First up, the last Ebola numbers, via USA TODAY:
And the story, via the Associated Press:
WHO: West Africa Ebola death toll rises to 1,350
The World Health Organization says the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is now at least 1,350 people.
The latest figures Wednesday show that the deaths are mounting fastest in Liberia, which now accounts for at least 576 of the deaths. The U.N. health agency also warned in its announcement that “countries are beginning to experience supply shortages, including fuel, food, and basic supplies.”
This comes after a number of airlines and shipping services have halted transport to the worst affected capitals of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
From the New York Times, the inevitable:
Clashes Erupt as Liberia Imposes Quarantine to Curb Ebola
Liberia’s halting efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak spreading across parts of West Africa quickly turned violent on Wednesday when angry young men hurled rocks and stormed barbed-wire barricades, trying to break out of a neighborhood here that had been cordoned off by the government.
Soldiers repelled the surging crowd with live rounds, driving hundreds of young men back into the neighborhood, a slum of tens of thousands in Monrovia known as West Point.
One teenager in the crowd, Shakie Kamara, 15, lay on the ground near the barricade, his right leg apparently wounded by a bullet from the melee. “Help me,” pleaded Mr. Kamara, who was barefoot and wore a green Philadelphia Eagles T-shirt.
China Daily dispatches:
UN Ebola coordinator to visit West Africa
The public health expert coordinating UN efforts to fight Ebola said on Tuesday that he’s heading to Washington and then to West Africa to determine the best ways the world body can support people, communities and governments affected by the deadly disease.
David Nabarro told a news conference that he will have “intensive interactions” on Wednesday with the World Bank, experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others before flying to Dakar, Senegal on Wednesday night.
Nabarro, who was appointed a week ago, said he will then travel to the four countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.
From the Independent, a telling number:
Ebola virus outbreak: This is why ‘75%’ of victims are women
Julia Duncan-Cassell, Liberia’s minister for gender and development, said health teams at task force meeting in Liberia found three-quarters of those who were infected or died from Ebola were female.
She told the Washington Post: “Women are the caregivers — if a kid is sick, they say, ‘Go to your mom.’
“The cross-border trade women go to Guinea and Sierra Leone for the weekly markets, [and] they are also the caregivers. Most of the time when there is a death in the family, it’s the woman who prepares the funeral, usually an aunt or older female relative.”
Agence France-Presse covers a unique program putting survivors to work:
Survivors enlisted in Sierra Leone’s Ebola battle
In Ebola-hit Sierra Leone, virus survivors are being enlisted to look after sick people in a centre run by an NGO in Kailahun.
From the Jakarta Globe, alarms in Southeast Asia:
Vietnam, Myanmar Test Three Patients for Ebola
Vietnam and Myanmar are testing three patients for the deadly Ebola virus after they arrived in the Southeast Asian nations from Africa while suffering from fever, health officials said.
Two Nigerians were sent to Ho Chi Minh City’s Tropical Diseases Hospital for isolation after they arrived in the city by plane, Vietnam’s health ministry said, adding that they did not have symptoms other than fever.
Airline passengers sitting next to the pair — who travelled to Vietnam on Monday from Nigeria via Qatar — have been advised to monitor their own health.
And from RT, needless tragedy:
All 365 of Sierra Leone’s Ebola-related deaths pinned on one healer
Sierra Leone’s Ebola crisis has been traced back to a single healer in an isolated border village, who had claimed to be in possession of special powers to cure the deadly disease that started penetrating the border, it has emerged.
“She was claiming to have powers to heal Ebola. Cases from Guinea were crossing into Sierra Leone for treatment,” top medical official, Mohamed Vandi, who was based in the crisis-struck Kenema district, told AFP.
“She got infected and died. During her funeral, women around the other towns got infected,” he told the agency. The woman was based in the eastern border village of Sokoma.
The Times of India prescribes:
Experimental Ebola drugs needed for up to 30,000 people
Up to 30,000 people could have used experimental treatments or vaccines so far in the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola currently plaguing West Africa, British scientists said on Wednesday.
The calculation highlights the dilemma facing officials considering how to distribute the tiny quantities of unproven drugs that are likely to be available in the near term to fight the deadly disease.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is hoping for improved supplies of experimental treatments and progress with a vaccine by the end of the year, after last week backing the use of untested drugs and vaccines.
CBC News offers a possible treatment:
Ebola could be treated with drug shown to fight cousin virus
- Approach holds promise as a strategy to treat infection in humans, journal editors say
An experimental type of drug shown to protect rhesus macaques against the Marburg virus could also be tried in the fight to contain the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, a scientist says.
The Marburg and Ebola viruses are deadly cousins. Both are filoviruses that cause severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever and neither has any vaccines or drugs approved for use in humans.
Researchers in Texas and Vancouver-based Tekmira Pharmaceuticals have now shown that giving rhesus macaques an experimental treatment using “small interfering RNA” (siRNA) protected the primates even when treatment began three days after infection with the Angola strain of Marburg virus. Their results are published in Wednesday’s issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.
From Computerworld, yet another approach:
As Ebola death toll rises, scientists work on nanotech cure
- With more than 1,200 dead in latest outbreak, nanotech could lead to treatment
Scientists at Northeastern University are using nanotechnology to find an effective treatment for the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 1,200 people and sickened even more.
What makes finding a vaccine or cure such a formidable job is that the virus mutates so quickly. How do you pin down and treat something that is continually changing?
Thomas Webster, professor and chairman of bioengineering and chemical engineering at Northeastern, may have an answer to that — nanotechnology.
Homeland Security News Wire reassures:
Ebola poses no risk in U.S.: Experts
Ebola has infected nearly 2,000 people in West Africa because the disease is spreading in populated areas with poor public health infrastructure, and where health workers might not be taking proper infection control procedures, such as wearing gloves, experts say. These experts note that Ebola can be contracted only from patients who have the symptoms, not those who are infected, and even then infection occurs only when coming into contact with bodily fluids. They say that SARS and the flu are more contagious than Ebola.
Dr. Diane Weems, the acting director of the East Central Health District, at last week’s meeting with the Richmond County Board of Health, acknowledged that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been of serious concern to American health workers, but she explained that it takes more than casual contact to cause an infection, adding that Richmond County has faced far bigger public health threats in the past and will likely deal with worse in the future.
Ebola has infected nearly 2,000 people in West Africa because the disease is spreading in populated areas with poor public health infrastructure, and where health workers might not be taking proper infection control procedures, such as wearing gloves. “We know it is not passed through the air, like a cold or like the flu,” Weems said. “It’s by infected body fluids. Health care workers who are not using good infection control, not wearing gloves, are disproportionately being impacted there, in those communities.”
And Nextgov questions:
Is There Ebola on That Smartphone?
Medical staff treating patients with Ebola and other communicable diseases in Africa face a novel kind of smartphone security problem.
When aiding Ebola patients, “What about the mobile device that you hand off to the next medical person?” said Rocky Young, a practicing physician assistant and director of cybersecurity, information assurance, outreach and mobile security for the Defense Department. “These devices have to be hardened. They have to be secured. Alcohol will damage them if you clean them.”
He was speaking at a mobile industry summit in Washington on Wednesday.
On to another climate change threat, via Newswise:
Climate Change Will Threaten Fish by Drying Out Southwest U.S. Streams, Study Predicts
Modeling suggests fish will lose habitat as steady flow of surface water is depleted
Fish species native to a major Arizona watershed may lose access to important segments of their habitat by 2050 as surface water flow is reduced by the effects of climate warming, new research suggests.
Most of these fish species, found in the Verde River Basin, are already threatened or endangered. Their survival relies on easy access to various resources throughout the river and its tributary streams. The species include the speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus), roundtail chub (Gila robusta) and Sonora sucker (Catostomus insignis).
A key component of these streams is hydrologic connectivity – a steady flow of surface water throughout the system that enables fish to make use of the entire watershed as needed for eating, spawning and raising offspring.
Models that researchers produced to gauge the effects of climate change on the watershed suggest that by the mid 21st century, the network will experience a 17 percent increase in the frequency of stream drying events and a 27 percent increase in the frequency of zero-flow days.
Another cost, via the Associated Press:
Report: Firefighting costs eroding conservation
The Obama administration detailed on Wednesday the toll that the escalating cost of fighting forest fires has had on other projects as it pushes Congress to overhaul how it pays for the most severe blazes.
In a new report, the Agriculture Department said that staffing for fighting fires has more than doubled since 1998. Meanwhile, the number of workers who manage National Forest System lands has dropped by about a third.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that accommodating the rapid rise in firefighting costs has harmed an array of conservation efforts. For example, spending that helps restore vegetation and watersheds after a fire has fallen 22 percent since 2001. Another program that partners with states and private landowners to conserve wildlife habitat has been cut by 17 percent during that same period.
On a related front, this from BBC News:
Greenland ice loss doubles from late 2000s
A new assessment from Europe’s CryoSat spacecraft shows Greenland to be losing about 375 cu km of ice each year.
Added to the discharges coming from Antarctica, it means Earth’s two big ice sheets are now dumping roughly 500 cu km of ice in the oceans annually.
“The contribution of both ice sheets together to sea level rise has doubled since 2009,” said Angelika Humbert from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute. “To us, that’s an incredible number,” she told BBC News.
The Irish Times covers another threat:
Iceland evacuates area amid concerns over volcanic activity
- Authorities cannot rule out eruption and warned airlines about increased seismic activity
Iceland’s civil protection agency has decided to evacuate an area north of the country’s Bardarbunga volcano, saying it could not rule out an eruption.
The move came after authorities on Monday warned airlines about increased seismic activity at Iceland’s largest volcanic system. Ash from the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe’s airspace for six days.
“This decision is a safety measure,” the agency said on its website. “It cannot be ruled out that the seismic activity in Bardarbunga could lead to a volcanic eruption.”
From MintPress News, a challenge to Big Ag:
Missourians Fight ALEC Over Big Agriculture’s “Right to Farm”
- Grassroots efforts will likely push a recount on an amendment to Missouri’s bill of rights that favors the interests of corporate agriculture.
On Aug. 5, Missouri residents voted on the state’s Right-to-Farm, Amendment 1, a new addition to the state’s bill of rights. The results were extremely close: 498,751 voted in favor of the new amendment, while 496,223 opposed it. With a difference of less than half a percent, a recount is almost certain.
Though the Humane Society of the United States donated $375,000 in opposition, the amendment had the financial backing of Big Agriculture and its deep pockets as well as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the secretive organization which writes legislation on behalf of major corporations.
That the bill came so close to defeat is a testament to the efforts of grassroots Missouri activists like the members of People’s Visioning, a coalition of diverse progressive organizations led by Columbia, Missouri, resident Monta Welch. MintPress News spoke with Welch and other members of her coalition as they rested from what they described as an exhausting campaign and considered what their next steps might be if the recount fails.
BBC News covers another people-produced environmental dilemma:
‘Growth drives UK flooding problems’
Part of the UK’s problem with flooding is self-imposed, new research suggests.
The study says the number of reported major flood events has increased, but in parallel with population growth and a boom in building in vulnerable areas.
It says it is unclear if climate change is implicated in recent flooding.
But the Southampton University team urges government to continue spending on flood defences as more homes are likely to be vulnerable due to sea level rise and more intense rainfall.
Reuters covers a corporate coverup:
Mexico minister says Grupo Mexico account of toxic spill ‘totally false’
Mexico’s environment secretary said on Tuesday that Grupo Mexico gave false information about a toxic spill at its Buenavista mine in northern Mexico, a day after the environmental authority said it would file a criminal complaint against the company.
In a statement on Aug. 12, Grupo Mexico said that “unusual rainfall” had caused the spill. But Environment Secretary Juan Jose Guerra told local radio on Tuesday that this was “totally false” and that there was zero precipitation on Aug. 6, the day the spill was detected.
“They unfortunately did not have dams. They hadn’t put infrastructure there to contain leached (fluids) in case of a spill,” he said.
After the jump, more woes from Fukushima [including flawed contamination treatment reboots, missing information, evacuation questions, and more], German nuclear waste woes, new fracking-spawned earthquakes in two states, and a fracking promise in Mexico. . . Continue reading