Plagues


Ambulance

Multiple drug-resistant typhoid spreading across Africa and Asia

© AFP
A medical technician takes a blood sample from a patient to check for dengue and typhoid at a government health center in Jakarta
A deadly typhoid 'superbug' is spreading across Africa and Asia, creating a "previously under-appreciated and ongoing epidemic," a groundbreaking international study warns. H58, driven by a single family of the bacteria, is resistant to most antibiotics.

Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, who have been studying the far-reaching infection, say typhoid affects around 30 million people each year. According to researchers, H58 has emerged and spread throughout Asia and Africa over the last 30 years.

Evidence of a recent unreported wave of H58 transmission in many countries in Africa has also been found.

The scientists say the study results add to the message that "bacteria do not obey international borders."

What sounds even worse is that H58 is currently "displacing other typhoid strains that have been established over decades and centuries throughout the typhoid endemic world, completely transforming the genetic architecture of the disease," the researchers, whose work has been published in the journal Nature Genetic, have pointed out in a statement. The large-scale research involved some 74 scientists in almost two dozen countries.

Health

Ebola death toll reaches 10,000 while media keeps quiet on spread of disease

© Xinhua
West African nations have deployed the military forces to help disinfection and containment efforts, such as the one above in Guinea
The deadly Ebola virus, which once commanded global media attention before slowly slipping off the front page, has continued to quietly kill people in West Africa.

According to the World Health Organization, the death toll due to Ebola has now reached a staggering 10,000 people, more than doubling in the past five months.

The number of people infected with the disease is over 24,000.

But the virus was back in the news on Monday when an American healthworker, flown to the US from Sierra Leone for fear of contracting Ebola while treating patients there, was listed in critical condition.

Ten other American medical aid workers who had treated the healthworker were also flown back to the US over the weekend and placed in quarantine.

Comment: Perhaps the media has been keeping quiet until vaccines are ready, and then they will return to panic mode to persuade everyone that they need to be vaccinated. Don't fall for the hype as vaccines are dangerous and don't work. They often induce the very diseases they are supposed to protect against. The best way to protect yourself is to improve your diet and immune system.


Red Flag

Decline in ebola leveling off according to WHO

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The steep decline in Ebola case numbers has leveled off over the past month and the development is a cause for concern, the official leading the World Health Organization's response to the outbreak said on Friday.

Dr. Bruce Aylward told reporters "today is the first time we have the data to demonstrate this" flattening of the curve.

The United Nations has said 10 times fewer people are being diagnosed with Ebola each week than in September. Over the past four weeks, however, the line of the graph has flattened out, with the rate around 120 to 150 new cases a week.

"It's what keeps me up at night right now," Aylward said. "This is not what you want to see with Ebola."

Health officials have expressed optimism in recent weeks that the tide seems to be turning in the fight against the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. The presidents of the three worst affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, this week said they hope to reduce the number of new cases to zero by April 15.

But Aylward said that goal will be difficult to achieve.

Attention

Lyssavirus bat infections: Spike in sick and dying bats in Broome, Western Australia

© madisonparkblogger.blogspot.com
Sick bats invade Broome.
A spike in cases of a deadly bat virus in some parts of Australia's north has sparked concern, with dying animals being found in the streets close to schools and childcare centres.

Australian bat lyssavirus is similar to rabies, causing a rapid death if passed from an animal to a human. In recent months, it has been detected in 11 bats in the West Australian town of Broome in the Kimberley region. Prior to that, there had been only two cases identified in Western Australia in a decade. There has also been an increase in sick bats being found in Queensland.

© www.abc.net.au
Broome wildlife carer holds bat after rash of bats showed up with Lyssavirus.

Comment: The Lyssavirus is classified as a zoonotic infection. Zoonnoses are diseases that normally exist in animals but have the potential to transmit to humans. They can be caused by many different infectious agents including bacteria, fungi and viruses. Examples include anthrax, tuberculosis, plague, yellow fever and influenza. SARS virus, Hendra virus, Ebola and Marburg viruses and the SARI virus emerged from bats to humans. For viruses like Rabies and West Nile virus, humans are "dead-end" hosts (no human-to human transmission).


Senior Public Health nurse Ashley Eastwood is based in Broome and has been monitoring the numbers. "In 2014, we became aware that something was happening in the bat colony with these cases popping up," she said.

"We don't know exactly what's caused it. There are investigations going on through the Department of Parks and Wildlife, and the Department of Agriculture, wondering what's actually going on in the colony. There's been speculation perhaps lots of fires around last year, there's a particularly hot season, and that could be disturbing that colony."

Human infections occurred in Australia in 1996, 1998, and 2013 and proved fatal.

Comment: The newly emerging Australian Bat Lyssavirus in a captive juvenile black flying fox exhibited progressive neurologic signs, including sudden aggression, vocalization, dysphagia, and paresis over 9 days and then died. This virus is considered endemic in Australian bat populations and causes a neurological disease in people indistinguishable from clinical rabies. There are two distant variants of ABLV, one that circulates in frugivorous bats (genus Pteropus) and the other in insectivorous microbats (genus Saccolaimus). Three fatal human cases of ABLV infection have been reported and each manifested as acute encephalitis but with variable incubation periods. Importantly, two equine cases arose in 2013, the first occurrence of ABLV in a species other than bats or humans.


Heart - Black

Decades of public spending limitations imposed by IMF may have set the stage for Ebola outbreak

© Unknown
As 2015 began, the world received a sobering message. Not only have the number of Ebola cases exceeded 20,000, but in some affected countries, especially Sierra Leone, the virus is still spreading. The death toll now tops 8,000 and the usual answers to how this outbreak got so huge so quickly - poverty, bad governance, cultural practices, endemic disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - are giving way to a deeper questioning of the poor public health response. Critics are turning to the structural causes of weak health systems and increasingly showing that international lending policies, including and especially those employed by the IMF, should carry much of the blame.

The IMF has been active in West Africa for many years; the first IMF loan to Liberia was in 1963. And for almost as long, public health activists have pointed to the detrimental effects of the strings the IMF attaches to its loans, known as conditionalities, which more often than not constrain investment in public sector health services. As a December 2014 comment in medical journal, the Lancet explained, the IMF has provided support to Guinea and Sierra Leone for nearly two decades, and to Liberia for seven years. All three countries were engaged in IMF programmes when the Ebola crisis began. IMF conditionalities meant countries have had to prioritise repaying debt and interest payments over funding critical social and health services. Countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have had to limit not only the number of health workers they were able to hire (Liberia had only 60 doctors before the Ebola outbreak, Sierra Leone had 136), they've also had to cap wages to a pitifully low level to meet broader IMF policy directives. The Lancet comment also points out that in Sierra Leone, IMF-mandated policies explicitly sought to reduce public sector employment. In 1995 -1996, the IMF required the retrenchment of 28 per cent of public employees. The World Health Organisation reported a reduction of community health workers from 0.11 per 1,000 population in 2004 to 0.02 in 2008. Caps on wage spending continued into the 2000s. The Lancet authors state, "By 2004, [Sierra Leone] spent about 1.2 per cent of GDP less on civil service wages than the sub-Saharan African mean."

Comment: Last September, the IMF fund estimated the Ebola epidemic will cut growth in a number of West African countries. The IMF then pledged to lend more funds to these already debt-ridden countries, which will put them in even more debt. And what will be the conditions imposed on these additional loans; more restrictions on public spending?

Never let a good crisis go to waste: IMF offers bailouts to Ebola ravaged countries


Health

Ebola crisis: World 'dangerously unprepared' for potential pandemics

© globalvillageextra.com
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim
The world is "dangerously unprepared" for future deadly pandemics like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the president of the World Bank has warned. Jim Yong Kim, speaking in Washington, said it was vital that governments, corporations, aid agencies and insurance companies worked together to prepare for future outbreaks.

He said they needed to learn lessons from the Ebola crisis. More than 8,500 people have died, most in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. "The Ebola outbreak has been devastating in terms of lives lost and the loss of economic growth," Mr Kim told an audience at Georgetown University.

"We need to make sure that we get to zero cases in this Ebola outbreak. At the same time, we need to prepare for future pandemics that could become far more deadly and infectious than what we have seen so far with Ebola. We must learn the lessons from the Ebola outbreak because there is no doubt we will be faced with other pandemics in the years to come."

'Insurance policy'

Mr Kim said the World Bank Group had been working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), other UN agencies, academics, insurance company officials and others to work on a concept of developing a financial "pandemic facility". He said he expected a proposal for this to be presented to leaders of developed and developing countries in the coming months.

Mr Kim said the proposal would probably involve a combination of bonds and insurance plans but that, in some ways, the facility could be similar to a homeowner's insurance policy. "This could work like insurance policies that people understand, like fire insurance," he said. "The more that you are prepared for a fire, such as having several smoke detectors in your house, the lower the premium you pay.


Comment: Are we catching a whiff of personal medical policies in the very near future where provider companies/ACA charge us, in advance, on a yearly basis, to insure each person against a pandemic? Is this where they are ultimately going? Or, are they trying to make mandatory vaccines "such a deal?" What a scheme!


Comment: Interestingly enough, Liberia has just reported there are currently only five confirmed cases of Ebola in the entire country - a dramatic turnaround if this is in fact true. Sierra Leone and Guinea have also seen a dramatic reduction but are still reporting new infections. Statistics from WHO state more than 21,000 people have been sickened by Ebola and 8,600 deaths occurred. Is the disease actually fading or should we assume nothing is ever as stated?

Leading Pandemic Expert: President of the World Bank??? WHO knew!


Health

West Africa: Hundreds of people per week are still dying of Ebola

© skynews
Although it's not making the headlines as it was when the epidemic started, Ebola is still killing hundreds of people a week in Africa. With the death toll now heading towards 9,000, and with sporadic cases occurring elsewhere in the world, complacency could literally be the death of us all.

British nurse Pauline Cafferkey, was diagnosed with the disease after returning from an aid mission is West Africa, she remains in isolation in the Royal Free Hospital, London. Today Infowars is reporting a soldier recently returned from a tour of duty in Liberia, was found dead in a pool of vomit outside his home. He was apparently self-monitoring in lieu of quarantine.


The World Health Organization has admitted it has fallen short of its January target of treating 100% of Ebola victims and providing a biologically safe and dignified burial for those that die of the condition. You can read the latest situation report from the WHO here. Since the report, dated January 7th, many more have died of the disease.

Calendar

US: Fort Hood soldier returning from West Africa found dead in yard

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© KXXV
Killeen Police and Fort Hood Military Police currently have a home blocked off on the 3300 block of Cantebrian Drive where a man was found dead in a yard Tuesday morning.

Fort Hood officials confirm the man is a soldier who recently returned from a deployment to West Africa. Officials say there are no indications the soldier had Ebola, however medical personnel at Carl R. Darnall Medical Center are running tests as a precaution to make sure there is no threat to the community.

Troops returning from West Africa must undergo a 21-day monitoring period at a controlled monitoring site on post. Officials say this soldier was granted an emergency leave that was not medical related and involved a family emergency, according to officials. It is not known if the soldier was hospitalized or if the family emergency was a false report.

The soldier was under self monitoring where he had to check in with officials twice a day before his family emergency.

Fish

Thousands of fish, animals dying in Turkey Creek, Florida


Palm Bay - Thousands of fish and animals are dying in a local waterway, and longtime residents say it's not just an ordinary fish kill.

Turkey Creek in Palm Bay is known for its clean, fresh water. It flows into the Indian River Lagoon downstream, and it's there in the lagoon where most fish kills happen, not in the creek.

Chris Jones grew up along Turkey Creek.

"You can get out and be in old Florida, natural Florida, the way it was hundreds of years ago before people were here," said Jones.

But now, catfish have been dying for weeks.

People have reported dead animals including an alligator and some raccoons and turtles. They've taken pictures of a film on the water.

"I've never seen catfish or any fish die off to this extent," said Jones.

Beaker

The CDC is at it again. This time it bungles the handling of Ebola virus samples

© Tim Brakemeier/AFP/Getty Images
Experiments with deadly viruses such as Ebola have to be performed in biosafety level or BSL-4 laboratories, for the highest level on containment.
Researchers studying Ebola in a highly secure laboratory mistakenly allowed potentially lethal samples of the virus to be handled in a much less secure laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, agency officials said Wednesday.

One technician in the second laboratory may have been exposed to the virus and about a dozen other people have been assessed after entering the facility unaware that potentially hazardous samples of Ebola had been handled there.

The technician has no symptoms of illness and is being monitored for 21 days. Agency officials said it is unlikely that any of the others who entered the lab face potential exposure. Some entered the lab after it had been decontaminated. Officials said there is no possible exposure outside the secure laboratory at CDC and no exposure or risk to the public.

Comment: See also: The CDC claims to be 'astonished' by lab breaches of anthrax, smallpox and bird flu