We begin with another illness, and just as scary via Reuters:
Outbreak of Ebola-like Marburg fever kills man in Uganda
A man has died in Uganda’s capital after an outbreak of Marburg, a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola, authorities said on Sunday, adding that a total of 80 people who came into contact with him were quarantined.
Marburg starts with a severe headache followed by haemorrhaging and leads to death in 80 percent or more of cases in about nine days. It is from the same family of viruses as Ebola, which has killed thousands in West Africa in recent months.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Marburg virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva and blood or by handling infected wild animals such as monkeys.
The health ministry said in a statement that the 30-year old radiographer died on Sept. 28 while working at a hospital in Kampala. He had started feeling unwell about 10 days earlier, and his condition kept deteriorating. He complained of headache, abdominal pain, vomiting blood and diarrhoea.
From the Observer, alarming words:
‘In 1976 I discovered Ebola, now I fear an unimaginable tragedy’
- Peter Piot was a researcher at a lab in Antwerp when a pilot brought him a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had fallen mysteriously ill in Zaire
Why did WHO react so late?
On the one hand, it was because their African regional office isn’t staffed with the most capable people but with political appointees. And the headquarters in Geneva suffered large budget cuts that had been agreed to by member states. The department for haemorrhagic fever and the one responsible for the management of epidemic emergencies were hit hard. But since August WHO has regained a leadership role.
There is actually a well-established procedure for curtailing Ebola outbreaks: isolating those infected and closely monitoring those who had contact with them. How could a catastrophe such as the one we are now seeing even happen?
I think it is what people call a perfect storm: when every individual circumstance is a bit worse than normal and they then combine to create a disaster. And with this epidemic there were many factors that were disadvantageous from the very beginning. Some of the countries involved were just emerging from terrible civil wars, many of their doctors had fled and their healthcare systems had collapsed. In all of Liberia, for example, there were only 51 doctors in 2010, and many of them have since died of Ebola.
China Daily sounds another alarm:
Ebola could reach France and UK by end-Oct
Scientists have used Ebola disease spread patterns and airline traffic data to predict a 75 percent chance the virus could be imported to France by October 24, and a 50 percent chance it could hit Britain by that date.
Those numbers are based on air traffic remaining at full capacity. Assuming an 80 percent reduction in travel to reflect that many airlines are halting flights to affected regions, France’s risk is still 25 percent, and Britain’s is 15 percent.
“It’s really a lottery,” said Derek Gatherer of Britain’s Lancaster University, an expert in viruses who has been tracking the epidemic – the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
From the Los Angeles Times, expectation:
U.S. official ‘would not be surprised’ if new Ebola case emerges in Texas
The federal government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the people who had close contact with the Ebola patient in Dallas contracts the deadly virus.
But the official, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, along with Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on four Sunday TV talk shows to stress that U.S. health authorities are taking aggressive steps to prevent an outbreak here even if another case appears.
The mixed message came as Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who was the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the virus that is suspected of killing more than 3,400 people in West Africa, remained in critical condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
“It’s really understandable that people are scared. It’s a deadly virus,” Frieden said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
From the New York Times, an update:
Ebola Patient in Dallas ‘Fighting for His Life,’ C.D.C. Director Says
The Ebola patient in Dallas is “fighting for his life,” but he remains the only confirmed victim of the disease in the United States, and public health officials remain confident about their ability to contain the disease, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.
While expressing such confidence about the American effort, the director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said on the CNN program “State of the Union” that in Africa, “the virus is spreading so fast that it’s hard to keep up.”
As top public health officials worked to educate the American public about the highly deadly disease without fueling a sense of panic, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said on Sunday that there was nothing to support fears that the disease is more readily transmissible than previously believed, or that American troops setting up medical facilities in West Africa could spread Ebola upon their return. Both possibilities had been raised by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
CBC News sounds an alarm:
Dallas Ebola case: Officials seek ‘low risk’ homeless man linked to Ebola case
- 50 people being monitored for signs of the deadly disease who may have had contact with patient
Officials in Texas are looking for a homeless man who may have had contact with an Ebola patient hospitalized in Dallas. The man, who walked away from a health facility Saturday after having his temperature tested, is considered at low risk.
“We have a great place for him to stay and we can attend to his every need. We just need him to be a hero to his community and to come forward,” Clay Lewis Jenkins, Dallas County judge, said at a news conference Sunday.
Jenkins added that police and other public officials are looking for the man, who is part of a larger group of 38 people who may have been around Duncan when he was showing symptoms of the disease.
And the Associated Press damps it down:
Officials locate possible Ebola patient contact
Authorities say they’ve located a homeless man who needs to be monitored because he may have had contact with the lone Ebola patient in the United States.
Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said the man was located Sunday, a few hours after officials first said he was missing.
The person is not considered to be one of the 10 people who definitely had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who is in critical condition at a Dallas hospital.
Reassurance from the Christian Science Monitor:
CDC official: ‘We know how to stop Ebola’
Authorities around the country are investigating reports of Ebola-like symptoms among patients. But so far, there is just one confirmed case of the disease in the US, and the head of the CDC says, “We can stop it in its tracks.”
As concern mounts over Ebola, US officials in charge of dealing with the infectious disease have one basic message meant to address public fears:
“The bottom line here is we know how to stop it,” says Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Dr. Frieden explained his confidence: “It’s not going to spread widely in the US, for two basic reasons. We can do infection control in hospitals, and we can do public health interventions that can stop it in its tracks. We do that by identifying every possible contact, monitoring them for 21 days and if they get any symptoms, isolating and monitoring them as well.”
While the Washington Post looks at the bigger picture:
Out of control
How the world’s health organizations failed to stop the Ebola disaster
The virus easily outran the plodding response. The WHO, an arm of the United Nations, is responsible for coordinating international action in a crisis like this, but it has suffered budget cuts, has lost many of its brightest minds and was slow to sound a global alarm on Ebola. Not until Aug. 8, 4-1/2 months into the epidemic, did the organization declare a global emergency. Its Africa office, which oversees the region, initially did not welcome a robust role by the CDC in the response to the outbreak.
Previous Ebola outbreaks had been quickly throttled, but that experience proved misleading and officials did not grasp the potential scale of the disaster. Their imaginations were unequal to the virulence of the pathogen.
“In retrospect, we could have responded faster. Some of the criticism is appropriate,” acknowledged Richard Brennan, director of the WHO’s Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response. But he added, “While some of the criticism we accept, I think we also have to get things in perspective that this outbreak has a dynamic that’s unlike everything we’ve ever seen before and, I think, has caught everyone unawares.”
The epidemic has exposed a disconnect between the aspirations of global health officials and the reality of infectious disease control. Officials hold faraway strategy sessions about fighting emerging diseases and bioterrorism even as front-line doctors and nurses don’t have enough latex gloves, protective gowns, rehydrating fluid or workers to carry bodies to the morgue.
More from Reuters:
Aid workers ask where was WHO in Ebola outbreak?
In the first days of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, as aid workers and health authorities battled to contain the deadly virus, Mariano Lugli asked himself a simple question: where was the World Health Organization?
Lugli, an Italian nurse, was among the first responders from medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to reach the remote forests of Guinea in March where the hemorrhagic fever – one of the most lethal diseases known to man – was detected.
When the epidemic spread to the capital Conakry, Lugli set up a second Ebola clinic there. He encountered a foreign medic and a logistician sent by the U.N. health agency but saw no sign of a WHO official in charge of handling the escalating outbreak.
“In all the meetings I attended, even in Conakry, I never saw a representative of the WHO,” said Lugli, deputy director of operations for MSF Switzerland. “The coordination role that WHO should be playing, we just didn’t see it. I didn’t see it the first three weeks and we didn’t see it afterwards.”
More reality — and its lack — on the ground via the South African Government News Agency:
Fight against Ebola hampered by gaps in data, hidden cases
Ebola’s rapid spread through West Africa has been quickened by the difficulty of keeping track of the deadly disease, and filling in the huge gaps in knowledge about the epidemic is key to eventually containing it, health experts say.
UN and World Health Organization data show the number of cases across the region had reached 7 423 by September 29, including 3 355 deaths. That is widely agreed to be an underestimate.
Many patients are not counted because they never get medical help, perhaps hidden by fearful families or turned away by overwhelmed clinics. Some villages have turned into “shadow zones” where villagers’ resistance or the remote location makes investigating numerous deaths impossible.
In Liberia, a surge of previously unknown patients who appear whenever a medical facility opens “suggests the existence of an invisible caseload of patients”, the WHO said in August.
Last week, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control estimated there would be 8 000 cases reported in Liberia and Sierra Leone by September 30, but said the true figure would likely be 21 000 after correcting for under-reporting.
CCTV Africa covers another side of the ongoing public health disaster:
UN estimates there are almost 4000 young children orphaned by Ebola
Ebola outbreak is having a huge impact on children in the West African region. The UN estimates ebola has orphaned almost 4,000 youngsters already – and says the number could double in coming weeks. Many of the orphans are shunned – but for some, there is help.
And another frightening number from Reuters:
Sierra Leone records 121 Ebola deaths in a single day
Sierra Leone recorded 121 deaths from Ebola and scores of new infections in one of the single deadliest days since the disease appeared in the West African country more than four months ago, government health statistics showed on Sunday.
The figures, which covered the period through Saturday, put the total number of deaths at 678, up from 557 the day before. The daily statistics compiled by Sierra Leone’s Emergency Operations Centre also showed 81 new cases of the hemorrhagic fever.
The overall death toll from the epidemic reached 3,439 out of a total of 7,492 cases in West Africa and the United States as of Oct. 1, the World Health Organization said last week. The U.N. agency’s statistics varied from those compiled by Sierra Leone.
TheLocal.se lends a hand:
Sweden boosts Ebola fight funds
Sweden has announced that it is boosting funds to be used in the fight against the spread of Ebola with most of the aid channelled through the UN and NGOs.
“If we don’t stop the spread of the disease we are heading for a catastrophe,” said Ewa Nunes Sörensson, Sweden’s ambassador to Liberia to the Dagens Nyheter daily.
Sweden has decided to boost its provision of aid funds from 35 million kronor to above 100 million kronor with most of the money to various NGOs such as Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders.
United Nations organisations such as WHO, Unicef and Unhas will also benefit from the funds.
The Los Angeles Times traces etiology:
From Guinea to Dallas: Tracing the Ebola threat
It began in a village deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea, when a 2-year-old boy named Emile developed a mysterious illness.
Nothing, it seemed, could stem the child’s fever and vomiting, and he died within days. A week later, the illness killed his 3-year-old sister, then his mother, grandmother and a house guest.
The grandmother consulted a nurse before she died. Friends and family gathered for her funeral, and soon the illness was spreading down rutted dirt tracks to other villages and towns.
Local health officials were alarmed, but it would take nearly three months from the boy’s death in December to identify the culprit: the dreaded Ebola virus. By then, the lethal virus had reached Guinea’s bustling capital, Conakry, and there were suspected cases across the border in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Via New Zimbabwe, concerns in a country a long way from the West African hot zone :
Stop Ebola Scare Tactics, Parirenyatwa
HEALTH Minister David Parirenyatwa has urged health workers to partner the government in spreading information about the deadly Ebola virus but warned them not to scare the people.
Parirenyatwa told a gathering of pharmacists in Victoria Falls on Saturday that people had been misinformed on the symptoms of the epidemic sweeping across West African countries where 3 300 people have been confirmed dead so far since its outbreak in March this year.
“There is no Ebola in Zimbabwe contrary to reports going around and we hope we will remain free from it,” he said. “All you have to do is help spread the correct information to the citizenry that coughing and sneezing which people always associate with symptoms are not signs of the disease. “There must be contact first for one to contract the disease as it spreads through contact,” he said. Parirenyatwa, who is also chairman of Sadc Health Ministers, allayed fears of any outbreak in Zimbabwe saying the country was Ebola-free although it will remain on high alert.
Punch Nigeria covers a familiar process, the politcalization of peril:
APC frustrated by Nigeria’s success on Ebola containment -PDP
The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has lambasted the All Progressives Congress for what it described as its yet another failed attempt to discredit the PDP-led Federal Government and relegate its efforts in the containment of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement in a Abuja on Sunday, said the APC was frustrated and unhappy because Nigerians are happy with the PDP-led Federal Government for “the speed and energy with which it tackled the scourge and brought it under control.”
“We know that the APC prefers that the Ebola scourge continued unabated in Nigeria so as to have what to blame the PDP-led government for. Now that it has been contained, the APC is frustrated because the people are happy with President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP-led Federal Government for the proactive manner with which the disease was confronted and overcame,” the party said.
And from Punch Nigeria again, metaphor become reality:
Akon performs in giant bubble to avoid Ebola
In an effort to guard against contracting the Ebola Virus Disease, a United States-based R&B star, Akon, last Sunday climbed inside an airtight blow-up during a performance in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The singer rolled over the crowd, pushed along by the outstretched hands of 60,000 screaming concert-goers while performing at a concert.
The performance was part of a larger free concert held by charity, ‘Peace One Day,’ to help promote and support the United Nations’ International Day Of Peace.
Akon was, however, accused of going to extreme lengths to avoid catching Ebola during a concert in Africa by crowd-surfing inside a giant plastic bubble.
CCTV Africa covers voluntary confrontation with peril:
Liberia’s ex- police chief joins Ebola fight
The raging Ebola outbreak has taken more than two thousand lives in Liberia. This has prompted some people to divert their careers from the usual path, as part of joint efforts to contain the spread of the deadly disease. Former Police Commissioner Samuel Nimley is usually in charge of police work involving Interpol matters.
From TheLocal.fr, another Northerner saved:
French nurse cured of Ebola
A French nurse who contracted Ebola while volunteering for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Liberia has been cured of the deadly virus, the French health minister said Saturday.
The nurse, who has not been identified, “is now cured and has left hospital,” Marisol Touraine said in a statement.
The first French national to be infected with the virus was airlifted back to France on September 19 and received experimental treatment at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris.
From Raw Story, the merger of Ebola and GOP extremism focused on black people:
Former SC GOP director: Execute anyone who comes into contact with Ebola — ‘it’s just math’
The former general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party is coming under fire for the novel solutions to the Ebola epidemic he is posting on Twitter.
The vehemently pro-life Todd Kincannon began by arguing that anyone who contracts Ebola should be summarily executed.