So It Turns Out There’s A Lot We Don’t Know About Ebola – RAE ELLEN BICHELL OCTOBER 17, 2015 7:03 AM ET

Dr. Ian Crozier survived Ebola, only to have his normally blue left eye turn green because of inflammation. Though the rest of his body was Ebola-free, his eye was teeming with the virus.

Dr. Ian Crozier survived Ebola, only to have his normally blue left eye turn green because of inflammation. Though the rest of his body was Ebola-free, his eye was teeming with the virus.

Emory Eye Center

“If there’s anything that this outbreak has taught me, it’s that I’m often wrong,” says Dr. Daniel Bausch.

He’s talking about Ebola. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the virus — an infectious disease specialist at Tulane University and a senior consultant to the World Health Organization.

And as he makes clear, he’s still got a lot to learn.

The virus came roaring back into headlines this past week. A Scottish nurse who survived Ebola is back in isolation in London, being “treated for Ebola,” according tothe Royal Free Hospital. The hospital says the patient’s “condition has deteriorated and she is now critically ill.”

And two new research papers found that the virus can live in a male survivor’s semen for up to nine months, and that one man passed it to his sexual partner months after he was released from the Ebola ward.

“If you look back at the classic teaching about Ebola and survivors, it was that once you get better from this disease, even though it may take a while to recover, you made a full recovery and that kind of was the end of it,” says Bausch.

And now, with an estimated 17,000 survivors, researchers are discovering all kinds of twists and turns. The semen study is particularly puzzling to Ilhem Messaoudi.

“It’s an explosive virus. It replicates like crazy … and it destroys everything in its path,” says Messaoudi, a viral immunologist and professor of biomedical sciences at the University of California, Riverside, who is studying how the virus works in the human body. “So, how is it just hanging out in the testes for like nine months?”

There hasn’t been much research — in animals or humans — about what happens after survival. What we do know is mostly from past outbreaks of the virus, in particular, two studies looking at past survivors of the disease and comparing their health to Ebola-free friends and family.

Research on 19 survivors of a 1995 outbreak in Kikwit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo found that most had joint pain and vision problems after the virus. One lost sight. Studies from the 1970s and 1980s had, like recent research, found the virus persisting in the semen and eyes of survivors.

Researchers following 49 survivors of a 2007 Ebola outbreak in Uganda found that— even two years after the illness — they had eye problems like inflammation and blurred vision as well as joint pain, difficulty sleeping, difficulty swallowing and even hearing loss, memory loss and confusion.

A third study examining 105 survivors of the 2014-15 outbreak in Guinea found that about 90 percent had chronic joint pain and 98 percent had poor appetites or an aversion to food. They also reported difficulty with short-term memory, headaches, sleeplessness, insomnia, dizziness, abdominal pain, constipation, sexual dysfunction, and decreased libido and exercise tolerance.

Bausch says, aside from arthritis and eye inflammation, it’s still unclear which issues are directly related to the Ebola virus and which could be caused by the physical and emotional toll on the body. But something is going on.

“It’s clear that there is a post-Ebola syndrome,” he says.


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VICE News Daily: Stampede Kills Dozens in India- Vice News Published on Jul 15, 2015

The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today: Pro-government forces in Yemen recapture areas held by Houthi rebels, Hindu festival turns deadly in southern India, local efforts to fight desertification in Morocco, and the UN’s good news on HIV.

Government Loyalists Seize Territory From Houthi Rebels
Airstrikes forced them to retreat from Aden airport and the surrounding areas.

Stampede Leaves Dozens Dead and Injured
The incident occurred during a Hindu bathing festival in Andhra Pradesh.

Conservation Projects Fight Deforestation in Eastern Regions
Farmers and cattle grazers have been tasked with planting trees and other initiatives aimed at restoring damaged ecosystems.

UN Study Showcases Improved Outlook For HIV-Positive
Infection rates have decreased since the late 1990s, and life expectancy is 19 years higher than in 2001.

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Do no harm – by Sarah Kliff on July 2015

There’s an infection hospitals can nearly always prevent. Why don’t they?

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at Jul 12, 2015 2.14

Nora Boström died in a hospital room, her arms clenched around her mother’s neck, on November 22, 2013. It was 22 days before her fourth birthday.

Nora had blonde, curly hair and a big laugh, and seemed to hate wearing pants — pictures of her as a toddler show her wiggling right out of them. Nora was also born prematurely with underdeveloped lungs. A few months before her third birthday, she underwent a small surgical procedure that placed a thin, snakelike tube running through her chest to her heart. Doctors used it to pump medicine into her bloodstream that would help her lungs grow.

central line

The tube is called a central line catheter, and doctors insert millions of them into patients each year. Because they run straight to the heart, central lines are the fastest, most effective method of delivering often lifesaving medication. But if bacteria manages to get into the central line — when a nurse changes a dressing or injects a medication — it can quickly become a bloodstream infection. At best, these infections cause suffering for already-sick patients. At worst, they kill them.

Nora had four central line infections in her last year of life. “Every line infection just took more out of her, and more out of her, because it weakened her heart,” Claire McCormack, Nora’s mother, says. “It just weakened that perfect heart.”

Table of contents

I. Plane crash hospitals vs. car crash hospitals
II. A death — and a revolution — in Baltimore
III. “She just kind of slipped away”
IV. Four central line infections and two tragedies
V. Hope in Roseville

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Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong TEDGlobalLondon · 14:42 · Filmed Jun 2015

What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.


A group of volunteer medical workers carry the bodies of Ebola victims to a car in order to bury them in Kptema graveyard in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 24, 2014. MOHAMMED ELSHAMY/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Lina Moses sensed the ghost of Ebola as soon as her Land Cruiser entered the gate at Kenema Government Hospital. More than a hundred people had died in the treatment center here, an epicenter of the epidemic in Sierra Leone. A doctor who had treated them was buried on a hill overlooking the compound. When Ebola erupted in Kenema in May 2014, Moses was working here as an epidemiologist. She had never seen an Ebola patient. She could have fled home to New Orleans. Instead she stayed, fighting the outbreak and watching patients and friends die one by one.

Eventually Moses returned to the US. But now, two months later, she and one of the people she’d worked with, a physician named John Schieffelin, were back. Moses’ driver eased the Land Cruiser up to her old lab, a single-story building tucked in the corner of the hospital compound. Workers appeared and started to help unload supplies. Moses, meanwhile, stepped out into the searing midday heat and stretched her legs. She saw six people sitting on the concrete steps of an office across from her lab. Some had been nurses and researchers at Kenema; a couple were part of a newly formed survivors’ union. That’s how they’d heard about Moses’ mission.

All six had been infected with Ebola and survived. Hypothetically, that made them immune to the disease. That’s why Moses had returned—to harness that immunity to try to ensure Ebola never killed anyone again.

LINA MOSES | An epidemiologist working in Sierra Leone, Moses was one of the first Western researchers to encounter the outbreak. She later returned to find a way to fight it.

LINA MOSES | An epidemiologist working in Sierra Leone, Moses was one of the first Western researchers to encounter the outbreak. She later returned to find a way to fight it. Daymon Gardner

After getting set up, Moses beckoned the survivors into the lab. A technician slid needles into their veins. The survivors’ blood flowed dark red into purple-topped tubes. Moses watched in silence. Once that fluid had been a mortal danger; now it was a valuable commodity.

When the blood collection was over, Schieffelin passed a survivor outside who didn’t recognize his doctor. Schieffelin covered most of his face with his hand, imitating the mask he’d worn in the wards. “Do you remember me now?” he asked, smiling behind his palm.

Later, Moses’ boss, a virologist named Robert Garry, separated the cells they needed from the blood, washed them, and added a pink buffering liquid to each tube. Garry printed the date—January 12—and an ID number on each tube, then put the tubes into a Mr. Frosty-brand insulated container. Mr. Frosty, in turn, went into a portable freezer. Tucked safely inside, the samples chilled over the next four hours; it was crucial that they cooled slowly, so ice crystals wouldn’t destroy the cells.

Finally, at 11 that night, Moses and Garry donned purple disposable gloves, popped open the lid on Mr. Frosty, and loaded the little labeled tubes into metal cases cooled with liquid nitrogen. She handled each tube for no more than a few seconds. Even the tiny bit of heat from her fingers could warm the cells inside enough to kill them and destroy the knowledge they contained. She shut the case, ready for a journey to the United States.


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U.S. bird flu causing egg squeeze, emergency measures – | Fri May 22, 2015 8:21am EDT

Eggs sit on a shelf at a store in Wheaton, Maryland February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

As a virulent avian influenza outbreak continues to spread across the Midwestern United States, some egg-dependent companies are contemplating drastic steps: importing eggs from overseas or looking to egg alternatives.

A spokeswoman for grain giant Archer Daniels Midland Co said that, as egg supplies have tightened and prices risen, the company has received numerous inquiries from manufacturers about the plant-based egg substitutes it makes.

And with a strong dollar bolstering the buying power of U.S. importers, some companies are scouting for egg supplies abroad.

“The U.S. has never imported any significant amount of eggs, because we’ve always been a very low-cost producer,” said Tom Elam of FarmEcon, an agricultural consulting company. “Now, that’s no longer the case.”

Still, companies wanting to import eggs may have to look far afield.

“Canada is short on eggs and has been buying heavily from the U.S. for the last several years,” said Rick Brown, a senior vice-president of Urner Barry, a commodity market analysis firm. “Mexico has been dealing with its own outbreaks of avian influenza, so they’re banned from importing into the U.S. The logical place people will be looking now would be Europe.”

Avril, a farmer-controlled agri-food group that owns France’s largest egg brand, Matines, said it has seen an increase recently in demand from the United States and elsewhere in the Americas and plans to start making shipments in June.


Meanwhile, companies sticking with egg suppliers closer to home are facing sharply higher prices as a result of the outbreak, which has so far affected some 39 million birds. Nearly one-quarter of the hens that lay “breaker eggs” – which include liquid, dried or frozen eggs used by food manufacturers – have either died or are slated to be euthanized.

The outbreak has led to a sharp uptick in the wholesale price of such eggs, from 63-cents a dozen in late April, when the first egg-laying flock was reported infected, to $1.83 a dozen this week, Brown said.

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Claudia Dewald Vetta Getty Images

Claudia Dewald Vetta Getty Images

Rural families in Kenya have few or no sources of clean water, with studies by Water Link International showing that half of the population in Kenya, and a majority in the rural areas, use contaminated water for drinking and cooking.

Unlike their urban counterparts, the rural people do not have access to piped water, which is treated at water plants. In the Nyeri area of Central Kenya, one of Kenya’s largest rivers, River Chania, runs through the area with a majority of the rural residents relying on it for consumption. The water is contaminated as a result of the dumping of chemicals, washing away of fertilizer-laden soils through soil erosions, fecal matter from animals grazing near the river source and open defecation.

But the menace of unsafe drinking is not confined to Central Kenya alone. Just recently an outbreak kilometers away in Western Kenya suspected to be as a result of drinking untreated water, claimed seven lives with 80 people hospitalized in critical condition.

It is a regrettable cycle that has gone unchecked for years and in its wake claimed incomes and livelihoods. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. For every dollar spent on clean water systems in Africa, about $8 in health care costs are avoided according to Dr. Barry Otoyo from Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya’s largest hospital. “It is regrettable that mothers and children in the 21st century have to succumb to such avoidable diseases. There definitely has to be a mind shift,” he said.

But it is easier said than done. Rural households with pressing needs do not see the need for water treating techniques which they deem expensive. The cheapest is around $0.50, liquid chlorine packaged in miniature bottles which experts have advocated for as the quickest and most convenient water treatment solution, especially for those living in rural areas.

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The Rehab Racket: The Way We Treat Addiction Is a Costly, Dangerous Mess – —By John Hill | May/June 2015 Issue

Ryan Rogers was a 28-year-old alcoholic who entered a posh rehab facility to stop drinking; 17 days later he was dead.

Illustration: Max-O-Matic

Illustration: Max-O-Matic

On December 30, 2012, as part of a series called Drugged, the National Geographic Channel aired an hourlong documentary about a 28-year-old named Ryan Rogers. It appeared to be a classic tale of a drunk trying against the odds to sober up, albeit with especially harrowing footage and an unusually charismatic protagonist, often shown with a radiant smile on his handsome face. In one scene, Ryan, in the midst of another day of drinking vodka straight out of the bottle, vomits into the trash can next to his armchair as his distraught grandfather looks on. In another, he roils around the passenger seat while badgering the elderly man to drive him to the liquor store.

“I apologize, you guys,” Ryan says to the camera crew in the backseat. Without a drink, “I can’t even focus or think or even understand anything.”

These scenes of craving and self-ruin unfold along the idyllic shores of Ryan’s home near Lake Tahoe, with a cheerful, late-spring alpine light dancing in the pines. During the rare moments of relative calm, Ryan’s warmth and a loving, if fraught, relationship with his family reveal someone who might have a shot at kicking addiction.

This episode of Drugged focused on the medical consequences of alcoholism, so the British production company, Pioneer Productions, followed Ryan until he entered a recovery program, which the company arranged in exchange for his willingness to lay bare his inner turmoil. Ryan’s first stop was a Texas medical clinic, where he underwent a comprehensive evaluation. After palpating his pancreas and liver, the doctor told Ryan that parts of his body were “screaming and dying” as a result of all the alcohol. The hip he broke when he fell off his bike, drunk, while pedaling to the liquor store never healed, leaving him with a rolling limp and in constant pain. At one point Ryan had permission from a psychiatrist to alleviate his withdrawal with some vodka, which he knocked back with an orange soda chaser in the men’s room. Then came the pivotal moment, a staple of addiction reality shows: the interview when the psychiatrist asked if he was willing to go into rehab.

Ryan said he was terrified, but vowed, “I want to amaze people, to let them know: I was gone, but here I am.”

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Nigeria Holds Elections Amid Threats of Violence – By Teresa Welsh March 28, 2015 | 5:00 a.m. EDT

Democratic elections postponed six weeks ago will take place Saturday in Africa’s largest – and wealthiest – nation.

A campaign billboard of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in downtown Akure, in southwestern Nigeria, on March 23, 2015.

A campaign billboard of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Akure, Nigeria. The country’s presidential elections begin Saturday.

Against the backdrop of threats from terrorist group Boko Haram, a volatile Nigeria is set to hold elections Saturday after a six-week postponement due to security concerns. The contest pits President Goodluck Jonathan against Muhammadu Buhari, who presided over a military dictatorship in the early 1980s and lost against the incumbent in 2011.

It’s expected to be the first legitimate electoral contest since 1999 in the oil-rich country of 183 million people. But international observers say neither candidate has proved particularly appealing.

The Associated Press


Boko Haram Must Not Be Allowed to Regain Territory After Nigeria Election

Jonathan’s government is unpopular and widely accused of corruption, with Nigerian petroleum revenues largely at his disposal. Up to $20 billion of that money was found to have gone missing during his tenure.

President Barack Obama’s administration has poor relations with the incumbent, and J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, says some believe the U.S. would like to see him lose.

“Whether it is true or not, there is a perception among many in Nigeria, at least on the part of those who support the incumbent president, that the administration – although it doesn’t perhaps rise to toxicity of the antipathy between the U.S. administration and the prime minister of Israel – there is a similar antipathy towards the incumbent in Nigeria,” Pham says.

Despite the country’s resources, the Jonathan administration has been unable to make progress against Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that kidnapped 200 schoolgirls a year ago and has killed nearly 10,000 people during its rise. The group has attacked Nigerian authorities, civilians, schools, religious buildings and other public institutions with increasing frequency since 2009. It has largely been able to run its terror campaign unabated, as the government has seemed uninterested in tackling the threat. The kidnappings and massacres have received little attention internationally, with most of the world’s terror-fighting bandwidth being directed at the Islamic State group. Earlier this month, those threats merged when Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the extremists that have ravaged Syria and Iraq.


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Why we’re still waiting on an Ebola vaccine – March 11, 2015 5:00AM ET by Amy Maxmen

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Since Ebola hit this coastal city last summer, nurses at Connaught Hospital have put their lives on the line by working with patients at risk of the deadly disease. Now researchers aim to recruit them as well as ambulance drivers and other hospital staff as subjects in one of the largest Ebola vaccine trials to date.Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at Mar 11, 2015 12.29

Researchers are scrambling to start trials before the outbreak fades, but establishing faith in vaccines will take time

But just a few weeks before the trial begins enrollment, many health care workers are voicing discomfort about the shot. “It would be really good to have a vaccine, but we’re scared because it’s new,” said Kadiatu Nubieu, a nurse at Connaught.

Researchers say the vaccines are safe, on the basis of small studies last year in which recipients did not suffer major side effects. Now researchers are planning for the final phase of trials designed to determine the efficacy of the vaccines. Health workers such as Nubieu are ideal study participants for these trials because their chances of infection are higher than for members of the general public. If a vaccine keeps them healthier than unvaccinated hospital staff, scientists will have confidence in their product.

In the coming weeks, researchers plan to enroll 6,000 to 8,000 health workers in a trial in Sierra Leone, supported by local researchers, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Merck pharmaceutical company. As the team scrambles to launch the trial before the outbreak ends, they are compressing certain steps, including outreach to potential participants.

Several health workers in Sierra Leone said they feel overlooked in a process that intimately affects their lives. “I’m not sure whether or not I’ll take the vaccine,” said William Bangura, a nurse working in the Ebola isolation unit at Connaught. “I want to know why no CDC person has ever met us here to talk.”

The CDC says it plans to meet directly with health workers a couple of weeks before the trial’s start. But if nurses’ sentiments around Freetown are any indication, building trust between the agency and hospital staffers may take more effort than scientists expect.

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