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Bug

As more parasites become resistant, malaria's strongest drug becoming obsolete

© AFP
Our time is limited, it seems, when it comes to our faltering abilities to fight infectious diseases. Evidence has suggested for some time now that bacteria are becoming immune to common antibiotics. Similarly, malaria parasites have also been developing resistance to antimalarial drugs, including a powerful combination drug introduced in the mid-1990s called artemisinin. In a new study, scientists say that "radical measures" must be taken to prevent resistance to these drugs, otherwise, countries where the disease is prevalent will face a huge setback.

The study was led by Nicholas White of Oxford University, who is also chair of the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network. It found that malarial resistance to artemisinin, and the drugs it's used in combination with to fight the disease, is spreading across major parts of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar. "Resistance to artemisinin has not been contained, and has now emerged or spread across Southeast Asia," the researchers wrote, adding that resistance to these drugs "may well reverse the substantial gains in malaria control. New antimalarial drugs are under development but will not be available for several years."

Derived from wormwood, artemisinin has been available for centuries (ancient Chinese used it), however, it only became a widely used antimalarial after other antimalarials, chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, became obsolete from resistance. Roughly 3.4 billion people are at risk of a malarial infection, which is still prevalent throughout 97 countries, according to the World Health Organization. If artemisinin continues down the path of resistance, malaria will come back to affect a growing number of people, negating any advances the health community has made.

Comment:
  • Experts warn millions of lives are at risk as world's most effective malaria drug loses its potency


Health

Several Britons quarantined for Ebola amidst claims the virus may be transmitted without physical contact

© Reuters
Several British nationals have been voluntarily quarantined with suspected Ebola, according to the Daily Telegraph. The admission came from public health officials and follows revelations an individual in Cardiff had expressed fears they had contracted the disease.

The exact number of people quarantined and their exact location have not been confirmed, but they are believed to be spread across the UK. The problem faced by public health authorities is that tests for Ebola are ineffective until the patients show symptoms. This means that they have to wait up to 21 days, which is the maximum incubation period.

The World Health Organisation has also claimed that the virus is spreading faster than they can control. This may be because of a misunderstanding about how the virus is transmitted, in 2012 a study suggested that Ebola may be transmitted through the air.

Whilst the study was not conclusive the BBC reported that Canadian scientists had found that Ebola had been transmitted between animals that had never come into direct contact. This suggests that the current theory that it is only transmitted by exchange of bodily fluids may be wrong.

Comment: See also: For the sake of you and your family's health, ditch the sugar and start eating animal fats. See:

Attention

Liberia declares state of emergency 'for the very survival of the state', as Ebola death toll rises to 932

© Reuters / Tommy Trenchard
Liberia's president declared a state of emergency on Wednesday to combat the ongoing outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, as the country began implementing quarantine checkpoints.

The country's president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said that the scale of the Ebola outbreak represents a threat to Liberia's security.

"The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people," she said via statement. "I...hereby declare a State of Emergency throughout the Republic of Liberia effective as of Aug. 6, 2014 for a period of 90 days."

The World Health Organization announced that 932 people have died from the recent Ebola outbreak, as the organization begins to consider whether experimental drugs should be deployed to West Africa to help contain the situation. The WHO is to decide whether it will declare an international public health emergency in order to deal with the outbreak in the coming days.

Comment: See also: For the sake of you and your family's health, ditch the sugar and start eating animal fats. See:

Bizarro Earth

Sierra Leone, Liberia deploy troops to enforce quarantine as Ebola toll hits 887

© Reuters
Hundreds of troops deployed in Sierra Leone and Liberia on Monday to quarantine communities hit by the deadly Ebola virus, as the death toll from the worst-ever outbreak reached 887 and three new cases were reported in Nigeria.

With healthcare systems in the West Africa nations overrun by the epidemic, the African Development Bank and World Bank said they would immediately disburse $260 million to the three countries worst affected - Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The World Health Organization, which warned last week of catastrophic consequences if the disease were not controlled, reported 61 new deaths in the two days to Aug. 1 as the disease continues to spread.

The outbreak began in February in the forests of Guinea. The toll there continues to rise, but the epicenter has since shifted to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Ambulance

Sierra Leone 'unable to contain' ebola outbreak, international doctor claims

© Reuters / Tami Chappell
As health officials scramble to respond to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, one emergency coordinator is claiming that Sierra Leone is incapable of handling the situation.

Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Doctors Without Borders coordinator Anja Wolz said the country needs international help if it is going to stop the situation from getting worse. Specifically, she called on the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to become involved.

"I think that the government and the ministry of health here in Sierra Leone is not able to deal with this outbreak. We need much more help from international organizations - as WHO, as CDC, as other organizations - to come to support the government," she said.

"Still we have unsafe burials; people who are doing the burial without disinfection of the body; still we have patients who are hiding themselves; still we have patients or contacts of patients who are running away because they are afraid."
Health

5 minutes or 50 minutes of running makes no difference in health benefits

running
© Creative Commons
Benefits from 5 minutes of running is the same as that from exercising for longer.
You don't need to clock record speeds or run marathons to stay healthy. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds that running as little as five minutes a day will do. It gives you the same benefits of running or walking for longer. The key is to sustain the practice.

Running may in fact be a better exercise option than more moderate-intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people since it produces similar, if not greater, mortality benefits in five to 10 minutes compared to 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity. The research followed more than 55,137 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 over a period of 15 years, recording their daily activity, including running.

Compared with non-runners, the runners had a 30% lower risk of death from all causes and a 45% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke. The benefits were the same irrespective of the distance, frequency or speed. Benefits were also the same regardless of sex, age, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use.
Syringe

Two U.S. aid workers being given experimental Ebola drug treatment

© Reuters / Umaru Fofana
Government health workers are seen during the administration of blood tests for the Ebola virus in Kenema, Sierra Leone
Two US aid workers have been getting an experimental anti-Ebola drug and their condition has dramatically improved. However, it's not clear yet if the recovery is due to the treatment that's never been tested on humans and appeared only earlier this year.

Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly are currently at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital. They asked for the treatment while still being treated in Liberia: despite the drug not being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the current restriction is only valid on the US territory, Reuters reported.

The pair contracted the disease while working in Liberia. An FDA spokeswoman said she could neither confirm nor deny that the drug had been used on the two aid workers after their arrival in the US.

Writebol, 59, has been in isolation in Liberia since her diagnosis was confirmed last month. After taking the drug, she is able to walk with assistance and has regained her appetite, according to Bruce Johnson, president of the aid group Writebol is working for, SIM USA.
Ambulance

Moroccan minister announces death of Liberian man from Ebola virus in Morocco

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Morris Dukuly, has disclosed that a Liberian has died of the deadly Ebola virus in Morocco.

The Ebola virus, which has no cure, has killed at least 129 people here, and claimed more than 670 lives across the region. A top Liberian doctor working at Liberia's largest hospital died recently, and two American aid workers have fallen ill, underscoring the dangers facing those charged with bringing the outbreak under control.

Also recently, an official of the Ministry of Finance identified as Patrick Sawyer died of the disease at a Lagos hospital.

As a means of containing further spread of the disease, President Johnson-Sirleaf set up a taskforce to help in the fight of the disease and ordered the closure of the country's three land borders.

The Liberian leader also ordered that public gatherings be restricted and communities heavily affected by the Ebola outbreak be quarantined.
Sherlock

Doctors in New York await test results of man admitted to hospital with Ebola symptoms

It took about seven minutes for a man to be whisked into isolation at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital on Monday after he arrived at the emergency room with symptoms common to Ebola, health officials said as they awaited test results on the patient.

The man, who has not been identified, is at least the second person tested for possible Ebola in the last week in New York City. Last Wednesday, a patient was admitted to Bellevue Hospital and "immediately isolated with consideration for Ebola virus," the city's Health and Hospitals Corp. said in a statement.

"However, the patient is improving and ... this diagnosis is no longer being considered" following consultations with health officials, the statement said.

Officials at Mount Sinai said they hoped to get results on their facility's patient within 24 to 48 hours. They said there was no threat to anyone else in the hospital because of the rapid response from medical workers who had been alerted to the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa and trained in how to respond.
Health

Tennessee doctor who recently returned from Africa voluntarily quarantines himself at home

© AP
According to local reports in Liberia the sale of water buckets there has increased dramatically, because they are used by Liberian people to fill with disinfectant and to wash their hands to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
An East Tennessee doctor who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has voluntarily quarantined himself inside his home, and a local expert says it's an admirable move, but probably unnecessary.

Dr. Alan Jamison of Morristown - a city about three-and-a-half hours east of Nashville - recently returned from West Africa where he was working with Medical Teams International to treat Ebola patients. He is staying in his house, avoiding contact with the outside world until he is sure he does not have the virus.

Medical Teams International, an Oregon-based organization that dispatches groups of volunteers across the world to combat medical disasters, has been working in areas affected by the Ebola outbreak for several months.
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