First up, via the Associated Press:
Ebola is surging in places it had been beaten back
Doctors Without Borders shuttered one of its Ebola treatment centers in Guinea in May. They thought the deadly virus was being contained there.
The Macenta region, right on the Liberian border, had been one of the first places where the outbreak surfaced, but they hadn’t seen a new case for weeks. So they packed up, leaving a handful of staff on stand-by. The outbreak was showing signs of slowing elsewhere as well.
Instead, new cases appeared across the border in Liberia and then spread across West Africa, carried by the sick and dying. Now, months later, Macenta is once again a hotspot.
The resurgence of the disease in a place where doctors thought they had it beat shows how history’s largest Ebola outbreak has spun out of control.
More from Reuters:
Ebola spreads exponentially in Liberia, many more cases soon: WHO
Liberia, the country worst hit by West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, should see thousands of new cases in coming weeks as the virus spreads exponentially, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
The epidemic, the worst since the disease was discovered in 1976, has killed some 2,100 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria and has also spread to Senegal.
The WHO believes it will take six to nine months to contain and may infect up to 20,000 people. In Liberia, the disease has already killed 1,089 people – more than half of all deaths reported since March in this regional epidemic.
“Transmission of the Ebola virus in Liberia is already intense and the number of new cases is increasing exponentially,” the U.N. agency said in a statement. “The number of new cases is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them in Ebola-specific treatment centers.”
Still more from International Business Times:
Ebola Outbreak: ‘Huge Need’ For Funding, Supplies, Says UN Agency
The Ebola outbreak currently ravaging West Africa continues to spread at an alarming rate, and the World Health Organization says that hospital beds, supplies and transportation are all in short supply. The United Nations agency announced last week that it had developed a $490 million program for the U.N.’s network of agencies to implement. But that money is not immediately available because the WHO is “badly” funded, spokesman Dan Epstein told the International Business Times on Monday.
The funding shortfall and persistent logistical issues mean that victims of the deadly hemorrhagic fever and the health care professionals who treat them have not had access to all of the specialized equipment and support required to provide proper care.
“We need at least 980 more beds in Ebola treatment centers. There’s a huge need for foreign medical teams in these countries, and we also need personal protective equipment and other supplies,” Epstein said.
CBC News reports another casualty:
Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone infects WHO doctor
- 152 health-care workers in Liberia have been infected, 79 have died
A doctor with the World Health Organization in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the Ebola virus.
The physician is in stable condition in Freetown and will be evacuated shortly, the UN health agency said in a statement Monday.
To maintain patient confidentiality, WHO spokeswoman Nyka Alexander in Freetown said the agency won’t provide details on nationality or where the person is going for treatment.
The Independent covers a vector:
Ebola virus spread by taxi passengers, says WHO
The Ebola virus is spreading exponentially in Liberia, the World Health Organisation warned today.
The organisation said that motorbike-taxis and regular taxis are “a hot source of potential virus transmission” because they are not disinfected in Liberia, where conventional Ebola control measures “are not having an adequate impact”.
The United Nations agency said aid partners needed to scale up efforts against Ebola by three- to fourfold in Liberia and elsewhere in West African countries battling the epidemic.
From the Guardian, another ill evacuee:
Fourth Ebola patient to be flown to US for care
- Emory University Hospital says patient, possibly a doctor who had been working in Sierra Leone, will arrive Tuesday in the US
An Atlanta hospital says a patient infected with Ebola will be brought from West Africa to its isolation unit for treatment.
Emory University Hospital says the patient is expected to arrive Tuesday morning.
Air force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Wilson says the patient would be flown into Dobbins Air Reserve Base outside Atlanta.
The hospital released no more information on the patient.
USA TODAY sends in the troops:
Pentagon enlisted in Ebola fight
The Pentagon will airlift a portable, 25-bed hospital to Ebola-stricken Liberia to help treat first responders who have contracted the deadly disease, the Pentagon announced Monday.
The hospital, contained in a series of tents, will be set up and stocked by U.S. personnel. They will most likely be a mix of uniformed and civilian medical experts, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
The hospital will be given to the government of Liberia and operated by aid organizations and local medical personnel, Warren said.
From Science, dashing statistical optimism:
How deadly is Ebola? Statistical challenges may be inflating survival rate
The Ebola virus that is causing the raging epidemic in West Africa is famously lethal. In previous outbreaks it has killed as many as 90% of the people it infects. That’s why the figures in World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) latest “Situation Report” look like they might be a rare glimmer of good news. Although the rate of infections is picking up speed at an alarming rate, the report says the fatality rate is 53% overall, ranging from 64% in Guinea to just 39% in Sierra Leone.
But there’s a catch: The apparent low proportion of deaths probably depends more on the way health officials are calculating the number than on the deadliness of the virus—or the quality of care patients are receiving. Indeed, the dramatic increase in cases in recent weeks is one of the main reasons the reported death rate appears to be artificially low.
There are several ways to calculate what officials call the “case fatality rate,” or CFR, of a disease outbreak. One of the simplest is to divide the number of deaths by the number of total cases. That is what WHO does in its recent CFR calculations.
StarAfrica offers a defense:
S/Leone defends proposed anti-Ebola lockdown
Sierra Leone’s Information Minister, Alhaji Alpha Kanu, Monday defended the decision by the government to declare a nationwide shutdown in an effort to contain the deadly Ebola virus disease in the country.From September 19 to 21, everyone will be confined to their homes, according to the decision reached last Friday.
Only a limited personnel providing essential services like health workers, power service employees, will be allowed to work during the lockdown.
The government said this will enable it identify sick people and refer them for early treatment so that they do not spread the virus.
Punch Nigeria poses a challenge:
Ebola: Doctors reject Sept 22 schools’ resumption date
The Nigerian Medical Association on Monday faulted the Federal Government’s directive to schools to resume on September 22 as against October 12.
It said through its National Secretary-General, Dr. Olawunmi Alayaki, that all schools ought to remain shut till all those under surveillance for the Ebola Virus Disease in the country had been certified free.
“We are not happy with this decision on the resumption of schools. Schools should be shut till the last suspected case or patient is certified free of the virus,” the NMA said.
Ebola-hit Liberia adjusts curfew hours, lifts quarantine on Town
Liberia has adjusted the curfew period throughout the country, reports said on Monday. According to Information Minister Lewis G. Brown, the curfew will as of September 8, last from 11:00 P.M to 6:00 A.M.
Brown made the disclosure in an interview on Monrovia, telling reporters that the curfew was lifted based on recommendations from the Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, Minister Brown has announced the lifting of the quarantine on Dolo’s Town in Margibi County. According to him, the government’s decision to lift the quarantine on Dolo’s Town is based on positive and satisfactory reports coming from the area.
Guinea announces new measures to stop Ebola
The Guinean government has set up a medical checkpoint near the country’s border with Sierra Leone in an attempt to stop the spread of Ebola.
People are being stopped and tested for the virus, which has killed almost 2,100 people in West Africa this year.
Xinhua calls for a halt:
Travel ban over Ebola should be lifted: AU
The African Union (AU) has agreed at an emergency meeting that countries should lift travel ban over the Ebola outbreak, but underlined the need to put appropriate measures to protect and contain the spread of the Ebola virus.
The AU Executive Council on Monday convened an emergency meeting at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to consolidate collective continental efforts against Ebola.
Ebola has affected West African countries.
The AU said in a statement ahead of the meeting that the Executive Council would deliberate on issues related to the suspension of flights, and maritime and border closures, as well as stigmatization of the affected countries and their nationals.
On a related note, from Deutsche Welle:
Ebola lockdown criticized
- Aid organizations have criticized plans by the Sierra Leone govenerment to enforce a three-day Ebola lockdown. They say it could erode trust in the already embattled authorities.
From the Los Angeles Times, another mystery ailment:
Virus poses particular danger to kids with asthma; cases in 12 states
A rare virus that threatens respiratory systems has sickened hundreds children in Kansas City, Mo., and and Chicago and could be responsible for far more cases in about a dozen states, national health officials said Monday.
The virus, known as Enterovirus D68, is a rare form of the virus normally associated with the common cold, Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news conference at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reports of hundreds of children being infected have raised concerns, and doctors have been warned to be on the lookout for more clusters, she said. “We understand the concern about this. Severe respiratory illness is also a concern, especially when children are involved,” she said.
On to other environmental news, first with the Guardian:
Activists promise biggest climate march in history
- People’s Climate March in New York and cities worldwide hopes to put pressure on heads of state at Ban Ki-moon summit
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of New York, London and eight other cities worldwide in a fortnight to pressure world leaders to take action on global warming, in what organisers claim will be the biggest climate march in history.
On 23 September, heads of state will join a New York summit on climate change organised by Ban Ki-moon, the first time world leaders have come together on the issue since the landmark Copenhagen summit in 2009, which was seen as a failure.
The UN secretary general hopes the meeting will inject momentum into efforts to reach a global deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2015, at a conference in Paris.
National Post covers a decline:
Canada leads world in forest decline, report says
The world’s virgin forests are being lost at an increasing rate and the largest portion of the degradation is in Canada, according to a new report.
No longer is Brazil the main villain in the struggle to stop forest destruction.
“Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000,” Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview.
He said the main drivers are fires, logging and energy and industrial development.
BBC News raises threats:
Food crop wild relatives endangered
Scientists have released the most complete database of the wild relatives of common food crops.
These wild relatives are closely related to our crops, but grow naturally under a wide range of environmental conditions. This makes them essential for the development of more resistant and adaptable food sources.
However, many of them grow in conflict zones in the Middle East, where their conservation is threatened.
While Al Jazeera America covers a rescue:
Ancient superfoods saved (and savored) by modern palates
- An heirloom grain revival takes root in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands
The towering ancient corn, which grows to twice the height of a man, was cultivated for thousands of years by Uto-Aztecan tribes, but had all but disappeared. Now, horticulturalist Jonathan Wick stoops over green shoots of the maize sprouting in a field near this Mexican village just south of the Arizona border.
“It was originally grown by the Aztecs, and it was their superfood,” Wick said of the Chapalote corn. “It was the food that they would roast and mill, make into a drink with water — pinole — the drink that they needed to keep them going all day long. It’s very nutritious.”
Wick is working to revive the ancient, once near-extinct, flinty, chocolate-colored corn first sown 4,200 years ago in a region extending from what is now northwest Mexico to Arizona
BBC News comes covers a rescue:
New proposal on Australia reef dumping plan
The Queensland government has proposed a plan that would prevent sediment being dumped in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The central government has already approved the reef dumping plan, which is linked to a major port expansion. But the decision has proved hugely controversial, prompting stringent criticism from environmentalists.
The Queensland government said its plan to dispose of the sediment on land would “create a win-win situation”.
On to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with NHK WORLD:
TEPCO apologizes family over evacuee suicide
The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant apologized to the family of a woman who committed suicide after she was forced to evacuate her home because of radiation released by the meltdowns in March 2011.
The Fukushima District Court last month ordered the Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay about 470,000 dollars in damages for the suicide of Hamako Watanabe.
The court acknowledged a sufficient causal relationship between her suicide and the nuclear accident.
Kyodo News looks to a restart:
Japan nuclear plant to get safety clearance this week
A nuclear plant in southwestern Japan will obtain a safety clearance from regulators this week to become the first such facility in the country to meet new, tighter regulations introduced following the 2011 Fukushima crisis, official sources said Monday.
The move will let the two-reactor Sendai complex in Kagoshima Prefecture move a step closer to operational resumption, which could mark the revival of Japan’s nuclear industry, idled since the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
But a restart of the Sendai plant is not expected before this winter, as the operator Kyushu Electric Power Co. has yet to get some paperwork done to fully complete the regulatory safety screening process, undergo on-site operational checks and obtain local consent.
NHK WORLD covers reluctance:
Local govts wary of nuclear plant restart
An NHK survey shows that more than 60 percent of local governments that host or surround a nuclear power plant are cautious about restarting idled reactors even if they meet new safety guidelines.
Last month, NHK polled 146 prefectures and municipalities within a 30-kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant. The survey asked whether they will approve restarting plants nearby if authorities find they satisfy new safety requirements.
About 12 percent said they will approve or hope to approve in the future, while 8 percent said they will not approve or will never approve. About 67 percent said they were undecided for now. Of the respondents, 44 percent of the municipalities that host a plant gave a positive answer. Only 8 percent of municipalities surrounding a plant did so.
And for our final item, not all environments are external, via Public Radio International:
Bacteria in our gut may influence both our physical and mental health
- If bacteria in your gut can affect your health, can they affect your brain, too?
Researchers are finding more and more evidence that the trillions of bacteria contained in our gut are sending signals to the brain and influencing behavior and cognitive functioning.
People in the fields of appetite and food intake have long known that the brain and the gut talk to one another, says researcher John Cryan, but a paper published 10 years ago in Japan made scientists take a new look at gut-brain communication. The paper revealed that mice lacking certain bacteria showed an increased stress response.
Cryan, who is chairman of the department of anatomy and neuroscience and principal investigator of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center at the University of College Cork in Cork, Ireland, says the paper made researchers in stress neurobiology ask an important new question: “What are bacteria doing that helps animals have a proper stress response?”