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.”