Category Archives: Epidemiology

From Palestine to Fiji, untold flu stories 100 years on


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Up to 40 million people died in the Spanish flu outbreak between 1918 to 1919 [AP]
"I had a little bird, its name was Enza. I opened the window and in-flu-enza."

Almost like the creepy theme tune to a horror film, the rhyme above became a common refrain for young girls as they played and jumped rope in 1918 - when the Spanish flu began its deadly global rampage.

The 1918 - 1919 Spanish flu - so called because the virus was first widely reported in the Spanish press - killed at least 20 to 40 million people worldwide, claiming more lives than the First World War.

One hundred years ago this year, the world was a weary and battered place: the First World War would not end until November 1918.

In some countries, boys wore bags of camphor around their necks in the hope of escaping the flu bug [Getty Images]

The H1N1 pandemic ran in three waves and was first recorded in Camp Funston, Kansas, in March 1918. It saw the young and fit perish at an astonishing rate due to their strong immune systems which, scientists say, went into overdrive and turned against them. Many died from pneumonia or septicaemia.

The contagion killed notable figures such as Mark Sykes – the British co-architect of the controversial 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, which carved up the Middle East into colonial spheres of influence.

The Spanish flu took around 250,000 lives in the UK and 500,000 to 675,000 lives in the US.

But what of other parts of the world and other peoples little mentioned in retrospective accounts of the deadliest pandemic in modern history?

Al Jazeera has spoken to four experts …

The Navajo experience

Benjamin Brady of The University of Arizona co-authored The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 – 1920 among the Navajos: Marginality, Mortality, and the Implications of Some Neglected Eyewitness Accounts:

“[Our paper] emerged as an offshoot of [a colleague’s] effort to edit and publish the history of four Franciscan monks who struggled for decades to establish a mission among the Navajo.

While living on the reservation and running a mission school, the missionaries corresponded with each other and unwittingly recorded in their letters previously unpublished details around the severity of the flu on the reservation.

The reservation death rate was about 12 percent, far exceeding the overall flu fatality in the US which remained less than one percent.


With this additional evidence, we made the argument that Navajo mortality from the Spanish flu had been undercounted and actually appeared to be around twice what was officially tallied.

We made the case that the reservation death rate was about 12 percent, far exceeding the overall flu fatality in the US which remained less than one percent.

The Navajo were a ‘perfect storm’ of vulnerability. This is not to say they were a deficient people, but that like many other indigenous and marginal peoples, they did not yet possess institutional knowledge and lacked important resources to prevent infection or treat symptoms in the same way as other groups.

Doctors and their medicines were largely ineffective against this flu – modern technology or Western medicine does not explain differential rates of survival, but more basic resources like the ability to rest and receive nursing and assistance in meeting basic needs like warmth, food and water.

Lower socioeconomic status, living in small and spread-out groups, and not having prior exposure or cultural knowledge to identify flu symptoms, for example, led to increased risk among the Navajo … When Navajo died, it was not uncommon to find multiple deaths among families, who lived in remote areas or ‘camps’, having died together.”

The South African experience

Howard Phillips, emeritus professor of the University of Cape Town, authored In a Time of Plague: Memories of the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 in South Africa:

“South Africa, by and large, was not affected by the first wave, so when the second wave hit, there was very, very little immunity. So the mortality was sky high. It was probably the third or fourth worst hit country or territory in the world with about four or five percent mortality.

The reasons for that include the fact that South Africa has a better rail network than anywhere else in Africa, which means that people move around in great numbers.

The second thing is that South Africa has an unusually large number of young men on the move, such as soldiers and migrant labourers, but particularly labourers working in the mines.

If you look at the 1911 census and project what the population ought to have been in 1921 – projecting forward at the same rate of population increase – there’s a shortfall of about 350,000 people


The moment the mines are hit [with the virus], particularly in Kimberley [in Northern Cape Province], the labourers are desperate to get out. And what they do is go back to their homes in rural areas – so they carry the flu into areas that otherwise would have been quite isolated.

The actual number of recorded deaths is only a fraction of the actual number of deaths. There was a census in 1911 and a census in 1921. If you look at the 1911 census and project what the population ought to have been in 1921 – projecting forward at the same rate of population increase – there’s a shortfall of about 350,000 people.”

The Australian Army and Egyptian Expeditionary Force – EEF experiences in Palestine

Dennis Shanks authored the academic paper, Simultaneous epidemics of influenza and malaria in the Australian Army in Palestine in 1918, at the Australian Defence Force:

“Military operations favour the spread of infectious diseases due to crowding, stress and movement through hostile environments. Palestine in 1918 was a conjunction of adverse events, [including] two simultaneous infectious disease epidemics that struck roughly at the same time.

No one could have planned for the epidemics but they struck just as the great Egyptian Expeditionary Force cavalry offensive started from mid-September 1918.

Malaria incapacitated the soldiers starting 10 days after the start of the offensive which is the incubation period for malaria. It is likely that influenza was already in the civilian population which then spread to or from the troops.

Both diseases together were synergistically lethal for unclear reasons.

There would be no way to distinguish between the two diseases symptomatically except that influenza would have also caused respiratory symptoms such as coughing and increased secretions. The [EEF] – which actually had more Indian soldiers than Australians or New Zealanders – ground to a halt at the same time they cut off and defeated the Turkish armies.

At one point it was stated that there were barely enough well men to water the horses in one cavalry division. All military operations stopped and all forces did their best to deal with a combined epidemic that had not been previously observed.

Death rates were particularly high in soldiers who were already incapacitated such as Turkish POWs. Even with post-mortem examinations it was very difficult to say which infection caused any particular death – it was a synergistic product of two lethal diseases.”

The Fijian, Samoan and Tongan experience

Phyllis Herda, lecturer at the University of Auckland, authored an academic paper – Disease and the Colonial Narrative: The 1918 influenza pandemic in Western Polynesia.

“With the arrival of the virus on the steamship Talune [in November 1918] the flu spread quickly through each of the archipelagoes. Steamship day was a big event in all three places so people would come down to the wharf.

In Western Samoa [now Samoa] and Tonga, people would come from the villages to meet the ship. The virus was, thus, easily spread across each of the islands. In addition, in Fiji, several indigenous Fijians who worked on the Talune as stevedores, who were ill, were allowed to return to their villages.

In both Fiji and Western Samoa, the colonial administrations blamed the habits of the indigenous people for the high death rates and described the pandemic in a manner which re-inscribed the superiority of the food, medicine and lifestyles of the West thereby indirectly legitimising their rule in each archipelago.


As elsewhere, once among the population the virus spread very quickly with fatal results. Unfortunately, the colonial medical administration in [the Fijian capital] Suva believed it was the normal annual flu rather than the deadly Spanish flu, which they knew was abroad.

In the end, 8,145 deaths were recorded for Fiji – amounting to five percent of the population of the British colony. In Western Samoa, approximately 8,500 people died, nearly 22 percent of the population, as a result of contracting the flu.

By contrast, American Samoa suffered no deaths due to a complete maritime quarantine imposed by the governor there. In Tonga, almost 2,000 people died which amounted to approximately eight percent of the population.

In both Fiji and Western Samoa, the colonial administrations blamed the habits of the indigenous people for the high death rates and described the pandemic in a manner which re-inscribed the superiority of the food, medicine and lifestyles of the West thereby indirectly legitimising their rule in each archipelago.”

The St Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty with mask-wearing women holding stretchers at the backs of ambulances during the Influenza epidemic, St Louis, Missouri, October 1918 [Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images]


The 1918 Influenza pandemic killed a total of 50-100 million people [Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images]



Published; 4/19/17 AT 7:29 AM

Smugglers are forcing unaccompanied child refugees to sell their bodies in exchange for money to aid their traveling through Europe, a new report from Harvard University has claimed.

There is a “growing epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of migrant children in Greece,” say the report’s co-authors, Dr Vasileia Digidiki and Professor Jacqueline Bhabha, at Harvard University’s center for health and human rights.

Informants in Greek migrant camps told Digidiki and Bhabha that men prey on unsuspecting child refugees, sexually abusing those without proper adult supervision. The actual number of children who have been abused is unknown as many do not report it, fearing reprisal.

A psychologist in one of the camps told the researchers: “[Many children] do not want to report [the incident], because they are afraid that the offender will take revenge on them. They also do not believe that the police can help them.”

Unable to afford exorbitant fees charged by smugglers to help them reach European nations where they can seek asylum, children who have fled conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are selling sex to fund their journeys.

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Child refugees at the Moria migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, September 20, 2016.REUTERS/GIORGOS MOUTAFIS

The report includes an interview with a child refugee who told a journalist: “I never thought I’d have to do something like this. When the money ran out I had to learn to do this. He said “it was the first time I did this, I had no experience.”

The average price of a sexual transaction between a child and a smuggler is 15 euros, the researchers say, adding that the majority of those forced into prostitution are Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan boys.

Offenders, primarily men aged 35 or older, target the children who are found in Athens’ Victoria Square and Pedion tou Areos, a park next to departure areas for buses traveling towards Greece’s northern border.

“There is a reason why these two places have been chosen. They have been key centers for the drug and sex trade for years now. The only difference is the age of people involved. Before you wouldn’t see children. Now you do,” one informant said.

Digidiki told The Guardian that the international community cannot ignore the situation of child refugees in Europe: “We can no longer sit idle while migrant children are abused and forced to sell their bodies in broad daylight and plain sight in the heart of Athens simply to survive.”

“It is our responsibility as human beings to face this emergency head on and take immediate action at every level to put an end to this most heinous violation of dignity and human rights,” she said.



How ‘guerilla’ start-ups can make the world a better place

Thanks;  & Word Economic Forum

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REUTERS/Thomas Peter

At the Stockholm Tech Fest this year, Swedish entrepreneur Niklas Zennström issued a rare and refreshing call to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their next startup idea. As founder of Skype, he knows a thing or two about opportunity-spotting.

The UN goals involve complex problems, but when it comes to clever startups, a lot can happen between now and 2030. After all, some of the most exciting ideas in recent decades have come from the “guerilla” startups rather than from the “gorilla” corporations; use of the guerilla’s creativity could help to find solutions to sustainable development problems.

However, it is important to ask: Is Zennström’s call to action just fluff, or is there are a deep enough bench of entrepreneurs with robust ideas? Are there resources to support such startups through different phases of growth?

Historically, keeping the growing body of “social” entrepreneurs nourished has largely fallen to impact investors, foundations, NGOs and a few progressive government agencies. so far, the track record of guerillas has not been stellar; far too often it is the same handful of examples that make the rounds. This is a field that, while not starved for people or ideas, is in need of fresh sources of nourishment. Getting big “gorilla” corporations to work with the “guerilla” startups could provide this nourishment.

Findings from our Inclusion, Inc. research initiative suggest that large corporations are well-placed to unblock startups’ path to wider impact.


How do we find ideas?

There is a growing pool of budding social entrepreneurs; the Skoll World Forumevent alone offers an encouraging and uplifting glimpse of the many guerillas in our midst. We are experiencing a surge in interest and ideas on university campuses. At UC Berkeley, the Blum Center has highlighted examples of businesses and people already helping to fulfil the goals.

Closer to home, The Fletcher School’s collaboration with the One Acre Fund’s D-Prize draws numerous contestants with ideas for social enterprises that take on “poverty solutions”; in recent years, we have funded a startup that used bus networks to distribute solar lamps to far-flung communities in Burkina Faso; a venture finding sponsors for girls’ high school education; and a ground transportation brokerage to serve as “the connective tissue” between smallholder farmers and transporters.

A second piece of good news is that capital is ready to be mobilised. A 2014 study by J.P. Morgan and the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) identified $46bn in impact investments under management, with annual funding commitments estimated to increase by 19% in 2014. Sir Ronald Cohen, chair of the Global Social Impact Investment Taskforce, believes the impact investing market can grow to match the “$3tn of venture capital and private equity.”

According to Judith Rodin and Margot Brandenburg of the Rockefeller Foundation: “Aspirational estimates suggest that impact investments could one day represent 1% of professionally managed global assets, channeling up to hundreds of billions of dollars towards solutions that can address some of our biggest problems, from poor health to climate change.”

What are the bottlenecks?

So, why does all this good news not translate into more meaningful outcomes? Two bottlenecks are worth highlighting. The first is what a Monitor and Acumen study calls the “pioneer gap”. Their 2012 study, From Blueprint to Scale, observes that pioneer firms are starved of capital and support at very early stages in their development.

The second choke point occurs in the phase of actually getting to scale. A second report, Beyond the Pioneer, identifies a chain of barriers to scale, ranging from those within the firm and the industry to those in the domain of public goods and the government.

These bottlenecks represent different forms of market failures. An approach to the first of them involves “de-risking” early stage social ventures. However, a key source of risk is the chain of barriers to scale in later stages. If we can make meaningful advances on lowering the barriers, it helps in de-risking and also supports early-stage startup development.

Given the breadth of the barriers to scale, impact investors, NGOs and foundations would find it challenging to facilitate end-to-end solutions. Apart from funding and convening, such organisations have few other levers. Large corporations, on the other hand, can tackle business model and managerial issues within the firm and help boost negotiating power within the value chain or the public sector.

The biggest questions, of course, have to do with whether the gorilla corporations can ever be organisationally and culturally compatible with the startups. Given the potential for value creation these gaps are worth taking on.

The Monitor and Acumen study lists potential barriers: “firm level” barriers, which include weak business models, propositions to customers/producers, leadership and managerial and technical talent and a lack of capital.

Eye Mitra, launched in 2013, had trained over 1,000 young entrepreneurs and reached 150,000 people by the end of 2015. The business helps individuals to set up eye care provider businesses in rural communities using low-cost products.

According to a study by Dalberg Global Development Advisors [pdf], the programme added $4m a year in impact across the six districts surveyed; with Essilor’s scaling resources, Eye Mitra could represent the potential to unlock economic impact of $487m a year across India.

“Value chain barriers”

There are also value chain barriers which include lack of suitable labour inputs and financing for bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) producers and customers, weak sourcing channels and weak distribution channels involving BoP producers and customers, and weak linkages and support service providers.

Corporations with experience have become adept at finding creative ways around barriers in the value chain. Consider Unilever’s Project Shakti, which enables rural women to become entrepreneurs by distributing goods to hard-to-access rural communities.

Over 70,000 Shakti Entrepreneurs distribute Unilever’s products in more than 165,000 villages, reaching over 4m rural households. At the other end of the value chain, Coca-Cola’s Source Africa initiative facilitates sustainable and financially viable supply chains for key Coca-Cola agricultural ingredients, e.g. mango production in Kenya and Malawi and citrus and pineapple production in Nigeria.

In another sector, when Saint-Gobain builds a plant in a new country, it trains the local workforce in collaboration with YouthBuild. The latter trains disadvantaged youths in professional skills, while Saint-Gobain adds training in construction science.

“Public goods barriers”

Then, there are the public goods barriers: Lack of hard infrastructure; lack of awareness of market-based solutions; lack of information, industry knowhow and standards.

Olam offers a good illustration of a company’s deep involvement in a nation’s hard infrastructure. Olam jointly owns Owendo, a port in Gabon and is a key partner in the country’s special economic zone. On the “soft” public goods front, Janssen, a unit of J&J, works with multiple stakeholders to increase access to medicines and has formed the Janssen Neglected Disease Task Force to advocate for legislation to support new research into treatments for neglected diseases. It also coordinates a consortium to support HIV patients and their caretakers in managing the disease.

Fourth and finally, there are the government barriers: inhibitory laws, regulations and procedures; inhibitory taxes and subsidies; adverse interventions by politicians or officials.

MasterCard and its growing collaboration with the Association for Financial Inclusion to educate public officials about issues relevant to financial inclusion. This includes technical capacity building, developing national-level public-private engagement strategies, research and best practices to inform policymaking and exposing officials to innovative products, business models and approaches.

Combining global reach with entrepreneurial creativity

Perhaps the best mechanism for bringing gorilla and guerilla together is through a corporate venture or impact investing fund. Consider Unilever Ventures as an example. It has invested in a range of enterprises, including ones that focus on water management as part of its “sustainable living” portfolio, e.g. Recyclebank, a social platform that creates incentives for people to take environmentally responsible actions, WaterSmart, that develops tools for water utilities to help customers save water and money or Aquasana, Voltea and Rayne Water that develop water purification, desalination and filtration technologies.

Gorillas have the global reach and scale but they need the proximity to the problem, local knowledge and the entrepreneurial creativity of the guerillas. Zennström’s call-to-action requires guerillas and gorillas to dance. It is, no doubt, an awkward coupling; but it can – and must – happen for guerilla entrepreneurs to have gorilla impact on the world’s hardest problems.

MERS cases increase again; infection outside of hospitals reported


The Korea Herald

Publication Date : 24-06-2015

Korea quarantines 298 more people to prevent possible infection

South Korea reported four more cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome Wednesday, while announcing that it has placed 298 more people under quarantine to prevent possible infection.

The Health Ministry also reported the nation’s first MERS case that occurred outside of hospitals, which may be a sign that community transmissions of the disease have taken place in the country.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the virus has killed 27 people and infected 179. No death was reported on the same day, although 16 patients are currently in unstable condition. Meanwhile, 13 more patients have been discharged from hospitals, raising the total number of recovered individuals to 67.

According to health authorities, the nation’s 175th patient is believed to have been infected by his late wife, the 118th patient, who died from MERS on June 13, while staying at home together.

His late wife was infected by the 14th patient while caring for her husband, who had been hospitalised at the Good Morning Hospital in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, for pneumonia from May 23-29. After being discharged, he and his 67-year-old wife were placed under quarantine together at home until June 10, the day the wife was officially diagnosed with MERS. She died three days later.

The 175th patient, 75, had been asymptomatic even after his wife’s death, but started experiencing fever on June 21. He was officially diagnosed with MERS earlier this week. Considering the maximum incubation period of MERS is 14 days, the Health Ministry said it is most likely that the 175th patient was infected by his late wife at home, not at the hospital in Pyeongtaek.

While concerns are rising over the possibility of community-transmission of MERS, the World Health Organisation assured on Friday that the risk to the general public is low.

“Even if transmission spills over into the general community, such cases are not likely to sustain further transmission,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the director-general of WHO, told reporters in Seoul last week.

Discovery of Bacteria That Hasn’t Evolved in 2 Billion Years Is New Validation of Darwin’s Theory


Liz Neporent:Givology MagZ.



“Navarro College is not accepting international students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases.”

It was with shock that 33-year-old Nigerian-American academic Idris Bello read this sentence, signaling the rejection of a friend’s Nigerian brother-in-law to the Texas community college based solely on his citizenship. “I didn’t believe it, I was so surprised. I thought: This cannot be,” Bello says.

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A lead entrepreneur in Africa, with a master’s degree in global health from Oxford University, Bello received a copy of the letter from Dr. Kamor Abidogun, a mechanical engineer and friend of his in Houston. Abidogun’s brother-in-law also decided to apply to Navarro, and used his address as the point of contact. Along with the letter he received rejecting his 29-year-old brother-in-law, Abidogun received an identical one for his 20-year-old nephew, who had also decided to apply from Nigeria.

According to the letter, the small community college 20 miles outside of Dallas has decided to stop accepting students from places with confirmed cases of Ebola. Nigeria, it seems, is an odd place to enact that policy. The country of 174 million has only registered 20 total cases of Ebola since the index patient in July, a response so strikingly effective that the CDC dispatched a team to the country to study their methods.

Already through the first 21-day incubation period following the initial cases, the country is now just five days away from being officially declared by the World Health Organization as Ebola-free. Much of the response is believed to center around what WHO has declared “world-class epidemiological detective work,” which traced all 20 cases back to one passenger at the Lagos airport—ironically, an American.

Unlike its three most affected neighboring countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, citizens in Nigeria are under no threat of becoming infected with the disease within their borders, or at least no more than the threat we face in our country—and definitely not as much risk as an institution merely minutes away from its own outbreak.

The country of 174 million has only registered 20 total cases of Ebola since the index patient in July, a response so strikingly effective that the CDC dispatched a team to the country to study their methods.

Seven days after receiving the letter from Navarro, Abidogun had yet to break the “bad news” to his brother-in-law and his nephew. Neither applied to other universities. Living in Ibadan, Oyo State, neither are anywhere close to the small epidemic that swept through Nigeria in July—nor have either of them ever visited the most affected countries.

While Bello says he’s faced this kind of misinformed fear himself—he was recently stopped at a gym in Houston and asked if he’s Liberian, for example—he was most shocked to find an actual college making the same judgments. “I’ve had several people in the community act that way, but this is the first time I was going [heard] that from an institution,” says Bello. “An institution of learning, for that matter.”

He wasn’t the only one appalled by the news. When Bello posted the letter on his website, many took to Twitter to express similar feelings of disappointment. “@NavarroCollege so you won’t be accepting any Americans given Texas has confirmed cases? Seems like your enrollment will plummet. #messedup,” wrote one user. “I’m sure they didn’t mind discriminating against students from Africa beforehand, but this just gives them a new easy out,” posted another. “What a gross display of open bias. They descended too low. My brother, just choose another school,” said a third.

For Bello, spreading the message of this case isn’t about Navarro. Instead, it’s about influencing how American universities handle the epidemic in relation to their admissions moving forward. “I understand the fear about Ebola, but we’re not going to tackle epidemics by being scared or by misinformation, it’s going to be true education,” says Bello. “They are teaching students to be leaders in the future. Someone from that school needs to step forward and say, listen we made a mistake we are going to fix that mistake.”

UPDATE: Navarro College sent The Daily Beast the following statement—Our college values its diverse population of international students. This fall we have almost 100 students from Africa. Unfortunately, some students received incorrect information regarding their applications to the institution. As part of our new honor’s program, the college restructured the international department to include focused recruitment from certain countries each year. Our focus for 2014-15 is on China and Indonesia. Other countries will be identified and recruitment efforts put in place once we launch our new honors program fall 2015. We apologize for any misinformation that may have been shared with students. Additional information regarding our progress with this new initiative will be posted on our website.


@BreakingNews tweeted: Enhanced screenings for Ebola have begun at JFK Airport in New York City

OCTOBER 11, 2014

As Ebola continues to ravage West Africa and fears grow that the virus will spread around the globe, enhanced screenings began on Saturday at Kennedy Airport in New York.

Travelers coming from three hard-hit African countries are being singled out, having their temperatures taken and questioned about their possible exposure to Ebola. Kennedy was the first of five American airports to introduce Ebola screening protocols, and the new measures were the latest indication of the risk that the disease presented.

Airports in Canada and Europe plan to take similar measures in coming days.

But even as nations try to reassure anxious citizens that they are doing all they can to prevent an outbreak within their borders, public health officials cautioned that the only way to truly eliminate the threat posed by the virus would be to defeat it in West Africa.

“As Ebola continues its slow-motion incursion into developed countries, right now the U.S. and Spain, there is an understandable level of fear growing among people about this terrible virus, even though the chances of seeing anything like the calamity in western Africa is profoundly remote,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and a special adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York.

While the screenings might catch a few cases, he said, the focus needs to remain on battling the disease at its source and reacting quickly and effectively to new cases when they appear.

The difficulty and complexity of monitoring people without symptoms but thought to have been at risk of exposure to Ebola was demonstrated on Friday night when the New Jersey Health Department ordered a crew from NBC News that recently returned from Liberia to be quarantined.

The crew included the network’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who lives in Princeton, N.J. Dr. Snyderman had been covering the outbreak alongside Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance cameraman who was infected with the virus. Mr. Mukpo is being treated in isolation at a hospital in Omaha.

Citing privacy concerns, the authorities declined to provide information about the other crew members who were ordered to be quarantined.

New Jersey health officials said that upon returning from Liberia, the crew members agreed to isolate themselves from the community and monitor themselves for 21 days, the longest documented period of time it has taken for someone infected with Ebola to develop symptoms. “The NBC crew was ordered to be quarantined after failing to adhere to an agreement they made with health officials,” the department said in a statement without elaborating. “The order will be enforced by the Princeton Health Department in collaboration with the Princeton Police Department. The NBC crew remains symptom-free, so there is no reason for concern of exposure to the community.”

A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment on the quarantine, but said she expected the crew would comply with the department’s orders.

The decision to screen travelers entering the United States was announced on Wednesday, the day the first person with a case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States died.

That patient, Thomas E. Duncan, traveled to Dallas from Liberia, and like all airline passengers leaving the West African countries at the center of the epidemic — Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — he was screened for symptoms before being allowed to board his flight.

Over the last two months, 36,000 people have been screened in Africa, and only 77 were kept off flights because of illness. Many of the 77 had malaria, and none were infected with Ebola.

Mr. Duncan did not have a fever or any other symptoms associated with Ebola when he left Liberia. He did not become ill until several days after arriving in Dallas.

Under the new protocols, Customs and Border Protection officers have been directed to single out travelers arriving from the three countries based on their passport information.

If any travelers have a fever or other symptoms, or are revealed to have possible Ebola exposure, they will be evaluated by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quarantine officer.

“The public health officer will again take a temperature reading and make a public health assessment,” according to the guidelines released by the agency.

In New York City, officials have designated Bellevue Hospital Center as the destination for any travelers who need to be put into isolation. Since September, the city’s Health Department has had the ability to test blood for Ebola and make a diagnosis within four to six hours.

Travelers who have no fever, symptoms or known history of exposure will receive health information for self-monitoring.

Buntouradu Bamgoura, 54, from Guinea, said she was examined by a health worker after arriving at Kennedy on a flight from Paris on Saturday afternoon. “They did take my temperature,” Ms. Bamgoura said as she left the airport.

She said that the examination was not burdensome and that she was not taken to a separate room. “It took like 15 minutes,” she said, adding that she felt fine and was sent on her way with a list of symptoms to watch for.

Beginning next week, Washington Dulles, Newark Liberty, Chicago O’Hare and Atlanta international airports will employ the same screenings as those put in place at J.F.K. About 150 people enter the United States every day from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and nearly all of them come through those five airports.

Since at least the 14th century, when the bubonic plague devastated Europe, posting medical officers at a port of entry has been one of the main tools used to try to halt the spread of disease.

An outbreak of yellow fever in 1878 led the United States Congress to grant the federal government the authority to order a quarantine to prevent its spread.

Those powers were enhanced in 1892 to try to prevent another scourge, cholera.

For several decades, starting in the 1970s, the quarantine program in the United States was neglected until another threat, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, prompted Congress and the C.D.C. to bolster the program.

Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air, but rather only through bodily fluids; people are contagious only when they are symptomatic. There is no vaccine.

Stopping an outbreak requires isolating infected patients, tracing all contacts and then isolating all of those who begin to show symptoms. That process must be repeated until there are no more new cases.

KILLER 200 Ebola Deaths Recorded in One Day

Thanks; Tom Miles


GENEVA (Reuters) – The death toll from the worst Ebola outbreak in history has jumped by almost 200 in a single day to at least 2,296 and is already likely to be higher than that, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

The WHO said it had recorded 4,293 cases in five West African countries as of Sept. 6, a day after its previous update.

But it still did not have new figures for Liberia, the worst-affected country, suggesting the true toll is already much higher. The WHO has said it expects thousands of new cases in Liberia in the next three weeks.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Tuesday she expects the Ebola crisis gripping her country to worsen in the coming weeks as health workers struggle with inadequate supplies, a lack of outside support and a population in fear.

“It remains a very grave situation,” she told an audience at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, via Skype from Liberia’s capital Monrovia. “It is taking a long time to respond effectively …. We expect it to accelerate for at least another two or three weeks before we can look forward to a decline.”

Liberia’s defense minister told the United Nations Security Council that Ebola posed a mortal threat to the country.

“Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence. The deadly Ebola virus has caused a disruption of the normal functioning of our State,” said Liberian Minister of National Defense Brownie Samukai.

As well as struggling to contain the disease, the U.N. health organisation is having difficulty compiling data on the number of cases, said Sylvie Briand, the director of WHO’s department of pandemic and epidemic diseases.

“We know that the numbers are under-estimated,” Briand told a news briefing in Geneva. “We are currently working to estimate the under-estimation.

“It’s a war against this virus. It’s a very difficult war. What we try now is to win some battles at least in some places.”

The outbreak began last December and has been gathering pace for months, but about 60 percent of Liberia’s cases and deaths occurred within the last three weeks, the data showed.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said that Liberia’s Montserrado County, which includes the capital, Monrovia, needs 1,000 beds to treat Ebola patients but the medical charity can only provide around 400 of those.

“We know that every day there are more people that need to be taken care of than we can include in our program. At the moment, there are insufficient beds,” MSF emergency coordinator Laurence Sailly told a news conference on Tuesday.


Sailly said MSF was lobbying other non-governmental organizations and the United Nations to increase their response in the three countries, particularly in Liberia.

“We are working also in Guinea and Sierra Leone, so we will not be able to have more than 300 to 400 beds here in Montserrado. We are not going to go more than that, and it is not going to do anything with the scale of the epidemic here,” Sailly said.

An American doctor infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone arrived at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the fourth patient with the virus to be taken to the United States from West Africa for treatment, the hospital said.

The doctor, who has not been identified, wore a full-body biohazard suit as he walked gingerly into the hospital where two other Americans were successfully treated, television images showed.

Some 33 people are being kept in quarantine in a run-down house in the Senegalese capital Dakar after a student from neighboring Guinea arrived in the city two weeks ago bringing Ebola.

The student is now in isolation in a Dakar hospital, his condition improving, according to the health ministry.

In Guinea and Sierra Leone, the other two countries at the center of the outbreak, only 39 percent of cases and around 29 percent of deaths have occurred in the past three weeks, suggesting they are doing better at tackling the outbreak.

The new figures also showed two new suspected cases in Senegal in addition to one previously confirmed case there. In Nigeria, the overall number of cases fell to 21 from 22, as at least one suspected case turned out not to be Ebola.

(Additional reporting by James Harding Giahyue in Monrovia, Emma Farge and Andrew Oberstadt in Dakar, Colleen Jenkins in the United States, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Ken Wills)

Chinese experts join fight against Ebola

Thanks;Shan Juan and Li Lianxing
China Daily
Publication Date : 12-08-2014

China has sent three teams of experts to Ebola-affected West African countries to help fight the deadly virus.

It is the first time Beijing has offered overseas assistance in response to a public health emergency.

Li Qun, emergency response chief at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said the move will help with China’s own Ebola response.

“Our experts’ communication with local frontline medics for Ebola control and treatment will help with our response to the virus at both clinical and future research sites,” he said, adding that China has never had an Ebola outbreak or used the virus strain for research purposes.

The teams left on Sunday night and will travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A statement issued by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Sunday said each team comprises an epidemiologist and two specialists in disinfection and protection. Team members are from the China disease control centre and other institutions.

Sun Hui, an epidemiologist on the Guinea mission, said the tasks include information and technical support for China’s embassy and consulates there on distribution and use of relief supplies, and training local Chinese on disease response.

On Thursday, China announced humanitarian aid supplies worth 30 million yuan ($4.87 million) for Ebola-hit countries to help contain the outbreak.

The aid was expected to arrive on Monday or Tuesday, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen said.

Sun Hui said each team will work for three days mainly with staff members from China’s diplomatic and consular missions.

“The mission is aimed at helping to curb the further spread of the virus in the affected countries and enhancing the protection of Chinese nationals there against the outbreak,” he said.

The disease control center has taken out insurance policies for the medical teams.

Feng Zijian, deputy director of the center, said, “Given that they are public health experts, they won’t work on the clinical side, which involves contact with the patients.”

Song Shuli, a spokeswoman for the Health and Family Planning Commission, said a training session was held on Sunday to help prepare the team.

Li Zhenjun, an expert going to Sierra Leone, the hardest-hit country, said information on biosafety, African social customs and preventive advice was given during the session.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation declared the epidemic an international health emergency, advising countries to be prepared to help with the evacuation and repatriation of nationals, including health workers who had been exposed to Ebola, which has killed nearly 1,000 people to date.

However, Feng said China has no plan at the moment to withdraw its nationals from the countries affected.

Chinese medical teams from Beijing and Heilongjiang and Hunan provinces are continuing to perform their duties in the three countries.

Wang Yaoping, director of the medical team in Sierra Leone, said, “We won’t withdraw under any circumstances and will more actively participate in combating Ebola here.”

Ebola in Spain: Spanish Priest Quarantined in Madrid with Ebola


By Reuters
Filed: 8/7/14 at 10:03 AM | Updated: 8/7/14 at 10:14 AM

Filed Under: World, Ebola, Spain

MADRID (Reuters) – The first European infected by a strain of Ebola that has killed more than 932 people in West Africa, Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, was stable in a Madrid hospital on Thursday after being airlifted from Liberia, health authorities said.

Pajares, 75, was working for a non-governmental organization in Liberia and was repatriated along with his co-worker Juliana Bohi, a nun who has tested negative for the disease.

Liberia has declared a state of emergency over the crisis.

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“The patients have arrived well, though a little disoriented. They are both now in quarantine,” Madrid health official Javier Rodriguez told a news conference.

The medical plane flown out to Liberia to bring Pajares and Bohi back to Spain touched ground at a military base in Madrid at 2:00 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) before the two were escorted by police motorbikes and cars to the Carlos III hospital.

The hospital has cleared the entire sixth floor to treat the two patients, the health union said.

Highly contagious, Ebola, which has no known cure, kills more than half of the people who contract it. Victims suffer from fever, vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding.