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Pentagon Orders 30-Member Ebola Response Team


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon has ordered that a 30-person military medical team be prepared to be put on standby to quickly assist the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with its Ebola response in the United States if needed.

The move followed a request to the Defense Department made Saturday by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, said the move was "an added prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered U.S. Northern Command Command "to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States," Kirby said.

The team will be made up of personnel from various military services and include "20 critical care nurses, five doctors trained in infectious disease, and five trainers in infectious disease protocols."

They will be sent to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, for up to seven days of specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment.

An official says the majority of the team will come from military bases in the San Antonio area, though Navy members of the team will come from other parts of the U.S.

The military is preparing to send as many as 4,000 personnel to Liberia to assist with that country's response to the Ebola outbreak, but those military personnel will not be involved in the care or treatment of Ebola infected patients.

That will not be the case with this new 30-person team of military health professionals, who will be directly involved in the care of Ebola patients if their services are requested.

The training of team members is expected to start as early as this week and will be provided by the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

After their training is complete they will return to their home units and remain in a "prepare to deploy" status for 30 days, where they could be sent anywhere in the United States if their services are required.

"They will not be sent to West Africa or elsewhere overseas and will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals," Kirby said.

The U.S. official familiar with the request said that on Thursday an initial contact had been made to the Pentagon by the Centers for Disease Control about the possibility of military medical personnel helping out their efforts if needed.

HHS Secretary Sulvia Burwell made a formal written request of Hagel on Saturday. In the request, Burwell asked that the team be ready no later than Oct. 25 and that when ready it be prepared to augment HHS/CDC operations within 72 hours of notification.

According to the official, Burwell said that if needed the military personnel will not be requested to enforce quarantine measures in the United States.

Kirby said the preparation of the team is similar to how the Defense Department prepares for natural disasters.

"Secretary Hagel is committed to ensuring DoD is prepared to provide appropriate capabilities, as required, to support our government's response to this deadly disease" Kirby said. "He is extraordinarily proud of the skill and professionalism of our servicemen and women and of the unique capabilities they bring to bear in this important effort. As always, their safety and security will remain foremost on his mind."

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Cruise Ship Carrying Health Worker Monitored for Ebola Returns


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- A cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who handled specimens of an Ebola-infected patient and is being monitored for symptoms of the virus arrived at the Port of Galveston in Texas Sunday.

The Carnival Magic reached the port about 5 a.m. The health care worker and her travel partner were allowed to disembark with restrictions, according to the Galveston County Health Department.

The health care worker had been self-quarantined on the ship and hasn't shown signs of the virus for 19 days, officials said.

On Saturday, a Coast Guard helicopter met the ship to collect a blood sample from the unidentified health care worker. She had departed from Galveston on Oct. 12 and was out of the country before being notified of active monitoring required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the State Department.

A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines told ABC News the blood test came back negative. According to the CDC, a test is only positive after symptoms develop, usually fever. It may take up to three days after symptoms appear for the virus to reach detectable levels.

"Given that this person was at apparently no risk of having an Ebola infection, I find the whole episode baffling," said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.

The worker did not have direct contact with patient Thomas Eric Duncan, but may have had contact with his clinical specimens, officials said. Duncan died Oct. 8 after becoming the first person on United States soil to be diagnosed with the virus.

The ship was refused clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico, on Friday. Belize also wouldn't allow the woman to leave the ship the day before.

All public areas ship will be sanitized before the ship departs again Sunday, CDC officials said.


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Since Duncan's diagnosis, two nurses involved in his treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, have tested positive for Ebola. Pham, 26, was flown to the National Institute of Health's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and Vinson, 29, was taken to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Barclay Berdan, the CEO of Texas Health Resources, apologized to the Dallas community for the hospital's handling of Duncan in a letter that appeared in the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram Sunday.

"I know that as an institution, we made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge," he wrote. "When we initially treated Mr. Duncan, we examined him thoroughly and performed numerous tests, but the fact that Mr. Duncan had traveled to Africa was not communicated effectively among the care team, though it was in his medical chart. On that visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. For this, we are deeply sorry."

Duncan went to the emergency room on Sept. 26. He was initially sent home with antibiotics, but returned two days later in an ambulance when his symptoms worsened. The hospital then put him in isolation.

"Although we had begun our Ebola preparedness activities, our training and education programs had not been fully deployed before the virus struck," wrote Berdan. "In short, despite our best intentions and skilled medical teams, we did not live up to the high standards that are the heart of our hospital's history, mission and commitment."

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Contacts of First Dallas Ebola Patient Count Down to All Clear


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- All of the 48 people who had contact with the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States will no longer have to be monitored for the virus at the end of the day Sunday, the Dallas official spearheading the county response said.

Thomas Eric Duncan's fiancee Louise Troh and her family will have their active control order lifted at the end of the day, according to the Texas State Health Department.

"They will no longer need to stay home starting Monday," the statement said. "Someone will formally bring the release to them on Monday."

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins called this weekend a critical period in the response to Ebola after two nurses who were involved in the treatment of Thomas Eric Duncan contracted the disease.

He said it is "right in the middle of the hot zone" now for the health care workers who had contact with Duncan prior to his death on Oct. 8. Symptoms are most likely to begin to manifest within 8 to 10 days of exposure to Ebola.

One of the original 48 contacts with Duncan came off the list two days ago, and Jenkins said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release numbers of others who have come off the list in the last two days.

Of the 75 health care workers who are also being monitored, none are seeing patients at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the judge said.

Jenkins said it is a nervous time for so many of the people stuck in a very difficult situation.

"They frequently will have headaches and upset stomachs and other symptoms, and I would too if I were on that list," he said, adding that their symptoms forced officials to make sure they don't have Ebola.

They are free to come to the hospital to work in their offices and to visit the command center, but they are all furloughed and most of them are staying at home, Jenkins said.

Although as of Saturday morning 10 or 12 of the health care workers had not yet signed the agreement with the state to avoid public places and to not travel, Jenkins said all of them are complying with the state's requirements.

Texas Health Presbyterian became the first hospital in the nation to be faced with diagnosing Ebola on American soil when Duncan, a Liberian man visiting family in Dallas, went to the emergency room on Sept. 26. He was initially sent home with antibiotics, but returned two days later in an ambulance when his symptoms worsened. The hospital put Duncan in isolation. He died on Oct. 8.

Two nurses contracted Ebola from Duncan, though how exactly they were exposed hasn't been released. Nina Pham, 26, was diagnosed on Oct. 11, and Amber Vinson, 29, was diagnosed on Oct. 15, health officials said.

Texas Health Presbyterian cared for Pham in isolation for five days before requesting that she be moved to another facility. She was flown to an NIH facility in Bethesda, Maryland, on Oct. 16, and Vinson was flown to Emory University Hospital the day before.

Pham's boyfriend has been isolated and is being monitored, Jenkins said Saturday, though he offered no more details.

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Answers to the Ebola Questions You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  News that two nurses contracted Ebola in the United States has Americans on edge, but here are a few Ebola facts to calm your nerves.

"There are fundamental things we do know about Ebola and it's those things that can make most people in America rest very well at night that they don’t have a risk of contracting this disease," said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser during ABC News' Ebola town hall event on Friday.

When Does Ebola Become Contagious?

Ebola is contagious when someone is symptomatic, Besser said. A fever is the first symptom of Ebola, which means the virus is beginning to multiply in the patient’s blood when a fever sets in.

As an Ebola patient gets sicker and sicker, the amount of virus in his or her blood multiplies, making them even more contagious.

How Is Ebola Spread?

Ebola is spread through close contact with an infected person, and it’s not airborne, Besser said.

"We also know from the studies in Africa that it’s a hard disease to get," Besser said. "If this disease was spread through the air or was spread easily -- that you could get it from someone you're standing next to in the market or sitting next to on a plane -- this outbreak would be far larger than it is today."

People who contract Ebola usually do so because they've cared for someone who was infected in a hospital setting or at home, Besser noted, or they've touched the body of a person who died of Ebola.

Can It Become Airborne?

"The majority of scientists say that while it's possible, it's highly unlikely," Besser said, explaining that the virus would have to mutate significantly.

What If Someone With Ebola Sneezes on Me?


Sneezing is not a symptom of Ebola, Besser said. Neither is coughing until the very late stages of the disease, when the person is clearly sick and near death. On top of that, the disease is not airborne.

Can I Get Ebola From Someone's Sweat?

There's very little data on how much of the virus is in a sick person’s sweat, Besser said.

He added that carrying a person who is sick with Ebola can be a "risky situation." He said one man who had Ebola on a plane didn't spread it to fellow passengers but inadvertently gave it to the people who helped carry him once he got off the plane.

"Touching the skin -- whether he had other body fluids or sweat on his skin at that point -- was a risk," Besser said.

What If I Stand Next to Someone With Ebola on a Subway?

You probably won't catch it in that situation, said Dr. Jay Varma, New York City's deputy commissioner for disease control.

"Casual contact like you would have somebody pass you on the bus or on the subway, I'm not worried about it for myself and I'm not worried about it for my wife and kids," Varma said.

How Long Can the Virus Survive on Surfaces Like Tabletops and Doorknobs?

"This is one of these areas where we don't really know enough," Varma said. "We do know that these viruses can survive on surfaces for a few hours."

He said how long it can survive depends on the surface and the environment.

Should You Take Precautions Before Taking Public Transportation?

"We think this is not a disease that you can get from simply being next to somebody," Varma said. "Absolutely if somebody vomits on you or you get their body fluids on it, of course you can be at risk, but we think that airplane travel, traveling on subways -- all of that -- is the type of contact where this is not a disease that's transmitted."

He said he's more worried about getting the flu on public transportation than Ebola.

Is There a Vaccine Coming?

There are two vaccines being tested in clinical trials now, Besser said.

"There's a lot of efforts underway to try and move a vaccine forward but vaccine development takes a long time," he said, adding that one of the companies working on one has said it won't know whether it works until 2015.

Even if it does work, it will take more time to manufacture.

What About Other Drugs?

Ebola patients in the United States are receiving experimental drugs, but it's not yet clear whether they've helped, hurt or made no difference in those patients’ outcomes, Besser said.

Why Don't We Just Close Our Borders to West Africa?


Keeping people from leaving the Ebola-affected countries would be a "major mistake," Besser said, noting that he saw aid workers, journalists and family members aboard his plane on his two trips to Liberia in the last few months, and that letting them in and out is important.

"You want to make sure that people who leave that area are being monitored and doing it safely," he said. "You want to encourage people to go there who have expertise and can help these governments, these health workers, control this disease. That will save lives there and will also improve the health and protection of Americans right here."

Varma said the biggest concern in America should be containing the outbreak in Africa. Until that happens, he said "we will always be at risk."

"You can't just wrap a wall around these countries and not expect people to get out," he said.

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Ebola Scare Turns Dallas Hospital Into a 'Ghost Town'


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- The Dallas nurses who contracted Ebola while treating a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have been moved from the building, but patients are still steering clear of the once-bustling hospital.

People have called to cancel outpatient procedures, and some have even opted not to go to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in emergency situations, ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA reports.

"It feels like a ghost town," Rachelle Cohorn, a local health care vendor who has been to the hospital recently, told WFAA. "No one is even walking around the hospital."

Texas Health Presbyterian's average emergency room wait time had been 52 minutes, according to federal hospital data. But when ABC News called the hospital and asked the emergency department for the ER wait time today, the response was that there was no wait time.

The hospital has also taken public relations hits on a number of fronts. It was revealed that Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was initially sent home from the ER even though he told staff there that he had recently come from West Africa, the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak. And this week, another health care worker who took care Duncan criticized the hospital administration for not providing proper training and equipment to nurses caring for Duncan.

To weather the storm, the hospital will need to convince people that Texas Health Presbyterian is still a safe hospital, said Dr. Dan Varga, the chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, which owns the Dallas hospital.

"I would tell this community that Presby is an absolutely safe hospital to come to," Varga told ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser on Thursday. "We've been in communication with our doctors that have their private offices in our professional buildings around the campus who are getting 40, 50, 60 percent cancellations just for fear of being somewhere in the geography of the hospital where Ebola is treated."

Texas Health Presbyterian became the first hospital in the nation to be faced with diagnosing Ebola on American soil when Duncan, a Liberian man visiting family in Dallas, went to the emergency room on Sept. 26. He was initially sent home with antibiotics, but returned two days later in an ambulance when his symptoms worsened. The hospital put Duncan in isolation. He died on Oct. 8.

Two nurses contracted Ebola from Duncan, though how exactly they were exposed remains unknown. Nina Pham, 26, was diagnosed on Oct. 11, and Amber Vinson, 29, was diagnosed on Oct. 15, health officials said.

Texas Health Presbyterian cared for Pham in isolation for five days before requesting that she be moved to another facility. She was flown to an NIH facility in Bethesda, Maryland, on Oct. 16, and Vinson was flown to Emory University Hospital the day before.

Varga told Congress on Oct. 16 that the hospital staff was never trained to handle a patient with Ebola. He said they received guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July but never received any face-to-face training.

About 70 staff members are being monitored after possible exposure to the Ebola virus.

"Over the long haul is the emotional toll going to be something that leaves a mark?" Varga asked. "We have a bunch of employees on surveillance now because they had contact with Mr. Duncan, with Nina, with Amber."

Alex Normington, who works for a national firm that helps hospitals establish their reputations, told WFAA that Texas Health Presbyterian has had a "very good" reputation since it opened in 1966.

"A hospital's reputation can take years or generations to build," Normington said.

Federal and state hospital records also show that Texas Health Presbyterian had two violations over the last five years: one for a nurse who failed to turn a patient over every two hours and another for failing to appropriately address a patient's complaint.

Molly Cate, a partner with the health care communication and public affairs firm Jarrard, Cate and Hancock, which works with hospitals across the country, said the violations did not appear to be out of the ordinary.

"Two in five years is not a huge amount," said Cate. "Health care is very regulated industry. Hospitals are inspected regularly, for hundreds and thousands of things every year."

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College Student in San Diego on Life Support After Suffering from Meningitis


iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A San Diego State University student is on life support after suffering from meningitis.

Sara Stelzer, 18, was hospitalized Tuesday, thinking she had the flu. She is not expected to recover.

Just before she felt sick, Stelzer returned home to Moorpark, Calif. for her high school's homecoming.

Health officials believe those at most risk of contracting the bacterial infection are people Stelzer came in close contact with in San Diego, where she became deathly ill.

Dr. Gregg Lichtenstein of San Diego State University student health services says symptoms include fever, intense headache, neck stiffness, and lethargy. "Also when it gets into your bloodstream, it can result in a rash that kind of looks like little bruises that get bigger and bigger," Lichtenstein said.

Parent Cindy Lilly is concerned her own daughter may be at risk.

"My daughter knew her, and we have talked about meningitis and kind of how you can contract it, so it is a big concern for us," Lilly said.

Miranda Lipson, a friend of Stelzer, is in disbelief.

"Friends I know, if one of us got it, we would all get it, but I think people are here are smart enough not to let it spread around," Lipson said. "I hope she's in a good place right now and I hope that she rests in peace."

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Researchers Believe an Ingredient in Wine May Help Men Build Healthier Bones


Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers in Denmark conducted a study that indicated an ingredient in wine may play a role in helping men build healthier bones.

The study, conducted by researchers at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, looked at data from 74 men between the ages of 30 and 60 with metabolic syndrome. Each man was given resveratrol, a compound present in nuts and grapes -- and thereby, wine -- in a range of dosages.

After 16 weeks of receiving those doses, the researchers found that those men who had received the highest dose of resveratrol also had significantly higher blood levels of bone alkaline phosphatase, which can be used as a marker for healthy bone turnover. The men with the highest doses of resveratrol also had higher bone mineral density measurements.

Additional studies will need to be done to determine whether the findings are universal, or unique to the population that researchers looked at in this study.

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Texas Health Care Workers Who Treated Ebola Patient Told to Stay Out of Public Places


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Hospital workers who treated the Ebola patient who died at a Texas hospital are being asked to stay away from any public space for 21 days.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has asked the approximately 70 health care workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who entered the room of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan to stay home while they are being monitored during the 21-day Ebola incubation period.

Currently, health care workers are being asked to sign a written acknowledgement that they will not enter a public place. However, if they violate that agreement or refuse to sign it, the state could pursue a court order, which would force them to stay in their home in isolation during the allotted time.

The three-week time frame is due to the approximate incubation period of the Ebola virus, which is 2 to 21 days.

The agreement states that the health care worker will not use public transportation, including planes, buses or trains, and will also not enter any kind of public space, including grocery stores and restaurants.

Two nurses from the Texas Health Presbyterian were infected after treating Duncan earlier this month. One nurse, Amber Vinson, traveled by plane to Cleveland for a trip to plan her wedding. Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that she might have started feeling ill before her first flight and authorities are now working to identify hundreds of passengers who were on the flights with her and could possibly be exposed to the virus.

Duncan's family members were ordered to remain in quarantine by court order, after they temporarily left their home before it had been sanitized.

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WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak in Senegal Over


iStock/Thinkstock(DAKAR, Senegal) -- The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak over for the nation of Senegal, praising the country for its diligence and handling of the disease.

The first case of the disease in Senegal was confirmed on Aug. 29 in a young man who traveled from Guinea, where he had come in contact with an Ebola patient, the WHO said in a statement. That patient tested negative for the disease on Sept. 5, indicating that he had recovered. He was later allowed to return to Guinea on Sept. 18.

Senegal has, since then, "maintained a high level of active 'case finding' for 42 days -- two times as long as the maximum incubation period of the disease with no further cases reported.

The WHO notes that Senegal government "under laedership of President Macky Sall and the Minister of Health Dr. Awa Coll-Seck, reacted quickly to stop the disease from spreading."

"The government's response plan included identifiying and monitoring 74 close contacts of the patient, prompt testing of all suspected cases, stepped-up surveillance at the country's many entry points and nationwide public awareness campaigns," the WHO statement read.

While the outbreak has been declared over, the WHO notes that Senegal's "geographical position makes the country vulnerable to additional imported cases of Ebola."

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Girl Celebrates End of Chemo with 'Unicorn' Ride


WBRZ/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- When Lily Raffray completed her final round of chemotherapy this month she had one not-so-simple request, she wanted “a ride on a unicorn.”

Lily’s mom, Juliet Raffray, said her reaction was basically shock, but that Lily’s nurses didn't blink.

“Her nurses put together the whole unicorn experience,” said Raffray.

The special request was part of planning Lily’s “No Chemo” party to celebrate the end of her eight weeks of chemotherapy treatment.

Lily, 5, was diagnosed with stage one Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August and had been getting treatment at the St. Jude clinic at the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“We noticed it just as an enlarged lymph node. We were pretty shocked that it was Hodgkin's lymphoma,” said Raffray.

Raffray, of St. Amant, Louisiana, said Lily managed to avoid some of the worst symptoms associated with chemotherapy, but she did end up losing all her hair.

“It formed into a mohawk and now it’s just straggles of hair,” said Raffray.

But Raffray said her daughter isn't too bothered by her lack of hair and for her “No More Chemo” party, the 5-year-old got to wear a special headdress to complete her princess look. After getting a party with cake and decorations, Lily got to go to Wildwood farm and meet her very first “unicorn.”

While Lily was shy around some of the adults, Raffray said her daughter was just excited to meet the unicorn and get a ride.

“She walked up to that thing and was just entranced,” Raffray said of Lily.

However, on the ride home, Raffray said her daughter had a few questions.

“Afterwards she said ‘Hey mommy, that unicorn was kind of wobbly,’” Raffray recalled Lily talking about the “unicorn’s” horn.

“[I told her] ‘a unicorn is so special that their horn is not the same as a bone. ...It’s magical,’” Raffray said with a laugh.

Raffray said Lily will go for a final round of testing later this month to determine if she is cancer-free.

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Experimental Treatments that Could Help Stop Ebola


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal officials have confirmed that medical teams have given two Ebola-infected nurses from Dallas experimental treatments to help them fight the deadly virus that has already killed 4,555 people, mainly in West Africa.

While testifying before a congressional panel on Thursday, Dr. Luciana Borio, assistant commissioner for counter-terrorism policy for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said “every Ebola patient in the U.S. has been treated with at least one investigational product.”

Two nurses from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas were diagnosed with Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who contracted the disease before arriving in the U.S.

Duncan died on Oct. 8 making him the first person to die from Ebola in the U.S. The ongoing worst-ever Ebola outbreak has pushed doctors and health care officials to search for new or experimental treatments.

Several companies have products in development aimed at combating the virus that can lead to a deadly hemorrhagic fever. Before the outbreak, doctors generally used supportive care, including intravenous fluids and oxygen to help patients.

While every U.S. patient and many patients from European countries have received some kind of experimental treatment, the effectiveness of these treatments remains unclear without more rigorous scientific study.

To better understand how doctors can approach treating the deadly disease, here is a list of some experimental treatments in the works:

Brincidofovir

An antiviral drug called brincidofovir was used to treat Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., and Ashoka Mukpo, an American freelance cameraman who contracted the virus while on assignment in Liberia.

Brincidofovir is a modified version of an existing drug called cidofovir and works by inhibiting the replication of a virus, according to Chimerix, a pharmaceutical company based in North Carolina.

The medication is experimental and before the outbreak had not been tested to combat Ebola in humans or primates, according to Chimerix.

Duncan died on Oct. 8 after being hospitalized at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for over a week. Mukpo was transported from Liberia to the biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical center, where he remains in isolation.

ZMapp

The most well-known of the experimental treatments was used on the first two American health workers to be diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia.

Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were the first humans to be given the drug, which had previously been tested only in primates, according to health officials. The drug is a mix of three synthetic antibodies that can attack the structure of the Ebola virus.

This cocktail of antibodies specifically attack the virus' spike-like protrusions used to invade cells and replicate. It remains unclear whether the drug helped the patients get over their infection due to the small number of people given the drug.

Of the seven people known to have been given ZMapp, five survived the virus.

In August, Mapp Pharmaceuticals announced the supply of ZMapp had been exhausted and that it would take weeks to months to manufacture more of the medication.

ZMab


One component of ZMapp has been used to help infected patients in Spain and Norway fight the virus. Called ZMab, the drug consists of a cocktail of three mouse antibodies developed to fight the virus.

In theory the antibodies will give a patient's immune system a head start against the virus and a chance to create their own antibodies and fight off the virus.

Convalescent Serum

Doctors have also tried an older method of treatment called “convalescent serum,” which involves giving an infected patient plasma from another patient who has recovered. In theory, that surviving patient will have developed antibodies that can help the infected patient fight off the virus.

In the U.S., Brantly has donated plasma to at least three patients, Dr. Rick Sacra, Nina Pham and Mukpo. The serum can also be a limited option since a donor and recipient must have a matching or compatible blood type.

Since Brantly is blood type A , his plasma could not be used to help Duncan, whose blood type was B , according to his family.

While there was no hard evidence that the plasma donation could help a patient with Ebola, Dr. Phillip Smith, who treated Sacra as the head of the biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical Center, said it was a fairly safe procedure and there was a chance it provided Sacra critical time to allow his immune system to fight off the Ebola virus.

"We're hoping it [would] jump-start his immunity. To survive [Ebola] you have to build up enough antibodies to [fight the virus]," Smith told reporters. "We were hoping to buy him some time, to give his immune system time to battle the disease."

TKM-Ebola

The pharmaceutical company Tekmira, based in Canada, was the second experimental Ebola therapy to be used in the U.S. after the ZMapp supply was exhausted.

Sacra was given a dose of the Tekmira drug, TKM-Ebola, when he arrived in Nebraska for treatment earlier this month, doctors said.

Thomas Geisbert, a virologist studying Ebola at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, worked on the production of TKM-Ebola and said that the medication works by targeting a specific region of the virus' genetic material and preventing it from making more copies of itself.

"It interferes with the virus genetic blueprint," Geisbert explained.

The experimental drug, which was partially funded by the Department of Defense's Threat Reduction Agency, was tested extensively in primates and it was approved for phase one of human trials this January by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sarepta's Ebola Anti-Viral Medication

One other option for doctors will be a drug designed by the Massachusetts-based Sarepta Therapeutics.

Chris Garabedian, president and CEO of Sarepta, said the drug works by targeting the protein responsible for replicating the Ebola virus in the host. In primate studies, the survival rate for subjects treated with the medication was between 60 to 80 percent, according to Garabedian. The drug was developed originally due to a contract with the Department of Defense.

However, there are just 25 doses currently ready for immediate use, according to a spokesperson for Sarepta. There is material for another 100 doses, but that material is not yet ready and would take months before it would be ready for use in patients.

Biocryst Pharmaceuticals' BCX4430

One other drug is being developed by a North Carolina-based pharmaceutical company collaborating with the National Institutes of Health.

The antiviral drug BCX4430 could be used to treat different kinds of hemorrhagic fever including Ebola, according to Biocryst Pharmaceuticals.

The Ebola drug attempts to stop the virus by targeting a key enzyme in the virus, according to the company's website.

The drug will start the first phase of human trials later this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Snail Slime Sliding into Skin Care Products


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Just as lipstick contains fish scales, and bird droppings are in spa facials, cosmetics manufacturers are now including snail slime as the latest oddity ingredients.

Making its way from Korea, topical snail gel is forecast to be the newest fad in skin care, says Cindy Kim and Alicia Yoon, co-founders of peachandlily.com, an e-commerce site providing snail gel products to U.S. consumers.

“Snail gel began with the ancient Greeks and was later rediscovered by Chilean farmers who noticed their hands were softer after touching snail secretion,” Yoon says. “Scientists have done a great job discovering the benefits of the filtrate and it has been trending in Korea over the last five to seven years.”

Now that it’s crossing over, U.S. consumers are wondering how the bizarre ingredient makes its way from slithering insects to skin care products. To grab the goop, scientists collect what lab-bred snails leave behind and process it into a powdery substance. This substance is what goes into the manufactured skin care products.

“No snails are hurt in the process,” Kim says.

But as peculiar as it sounds, the benefits of snail gel may outweigh the cringe-factor.

“When people hear ‘snail cream,’ they automatically become grossed out,” Kim says. “But once they open up the jar they smell it, feel it, and discover it’s lightweight and completely different than they thought.”

In addition to a surprisingly pleasant texture, snail secretion filtrate contains natural acids and elastin that’ll improve appearance and protect skin from future damage, Kim and Yoon told ABC News.

The extract is also billed as having positive effects on acne scarring, acne prevention, dryness and hyperpigmentation. Daily application of topical products containing snail secretion is also shown to significantly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology.

Researchers gathered 25 participants experiencing moderate to severe facial photodamage. One side of the subjects’ faces were treated with snail secretion, while the other side was treated with a placebo for a 12-week period.

“A significant reduction was noted in fine lines, deep wrinkles, as well as elasticity,” the study concluded. “Dryness and roughness resolved in all patients by day 90 as well.”

Kim cites her customers as evidence of the secretion's effectiveness.

“We’ve gotten a lot of testimonials from customers that have had issues with acne and wrinkles and have seen improvements in their skin’s appearance since using snail gel products,” she says. “It’s been one of our best sellers on the site.”

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The Way You Walk Can Affect Your Mood


iStock/Thinkstock(KINGSTON, Ontario) -- The way you feel can alter the way you walk. There's no huge revelation there. However, a new study out of Queen's University in Ontario suggests that the opposite is true as well, that is, a certain style of walking can also affect one’s mood.

After showing participants a list of positive and negative words, researchers had them walk on a treadmill and manipulated the participants in such a way that they either walked with a bit of a bounce or with shoulders slumped over.

Later, the subjects were told to write down as many words from a list as they could remember.  Invariably, those who walked in a depressed manner compiled mainly negative words, which the researchers took to mean that walking like a sad sack could actually bring down a person’s mood.

Study co-author Nikolaus Troje says that's an indicator of the vicious cycle clinically depressed people often find themselves in, that is, they usually conjure up more bad memories than good ones and consequently that makes them feel even worse.

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People Still Work with the Flu, Even If It Hurts Productivity


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Although Ebola is on everyone’s mind these days, health care professionals contend a more immediate and likely concern is the onset of the flu season.

Staple's Annual Flu Survey says that coming to work sick with the flu is more harmful to job productivity than a security breach, a product issue or even a natural disaster.

Yet, in spite of all the recommendations that people should stay home when they have the flu, six in ten still trudge into work anyway.

The survey revealed that 40 percent come to the office because their workloads are so demanding while about a third say their boss appreciates the fact that they put their job ahead of their health.

However, there are signs that attitudes are changing, albeit, somewhat slowly. The number of those who will work with the flu is actually lower than it’s been in five years. About one in four explain that productivity does go down when workers are sick and just over a third say that their personal productivity when they feel ill is about half of what it normally is.

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Speed Diets Just as Effective as Losing Weight Gradually


Stockbyte/Thinktsock(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- For years, dieters have been warned that if they attempt to lose weight as rapidly as possible, they run the risk of putting the pounds back on just as quickly. The recommended method then is gradual weight loss…or is it?

Researchers at the University of Melbourne say it’s all a myth, claiming they’ve proved it in an experiment involving 200 obese people. Half of the test subjects went on a 36-week weight-loss program, consuming 500 fewer calories daily than their regular diet.  The other half went on a 12-week diet in which they could only eat 450-800 calories daily.

Not surprisingly, 81 percent of those on the rapid-loss weight plan lost 12.5 percent of their total body fat while 50 percent of the participants on the gradual plan shed the same amount.

Afterwards, everyone was put on a three-year weight-maintenance diet. By the end, participants in both groups each regained 71 percent of the body fat they lost.

In an accompanying commentary, the authors wrote, “For weight loss, a slow and steady approach does not win the race, and the myth that rapid weight loss is associated with rapid weight regain is no more true than Aesop's fable.”

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