Health & Wellness


Second Texas health worker has tested positive for Ebola

© Reuters
A HazMat worker disinfects the entrance to the residence of a health worker at the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas who has contracted Ebola
Worker who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan flew on US flight from Cleveland the day before she reported Ebola symptoms

A second healthcare worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient in the US to be diagnosed with Ebola, has tested positive for the virus, escalating the challenge for officials battling to contain it in Texas.

The worker, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas, was immediately isolated after reporting a fever on Tuesday. Officials on Wednesday said that more cases were a possibility.

The second infection calls into question the Dallas hospital's ability to protect staff treating Ebola patients, and raises concerns about the quality of the initial response to Duncan's diagnosis by state and federal agencies. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitted before the latest announcement that it should have sent a bigger team to Dallas in the wake of Duncan's diagnosis.

"It may get worse before it gets better," said Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings at a press briefing on Wednesday morning.

The CDC said it was working to confirm of Texas's preliminary examinations on the new patient.

"An additional healthcare worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern, and the CDC has already taken active steps to minimise the risk to healthcare workers and the patient," it said.

Comment: "If you've gotten the impression from reading this article that we will see many more failures in the effort to treat and control the spread of Ebola (whether by incompetence or design, or both) you're not alone."

See: Vast majority of U.S. hospitals not prepared to treat people with Ebola, and the story gets worse

Ebola and its five stages of collapse - what sort of world will it leave in its wake?


Pharmaceutical dumping poses risks to wildlife

Research published Monday finds drugs for treating humans and animals are seeping into wild environments, causing changes in ecosystems

pill fish
The alteration of nature by dumped drugs.
What happens when the drugs used to treat humans and animals are disposed?

Scientific studies published Monday in a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B reveal that pharmaceuticals, when flushed into land and water ecosystems, could pose risks to wildlife, from altering species' behavior to changing fertility rates to death.

Pharmaceuticals can enter wild environments through a variety of routes, including dumping from drug manufacturers, as well as sewage.

"Global pharmaceutical consumption is rising with the growing and aging human population and more intensive food production," writes Kathryn E. Arnold of the University of York in the UK and colleagues. "Recent studies have revealed pharmaceutical residues in a wide range of ecosystems and organisms." Despite the scope of the issue, the effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment are little researched and understood.But in the research series published Monday, scientists uncover a broad spectrum of impacts.

Comment: Once again we are messing with the trajectory of natural evolution as our global society more and more seeks its solutions to human problems through pHARMa. The waterways of industrialized nations are flooded with the "miracles" of modern living. Designed to resist degradation, pharmaceuticals, veterinary and illegal drugs along with detergents, cosmetics, fragrances and sunscreens (not to mention the broad spectrum of industrial wastes) are found anywhere human activity connects to rivers, lakes or coastal waters causing their inhabitants damaged cells, cancer, loss of fertility - be it fish, invertebrates or microscopic life. Landfills also pose similar problems for birds and animals that raid these mountains of human left-overs.

Emerging contaminants are currently unregulated. Thousands of consumer chemicals are on the market with more being developed every day. The way they interact in natural ecosystems is obviously complex. Apparently no one treatment can degrade every compound and too little is being done to solve this problem. The concentrations and ramifications of drug-altering substances in our waterways are only likely to increase unless we find the ways and impetus to revise disposal practices, stem the production of or eliminate unnecessary medications, and clean up the chemical waste to ensure bio-safety for all species. Oddly enough, this just happens to be the best medicine for the survival of humanity as well.


Scheduling psychiatrist appointments is even difficult for people with private Insurance or willing to pay out of pocket

Calling all psychiatrists
© Shutterstock
Scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist is next to impossible.
National data has shown that around two-thirds of primary care physicians struggle with finding outpatient mental health care services for their patients. A recent study conducted by a Harvard research team has revealed that scheduling an appointment with an outpatient psychiatrist is a difficult endeavor no matter if the patient has private insurance or if they are willing to pay out of pocket.

"This study poignantly illustrates how difficult it can be for patients to obtain needed mental health care," Dr. Monica Malowney, formerly at the Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance and now with the Department of Population Health at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., said in a statement. "Insurance companies need to ensure that the lists of providers they offer patients contain accurate phone numbers as well as practices that are actually accepting new patients. How likely is it that a severely depressed person would persevere through so many obstacles?"

Malowney and her colleagues called 360 psychiatrists in the Boston, Chicago, and Houston metropolitan areas posing as patients hoping to set up an appointment. Psychiatrists were listed in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) online database of in-network provides and were located within a 10-mile radius of suburban ZIP codes in each metropolitan area. The BCBS system is the largest health insurance provider in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Texas. Researchers, or "simulated patients," either posed as a patient with BCBS PPO insurance or Medicare, or a patient willing to pay out of pocket.

Doctors Without Borders loses 9 medics to Ebola

ebola virus
© Wikimedia
International aid organization Doctors Without Borders said that 16 of its staff members have been infected with Ebola and nine of them have died.

Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg Tuesday, the head of Doctors Without Borders in South Africa Sharon Ekambaram said medical workers have received inadequate assistance from the international community.

"Where is WHO Africa? Where is the African Union?" said Ekambaram who worked in Sierra Leone from August to September. "We've all heard their promises in the media but have seen very little on the ground."

Four of the organization's medical workers who had just returned from Sierra Leone and Liberia said they were frustrated, "chasing after the curve of the outbreak," according to Jens Pederson, the aid organization's humanitarian affairs adviser.

Comment: Don't miss: Ebola and the five stages of collapse - what sort of world will it leave in its wake?


NIH Director blames 'budget cuts' for lack of an Ebola vaccine

Francis Collins
Francis Collins
The head of the National Institute of Health (NIH) is blaming budget cuts for the current Ebola epidemic, claiming that a vaccine would have developed if the NIH's budget hadn't been stagnant for the past decade, the Huffington Post reports. Dr. Francis Collins told the Post that the "NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It's not like we suddenly woke up and thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here.'"

When asked why his organization didn't have "something ready," he replied, "frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready."

Instead, as the Ebola epidemic spreads, the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must focus on developing a therapeutic regimen - like the Canadian-developed ZMapp - to treat individuals only after they are infected. Collins said that even the therapeutic route is problematic at this time, as it will be extremely difficult to produce an adequate supply of the experimental antibody cocktail by December.
Magic Wand

Moderate levels of 'free radicals' found beneficial to healing wounds

© Suhong Xu, UC San Diego
Increased levels of free radicals were found to speed the healing of wounds in the laboratory roundworm C. elegans.
Long assumed to be destructive to tissues and cells, "free radicals" generated by the cell's mitochondria - the energy producing structures in the cell - are actually beneficial to healing wounds.

That's the conclusion of biologists at UC San Diego who discovered that "reactive oxygen species" - chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen, such as peroxides, commonly referred to as free radicals - are necessary for the proper healing of skin wounds in the laboratory roundworm C. elegans.

In a paper published in the October 13 issue of the journal Developmental Cell, the researchers found that free radicals generated in the mitochondria not only are necessary for skin wound healing, but that increased levels of reactive oxygen species, or ROS, can actually make wounds heal faster.

Tend to your inner garden - Why your gut flora may be making you sick

Over the last 100 years, with the industrialization of our food supply, our diet has changed dramatically. This highly processed, high-sugar, high-fat, low-fiber diet has substantially altered our gut bacteria, contributing to the epidemic I call diabesity.

The food we eat not only feeds our fat cells, but also determines what kind of inner garden we are growing in our guts. This garden is filled with bugs that determine more about your health and your emotional and mental wellbeing than you ever imagined! Getting your gut bacteria healthy is one of the most important things you can do to get and stay healthy. If your bacteria are sick, so are you!

Your gut wall houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system. You might not attribute digestive problems with allergies, arthritis, autoimmune diseases (irritable bowel syndrome, acne, chronic fatigue), mood disorders, autism, dementia, and cancer. Many diseases seemingly unrelated are actually caused by gut problems.

If you want to fix your health, start with your gut. Gut health literally affects your entire body.

Consider the important jobs your gut performs regularly, including breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, keeping out toxins, and producing nutrients. That's a lot of work! For optimal immunity, detoxification, and nourishment, your gut must function seamlessly.

Comment: Learn more about the fascinating world of the microbiome:

Evil Rays

BioSurveillance: Tracking your Preschooler's health

© activist post
University of Michigan research shows web-based system could help improve detection and response to spread of illnesses.

There is growing trend toward the use of "biosurveillance" - Web-based systems to track public health, many times with an added predictive model . As you'll see in the University of Michigan press release below, a familiar sales pitch is employed to assert that the only way to keep the public safe is through pervasive surveillance ... now including preschoolers.

With Ebola taking center stage as the latest threat to humanity, along with new concerns over enterovirus EV-D68 which is afflicting children in increasing numbers, the surveillance state is not letting a single crisis go to waste.

Recent announcements by social media companies also indicate the arrival of full-scale health surveillance. Twitter's "ChatterGrabber" is a "machine-learning algorithm" that will harvest communications for "tickborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, public sentiment involving vaccines ...serving as an early warning system for public health officials through suspicious tweets or conversations." And Facebook is
" exploring creating online 'support communities' that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments...also considering new 'preventative care' applications that would help people improve their lifestyles."

Comment: The statement by Hashikawa: 'Preliminary data suggest that using the online biosurveillance in child care centers and preschools gives us an earlier detection and warning system because the younger children appeared to become sick first compared to middle school and high school aged children within the community.'

One cannot help but wonder if there is a larger agenda to such bio-surveillance, the author of the article pointed out this possibility in the following quote: 'Embedded in all of these missions, naturally, is a drive to ensure a wider adoption of vaccines, perhaps making them mandatory under medical martial law.' Think the author is reaching or his statement is too far fetched? Not really when you consider the following article:

UNICEF Surveils, Defames health sites over vaccines

A stunning new report reveals that the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has been monitoring independent health sites and their users in an attempt to identify 'anti-vaccine influencers' and their effect on lackluster vaccine uptake.

The report also makes the following recommendations:
"International agencies and other partners will need to combine forces and support governments to reverse this counterproductive trend and develop common strategies to promote immunization, as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions known in the world." [emphasis added]


Living near major roads may increase risk of sudden cardiac death in women

© American Heart Association
Highway near apartments.
Living close to a major road may increase women's risk of dying from sudden cardiac death, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

"It's important for healthcare providers to recognize that environmental exposures may be under-appreciated risk factors for diseases such as sudden cardiac death and fatal coronary heart disease," said Jaime E. Hart, Sc.D., study lead author and an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. "On a population level, living near a major roadway was as important a risk factor as smoking, diet or obesity."

While researchers previously found a modest increase in coronary heart disease risk among people who live near major roadways, the new study may be the first to examine the impact of roadway proximity to the risk of sudden cardiac death. Researchers note that roadway proximity could be a marker for exposure to air pollution.

Russian scientists have created three Ebola vaccines according to Health Ministry

Russian scientists
© Reuters / Thomas Peter
Russian scientists are working on three potential Ebola vaccines which they expect to introduce as soon as in the next six months. "One of the vaccines is "already ready for clinical trials," Russia's health minister Veronika Skvortsova has announced. "We have created three vaccines," Skvortsova announced in an interview with Rossiya-1 TV. "One vaccine is based on a strain of Ebola, and the other two have been created by means of genetic engineering."

Russian virologists have also created an anti-virus drug that, they believe, could be successfully used for treating Ebola as tests have showed that that it is effective in curing Ebola-related diseases.

So far, there is now no licensed treatment or vaccine for the highly contagious disease that has killed over 4,000 people in western Africa since the start of the year and has recently started spreading beyond the region.

Now several countries are trying to develop an effective treatment. The first-ever human trials for an Ebola vaccine started in Mali earlier this week. On October 8, the first health worker received the drug. Over the course of the trial, which is being organized by the University of Maryland and Mali's Health Ministry, a total of 40 volunteers will be given the vaccine.

In Russia it's impossible to contract the Ebola virus, Skvortsova said, adding that the country has still implemented a protection plan against the virus, which it stepped up in July.

"We are now carrying out a sanitary inspection of 7,500 flights per month, which is almost half a million people," she said. "Everybody coming from West Africa is under special control, especially 450 students who study in Russian universities. Sixteen of them had viral illnesses and were hospitalized, but they were not relevant to the [virus]."

Skvortsova said that 71 of Russia's airports have upgraded their security and now have thermal cameras to detect the first signs of the virus. "Both portable and stationary thermal scanners are being used at many airports, and we are monitoring all direct and indirect flights that arrive," she said.

Comment: Russia's Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology based in Koltsovo, in the Novosibirsk region, developed Reaferon-Lipint several years ago. This vaccine proved effective in dealing with Ebola virus during laboratory tests. Also in the running for an Ebola cure are Canada, Japan and the U.S. WHO does not expect a reliable vaccine to be developed before 2015 and an estimated 30,000 doses will be required to curb the epidemic at its current level.

See the following to trace the epidemic:
Ebola: Evolution of an epidemic (INTERACTIVE MAP)