Israelis respond to Ebola with preparedness, innovation

As Ebola begins to turn up outside of West Africa, Israelis are working to stem its spread, help infected patients in Africa and boost the production of a promising vaccine.    

On Sunday, JTA reported that travelers to Israel from the Ebola-stricken countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia will be screened for the virus at all border crossings.

Also on Sunday, Ynet reported that Israeli and Palestinian officials were working together to make sure that Ebola does not make its way into Israel or the Palestinian territories.

“This is a global epidemic,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “and we are cooperating with other countries.”

Israel is training both Palestinian Authority and Jordanian crews to combat the virus. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism said that 43,000 Africans have entered Israel in 2014 for Christian pilgrimages.

The international relief organization IsraAid sent emergency workers to Sierra Leone and Liberia in September, providing psychosocial support to caregivers and prevention education to communities.

The Jewish Journal reported this week that IsraAid also plans to bring mobile field hospitals to those countries, and is “likely” to be in West Africa for the next two years.

Scientists working on Ebola treatments may soon be looking to Israeli-owned pharmaceutical company CollPlant, reports the Times of Israel.

The company uses tobacco plants to manufacture human proteins, which are used in Zmapp, the only Ebola treatment on the horizon.

The company’s founder, Oded Shoseyov, is optimistic that CollPlant could assist in curbing the spread of the deadly virus. “We didn’t invent the method, but we have taken it farther than anyone else,” he told the newspaper.

Sources for this news roundup:

Israel, Palestinians to cooperate on preventing local Ebola outbreak
Ynet, October 12, 2014

Israel prepares to fight Ebola in West Africa
Jewish Journal, October 14, 2014

Israel NGO sends team to Sierra Leone to help combat Ebola
JTA, September 25, 2014

Israel to screen arrivals from W. African lands for Ebola
JTA, October 12, 2014

In tech to make Ebola vaccine, Israeli firm was there first
Times of Israel, October 13, 2014