Health

Saudi MERS Infections And Deaths Underreported

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last brought up Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) on Survival And Prosperity, though I first blogged about the novel coronavirus starting back in February 2013.

But this morning, I stumbled onto something disturbing on the website of the Gulf News (UAE), courtesy of Zawya:

Dubai: The Mers virus has caused nearly 50 per cent more deaths in Saudi Arabia than has been officially reported, a review of medical data by Saudi health authorities shows.

The survey by the Ministry of Health revealed that 282 Saudis and non-Saudis have died in the kingdom from Mers since the disease was first detected in September 2012 — a 48 per cent increase over the previously announced toll of 190.

There also have been 688 confirmed cases of the disease instead of 575, according to the revised figures the ministry issued this week. Its statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, didn’t explain the discrepancy in figures or why it went unspotted…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In case readers aren’t aware, Ramadan- when large numbers of Muslim pilgrims from around the globe visit Saudi Arabia- begins on June 28.

Last year, 5 million pilgrims and visitors came, according to an Agence France-Presse piece on the Gulf News website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Mers fatalities hugely under reported.” Zawya. 5 Jun. 2014. (http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/mers-fatalities-hugely-under-reported-1.1343345). 5 Jun. 2014.

“No Mers infections during Ramadan pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.” Agence France-Presse. 13 Aug. 2013. (http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/no-mers-infections-during-ramadan-pilgrimage-in-saudi-arabia-1.1219902). 5 Jun. 2014.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2014 Emergencies, Health, Middle East No Comments

WHO: West Africa Ebola Outbreak ‘Serious,’ ‘Spreading Geographically’

Not much significant news has been coming out of West Africa lately regarding their Ebola outbreak (first blogged about back on March 24). And then I spotted the following last night. Stephanie Nebehay and Saliou Samb reported on the Reuters website Wednesday evening:

Guinea’s capital Conakry has recorded its first new Ebola cases in more than a month, while other previously unaffected areas have also reported infections in the past week, according to the World Health Organisation.

The spread of the two-month-old outbreak, which Guinean authorities earlier said had been contained, risks further complicating the fight against the virus in a region already struggling with weak healthcare systems and porous borders.

“The situation is serious, you can’t say it is under control as cases are continuing and it is spreading geographically,” Dr Pierre Formenty, a WHO expert who recently returned from Guinea, told a news briefing in Geneva on Wednesday…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Charlie Cooper added on The Independent (UK) website earlier today:

As of Wednesday, 281 cases of Ebola had been detected in Guinea, with 186 deaths…

And regarding Ebola’s spread:

The first confirmed cases were detected in Sierra Leone earlier this week and the country has now recorded 16 cases and five deaths…

According to Cooper, fighting the deadly virus is proving to be more difficult than expected because infected patients are being forcibly-removed from treatment facilities by family members.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Nebehay, Stephanie and Samb, Saliou. “West Africa Ebola outbreak still spreading, ‘situation serious’: WHO.” Reuters. 28 May 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/28/us-ebola-westafrica-idUSKBN0E81IQ20140528). 29 May 2014.

Cooper, Charlie. “Ebola: Deadly outbreak crosses border as mistrust hampers medical staff.” The Independent. 29 May 2014. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ebola-deadly-outbreak-crosses-border-as-mistrust-hampers-medical-staff-9456917.html). 29 May 2014.

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Thursday, May 29th, 2014 Africa, Emergencies, Health No Comments

Illinois Public Health Chief On MERS: ‘Risk To The General Public Remains Extremely Low’

“U.S. health officials had recently confirmed the country’s first two cases of MERS, raising fears about the global spread of the virus, which has been responsible for a worsening outbreak in Saudi Arabia. More than 500 cases have been reported worldwide, with about 30 percent proving fatal.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that while its concern over MERS had significantly increased, the disease does not yet pose a global health emergency…”

-Reuters.com (India), May 15, 2014

Although one of the country’s two known cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) traveled through Chicago recently, the top public health official in the state of Illinois does not think the virus poses a significant risk to area residents. From an Illinois Department of Public Health news release yesterday:

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Reassures Illinoisans of Vigilance for MERS-CoV

No spread of MERS-CoV from first U.S. case, but second U.S. case identified

CHICAGO – Although there is no transmission of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) related to the first U.S. case who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana on April 24, 2014, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director LaMar Hasbrouck is reassuring Illinois residents that IDPH, local health departments and health care providers remain vigilant for any new cases of MERS-CoV.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday announced the second confirmed MERS-CoV case in the U.S. in a person who traveled from Saudi Arabia and ultimately to Florida on May 1, 2014. Similar to the first case, the patient is isolated in a hospital, health officials are following up with close contacts to the patient, and out of an abundance of caution, health officials are notifying people who traveled on flights with the patient.

“While this second confirmed case of MERS-CoV is unwelcome, it is not unexpected and we anticipate seeing additional cases imported to the U.S.,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “We will continue to watch for additional cases of MERS-CoV and are at-the-ready to conduct laboratory testing should it be needed. I want to reassure Illinoisans that the risk to the general public remains extremely low as MERS-CoV has not been found to spread easily from person to person in community settings.”

(Editor’s note: Bold in body text added for emphasis)

There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for MERS, according to the CDC.

You can read the entire news release on the IDPH website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 Health, Middle East No Comments

Deadly MERS Virus Lands In Chicago, Discovered In Indiana

Uh-oh. MERS- which I’ve been blogging about for a while now- is here in the United States. And it traveled via international airlines to Chicago, then by bus to Indiana. From a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention press release about an hour ago:

CDC announces first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus infection (MERS) in the United States
MERS case in traveler from Saudi Arabia hospitalized in Indiana

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was confirmed today in a traveler to the United States. This virus is relatively new to humans and was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

“We’ve anticipated MERS reaching the US, and we’ve prepared for and are taking swift action,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’re doing everything possible with hospital, local, and state health officials to find people who may have had contact with this person so they can be evaluated as appropriate. This case reminds us that we are all connected by the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. We can break the chain of transmission in this case through focused efforts here and abroad.”

On April 24, the patient traveled by plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to London, England then from London to Chicago, Illinois. The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27th, the patient began to experience respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. The patient went to an emergency department in an Indiana hospital on April 28th and was admitted on that same day. The patient is being well cared for and is isolated; the patient is currently in stable condition. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials tested for MERS-CoV. The Indiana state public health laboratory and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient this afternoon.

“It is understandable that some may be concerned about this situation, but this first U.S. case of MERS-CoV infection represents a very low risk to the general public,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. In some countries, the virus has spread from person to person through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings.

CDC and Indiana health officials are not yet sure how the patient became infected with the virus. Exposure may have occurred in Saudi Arabia, where outbreaks of MERS-CoV infection are occurring. Officials also do not know exactly how many people have had close contact with the patient.

So far, including this U.S. importation, there have been 401 confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection in 12 countries. To date, all reported cases have originated in six countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Most of these people developed severe acute respiratory illness, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath; 93 people died. Officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus…

It’s a shame, but global air travel makes it easier for a nasty virus from overseas to spread to other parts of the world- including here. Let’s hope the public health officials are correct in their stated belief about there not likely being any more infected individuals running around out there, and that they successfully contain this bug.

You can read the entire CDC press release on their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Friday, May 2nd, 2014 Health, Middle East, Travel 2 Comments

Resource Of The Week: The Great Northern Prepper’s ‘Prepper Resources’ Page

I recently stumbled on a preparedness blog- The Great Northern Prepper, “Where Preparedness is a state of mind as well as a style of life”- by ex-Marine and security contractor Richard Morgan.

The Alaska native has amassed a large number of prepping resources (in .pdf format) on his aptly-named “Prepper Resouces” page.

“Over 570 and counting!” according to Morgan.

The resources fall under the following categories:

-General Preparedness
-Homesteading
-Wilderness Survival
-Food Preps
-Water
-First Aid/Medical
-NBC- (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical)
-EMP
-Military Field Manuals
-Prepper Tech
-Gardening (lots here)
-Building Plans (tons here)
-Work Magazine
-Natural Disaster Preparedness

I took a look at a few of these .pdf files, and most were teriffic.

Anyone looking to populate a flash drive or other storage device with freely-available prepper resources in an electronic format might want to start here on The Great Northern Prepper blog.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)

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While Ebola Grabs The Headlines, Coronavirus Makes A Comeback In The Middle East

While I’ve been blogging about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (121 dead last last I heard), I’ve noticed a different virus that I’ve talked about before is making a comeback further east. Deema Almashabi and Oliver Staley reported earlier today on Bloomberg.com:

The government of Saudi Arabia is trying to reassure its citizens that the most recent outbreak of a respiratory virus isn’t a cause for alarm following 16 new cases, including two deaths, reported in the last nine days.

The Saudi health ministry sent text messages through local carriers yesterday asking the country’s 30 million residents to check its website, call a free hotline and check its official Twitter account for updates on the coronavirus, which causes Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome or MERS…

Almost 230 people are known to have been infected since the virus emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, and 92 of them have died, according to the World Health Organization. Much about the disease and how it’s transmitted is still unknown…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The first time I discussed the coronavirus on Survival And Prosperity, the attention hadn’t yet focused on the Middle East. Rather, it was on Europe. I blogged on February 18, 2013:

Novel coronavirus (NCoV). A SARS-like virus I’ve been hearing more of recently. And of particular concern to the World Health Organization (WHO). From a February 16 posting on the “Disease Outbreak News” section of their website:

The United Kingdom (UK) has informed WHO of another confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (NCoV). This is the third case confirmed in the country this month and is in the same family cluster as the two recently confirmed cases.

The latest confirmed case does not have recent travel history outside the UK. The case is recovering from mild respiratory illness and is currently well.

The confirmation with NCoV in this case with no recent travel history indicates that infection was acquired in the UK. Although this new case offers further indications of person-to-person transmission, no sustained person-to-person transmission has been identified

As of 16 February 2013, WHO has been informed of a total of 12 confirmed cases of human infection with NCoV, including five deaths…

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

WHO continues to closely monitor the situation.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

12 confirmed cases of this new coronavirus. 5 deaths.

The vibe I’m getting from public health circles is that human-to-human transmission of NCoV is pretty difficult, so there’s not much worry of a pandemic at this point in time.

Still, like the WHO suggested in their bulletin, it’s something worth keeping an eye on. People infected with the novel coronavirus have developed acute respiratory illness with symptoms of shortness of breath, cough, and pneumonia. There are no specific treatments for the illnesses caused by the virus.

By last summer, the coronavirus that now had a foothold in the Middle East was being called MERS, or MERS-CoV on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Coronavirus/Novel coronavirus/MERS/MERS-CoV- something to keep an eye out for in addition to Ebola.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Almashabi, Deema and Staley, Oliver. “Saudi Arabia Seeks to Ease Concerns After New MERS Cases.” Bloomberg.com. 15 Apr. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-15/saudi-arabia-seeks-to-ease-concerns-after-new-mers-cases.html). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Africa, Europe, Health, Middle East No Comments

CBO: Updated 2014-2024 Budget Projections Show Substantially Rising Budget Shorfalls, Federal Debt

That idea that the U.S. could someday resemble a “banana republic” might not be too far off the mark. From the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office website today:

As it usually does each spring, CBO has updated the baseline budget projections that it released earlier in the year…

Between 2015 and 2024, annual budget shortfalls are projected to rise substantially—from a low of $469 billion in 2015 to about $1 trillion from 2022 through 2024—mainly because of the aging population, rising health care costs, an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, and growing interest payments on federal debt. CBO expects that cumulative deficits during that decade will equal $7.6 trillion if current laws remain unchanged. As a share of GDP, deficits are projected to rise from 2.6 percent in 2015 to about 4 percent near the end of the 10-year period. By comparison, the deficit averaged 3.1 percent of GDP over the past 40 years and 2.3 percent in the 40 years before fiscal year 2008, when the most recent recession began. From 2015 through 2024, both revenues and outlays are projected to be greater than their 40-year averages as a percentage of GDP (see the figure below)…

In CBO’s baseline projections, federal debt held by the public reaches 78 percent of GDP by 2024, up from 72 percent at the end of 2013 and twice the 39 percent average of the past four decades (see the figure below). As recently as the end of 2007, federal debt equaled just 35 percent of GDP

Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences. Federal spending on interest payments would increase considerably when interest rates rose to more typical levels. Moreover, because federal borrowing would eventually raise the cost of investment by businesses and other entities, the capital stock would be smaller, and productivity and wages lower, than if federal borrowing was more limited. In addition, high debt means that lawmakers would have less flexibility than they otherwise would to use tax and spending policies to respond to unexpected challenges. Finally, high debt increases the risk of a fiscal crisis in which investors would lose so much confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget that the government would be unable to borrow at affordable rates…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You can read the entire assessment and view the complete document on the CBO website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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WHO: ‘One Of The Most Challenging Ebola Outbreaks That We Have Ever Faced’

Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been following that Ebola outbreak in West Africa for some time now. Here’s the latest from CNN tonight:

The Ebola outbreak in coastal West Africa is still contained to Guinea and Liberia, the World Health Organization announced Tuesday, despite rumors of the virus spreading to other countries.

Cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, Mali and Ghana, but the WHO says none has been confirmed. Rumored cases in Mali are still being investigated.

The number of suspected cases in Guinea has grown to 157, with 101 deaths. Sixty-seven have been confirmed as Ebola. In Liberia, 21 cases have been reported, including 10 deaths. Five of the cases have been confirmed as Ebola.

The outbreak has “rapidly evolved” since originating in the forests of southeastern Guinea. The city of Guekedou, near the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia, has seen the majority of the deaths.

Twenty cases are believed to have occurred in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, according to WHO.

“This is one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks that we have ever faced,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In my March 24 post, I noted that Laurent Duvillier, a UNICEF spokesperson, warned in an e-mail that same day:

Risk of international spread should be taken seriously.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Meanwhile, U.S. public health officials don’t seem to be too concerned about the outbreak coming to our shores.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“WHO: Ebola outbreak one of ‘most challenging.’” CNN. 8 Apr. 2014. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/08/health/africa-ebola/). 8 Apr. 2014.

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Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 Africa, Emergencies, Health, Preparedness No Comments

Project Prepper, Part 24: Restart And Recap

It’s been a few months since I last published a “Project Prepper” post.

Considering all the material I have that’s just waiting to be blogged about, I don’t envision another layoff like that one happening again soon with this or one of the other series of posts currently running on Survival And Prosperity.

Today, I want to recap the “Project Prepper” series so far.

At two dozen posts, key topics I’ve blogged about since October 2012- when the first post debuted- have included:

• Starting up the “Project Prepper” series due to an increased awareness of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to life and lifestyle where I’ve decided to acquaint myself more with “prepping” via a sustained “hands-on” program of learning by doing

• Relocating from Chicago to the suburbs with an eye towards eventually settling down in Wisconsin (moved from Chicago to the northwest suburbs in late spring 2013)

• Establishing a prioritized list of 6 “innate survival needs” that my preparedness education will focus on:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

• Starting and building the foundation of an emergency water supply

• Starting an emergency food supply

Now, in these two dozen posts I’ve talked about items I’ve purchased as part of the “Project Prepper” series. For example, the Scepter 5 Gallon Manual Venting Water Jerry Can with CRC (Light Blue/Military Style) to store emergency water.

Going forward, I’m adding a new page to Survival And Prosperity this weekend entitled “Gear And Supplies” where I’ll be listing gear, supplies, and other items talked about in this series of posts and elsewhere on the blog- and links for where to buy them- if I feel they might offer something to readers.

It’s nice to be back in the saddle again. Until next week…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Where Illinois Ranks In U.S. On Key Indicators In 2014 Compared To 4 Years Ago

“A state of distress”

That’s what the Chicago Tribune had at the top of an opinion piece that was published last Sunday on their website (was also in the Sunday paper too).

And it pretty much sums up what’s going on in Illinois when a comparison of where the state ranks nationally on various indicators is made to just a short four years ago.

From the Tribune on March 30:

Is Illinois better off in 2014 than it was four years ago? In 2010 we pored over a virtual library of statistics to assess where Illinois stood relative to other states and produced a chart much like this one. Today we replicate that exercise as closely as the data permit, with comparisons to Illinois’ national stature in 2010. By economic and jobs measures, Illinois has fallen further. By some education metrics, Illinois has improved. Our kids are still chubby…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Areas looked at included:

• Economy and Jobs
• Governance
• Health
• Education
• State of Mind

The word most often used by the paper to describe how they now stand in comparison to four years ago?

“Worse”

It’s an insightful- yet disturbing- read, which you can find here on the Tribune website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Friday, April 4th, 2014 Education, Employment, Government, Health No Comments

Doctors Without Borders: Africa Ebola Outbreak ‘Epidemic Of A Magnitude Never Before Seen’

I’ve been blogging about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa for several days now. Here’s the latest from Saliou Samb on the Reuters website earlier tonight:

Guinea faces an Ebola epidemic on an unprecedented scale as it battles to contain confirmed cases now scattered across several locations that are far apart, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Monday…

“We are facing an epidemic of a magnitude never before seen in terms of the distribution of cases in the country,” said Mariano Lugli, coordinator of MSF’s project in Conakry…

The warning from an organization with experience of tackling Ebola in Central Africa comes after Guinea’s president appealed for calm as the number of deaths linked to an outbreak on the border with Liberia and Sierra Leone hit 80.

The outbreak of one of the world’s most lethal infectious diseases has spooked a number of governments with weak health systems, prompting Senegal to close its border with Guinea and other neighbors to restrict travel and cross-border exchanges…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Médecins Sans Frontières is also known as Doctors Without Borders.

The Ebola virus causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) in humans, and has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent.

No specific treatment or vaccine is available for use against the virus.

I first blogged about the outbreak on March 24. And on March 28, I noted that the virus had spread from rural Guinea to the capital city of Conakry.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Samb, Saliou. “Scale of Guinea’s Ebola epidemic unprecedented: aid agency.” Reuters.com. 31 Mar. 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/31/us-guinea-ebola-idUSBREA2U10E20140331). 31 Mar. 2014.

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Monday, March 31st, 2014 Africa, Emergencies, Health No Comments

Ebola Spreads From Rural Guinea To Capital City Of 2 Million

Earlier this week, I blogged about Africa’s biggest Ebola outbreak in several years. I’ve been following the ordeal almost daily, observing that government authorities claimed to have had the problem under control.

I should’ve known better.

Saliou Samb reported on the Reuters website early this morning:

A deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus suspected of killing at least 63 people has spread from rural Guinea to the capital Conakry, authorities said on Thursday, after West African nations branded the virus a serious threat to regional security.

Guinean Health Minister Remy Lamah told Reuters that four cases of the haemorrhagic fever – one of the most lethal infectious diseases known to man – had been confirmed in the capital and the victims had been placed in quarantine.

The spread of Ebola to Conakry, a city of some 2 million people, marked an escalation in the outbreak in Guinea, which ranks as one of the poorest nations on earth despite rich deposits of bauxite and iron ore which attract international mining companies…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“One of the poorest nations on earth”

That’s doesn’t bode well for Guinea and its neighbors. As I also blogged Monday, I understand the quality of a nation’s healthcare infrastructure plays a big role in containing the spread of something like Ebola.

Keeping a close eye on this developing story…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Samb, Saliou. “Deadly Ebola virus spreads from rural Guinea to capital.” Reuters.com. 28 Mar. 2014. (http://news.yahoo.com/deadly-ebola-virus-spreads-rural-guinea-capital-081308460.html). 28 Mar. 2014.

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Friday, March 28th, 2014 Africa, Emergencies, Health, Infrastructure No Comments

UNICEF On West Africa Ebola Outbreak: ‘Risk Of International Spread Should Be Taken Seriously’

Ebola haemorrhagic fever
Fact sheet N°103
August 2012

Key facts
• The Ebola virus causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) outbreaks in humans.
• Viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
• Ebola haemorrhagic fever outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
• The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
• Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
• There is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals.”

-World Health Organization website

I first heard of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa late last night. When I went to check on the status of it right after lunchtime today, I found this on Bloomberg.com. Ougna Camara and Elise Zoker reported a short while ago:

Africa’s biggest Ebola outbreak in seven years has probably spread from Guinea to neighboring Liberia and also threatens Sierra Leone.

Five people are suspected to have died from the disease in Lofa county in northern Liberia, Bernice Dahn, Liberia’s chief medical officer, said at a briefing today. At least 86 cases and 59 deaths have been recorded across Guinea, the west African country’s health ministry said today. The capital, Conakry, hasn’t been affected, government spokesman Albert Damantang Camara said, after the United Nations Children’s Fund said the outbreak had spread there.

“The forest region where Unicef delivered the emergency assistance on Saturday is located along the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia with many people doing business and moving between the three countries,” said Laurent Duvillier, a Unicef spokesman, in an e-mail today. “Risk of international spread should be taken seriously.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Am I worried Ebola might spread to the United States?

Not really. From what I understand, the quality of a country’s healthcare infrastructure plays an important role in containing the threat. Jessica Firger reported on the Everyday Health website back on September 13, 2012:

“This is a terrible problem for Africa, and it’s also a global threat. Our modern transportation network makes this something public health authorities all over the world need to pay attention to,” says Dr. Thomas W. Geisbert, professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. “The likelihood of any significant outbreak in the United States is low because the health care system (or infrastructure) in the United States is better able to mitigate risk than Africa.”

Still, the public health authorities need to keep on top of this.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Camara, Ougna and Zoker, Elise. “Ebola Suspected to Have Spread From Guinea to Liberia.” Bloomberg.com. 24 Mar. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-23/ebola-spreads-to-guinea-capital-conakry-with-at-least-59-deaths.html). 24 Mar. 2014.

Firger, Jessica. “Could Ebola Spread to the U.S.?” Everyday Health. 13 Sep. 2012. (http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/0913/could-ebola-spread-to-the-us.aspx). 24 Mar. 2014.

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Republican Candidates For Illinois Governor Split On ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban?

This November, an election will be held for Governor of Illinois. The four Republican candidates for the office- State Senators Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and businessman Bruce Rauner- were recently given campaign questionnaires by the Associated Press, in which gun rights was one of the topics.

According to the AP, two of the four candidates may support a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

From last Tuesday:

In a campaign questionnaire for The Associated Press, the four candidates — state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and businessman Bruce Rauner — all said gun rights need to be protected but that some public safeguards should exist.

The four differed over assault-style guns — high-capacity weapons that have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings. They currently aren’t illegal statewide, and a proposed statewide ban backed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was pulled from consideration last year in Springfield…

Dillard, of Hinsdale, and Rauner, of Winnetka, both left open the possibility they would support a ban. Rutherford, of Chenoa, and Brady, of Bloomington, oppose such a ban

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

However, the Chicago Sun-Times website is reporting that only one of the four candidates may be open to an “assault weapons” ban. Natasha Korecki wrote last Thursday:

Three of the four Republicans competing in the gubernatorial primary say they believe all Illinois residents have the right to own assault weapons.

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka said Thursday night that they believe it’s a right…

Only Dillard sidestepped the question — saying he believed it was better left up to the federal government to decide…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

So what about Rauner? The Associated Press did think his questionnaire answer was “more vague” than Dillard’s. Turning back to their piece:

Rauner gave a more vague answer, saying he supports background checks that keep guns away from criminals and people with mental illness.

“Going beyond that requires a very careful balance between promoting public safety and protecting constitutional rights,” Rauner wrote…

Unless Kirk Dillard and Bruce Rauner actually come out and say they are against a state AWB, I would chalk them up as possibly being in support of an “assault weapons” ban if the political winds were blowing in that direction.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Governor candidates split on gun control measures.” Associated Press. 25 Feb. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140225/News/140229532). 1 Mar. 2014.

Korecki, Natasha. “Owning assault weapons a right, three GOP candidates say.” Chicago Sun-Times. 27 Feb. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/25882530-505/owning-assault-weapons-a-right-three-gop-candidates-say.html). 1 Mar. 2014.

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H10N8: New Strain Of Bird Flu May ‘Replicate Efficiently In Humans’

H10N8. I’d never heard of this new strain of bird flu until tonight, when I came across the following from Michelle Roberts on the BBC website. From earlier today:

Experts are concerned about the spread of a new strain of bird flu that has already killed one woman in China.

The 73-year-old from Nanchang City caught the H10N8 virus after visiting a live poultry market, although it is not known for sure if this was the source of infection.

A second person has since become infected in China’s Jiangxi province.

Scientists told The Lancet the potential for it to become a pandemic “should not be underestimated”.

This particular strain of influenza A virus has not been seen before…

I felt compelled to alert Survival And Prosperity readers about this particular avian influenza due to its novelty and its ability to reproduce. Roberts added:

Scientists who have studied the new H10N8 virus say it has evolved some genetic characteristics that may allow it to replicate efficiently in humans.

The concern is that it could ultimately be able to spread from person to person, although experts stress that there is no evidence of this yet…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Although experts stress that there is no evidence of this yet.”

Let’s hope it remains that way.

I haven’t heard/read too much about H10N8 in the American mainstream media.

Nor does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website talk about this new strain of bird flu.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Roberts, Michelle. “New strain of ‘deadly’ bird flu.” BBC News. 4 Feb. 2014. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26020015). 4 Feb. 2014.

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Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 Asia, Health, Natural Disasters No Comments


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