Throughout history, humans have existed side-by-side with bacteria and viruses. From the bubonic plague to smallpox, we have evolved to resist them, and in response they have developed new ways of infecting us.
We have had antibiotics for almost a century, ever since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. In response, bacteria have responded by evolving antibiotic resistance. The battle is endless: because we spend so much time with pathogens, we sometimes develop a kind of natural stalemate.
However, what would happen if we were suddenly exposed to deadly bacteria and viruses that have been absent for thousands of years, or that we have never met before?
We may be about to find out. Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they are releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, having lain dormant, are springing back to life.
The World Health Organization announced its first list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” on Monday, detailing 12 families of bacteria that agency experts say pose the greatest threat to human health and kill millions of people every year.
The list is divided into three categories, prioritized by the urgency of the need for new antibiotics. The purpose is to guide and promote research and development of new drugs, officials said. Most of the pathogens are among the nearly two dozen antibiotic-resistant microbes that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in a 2013 report could cause potentially catastrophic consequences if the United States didn’t act quickly to combat the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.
“This list is not meant to scare people about new superbugs,” said Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director-general at WHO. “It’s intended to signal research and development priorities to address urgent public health threats.”
Pandemics—the uncontrolled spread of highly contagious diseases across countries and continents—are a modern phenomenon. The word itself, a neologism from Greek words for “all” and “people,” has been used only since the mid-nineteenth century. Epidemics—localized outbreaks of diseases—have always been part of human history, but pandemics require a minimum density of population and an effective means of transport. Since “Spanish” flu burst from the trenches of World War I in 1918, infecting 20 percent of the world’s population and killing upward of 50 million people, fears of a similar pandemic have preoccupied public health practitioners, politicians, and philanthropists. World War II, in which the German army deliberately caused malaria epidemics and the Japanese experimented with anthrax and plague as biological weapons, created new fears.
In response, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), founded in 1946 to control malaria domestically, launched its Epidemic Intelligence Service in 1951 to defend against possible biological warfare, an odd emphasis given the uncontrolled polio epidemics raging in the 1940s and 1950s in the United States and Europe. But in the world of public health, the latest threat often takes precedence over the most prevalent.
According to the doctor, writer, and philanthropist Larry Brilliant, “outbreaks are inevitable, pandemics are optional.” Brilliant, a well-known expert on global health, ought to know, since he has had much to do with smallpox eradication. Smallpox, arguably the worst disease in human history, caused half a billion deaths during the twentieth century alone. The strain called Variola major—the most lethal cause—killed one third of all infected and permanently scarred all survivors. In 1975, Rahima Banu, a two-year-old Bangladeshi girl, became the last case of V. major smallpox. Two years later, Ali, a twenty-three-year-old hospital cook in Somalia, became the last case of V. minor. Rahima and Ali survived. Smallpox did not.
Forty years later, smallpox is still the only disease affecting humans ever to have been eradicated. (Rinderpest, a virus affecting cows—literally “cattle plague”—was eradicated in 2011.) There is optimism that polio and guinea worm may soon follow. Meanwhile, dozens of new infectious diseases have emerged, including the pathogens behind the twenty-first-century “pan-epidemics”—a term coined by Dr. Daniel Lucey to describe SARS, avian flu, swine flu, MERS, Ebola, and now Zika.
The fear, fascination, and financial incentives that these new diseases create divert attention and resources from ancient diseases like cholera, malaria, and tuberculosis, which infect and kill far more people. Ebola has caused relatively few deaths, while TBinfects 9.6 million people each year and kills 1.5 million, and malaria infects more than 200 million, killing nearly half a million. (Ali, smallpox’s last survivor, later succumbed to malaria.)
Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in Uganda in monkeys bitten by forest mosquitoes. In recent years, monkeys have sought food outside the forests, and Zika virus has diversified: its carriers now include Aedes aegypti, a tough mosquito with a preference for human blood and urban environments, and it has spread to the Americas.A. aegypti also carries dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus, but it is the evolving pan-epidemic of catastrophic birth defects that makes Zika particularly terrifying. In Brazil there have been 1,271 confirmed cases of microcephaly—babies born with severely stunted brains, blindness, and other congenital defects. Cases identified in Colombia, French Polynesia, Panama, Martinique, and Cabo Verde provide advance notice of the likely scale of the damage being wreaked.
Leaked Report Reveals Unsanitary Conditions At UN Bases During Haitian Cholera Epidemic: Interview with Brian Concannon
Jessica Desvarieux talks to Brian Concannon, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, who says the United States is actively discouraging countries from holding the UN accountable for bringing cholera to Haiti. (The Real News)
- Leaked UN report faults sanitation at Haiti bases at time of cholera outbreak
- Haiti’s Earthquake Was Devastating, The Cholera Epidemic Was Worse
- UN failing cholera victims in Haiti five years after outbreak
- U.N. should take responsibilty for Haiti’s cholera woe
- UN ‘immune’ from Haiti cholera lawsuit
- Haiti cholera outbreak
Sharmini Peries talks to evolutionary biologist and public health expert Robert G. Wallace who discusses the Zika virus and its links to deforestation and climate change, as well as the re-emergence of mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue, yellow fever and malaria. (The Real News)
- Climate change may have helped spread Zika virus according to WHO scientists
- Zika crisis and economic woes bring gloom to Brazil’s Olympic buildup
- Defeating Zika: The Big Questions Researchers Are Trying to Answer
- Brazil in Peril: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Zika Virus
- Zika outbreak ‘won’t compromise Olympics’: Brazil president
- The Zika virus foreshadows our dystopian climate future
- Should we wipe mosquitoes off the face of the Earth?
- WHO declares Zika virus public health emergency
- Jamaica fights Zika with reggae
‘When I told people earlier this month that I was off to West Africa again to cover the Ebola outbreak, the resounding response was, “Isn’t that over yet?”
The short answer is no, but there is a lot more to it than that.
The outbreak has been “nearly over” for months. So while “Ebola fatigue” is understandable, it’s also potentially extremely dangerous.
There are still around 20-30 new cases a week in the three worst-affected countries.
Before this outbreak, those numbers would have constituted a major epidemic, but we live in very changed times.
At the height of the outbreak, West Africa was seeing hundreds of new infections a week.
But it only takes one new infection to spark a massive epidemic.’
- Sierra Leone faces Ebola setback; 500 under quarantine
- Ebola cases fall to year low but WHO warns of trouble ahead
- Life after Ebola: Liberia’s invisible babies
- Ebola: Mapping the outbreak
- Guinea’s president on global aid push: ‘Ebola forced us to change completely’
- Ebola in graphics: The toll of a tragedy
‘Vials of bioterror bacteria have gone missing. Lab mice infected with deadly viruses have escaped, and wild rodents have been found making nests with research waste. Cattle infected in a university’s vaccine experiments were repeatedly sent to slaughter and their meat sold for human consumption. Gear meant to protect lab workers from lethal viruses such as Ebola and bird flu has failed, repeatedly.
A USA TODAY Network investigation reveals that hundreds of lab mistakes, safety violations and near-miss incidents have occurred in biological laboratories coast to coast in recent years, putting scientists, their colleagues and sometimes even the public at risk.
Oversight of biological research labs is fragmented, often secretive and largely self-policing, the investigation found. And even when research facilities commit the most egregious safety or security breaches — as more than 100 labs have — federal regulators keep their names secret.’
Of particular concern are mishaps occurring at institutions working with the world’s most dangerous pathogens in biosafety level 3 and 4 labs — the two highest levels of containment that have proliferated since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. Yet there is no publicly available list of these labs, and the scope of their research and safety records are largely unknown to most state health departments charged with responding to disease outbreaks. Even the federal government doesn’t know where they all are, the Government Accountability Office has warned for years.’
‘Public health experts involved in the response to the Ebola crisis have condemned what they described as a ludicrous, insulting and opportunistic attempt to exploit the disease for corporate gain by the world’s largest privately-held coal company.
As part of a PR offensive to rebrand coal as a “21st-century fuel” that can help solve global poverty, it has emerged that at the height of Ebola’s impact in Africa, Peabody Energy promoted its product as an answer to Africa’s devastating public health crisis.
Greg Boyce, the chief executive of Peabody, a US-based multinational with mining interests around the world, included a slide on Ebola and energy in a presentation to a coal industry conference in September last year. The slide suggested that more energy would have spurred the distribution of a hypothetical Ebola vaccine – citing as supporting evidence a University of Pennsylvania infectious disease expert.
The World Health Organisation believes nearly 27,000 people contracted Ebola in an outbreak of the virus in West Africa last year, and more than 11,000 died – although the international agency believes that is probably an underestimate.’
- Should Anti-Vaxxers Be Punished?
- Anti-Vaccine Doctor Under Investigation
- Rand Paul Annoyed At Vaccine Controversy
- Do Religious Exemptions Do More Harm Than Good?
- California Looks To Tighten Exemptions For Measles Vaccinations
- Doctors, Schools Urge Parents To Vaccinate
- Health Officials Urge Measles Vaccinations
- Funding the Costs of Disease Outbreaks Caused by Non Vaccination
‘More than 20,000 people have been infected by Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since the outbreak of the virus began, the World Health Organisation has said. Gregory Hartl, from the WHO, says urgent work will have to be done to bring down the number of cases.’ (Al Jazeera English)
- Roche wins FDA emergency approval for Ebola test
- Efforts to stop Ebola are gaining ground, but the fight isn’t won
- Surviving Ebola: ‘It was the best Christmas present ever: the gift of life’
- US ‘Ebola czar’ defends CDC procedures in light of technician’s potential exposure
- Ebola case confirmed in Glasgow hospital
- Possible alternative to antibiotics developed – but skeptics remain
- Bacteria found in bees show potential as an alternative to antibiotics
- The Deep Harm of Antibiotics
- US to phase out antibiotics for fattening livestock
- Cranberries Cripple Bacteria
- Associate director at CDC: We’ve reached ‘the end of antibiotics, period’
- CDC Threat Report: ‘We Will Soon Be in a Post-Antibiotic Era’
‘[…] For months, companies like DuPont Co. have struggled to fill all the orders coming in for the niche products—chemical suits, boot covers, face masks, hoods—that make up what doctors call PPEs, or Personal Protective Equipment. Now, PPE orders are piling up faster than DuPont and others can fill them.
One of the demand spikes isn’t coming from West Africa—but from America. U.S. hospitals and government agencies have strained PPE supplies in some regions, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. This month, the CDC itself said it ordered $2.7 million in PPEs, a collection it calls a Strategic National Stockpile. CDC guidelines state American hospitals and firefighters need PPEs on hand, in case a potential Ebola suspect wanders into an emergency room or dials 911.
The shortage shows how the deep anxiety over Ebola’s arrival in the U.S. has complicated efforts to fight it in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Ebola has sickened more than 15,000 people in West Africa, more than 5,400 of them fatally. The U.S. has had six cases. Two people died.’
- Experimental Ebola Vaccine Appears Safe
- No Sex for Male Ebola Survivors, Says WHO
- How World’s Worst Ebola Outbreak Began With One Boy’s Death
- Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone’s Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste
- Hagel credits US military with Ebola progress
- U.N. Concerned Over Ebola Backlash
- Bob Geldof to solve Ebola crisis?
- World Bank and IMF Polices Behind the Inadequate Health Infrastructure to Quell Ebola
- Ebola And The Disease Boom-Bust Cycle On Mainstreet
- US Ebola Deployments to Last at Least 18 Months
- West Africans In U.S. Stigmatized Over Ebola Fears
- Fox News Ends Ebola Coverage: “Our Work Is Done”
- Ebola Security Theater Isn’t Going to Make You Any Safer
- Ebola, A Disease of Extraordinary Poverty: Interview with Allyson Pollock
- Hagel Affirms Quarantine for All Returning Troops From Ebola Operation
- From Fear-Mongering to Crippling Debt, Lapses in Politics and Health Hurt Global Effort on Ebola
- Ebola.com Sells For $200,000, Buyer To Launch ‘Drudge Report For Ebola’
- Ebola Conspiracy Theories, Through a Mainstream Lens
- Driving An Ambulance In Ebola-Ravaged Liberia
- The Children Orphaned By Ebola
- U.S. Soldiers Get Just Four Hours of Ebola Training
- How Nigeria Beat Ebola
- The Fight Against Ebola (Documentary)
‘[…] Nobody wants a world full of Ebola, but nor do I want a world full of Malaria and HIV and Tuberculosis and numerous other diseases – not to mention conditions such as hunger and poverty – that are destroying the lives of many millions of Africans every day.
Certainly, I don’t want to be told how to behave philanthropically by a man worth an estimated £32 million, a man who is said to use tax avoidance schemes (it is telling that when a journalist asked him two years ago how much tax he paid, Geldof exploded at her, saying: ‘My time? Is that not a tax?’ Well, no, Bob, it isn’t).
I don’t want to be implored to give charitably by a band that travels in separate private jets because they don’t get on (One Direction), or by a man who avoids Irish taxes while simultaneously telling the Irish government to help developing countries (Bono).
- ‘We got this, Bob Geldof, so back off’
- Africa doesn’t want any more western band aids
- Damon Albarn suggests Sir Bob Geldof’s Band Aid 30 patronises Africa
- Ebola’s economic impact
- Ebola fundraising suffers in ‘hierarchy of disasters’
- Do They Know It’s Christmas was worst song in the world, admits Geldof
- Adam Curtis: Oh Dearism
- The Live Aid Legacy
- Geldof in Africa
‘[..] Far more contagious here has been a new virus of hysteria — and of the sort of ignorant discrimination that immigrants in general and Africans specifically have endured for decades.
People are being shunned and mocked for having visited, or even for simply having been born in, Africa — and anywhere in Africa will do, afflicted with Ebola or not. Others face discrimination simply for living in the same neighborhood where a single Ebola patient once lived. Politicians and pundits have seriously discussed closing our borders to entire nations. Panic is dividing the country at a time when the U.S. and indeed the whole world needs to pull together to solve a viral health crisis.’
- 5 Things More Americans will die of than Ebola this Year
- An epidemic of fear and anxiety hits Americans amid Ebola outbreak
- Nurse Slams New Jersey Quarantine Policy
- Ebola hysteria takes over New York City
- The Ebola Response: American Stupidity at Its Finest
- What the Ebola Crisis Reveals About Culture
- U.S. restricts entrants from Ebola-hit nations to five airports
- In U.S., Fear of Ebola Closes Schools and Shapes Politics
- Corporate Media Thriving on Ebola Hysteria
- Pentagon Preps Ebola ‘Strike Team’
- Pentagon Announces Domestic ‘Ebola Response Team’
- Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability
- Obama names Ron Klain as Ebola ‘czar’
- WHO says major outbreak in West ‘unlikely’
- 5 falsehoods about Ebola
- Two-thirds of Americans worried about possible widespread epidemic in U.S.
- Fox News host proposes Ebola quarantine ‘centers’ for every city in the US
- Inside the Bizarre Right-Wing Panic over Ebola Virus Coming to the US
- ‘Attack Patients with Napalm to Defeat Virus’ Todd Kincannon, Pro-Life Politician Says
- Limbaugh: Obama thinks white folks ‘deserve’ Ebola for slavery so he’s not protecting us
‘The walls of society are falling down. After months of geopolitical crises tearing through every region, the global economy has seized up and there are supply shortages of everything: food, water, energy. News comes through that riots are breaking out across the UK. What would you do?
John Bland knows exactly what he would do because he is a “prepper”. Preppers are, as the nickname suggests, prepared. To them the collapse of society is not probable, but it is still possible. So they prepare for it in all ways, from boning up on survival skills to having fully stocked bunkers.’
- Ebola and Isis: Black Swans of the Apocalypse?
- Is it time to join the ‘preppers’? How to survive the climate-change apocalypse
- Doomsday preppers: How to survive anything from a zombie apocalypse to a natural disaster
- Inside Britain’s Armageddon houses: Meet the ‘preppers’
- UK Preparedness Network
- UK Preppers Guide
‘Ebola is spreading at a “terrifying rate,” with five people infected with the deadly virus every hour in Sierra Leone alone, according to data published Thursday by human rights organization Save the Children.
The London-based group estimates the rate of infected persons in the West African country will increase to 10 every hour if nothing is done to curb Ebola’s spread.
“The scale of the Ebola epidemic is devastating and growing every day, with five people infected every hour in Sierra Leone last week,” Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, said in a statement. “We need a coordinated international response that ensures treatment centers are built and staffed immediately.”
The organization’s infection-rate figures are based on both confirmed cases and an estimate of how many cases are not being reported.’
- Ebola: Sierra Leone hospitals running out of basic supplies, say doctors
- US Aid Effort in Liberia Barely Off the Ground as Ebola Rages
- Cut in UK aid to Sierra Leone may have helped spread of Ebola, MPs say
- UN: Stopping global Ebola spread ‘world’s highest priority’
- Ebola outbreak: Second patient arrives in Germany
- NBC News Freelancer in Africa Diagnosed With Ebola
- Ebola crisis: Aid workers risking all to combat virus
- Collapse of three African states possible
- Ebola outbreak exposes West Africa’s existing public health woes
- Ebola crippling the health system, Liberians die of routine medical problems
- Rapper Akon Performed In A Bubble In Africa To Avoid Contracting Ebola
- Colonial Lines Drawn Again for Ebola Aid
- Malta bars ship carrying suspected Ebola patient
- Experts: Ibuprofen Is All It Takes to Avoid Airport Ebola Screening
- There’s Really No Way To Screen for Ebola at Airports
- Ebola patients buying survivors’ blood from black market, WHO warns
- Doctors Without Borders calls for more effort to fight Ebola
- On the front line of the war on Ebola
‘The UN’s chief of Ebola mission Anthony Banbury said Ebola could become airborne in a ‘nightmare scenario’ but leading scientists have slammed his remarks saying this has never happened and suggesting it is ‘irresponsible’.
Mr Banbury was speaking exclusively to the Telegraph as predictions were made that Ebola could have infected 1.4m people by January.
He said the longer the virus is in humans the greater the chance it could mutate. He said the virus being spread through the air was a ‘nightmare scenario’ but that it ‘could not be ruled out’.
However leading British scientists have rounded on him saying his comments are a distraction and accused him of spreading panic.’
- UN Ebola chief raises ‘nightmare’ that virus could become airborne
- Health workers need optimal respiratory protection for Ebola
- What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola
- Why Michael Savage Freaks Out About Ebola
- UNSC unanimously declares Ebola ‘threat to international peace’
- Ebola Spreading Faster Than the Efforts to Contain It
- Newsweek’s Monkey Meat Ebola Fearmongering
- Canadian Health Agency Deletes Info on “Airborne Spread” of Ebola
- From 2012: Growing concerns over ‘in the air’ transmission of Ebola
- From 2012: From Pigs to Monkeys, Ebola Goes Airborne
‘Four members of a household with whom the US Ebola patient had been staying were confined to their Dallas apartment under armed guard on Thursday as authorities faced tough questions over a series of mis-steps in their handling of the case.
Towels and sweat-ridden bedclothes remained for two days in the Dallas apartment where an undiagnosed Ebola sufferer – Liberian citizen Thomas Eric Duncan – was staying because health officials in Texas struggled to find a waste management company willing to accept them.
It came as a freelance cameraman working for NBC in Liberia became the fifth American to contract Ebola. He will be flown home for treatment, NBC said on Thursday.
A company with experience of dealing with medical waste was finally due to clean the apartment on Thursday afternoon, but only after the patient’s girlfriend told CNN that the materials had not been disposed of.’
- Officials say as many as 100 had contact with Ebola patient; four have been quarantined
- Texas Hospital Error Highlights Need for Broader Ebola Training
- Five blunders US made in treating country’s first Ebola patient
- Ebola Patient Thomas Eric Duncan Vomited Outdoors, Witness Tells Reuters
- Unprotected workers cleaning up ‘Ebola vomit’ in Dallas
- Ebola patient’s leaving Liberia was ‘unpardonable’
- Liberian Ebola Patient in US Could Face Prosecution
- Ebola Patient in Dallas Lied on Screening Form, Liberian Airport Official Says
- US Ebola victim helped carry infected woman days before flying to Texas
- Taxi Driver Describes Ebola Patient’s Fateful Ride
- NBC News Freelancer in Africa Diagnosed With Ebola
- In Dallas Schools, Fear of Possible Ebola Exposure
- Why Michael Savage Freaks Out About Ebola
- Ebola Patient’s Journey Shows How Global Travel Spreads Disease
- Budget Cuts “Eroded Our Ability to Respond” to Ebola, Says Top Health Official
- Experts: Ibuprofen Is All It Takes to Avoid Airport Ebola Screening
- Can TSA Screening Stop Ebola From Spreading?
- CDC issues Ebola guidelines for U.S. funeral homes
- There’s Really No Way To Screen for Ebola at Airports
‘[…] A major Liberian newspaper, the Daily Observer, has published an article by a Liberian-born faculty member of a U.S. university implying the epidemic is the result of bioterrorism experiments conducted by the United States Department of Defense, among others.
And while some commenting on the article were critical, the number who praised it was telling. “They are using” Ebola, wrote one, “for culling the world population mainly Africa for the…purpose of gaining control of the Africans resources criminally.”
The piece purports to describe scientific findings from various “reports,” which are not cited in detail, and even references the bestselling thriller, “The Hot Zone.”’
‘[…] Few would oppose a robust U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, but the militarized nature of the White House plan comes in the context of a broader U.S.-led militarization of the region. The soldiers in Liberia, after all, will not be the only American troops on the African continent. In the six years of AFRICOM’s existence, the U.S. military has steadily and quietly been building its presence on the continent through drone bases and partnerships with local militaries. This is what’s known as the “new normal“: drone strikes, partnerships to train and equip African troops (including those with troubled human rights records), reconnaissance missions, and multinational training operations.
To build PR for its military exercises, AFRICOM relies on soft-power tactics: vibrant social media pages, academic symposia, and humanitarian programming. But such militarized humanitarianism—such as building schools and hospitals and responding to disease outbreaks—also plays more strategic, practical purpose: it allows military personnel to train in new environments, gather local experience and tactical data, and build diplomatic relations with host countries and communities.
- Ebola: US Military Struggles To Keep Pace With Racing Virus
- AFRICOM’s Ebola response and the militarization of humanitarian aid
- France to set up military hospital to fight Ebola in West Africa
- Obama’s Ebola military operation raises concern in Africa
- What 3,000 American Troops Will Be Doing To Fight Ebola In Africa
- The US and France Are Teaming Up to Fight A Sprawling War on Terror in Africa
- Militarized Humanitarianism in Africa
- 2008: US shifts on Africom base plans
‘It’s 2014, and a national magazine has a cover story about how African immigrants might spread a deadly virus in the United States, thanks to the peculiar and unsanitary food they eat. The cover image is a photo of a chimpanzee.
Yes, this really happened.
“A Back Door For Ebola: Smuggled Bushmeat Could Spark a US Epidemic” read the headline on the August 29 Newsweek, a profoundly shocking image and message that immediately drew criticism.
But the problems of the piece were bigger than just the cover. The piece is built around the idea that illegally imported “bushmeat”–what we would call “wild game” if it were being eaten in the United States–could carry the deadly Ebola virus.’
‘The World Health Organization is warning that the number of new Ebola cases in West Africa is growing faster than relief workers can manage. The organization says that thousands are at risk of contracting the virus in the coming weeks and more medical professionals are urgently needed to help contain the outbreak. So far, Ebola has claimed some 2,400 lives and continues to ravage Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It is the worst outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. Meanwhile, Sierra Leone has lost a fourth doctor to Ebola after efforts to transfer her abroad for treatment failed. The loss is a major setback for the impoverished country, which is already suffering from a shortage of healthcare workers. Since the Ebola outbreak began, approximately 144 healthcare professionals have died while serving affected populations. We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations.’ (Democracy Now!)
- Laurie Garrett: We Could Have Stopped This
- We Could Have Stopped This, CDC Expert Says
- World Health Organization: West Africa Ebola cases could double every 3 weeks
- WHO: $1 billion needed to keep Ebola infections within the ‘tens of thousands
- Ebola: ‘In decades of humanitarian work, I’ve never seen such suffering’
- Stabbing With Syringe in Nigeria Raises Concerns of Ebola as Weapon
- Main Ebola Treatment Centre In Liberia Turning Away Sick People
- Why the World Health Organization Doesn’t Have Enough Funds to Fight Ebola
- New Ebola vaccine approved for human trials
- Sierra Leone’s planned Ebola lockdown could ‘spread disease further’
- Liberia doctors strike, UN warns of food shortages due to Ebola
- Major quarantine and experimental vaccines to curb Ebola
- The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (Book)
‘The Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,400 people during the ongoing epidemic in West Africa, spreads through contact with bodily fluids. That means you can catch it from infected blood, for example, or if you come in contact with vomit from an Ebola patient.
You can’t catch it from breathing in the same air as someone suffering from Ebola — at least you can’t right now. But as the virus continues to spread and mutate, could airborne transmission become a concern? Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, raised that possibility in a New York Times op-ed last week.’
- What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola
- Virologist: Fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia is lost
- Is Ebola mutating with unknown consequences before our eyes?
- Ebola has up to an 18% chance of coming to America (but you don’t need to worry)
- If Ebola Arrives In The U.S., Stopping It May Rely On Controversial Tools
- Possible evacuation of Americans infected with Ebola triggers fears in U.S.
- Executive Order — Revised List of Quarantinable Communicable Diseases
‘The distrust in the government is deeply rooted in anger at years of corruption and a lack of accountability within the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said Rodney Sieh, editor-in-chief of FrontPage Africa, a Liberian daily newspaper. Sirleaf, who became president in 2006, after the end of Liberia’s brutal civil war, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her role in the “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” But the ghosts of the nation’s past soon began to haunt her administration. In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia recommended Sirleaf be forbidden from holding public office for thirty years because she previously backed Charles Taylor, the guerilla leader responsible for many of the atrocities committed during the war. Sirleaf remained in power. Her fellow Nobel laureate, Leymah Gbowee, resigned from her role in the commission and publicly distanced herself from the president in 2012.’
‘The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned the number of Ebola cases could rise to 20,000 as doctors in Liberia say the deadly virus is now spreading so rapidly they can no longer deal with the crisis.
The UN health agency said the outbreak is accelerating in west Africa, where the death toll has now reached 1,552, and it believes the numbers who have been hit by Ebola could be two to four times higher than the current 3,069 cases currently reported.’
- GSK to start production of Ebola vaccine as tests on humans begin
- Patient Zero Believed to Be Sole Source of Ebola Outbreak
- Scientists found the origins of the Ebola outbreak — by tracking its mutations
- West Africa travel bans to be lifted
- Ebola epidemic takes toll on business in quarantine zones and across Africa
- Ebola seals Ivory Coast off from infected neighbours
- British Ebola patient Will Pooley taking experimental drug ZMapp
- Divergent approaches to treating Ebola
- Fear and false alarms as Ebola puts Europe on alert
- Airlines cancel more flights to affected countries
- Police open fire, use tear gas on crowds as Liberia struggles to contain deadly Ebola
- World leaders ‘failing to help’ over Ebola outbreak in Africa
- Sierra Leone’s Ebola-related deaths pinned on one healer
- Follow the Money: A Lesson of the Ebola Epidemic
‘In the daily hubbub of current “crises” facing humanity, we forget about the many generations we hope are yet to come. Not those who will live 200 years from now, but 1,000 or 10,000 years from now. I use the word “hope” because we face risks, called existential risks, that threaten to wipe out humanity. These risks are not just for big disasters, but for the disasters that could end history.
These risks remain understudied. There is a sense of powerlessness and fatalism about them. People have been talking apocalypses for millennia, but few have tried to prevent them. Humans are also bad at doing anything about problems that have not occurred yet (partially because of the availability heuristic – the tendency to overestimate the probability of events we know examples of, and underestimate events we cannot readily recall).
If humanity becomes extinct, at the very least the loss is equivalent to the loss of all living individuals and the frustration of their goals. But the loss would probably be far greater than that. Human extinction means the loss of meaning generated by past generations, the lives of all future generations (and there could be an astronomical number of future lives) and all the value they might have been able to create. If consciousness or intelligence are lost, it might mean that value itself becomes absent from the universe. This is a huge moral reason to work hard to prevent existential threats from becoming reality. And we must not fail even once in this pursuit.
With that in mind, I have selected what I consider the five biggest threats to humanity’s existence. But there are caveats that must be kept in mind, for this list is not final.’
‘More than 1,100 laboratory incidents involving bacteria, viruses and toxins that pose significant or bioterror risks to people and agriculture were reported to federal regulators during 2008 through 2012, government reports obtained by USA TODAY show. More than half these incidents were serious enough that lab workers received medical evaluations or treatment, according to the reports. In five incidents, investigations confirmed that laboratory workers had been infected or sickened; all recovered.
In two other incidents, animals were inadvertently infected with contagious diseases that would have posed significant threats to livestock industries if they had spread. One case involved the infection of two animals with hog cholera, a dangerous virus eradicated from the USA in 1978. In another incident, a cow in a disease-free herd next to a research facility studying the bacteria that cause brucellosis, became infected due to practices that violated federal regulations, resulting in regulators suspending the research and ordering a $425,000 fine, records show.
But the names of the labs that had mishaps or made mistakes, as well as most information about all of the incidents, must be kept secret because of federal bioterrorism laws, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates the labs and co-authored the annual lab incident reports with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.’
The Politics of the Ebola Serum & The History of Medical Exploitation in Africa: Interview with Harriet Washington
Editor’s Note: Harriet Washington is a medical ethicist. She is the author of “Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself–And the Consequences for Your Health and Our Medical Future” and “Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present“.