BRIEFING: Ebola – contagion, containment and treatment

The West African Ebola epidemic isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. The latest WHO report lists over 10,000 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths from the disease, with rates still on the rise. 

File:Ebola virus particles.jpgThe Science Media Centre assembled a panel of experts — including a live update from a Kiwi scientist currently visiting the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta — to provide a comprehensive overview of issues media are likely to be covering in the coming months as this global health crisis continues to develop.

You can review the briefing here.



  • Prof John Crump, McKinlay Professor of Global Health, University of Otago
  • Dr Colin McArthur, Intensive care specialist, Auckland DHB
  • Dr Fabrice Merien, Senior Lecturer in Immunology, AUT University
  • Dr David Hayman, Senior Lecturer, Molecular Epidemiology and Public Health Lab (mEpiLab), Massey University

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, and Dr Don Mackie, Chief Medical Officer – Clinical Leadership, Protection and Regulation, Ministry of Health, were also present at the briefing to answer queries about New Zealand and Ebola.

This briefing tackled questions such as answer questions like:

  • What is the latest on the global situation?
  • Hospital care – what is best practice when someone presents with symptoms?
  • What medical care can be provided in the absence of an effective treatment?
  • What factors contribute to survival rates?
  • What are the origins of the current outbreak, and why has it spread?
  • Can the virus mutate to become more contagious?
  • What experimental treatments are under consideration?
  • How far away is a vaccine?