Research predicts possible 6,800 new Ebola cases this month


September 19, 2014

New research published in the online journal PLoS Outbreaks predicts new Ebola cases could reach 6,800 in West Africa by the end of the month if new control measures are not enacted.

Arizona State University and Harvard University researchers also discovered through modeling analysis that the rate of rise in cases significantly increased in August in Liberia and Guinea, around the time that a mass quarantine was put in place, indicating that the mass quarantine efforts may have made the outbreak worse than it would have been otherwise. Estimated rates of exponential rise from piecewise exponential fits Download Full Image

Deteriorating living and hygiene conditions in some of the quarantined areas sparked riots last month. Sierra Leone began a three day country-wide quarantine today, where all citizens have been asked to stay at home, said Sherry Towers, research professor for the ASU Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center (MCMSC) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“There may be other reasons for the worsening of the outbreak spread, including the possibility that the virus has become more transmissible, but it’s also possible that the quarantine control efforts actually made the outbreak spread more quickly by crowding people together in unsanitary conditions,” Towers said.

The study, “Temporal variations in the effective reproduction number of the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak,” is authored by Towers, Oscar Patterson-Lomba of the Harvard School of Public Health and Carlos Castillo-Chavez, ASU Regent’s professor and MCMSC executive director.

Researchers assessed whether or not attempted control efforts are effective in curbing the ongoing West African Ebola outbreak that has spread over a large geographic area, causing thousands of infections and deaths. Because the outbreak has spread to densely populated areas, the risk of international spread is increased. Also compounding the problem is a lack of resources for effective quarantine and isolation in the under-developed countries that have been affected, and the high mobility of the population in a region with porous borders, according to the study.

“No licensed vaccine or specific treatment for the disease is currently available. This leaves improved hygiene, quarantine, isolation and social distancing as the only potential interventions,” Castillo-Chavez said.Improved control measures must be put into place.” On Sept. 16, President Obama announced that 3,000 U.S. troops and medical personnel would be sent to the region to help control the outbreak, he added.

Researchers examined the current outbreak data for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia through statistical research methods up until Sept. 8, 2014, as estimated by the World Health Organization. The analysis examines the local rates of exponential rise to estimate how the reproduction number of cases appears to be changing over time. Calculations showed a range of 6,800 predicted new cases at the upper end of the spectrum and 4,400 on average. The study was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health.

ASU rededicates building plaque in honor of Vietnam War hero


September 19, 2014

A long-lost plaque honoring the memory of a Vietnam War hero was rededicated during a ceremony on Sept. 19 at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus in Mesa.

The plaque at Sutton Hall, located at the center of campus, adjacent to the Student Union, was remounted to honor the memory of Master Sergeant William C. Sutton, a member of the 37th Air Rescue and Recovery Group who passed away in 1970 on a rescue mission in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. On Nov. 25, 1972, the former Williams Air Force Base named Sutton Hall and four other buildings after enlisted men to honor their memories. Sutton Hall plaque, Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus Download Full Image

The piece of history went missing during the transition of the Williams Air Force Base into the ASU Polytechnic campus. Its whereabouts remained unknown until one day, Keith Sutton, William Sutton’s son, checked his email inbox in April earlier this year.

“I received an email from the auction website Pot of Gold,” he said. “The plaque had been consigned for auction, so it couldn’t be pulled. However, they wanted to see if there was any way they could reunite it with the family.”

Keith Sutton got to work. He made a few phone calls to see if ASU could help. Soon, he received a phone call from Angela Creedon, associate vice president of university affairs.

“Angela called to let me know that ASU will do whatever it takes to return the plaque to the family or its rightful place, whichever the family preferred. We wanted it on the building to help people know whom it's named after,” he said.

With the help of staff member Cathy Panella, ASU was able to place a winning bid, and due to the kindness of the auction house, was able to recover the historical piece without any cost.

William C. Sutton, a Kinston, North Carolina, native, was a three-time recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and other prestigious military honors. He joined the Armed Forces at the age of 17 and served for nearly 17 years in the Army, as well as the Air Force.

The rededication ceremony also coincided with the reunion of pilots from the Williams Field Class of 1969. The event began with remarks by Creedon and Steve Borden, retired Navy Captain and the director of ASU’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center.

“To be here today is not only an honor and a privilege, but also the right thing to do,” said Creedon. “The Polytechnic campus is the expression of ASU’s long-standing, positive relationship with the nation’s military and veterans. We have been recognized as a top military friendly school in the nation, and through the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and other efforts, we are committed to supporting veterans and their families through various programs.”

“The transition of the Williams Air Force Base to the ASU Polytechnic campus has helped us to be socially embedded, one of our missions as a New American University,” said Borden. “It is important to us that we are connected to the community that surrounds us and its values. By rededicating this plaque, we honor an American hero, we honor our veterans, and provide an opportunity to students here to connect to the history of this campus.”

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