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Posts Tagged "ebola"

Absolutely Maybe

Airborne? Memories of Another Virus and Panic’s Rise and Fall

Cartoon of informed trust as the cure for panic

She started by asking me something like, “We understand you know a lot about AIDS, is that right?” “A fair bit, I guess. Why?” It was 20 years ago, in Sydney – before the antiretroviral drug combinations arrived. It was the year AIDS became the leading cause of death for people aged 25 to 44 [...]

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Cross-Check

U.S. Department of Defense Health Official Speaks Out on Ebola and Other Threats

Ebola virus (particles of which are depicted), is "really not a direct threat for nations with robust health systems. But where resources are lacking and health systems are inadequate (as in West Africa), and where initial cases are not quickly discovered and managed, there is a real threat of local spread in the community from imported cases," says Dr. Rohit Chitale.

Earlier this month, I posted a Q&A on the Ebola outbreak with a Stevens colleague, medical anthropologist Theresa MacPhail. MacPhail also put me in touch with someone who could provide more insight into the outbreak, Dr. Rohit Chitale of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC). Rohit is an infectious disease epidemiologist and had worked [...]

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Food Matters

Putting a Band Aid On It: Famine, Ebola, And The Impact Of Song

BandAid

Thirty years ago, Bob Geldof and Band Aid recorded the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” for famine relief in Ethiopia. Last week, a new version of the song was released, this time in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Not everyone is enthusiastic about the encore; some saw Geldof’s initial Band Aid [...]

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Food Matters

Viruses and virulence with a side of GMOs: Podcasts I’ve been on recently

Ebola_virus_em

Lab work can often be a bit tedious. I often make the joke (not entirely innacurate) that my entire job is moving very small amounts of liquid between different tubes in a controlled manner. In order to combat this tedium, I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts of various sorts, from short shows [...]

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Guest Blog

The Ebola Outbreak: Hopeful News from the Front Lines

A "Prevent Ebola" bumper sticker commonly seen around Sierra Leone.

The coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by U.S. media has often seemed unremittingly grim. So it was with some trepidation that I boarded a plane for Sierra Leone. I was part of a field assessment team assembled by Project HOPE, the international humanitarian organization. The country’s first lady, Sia Nyama Koroma, invited [...]

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Guest Blog

Disease Detectives Investigate Outbreaks at Home and Abroad

Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer Dr. Leisha Nolen preparing to depart on assignment to West Africa in response to the 2014 Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak across Guinea, northern Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Pictured atop the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) materiel case to her left are some of the requisite medical supplies she would be taking including phlebotomy vials, and disposable face masks. (Credit: CDC)

The medical sleuths of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been thrust into the limelight with the recent Ebola epidemic. Charged with chasing diseases and stopping outbreaks, they’re a geeky bunch of young doctors, veterinarians and scientists, who prefer to work behind the scenes. I can call them geeks because I was one [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Ebola Quarantines: Can we stop the charade now?

Pribilstan Quarantine Sign

“I’m a believer in an abundance of caution but I’m not a believer of an abundance of idiocy.” Ashish Jha, MD Quarantine craziness has continued since my last post, with more states joining in the fray. The sudden silence since Election Day has been quite striking, but since the irrational hodgepodge of regulations persists, here [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Quarantines: Chaos and Confusion

Will history repeat? The Plague Doctor

There has been a quantum change in the past few days as to how healthcare workers (HCW) returning from the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are being treated. This was prompted by two cases. First, Dr. Craig Spencer, a physician with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, aka Doctors Without Borders) developed a [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Why Ebola Is a Wake Up for Infection Control

Antibiotic_thumbnail

Just as the CDC’s and other experts’ thoughts on Ebola and infection control have evolved with experience, mine have taken a slight twist as well. Given the missteps at Dallas’s Texas Presbyterian Hospital, which could have occurred in any community, I now agree with the current recommendations to centralize care in specialty centers. My perspective [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Ebola in the U.S.—Politics and Public Health Don’t Mix

CDC Public Health Preparedness Funding

“Against stupidity, even the gods strive in vain.” — Fredirich Schiller I’ve been glued to the Ebola news, riding the roller coaster of emotions. While  very impressed with CDC’s director, Dr. Tom Frieden’s, initial press conference (10/2/14), I became infuriated at the subsequent statements from Lisa Monaco, Homeland Security Advisor, and the tragicomedy of the [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Superbugs should scare you more than Ebola in US

Stay calm...

The first case of Ebola in the United States was announced today, with a patient in Dallas who traveled to the US from Liberia. The resultant hysteria and xenophobia prompts this reminder. There is NO need to panic. Ebola is NOT transmitted before a patient develops symptoms. Ebola is transmitted by contact with infectious secretions [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Ebola – the World’s Katrina

A staff member at the MSF's Ebola management center in Monrovia - Caroline Van Nespen/MSF

To anyone who follows infectious disease outbreaks, it is no great surprise that the most immediate, looming threat, Ebola, has received scant attention until recently. Even now, the world’s response has been incomprehensibly and seemingly irresponsibly slow. Why is this the case? Likely because of disparities in the power and wealth of people affected by [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Covert Operations vs. Public Health: What is the Government Thinking?

Graffiti on USAID poster - David Lisbona/flickr

My attention having been riveted by Ebola, I missed this startling news last week: U.S. Agency for International Development sent young people undercover to Cuba to incite anti-government activism. Their cover was an HIV prevention workshop. This short-sighted idiocy was apparently aimed at making Cuba more “democratic,” by overthrowing Raul Castro, though that small nation [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Ebola and Priorities in Drug Development

Ebola in Guinea (flickr Euro Comm DG ECHO)

News is rapidly changing regarding Ebola. Even as I’ve been writing this post, we’ve gone from “There is no treatment except supportive care” to NIH’s Dr. Fauci saying a potential vaccine “could be given to health workers in affected African countries sometime in 2015.”⁠ This optimistic projection was a surprise to me, as normally it [...]

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Observations

CDC Launches Ebola Response Team

cdc ebola response

In the two days since the second U.S. Ebola patient was diagnosed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has assembled a new team to battle the threat of Ebola. This team has no steady lineup, but it will be deployed anywhere in the country that sees a new case of Ebola, CDC [...]

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Observations

Spain Confirms First Ebola Transmission outside of Africa

This is a microscopic image of an Ebola virus.

Health authorities in Spain have confirmed that a health worker at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, Spain has been infected with the Ebola virus. This is the first time anyone has contracted the virus outside of Africa. The woman, a nurse technician, had worked in the room where two Ebola patients—both missionaries—were treated at [...]

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Observations

Clay Jenkins and Zachary Thompson Are Ebola Heroes

All last week CDC officials reiterated their conclusion—based on nearly 40 years worth of successfully containing past outbreaks—that you cannot catch the Ebola virus from people who are infected unless they have already begun suffering a fever or started showing other signs of illnesses. Two Dallas County officials took them at their word and wore [...]

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Observations

Microbes and Pathogen Genes Fill New York City Soil

GoogleMaps plot of 596 soil sample locations. Image courtesy of Kelly Ramirez.

With all the attention to the Ebola virus and other pathogens floating around in bodily fluids and the air, we may not be aware that the dirt beneath our feet is home to thousands of bacteria and other microorganisms. Even the soil in New York City, which we might think is somewhat lifeless given the [...]

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Observations

Ebola-Like Disease Has Snakes Tied Up in Knots

python ebola virus

In 2009, some of the snakes at the California Academy of Sciences’ Steinhart Aquarium were acting sort of s-s-s-s-strange. Scientists suspected a sickness whose cause was mysterious. Now researchers think they’ve found an unlikely origin, as they watch the disease play out in strange and terrible fashion. “Some of the symptoms are pretty bizarre,” said [...]

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PsiVid

David Quammen on SciAm/Read Science! Chat

RS quammen poster

David Quammen, according to his website is  ”an author and journalist whose twelve books include The Song of the Dodo, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, and most recently Spillover, a work on the science, history, and human impacts of emerging diseases (especially viral diseases).”  I would hope you have read some of his works in any of the many [...]

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Symbiartic

Graphic Guides to Ebola from the Epicenter and Abroad

14-026FEATURE

The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa continues to make the news as more cases are reported and casualties rise. A common thread in reporting is the difficulty in communicating accurate information to combat the spread of the virus when communities are gripped with fear and misinformation spreads as quickly as the virus itself. While our [...]

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