One again, the Ebola virus claims the top spot on our collection of headlinies about the intersection of humans and the world they live in, starting with this from Xinhua:
Senegal reports suspected Ebola infection
A Malian national living in northern Senegal has been quarantined in a hospital due to suspected Ebola symptoms, Senegalese News Agency reported Saturday.
The 27-year-old patient had just returned to the northern city of Ourossogui from a trip to Mali, where he was in contact with nationals of Guinea, said the head doctor of the local medical team, adding samples have been sent to Dakar for analysis and the results could be available within 48 hours.
A doctor accompanied by officers of health services has already been dispatched to the city to disinfect the home of the patient and the bike that was used to transport him.
The Associated Press covers a domestic precaution:
US Ebola check means quarantine of missionaries
Missionaries retuning to the United States after working with patients infected with Ebola will be put in quarantine and monitored, health officials said Sunday.
The quarantine will last at least three weeks since the missionaries were last exposed to people infected with the Ebola virus, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said.
The missionaries are with Charlotte-based SIM USA. None of them are sick or have shown any signs of having Ebola, but they agree with health officials that everyone should be as cautious as possible, SIM USA president Bruce Johnson said in a statement.
And the New York Times parses epidemiology:
Tracing Ebola’s Breakout to an African 2-Year-Old
Patient Zero in the Ebola outbreak, researchers suspect, was a 2-year-old boy who died on Dec. 6, just a few days after falling ill in a village in Guéckédou, in southeastern Guinea. Bordering Sierra Leone and Liberia, Guéckédou is at the intersection of three nations, where the disease found an easy entry point to the region.
A week later, it killed the boy’s mother, then his 3-year-old sister, then his grandmother. All had fever, vomiting and diarrhea, but no one knew what had sickened them.
Two mourners at the grandmother’s funeral took the virus home to their village. A health worker carried it to still another, where he died, as did his doctor. They both infected relatives from other towns. By the time Ebola was recognized, in March, dozens of people had died in eight Guinean communities, and suspected cases were popping up in Liberia and Sierra Leone — three of the world’s poorest countries, recovering from years of political dysfunction and civil war.
From BBC News, chaos on the ground:
Ebola virus: Liberia health system ‘overtaxed’
Liberia’s information minister has admitted that the country’s health care system has been overwhelmed by the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
Lewis Brown told the BBC the system had been “overtaxed” by the outbreak, but that authorities were doing their best in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
The medical charity MSF said officials underestimated the outbreak and that the health system was “falling apart”.
More from the London Telegraph:
The Liberian slum where Ebola spreads death among killer virus ‘deniers’
Blue crosses on houses in New Kru Town mark the few residences to have complied with the advice of visiting health officials, while countless others rely on prayer and witchcraft to fend off Ebola in Monrovia
When some initial cases first appeared in Liberia’s northern Lofa County back in March, health officials initially thought they had it under control. But in June, a resident of a district of New Kru Town known as Carpet Street died, as did several others. According to Dr Bernice Dahn, Liberia’s chief medical officer, three of the victims passed away while they were being sheltered in a local church – a sign of how many some people believe the disease is a curse that can be cured by prayer or witchcraft.
“We must stop keeping people suspected of Ebola in our churches on ground that we can heal them,” she warned at the time. “The churches are not hospitals.”
Liberian hospitals, however, do not always inspire the kind of faith that people have in Liberian churches. A fortnight ago, one the main local health facilities, Redemption Hospital, was stoned by a mob after a woman died in there from a suspected Ebola case, following nationwide rumours that health workers were themselves passing on the disease. Today, the squat, single storey building offers redemption no more, having
A fear abated from the Associated Press:
Saudi: Suspected Ebola victim did not have virus
A Saudi man who died last week after returning from Sierra Leone did not have the Ebola virus, according to initial international laboratory results, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry said.
The ministry said late Saturday that samples submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came back negative for the Ebola virus, adding that samples were also sent for testing to a laboratory in Germany. The ministry said the CDC is conducting additional tests to further confirm the negative Ebola finding and determine if the patient was infected with a different virus found in Sierra Leone.
The 40-year-old Saudi national died Wednesday in a hospital isolation ward in the Saudi coastal city of Jiddah after showing symptoms of the viral hemorrhagic fever. He was the only suspected Ebola case in the kingdom and had just returned from a trip to affected Sierra Leone.
Channel NewsAsia Singapore eases another fear:
Man tests negative for Ebola in Hong Kong
A Nigerian man in Hong Kong has tested negative for Ebola, said Chinese broadcaster CCTV. He had been placed in quarantine after he was suspected of carrying the virus, said Chinese media on Sunday (Aug 10).
According to CCTV, the 32-year-old had arrived in the southern Chinese city from Nigeria on Thursday. He was sent to hospital after experiencing vomiting and diarrhoea.
From the Toronto Globe and Mail, ditto:
Brampton, Ont. patient tests negative for Ebola
The Ebola virus has been ruled out in patient at a Brampton, Ont., hospital who was placed in isolation on Friday as a precaution after showing flu-like symptoms and travelling from Nigeria.
“I can now confirm a recent case that underwent testing at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg was found to test negative for Ebola virus disease,” said Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, in a statement released early Sunday morning.
U.S. emergency labs ready to work on Ebola drugs if asked
All three U.S. facilities established to quickly make vaccines and therapeutics in the event of a major public health threat say they are standing by to support any U.S. government effort to scale up a treatment for Ebola.
The facilities, called Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (ADM), were set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with private industry, to respond to pandemics or chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats.
They have the expertise to quickly switch production lines to manufacture, for example, a smallpox vaccine if that scourge were to re-emerge, or an anthrax vaccine, and other life-saving compounds against both natural outbreaks and bioterrorism.
And TheLocal.es prescribes that drug the U.S. says they aren’t sending to Africa:
Spanish priest to receive experimental Ebola drug
A Spanish priest infected with Ebola will be treated with an experimental drug that has been used on two Americans infected with the deadly virus, the government said.
The drug called ZMapp arrived at Madrid’s La Paz-Carlos III hospital where the 75-year-old missionary was being treated in isolation, the health ministry said in a statement late on Saturday.
Spain’s drug safety agency allowed the “exceptional importation” of ZMapp under a law that allows “the use of non-authorised medications in cases where a patent’s life is in danger and they can’t be treated satisfactorily with an authorised medication,” it said.
From the Christian Science Monitor, an African counter-example:
Uganda offers lessons on how West Africa can contain Ebola outbreak
So far, the current epidemic has killed nearly 1,000 people in four countries, but it hasn’t touched East Africa. Countries like Uganda, which faced a major outbreak in 2000, are prepared with strategies to isolate and treat patients.
Uganda’s experience shows the importance of moving quickly. Indeed, as soon as laboratory tests confirmed that Lukwiya’s patients had Ebola, the government immediately called a news conference with the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control, and major donor nations, asking for assistance.
“In Uganda we have a government with very little shame about infectious disease,” says Roy Mayega, an epidemiologist and lecturer in the school of public health at Makerere University in Kampala. “They are not proud. When there is a crisis, they communicate it quickly.”
Uganda’s Health Ministry immediately blanketed radio stations and newspapers with public service announcements explaining the disease and describing proper procedure for burying the dead — in sealed plastic bags. And crucially, the government hired more than 1,000 local villagers from the area around Gulu and sent them door-to-door, looking for Ebola patients hidden by their families, and offering counsel on treatment and burial.
China Daily sends help:
Chinese Ebola doctors leave for Africa
Chinese disease control experts will leave for three West African nations affected by Ebola on Sunday evening and Monday, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) said on Sunday.
The NHFPC announced on Saturday that China will send three expert teams and medical supplies to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to assist the prevention and control of the Ebola virus.
China dispatched emergency humanitarian aid supplies from Shanghai to West African nations hit by Ebola on Sunday.
And from Xinhua, a Cuban alert:
Cuba acts on WHO Ebola alert
Cuban health authorities took steps Friday to protect the country against the Ebola virus, after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert to prevent the spread of the disease.
Niurka Molina, head of the Public Health Ministry’s international disease control, said the measures apply to both travelers and Cuban doctors arriving from Africa, where an Ebola outbreak has claimed nearly a thousand lives.
Thousands of Cuban doctors and healthcare workers are working in Africa, and other regions, as part of the country’s four-decade outreach policy, which has come to be known as medical diplomacy.
Deutsche Welle covers worries in Paris:
Ebola concerns hit home in France
With the World Health Organization now calling the Ebola outbreak a global emergency, the virus is no longer seen as a distant problem. That message is hitting home in France, a major hub for West African air traffic.
So far, no cases have been detected in France, although an Air France flight from Conakry was briefly quarantined in April over an Ebola scare.
“Even if the risk of contamination cannot be ruled out, it remains very low,” says Dr. Francois Bricaire, a specialist in infectious and tropical diseases at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris. “But, in my opinion, the risk of an epidemic appears unlikely. Because from the moment a case is diagnosed, measures will be taken immediately to stop the transmission.”
Still, the country is beefing up its guard. Air France flights from West Africa now screen passengers before departure and French airports watch out for suspect cases. A number of French hospitals, including Pitie-Salpetriere, are equipped with special isolation rooms.
And for our final Ebola headline, Salon ponders the Next Big Thing:
How to survive the next plague: Why we’re unprepared for the outbreak of a super-virus
- Ebola isn’t going to become a pandemic, but we still need to be better prepared, argues Dr. Stephen Morse
Last week, the World Health Organization declared the West African Ebola epidemic an international health emergency. Since its emergence this spring, the hemorrhagic fever has killed more than 900 people across three different countries. And since two infected American aid workers returned to Atlanta for treatment, the media has exploded, highlighting any number of horrific (and unlikely) scenarios. But might there be some merit to the fear-mongering? What would happen if a similar disease — say, MERS, or the avian flu — found its way, uncontained, to American soil?
Last week, Salon spoke with Dr. Stephen Morse, professor and director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Certificate program at Columbia University Medical Center. Morse has served on numerous governmental and civilian committees for public health preparedness, most recently at the Department of Defense where he co-directed the Pathogen Countermeasures program.
The Oakland Tribune brings us our first water woes headline:
California drought: Lawmakers consider historic rules to limit groundwater pumping
In what would be the most significant water law passed in California in nearly 50 years, lawmakers in Sacramento are working with Gov. Jerry Brown on a landmark measure to regulate groundwater pumping for the first time.
With an Aug. 31 deadline until the end of the session and billions of dollars at stake, negotiations among farmers, environmentalists, cities and elected officials are reaching a crescendo.
Although landowners who want to divert water from reservoirs and rivers have been required to get a permit from the state since 1914, farmers and cities who tap underground aquifers — California’s largest water source — can pump as much as they want, when they want and with almost no oversight or limits.
One of the accompanying graphics:
The Latin American Herald Tribune covers water woes to the south:
Mexico’s Yaqui Indians Defend Water Rights in Meeting with Senators
Representatives of the Yaqui Indian tribe demanded a halt to the operation of an aqueduct in the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora, saying in a meeting with senators that it will leave their communities without water.
“Yaqui elders, men, women, youth and children have come to this city to make ourselves heard because we’re sure that what’s happening on our land is a violation of our rights,” Yaqui spokesman Tomas Rojo said, according to a statement by Mexican civil society organization Serapaz.
Rojo also accused Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padres of continuing “with his crassness of taking our water away with projects like the Independence Aqueduct.”
More than 100 Yaqui Indians, who arrived Friday via caravan in Mexico City to meet with legislators and federal authorities, explained to the senators their position in a long-running dispute with the Sonora government that has included road-blocking protests by the indigenous group.
The Washington Post covers suburban sprawl run amok:
Southeast could become an overdeveloped ‘megalopolis’ in the next half century
Giant urban sprawl could pave over thousands of acres of forest and agriculture, connecting Raleigh to Atlanta by 2060, if growth continues at its current pace, according to a newly released research paper from the U.S. Geological Survey.
“We could be looking at a seamless corridor of urban development,” said Adam Terando, a research ecologist with the USGS and an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University who was the study’s lead author.
The development will engulf land from North Carolina to Georgia, and possibly spread to Birmingham, Ala., “if we continue to develop urban areas in the Southeast the way we have for the past 60 years,” he said.
And our first and only Fumushimapocalypose Now! headline comes from the Yomiuri Shimbun:
Fukushima to make decision on soil storage this month
Central and local government officials met in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Friday to discuss the government’s offer of a total of ¥301 billion in financial assistance to the prefecture and two towns there that are candidates for interim facilities to store soil contaminated with radioactive substances released from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
At the meeting, Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and Takumi Nemoto, state minister for reconstruction, presented the national government’s financial support plan to Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato, Okuma Mayor Toshitsune Watanabe and Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa.
Sato, Watanabe and Izawa responded favorably to the offer. The Fukushima prefectural government will decide by the end of this month whether to green-light construction of the facilities to store tainted soil collected during decontamination work.
From the Mainichi, tempting fate in the Arctic:
Russia starts drilling its northernmost oil well
Russia has begun drilling on its northernmost oil well, in the Kara Sea off the northern coast of Siberia.
The well is part of a joint project between the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil to develop the region’s oil reserves, which are estimated at up to 100 billion barrels.
The Russian-American project comes despite deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, in which each side has hit the other with sanctions.
The Guardian covers sin of fracking omission in Old Blighty:
Fracking campaigners criticise ‘censored’ report on house prices
- Government urged to publish sections cut from study into impact of shale gas wells on local communities
The government has been criticised for censoring a report into the impact of shale gas drilling that examines the effect on house prices and pressure on local services.
Campaigners are calling for full publication of the study carried out by Whitehall officials, as the government continues to resist the idea of offering compensation to individual householders near proposed fracking sites.
The report, called Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts, was written in March and a draft was released under environmental information laws with large portions of the text removed. In particular, the section looking at the effect of drilling on house prices has three missing chunks.
And the Associated Press covers a tar sands recalculation:
Study: Keystone carbon pollution more than figured
The much-debated Keystone XL pipeline could produce four times more global warming pollution than the State Department calculated earlier this year, a new study concludes.
The U.S. estimates didn’t take into account that the added oil from the pipeline would drop prices by about $3 a barrel, spurring consumption that would create more pollution, the researchers said.
Outside experts not connected to the study gave it mixed reviews. The American Petroleum Institute found the study to be irrelevant because regardless of the pipeline, the tar sands will be developed and oil will be shipped by railroad if not by pipeline, spokeswoman Sabrina Fang said.
The new estimates, from scientists at the Stockholm Environment Institute, were published Sunday by the journal Nature Climate Change. Peter Erickson, lead author, said his work implies that the pipeline could basically wipe out reductions from some potential pollution-cutting policies under discussion.
For our final item, LiveScience, well, at least its not chemicals:
Computer Games Better Than Medication in Treating Elderly Depression
Computer games could help in treating older people with depression who haven’t been helped by antidepressant drugs or other treatments for the disorder, researchers say.
In a study of 11 older patients, researchers found playing certain computer games was just as effective at reducing symptoms of depression as the “gold standard” antidepressant drug escitalopram. Moreover, those patients playing the computer games achieved results in just four weeks, compared to the 12 weeks it often takes with escitalopram (also known by its brand name, Lexapro).
The computer games even improved what researchers call executive functions more than the drug did, according to the study. These functions are the thinking skills used in planning and organizing behavior, and their impairment has been linked to depression in elderly patients.