(RxWiki News) In the fight against Ebola in West Africa, health workers are continually putting themselves at risk to treat infected patients, while pharmaceutical companies work vigorously to find an effective vaccine. Parties on both fronts have hit a stumbling block.
An American nurse has been exposed to the virus while working in an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone. At the same time, researchers in Geneva temporarily halted a clinical trial on an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Merck and NewLink.
Update (12/17/2014): The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said that it is continuing to observe and monitor the nurse. "To date, this person has not tested positive for Ebola virus disease," NIH said in a press statement.
The American nurse has arrived at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Clinical Center in Maryland, according to an NIH statement. He or she will be monitored and tested for Ebola. If Ebola is confirmed, the nurse will become the fifth patient diagnosed with Ebola in the US.
In a press statement, the NIH said its clinical studies unit is designed to provide high-level isolation capabilities and is staffed by specialists in infectious diseases and critical care.
The NIH center previously treated Texas nurse Nina Pham after she contracted Ebola. It is one of the 35 hospitals designated as Ebola treatment centers in the US.
“NIH is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our patients, NIH staff, and the public,” the NIH said. “This situation presents minimal risk to any of them.”
The clinical trial in Geneva was suspended after four patients complained of joint pain, Reuters reports.
The University of Geneva Hospital said that all of the patients are fine and being monitored by the medical team leading the study.
“The Geneva team has decided to allow time to understand what is happening,” the team said, according to Reuters. “This precaution of momentarily suspending the trial is usual and classic in all clinical trials.”
The Ebola virus — which causes Ebola virus disease — spreads through the blood or other infected bodily fluids of patients. Patients can only spread the virus if they are showing symptoms. Symptoms include high fever, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding.