Category Archives: Schools

EnviroWatch: Ills, pollution, GMOs, nukes


We begin with another outbreak from Global Times:

Guangdong sees over 1,400 new dengue cases

Health authorities of south China’s Guangdong Province said 1,412 new cases of dengue were confirmed in the province on Thursday.

The total number of dengue infections rose to 27,593, over 27 times that of same period last year, said the provincial health and family planning commission on Friday.

The disease, which has killed six people, has been detected in 20 prefecture-level cities in Guangdong. Its capital city Guangzhou was hit worst with 23,484 cases reported.

From the Daily Monitor in Kampala, Uganda, not courting illness:

Court suspends trials over Marburg

  • Proceedings halted. Criminal proceedings have been halted and the court is only handling civil cases which do not involve prisoners

The Magistrate’s Court in Kasese District has suspended proceedings after the Mubuku Prison administration refused to admit more prisoners due to fear of Marburg infection in the country.

On Tuesday, the chief magistrate’s court presided over by Agatonica Mbabazi sentenced four people to three months in jail each in Mubuku Prison.

However, they were later released after prison authorities declined to receive them for custody.

“Four convicts were released immediately after the prison authorities refused to take in more inmates due to fear of Marburg outbreak in the country. I had nowhere to put them,” the chief magistrate said.

And from Punch Nigeria, another African concern:

29 million Nigerians risk Lassa fever –FG

The Federal Government has said that 29 million Nigerians are at the risk of Lassa fever, while 26 states are exposed to the disease.

The government also said the recent outbreak of the disease in the country was a signal that it had not received the expected attention.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, spoke on Friday in Abuja during a press briefing to coincide with the National Lassa Fever Day and public presentation of 5,000 safeguard soaps to the ministry by Procter & Gamble, Nigeria.

And from Public Radio International, another public health tragedy:

Deaths among low-income children are making the US a leader in infant mortality

The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the United States is the worst among developed nations when it comes to infant mortality rates. There are 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in the United States; compare that to Finland, which had only 2.3 per 1,000 live births, or even Greece with 3.8.

So what’s the reason?

“It’s the period after a month of life — a month to 12 months — where the US is really doing worse,” says Emily Oster, an economist who helped calculate these figures. “Much of the death rate in that period is not really about medical interventions, it’s about things that are happening in the home.”

And in low-income homes, says Oster, a visiting associate professor of economics at Brown University, there’s a lack of support and resources that may be leading to a high number of deaths among babies. While there are other factors, including questions about how the US calculates infant mortality, she says this is the biggest problem.

And another one, via MintPress News:

A Third Of Schoolchildren Vulnerable To Hazardous Chemicals Facilities

While the conversation on hazardous chemicals facilities tends to revolve around risks to the general public, nearly 20 million schoolchildren go to schools located in vulnerability zones. Many of these schools lack plans in case of a chemical emergency.

One in three U.S. students attends school within the formally designated “vulnerability zone” of facilities involved in the manufacture or storage of large amounts of hazardous chemicals, according to new research.

That would translate into nearly 20 million schoolchildren spending near-daily time within the vicinity of at least one hazardous facility, including refineries, chemical manufacturers and wastewater treatment plants. Further, half of that number attend school near multiple facilities like these. And in 102 counties in 22 states, every single student goes to class within one or more vulnerability zones, most of which are a mile or larger.

“Literally tons of inadequately tested, potentially harmful chemicals and known human toxins are in use in industrial production sites and storage facilities across the country. These stocks of toxic chemicals represent a looming, silent risk in communities nationwide,” a new report from the Center for Effective Government, a Washington watchdog group, states.

Another Chinese accomplishment, via the Guardian:

China pollution levels hit 20 times safe limit

Visibility dropped dramatically as small pollutant particles reached dangerous levels in northern China’s Hebei province

Days of heavy smog shrouding swathes of northern China pushed pollution to more than 20 times safe levels on Friday, despite government promises to tackle environmental blight.

Visibility dropped dramatically as measures of small pollutant particles known as PM2.5, which can embed themselves deep in the lungs, reached more than 500 micrograms per cubic metre in parts of Hebei, a province bordering Beijing.

The World Health Organization’s guideline for maximum healthy exposure is 25.

In the capital, buildings were obscured by a thick haze, with PM2.5 levels in the city staying above 300 micrograms per cubic metre since Wednesday afternoon and authorities issuing an “orange” alert.

From the Guardian, a marine tragedy in the making:

Great Barrier Reef: ‘a massive chemistry experiment gone wrong’

  • Scientists warn that pollution may be dramatically increasing the rate of ocean acidification in inshore areas, threatening coral

It has long been known that pollution is having a devastating impact on the Great Barrier Reef but now scientists are warning that it may also be dramatically increasing the rate of ocean acidification in inshore areas of the region.

Dr Sven Uthicke, a senior research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, has with colleagues this week published a paper in the journal PLOS one, on ocean acidification in the reef. The study compares the reef’s inshore and offshore waters, and information on present-day water quality with 30-year-old data.

The study, Coral Reefs on the Edge? Carbon Chemistry on Inshore Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef,reads as though a massive chemistry experiment has gone wrong on one of the country’s most precious ecosystems.

Another water woe from BBC News:

Brazil drought crisis deepens in Sao Paulo

The governor of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has asked for emergency clearance to siphon the remaining water out of the main reservoir serving Sao Paulo city, which has almost run dry.

After nine months of unprecedented drought, 95% of the water has gone.

Geraldo Alckmin, re-elected in last week’s elections, has been criticised for not imposing water rationing to tackle the crisis.

Twenty-nine other Brazilian cities have been affected by the drought.

From NASA Goddard, changing ice poles apart:

The Arctic and the Antarctic Respond in Opposite Ways

Program notes:

The Arctic and the Antarctic are regions that have a lot of ice and acts as air conditioners for the Earth system. This year, Antarctic sea ice reached a record maximum extent while the Arctic reached a minimum extent in the top ten lowest since satellite records began. One reason we are seeing differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic is due to their different geographies. As for what’s causing the sea increase in the Antarctic, scientists are also studying ocean temperatures, possible changes in wind direction and, overall, how the region is responding to changes in the climate

And the Guardian covers a water dilemma:

China’s water dilemma between farming and growing population

Water stressed China faces a dilemma between safeguarding food production and releasing water to a thirsty population, can new technology and policy reforms help?

In an increasingly volatile world, China’s economic growth has proved remarkably resilient. While the economies of Europe and America have stalled or nose-dived since the 2008 financial crash, China’s has continued to expand. The headlines are startling: since the early 1990s, GDP growth per capita has averaged 8.9%, and nearly 600 million people have been lifted out of poverty.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that China’s growth was kick-started by investment in agriculture. This, in turn, catalysed growth in the wider rural economy and, as China’s rural inhabitants got richer, so they moved to growing towns and cities, building – literally – the skylines of Beijing, Shanghai and other megacities.

In the meantime, China’s agricultural economy has motored on. Despite rapid urbanisation, and an economy now driven by industry rather than farming, the country is still able to feed over 20% of the world’s population. Maintaining self-sufficiency in wheat and rice remains ideologically important, even if imports of feed grains for meat production have soared over recent years.

Agence France-Presse covers a GMO confrontation:

Argentine ecologists block construction of Monsanto plant

Program notes:

In Cordoba, Argentina, a group of environmentalists decided a year ago to block the construction of a corn processing plant of US seed giant Monsanto, in opposition of its use of genetically modified crops.

While China may greenlight GMOs, via Global Times:

China may renew certificates for GM rice

Expired safety certificates for two species of genetically modified (GM) rice developed in China may be renewed, said an official with the Ministry of Agriculture on Friday.

“A safety certificate is a precondition for further use. If the rice did not show safety issues during the previous term of the safety certificate, the certificate will be renewed,” said Kou Jianping, head of technology enforcement at the Ministry of Agriculture, “but it depends on the whole review process.”

In 2009 three safety certificates were issued for GM plants, two for rice and one for corn. They all expired on Aug. 17. On June 9, the ministry received an application from Huazhong Agricultural University to renew safety certificates for the GM rice, but has not received any application for the corn, Kou said.

On to the nuclear, starting in Germany with TheLocal.de:

One in three nuclear waste barrels damaged

Inspectors in northern Germany have found that a third of barrels containing radioactive waste at a decommissioned nuclear plant are damaged, the Schleswig-Holstein Environment Ministry said on Thursday.

Vattenfall, the energy company which manages the Brunsbüttel site in Schlewswig-Holstein, reported that 102 of the 335 barrels stored in the site’s six underground chambers were corroded, leaking or had loose lids.

Some of the containers are so deformed that they can no longer be moved, as they no longer fit into the robotic gripping arms installed at the site, the inspectors reported.

And for our final item, a done deal from Reuters:

South Africa signs nuclear agreement with France

South Africa has signed a nuclear power agreement with France, the government said on Friday, three weeks after it reached a similar deal with Russia as part of Pretoria’s first tentative steps towards building up to 9,600 MW of nuclear power.

The Sept. 20 agreement, which Russia touted as a $10 billion contract to build power plants, took many South Africans by surprise, compelling officials to clarify that it was in fact just the early stages of a long procurement process.

Energy officials also stressed that other intergovernmental agreements – with France, China, South Korea, the United States and Japan – were likely to follow.

EbolaWatch: Marburg, U.S., European fear, Africa


Much ground to cover in the increasingly dramatic unfolding of the Ebola crisis, but we begin with that other hemorrhagic fever outbreak that is causing great concern,. From the Daily Monitor in Kampala, Uganda:

Number of Marburg suspects raise to eight

The Ministry with the support of MSF and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on Monday trained a total of 103 health workers from Mengo Hospital in Marburg prevention, treatment and control

Eight people who earlier got into contact with the Marburg confirmed case have developed signs of the disease, according to the Ministry of Health.
Samples have also been taken from the eight suspects and are being investigated at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

The Director General of Health Services Dr. Alex Opio said four of them are from Mpigi, two from Kasese and two from Kampala district.

“Preparations are underway to quarantine the suspects as a preventive measure for the spread of the disease. To date there is only one laboratory confirmed case that has been reported in the country. This is the first case that was reported at Mengo Hospital and has since died,” Dr Opio said in a statement issued on Monday evening by the Ministry of Health.

And on to Ebola, first with a brief video report from the Associated Press:

CDC Notes Some Progress in Ebola Fight

Program notes:

The CDC says there is some progress in the fight against Ebola. Dr. Thomas Frieden says so far no one who had contact with the Dallas patient is sick, and cases recently have ‘plummeted’ in a key region of Liberia

The Japan Times gives an update on America’s patient:

Dallas Ebola patient on ventilator and receiving kidney dialysis

The Ebola patient fighting for his life in a Dallas hospital is on a ventilator and a kidney dialysis machine to help stabilize his health, the hospital said on Tuesday.

Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with the deadly virus on U.S. soil, has also been given the experimental medication brincidofovir. A hospital in Nebraska said it is using the same drug to treat an American journalist who was airlifted from Liberia and arrived Monday.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said in a statement that Duncan’s liver function declined over the weekend. It said although it has since improved, “doctors caution that this could vary in coming days.”

A question from the Christian Science Monitor:

Why didn’t Texas Ebola patient receive experimental drug sooner?

Doctors were concerned about the risks the experimental drug posed to the Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. But a worsening condition appears to have changed the equation.

News that Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient in Dallas, is receiving an experimental antiviral drug is another chapter in a fast-moving geopolitical drama exploring, patient by patient, the frontiers of medicine and ethics.

As the global community scrambles to contain the virus, and as the cases outside Africa grow, questions have been raised about why Mr. Duncan, a Liberian war survivor who came to the United States to marry his son’s mother, hasn’t received the same experimental drug that doctors say may have played a role in the recovery of two American medical workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and aid worker Nancy Writebol.

The medical community, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is scrambling to find a medicine to stave off the disease. Two potential Ebola vaccines are now being tested on humans, but even if they’re deemed successful, it will be months before they’re available.

And from the London Daily Mail, the inevitable hyperbole:

EXCLUSIVE: First picture of Ebola victim’s quarantined ‘wife’ – as DA threatens charge of aggravated assault with a DEADLY WEAPON after he lied to get into America

  • Thomas Eric Duncan could face the charge – which carries a sentence of up to 20 years – if he survives and is charged
  • Dallas DA said it is something they are ‘taking seriously’ after Duncan lied on forms about his exposure to Ebola to get on a plane to America
  • Meanwhile, a gofundme set up for him has only raised $50 in six days
  • Commentors on the page expressed anger that he had been deceitful
  • Jesse Jackson flew into to Dallas on Tuesday to support the family
  • Duncan remains in a critical but stable condition with a slight improvement after being given an experimental drug

While the Los Angeles Times focuses on a more troubling concern:

Some Ebola experts worry virus may spread more easily than assumed

U.S. officials leading the fight against history’s worst outbreak of Ebola have said they know the ways the virus is spread and how to stop it. They say that unless an air traveler from disease-ravaged West Africa has a fever of at least 101.5 degrees or other symptoms, co-passengers are not at risk.

Yet some scientists who have long studied Ebola say such assurances are premature — and they are concerned about what is not known about the strain now on the loose. It is an Ebola outbreak like none seen before, jumping from the bush to urban areas, giving the virus more opportunities to evolve as it passes through multiple human hosts.

Dr. C.J. Peters, who battled a 1989 outbreak of the virus among research monkeys housed in Virginia and who later led the CDC’s most far-reaching study of Ebola’s transmissibility in humans, said he would not rule out the possibility that it spreads through the air in tight quarters.

More from The Hill:

CDC: Airborne Ebola possible but unlikely

The Ebola virus becoming airborne is a possible but unlikely outcome in the current epidemic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said Tuesday.

The outbreak involves Ebola Zaire, a strain that is passed through bodily fluids, not the air. But some experts have expressed fear about viral mutations due to the unprecedented — and rising — number of Ebola cases.

Frieden sought to allay those fears during a call with reporters.

“The rate of change [with Ebola] is slower than most viruses, and most viruses don’t change how they spread,” he said. Frieden is unofficially spearheading the U.S. response to Ebola.

“That is not to say it’s impossible that it could change [to become airborne],” he continued. “That would be the worst-case scenario. We would know that by looking at … what is happening in Africa. That is why we have scientists from the CDC on the ground tracking that.”

From the New York Times, screening:

U.S. to Require Tougher Ebola Screening at Airports: Senator

U.S. health officials are preparing to require tougher Ebola screening at American airports this week to keep the deadly virus from spreading to this country, Senator Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday.

The new measures may include screening air travelers for fever when they arrive in the United States from the worst-stricken countries in West Africa, on direct or indirect flights, Schumer said in a statement.

He said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told him the agency might adopt some of the recommendations Schumer had made on Ebola screening over the weekend.

And the Associated Press covers one measure already implemented:

Coast Guard sector issues new steps on Ebola

One U.S. Coast Guard sector says it will contact ships that have recently been to Ebola-affected countries to ask whether passengers have symptoms of the virus before they are allowed into port.

The sector, which includes parts of New York and Connecticut, issued a bulletin to the maritime community in Long Island Sound on Monday that describes protocols being put into place due to Ebola.

“We wanted to have those specific steps identified in advance so we’ve prepared the captains of these vessels doing business in our ports for the questions we’re going to ask,” said Capt. Edward J. Cubanski III, the sector commander.

Here is the full CDC briefing, via the Washington Post:

CDC holds news briefing on Ebola patient in Texas

Program note:

The CDC gives members of the media an update on the condition a man in Dallas who was diagnosed with Ebola.

The Associated Press covers belated safeguards:

US health providers expand their Ebola precautions

Public hospitals in New York City are so concerned about Ebola, they’ve secretly been sending actors with mock symptoms into emergency rooms to test how well the triage staffs identify and isolate possible cases.

A small Ohio hospital has hung up signs imploring patients to let nurses know immediately if they have traveled recently to West Africa.

And across the U.S., one of the nation’s largest ambulance companies has put together step-by-step instructions for wrapping the interior of a rig with plastic sheeting.

There hasn’t been a single confirmed case of an Ebola infection happening on U.S. soil; the case confirmed in Dallas involves a man who, like several health care workers treated in the U.S., contracted the virus in Liberia. But health care providers are worried enough to take a wide variety of precautions.

And then there’s this from Reuters:

Male Ebola survivors told: Use a condom

Sex could keep the Ebola epidemic alive even after the World Health Organization (WHO) declares an area free of the disease, one of the discoverers of the deadly virus said on Tuesday.

The WHO is hoping to announce later this week that Nigeria and Senegal are free of Ebola after 42 days with no infections — the standard period for declaring an outbreak over, twice the maximum 21-day incubation period of the virus.

However, it appears the disease can last much longer in semen. “In a convalescent male, the virus can persist in semen for at least 70 days; one study suggests persistence for more than 90 days,” the WHO said in an information note on Monday.

“Certainly, the advice has to be for survivors to use a condom, to not have unprotected sex, for 90 days,” said Peter Piot, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a discoverer of Ebola in 1976.

On to Spain, and Europe’s first home grown patient, via Reuters:

Four hospitalized in Spain after first Ebola transmission outside Africa

Four people have been hospitalized in Spain to try to stem the spread of Ebola after a Spanish nurse became the first person in the world known to have contracted the virus outside of Africa, health authorities said on Tuesday.

The nurse, who tested positive for the virus on Monday, her husband, who is showing no symptoms of the disease, and two other people are being closely monitored in hospital, health officials told a news conference in Madrid.

One of those hospitalized is a health worker who has diarrhea but no fever. The other is a Spaniard who traveled from Nigeria, said Rafael Perez-Santamaria, head of the Carlos III Hospital where the infected nurse treated two Spanish missionaries who contracted the disease in Africa.

More from El País:

Nurse’s assistant came into contact with 21 people at Alcorcón Hospital

  • Staff including doctors, nurses and ambulance crew will be monitored for symptoms

A day after news broke that a Spanish nursing assistant had become the first person in Europe to contract the ebola virus, health authorities were working to close the net around people with whom the 40-year-old woman could have come into contact.

The nurse’s assistant, who was part of the health team who looked after two Spanish missionaries with ebola who had been brought back from Africa for treatment in Madrid, was initially treated in Alcorcón Hospital in the southwestern suburb of the same name. The hospital has so far identified 21 members of staff with whom the patient came into contact, including an ambulance crew and doctors and nurses, according to health sources contacted by EL PAÍS.

All of them have been contacted by the health center and told they will have to be monitored for symptoms of the disease. They will have their temperature checked twice a day, but can continue with their normal day-to-day lives, given that the virus is not contagious until symptoms, which include fever, appear.

And a video report from Deutsche Welle:

Madrid hospital staff want answers

Program notes:

Medical staff at the Madrid hospital where a nurse contracted ebola, are angry. They want to know how the woman could have become infected, despite safety measures. The nurse had treated two priests who caught the virus in West Africa.

Questions from the Los Angeles Times:

Questions raised about safety measures used for Ebola cases in Spain

Questions were raised Tuesday about the quality of the protective equipment and training received by Spanish medical personnel caring for Ebola patients as three more people were placed in quarantine for possible exposure to the virus.

Spain’s Health Ministry announced Monday that a nursing assistant at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid had tested positive for the virus, the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside Africa in the current epidemic.

Healthcare workers have been among those hardest hit in the outbreak, which has killed more than 3,400 of the nearly 7,500 suspected and confirmed Ebola patients in West Africa.  As of Oct. 1, 382 healthcare workers were reported to have developed Ebola, including 216 people who died of the disease.

The case in Spain was a reminder that medical personnel can be at risk in Western hospitals, as well as at under-resourced and overwhelmed African facilities. The Ebola virus is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of symptomatic patients.

The patient had helped care for Manuel Garcia Viejo, a 69-year-old missionary in Sierra Leone who died of Ebola on Sept. 25 after being evacuated to Spain for treatment. She entered the priest’s room twice, once to help care for him and once to collect his belongings after he died, hospital officials said.

And the Guardian covers the seemingly inevitable:

Ebola in Europe is unavoidable, says WHO as Spain rushes to contain case

  • WHO’s European director says continent remains at low risk and one of the best prepared places to respond to the infection

The World Health Organisation has said it is ready to provide support for Spain as authorities in the country scrambled to contain the first case of Ebola infection within Europe.

The WHO’s European director, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said it was “quite unavoidable … that such incidents will happen in the future because of the extensive travel from Europe to the affected countries and the other way around”.

She added: “The most important thing in our view is that Europe is still at low risk, and that the western part of the European region particularly is the best prepared in the world to respond to viral haemorrhagic fevers including Ebola.”

But the New York Times covers another angle:

Spain Is Pressed for Answers After a Nurse Is Infected With Ebola

Spain’s government came under heavy criticism Tuesday as it dealt with the repercussions of Western Europe’s first Ebola case, quarantining three more people and monitoring dozens who had come into contact with an infected nurse.

Health care workers, who have been sparring with the government over cutbacks, said they had not received proper training or equipment to handle an Ebola case. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, asked for an explanation, according to news reports. And some opposition politicians called for the health minister, Ana Mato, to resign.

At a news conference in Madrid, officials insisted that they had taken all appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus. But in a sign of the government’s unease with the possible political consequences, a lower-ranking official, María Mercedes Vinuesa, director of public health, went before Parliament on Tuesday to answer questions, not Ms. Mato.

While the Guardian suggests a partial explanation:

Spanish nurse Ebola infection blamed on substandard gear and protocol lapse

  • Staff at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital say protective suits do not meet WHO standards as second nurse undergoes tests for virus

Staff at the hospital where she worked told El País that the protective suits they were given did not meet World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, which specify that suits must be impermeable and include breathing apparatus. Staff also pointed to latex gloves secured with adhesive tape as an example of how the suits were not impermeable and noted that they did not have their own breathing equipment.

The nurse was part of a team attending to missionary Manuel García Viejo, 69, who died four days after being brought to Carlos III hospital on 20 September. The same team, including the nurse, also treated missionary Miguel Pajares, 75, who was repatriated from Liberia in August and died five days later.

Staff at the hospital said waste from the rooms of both patients was carried out in the same elevator used by all personnel and, in the case of the second patient, the hospital was not evacuated.

And the Associated Press covers collateral canine damage:

Ebola escapes Europe’s defenses; pet dog must die

Health officials scrambled Tuesday to figure out how West Africa’s Ebola outbreak got past Europe’s defenses, quarantining four people at a Madrid hospital where a Spanish nursing assistant became infected. Determined to contain the spread of the deadly virus, they even announced plans to euthanize the woman’s pet dog.

The nursing assistant in Madrid was part of a special team caring for a Spanish priest who died of Ebola last month after being evacuated from Sierra Leone. The nursing assistant wore a hazmat suit both times she entered his room, officials said, and no records point to any accidental exposure to the virus, which spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sickened person.

The woman, who had been on vacation in the Madrid area after treating the priest, was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday after coming down with a fever, and was said to be stable Tuesday. Her husband also was hospitalized as a precaution.

Madrid’s regional government even got a court order to euthanize and incinerate their pet, “Excalibur,” against the couple’s objections. The government said available scientific knowledge suggests a risk that the mixed-breed dog could transmit the virus to humans, and promised to use “biosecurity” measures to prevent any such transmission.

On to an anxious Old Blighty, first with BBC News:

No Ebola screening for arrivals to UK – Public Health England

There are no plans to introduce Ebola screening for those arriving in the UK, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

President Barack Obama said on Monday that the US planned to screen incoming air passengers for the virus.

But PHE said this was not recommended by the World Health Organization and would mean screening “huge numbers of low-risk people”.

A contrarian view from the Independent:

Ebola outbreak: Britain needs to start screening for the virus, says Home Office minister

A Home Office minister has said Britain should consider introducing screening for Ebola carriers arriving at airports, after a Spanish nurse became the first person to have caught the virus in Europe.

Public Health England said it had no plans to bring in screening for the disease, which has already claimed 3,400 lives in West Africa. Rates of infection are set to increase dramatically.

The Home Office also insisted there would be no change of policy. But Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat minister in the department, described Ebola’s arrival in Europe as a “very concerning development” and said the case for increasing screening in airports had to be examined. He told The Independent: “We need to consider whether existing controls are adequate.”

And the London Telegraph covers preparations:

Ebola: NHS hospitals put on standby

  • Hospitals on standby as health officials admit ‘real risk’ Ebola could reach British shores and Prime Minister convenes emergency Cobra committee to discuss the threat

Major NHS hospitals across the country have been put on standby, as health officials warn of a “real risk” that the deadly Ebola virus could spread to Britain.

The Prime Minister will convene a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee on Wednesday morning to discuss the growing threat to the UK from the spread of Ebola.

Four major NHS hospitals in England have now been identified as units to take patients with Ebola if the need arises.

Next, on to Norway and other European evacuated via TheLocal.no:

Ebola virus victim arrives in Norway by special jet

The Norwegian woman, diagnosed with Ebola while working for a charity organization in Sierra Leone, will arrive in Oslo for treatment on Tuesday.

The woman, who was working for Médecins Sans Frontières, fell ill at the weekend and was placed in isolation on Sunday. On Monday she was confirmed as having contracted Ebola and is scheduled to be flown into the country on a specially constructed private jet plane. The craft, normally used for business flights, is equipped to provide medical care for the patient and ensure the airborne virus is not spread beyond the infected invidual.

Secretary general for Médecins Sans Frontières, Anne Cecilie Kaltenborn, said at a press conference in Sierra Leone on Monday: “We regrettably confirm that one of our Norwegian field workers tested positively for Ebola. The person was on a mission in Sierra Leone, where Médecins Sans Frontières has 1,200 employees. 86 of those are international aid workers.”

TheLocal.no, with a choice certain to star ethical debate:

Norway to get world’s last dose of Ebola cure

The Norwegian woman, infected by the Ebola in Sierra Leone and currently receiving treatment in Oslo, will get the last dose of the virus treatment medicine ZMapp available in the world.

The news was released by the Norwegian Medicines Agency on Tuesday, according to NTB. Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said to Dagens Medisin: “It looks like we could get the last available dose of ZMapp to Norway. The medicine is now in Canada.”

According to the professional medic’s magazine, the agency has given Oslo University hospital the authorisation to import Ebola medicines not approved of in Norway.

On to Japan and confidence from the Japan Times:

Japan could handle Ebola outbreak, health official says

The news that a nurse in Spain has become the first person to contract Ebola outside the outbreak zone in West Africa has raised concerns that it might happen in Japan.

However, the nation has a system in place that could handle potential patients safely, a senior official at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Tuesday.

Although Japan has not yet had to deal with an actual case of infection and therefore lacks Ebola-specific procedures to diagnose and treat it, Masayuki Saijo, head of one of the institute’s virology departments, said his team has handled suspected cases that turned out to be negative.

While the Wall Street Journal covers the Japanese corporate upside:

Fujifilm Drug Gets More Notice as Possible Ebola Treatment

An anti-influenza drug from Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp. has gathered international attention as a potential treatment for Ebola virus, helping send the company’s shares to a six-year high on Tuesday.

The Japanese camera and imaging company said Monday the governments of France and the West African nation of Guinea were considering trials of the drug, called favipiravir, beginning in November.

The company said it has also been contacted by several other nations and international organizations about providing the drug and will respond to the requests in coordination with the Japanese government.

After the jump, the latest from Africa, including a shortage of sanitation and engineering help in the Ebola fight, a plea for help, the Pentagon sets a price on its African Ebola effort and announces that U.S. soldiers will — contrary to earlier denials — be in immediate contact with Ebola patients [plus a video of the full Pentagon briefing], fears that Ebola angst will trump even deadlier healthcare woes, British Airways blasted for hampering aid flights, on to Sierra Leone and aid shipment Bureaucratic gridlock, a presidential plea for help from Ebola survivors, and epidemic-devastated villages, then on to Liberia and arriving Cuban medical teams, a strike threatened, and a press crackdown underway, and lastly, on to Nigeria and Ebola-spawned school closures ended. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Warnings, aid, improv, anxiety


First the latest estimate [PDF] of cases in the hardest hit countries from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

BLOG Ebola

Next, an African Ebola update from CCTV Africa:

Ebola: Efforts to Contain the Virus Intensified

Program notes:

There have been several developments when it comes to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa – including fresh warnings and more international assistance. Susan Mwongeli reports

From Monrovia, Liberia, the Inquirer seeks to allay anxieties:

U.S. Troops Not Here To Unseat Gov’t…Ambassador Refutes Rumor

United States Ambassador, Deborah R. Malac, has clarified that the United States Army is in Liberia to help the Government of Liberia fight the deadly Ebola virus and not to unseat the present government.

Addressing a news conference held at the United States Embassy in Monrovia yesterday, Ambassador Malac disclosed that the U.S. Army has come with additional capacity to join with other international partners to fight the disease.

Also speaking, Major General Darryl Williams, Commanding General/Joint Forces Command, United Assistance said the numbers of US soldiers are in Liberia to fill the gap and accomplish the mission that they came for.

More from FrontPageAfrica:

‘A Deadly Foe’, Man Leading U.S. Liberia Ebola Mission Declares

Monrovia – The man leading the United States of America military wing in the fight against the deadly Ebola Joint Task Force Command, United Assistance, Maj. General Darryl A. Williams said his men have been working with members of the Armed Forces of Liberia to accelerate Liberia’s response to the deadly Ebola virus. JTFC Maj. Gen. Williams speaking at a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia said the U.S. military in West Africa is working in a support role, bringing its unique ability to organizations that have been in Liberia fighting the Ebola virus disease for months.

He said the lead US federal agency in this response is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “As our military forces continue to flow in, we will continue to work together, so that we compliment each other’s abilities and efforts to support the government of Liberia,” he said.

“We will also be partnering with the Armed Forces of Liberia and they’re eager to help their fellow countrymen. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marine, are working side by side with our Liberian Host and build on our already special relationship.”

From the Japan Times, Liberian aid arrives:

U.S. Ebola labs, parts for clinic arrive in Liberia

U.S. mobile Ebola labs should be up and running in Liberia this week and American troops have broken ground for a field hospital as the international community races to increase the ability to care for the spiraling number of people infected with the dreaded disease.

Liberia is the hardest-hit country in the largest-ever Ebola outbreak, which has touched four other West African countries. More than 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease across the region, according to the World Health Organization, in the largest outbreak ever.

But even that toll is likely an underestimate, partially because there aren’t enough labs to test people for Ebola. WHO has warned that numbers for Liberia, in particular, have lagged behind reality because it takes so long to get test results back.

From the Inquirer in Monrovia, more aid, domemtically supplied:

Gov’t Brings In 12 Ambulances…As Ebola Now Reaches The 15 Counties

The Ebola Case Management head and Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Service, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, has disclosed that 12 Ambulances recently procured by the Government of Liberia (GOL) are promptly responding to the Ebola outbreak in the country.

Minister Nyenswah said the response effort is ongoing well and it is sure that Ebola will be eradicated now that patients are being transported safely to the various Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs).

Nyenswah who was addressing the daily Ebola Press Conference at the Ministry of Information yesterday said government will soon trace and identify Ebola patients as part of the ongoing fight against the menace.

Minister Nyenswah said currently the testing of Ebola patients has increased to 300 daily as a means of speeding up treatment and response.

The NewDawn in Liberia covers another cash infusion:

Liberia gets US$11.4 Million from ADB

The African Development Bank has provided a grant of US$11.4 Million to the Government of Liberia in support of its current fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

Deputy Health Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, has described the bank’s gesture as timely. Minister Nyenswah said portion of the money will be used to construct community care centers in Ebola hit communities around the country.

He noted that there have been some improvements in combating the virus since international partners like the African Development Bank, World Bank, and IMF begun providing financial aid to Liberia. Signing for the grant on behalf of the Liberian government, Finance Minister Amara Konneh, thanked the bank for the money.

CBC News covers another cause for anxiety:

Ebola virus in Liberia creates body recovery dangers

  • Workers struggle to gather and dispose of corpses as outbreak spreads

It’s a sad fact of life in Monrovia, Liberia, these days.

The wail of an ambulance siren doesn’t mean help is on the way. More often than not, it signals that a convoy carrying the “dead body management team” is about to arrive.

On Monday, CBC News rode along in one of those convoys. The weather was miserable. The task at hand was even more so.

Voice of America covers frustration:

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

In order to avoid human-to-human transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, the Liberian government temporarily closed schools, universities and other major public gathering points some months ago. Without the prospect of going back to school any time soon, hundreds of students took to the streets of Monrovia  Monday to express their frustration.

For any employer, it’s good times in Liberia. Thousands of young educated but idle people abound since schools and universities have been closed for months. So it was no problem for Department of Children and Family director, Victor Fayah, to do recruiting for a non-paying job.

“We received the first 2,000 people and now we’re above 4,200 people,” Fayah said. “There is more people still coming in with their CV [resume] willing to go to all the counties, to go to the rural villages, to walk even, eight hours walk to get to some villages, to talk to our people in their language that they can understand, the best way that they can understand the issue of Ebola.”

And FrontPageAfrica covers improvisation [and do see the pictures at the link]:

Creative Danger: Liberians Use Artificial PPE to Aid Ebola Patients

With four ambulances lineup at the Medicine San Frontier-MSF run Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) also known as ELWA-3, Lawrence Paye and four others arrived with their sick relative, wearing artificial Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) made of plastic bags.

They had come from the Fendell Community, few kilometers from Monrovia, taking mater in their hands after efforts to get an ambulance to pick up their sick relative failed for two days, as Paye, the husband to the sick Comfort Togbah explained.

With the ETU workers yet to admit patients from the four parked ambulances, into the center on a rainy afternoon, a yellow bus showed up with Comfort who was bleeding from the mouth, one of the symptoms of the acute stage of the Ebola virus, unable to walk as her brother fed her with water.

Since the outbreak of the deadly virus in Liberia, donations from local and international organizations including individuals have been forthcoming. China has so far donated thousands of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other countries have made donations in materials in an attempt to equip health workers to fight the virus but without PPEs in homes, Liberians are finding a way out to help sick relatives.

With health facilities overwhelmed by the number of patients ambulances have not been able to collect sick people from various communities as in many instances, calls are made for up to three days or even more before an ambulance shows up to pick a sick. Paye along with two other men and a lady created a scene to watch for many onlookers when they disembarked the bus wearing the artificial PPEs which they used to cover their hands, feet and heads.

Deutsche Welle covers a promise:

UN Ebola chief vows swift progress in fighting outbreak

The UN’s Ebola response chief has vowed to achieve significant progress within 60 days. UNICEF, meanwhile, has warned thousands of children who have lost parents to the epidemic are at risk of being shunned by relatives.

The UN Ebola mission head, Tony Banbury, told reporters on Tuesday that swift action would be taken in combating the Ebola crisis.

“We don’t know how long it will take. We hope to do it as fast as possible and to close the UNMEER (UN Mission on Ebla Emergency Response) as quickly as possible,” Banbury said, speaking at the headquarters of the United Nations mission in Accra, Ghana.

“Seventy percent of infected people need to be under treatment, 70 percent of burials need to be done in a safe way in order to turn this around and we need to do it in 60 days,” Banbury said.

“It’s an extremely … ambitious target and the only way it will be achieved is through this international effort,” he added.

While the Thomson Reuters Foundation sounds a warning from a familiar name:

Bill Gates warns Ebola could spread beyond West Africa

It is impossible to guess whether world leaders have done enough to bring the Ebola epidemic under control, given the risks that it will spread to countries beyond West Africa, the technology billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates said on Monday.

Countries should get ready to handle a possible outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever in case it spreads further as people from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea move across borders, Gates said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the newspaper Politico and Bank of America.

“Because of that uncertainty, I am not going to hazard a guess,” Gates said when asked whether he thinks the massive ramping up of international aid over the past few weeks is enough.

The Sun Nigeria covers another development:

Lagos ready to fund research on Ebola

  • … As Fashola challenges Iwu, others

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, said the state government is prepared to provide funds required to carry out research that can lead to finding cure for the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).Speaking during the disbursement of grants to 31 beneficiaries whose research proposals had been approved by the Lagos State Research and Development Council, the governor specifically challenged Prof. Maurice Iwu to come up with a lucid proposal on his Bitter Kola theory, saying the state government would be willing to sponsor it.

Fashola also challenged scholars and researchers in the country to move beyond title earning to contributing meaningfully to the development of the country through their researches.

He said professors, Phd holders and other scholars were respected not because of the finery of their titles but because of their intelligence and what they have to offer the society.

And Punch Nigeria covers a settlement:

Bayelsa, NUT face-off ends, teachers begin Ebola training

The face-off between the National Union of Teachers, Bayelsa State chapter, and the state government over resumption date appears to have been resolved.

The teachers’ umbrella body in the state had vowed not to resume schools until the teachers were equipped and trained about measures to tackle the dreaded Ebola virus.

On Tuesday, teachers resumed schools after the government commenced training of no fewer than 484 teachers on preventive measures against the dreaded EVD.

While IRIN focus on the media:

Ebola and the media – Nigeria’s good news story

At 67 million users, Nigeria reportedly has the eighth largest Internet population in the world. It also had close to 166 million mobile subscribers as of June. (The country’s population is 175 million.)

With so many Nigerians online, portals like ebolalert.org set up by volunteer doctors, and the public/private ebolafacts.com initiative, have become important channels to provide accurate information to help people stay safe. They complement telephone hotlines and more traditional public health approaches.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also taken a role in the communications work on Ebola, using the SMS portal UReport. UReport Nigeria is a free SMS platform designed as a community-based two-way information exchange mechanism. According to UNICEF Communications Specialist Geoffrey Njoku, over 57,000 people received more than 3.6 million SMS containing key messages about Ebola and how to stay protected over a six-week period.

The bottom line: Good news from the New York Times:

Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria Appears to Be Over

With quick and coordinated action by some of its top doctors, Africa’s most populous country seems to have beaten its first Ebola outbreak, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Since the first patient — a dying Liberian-American — flew into Lagos, Nigeria, on July 20, the disease spread to 20 other people in two cities, who had contact with nearly 900 others. But every known case has now died or recovered, and the cure rate was unusually high for an African outbreak. Virtually all the contacts have passed the incubation period without falling ill.

The success was in part due to the existence of an emergency command center paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight polio. As soon as the outbreak began, it was turned into the Ebola Emergency Operations Center.

But the good news hasn’t stopped preventative efforts, and screening at ports has just been implemented, reports Agence France-Presse:

Ebola screening for ships’ crews in Nigeria

Program notes:

Health officials have begun the screening of cargo ship crews transiting through Nigeria to prevent cross border transmission of Ebola through sea and cargo ports.

Another screening program, via Voice of America:

Guinea Intensifies Ebola Screening at Sierra Leone Border

Guinean security forces are intensifying their Ebola screening efforts at the border with Sierra Leone.

At the Madina Oula town crossing, people are subjected to rigorous health checks.  Guinean security forces check for fever and instruct all travelers to wash their hands with soap before entering Guinea.

Kindia, the district capital, is a short distance away – just 150 kilometers from the Guinean capital of Conakry.

From BuzzFeed, a tragic consequence:

Thousands Of Children Orphaned By Ebola Have Been Rejected By Their Relatives And Communities

  • At least 3,700 children in West Africa have lost one or both parents to Ebola, according to UNICEF

More than 3,000 people have died in the deadly Ebola outbreak plaguing West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. The crisis is worsening in Sierra Leone, with over 2 million people under quarantine.

UNICEF said it is working with authorities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to help train medical and mental health workers to provide care and support to children who have been rejected by their communities as well as to quarantined children.

The organization said it was also working to reunite separated children with their families. UNICEF will also provide about 60,000 vulnerable children and families in Guinea with psychosocial support.

From TheLocal.se, another European non-infection:

Stockholm patient tests negative after Ebola fears

A patient in a Stockholm hospital who was suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus was given the all clear on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve analysed the tests and we can announce that the person has not contracted Ebola,” Åke Örtqvist, spokesperson for doctors dealing with infectious diseases in the Stockholm region, said in a statement.

The case marked the fifth suspected case in Sweden since the virus started spreading rapidly in Africa earlier this year, all of which has been proven negative.

And to close whilst on the subject of fears, what about those anxieties certain to afflict those who have volunteered to fight the disease? From the National:

What to expect when returning from West Africa

Program notes:

Dr. Tim Jagatic, from Doctors Without Borders, shares his advice for coming home after working in an Ebola outbreak zone.

And now for something completely different. . .


In this case, synchronized motion in Japan, both the human and the non-human varieties, captured in a pair of videos .

First up, from the Japan Times, the latest craze in public schools, namely human pyramid-building:

Human pyramids at school sports days spark safety concerns

From the accompanying article:

As school sports days get underway, students have resumed making large human pyramids, raising concerns about the risk of serious injury.

Teachers have begun posting photos and videos online of students forming structures with as many as 10 tiers.

Despite the dangers, schools have students build the human pyramids for the sake of “the feeling of achieving it all together,” according to Ryo Uchida, an associate professor at Nagoya University and an expert on school injuries.

“Teachers like to have students do it because it’s a dramatic showpiece of their daily endeavors, practicing it in classes and showing it to parents at their sports day,” Uchida said. “But when you think of a 10-tier pyramid, for example, the one at the top could fall from a level as high as 7 meters and each student in the lowest tier has to support a weight that can reach 200 kg.”

And from Agence France-Presse, the perfect cheerleaders for such displays of coordinated movement:

Japan showcases cheerleading robots

Program notes:

A team of cheerleading robots make their dancing debut in Tokyo as creator Murata Manufacturing demonstrates its cutting-edge sensor technology.

EbolaWatch: Dire warnings, campaigns, a song


We begin today’s coverage of the plague now stalking Africa with a dire prediction from Deutsche Welle:

Virologist: Fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia is lost

  • The killer virus is spreading like wildfire, Liberia’s defense minister said on Tuesdayas he pleaded for UN assistance. A German Ebola expert tells DW the virus must “burn itself out” in that part of the world.

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told DW that he and his colleagues are losing hope for Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the countries worst hit by the recent Ebola epidemic.

“The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed,” he said. That time was May and June. “Now it is too late.”

Schmidt-Chanasit expects the virus will “burn itself out” in this part of the world. With other words: It will more or less infect everybody and half of the population – in total about five million people – could die.

Another apocalyptic warning, via Punch Nigeria:

2.1m Nigerians at risk —Report

A new research study by Britain’s University of Oxford has revealed that 2.1 million Nigerians are at risk of contracting the Ebola Virus Disease.

According to the latest study published on Monday, the Ebola virus can spread to at least 15 more countries in West and Central Africa, pushing up overall number of people at risk of infection to 70 million.

The research titled, ‘Mapping the zoonotic niche of Ebola virus disease in Africa,’ compared historic outbreaks to the virus’s possible transmission in bats and chimpanzees to project how the virus could spread through its animal reservoir.

The Associated Press tallies:

35 deaths attributed to Ebola outbreak in Congo

The World Health Organization says that an Ebola outbreak in Congo is thought to have killed 35 people of the more than 60 sickened.

Congo, the site of the world’s first recorded Ebola outbreak, has had several flare-ups of the disease over the years. Officials say the current outbreak is not related to another taking place in West Africa blamed for the deaths of more than 2,200 people.

The U.N. health agency said Thursday that the Congo outbreak is concentrated in one county, and all of the 62 people believed to have contracted Ebola so far have been linked to one initial case. It said isolation units have been set up in each of the four affected villages, in a remote area of the Central African country’s northwest.

From France 24, World Health Organization Ebola specialist Dr. Zabulon Yoti discusses measures needed to contain the outbreak [despite the title, that’s the focus]:

Ebola Epidemic – West African economies overwhelmed

From Punch Nigeria, enlisting support:

Yero meets religious leaders on anti-Ebola plans

Governor Mukhtar Yero of Kaduna State  on Thursday  held a meeting with Christian and Muslim  leaders to sensitise them  on the Ebola virus disease.

Yero, who noted that it was  part of efforts to curtail  the spread of the deadly virus to the state, also told the religious leaders that the government would train 13,000 teachers in both private and public schools in the state before the September 22 resumption date for schools on how to handle the Ebola issue.

Speaking further on the Ebola virus, the governor said since the virus was a “special disease”, government would also place special emphasis on tackling its spread to the state.

Yero cautioned the media against sensationalising the disease in their reportage, noting that rather, the media should be in the vanguard of  educating and enlightening residents of the state on the virus.

Liberian Observer conveys a recommendation:

‘Include Ebola Survivors on Task Forces’

  • WHO Consultant Suggests

A health consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) assigned in Grand Cape Mount County, Dr. Akpaka Kalu, has called for the inclusion of Ebola survivors on the National Ebola Taskforce to educate citizens about the danger and prevention of the disease.

Dr. Kalu made the recommendation during the county’s Ebola Taskforce coordination meeting held on Wednesday in Sinje Town, Garwula District.

According to him, the inclusion of survivors on the taskforce was important, “because the survivors should be used as psycho-social counselors in the fight against the deadly epidemic.”

“Instead of bringing survivors on the taskforce,” Dr. Kalu lamented that unfortunately, the survivors are being stigmatized by Liberians rather than looking at them as resourced persons to educate others about the danger of the virus.

The Monrovia Inquirer covers an assessment:

Samukai Outlines Effects Of Ebola…Wants Support To Lift Travel Ban

Defense Minisrer, Brownie Samukai has outlined the effects of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.

Delivering a special statement at the United Nations Security Council, on Tuesday Minister Samukai said this “health emergency is affecting every sector of the Liberian society.”

Min. Samukai added that the nation’s economy has been very seriously disrupted. He said Local economic activities such as domestic food production, mining, and transport services have been undermined.

“Moreover, the slowdown in domestic food production, particularly in affected areas of the country, has negatively impacted food supply, thus triggering increasing demand for imported commodities, at higher prices, minister Samukai said.

From the Liberian Observer, some good news:

Firestone Medical Center Discharges 6 Ebola Survivors

The Firestone Medical Center in Duside on September 2 and 9, discharged six survivors from its Ebola Treatment Unit. The first patient, Madam Jenneh Farsue, the wife of a Firestone Liberia employee, contracted the deadly Ebola virus in July/August. She was discharged following several weeks of intensive medical care at the Firestone Hospital and after testing negative of the virus. Five more persons were discharged and reintegrated from Isolation into the communities on the 9th of September.

In addition to the hospital and Ebola Treatment Unit, Firestone Liberia also runs a reintegration program to help those returning to the community following isolation or treatment for Ebola. Speaking at the reintegration program for Mrs. Farsue in Division 28, Cubitts Community, Dr. Lyndon G. Mabande, the Medical Director of the Firestone Health Services, called on residents of the community to interact with Mrs. Farsue as they used to do and accept her back into the community because she is healthy. He described her recovery as “a true success story in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.”

He called on his fellow teammates, residents and the general public to adhere to the preventive measures stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the World Health Organization (WHO). Mabande further appealed to Liberians to stop the denial syndrome so people can be treated early, a key in the fight against Ebola. “Come to the hospital soon. If you come soon, with all we can put together, you may come home saved,” Dr. Mabande said. He also commended the medical staff for their work in the fight against this disease. “Let us continue to cooperate. If we work in isolation, we are not going to succeed, and it requires team work,” he told the gathering.

Punch Nigeria covers anger over austerity on the front lines:

Ebola outbreak: Anger in Lagos infectious diseases hospital

Members of staff of the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, have expressed anger over the impending removal of the hazard allowance component of their September salary. Sources within the hospital told our correspondent that the Lagos State government has excised the allowance, which has been paid for years in the September payroll.

“We have sighted the payroll for September already and there is no provision for this allowance which has been paid to us for more than four years. This is really terrible. If government wants to remove anybody’s allowance, should it be from us workers at the IDH? What kind of problem is this?” one of the workers of the hospital lamented.

Earlier, volunteers at the isolation ward had protested the non-payment of their daily allowance since August 30.

New Europe lends a hand:

UN allocates $3.8 million to support a UN air service operating in Ebola-struck West Africa

The United Nations humanitarian chief has allocated $3.8 million from an emergency fund to support a U.N. air service operating in the Ebola-struck West African region.

Valerie Amos said Wednesday that a reduction in commercial air flights as a result of the Ebola outbreak has hindered the urgent deployment of health workers and supplies.

She said the $3.8 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund will assist the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service, run by the World Food Program, to move humanitarian personnel, medical supplies and equipment and aid rapidly to remote locations in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

After the jump, a call for a military-like response from the North, anxieties over U.S. military “help,” a warning about corruption, Ebola fears Down Under, and another musical response. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Anguish, limited responses, fear


The nightmare continues to unfold, with fears of social and political breakdown, plus a few modest offers of help from the developed world, too little and too late to have any significant short-term impacts.

Once again we a relying heavily on African media in an effort to counter the heavily North-centered approach of of media in the U.S. and Europe.

First up, via the Guardian, eloquent anxiety:

Ebola threatening Liberia’s existence, minister warns

  • Virus spreading like wildfire, defence minister tells UN security council, as WHO warns far more beds are needed

Ebola is threatening the very existence of Liberia as the virus spreads like “wildfire”, the country’s defence minister, Brownie Samukai, has warned, following a World Health Organisation assessment that the worst is yet to come.

After predicting an “exponential increase” in infections across west Africa, the WHO warned that Liberia, which has accounted for half of all deaths, could initially only hope to slow the contagion, not stop it.

“Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence,” Samukai told a meeting of the UN security council on Tuesday. The disease is “now spreading like wildfire, devouring everything in its path”, he said.

More from the Liberian Observer:

‘Ebola Is A Threat to Int’l. Peace and Security’

  • Dr. D. Elwood Dunn; Wants Security Council Resolution to that Effect

Dr. D. Elwood Dunn, a retired African academic and former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in Liberia, has declared that the Ebola crisis is “a threat to international peace and security.”

For this reason, he has called for a United Nations Security Council Resolution declaring the Ebola situation a threat to international peace and security and calling forth the requisite measures to containing the threat.”

The world at this time, he declared, needs a critical international collaborative crisis leadership to arrest this horrific epidemic.

And from the Liberian Observer again, another impact:

‘President Needs to Suspend Article 83a’

  • To Postpone October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election

Senate Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley has stated that although members of the Senate have overwhelming agreed with the National Elections Commission (NEC) that it is not feasible to conduct free and fair elections on October 14, 2014, the final decision to postpone the election lies with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

The Senate last Thursday unanimously endorsed an NEC communication to that body, warning that under the prevailing circumstances, elections must be postponed, noting that it was not with the Senate to make the final decision.

Pro Tempore Findley, one of 15 Senators whose seats are up for grabs, made a passionate argument last Thursday before his colleagues that it was not practical, prudent or logical to call for elections in October when those who should be voting are dying in their numbers because of the Ebola epidemic.

And from FrontPageAfrica, an interview with a man on the front line:

FPA WEB TV: Fighting Ebola without Fear

Program note:

Emergency Response Worker discusses challenges of picking Ebola dead in Liberia.

From RT, another shrieking alarm:

15 more countries at risk of Ebola contamination – Oxford University

The deadly Ebola virus could spread to 15 new countries, according to calculations made by Oxford University. This is because there are species of fruit bat that are suspected of carrying the disease without displaying symptoms.

The new study is published in the eLife journal, and examines how the disease could spread through the animal kingdom and to human beings.

Fruit bats can carry the disease without showing any signs of it, and are able to migrate and transfer it to other animals, for example monkeys and rodents.

“A total of 51 surveyed locations reporting infections in animals were identified in the literature since the discovery of the disease. These comprised 17 infections in gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), nine infections in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), 18 in OWFB (old world fruit bat) and two in duikers,” the study says.

StarAfrica issues another call for action:

Ghana’s defence minister urges collective efforts to tackle Ebola menace

Ghana’s Minister of Defence, Dr. Benjamin Kubuor, has described the Ebola menace in West Africa as “a very worrying situation that requires the collective efforts of all.”

Speaking at the opening of the 34th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS), which opened in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday, Kubuor said: “It is for the this reason that the Chair of ECOWAS and Ghanaian President Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has made Accra, Ghana the distribution point for the supply of Ebola support in the sub-region.”

“It is for you service chiefs to also use this forum to discuss how you can assist the civilian population to strategize towards stemming the spread of this virus,” a statement by the ECOWAS Commission on Wednesday in Abuja quoted the minister as saying.

The minister expressed profound appreciation to the World Health Organization and other partners for their support in the handling of the Ebola epidemic.

And from TheLocal.fr, panic in the North:

Air France pilots won’t fly to Ebola-hit countries

Panicked pilots at Air France are refusing to fly to Ebola-hit countries, just weeks after flight attendants at France’s flagship carrier objected to flying to West African countries battling the deadly virus.

The pilots’ protest comes just weeks after a trade union representing Air France cabin crew launched a petition to persuade company chiefs to stop flying to Ebola-hit countries Guinea and Sierra Leone until the crisis is under control.

But according to Julien Duboz, a spokesperson for a union representing Air France’s pilots (SPAF), the number of pilots who will actually choose not to fly is very small.

Pilots who choose to fly to these destinations “come back convinced of the necessity of being able to fly in safety when they see what measures have been put in place,” Duboz said, according to Le Monde.

From the Guardian, a call for Down Under action:

Ebola: Australia must provide more support to tackle crisis, AMA says

  • Professor says government should be as quick to help the WHO stop the outbreak as it was to join efforts against Isis in Iraq

Australia must provide greater support to tackle the ongoing Ebola crisis in west Africa, the head of the Australian Medical Association has said.

With the death toll from the virus close to 2,300, Professor Brian Owler said the government needed to outline how it would help the World Health Organisation (WHO) in tackling the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

“What we are witnessing is an evolving humanitarian crisis in west Africa and the international community needs to step up its support,” Owler said on Wednesday.

“If we don’t, the human cost will be enormous, there will be an increased spread to other areas and I’m sure the call will come from WHO in the next few days for Australia to lend its support so we need to be ready.”

From BBC News, another tepid response:

New money added to emergency response to Ebola outbreak

More money has been announced to help the emergency response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Gates Foundation is committing $50m to help step up efforts to tackle the deadly virus in the affected countries.

This comes on top of other funds announced by the UK and US governments, as well as the European Union. But some aid charities say that the most urgent need in Africa is for expert teams in bio-hazard containment.

And another, via the Associated Press:

US gives ambulances to Sierra Leone to fight Ebola

The United States donated five ambulances Wednesday to help Sierra Leone’s fight against Ebola as the West African government acknowledged it can take up to 24 hours to pick up bodies in the spiraling crisis.

More than 2,200 deaths throughout West Africa have been attributed to Ebola amid the worst outbreak of the disease in history. The sick have been using motorcycle taxis and other public transport to get to hospitals, further increasing the risk of transmitting the disease that kills about half its victims.

Kathleen FitzGibbon of the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone handed President Ernest Bai Koroma the keys to five ambulances Wednesday. The U.S. has spent more than $100 million responding to the outbreak.

Punch Nigeria covers another consequence:

Ebola survivors lose accommodation, jobs ? Lagos

Lagos State Government on Tuesday says it will not hesitate to prosecute any resident that stigmatises survivors of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

It was learnt that the government took the decision after a complaint of stigmatisation was made by two of the nine survivors, who were also certified free from EVD.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said on Tuesday during a press briefing in Alausa, Ikeja, that the government was determined to ensure that Ebola survivors were reintegrated into the society.

While Deutsche Welle warns of dangers ahead:

Unstoppable: is Ebola mutating with unknown consequences before our eyes?

US President Barack Obama says the Ebola virus, currently attacking western Africa, could mutate – making it even more dangerous. The virus has already changed its genome, with unknown consequences.

“Even a single change in the genome can have huge consequences,” says Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a virologist at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg.

He confirms that mutations can increase the contagiousness of a virus.

Mutations could also make the illness break out sooner, or alternate the course of the disease – increasing the potential of a patient’s developing encephalitis. The disease could also become airborne. And that would be disastrous: the infection rate would increase exponentially.

StarAfrica calls out the troops:

ECOWAS rallies military support against Ebola scourge

The ECOWAS Commission has called on the defence forces of its member states to lend their professional support towards defeating the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which has claimed more than 2,000 lives from almost 4,000 cases reported in the region from March 2014.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, told the 34th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff (CCDS), which opened in Accra, Ghana that the disease “if not adequately addressed would have far reaching devastating consequences for the development of the region”.

A statement issued by the ECOWAS Commission on Wednesday in Abuja said that the commissioner called for “collective efforts in assisting and supporting member states whose populations are facing the menace of this dangerous disease,” and the contribution of the CCDS in battling the heath crisis.

Science covers diminished expectations from another military response:

In Liberia, disappointment at U.S. military’s planned Ebola response

When President Barack Obama spoke about the U.S. military helping combat the Ebola epidemic on NBC News’s Meet the Press this past Sunday, Tim Flanigan, an American clinician working in Monrovia, says he was “ecstatic.” It was exactly what many of the people leading the Ebola effort in Liberia, the hardest hit country, had been hoping for. But that joy turned to dismay the next day, when Flanigan learned the details of the Pentagon’s plans.

Obama pledged “to get U.S. military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world.” On Monday, a Pentagon representative said the military planned to send only a $22 million, 25-bed field hospital to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. “It’s not going to make any dent in Ebola treatment for the people of Liberia,” Flanigan warns. “It’s such a small number of beds and they may well be directed toward non-Liberians.”

From Punch Nigeria, when contagion trumps tradition:

Ondo assembly passes bill on cremation

As a step towards stemming the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease, the Ondo State House of Assembly has passed the law for the disposal of bodies by cremation and for other matters connected.

The bill was presented to the House by the state governor,   Olusegun Mimiko, last week, and the third reading was done on Tuesday following an accelerated consideration.

Presenting the report, Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Bamidele Oleyelogun, said the committee had on Monday organised a public hearing to enable all stakeholders make their input before the passage of the bill.

And from the Washington Post, looking at a single vector:

A single doorknob can contaminate up to 60 percent of people in a building in 4 hours

Viruses can spread from a single doorknob to 40 to 60 percent of surfaces and people in a building in just a few hours, according to a new study.

Researchers put a tracer virus on one or two surfaces in a building (for example a doorknob or push plate) at the beginning of the day. And after two to four hours, the virus could be detected on a majority of commonly touched surfaces such as light switches, coffee pot handles, phones and computers.

“We actually put a virus on a push plate in an office building of 80 people, had three entrances, and within four hours it ended up on over half the people’s hands, and it ended up on over half the surfaces that people touched in that building,” said University of Arizona researcher Charles Gerba, who presented the study at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy on Monday.

“What we really learned was the hand is quicker than the sneeze in the spread of disease,” Gerba said during his presentation.

Punch Nigeria covers a preventative measure:

Ebola: Private schools demand children’s medical clearance

The National Association of Private School Proprietors, Kano State branch, has directed parents to bring medical clearance of their children to school authorities on resumption.

The President of the association, Dr Jibril Muhammad, gave the directive while briefing newsmen in Kano on Wednesday.

He said the decision was taken at the executive meeting of the association as part of measures to curtail the spread of the Ebola virus among school children.

From Punch Nigeria again, another school, another call:

Ebola: Parents call on OAU students to take caution

Following reports that a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was suspected to have the Ebola Virus Disease, parents on Wednesday made calls to their wards to be cautious.

It would be recalled that a female student of OAU was on Tuesday quarantined after she allegedly confessed that she had a contact with the late Port Harcourt doctor, Iyke Enemuo.

Enemuo died of the EVD after he secretly treated an infected ECOWAS diplomat, Olu-Ibukun Koye, in a hotel in the Rivers State capital.

StarAfrica covers cases cleared:

Malawi screens 155 travellers from Ebola nations

Data from Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in the capital Lilongwe has shown that in August only 155 travellers from Ebola affected countries had been screened, according to the Minister of Health Dr Jean Kalirani.She told journalists in the capital Lilongwe on Wednesday that 43 percent of the travellers were put on surveillance for a period of 21 days to check if they develop signs and symptoms of the disease.

“None of these people had shown any signs and symptoms of Ebola. We will continue with this surveillance so that we remain an Ebola free country,” she said.

Out of the total number of screened people, 67 percent were Malawians who travelled to the affected countries to attend workshops and conferences, she added.

And from TheLocal.it, Europe breathes more freely yet again:

‘Ebola’ patient in Italy has malaria

Doctors in the central Italian region of Marche have said that the Nigerian resident in Italy who was hospitalized on Tuesday with suspected Ebola is suffering from malaria.

The woman, who had recently returned from a visit to Nigeria, was hospitalized in Ancona and was undergoing tests in a specialist unit to establish whether she has contracted a virus which has killed more than 2,000 people since the start of the year.

The 42-year-old Nigerian resident in Italy had a fever above 38 degrees, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting.

“She is presenting with symptoms that could be those of Ebola,” a spokesman for the local authorities in the central Le Marche region was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

From the Monrovia Inquirer, Liberian survivors:

Five Suspected Ebola Patients Cleared

The Firestone Medical Center yesterday reintegrated five Ebola survivors into society declaring them free of the deadly disease.

Speaking at the reintegration program held in Camp One, Harbel, Margibi County, the Medical Director of Firestone Health Services, Dr. Lyndon Mabande, said health workers are going beyond their borders to save lives.

He stressed that residents in various communities across Liberia must stop discouraging and frightening health workers but to support and encourage them to continue saving lives. Dr. Mabande is encouraging Liberians to restrict their movements and take the necessary preventive measures as prescribed by the Ministry of Health.

For our final item, another survivor and another country, via StarAfrica:

Ebola-hit Guinean treated in Dakar has been cured – official

The results of the two last tests on the Ebola-hit Guinean national admitted into Fann hospital in Dakar since late August have proved negative, according to Dr Pape Abdoulaye Diack, the Director of Health at the ministry of Health and Social Action.

“Senegal has been successful in treating the case, which shows evidence about the efficacy of our health system. Twice the tests on the young Guinean have proved negative,” Dr Diack said.

He reassured that there is no more Ebola case presently in Senegal while calling for further efforts to reinforce the prevention system.

EnviroWatch: Ebola, water, and nuclear woes


Long compendium today, so we open right up with this from the Associated Press:

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,500 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The university student is Senegal’s first case of the dreaded disease.

The 21-year-old left Guinea on Aug. 15, just days after his brother died of the disease, according to Guinea’s Health Ministry. It said that the brother apparently caught Ebola in Sierra Leone.

We thought we’d look at local papers for a better sense of what the epidemic feels like to journalists there. First this from Punch in Lagos, Nigeria:

Ebola: Three new suspected cases in Port Harcourt

Three people have been taken to the Ebola Virus Disease   quarantine centre at Oduoha, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The State Commissioner for Health, Sampson Parker, made this known on Sunday just as the Federal Government said another emergency meeting of the National Council of Health over the EVD would hold in Abuja today. The last meeting took place on August 11, 2014.

Parker, who addressed journalists,   said those quarantined were   a doctor, a pharmacist and a woman who came into contact with Dr. Iyke Enemuo, who died of the virus in Port Harcourt on August 22.

A related story from Leadership, another Nigerian paper:

Rivers Doctor: 60 Ebola Contacts Yet To Be Found

The Rivers State government has said about 60 people, out of close to 200 that had primary and secondary contacts with the late Dr Ikechukwu Sam Enemuo, who died of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Port Harcourt, the state capital, are yet to be found.

Also, the state government has placed a ban on the movement of corpses within and outside the state without death certificates and explanations on the cause of such deaths, and has directed the police to demand such documents from ambulances conveying such corpses in the state.

This is as the state governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, will today meet with leaders of churches in the state, while a meeting with the traditional rulers will hold tomorrow, Tuesday, over the spread of the Ebola virus in the state.

The Associated Press covers another side-effect:

9 African wrestlers barred from worlds championships

The governing body of wrestling says nine athletes cannot compete at the upcoming world championships because of travel restrictions imposed since the Ebola virus outbreak in west Africa.

FILA says the ruling by the Uzbekistan health ministry affects seven wrestlers from Nigeria and two from Sierra Leone.

The decision follows similar travel bans imposed by China and Russia ahead of the recent Youth Olympic Games and judo worlds.

From International Business Times, another border closes:

Saudi Arabia Stops Issuing Visas To Workers From Ebola-Stricken Nations

Saudi Arabia announced Monday it has temporarily stopped granting visas to workers from the countries most ravaged by the Ebola outbreak. The decision follows repeated incidents in the past month that raised fears the hemorrhagic fever could spread to the Middle Eastern nation.

Saudi Arabia’s labor ministry has temporarily stopped issuing visas to laborers from the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Agence France-Presse reported. The three nations have seen the highest death tolls in the current Ebola outbreak, which was first detected in Guinea in March.

The visa ban was described as a “preventative measure,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported. Saudi Arabia had already instituted a ban in April on Muslim pilgrims visiting from the three nations because of concern the disease could spread as thousands of people descend on Mecca for early October’s hajj.

From StarAfrica, a blackout imposed:

Sudan bans reporting on Ebola

The Sudanese authorities have prohibited local media from covering any news related to the Ebola virus.Press sources who asked not to be mentioned for security reasons confirmed to APA on Saturday that the security authorities have circulated warning to all media outlets not to publish any news or articles related to the transmission of the Ebola virus in Sudan.

The prohibition came after local media reported on some suspected cases of Ebola in the west of Sudan.

The Minister of Health Affairs for the Darfur Regional Authority, Firdos Abdel Rahman Yousif denied reports of the deadly Ebola virus disease in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur State.

From New Dawn in Monrovia, another lack:

Ebola Survivors Lack Clothes

Health authorities at the Eternal Love Wins Africa or (ELWA) Hospital have disclosed that Ebola survivors leaving the treatment center do not have clothes to wear. Medical Director Dr. Jerry Brown, said nurses usually dress survivors in veils as they leave the hospital compound due to lack of clothes. Dr. Brown made the disclosure when the Citizens Organized for Transparency and Accountability (COPTA) presented items valued over US$5,000 to the ELWA Isolation Unit 2.

He appealed to well-meaning Liberians and NGOs to assist the unit with clothes for survivors to wear when leaving the hospital. But a non-governmental organization, Smile Liberia International, has promised to provide clothes for survivals returning home. An executive of the group, Ms. Fasiah Harris, said Smile Liberia in collaboration with COPTA will continue to provide needed services for Liberians.

COPTA is a local partner to Smile Liberia International and some Liberians working with the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC. The project coordinator Christine Brooks-Jarrett said COPTA is an organization working to ensure a better Liberia in which leaders can be held accountable to the people in the discharge of their services.

National Geographic offers a reminder:

Doctors and Nurses Risk Everything to Fight Ebola in West Africa

  • Foreign and local caregivers are essential to stopping the virus’s deadly spread

In two Land Rovers, one fitted out as an ambulance, a small team of humanitarian workers last week headed deep into Sierra Leone’s jungle. After hours on deeply rutted paths that could barely be called roads, they stopped at a village that had seen ten reported cases of Ebola.

With the consent of the village chief, the team fanned out across the community, asking at each hut if anyone was feeling ill or had made contact with the earlier patients. At one, they found a mother nursing a seven-month-old, even though she had experienced bouts of bloody diarrhea and a fever of 102°F—possible signs of Ebola. A quick conversation revealed that the mother had recently attended the same funeral as the ten patients.

The aid workers knew right away they had to get the woman away from her village. It would improve her chances of recovery, even though those chances hovered at only about 30 percent. And it would protect her baby and husband, and the entire community, because Ebola is easily passed through bodily fluids such as diarrhea, vomit, and blood.

BBC News updates:

British Ebola patient ‘pretty well’

The parents of the first British person to contract Ebola during the outbreak in West Africa say he is recovering well.

William Pooley, 29, has spent the last week in a special isolation unit at Royal Free Hospital in London.

His parents, Robin and Jackie, say they knew he was improving when he ordered a “bacon butty” and praised the “world class” care at the hospital.

More than 1,500 people have died since the outbreak started in Guinea.

From the Wall Street Journal, a clearance:

Stockholm Patient Does Not Have Ebola

But Test Results Awaited on Another Suspected Case in Spain

Tests results have shown that a man who was hospitalized in Sweden on Sunday as a suspected Ebola case isn’t carrying the potentially deadly virus, Stockholm County Council health officials said in a news release on Monday.

An unidentified young man sought treatment for high fever and stomach pains at a local health clinic in Stockholm on Sunday evening.

After medical staff learned that he had recently visited a West African country affected by the Ebola virus, he was transferred to medical isolation at Stockholm’s Karolinska University Hospital.

ABC News initiates:

Human Trial for Ebola Vaccine to Begin This Week

The first human trial for an investigational Ebola vaccine is set to begin this week.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa prompted the National Institutes of Health to expedite safety testing for several vaccines already in the works. Since March, the deadly virus has killed 1,552 people, according to the World Health Organization, which predicted last week that the virus could infect 20,000 people in the next six months.

An Ebola vaccine is different from the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, which two Americans received last month and is designed to treat an existing Ebola infection rather than prevent one.

“There is an urgent need for a protective Ebola vaccine, and it is important to establish that a vaccine is safe and spurs the immune system to react in a way necessary to protect against infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.

From StarAfrica, getting ready:

Malawi MPs to table Ebola preparedness

Members of the Malawi Parliament are expected to discuss and look at the country’s preparedness for containing the Ebola disease which is rampaging across West Africa.Parliament’s Health Committee Chairperson Juliana Lunguzi said on Monday in Lilongwe that the parliamentarians need to look at measures which government through the Ministry of Health have put in place to prepare for any eventuality.

“We need to know what has been put in place as a country in terms of preventive measures in entry points, border districts and capacity-building for caregivers” she declared.

She said that Malawi needs to be alert because the disease is gradually spreading across the borders of the region.

Reuters notes the obvious but often uncommented upon:

Poor response to Ebola causing needless deaths: World Bank head

The world’s “disastrously inadequate response” to West Africa’s Ebola outbreak means many people are dying needlessly, the head of the World Bank said on Monday, as Nigeria confirmed another case of the virus.

In a newspaper editorial, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Western healthcare facilities would easily be able to contain the disease, and urged wealthy nations to share the knowledge and resources to help African countries tackle it.

“The crisis we are watching unfold derives less from the virus itself and more from deadly and misinformed biases that have led to a disastrously inadequate response to the outbreak,” Kim wrote in the Washington Post.

Off to another continue and the update on another outbreak via the Asahi Shimbun:

19 new cases of dengue fever reported

Health ministry officials on Sept. 1 confirmed 19 new cases of dengue fever, bringing the total to 22 in a country that had not seen domestic infections of the disease for about 70 years.

The disease was found in individuals living in Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, Ibaraki, Kanagawa and Niigata prefectures. None of the patients has ever been abroad, but all had recently visited Yoyogi Park in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

Officials said the outbreak was likely caused by mosquitoes carrying the virus in the vicinity of the park.

We begin today’s water woes with the South China Morning Post:

Toxic waste mountains threaten Southeast Asia’s booming megacities

From Jakarta’s Bantar Gebang dump to Manila’s “smoky mountain”, open landfills blight Southeast Asia’s booming megacities, as urban planners labour to keep pace with rapid urbanisation and industrial growth.

Experts warn those dumps are an environmental and health time bomb.

Open dumping “offers a quick and easy solution in the short run”, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific says in a study, warning of severe environmental problems and long-term health issues caused by contaminated water and land.

Of Thailand’s 2,500 open rubbish pits, just a fifth are properly managed, according to its Pollution Control Department. The rest are at the mercy of illegal dumping – including of hazardous waste – fires and seepage into nearby land and water systems.

TheLocal.de covers a warm water invader up north:

Vacationer killed by Baltic Sea bacteria

  • Six people were infected with a bacteria from the Caribbean which has made itself at home in the popular German vacation destination. One of them is now in a coma.

The bacterium, Vibrio vulnificus, is found in parts of the Baltic Sea and other regions of the world, though most-concentrated in the Gulf of Mexico. It spreads best in brackish waters with temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius.

“This could be found anywhere as long as the conditions are right,” Dr. Heiko Will, the first director of State Office of Health and Welfare (LAGuS) of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, told The Local. “It is just as prevalent in Denmark, Poland, and all along the German coast.”

The victim had been holidaying on the island of Usedom at the end of July, according (LAGuS). He passed away at the beginning of August.  Another pensioner has been in a coma for three weeks and there is a possibility he will lose a leg. He went swimming near Ahrenshoop with a small open wound on his leg. He went to the hospital after noticing on the drive home that his leg had turned blue. Doctors diagnosed blood poisoning caused by Vibrio vulnificus.

From Al Jazeera America, another invader off the Golden State:

On Calif. coast, biotoxins cause deadly sea lion seizures, seafood scare

  • An outbreak of algae-produced biotoxins that attack animals’?? brains also poses a grave risk to humans

The culprit? Domoic acid, a deadly neurotoxin produced by algae, that appeared at record high levels along California’s Central Coast this spring and summer, closing fisheries and taking the lives of many marine mammals. But toxic algae isn’t just limited to California– this summer various toxic blooms have poisoned coastlines across America, including Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico.

While the algae in Monterey, produced by the Pseudo-nitzschia genus of phytoplankton, are a common occurrence along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines and around the world, its production of domoic acid is not.

First discovered in 1987 when 107 people on Prince Edward Island fell ill after eating mussels harboring domoic acid, the algae occasionally produce this deadly toxin, which scientists believe is triggered by changing ocean conditions and surges of nitrogen into bodies of water.

Another California water woe from the University of California Newsroom:

Drying Sierra meadows could worsen California drought

Carpeting the high valleys of Yosemite and other parts of the Sierra Nevada, mountain meadows are more than an iconic part of the California landscape. The roughly 17,000 high altitude meadows help regulate the release of Sierra snow melt into rivers and streams.

But climate change and California’s severe drought threaten to permanently alter these fragile and important ecosystems, according to research by Chelsea Arnold, who was awarded a doctorate in environmental systems from UC Merced in May. Her findings reveal that soil changes already are taking place that could have long-term implications for California’s water supply.
Impact of extreme weather

Arnold’s research found that meadows in the Central Sierra near Yosemite are drying out as a result of several years of unusual variation in climate and snowfall.

“What we’re seeing is that all kinds of extreme weather, including one dry winter like the one we just had, can totally change the structure of the soil,” Arnold said. “Part of that is an irreversible change.”

Under normal conditions, a mountain meadow acts like a sponge. Organic material in the soil allows the meadow to hold water, which is filtered and slowly released to mountain streams. Samples collected by Arnold and her colleagues found that the larger pores which trap and hold moisture are disappearing, to be replaced with smaller, more compact pores through which water doesn’t easily flow.

As meadows dry out, flooding in wet years is likely to increase. And in drought years, parched meadows could result in less snowmelt reaching streams, exacerbating the state’s already precarious water situation.

And another from the New York Times:

Desperately Dry California Tries to Curb Private Drilling for Water

California’s vicious, prolonged drought, which has radically curtailed most natural surface water supplies, is making farmers look deeper and deeper underground to slake their thirst. This means the drought is a short-term bonanza for firms like Arthur & Orum, which expects to gross as much as $3 million this year.

But in a drought as long and severe as the current one, over-reliance on groundwater means that land sinks, old wells go dry, and saltwater invades coastal aquifers. Aquifers are natural savings accounts, a place to go when the streams run dry. Exhaust them, and the $45 billion annual agricultural economy will take a severe hit, while small towns run dry.

Yet for a century, farmers believed that the law put control of groundwater in the hands of landowners, who could drill as many wells as deeply as they wanted, and court challenges were few.

That just changed. The California Legislature, in its closing hours on Friday, passed new and sweeping groundwater controls. The measures do not eliminate private ownership, but they do establish a framework for managing withdrawals through local agencies.

After jump, water woes in Mexico, ice caps on both poles in epic retreat, a decade-long drought looms in the American Southwest, Mediterranean tsunami dangers, Japanese dolphin slaughter, branding environmentalists as terrorists, volcanic eruptions in both hemisphere, a species extinction commemorated, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now! Continue reading