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Latest News: French developer of 'peanut allergy patch' makes U.S. debut

By Noëlle Mennella and Natalie Huet

PARIS (Reuters) - French biotech firm DBV Technologies - developer of what it says is a breakthrough treatment for peanut allergy sufferers - makes its U.S. market debut on Wednesday, with a Nasdaq listing set to raise funds for further research.

The Paris-listed company, which develops immunotherapy patches for patients with potentially fatal food allergies, is issuing 2.67 million new shares worldwide via a U.S. listing and a private placement which together will raise at least 90 million euros (70.9 million pounds).

"This fundraising will enable us to significantly strengthen our structures in France, notably in research and development," Chief Executive Pierre-Henri Benhamou told Reuters in an interview earlier this week.

DBV also develops patches for milk and dust mite allergies, but its "Viaskin Peanut" product is the most advanced and represents up to 75 percent of the company's potential value, according to some analysts.

Benhamou believes the product could be a blockbuster with over $1 billion in global sales. Around three million people suffer from peanut allergy in the United States alone, where the average consumer eats over six pounds of peanut products a year, mainly in the form of a wildly popular spread - peanut butter.

DBV's desensitization patch administers small amounts of peanut allergens into the outer layers of the skin, where it activates the immune system without bringing the antigen into the bloodstream, as that could cause an allergic shock.

Following encouraging mid-stage clinical results, DBV hopes to start Phase III clinical trials by the first quarter of 2016, for a commercial launch in 2017.

There are currently no such immunotherapy patches on the market and DBV plans to sell the peanut patch on its own, without licensing it to a bigger partner.

The firm says it won't need a big sales force to pitch the product to doctors as there are only several thousand allergy specialists in the United States. "It's really within our reach," said DBV's finance director David Schilansky.

DBV would not comment on the potential price of the patch, which Bryan Garnier & Co's analyst Mathieu Chabert estimates will exceed $3,500 per patient per year.

Founded in 2002, DBV floated on the Paris bourse in 2012. Amid a flurry of acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry, the stock's price has more than tripled so far this year, bringing the biotech's market value to 560 million euros.

Analysts have said it could be a target for bigger companies of the likes of Stallergenes, Sanofi, Merck and Mylan.

"There is a lot of interest in DBV," Benhamou said.

Paris-based venture capital firm Sofinnova and state bank BPI each own around 18 percent of DBV's capital. The majority of the remaining shares are held by U.S. investors.

(Writing by Natalie Huet; Editing by Clara Ferreira Marques)

Latest News: Ebola airport checks expand; nurses get training

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government is closing a gap in Ebola screening at airports while states from New York to Texas to California work to get hospitals and nurses ready in case another patient turns up somewhere in the U.S. with the deadly disease.

Under the rule going into effect Wednesday, air travelers from the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea must enter the United States through one of five airports doing special screenings and fever checks for Ebola. A handful of people had been arriving at other airports and missing the checks.

A total of 562 air travelers have been checked in the screenings that started Oct. 11 at New York's Kennedy airport and expanded to four others last week, Homeland Security officials said. Four were taken from Washington's Dulles airport to a local hospital. None had Ebola.

The other airports are Newark's Liberty, Chicago's O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson.

The tightened rules for West African travelers come as Rwanda — an Ebola-free country in East Africa — said it would begin checking visiting Americans for the disease because of the three cases that occurred in the U.S.

The Obama administration has been under increasing pressure from lawmakers and the public to ban travel from the three hardest-hit West African nations. President Barack Obama says such a ban could make the situation in those countries worse and make it harder for foreign doctors and aid workers to bring the outbreak under control.

There are no direct flights from the three nations into the U.S.; about 150 fliers per day arrive by various multi-leg routes. About 6 percent of them were coming through airports that don't have the new Ebola screening, federal officials said.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said with the change, "we currently have in place measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the United States who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days."

Homeland Security officials at the airports use no-touch thermometers to check for fever, which can be a symptom of Ebola infection. People who have been infected with the virus may not develop a fever and illness for up to 21 days.

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry designated two special Ebola treatment units to take any future patients in his state, site of the only three cases diagnosed in the United States during this outbreak. They were a man from Liberia infected before he came to the U.S. and two of the nurses who treated him at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. That hospital wasn't chosen as a future Ebola center to grant staff members some relief, Perry said. Dozens of the hospital's employees are still being monitored in case they, too, were infected.

Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County's top administrator, said staff members at the Dallas hospital are tired, with "a wealth of emotions going on."

"It would be inhumane and not in their best interest, nor in anyone else's best interest, for them to be directed or forced into continuing," Jenkins said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines Monday to better protect health care workers. CDC officials demonstrated the recommended techniques Tuesday at a training session for several thousand health care workers in New York City.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the health care workers there to also use their training to educate their families and communities about Ebola.

"Keep the anxiety down," he said. "Keep the fear down."

The new guidelines call for full-body garb and hoods to protect health care workers' necks; rigorous rules for removal of equipment and disinfection of hands; and a "site manager" to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment. The CDC cannot require hospitals to follow the guidance; it's merely official advice.

In California, nurses met with Gov. Jerry Brown to seek better protective gear.

"We hope to God that it never comes to California," said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the state's largest nurses' union and National Nurses United. "But if it does, we want to make sure our nurses have every safeguard."

The mother of Amber Vinson, one of the sick nurses, said her daughter is "doing OK, just trying to get stronger" at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Debra Berry said she was glad about the new rules, even though they came too late to help her daughter and fellow Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who is being treated at the National Institutes of Health outside Washington. Pham's condition has been upgraded from fair to good, the NIH said late Tuesday.


Associated Press writers Mike Stobbe in New York and Emily Schmall in Dallas contributed to this report.

Latest News: VIDEO: GP explains dementia payments

Family doctors in England are to be paid £55 every time they diagnose a case of dementia, NHS England has said.

NHS chiefs said the aim was to increase the number of sufferers who receive treatment for the condition, which causes a decline in brain function.

But the Patients Association called it "a step too far" that would mean a "bounty on the head" of some patients.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Dr Brian Hope explained that incentive payments of this kind are not uncommon.

Latest News: Study finds drugs still in recalled supplements

CHICAGO (AP) — Dietary supplements containing potentially dangerous prescription drug ingredients may still be for sale even years after safety recalls, a study found.

In supplements bought online, researchers detected hidden steroids, similar ingredients to Viagra and Prozac and a weight loss drug linked with heart attacks.

They tested 27 products promising big muscles, sexual prowess, weight loss and more. Of those, 18 contained ingredients not approved for over-the-counter use; 17 still had the same drug that prompted the recalls.

Manufacturers are putting profit ahead of consumer health, but lax oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is contributing to the problem, said lead author Dr. Pieter Cohen, an internist and researcher at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Boston-area health care system.

The tested supplements were recalled by manufacturers after FDA raised concerns about drugs in their products. This type of recall is usually voluntary, involving products that could potentially cause serious health problems and even death. The FDA's role includes assessing whether recalls successfully remove potentially unsafe products from the market.

"There should be significant legal and financial consequences for manufacturers who the FDA finds to be continuing to sell these spiked supplements," Cohen said.

Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements don't need FDA approval before they are marketed. Still, their labels must list all ingredients and manufacturers are not allowed to sell products that are "adulterated or misbranded," the agency's website say

The study was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors say laws that increase FDA's enforcement powers may be needed to fix the problem.

In response to the study, the FDA said it has issued hundreds of consumer alerts warning about tainted products, sent warning letters to supplement makers "and pursued civil and criminal enforcement" against those illegally marketed products. Deterring manufacturers is sometimes challenging because they are often difficult to locate and some are overseas, the agency said.

The researchers bought 27 of the 274 supplements recalled from 2009 to 2012. The products were purchased in summer 2013 from manufacturers' websites or other online retailers. An Oregon research laboratory tested them. Whether any consumers were harmed by using the tainted supplements was beyond the study's scope.

Among the 27 products:

—Six weight loss supplements contained sibutramine or a substance similar to the diet drug removed from the U.S. market in 2010 after it was linked with heart attacks and strokes. Two also contained the active ingredient in Prozac.

—Ten body-building supplements contained anabolic steroids or related compounds, which have been linked with side effects including prostate cancer, aggression and infertility.

—One sexual enhancement product contained sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, which is not recommended for those taking some heart medicines.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a supplements trade group, said it encourages federal regulators to crack down on "rogue" companies.

"Unapproved or adulterated drugs' masquerading as lawful supplements is a threat to public health and to consumer confidence in the supplement industry," Scott Melville, the association's president and CEO, said in an emailed statement.






AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at

Latest News: Red Cross official: 6 months to contain Ebola
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Latest News: VIDEO: GPs to get £55 for dementia diagnoses

Family doctors in England are to receive £55 every time they diagnose a case of dementia, NHS England has said.

NHS chiefs said the aim was to increase the number of sufferers who receive treatment for the condition, which causes a decline in brain function.

But the Patients Association called it "a step too far" that would mean a "bounty on the head" of some patients.

Sarah-Jane Bungay reports.

Latest News: Insight - U.S. government probes medical devices for possible cyber flaws

By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is investigating about two dozen cases of suspected cybersecurity flaws in medical devices and hospital equipment that officials fear could be exploited by hackers, a senior official at the agency told Reuters.

The products under review by the agency's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, or ICS-CERT, include an infusion pump from Hospira Inc and implantable heart devices from Medtronic Inc and St Jude Medical Inc, according to other people familiar with the cases, who asked not to be identified because the probes are confidential.

These people said they do not know of any instances of hackers attacking patients through these devices, so the cyber threat should not be overstated. Still, the agency is concerned that malicious actors may try to gain control of the devices remotely and create problems, such as instructing an infusion pump to overdose a patient with drugs, or forcing a heart implant to deliver a deadly jolt of electricity, the sources said.

The senior DHS official said the agency is working with manufacturers to identify and repair software coding bugs and other vulnerabilities that hackers can potentially use to expose confidential data or attack hospital equipment. He declined to name the companies.

"These are the things that shows like 'Homeland' are built from," said the official, referring to the U.S. television spy drama in which the fictional vice president of the United States is killed by a cyber attack on his pacemaker.

"It isn't out of the realm of the possible to cause severe injury or death," said the official, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitive nature of his work.

Hospira, Medtronic and St Jude Medical declined to comment on the DHS investigations. All three companies said they take cybersecurity seriously and have made changes to improve product safety, but declined to give details.


ICS-CERT's mandate is to help protect critical U.S. infrastructure from cyber threats, whether they are introduced through human error, virus infections, or through attacks by criminals or extremists.

According to the senior DHS official, the agency started examining healthcare equipment about two years ago, when cybersecurity researchers were becoming more interested in medical devices that increasingly contained computer chips, software, wireless technology and Internet connectivity, making them more susceptible to hacking.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the sale of medical devices, recently released guidelines for manufacturers and healthcare providers to better secure medical devices and is holding its first public conference on the topic this week.

"The conventional wisdom in the past was that products only had to be protected from unintentional threats. Now they also have to be protected from intentional threats too," said William Maisel, chief scientist at the FDA's Centre for Devices and Radiological Health. He declined to comment on the DHS reviews.

The senior DHS official said the two dozen cases currently under investigation cover a wide range of equipment, including medical imaging equipment and hospital networking systems. A DHS review does not imply the government thinks a company has done anything wrong - it means the agency is looking into a suspected vulnerability to try to help rectify it.

One of the cases involves an alleged vulnerability in a type of infusion pump, a piece of hospital equipment that delivers medication directly into a patient's bloodstream. Private cybersecurity researcher Billy Rios said he discovered the alleged bug but declined to identify the manufacturer of the pump. Two people familiar with his research said the manufacturer was Hospira.

    Rios said he wrote a program that could remotely force multiple pumps to dose patients with potentially lethal amounts of drugs. He submitted his analysis to the DHS.

    "This is a issue that is going to be extremely difficult to patch," said Rios, a former Marine platoon commander who has worked for several Silicon Valley technology firms and recently founded security startup Laconicly.

    Reuters was not able to independently review his research or identify the type of pump Rios studied from Hospira's line, which includes multiple models.

Hospira spokeswoman Tareta Adams, while declining to comment on specifics, said the company is working to improve the security of its products.

"Hospira has implemented software adjustments, distributed customer communications and made a commitment to evaluate other changes going forward, while ensuring we are not adversely impacting the ability of our devices to meet hospital and patient needs, and maintain compliance with FDA product requirements," Adams said in the statement.


Hospital security officers say there is increasing awareness about cyber threats, and medical centres around the country have been shoring up networks to better defend against hackers.

At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, all medical devices will soon need to be tested to make sure they meet security standards before they can be put on the hospital's network, according to Lessley Stoltenberg, the centre's chief information security officer.

"I'm pretty concerned," said Stoltenberg. "Coming out of the block, medical devices don't really have security built into them."

The DHS is also reviewing suspected vulnerabilities in implantable heart devices from Medtronic and St Jude Medical, according to two people familiar with the matter.

They said the probe was based in part on research by Barnaby Jack, a well-known hacker who died in July 2013. Jack had said he could hack into wireless communications systems that link implanted pacemakers and defibrillators with bedside monitors.

Medtronic spokeswoman Marie Yarroll said in an email that the company has "made changes to enhance the security" of its implantable cardiac devices, but declined to give specifics "in the interest of patient safety."

St. Jude Medical spokeswoman Candace Steele Flippin also declined to discuss specific products but said the company has "an ongoing program to perform extensive security testing on our medical devices and networked equipment. If a risk is identified, we will issue patches for any known issues."


Experts said it is important that security vulnerabilities in medical devices are exposed so manufacturers can fix them, but many said there was no need for patients to panic.

"It's very easy to sort of sensationalize these problems," said Kevin Fu, who runs the Archimedes Research Centre for Medical Device Security at the University of Michigan.

Still, worries about cybersecurity have made some individuals wary of medical devices with wireless and Internet connections.

In 2007, then-U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney ordered some of the wireless features to be disabled on his defibrillator due to security concerns. When asked if he would recommend other patients do the same, Cheney said not necessarily.

"You've got to look at all eventualities and do whatever you have to safeguard the capabilities of the individual," Cheney told Reuters on Tuesday. "In terms of how it would affect others, I think the president and vice president are in relatively unique circumstances."

Cyber researcher Jay Radcliffe used to be among the hundreds of thousands of diabetics relying on computerized insulin pumps. He said he stopped using his Medtronic pump after he found that he could hack into its wireless communications system and potentially dump fatal doses of insulin into his body.

"I don't feel safe wearing these devices," said Radcliffe, who works for Rapid7, a security software maker. "It's better for me to stick myself with a needle."

Medtronic said it has made security improvements to its insulin pumps, though the company declined to give specifics.

George Grunberger, who has led the insulin pump management task force of the American Association of Clinical Endocrynologists, said he believes the benefits of pumps far outweigh any cyber risks, so he would not advise patients to follow Radcliffe's example.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Tiffany Wu)

Latest News: GPs to get £55 for dementia diagnoses
Conceptual computer artwork depicting neurology. From left to right: MRI brain scans, 3D dsi white matter brain scan, brain, Alzheimer's brain versus normal brain, MRI brain scan

Related Stories

Family doctors in England are to be paid £55 every time they diagnose a case of dementia, NHS England has said.

NHS chiefs said the aim was to increase the number of sufferers who receive treatment for the condition, which causes a decline in brain function.

But the Patients Association called it "a step too far" that would mean a "bounty on the head" of some patients.

Fewer than half of the 800,000 people in the UK who are estimated to have dementia have been formally diagnosed.

Dementia is an umbrella term used for a collection of symptoms resulting from a number of different diseases of the brain.

There are many types but all tend to affect brain function and cause problems with memory, mental agility, language skills, and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.

'Devastating' condition

Under the scheme, doctors would receive the money for every extra patient given a diagnosis of dementia over a six-month period.

NHS England said it was "not just payment for diagnosis" and GP practices would have to form a detailed plan and show improving diagnosis rates.

Dr Martin McShane, national director for long term conditions at NHS England, said: "Dementia can be devastating both for individuals and their families.

"We know that more needs to be done across the health service to ensure that people living with dementia are identified so that they can get the tailored care and support they need.

"This additional investment is part of a larger range of measures to support GPs in their work tackling dementia."

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How common is dementia?
  • It is predicted there will be around 850,000 people in the UK with dementia in 2015
  • It mainly affects people over the age of 65
  • Approximately one in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia
  • There are more than 40,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 who have dementia

Source: Alzheimer's Society

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But Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said it was "a distortion of good medical practice".

"We know GPs receive incentive payments to find all sorts of conditions, such as high cholesterol, raised blood pressure and diabetes - but this seems a step too far. It is putting a bounty on the head of certain patients," she said.

"Good GPs will be diagnosing their dementia patients already. This seems to be rewarding poor GPs.

"There is an issue of people presenting late with dementia to doctors, but this is not the right way to go about tackling that. If people were given hope that something could be done, that would be the greatest incentive for coming early."

Tailored support

NHS England has already committed to ensuring two thirds of the estimated number of people with dementia are identified and receive high-quality post diagnostic support by 2015 - but has admitted data showed progress towards that target was much lower than expected.

Health chiefs have identified a gap of around 90,000 patients - an average of 12 per practice - who could benefit from a more timely diagnosis, for which an additional £5m has been made available to boost existing work to identify people with dementia so tailored support can be put in place.

The money is on top of an existing scheme launched last year, costing £42m nationally and involving 85% of GP practices, while there is also a further £31m in incentives already offered to family doctors for the care of patients after they have been diagnosed.

Latest News: Bitter lessons from old Ebola frontline in Uganda

In Ebola-hit communities in west Africa, hope of stopping the deadly virus may seem far away at times.

But across the continent in Uganda, villagers who survived an outbreak two years ago describe how after the loss, the rebuilding of communities is tough and painful -- but possible.

When Sabiti Mugerwa's family became the only ones in their village to fall sick with a mysterious disease in October 2012, they blamed it on malaria -- or witchcraft.

"We would give him tablets and he'd be okay, but after five minutes he'd start shivering again like the malaria was hitting him badly," remembered Mugerwa, 30, of his older brother Muhamad.

Today he sits in the small one bedroom brick house belonging to his parents in Bombo, some 75 kilometres (50 miles) north of the capital Kampala.

The property, which has a poster stuck to the wall reading "Our house is protected with the blood of Jesus", is the same home where Muhamad, 35, an energetic motorbike taxi driver returned feeling feverish.

A week later and after vomiting blood, he died in hospital. The cause of his death was still unknown to his close-knit family when they buried him a day later.

Then Muhamad's widow Halima, as well as Sabiti's wife Rehema and sister Gladys also fell sick, and were rushed to the clinic.

It was Rehema's bleeding "through the nose, the ears, mouth, everywhere" that alerted doctors that they weren't dealing with malaria, said Mugerwa.

All three died, and Mugerwa was taken to hospital in the capital, where he was diagnosed with Ebola.

The disease had killed 224 people in northern Uganda in 2000. About three months earlier, another outbreak in Kibaale, western Uganda, killed 17.

"Sometimes we would think this is a government story, just lying - until it affected us," he said.

- 'Happy I'm a survivor' -

When he himself contracted the viral hemorrhagic fever all Mugerwa could think was "this is it."

"I knew I would never survive," he said, adding that he "gave up".

After more than three weeks in hospital, Mugerwa was released and went to live with his parents.

His mother, who'd given birth to six children, suddenly had to care for six grandchildren aged between three and 10.

"I don't have anything I can say," she said, sitting on the dirt floor of her home. She calls Ebola simply "the tragedy".

"I'll never forget about it," she said.

Her son meanwhile is ultimately "happy I'm a survivor" but life has not been the same since.

Once home recovering, concerned friends flocked to the family home but "they wouldn't come close."

Today they're no longer afraid, but the family is still called "Ebola" by neighbours. Mugerwa brushes it off as "a joke".

Before contracting the disease, he was a bricklayer who could make up to 500 bricks a day and also rode a motorbike taxi, earning almost 20 dollars on a good day.

"Life was okay," said Mugerwa.

But after contracting the disease Mugerwa was forced to sell his motorbike to pay for his transport to hospital, for medicine and to support his family.

Today he still gets tired easily, but when he has some energy, he digs in his garden to put food on the table for his family and pay the school fees. When he struggles, his mother also digs.

Before Ebola there was AIDS in his family, said Mugerwa.

"I'd very much prefer to get infected with AIDS than Ebola," he said. "You have another chance of living with AIDS but Ebola finishes you."

In west Africa, more than 4,500 people have died this year, the largest Ebola epidemic in history.

"I feel really sorry for them, but I don't have anything I can do for them," said Mugerwa, speaking of people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea.

Latest News: Two cured in US, Spain, as Ebola crisis widens

A US photojournalist joined a Spanish nurse in being declared free of Ebola on Tuesday, as the United States tightened restrictions on travelers from the West African countries at the epicenter of the outbreak.

And in West Africa, medical charity MSF, at the forefront of the Ebola fight, announced Tuesday it had saved a 1,000th patient from the deadly virus.

The survivor stories, however, came as cases continued to soar in West Africa, where more than 4,500 people have died. The epidemic, which is proving fatal in 70 percent of cases, is already the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Experts warn the infection rate could reach 10,000 a week by early December,

The hemorrhagic fever, for which there is no licensed vaccine or cure, has hit hardest in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but several isolated cases among health workers in Spain and the United States raised fears of the epidemic spreading globally.

The World Health Organization said Tuesday it would probe complaints that it had been slow to wake up to the scale of Ebola, but insisted the focus now must be on battling the epidemic.

"We believe in the virtue of transparency and accountability. WHO will do that, but in the future. Now our focus is on the response," she told reporters in Geneva.

Critics have questioned why WHO only declared an international health emergency in August, eight months after the epidemic began in Guinea.

- US tightens travel restrictions -

The recovery of Ashoka Mukpo, the US freelance cameraman who fell ill in Liberia, may slightly ease concerns in the United States, but authorities are also responding to public pressure with stricter controls for travelers from affected countries.

One Liberian with Ebola arrived in Dallas, Texas and infected at least two US health workers before dying, piling pressure on President Barack Obama's government to impose a flight ban.

New measures will go into effect Wednesday that will see passengers arriving in the United States from the worst-affected three West African countries funneled into five airports with extra health checks.

There are no direct scheduled flights to the United States from the three countries at the heart of the Ebola epidemic, but travelers from the region can transfer through African and European hubs.

However, a number of US lawmakers from both parties insisted the measures did not go far enough. They sought a suspension of visas from the three hardest hit countries, and some urging a 21-day quarantine for Americans exposed to Ebola.

"Containment is the key to stopping the spread of this highly contagious and deadly disease," said a group of 16 lawmakers who have worked as doctors or nurses in a letter to Obama.

Obama has urged against Ebola "hysteria" and cited experts saying a travel ban would be counterproductive.

Travelers from affected regions would simply change their travel plans to evade screening, he said, making Ebola even harder to track.

He is due to meet with his newly named Ebola response coordinator, Ron Klain, on Wednesday.

- 'Happy to be alive' -

Mukpo, who was working for NBC News in Monrovia, Liberia when he fell ill, will go home from the hospital on Wednesday.

In a statement, the 33-year-old American said he was humbled by his recovery.

"Too many are not as fortunate and lucky as I've been. I'm very happy to be alive."

Eight people including Mukpo have or are being treated for Ebola in the United States, one of whom, a man from Liberia, has died.

Two nurses, infected while treating the Liberian man, remain hospitalized, but the National Institutes of Health said one, Nina Pham, is faring better, with her status "upgraded from fair to good."

Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, which is treating the second nurse, Amber Vinson so far has not given an update on her condition.

In Spain, the nurse who was the first person to catch Ebola outside Africa has also been cured, doctors said Tuesday.

Teresa Romero, 44, was one of the nursing staff at the Carlos III hospital who treated two elderly Spanish missionaries who caught the disease in Africa and died in Madrid in August and September.

And in Liberia, Medecin Sans Frontiers (MSF-Doctors Without Borders) said 18-year-old Kollie James, was, "out of all the patients cared for in MSF?s projects in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, ... the one thousandth survivor."

James's father Alexander, who worked as a health officer for MSF, said he had lost his wife, two daughters and a brother to the killer disease.

"Of course, I am so happy to have Kollie still, but it?s hard not to think of all those who are no longer with us," he said.

Latest News: U.S. to funnel travelers from Ebola-hit region through five airports

By Jeffrey Dastin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States ratcheted up its safeguards against Ebola on Tuesday, requiring travelers from three countries at the center of an epidemic in West Africa to fly into one of five major airports conducting enhanced screening for the virus.

Restrictions on passengers whose trips originated in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea were announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and due to go into effect on Wednesday. The precautions stop well short of the travel ban sought by some U.S. lawmakers to prevent more Ebola cases in the United States.

Affected travelers will have their temperatures checked for signs of a fever that may indicate Ebola infection, among other protocols, at New York's John F. Kennedy, New Jersey's Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta, and Chicago's O'Hare international airports, officials said.

"We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. "If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed."

Johnson said those airports account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from the three countries, noting that there are no direct, nonstop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to the United States.

"We currently have in place measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the United States who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days," Johnson said.

Washington-based trade group Airlines for America, or A4A, noted that under 150 people per day travel to the United States from those three countries and about 6 percent of them, some nine people daily, have been arriving at airports other than the five airports with enhanced Ebola screening.

The group's member airlines are "cooperating fully" with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to reroute that 6 percent of travelers to the five designated airports, A4A spokeswoman Jean Medina said.

The subject of travel measures may come up in White House discussions on Wednesday when President Barack Obama and his senior advisers meet for the first time with his newly appointed Ebola "czar," Ron Klain.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Obama is "not philosophically opposed to a travel ban" on West Africa, and remains "open to it" if the scientists and public health experts advising him say it would help protect Americans. Earnest said those advising the president currently oppose such a ban.

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Only three Ebola cases have been diagnosed in the United States: Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, who died on Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, and two nurses who treated him.

On Tuesday, the U.S. National Institutes of Health outside Washington, D.C., upgraded the medical condition of one of the nurses, Nina Pham, to good from fair. She entered a special NIH facility in Bethesda, Maryland, for treatment last Thursday.

The other nurse, Amber Vinson, is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Vinson's mother, Debra Berry, told ABC's "Good Morning America" program her daughter is weak but recovering.

NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, who contracted Ebola while working in West Africa, is free of the virus and will leave the Nebraska Medical Center on Wednesday, the hospital said. Mukpo arrived in the United States on Oct. 6 for treatment.

He is the second patient to be successfully treated for Ebola at the Nebraska Medical Center, the hospital said on Tuesday, and the fifth treated in the United States to fully recover.

“Recovering from Ebola is a truly humbling feeling,” Mukpo said in a statement. “Too many are not as fortunate and lucky as I've been. I'm very happy to be alive.”

“I was around a lot of sick people the week before I got sick,” said Mukpo, the first U.S. journalist known to have contracted Ebola. “I thought I was keeping a good distance and wish I knew exactly what went wrong.”


A Reuters/Ipsos online poll released on Tuesday showed that nearly three-fourths of 1,602 Americans surveyed favored a U.S. ban on civilian air travel in and out of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In Washington, some lawmakers welcomed the government's new steps while others said more needed to be done.

Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York called the Department of Homeland Security move "a good and effective step towards tightening the net and further protecting our citizens."

Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who heads the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, said Obama needs to impose a travel ban.

“President Obama has a real solution at his disposal under current law and can use it at any time to temporarily ban foreign nationals from entering the United States from Ebola-ravaged countries," Goodlatte said.

Airlines for America official Vaughn Jennings said the group opposes a travel ban. "We agree with the White House that discussions of flight bans are not necessary and actually impede efforts to stop the disease in its tracks in West Africa," Jennings said.

On Tuesday, the Dominican Republic became the latest country to impose a travel ban on foreigners who have visited Ebola-affected countries in the previous 30 days.

Concerns that Americans might fall victim to scams because of fear about Ebola prompted a warning from New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman about bogus Ebola preparedness kits and preventative medications.

There are no U.S. government-approved vaccines, medications or dietary supplements to prevent or treat Ebola.

In Texas, 60 people have been removed from watch lists after showing no Ebola symptoms in 21 days of monitoring, with 112 more people still being monitored for possible exposure, federal health officials said.

(Additional reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti and Susan Heavey in Washington, Sharon Begley and Michele Gershberg in New York, Jon Herskovitz in Dallas, Manuel Jimenez in Santo Domingo, Domican Republic; Writing by Will Dunham, Steve Gorman; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Toni Reinhold and Lisa Shumaker)

Latest News: Cuban response to Ebola outbreak helps thaw relations with US

Cuba's contribution of hundreds of doctors and nurses to fight Ebola puts the island at the forefront of the international response and is even thawing relations with a sworn enemy the United States.

Despite its small population and strapped economy, Cuba has sent 165 medical professionals to Sierra Leone, a larger contingent than most Western countries.

A further 91 Cuban doctors and nurses are to begin work shortly in Liberia and Guinea, and Cuba has pledged to send more than 200 others.

The island's response to the epidemic, which has killed more than 4,500 people in west Africa, has won plaudits from humanitarian workers who say the international community's reaction has otherwise been lacking.

"The international response has been slow.... The virus is spreading faster than we're all setting up," said Sean Casey, director of the International Medical Corps' emergency response team in Liberia, where Cuban advance teams have been laying the groundwork for the new medical team's arrival.

"It's good that the Cubans are coming. We need more countries to step up," he told AFP.

Cuba's contribution has also won plaudits on the international stage -- even in the United States, where Cold War bitterness toward the island still lingers, more than 50 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the severing of diplomatic ties.

US Secretary of State John Kerry paid Cuba a rare compliment last week, singling out the country for its "impressive" response to Ebola.

Kerry, whose country has pledged 4,000 troops to combat the disease -- by far the largest international contingent -- pleaded for greater mobilization against the epidemic.

"Cuba, a country of just 11 million people, has sent 165 health professionals and it plans to send nearly 300 more," he told foreign diplomats in Washington.

A New York Times editorial Sunday praised the island's "impressive role," calling the Cuban doctors "an urgent reminder... that the benefits of moving swiftly to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba far outweigh the drawbacks."

And on Tuesday, the United States welcomed having the chance to cooperate with its old Cold War rival Cuba in the fight against Ebola, a State Department source told AFP in Washington.

"We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Cuba to confront the Ebola outbreak. Cuba is making significant contributions by sending hundreds of health workers to Africa," the source told AFP.

"In that spirit, the US Department of State is communicating with all members of the international community, including Cuba, involved in this global effort through multilateral channels such as the World Health Organization, as well as diplomatic briefings," the source said.

These rare displays of warmth have been reciprocated on the Cuban side.

Fidel Castro, the retired father of the island's communist revolution, said Cuba "will gladly cooperate with American personnel" on Ebola, in an article published in state media Saturday.

His brother Raul, who succeeded him as president in 2006, echoed the sentiment at a regional Ebola summit Monday in Havana, the first of its kind in Latin America.

- Lab-coat army -

Cuba has long used medical diplomacy to fight US efforts to label it a pariah on the international stage.

The country prizes its universal health care system and, since 1960, has sent 135,000 health workers overseas for emergency response or to work in underserved communities.

Cuba currently has some 50,000 doctors and nurses working in 66 countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia, according to the health ministry.

The doctors have also become a key source of billions of dollars a year in revenue for the Americas' only communist regime, since 2004, when Havana began charging host governments for their services.

The Ebola crisis has underlined Cuba's outsized role in humanitarian response.

Most donor countries have responded to the Ebola outbreak with cash and supplies but have been reluctant to send in personnel, leaving the work on the ground to the World Health Organization and humanitarian groups such as Doctors Without Borders.

Diane Griffin, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, said more qualified staff were needed.

"You just need more people on the ground to control this," she told AFP.

"We need more people to man isolation facilities and monitor people. And also just educate people and inform them.

"We need lots of people for lots of different jobs and the health infrastructure in these countries is very weak.... Plus there have been a high number of fatalities among local health workers."

Andy Gleadle, a humanitarian worker at International Medical Corps who has just returned from Sierra Leone, praised the Cubans' work there and said it was unfortunate more English-speaking countries had not sent doctors.

"In an ideal world we want English-speaking health workers," he said, for the delicate tasks of treating frightened patients through the barrier of full-body protective suits and explaining to villagers why they have to suspend their tradition of laying hands on the dead.

But, he added, "right now it's all hands on deck. Issues like nationality and language are almost reaching a secondary level of importance. It's getting enough health workers in to be able to curtail the virus."

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