence at:

3.  Science 21 November has an article describing the decision process undertaken by physicians/patient at Nebraska Medical Center when deciding which experimental drug the patient (Ashoka Mukpo) should be given at the Center.  Note that Mukpo’s father is a pulmonologist and was a member of the decision team.  The final decision was to use convalescent serum and brincidpfovir, which has a substantial safety record.  TKM-Ebola was not given because of worries it could trigger overproduction of cytokines.  See more about the decision process and a chart of experimental drugs under development at: 

4.  CDC has released an updated FAQ report on the successfully tested chimpanzee adenovirus Type 3 vaccine.  See the report at:

5.  Dr. Racaniello has posted a short article on how ZMapp antibodies work against EBOV on his Microbe TV website.  See the article at:

6.  West African countries with EBOV have one other common factor I did not include in my previous blog: all these countries are producers of cocoa.  These countries are not the major producers but cocoa trees are indigenous.  Cocoa trees have fruit called cocoa pods.  Within these cocoa pods is a gelatinous mass which contains cocoa beans which are pressed and process to make chocolate.  Ten-twelve cocoa pods produce a pound of chocolate.

.7.  Fruit bats eat the cocoa pod leaving EBOV containing saliva on the pods; these fruit bats are also responsible for carrying pollen from one pod to another.  Villagers then harvest the pods and split them to obtain the cocoa seeds spreading fruit bat saliva on their hands and food and anything they touch.  See a more detailed discussion of fruit bats and cocoa trees at:

I will be on the road tomorrow Sunday and will post next on Monday evening.



Posted November 29, 2014 by levittrg in Ebola

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