Some Updates on the Ebola Epidemic

The Guardian says scientists have decided this new epidemic was sparked by migratory fruit bats:

… A group of 17 European and African tropical disease researchers, ecologists and anthropologists spent three weeks talking to people and capturing bats and other animals near the village of Meliandoua in remote eastern Guinea, where the present epidemic appeared in December 2013. They have concluded that the disease was spread by colonies of migratory fruit bats. Their research is expected to be published in a major journal in the next few weeks.

Early studies suggested that a new strain of Ebola had emerged in west Africa but, according to epidemiologist Fabian Leendertz, a disease ecologist at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, who led the large team of scientists to Guinea, it is likely the virus in Guinea is closely related to the one known as Zaire ebolavirus, identified more than 10 years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo….

Chimps, gorillas, some antelopes and even pigs – which possibly eat fruit dropped to the ground by infected bats – have all been linked by the World Health Organisation to the spread of the disease, but the researchers now say no evidence has been found of other animals apart from bats being infected.

Fruit bats, however, are widely eaten in rural west Africa – either smoked, grilled or in a spicy soup…

Per Al-Jazeera, Sierra Leone has passed a new law imposing possible jail time for anyone caught hiding an Ebola patient – a common practice that the World Health Organization (WHO) believes has contributed to a major underestimation of the current outbreak.”:

…A total of 2,615 infections and 1,427 deaths have been recorded in the Ebola outbreak now hitting West Africa, according to figures released on Friday by the WHO.

Sierra Leone has been hard-hit, with at least 910 cases and 392 deaths.

These numbers, however, do not capture all Ebola cases because families hide patients, fearing high fatality rates and the stigma that comes with a positive diagnosis, the UN health agency said.

New treatment centres in Liberia are being overwhelmed by patients that had not been previously identified, suggesting an “invisible caseload” of patients that is going undetected, the agency said…

Good news, Liberia says it recovered all seventeen suspected Ebola patients who fled a quarantine centre in Monrovia last week, and transferred them to another clinic. The Washington Post had a little terror porn about that incident:

…[The crowd] pushed against the gates of the Liberian primary school, which had been converted into a treatment center in the middle of West Point, which some call the most squalid community in Liberia if not West Africa. Thanks to poor sanitation and open sewers, the community of tens of thousands crowded onto a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean has long been prone to debilitating sicknesses from typhoid to malaria to lethal diarrhea. Now it has one more to contend with — a virus spread through feces, blood and vomit.

“No Ebola in West Point!” the crowd chanted, according to Getty Images photographer John Moore. “No Ebola in West Point!”…

Soon, between 17 and 29 Ebola patients had run away — or were physically removed by their families — and the looting began. They took off with items — goggles, masks, blood-stained mattresses and blood-stained sheets — that were likely infected with Ebola, a lethal disease that the World Health Organization says has killed 1,145 people in West Africa, 413 of whom were Liberian. Following the patients’ escape and Saturday’s looting, officials and health workers fear even more will be infected as patients return to their family’s homes and looters sleep on fetid mattresses…

“West point is the worst slum in Liberia,” commented Vice Media journalist Shane Smith in a documentary he did on Liberia. “Which makes it one of the worst slums in Africa, which makes it one of the worst slums in the world.”…

So far we’ve been lucky here in the U.S., suspected cases spread from New York City to Sacramento have all tested negative. Hospitals in 27 states have notified the CDC of at least 68 cases nationwide that may involve the Ebola virus, the CDC reported. They include a New Mexico woman isolated at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque and patients at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Maryland and an undisclosed hospital in Ohio.”

Jina Moore at Buzzfeed reports that, in Liberia at least, Ebola is killing the caretakers, and not just the professionals — “The Ministry of Health says fully 75% of the Ebola deaths it has counted are women”.

Stephen T. Fomba, a graduate student from Sierra Leone asks, “Could Shoes Help Contain the Ebola Epidemic?“:

… I didn’t mind growing up this way, for I didn’t mind work and did not know what I did not have. But I hated having to make these walks barefoot because we could not afford shoes. The injuries were too much. I sustained burns from the hot ground and rocks; wounds from sharp stones, thorns, and even broken bottles; infections from unknown bacteria; and various ailments—red skins, open sores that took very long to heal, fevers. Even when hurt or ill, I had to keep walking, often as many as 20 miles a day, usually under a hot sun.

We rarely think about the perils of walking barefoot. But according to one widely cited estimate, some 300 million children on earth don’t have shoes. Many illnesses and infections come from the ground, caused by stepping on sharp objects or touching saliva, blood, or bodily fluids. And it’s not merely those who can’t afford shoes who have to go barefoot; many millions of people around the world own poor quality shoes, but have to be careful not to overuse them to avoid early wear and tear. Shoes are for special occasions…

Meanwhile… Two Ebola-related deaths have been confirmed in Congo, the country’s health minister said Sunday, though local officials believe the cases are unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa that has killed more than 1,400 people… He said 11 people were sick and in isolation and that 80 contacts were being traced.”

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53 replies
  1. 1
    Lee Rudolph says:

    Perhaps Franklin Graham and Co. could organize an “All God’s Children Got Shoes” campaign.

  2. 2
    JustRuss says:

    Fruit bats, however, are widely eaten in rural west Africa – either smoked, grilled or in a spicy soup…

    Filed under Things I Probably Didn’t Want to Know.

    A cheap pair of shoes probably costs a couple bucks wholesale. So for a couple billion dollars a year–maybe a bit more depending on logistics–we could put shoes on every child and have a huge impact on health outcomes. In 2007 we spent that much every 3 or 4 days in Iraq. Damn.

  3. 3
    BGinCHI says:

    The Fruit Bats are one of my favorite indie pop bands.

    I’m horrified that they are also spreading this disease.

  4. 4
    BGinCHI says:

    Seriously, how can we send our shoes to needy people in Africa? Is there anyone here who doesn’t have extras??

  5. 5
    srv says:

    Clearly, that jackass missionary Doctor’s call that MORE PRAYER (no mention of the CDC or other treament) is the cure is not working out here.

    In other news, when you want to get rid of your Parliament, Soviet Russia comes to you!

    As Kiev accused Moscow of sending troops across the border to fight with separatists, the Ukrainian president dissolved Parliament on Monday and called for early elections.

    President Petro Poroshenko set the voting for Oct. 26, noting that the coalition that had ruled Ukraine collapsed last month.

  6. 6
    Eric U. says:

    I must be hungry, this sounds good to me: “Fruit bats, however, are widely eaten in rural west Africa – either smoked, grilled or in a spicy soup”

  7. 7
    Violet says:

    @BGinCHI: There are quite a few organizations that collect used shoes to send to folks who need them. Like http://soles4souls.org/

  8. 8
    BGinCHI says:

    @Violet: Thanks! I’m sending some.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    @BGinCHI: Here’s a whole page with a list of various organizations that collect running shoes: http://running.about.com/od/sh.....ngshoe.htm

    Edit: Your local running store or local-ish sports store might have a shoe drive from time to time.

  10. 10
    Seanly says:

    @srv:

    Is it true that saying Ukraine 3 times in a Balloon Juice thread summons Bob in Portland to kill it?

    RE: Shoes, there is an organization here in Boise that collects used shoes for distribution in Africa.

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:

    I heard part of a piece on NPR the other day where they’re doing massive PR campaigns in the affected countries to convince people to get treatment after exposure to ebola rather than running away. The stories they had were pretty effective — the guy speaking survived because he got early treatment, as did his aunt who they convinced to come in a few days later, but the person who fled ended up dying. There is (for obvious reasons) a lot of fear and superstition about ebola that’s one of the things that’s hard to overcome, added to the fact that many of the governments in affected countries are not reliable (to say the least) so people don’t see them as being willing or able to do anything to help.

  12. 12
    Roger Moore says:

    @Seanly:
    If it is true that mentioning a specific country’s name summons Bob in Baghdad, let’s avoid reaching three repetitions. I don’t like having the thread hijacked.

  13. 13
    Calouste says:

    @JustRuss:

    One new aircraft supercarrier (and the US already has 12 of them compared to the rest of the world 2), costs $12 billion. We could give every shoesless child quite decent shoes for that money.

  14. 14
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Roger Moore: He appeared in the previous thread so expect his imminent arrival.

  15. 15
    🚸 Martin says:

    More locally:

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions, state insurance officials have ruled in a reversal of policy stemming from the decision by two Catholic universities to drop elective abortions from their employee health plans.

    Although the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage, the director of California’s Department of Managed Health Care said in a letter to seven insurance companies on Friday that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all “medically necessary” care.

    “Abortion is a basic health care service,” department director Michelle Rouillard wrote in the letter. “All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”

    CA is home to ⅓ of the nation’s abortion providers. We’re expanding access. We’re going to win this thing.

  16. 16
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Lee Rudolph: Too much like right, and if you recall how Franklin did his daddy, you know right doesn’t enter into his world.

  17. 17
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @🚸 Martin: If only you could invade Texas with your mores, all would be well.

  18. 18
    Trollhattan says:

    @Seanly:
    Just call it “The Ukraine” and see what happens.

  19. 19
    Trollhattan says:

    @🚸 Martin: And in moar-importanter California politics sorry guys, she’s outta circulation now.

    California Attorney General Kamala Harris and attorney Douglas Emhoff were married Friday at the courthouse in Santa Barbara, her office said. The attorney general’s sister, Maya Harris, officiated.

    The wedding come five months after Harris and Emhoff, partner in charge of the law firm Venable LLP’s Los Angeles office, were engaged. Both Harris and Emhoff are 49.

    http://www.sacbee.com/capitol-alert/#storylink=cpy

  20. 20
    jharp says:

    Never had bat before.

    Bet it tastes like chicken.

  21. 21
    J R in WV says:

    I can barely imagine the horror of living in these slums, all over the world. No way to clean yourself, barefoot, searching for a private place to defecate, out in a grassy field at best, in the corner of an alley in a city slum, where 10K others have already shit. And that’s just one issue facing people – they don’t understand the germ theory of disease, still believe in evil spirits and curses.

    How did we construct a civilization here and in Europe while leaving the rest of the world behind? Why? Is nativism so strong that the reality of medical science and engineering cannot overcome the belief in spirits, etc?

    So very depressing. So very scary.

  22. 22
    shelley says:

    Fruit bats? Isnt that what killed Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Contagion?’

  23. 23
    Violet says:

    @J R in WV:

    Is nativism so strong that the reality of medical science and engineering cannot overcome the belief in spirits, etc?

    There’s plenty of evidence in “developed” countries that belief in spirits does is not overcome by the reality of medical science and engineering.

  24. 24
    Trollhattan says:

    @jharp:
    The Buffalo bat wings taste like sucque, however.

  25. 25
    muddy says:

    @J R in WV: I know a young woman who went to South Africa and is doing a wi-fi start up. She actually said one time that the townships were “picturesque”. I was boggling. I thought how shitty for those people that not only don’t they get to compete with their own white people, but apparently the place is chock-full of young Americans and Europeans as well.

  26. 26
    muddy says:

    @jharp: Needs more garlic.

  27. 27
    shelley says:

    And that’s just one issue facing people – they don’t understand the germ theory of disease, still believe in evil spirits and curses.

    Don’t count people and human instincts out so easily. When Bubonic plague was ravaging Europe in the 14th c., people didn’t have the modern knowledge of disease and how it was contracted. But just as much as people were blaming it on God’s judgement and their own sins, there was also talk about ‘polluted’ and ‘diseased air.’ And that infected people needed to be quarantined to try and stop it’s spread.

  28. 28
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J R in WV:

    And that’s just one issue facing people – they don’t understand the germ theory of disease, still believe in evil spirits and curses.

    My mother believes that if she stops smoking, she’ll get cancer, because everyone she knows who stopped smoking ended up being diagnosed with cancer. There is no way to logically argue her out of this belief (and trust me, I have tried. Multiple times.)

    So I can’t really get on my high horse about people in Africa not trusting their governments and coming up with crazy conspiracy theories. We’ve got plenty of ’em right here at home.

  29. 29
    the Conster says:

    @shelley:

    fruit bat droppings eaten by a pig she ate. That movie felt very prescient to me.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    @J R in WV:

    How did we construct a civilization here and in Europe while leaving the rest of the world behind?

    We didn’t leave the rest of the world behind, we pushed them behind. That’s what colonialism really means: building nice stuff for ourselves at the expense of others not having even the basics.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Violet:

    There’s plenty of evidence in “developed” countries that belief in spirits does is not overcome by the reality of medical science and engineering.

    There are entire grifting enterprises built around these beliefs.

  32. 32
    Another Holocene Human (now with new computer) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: This is a classic.

  33. 33
    Jay C says:

    @Trollhattan:

    First thought: sincere congratulations to the happy new couple!

    Second thought: I guess this means Kamala Harris WILL be going after some higher office than CA AG: as a respectable married lady, now….

    PS: good for her! Either way!

  34. 34
    Elie says:

    @BGinCHI:

    You know of course, that this is not intentional on the bat’s part. Ebola is part of its normal flora… the bats aren’t “sick” with it. People only come in contact with it by effing with the bats when they kill them to eat. I hope we are not now going to see pretty much endangered bat species get wiped out because they “carry” ebola. Again, if you do not eff with the bats, ebola won’t eff with you…

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @Jay C:

    Second thought: I guess this means Kamala Harris WILL be going after some higher office than CA AG

    If you didn’t know that already, you’re not paying attention.

  36. 36
    Elie says:

    I also want to acknowledge the monumental sacrifice and heroism being demonstrated by health care workers and “burial boys” who are “doing what needs to be done” to take care of and bury the dead. They are frequently ostracized by their families and the community. Many have succumbed to this illness. Most of all, I see them as unbelievably brave and noble.. I don’t know that I would have this kind of courage – to do what is rightat the risk of personal injury and death. wow

  37. 37
    Citizen_X says:

    @J R in WV:

    they don’t understand the germ theory of disease, still believe in evil spirits and curses

    *Cough* AIDS in the US in the 80s *cough*

  38. 38
    Linnaeus says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Pretty much.

  39. 39
    Linnaeus says:

    @shelley:

    But just as much as people were blaming it on God’s judgement and their own sins, there was also talk about ‘polluted’ and ‘diseased air.’ And that infected people needed to be quarantined to try and stop it’s spread.

    Ah yes, miasma theory.

  40. 40
    Alison says:

    Ummmm is anyone else having something weird happen on the next post (about Snoop)? I was able to read it and comment earlier, but now when I try to go to the post, I get automatically redirected to this page http://outside-cooking.com/pos.....mpaign=wtf

    What the hell?

  41. 41
    Elie says:

    @J R in WV:

    They are isolated – economically and geopolitically. They suffer from the effects of racism and classism that deny them education on a mass scale. Obviously, you see when Africans are educated, they have and act on the same information that the rest of the world does. Unfortunately, what I just mentioned and unbelievable poverty deprive them of the knowledge and access to resources to change their existence.

    I am so sad about this. For those of you who believe in evolution and the migration of humans out of Africa — this is the mother continent for the whole human race — now left in despair and want.

    We can help with pretty simple things… money for appropriate nutritious food, gear and isolation equipment, shoes – mentioned upstring… all concrete, knowable, suppliable. Unfortunately, the people just happen to have dark skins. Do you think that is a factor?

  42. 42
    Joe Bauers says:

    This article would have been more interesting if the ecologists and anthropologists had instead spent three weeks capturing people and talking to bats.

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @Alison: Nope. Not having a problem with the post. I even opened a new tab for that post just to check. It’s fine for me.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    The Pale Scot says:

    @BGinCHI: Instead of producing shoes in the west and sending them over, it would be better to set up production there,

    heck, even Uncle Ho’s combat boots would be useful

  46. 46
    Violet says:

    @The Pale Scot: Most of the shoes being sent across are probably made in Sri Lanka or China or some place not in the West.

  47. 47
    Pogonip says:

    @BGinCHI: I have a bunch of shoes that are now too wide for me. If there’s some way to ship them to these people I’d happily pay the postage all the way to Africa. The shoes have all been worn so I doubt any American would want them but they are a darn sight better than nothing.

  48. 48
    Violet says:

    @Pogonip: There is. See upthread for the organizations that take used shoes.

  49. 49
    Pogonip says:

    And now that I’ve read the whole topic, I know how to get my too-wide soles to some poor soul!

    I’d like to see this get out to people with kids. Kids outgrow their shoes so quickly that they are rarely very worn, and because kids’ shoes are (relatively) cheap a lot of people toss them once they are outgrown.

  50. 50
    Violet says:

    @Pogonip: Schools and other kid-related organizations (church Sunday schools, YMCA groups, etc.) can do used shoe drives. It’s not hard to put together. Parents would probably be glad to clean out their closets.

  51. 51
    dmbeaster says:

    @Eric U.: the fruit bats in questions are the size of crows..Do you prefer the mango flavored or banana flavor bat?

  52. 52
    J R in WV says:

    Well, a lot of folks had great replys to my soft-headed remarks about the germ theory of disease.

    In fact I worked with an IT worker who laid hands on her fish to cure their fin rot in a small tank on her desk. One had the fin rot, but they all died because she wore so much perfume/makeup the toxins on her hands poisoned the little fish! She firmly believed in demons and angels and the Jesus preachers. Poor lady, she wasn’t a good coder either.

    So I apologize for dissing the Africans when – indeed – many Americans are caught up in ancient mythologies of the goat herds of many centuries ago. Jenny whats-her-name and the vaccines that poison our babies! At least our wingnuts don’t riot to break the sick out of the hospitals – yet.

  53. 53
    RobNYNY1957 says:

    Chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, etc., are all based a rejection of the germ theory of disease.

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