Ebola

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#1
I couldn't find thread on it so.............

WHO: Outbreak may be new Ebola strain

Tuesday, May 25, 2004 Posted: 1405 GMT (2205 HKT)



NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Scientists suspect that a new milder strain of the Ebola virus may have caused the latest outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever in southern Sudan, the World Health Organization said Saturday.

Four of the 10 people infected with the Ebola-like virus have died in Yambio, a Sudanese town near the border with Congo, said Abdullahi Ahmed, head of WHO's southern Sudan office.

Tests of blood samples taken to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta indicated that the oubreak is not linked to the known strains of Ebola-like viruses that cause the severe viral infection, Ahmed said.

There are four known strains of Ebola-like viruses, three of which cause the deadly disease, the CDC said on its web site. The viruses are probably preserved in an undefined reservoir in the rain forests of Africa.

"The investigation could not match the known variants, so it could be a new variant," Ahmed told The Associated Press.

Scientists at the CDC will conduct genetic tests to characterize and classify the suspected new strain of the Ebola virus, Ahmed said.

So far the death rate is lower than has previously been experienced with Ebola outbreaks, he said, adding that this may indicate that the new virus is milder than other strains.

The suspected new variant has killed between 25 and 30 percent of the people infected, while other variants kill between 50 and 90 percent of those who contract the disease, Ahmed said.

The symptoms of the illness around Yambio include general malaise, fever, vomiting blood and bloody diarrhea.

There had been no new cases reported in the last four days, Ahmed said, adding that one person remains under investigation. The incubation period for the virus is 21 days. The most recent case began on May 15.

Southern Sudan has been wracked by civil war since 1983; thousands of people are periodically displaced by fighting, and public health facilities are rare.

The first recognized Ebola epidemic occurred almost simultaneously in southern Sudan and in a nearby region of the Congo in 1976, according to the CDC.

At the time, Ebola killed 117 of the 284 people who were reported with the viral infection in southern Sudan. In Congo, it killed 280 of the 318 people infected.

In 2000, an Ebola outbreak killed 173 people in Gulu district in northern Uganda, which also borders southern Sudan.

The Ebola virus is spread by contact with body fluids, including sweat and saliva. Outbreaks of the disease are rare, and no one knows where the virus lives when it is not infecting humans. The disease usually kills its victims so fast that it also destroys the host for the virus.

Ugandan health officials said they had circulated warnings in areas that border Sudan and had put health workers on high alert.
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/africa/05/24/sudan.mystery.ap/index.html

Ebola virus kills four in Sudan

Health officials are investigating a new outbreak of the Ebola virus that has killed four people in Sudan.

A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) has traced the outbreak to Yambio, in the Western Equatorial region of south Sudan.

There are 19 probable cases. About 120 people who came into contact with them are being kept under surveillance.

A WHO spokesperson told the BBC the outbreak did not appear to be as virulent as previous ones.

PAST MAJOR OUTBREAKS
1976 - southern Sudan, 117 deaths
1995 - Congo, 280 deaths
2000 - northern Uganda, 173 deaths
2002 - Congo, 100 deaths
Despite earlier reports, it was not thought that a new strain of Ebola was involved.

The Ebola virus in its early stages is hard to diagnose because some of the symptoms, like fever and joint pain, mimic malaria.

Many people go on to develop internal bleeding, a characteristic typical of Ebola, and without medical attention the prospects are bleak.

A crisis group has been set up with aid agencies in the region, in an attempt to curtail the spread.

The biggest recent outbreak was in Uganda four years ago; hundreds died.

The BBC's Karen Allen on the Kenya-Sudan border says the hope is that quick action now will avert a similar crisis in southern Sudan.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/3741137.stm

Published: 2004/05/24 19:33:17 GMT

© BBC MMIV
 
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#2
Wednesday, May 26, 2004. Page 4.

Scientist Dies in Lab Accident

By Vladimir Isachenkov
The Associated Press

A Vektor researcher has died after sticking herself with a needle containing the deadly Ebola virus, her organization said Tuesday.

The accident occurred on May 5, when Antonina Presnyakova was conducting research on Ebola, a virus for which no vaccine or remedy exists, said Natalya Skultetskaya, a spokeswoman for the Vektor State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology outside Novosibirsk.

Skultetskaya said efforts to save Presnyakova failed and she died on May 19 at a special hospital located on the territory of the center. Research and medical personnel who were in contact with Presnyakova during her treatment will remain under medical observation for three weeks, she said by telephone.

Skultetskaya denied a report in The New York Times that the center was slow to inform the World Health Organization about the incident, reporting it only last week. She said the case was reported immediately to both the Health and Social Development Ministry and the WHO. "We received all the necessary medical assistance," she said. "On the WHO's advice, we had a conference call involving a doctor who treated Ebola patients in Africa."

The incident was the third case of accidental contraction of a deadly virus at Vektor, which served as a top biological weapons laboratory in Soviet times.

One Vektor researcher accidentally contracted the Marburg virus and died in 1988, while another worker contracted it and survived in 1990, Skultetskaya said. In a 1996 incident at another biological research center, the Defense Ministry's Virology Center in Sergiyev Posad, a worker accidentally contracted the Ebola virus and died, Skultetskaya said.

Ebola is spread by contact with bodily fluids, including sweat and saliva. Outbreaks of the disease are rare, and no one knows where the virus lives when it is not infecting humans. The disease usually kills its victims so fast that it also destroys the host for the virus.

Skultetskaya said Vektor was conducting research on the Ebola and Marburg viruses to develop vaccines for the lethal diseases. "We have achieved some progress," she said.
Source

Russian Scientist Dies in Lab Accident

Tue May 25, 5:26 AM ET

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW - A Russian researcher has died after sticking herself with a needle containing the deadly Ebola (news - web sites) virus, her organization said Tuesday.


The accident occurred on May 5, when Antonina Presnyakova was conducting research on Ebola, a virus for which no vaccine or remedy exists, said Natalia Skultetskaya, a spokeswoman for the Vektor State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology outside Novosibirsk in central Siberia.

Skultetskaya said that efforts to save Presnyakova failed and she died on May 19 at a special hospital located on the territory of the center. Research and medical personnel who were in contact with Presnyakova during her treatment will remain under medical observation for three weeks, she said in a telephone interview.

Skultetskaya denied a report in The New York Times that the center was slow to inform the World Health Organization (news - web sites) about the incident, reporting it only last week. She said the case was reported immediately to both the Russian Health Ministry and the WHO.

"We received all the necessary medical assistance," Skultetskaya said. "On the WHO's advice, we had a conference call involving a doctor who treated Ebola patients in Africa."

The incident was the third case of accidental contraction of a deadly virus at Vektor, which served as a top biological weapons laboratory in Soviet times.

One Vektor researcher accidentally contracted the Marburg virus and died in 1988, while another worker contracted the same virus and survived in 1990, Skultetskaya said.

In a 1996 incident at another Russian biological research center, the Defense Ministry's Virology Center in Sergiyev Posad near Moscow, a worker accidentally contracted the Ebola virus and died, Skultetskaya said.

Ebola is spread by contact with body fluids, including sweat and saliva. Outbreaks of the disease are rare, and no one knows where the virus lives when it is not infecting humans. The disease usually kills its victims so fast that it also destroys the host for the virus.

Skultetskaya said Vektor was conducting research on the Ebola and Marburg viruses to develop vaccines for the lethal diseases.
Source
 
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#3
Ebola Virus Spreads to Republic of Congo

by The Associated Press
Last Updated: 12/20/2001 3:08:21 PM



An outbreak of the deadly ebola virus has spread from the central African nation of Gabon to neighboring Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Eleven cases have been detected in Republic of Congo, the U.N. health agency said in a statement. Sixteen cases have already been reported in Gabon, and 15 people have died so far. Health authorities had feared the disease would spread from Gabon to Republic of Congo as people crossed between the two countries.

At least one woman believed to be infected with Ebola fled Gabon and was located on the other side of the border in the village of Mbomo, Republic of Congo, health authorities said Wednesday. The woman's baby had died and she was reported to be in a serious condition.

"The international team is operational on both sides of the border and is working closely in the field with the team from the Congolese Ministry of Health on outbreak control interventions," WHO said.

Medical staff are trying to trace everyone who has had contact with any of the known victims and observing them for signs of the virus. A total of 133 contacts are being followed up in Gabon and
94 in the Republic of Congo, WHO said.

Ebola is one of the most deadly viral diseases known to humankind, causing death in 50 to 90 percent of those who become infected. The virus is passed through contact with bodily fluids, such as mucus, saliva and blood, but is not airborne. It incubates for four to 10 days before flu-like symptoms set in. Eventually, the virus causes severe internal bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea.

There is no cure, but the disease usually kills its victims faster than it can spread, burning out before it can reach too far. WHO says over 800 people have died of the disease since the virus was first identified in 1976 in western Sudan and in a nearby region of Congo. The disease last struck in Uganda, killing 224 people last year.
Source
 

lopaka

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#4
U.N.: Angolan children dying from Ebola-like illness

Friday, March 18, 2005 Posted: 12:55 PM EST (1755 GMT)


GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- The Ebola-like mystery ailment that has killed at least 39 people in Angola over the past three months is targeting primarily children under 5, the U.N. health agency said Friday.

While the disease in Angola's northern province of Uige has still not been identified, health officials believe the illness is an acute hemorrhagic fever related to the Ebola virus, said Dick Thompson, spokesman for the World Health Organization.

But unlike Ebola, which tends to predominantly affect the adult population, four out of five cases of this new ailment have been children, Thompson said.

"With Ebola, the age distribution is generally quite different than what we are seeing here," he said. "But we are not ruling Ebola out. We are not ruling anything out."

The symptoms of the virus -- including vomiting, bloody discharge and high fever -- are similar to those for Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers, including dengue fever, according to WHO.

Angolan officials have put the death toll at 64, but Thompson said the number is probably lower because deaths from other diseases may been included in the Angolan figure.

WHO has no estimates on how deadly the disease might be or how many cases already exist, he said.

"It is really impossible to know right now -- we are collecting information and waiting for lab tests to come back," Thompson said.

If the disease is a known substance, lab tests could provide conclusive data within a week, Thompson said, but warned that if it is unknown the results would take longer.

"With SARS it took three weeks to get results back, but that was a massive international collaboration," he said, in reference to the previously unknown disease that killed nearly 800 people worldwide in 2003.

Ebola causes death in 50-90 percent of clinically ill cases. It is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or bodily fluids of infected persons.

Outbreaks of the disease are rare because the virus is usually so deadly it kills its victims before they can pass it on. WHO says it has documented more than 1,200 deaths in about 1,850 cases since the first recognized epidemic in 1976.

More than 100,000 Angolans were due to return this month via Uige from Congo, where Ebola still exists in nature.

Dengue fever is common in tropical areas and endemic to parts of Asia and the Caribbean. No vaccine or cure is currently available for the disease.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/conditio ... index.html
 

Heckler

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#5
Mystery illness kills Angola kids

Symptoms are similar to Ebola
More than 90 people have died in the past five months in Angola after an outbreak of an unidentified haemorrhagic fever in the north.
The World Health Organization says it is perplexed by the nature of the outbreak, which particularly affects children under five years old.

The symptoms include vomiting, bloody discharge and fever and are similar to those for Ebola, according to WHO.

Tests have ruled out several illnesses, though not yet the Ebola virus.

Results of a test for Ebola are still awaited from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta in the United States.

Fled hospital

Mr Van Dunem said 101 cases of the illness had been reported in a hospital in the city of Uige.
Ninety-three people have died and two have left the hospital without being properly discharged, he told reporters.

"We are engaged in an effort with the community to find the two patients who fled the hospital and to detect new cases," he said.

WHO has suggested Angolan figures may include other deaths and said last week that at least 39 people have died.

WHO has had to cope with several outbreaks of Ebola in Africa since 2000.

The biggest was in Uganda four years ago, when hundreds died.

It passes quickly from person to person, through bodily fluids such as mucus, saliva and blood.

Angolan health officials have suggested they do not believe it is Ebola.

But blood samples sent to Senegal show the outbreak is not: yellow fever, dengue fever, the West Nile virus, the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever or rift valley fever.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4372205.stm

Another new strain of Ebola perhaps, though Marburg hasn't been mentioned:

http://www.coppettswood.demon.co.uk/marburg.htm
 

lopaka

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#6
Heckler said:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4372205.stm

Another new strain of Ebola perhaps, though Marburg hasn't been mentioned:

http://www.coppettswood.demon.co.uk/marburg.htm
Very good call, Heckler. It the UN says it is indeed Marburg:

WHO: Marburg Virus Kills 95 in Angola

By SAM CAGE
GENEVA (AP) - An outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in northern Angola has killed 95 people, mainly children under 5, the U.N. health agency said Wednesday.

The World Health Organization confirmed on Tuesday that the illness was Marburg, a disease similar to Ebola. Analysis had identified 102 cases of the virus since October 2004, 95 of which had proved fatal. Angolan officials put the death toll at 98.

``Since the start of the outbreak, the monthly number of cases has progressively increased, but this increase could be the result of intensified surveillance,'' WHO said in a statement.

About three-quarters of cases have occurred in children under 5 and a small number of health care workers are among those adults infected, WHO said.

The outbreak occurred along Angola's border with Congo, in Uige province. Authorities initially feared the deaths were caused by Ebola, which still exists in nature in Congo.

``Marburg virus disease has no vaccine or curative treatment and can be rapidly fatal,'' WHO said. ``In the present outbreak, most deaths have occurred between three to seven days following the onset of symptoms.''

Previous outbreaks have indicated that the risk of infection is increased by close contact with bodily fluids of infected people, as may occur during treatment or burial practices, WHO said.

The health agency added that it is supporting efforts by Angola's Ministry of Health to improve infection control in hospitals and to intensify efforts to detect cases, as well as to improve public understanding of the disease and how it is transmitted.

``Marburg virus disease occurs very rarely and appears to be geographically confined to a small number of countries in the southern part of the African continent,'' WHO said. ``When cases do occur, the disease has epidemic potential, as it can spread from person to person, most often during the care of patients.''


03/24/05 00:15

© Copyright The Associated Press.

SOURCE
 
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#7
More:

Toll in Ebola-like virus in Angola rises to 115, kills two foreigners

Fri Mar 25, 4:09 PM ET


LUANDA, Angola (AFP) - The death toll in an outbreak of the Ebola (news - web sites)-like Marburg virus in Angola rose to 115, including many children and two Italian and Vietnamese doctors, health officials said, as the disease spread to the capital Luanda.

Three-quarters of the deaths were children under the age of five, according to the UN's World Health Organization (news - web sites) (WHO).

"Until today, the number of sick in hospital in Uige is 118 of whom 113 are dead in the wake of the Marburg epidemic," Carlos Alberto, a health ministry spokesman told AFP from Uige, about 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of Luanda.

In Luanda, the Vita Mvemba, the head of the provincial health department, said two others had died in the capital and five cases of the potentially fatal disease reported. The fatalities included a Vietnamese doctor, according to Alberto.

Health officials said 123 cases had been reported since the outbreak erupted less than six months ago.

Mvemba stressed that the government was trying to fight growing panic.

"We must avoid panic. I have learnt that the Italians are planning to flee Angola and that mothers are preventing their children from going to school," he said.

The Italian non-governmental organisation Medici con Africa Cuamm from Rome identified the deceased Italian doctor as paediatrician Maria Bonino, who worked for the United Nations (news - web sites) and had been a volunteer in Africa for the past 11 years.

She had been practising for the past two years in the Uige provincial hospital, the organisation said.

"It's complete panic here," said Quiala Godi, the number two health official in Uige province. "In the beginning, only children were affected but now it's hitting adults.

"It's difficult to know the exact number of the ailing because people don't want to go to hospital and we have to find them in their homes," Godi told AFP by telephone.

Health Minister Sebastiao Sapuile Veloso has urged all those showing symptoms of the disease to go to the nearest hospital and asked others who had visited Uige recently not to go overseas until 21 days had passed.

The Marburg disease, a severe form of hemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola, was first identified in 1967, affecting laboratory workers in the central German town as well as in Frankfurt and Belgrade who had come into contact with infected monkeys from Uganda.

The largest outbreak on record of the Marburg virus occurred from late 1998 to 2000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (news - web sites), killing 123 people.

Emergency efforts were underway, and Thursday the European Union (news - web sites) pledged 500,000 euros (650,000 dollars) to help fight the outbreak.

The EU money was offered to the Spanish arm of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to provide protective suits, gloves and goggles, water purification equipment and tanks, intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Angolan health officials assisted by WHO experts and MSF (Doctors without Borders) teams and the US Centers for Disease Control were in Uige to try to shore up measures to stamp out the outbreak.



Angolan health officials have been battling to contain the outbreak since October, but the number of cases has shot up in the past weeks.

A total of five nurses have died over the past weeks from the virus that is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids of infected people.

Victims of the Marburg virus can suffer from a severe watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting early on in the illness followed by severe chest and lung pains, sore throat and cough, according to the WHO.

Many cases result in severe bleeding, beginning from the fifth day and affecting the gastrointestinal tract and the lungs, accompanied by a rash, sometimes involving the entire body.
Source
 

MrRING

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#8
Looks like Marburg is going for the record:

Angola's Ebola-like virus toll rises to 122, one short of record

LUANDA (AFP) - Angola looked set to equal if not break the record of deaths from the Ebola -like Marburg virus with the number of fatalities rising to 122, just one short of the most serious outbreak ever.

Health ministry spokesman Carlos Alberto said a young girl aged less than two died on Sunday evening in Uige, the epicentre of the epidemic north of the capital city of Luanda. "This baby was the child of a 19-year-old woman who died on Sunday morning and the baby died the same evening," he said.

The most serious recorded outbreak of the disease was in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo between 1998 and 2000, when 123 people died. A severe form of haemorrhagic fever akin to Ebola, the Marburg virus was first identified in 1967. The disease can spread on contact with body fluids such as blood, urine, excrement, vomit and saliva.
Source
 

SniperK2

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#9
Did any-one ever read the Hot Zone, by Richard Preston? I'm not sure if it was sensationalist and designed to alarm, since I've read other books, one by a doctor who went to Africa to treat Ebola, and he was very, well, not laid back, about it, but he was more relaxed, emphasisng barrier nursing and the use of bleach, etc. ( The Virus Hunters - McCormick I think, was his name )
Anyway, that book horrified me, totally, it was easy to read, graphic and made me feel incredibly ill.
 

lopaka

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#10
When it first came out I read the article in The New Yorker that either the book is based on or that was adapted/excerpted from the book (not sure in what order what appeared). Yes, it left me pretty freaked for months afterwards. Actually one of the more gripping and disturbing reads I've ever *enjoyed*. If it was sensationalist/alarmist, what can I say, it was quite effective at being those things! :D
 

SniperK2

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#11
I still pick it up and read it, because it is gripping, I'm always being told I have a morbid frame of mind, but those virus' are so horrible , well, almost fascinating, in a way, so virulent and destructive, I think it gives me the horrors more than most things. And people do work with these Level 4 virus', hells bells :shock: I'd be no good for that, shaking and stabbing needles into myself. Apparently these virus are not airborne, unless they mutate, or are ' helped ' along. Let's rather hope they are not being looked at in Bio warfare, there wouldn't be many people left around. :?
( I think I've picked up a cold, but I'm almost certain it's not Margurg , but as for the power of suggestion, I watched a tv film called the Black death some years ago, and found myself coughing and gasping, with a temperature :roll: )
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#12
Panic as virus toll surges in Angola

April 06, 2005

THE death toll from the world's worst outbreak of the deadly ebola-like Marburg virus has climbed to 155 as panic grips parts of the Angolan capital, Luanda.

Angolan Health Minister Sebastiao Veloso said the number infected had climbed to "175 cases, among them 155 dead, all from the province of Uige". Uige, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in the country's north, is the epicentre of the outbreak.

The first case was reported last October but the virus gained momentum last month. At least 29 people have died over the past four days.

Among them was Maria Bonino, 51, an Italian pediatrician who had been working for a charitable group at a hospital in Uige, about 290km north of the capital.

She had travelled to Luanda for treatment.

The highly contagious Marburg virus, a severe haemorrhagic fever, spreads on contact with body fluids such as blood, urine, excrement, vomit and saliva.

There is no known cure or medical treatment.

A combined statement by the World Health Organisation and the Angolan Government said that 80per cent of the cases involved children under 15.

Officials have sealed Angola's border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, the location of the last major outbreak in 1998, when 123 people died. Other countries in the region have taken measures to try to halt the spread of the virus.

In Luanda, one of Africa's most densely populated cities, international experts are working around the clock to complete an isolation ward to treat cases from Uige, but the Health Ministry said the unit would not be ready for at least five days.

Volunteers at the Americo Boa Vida hospital, the country's largest, have been given protective "Ebola suits" for work as cleaners and washers within the isolation ward.

Panic has been spreading among the residents of Luanda's slums and many people have stayed indoors. Reports said shops in the city had run out of household bleach and other disinfectants and that parents were keeping their children out of school.

The WHO said it had sent a mobile surveillance team to Uige in a response to rumours of more cases and "to conduct active searches for additional cases".

The disease is believed to have its roots in the huge and mysterious Kitum Cave on Mount Elgon, a volcanic mountain straddling the border between Kenya and Uganda that is home to thousands of bats.

---------------------
The Times
Source

Its got into some highly populated areas and this could get nasty -although the WHO seems to be pulling out all the stops. Fingers crossed they get this under control.
 

SniperK2

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#13
I thought that there had been expeditions there to try and find the animal, bird, insect etc that carries the disease, and nothing had been found? The same with Ebola, no-one seems to have yet found where it ' lives ' although it must have been around forever, virus' have always been with us. My thoughst are with the people, it seems so far away, but that is not a death I would wish any-one to die. :(
 

Heckler

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#15
Mythopoeika said:
Perhaps the virus comes from an old meteorite or there are creatures in underground caves (bats, rats, etc.) that carry it?
I think that was the conclusion that Richard Preston came to, bat guano containing the virus in the cave, vectors by someone entering the cave and cutting themselves on a jagged stalagmite smeared with the guano.
 

SniperK2

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#16
Sorry Heckler, I was just going back to look at ' the Hot Zone ' ( a quick flick ) and I believe you're right, but when there was an Ebola outbreak which was traced back to some-one working in a factory, there were bats there too, and they tested some but never found the virus. Obviously it's not in every bat.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#17
Marburg virus death toll hits 180

205 cases have been reported

Friday, April 8, 2005 Posted: 2130 GMT (0530 HKT)


(CNN) -- The World Health Organization is investigating an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in northwestern Angola, it said Friday.

As of Thursday, 205 cases of Marburg hemorrhagic fever had been reported in the country, and 180 of those affected had died. Seven provinces have been affected, the latest being Zaire province, where six cases have been reported, the WHO said in its most recent update.

"It is a very, very dangerous and lethal virus in human beings," Mike Ryan, director of alert and response operations for WHO, told CNN. The virus -- in the same family as the Ebola virus -- spreads through blood and body fluid contact.

In this case -- only the second natural outbreak of the virus -- there is evidence it has been amplified through ineffective containment in hospitals, Ryan said.

According to WHO, the first large outbreak under natural conditions occurred from 1998-2000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Some Angolans have taken their anxiety out on health workers.

Mobile surveillance teams in Uige were forced to suspend operations Thursday when vehicles were attacked and damaged by residents, the WHO said Friday. "As the situation has not improved, no surveillance teams were operational today in the province."

In addition, organization staff in Uige were notified Friday of several workers' fatalities, but teams were unable to investigate the causes of death or collect the bodies for burial. Discussions "to find urgent solutions" were under way with provincial authorities, the WHO said.

A WHO worker in Angola told CNN that health workers had been killed by residents who erroneously believed the workers were exposing them to the virus.

"The dramatic symptoms of Marburg hemorrhagic fever and its frequent fatality are resulting in a high level of fear, which is further aggravated by a lack of public understanding about the disease," the organization said. "Moreover, because the disease has no cure, hospitalization is not associated with a favorable outcome, and confidence in the medical care system has been eroded."

WHO said it has seen similar reactions during outbreaks of the Ebola virus. Two medical anthropologists are in Uige and will be joined by experts in social mobilization from Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.

Through the United Nations, WHO launched an appeal Friday for $2.4 million to support the emergency response to the outbreak. In addition, the organization has established an international network of laboratories to help in the investigation of this and other viral hemorrhagic fevers. They include two portable field laboratories in Angola.

"Sophisticated laboratory studies of the virus may help shed some light on certain unusual features of the outbreak, including the high fatality rate and the overwhelming concentration of initial cases in children under the age of five years," said a WHO statement.

A longer-term objective, the organization said, is to determine where the Marburg virus hides in nature between outbreaks. Studies of the Angolan virus may offer some clues.
Source
 
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#18
Fear, ignorance fuel Angola virus outbreak

Residents attack medics causing brief halt to aid operations

Reuters
Updated: 9:30 a.m. ET April 11, 2005

LUANDA - Fear and ignorance are fuelling the world’s deadliest outbreak of Marburg fever in Angola, where locals are too suspicious of medics in “astronaut” suits to let them take away infected loved ones, aid workers said on Monday.

Terrified residents stoned World Health Organization (WHO) workers’ vehicles late last week, putting a brief halt to their operations to contain the disease in Uige province, northeast of Angola’s capital Luanda.

“We no longer have people coming to the isolation ward --people are hiding their patients at home because they’re scared. That means the virus keeps on spreading in the community,” Monica , emergency coordinator for Doctors without Borders in Uige, told Reuters by phone from Uige.

The outbreak has killed 192 of the 213 known cases. There is no cure for the disease which is related to Ebola.

“We’ve become scapegoats. That’s how people express their fear, grief and anger at the situation. They see we’ve got an isolation ward with very restricted access -- they think we’re doing funny things,” said.

“People have not been given sufficient information to understand the measures that are necessary to stop the virus ... It’s crucial people understand the public health risk of keeping sick people at home. Only then can we start to control the spread of the virus,” she said.

Marburg, a rare hemorrhage fever, is spread through contact with bodily fluids including blood and saliva. Symptoms include headaches, internal bleeding, nausea, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

MSF has opened the city’s only isolation ward in a cordoned-off section of the general hospital.

But said the hospital should be closed to all non-Marburg cases to avoid it becoming a source of infection.

“We have strongly recommended that the hospital be closed temporarily and this is because the risk of infection at the hospital is unacceptably high,” she said.

Health workers have said basic hygiene rules are still not fully observed in Angolan hospitals.

'Astronaut suits'

Emergency measures to deal with the outbreak have stretched to the limit Angola’s healthcare facilities which have been left in tatters after decades of civil war.

But many locals have not welcomed the strange-looking healthcare workers who have descended on Uige city dressed in full protective clothing.

Experts say that is to be expected.

“Wherever there is (an) epidemic we are used to seeing ... hostility, sometimes from the community, because we are interfering in how they are living,” said WHO country representative Fatomata Diallo.

“Especially in this kind of epidemic where you have to have special clothes, like an astronaut, and come into the family to take a sick person or suspected case. When you come to take away a body, a dead body, with all this kind of clothing, sometimes it is not easy for the community to accept it,” she said.

Marburg gets its name from the German town where it was first reported in the 1960s after researchers there contracted it from monkeys imported from Africa. The previous worst recorded outbreak was during a 1998-2000 epidemic in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo when 123 people died.
Source
 

lopaka

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#19
A long, grim, riveting read on what it's like to be in the middle of the Marburg outbreak If people think it's too long I can edit it, but it's worth one's time. Bad Craziness.

The New York Times
April 17, 2005
Stalking a Deadly Virus, Battling a Town's Fears
By SHARON LaFRANIERE and DENISE GRADY

UÍGE, Angola, April 16 - For nearly four weeks, teams of health experts have been trying to set up a rescue operation in this town of windowless, crumbling buildings with no running water, intermittent electricity, poor sanitation and a perennially jammed telephone network.

They are trying to contain the worst outbreak of one of the world's most frightening viruses, known as Marburg. But with the death toll rising every day, no one is predicting success soon.

A cousin of Ebola, the Marburg virus has erupted periodically in Africa in sudden, gruesome epidemics, only to disappear just as mysteriously. This time it has struck with a vengeance, killing 9 out of 10 people infected - a total of 230 people so far, including 14 nurses and 2 doctors who cared for the sick.

The virus is highly contagious, making any outbreak a cause for widespread fear and fascination in a world shrunk by international travel and trade. Marburg spreads through blood, vomit, semen and other bodily fluids. Even a cough can prove fatal for someone hit by a few drops of spittle. Corpses, teeming with the virus, are especially dangerous. A contaminated surface can be deadly - the virus can find its way into someone's eyes, nose or mouth, or enter the bloodstream through a cut.

Once in the body, it moves with terrifying speed, invading white blood cells essential to fighting infection. On Day 3 of the infection, fewer than 200 viruses are in a drop of blood. By Day 8, there are five million.

"That's why dead bodies are kind of like bombs," said Dr. Heinz Feldmann, a virologist from Winnipeg who is here working with the teams of specialists dispatched by the World Health Organization, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the international aid group Doctors Without Borders.

Their efforts to curtail the outbreak turn on whether distrustful local people in this poor and isolated town of 50,000 people alert health workers to suspicious cases. So far, persuading them has not been easy. Victims who are taken to the isolation ward are never seen again; their bodies, rapidly buried for safety, cannot be honored in the traditional funerals so important in this country.

Despite the best efforts of some dedicated doctors - like Maria Bonino, an Italian doctor who ran a children's ward in the Uíge hospital - the virus has a long head start, spreading for what may have been months from a brew of poverty, ignorance and government inaction.

For the people of Uíge, rampant death is now joined by the near equivalent of a space invasion: health workers encased in masks, goggles, zip-up jump suits, rubberized aprons and rubber boots as they collect corpses in the stifling heat. The garb is all white, a symbol of witchcraft here.

Teams of epidemiologists and provincial health workers have fanned out, checking reports of potential new cases and tracking down people who had contact with the dead or dying.

So far, most reports from the community deal with the dead, not the sick. If that continues, the teams could be reduced to a high-tech, specialized burial service, helping prevent the transmission of the virus from the dead, but not from the living.

At the cemetery on the edge of this town of pastel-colored, decaying buildings, a section created for Marburg victims is filling up with graves marked by simple wooden crosses bearing names written in black.

But the 30-bed isolation ward for Marburg victims that was set up at the hospital here two weeks ago rarely has more than a patient or two. "The population is hiding sick relatives," said Col. Pascoal Folo, a military doctor dispatched by the Angolan government to help coordinate the effort here. "This upsets us very much."

Every morning between 9 and 10 at the World Health Organization quarters on a busy street in Uíge, medical teams pile into jeeps and vans and head out into the neighborhoods - bairros, in Portuguese - that surround the town.

The teams include a pair of doctors and several local people who have been hired to help the outsiders find their way. Except for knee-high rubber boots, which can be sprayed with bleach, they wear street clothes. Their job is to check out "alerts" - reports of possible cases - or deaths, and to look in on people who had close contact with someone who died of Marburg.

This shoe-leather epidemiology - finding every case, tracing every contact, going door to door, day after day - is the backbone of the efforts here.

"This should be an easy day," William Pereira, a Colombian doctor who is in charge of all the surveillance teams, said on Wednesday. "No deaths, no alerts." But no news might be bad news, he said, a sign that new cases were being hidden.

Dr. Pereira's first stop on Wednesday was at the home of man whose wife, a nurse, had died of Marburg. He was not ill. Standing outside his house, curious neighbors looking on, he began berating and accusing the health team.

Where did this disease come from? he demanded. Why didn't they just give him medicine, or a vaccine? When were they going to disinfect his house?

There is no vaccine, Dr. Pereira told him. No medicine. All we can do is find the sick and isolate them so they cannot infect anybody else.

Then it will be gone.

On the way to their next stop, a message crackled across Dr. Pereira's radio: all teams back to headquarters.

A van had been attacked by an angry crowd armed with sticks. The day before, rocks were thrown at a surveillance vehicle. The week before, all trips had been suspended for two days because of rock-throwing.

Reluctantly, the health organization crossed three bairros off the list that surveillance teams could visit. Now, if anyone died or got sick there, health officials might not know - a breach of the defenses they were trying to build.

Each person who may have been exposed to the disease has to be followed for 21 days, and hospitalized if symptoms develop. Symptoms usually appear within 5 to 10 days of infection.

First come a headache, high fever, and aches and pains, followed by diarrhea and vomiting. The virus invades the spleen, liver and lymph nodes and then moves into other tissues all over the body, including skin and sweat glands.

The disease interferes with blood clotting, and about half the victims hemorrhage. They may vomit blood and pass it in their urine, and bleed from their eyes, gums, rectum or vagina.

It is a misconception that Marburg victims bleed to death, said Dr. Feldmann, the Winnipeg virologist. They actually die from shock as fluid leaks out of the blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop.

There is no specific treatment, but more patients would probably survive if they could get the kind of intensive care available in developed countries.

In what is probably the only recorded outbreak outside Africa, in 1967, among laboratory workers in Germany and Yugoslavia, the death rate was only 23 percent. That outbreak was traced to monkeys imported from Uganda for medical research.

The much higher death rate in Angola has brought international health care experts running.

In Uíge, workers from Doctors Without Borders sleep five to a room. The World Health Organization's team has commandeered the only hotel and turned a wing of the provincial health department into a command center. The 19-person team includes epidemiologists, virologists, two anthropologists, a community outreach specialist, a computer programmer, two logistics experts and a press spokesman.

Dr. Feldmann has created a high-tech laboratory at the Uíge Provincial Hospital with a four-hour turnaround for Marburg tests. Infection control experts are working furiously to disinfect wards, closed after the first suspected case was identified here, so that the 390 beds can be used again. Now, the hospital takes on patients who need emergency operations. When the cleaners did not show up Friday, the international experts took up the mops themselves.

Adriano G. Duse flew into Uíge from Johannesburg, where he is head of infectious diseases at the University of Witwatersrand. "We went to a meeting from 7:30 to 9, and after that it was scrubbing and scrubbing and mopping and swishing and scrubbing," he said, showing up for lunch in damp, soiled T-shirt.

At a training session on Friday for cleaners and laundry workers, Dr. Michael Bell of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta was asked by workers how they could protect themselves.

Was it safe to carry a bundle of used sheets and blankets on her head, one young woman wanted to know. "No," Dr. Bell said. "We want you to be safe."

Armand Bejtullahu set up a computer program for the team to record each suspected death or new case and track hundreds of people who have had contact with infected Angolans. The computer analysis allows the doctors to map out geography of the epidemic and spot trends. Adults are gaining on children as primary victims.

That data may help them, eventually, trace the virus back to its source.

No one knows where the virus lurks between outbreaks. Some scientists say bats are its most likely host because they can be infected for long periods without showing symptoms. In this outbreak, tests have shown only one strain of virus, meaning the epidemic is likely to have started with the infection of one person. Finding out who that was may also help identify where the virus was hiding.

Dr. Bonino, from the charity Doctors With Africa, began suspecting that there was something dreadful in the children's ward of the sprawling regional hospital in March of last year, months before anyone else became alarmed. The ward of 97 cots was crammed with youngsters suffering every ailment that Angola's oppressive climate and primitive sanitation could muster. She noted that one child stood out, suffering from vomiting, fever and bleeding, symptoms she recognized as classic indicators of hemorrhagic fever, her colleagues say. The child died within days.

Dr. Bonino had worked for 15 years in Africa, including a spell in Uganda during an Ebola outbreak, and understood hemorrhagic fevers. She moved to Uíge in 2003, and won the loyalty of the children's ward nurses with her hard work, compassion and expertise in illnesses unique to Africa.

"She was very, very, very experienced, " said Moco Henriques Beng, the provincial health director.

In July, a new hospital director, Dr. Matondo Alexandre, was installed. He said Dr. Bonino quickly told him of the possible case of hemorrhagic fever. She pointed out another case in October, he said, and four blood and tissue samples were sent to the capital, Luanda, and then to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tests, generally considered reliable, turned up negative; recent retests came up negative again.

Between November and January, Dr. Alexandre said, he sent two more samples to Luanda, taken from people apparently killed by hemorrhagic fever. He said he got no response.

Dr. Alexandre said the initial negative test results might have blinded the government. This is, after all, a country where one in four children dies before the age of 5; the causes for a slew of deaths on the pediatric ward could be legion.

"I think the results maybe influenced people to think that there is something normal going on, and this was just one disease out of so many diseases we have going on," he said.

On the pediatric ward, though, the situation seemed anything but normal after October.

More than 200 patients filled the ward, according to Luiza Maria Costa Pedro, the chief pediatric nurse, and two other doctors who worked at the hospital. Children slept two to a bed. Mattresses were spread upon the floor for those who could not fit in the bunks.

Dr. Bonino was increasingly worried. "She sat across from me in that chair and said we are having too many strange deaths," said Dr. Enzo Pisani, who works at the hospital, also for the Italian charity.

Mrs. Costa Pedro said the children were admitted with vomiting, diarrhea and fever. Those symptoms are typical of malaria and many other tropical diseases. But after October, the death rate went up from three to five children a week to three to five a day, she said, and many died bleeding from the mouth or other orifices.

"We were very, very upset," she said. "We didn't have any way to help the patients, and we couldn't discover who brought here this sickness."

When national authorities failed to respond to requests for more tests, Dr. Alexandre took to the radio. In February, he announced that he suspected an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in Uíge.

Now, he said, he has been cast as a scapegoat. Traditional leaders, he said, circulated rumors that he had used witchcraft to create the virus in hopes of winning a job promotion, a charge that can carry substantial weight in a region where deep superstitions blend seamlessly with modern beliefs. He was dismissed as hospital director.

His aunt was beaten by angry residents, he said. Last week, national authorities sent a helicopter to carry him and his family to Luanda.

The radio broadcast did, however, provoke the national Health Ministry to send a team to Uíge in early March. The World Health Organization quickly followed.

Dr. Bonino gave the arriving teams a list of 39 suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever. The investigators found two dozen more. New samples were flown to Atlanta.

On March 21, 9 of 12 came back positive.

Less than a week later, Dr. Bonino died of Marburg virus. Fourteen nurses and a Vietnamese surgeon who worked at the hospital have also died. The surgeon was probably infected while performing an autopsy on a Marburg victim, Dr. Pisani said.

On the whiteboard mounted on a wall in the pediatric ward, Dr. Bonino's cellphone number is still scrawled.

"I feel a tremendous sense of failure because she died," Dr. Pisani said. "We should have sent samples earlier."

Dr. Alexandre said many deaths might have been prevented had the authorities acted more rapidly.

"The emergency public health service should have begun investigating right in October, or at least in November," he said. "What happened was we lost a lot of time."

Even now, health experts say, Angola's government has failed to mount a full-scale response to the epidemic, leaving the bulk of the burden to the outside groups that have come to Uíge. The government has sent only four or five medical specialists to the province, and 30 to 35 soldiers, who are mainly helping to collect and bury bodies.

Unless the government does a better job of explaining the epidemic to its people, the health workers fear, they face a long, uphill battle.

"What we are doing now is having almost no impact," said Monica de Castellarnau, who headed the Doctors Without Borders team here until Friday. "We cannot replace the government."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
SOURCE
 
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#20
Handshakes Out as Marburg Virus Stalks Angola

Tue Apr 19, 2005 05:12 AM ET

By Peter Apps and Zoe Eisenstein

UIGE, Angola (Reuters) - Bowing and curtsying have replaced handshakes and hugs in northern Angola as health workers battle a deadly viral outbreak that has killed 237 people and left victims too scared to go to hospital.

In Uige, the center of Angola's Marburg epidemic, soldiers in white protective gear decontaminated the homes of victims on Tuesday and aid agencies said they feared each case may have infected others in their household.

Initially, children died but their mothers now make up an increasing proportion of the dead.

"Our Angolan province of Uige is hit by a terrible illness called the Marburg fever," government officials said through loudspeakers on streets still bearing the scars of 27 years of civil war. "It is fatal and kills in an extremely small time and is extremely contagious. The only solution is prevention."

The disease -- transmitted through bodily fluids including blood, sweat and saliva -- has killed over 90 percent of the 261 people known to be infected, the health ministry said late on Monday.

Most of the victims have been in Uige, about 300 km (190 miles) north of the capital Luanda, but some cases were reported among travelers who had recently returned from the region.

"It's a horrible disease. You bleed through every orifice," UNICEF communications officer Patricia Cervantes said. "Families have died inside with their doors locked."

The WHO says Marburg's symptoms often begin with severe headaches, muscle pain and fever followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding. Death occurs most often between 8 and 9 days after symptoms start, usually preceded by severe blood loss and shock.

The government said the outbreak was under control but the World Health Organization said it was not yet contained in Uige. Agencies said it was too soon to say if messages about how to prevent the virus's spread were getting through to local people.

PATIENTS STAY AWAY

"It is still hard to really make some conclusion on the reaction of the community," said Medecins Sans Frontieres spokesman Alois Hug in their field headquarters, where -- as elsewhere in Uige -- staff avoid shaking hands.

Aid workers say residents greet them with bows and curtsies.

"At least that message is getting through," UNICEF's Cervantes said after returning from the suburbs. "But we suspect people are keeping patients away from the hospital."

Convincing families to bring the sick to a recently opened isolation ward, where staff wear sweltering protection suits, is seen as key to breaking the chain of infection, with patients at their most infectious in the final stages of the illness.

But most victims stay away, fearing both the hospital's reputation as a center of the Marburg outbreak and the unusual precautions that medical workers are forced to take.

"If someone says they're not going into the isolation ward there's nothing we can do to make them," WHO spokesman Dave Daigle said. "We have to tell relatives how to care for them in the safest way possible."

Prices of fuel, phonecards and other goods have risen as traders avoid the area. But the panic that followed the first cases was subsiding, residents said.

"We were terrified when the epidemic started because so many people were dying," 27-year-old Simao Filipe said. "But now fewer people are dying and things are getting back to normal."

--------------
© Reuters 2005
Source
 

lopaka

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#21
According to the article the Marburg outbreak (above) finally played itself out, but now they're worried about Ebola in the Congo.

8 dead with Ebola-like symptoms in Congo

Thursday, May 12, 2005 Posted: 7:47 PM EDT (2347 GMT)


BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (Reuters) -- Republic of Congo officials said on Thursday eight people had died over the past two weeks with symptoms similar to those suffered by victims of the Ebola virus, raising fears of a new outbreak of the disease.

Health Minister Alphonse Gando said people should not panic but should avoid contact with suspected patients and dead bush animals, which are thought to transmit the virus to humans.

"Since April 27, the health district of Etoumbi, in the Cuvette-Ouest region, has recorded seven deaths and three patients with clinical symptoms that make the Ebola virus a strong suspect as the cause of the deaths and the illness," Gando said in a statement.

He said another person who left Etoumbi to go to Mbomo had also died after showing the same symptoms. Etoumbi and Mbomo are respectively 400 miles (640 kilometers) and 435 miles (700 kilometers) north of the capital Brazzaville.

There is no known cure for Ebola, which is passed on by infected body fluids and kills between 50 and 90 percent of victims, depending on the strain.

The disease damages blood vessels and can cause bleeding, diarrhea and shock. Its worst outbreak, in 1995, killed more than 250 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gando said the government had rushed a team of experts to the area with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO), and was waiting for the results of laboratory tests to determine whether this was a new Ebola outbreak.

In Geneva, WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said on Wednesday that the results should be available early next week.

Nearly 150 people died of Ebola in 2003 in Congo's Cuvette-Ouest region. Neighboring Gabon also had outbreaks in 2001 and 2002.

Scientists think past outbreaks in the area were caused by the consumption of infected monkey meat. Bushmeat is a staple among forest communities in West and Central Africa and a delicacy in many cities.

"People must absolutely avoid all contact with patients, even if they are relatives, and above all not touch dead animals in the forest. This is really important as the virus is very dangerous and contagious," Gando told Reuters.

An outbreak in Angola of the Marburg virus, a close relative to Ebola, has killed 277 people, the World Health Organization said last week.

Copyright 2005 Reuters.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/africa/05 ... index.html
 

lopaka

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#22
Follow-up.

Tests confirm Congo Ebola outbreak

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 Posted: 8:11 AM EDT (1211 GMT)

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (Reuters) -- Ebola has returned to the Republic of Congo, killing nine people since the end of April, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday after tests confirmed the presence of the deadly virus.

"The results (of laboratory tests) came in yesterday ... It is indeed a case of Ebola," said Adamou Yada, WHO's representative in Congo, which has faced serious outbreaks of the disease in the past. Nearly 150 people died in 2003.

"Since the beginning (of the outbreak), we have registered 11 cases, including nine deaths," Yada said in the capital, Brazzaville.

The latest outbreak is in the forested Cuvette-Ouest region, near the border with Gabon, where the 2003 outbreak struck.

There is no known cure for Ebola, which is passed on by infected body fluids and kills between 50 percent and 90 percent of victims, depending on the strain.

In a statement on its Web site, WHO said of the 11 cases, one had been confirmed as Ebola by laboratory tests and 10 were epidemiologically linked. A total of 81 contacts were being monitored in the towns of Etoumbi and Mbomo, north of the capital Brazzaville, it said.

Officials from Congo's Health Ministry, WHO and Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland are in the field, following up contacts and raising awareness about the disease, WHO said.

Ebola damages blood vessels and can cause bleeding, diarrhea and shock. Its worst outbreak, in 1995, killed more than 250 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Scientists think past outbreaks in Cuvette-Ouest were caused by the consumption of infected monkey meat. Bushmeat is a staple among forest communities in West and Central Africa and a delicacy in many cities.

Copyright 2005 Reuters.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/africa/05 ... index.html
 

Min Bannister

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#23
A vaccine against Marburg and Ebola (both at once) has been developed which is effective in monkeys and should be able to be developed for use in humans.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4612339.stm

The first vaccine to protect monkeys against Ebola and Marburg viruses has been developed by scientists from Canada, the United States and France.

The study could advance research into finding treatments for use in humans.

Both Ebola and Marburg cause haemorrhagic fever - massive internal and external bleeding - which can kill up to 90% of those infected.

Angola is continuing to fight the outbreak of Marburg, while cases of Ebola have been reported in Congo.

There are no vaccines and no drugs available against the deadly viruses.

But this latest research - published in the Nature Medicine journal - does show real potential for protection against these diseases.

Scientists adapted another type of virus to carry proteins from the Ebola and Marburg viruses.

This modified virus was injected into macaque monkeys who were later exposed to the disease-causing pathogens.

Just a single injection completely protected the monkeys.

The initial data is so encouraging say the researchers that the technique could be used against other emerging viruses and may even lead to a trial vaccine being developed for humans.
 
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#24
Charting The Path Of The Deadly Ebola Virus In Central Afric

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Source: Public Library of Science
Date: 2005-10-27
Ebola

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Charting The Path Of The Deadly Ebola Virus In Central Africa

Thanks to sensationalized accounts of patients with liquefying flesh and spouting blood, the Ebola virus may well be the most feared disease on the planet. But the reality of the virus, which strikes humans and other primates, is grim enough, with patients experiencing sudden onset of fever, headache, intense weakness, and muscle pain, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, severe rash, organ failure, and massive hemorrhaging, sometimes external, within two to 21 days of exposure. The first human Ebola outbreaks occurred between 1976 and 1979 in Sudan and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), where 88% of the 318 infected persons died—a typical mortality rate for this strain, called the Zaire strain of Ebola virus (ZEBOV). It's thought that humans acquired the virus after handling infected gorilla and chimp carcasses.

Over the past ten years, separate outbreaks of the deadly Zaire strain have killed hundreds of humans and tens of thousands of great apes in Gabon and the Republic of Congo—which harbor roughly 80% of the last remaining wild gorilla and chimpanzee populations. Between 1983 and 2000, poaching and logging precipitated catastrophic declines in these great apes, but scientists fear that Ebola may pose an equally deadly threat. Any efforts to contain the next epidemic depend on understanding the dynamics of the virus's spread.

In a new study, Peter Walsh, Roman Biek, and Leslie Real combined genetic data with information on the timing and location of past ZEBOV outbreaks to determine the merits of two competing hypotheses to explain the emergence and spread of the virus. In the prevailing view, ZEBOV arose from long-persistent local strains after increased contact between humans or great apes and an unidentified reservoir host. But Walsh et al. found support for the alternative hypothesis: that ZEBOV had recently spread to the outbreak regions. This is good news because a virus that spreads at a predictable rate in a predictable direction is far easier to control than one that emerges by chance or at the hands of an unknown trigger.

The authors modeled the virus's spread based on assumptions of a long-persistent virus versus a recently emerged virus, and tested the predictions of these competing hypotheses using genetic data—gathered from gene sequences taken from human samples at the different outbreak sites—and information on the spatiotemporal dynamics of the outbreaks. Charting the evolutionary relationships of the viral genotypes identified one major lineage with a most recent common ancestor consistent with the 1976 outbreak. Comparing the path of descent with outbreak localities mirrored the timing of the outbreaks, with new outbreaks directly descending from those preceding.

Analyzing the spatiotemporal pattern of outbreaks revealed a spread at the rate of about 50 kilometers/year—a predictable path not likely for a persistent virus—with the first epidemic in Yambuku, then spreading south to Kikwit and west to Booué, Gabon. Plotting the geographic distribution of genotypes revealed a clear spatial structure at both local and regional scales: the genotypes from the 2001–2003 Gabon/Congo outbreaks, for example, decreased in genetic similarity as distance increased. Again, this finding is consistent with the recently emerged hypothesis, which predicts a correlation between genotype and geography at different distances. Simulations of viral evolution in a spreading epidemic also showed a consistent spread pattern and a strong correlation between genetic divergence and spatial separation. Though the authors can't say how the virus was transmitted, the simulations showed that a “simple nearest neighbor contact process” could produce the linear, uniform spread rates found here.

Though the strength of the individual lines of evidence—timing of origin, spatial spread, and genetic/distance ratio—is not conclusive when considered separately, taken together, they support the hypothesis that a “consistently moving wave of ZEBOV infection” recently spread to outbreak sites in Gabon and Congo. Following its current course, ZEBOV may hit populated areas east of Odzala National Park within 1–2 years and reach most parks containing large populations of western gorillas in 3–6 years. Two Ebola outbreaks have already hit human populations west of Odzala, and over the past two years, the largest gorilla and chimp populations in the world, found in Odzala, have been devastated—the disease is spreading to the last unaffected sector of the park right now. These findings suggest that strategies to protect villagers and some of the last remaining wild apes from future outbreaks would do best to concentrate efforts at the front of the advancing wave—and start acting now.


###



Citation: (2005) Charting the Path of the Deadly Ebola Virus in Central Africa. PLoS Biol 3(11): e403
 
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#25
Fruit bats may harbour deadly Ebola
18:00 30 November 2005
NewScientist.com news service
Debora MacKenzie
Scientists may have tracked down the natural reservoir of the deadly disease Ebola. When not in action it may be biding its time in fruit bats.

The virus causes sporadic, lethal outbreaks in people and apes in Africa, but no one knew where the Ebola virus spends the rest of its time. Now Eric Leroy at the International Centre for Medical Research in Franceville, Gabon, and colleagues think they have tracked it down to three species of fruit bat.

Previous campaigns to test animals, including bats, in outbreak zones have failed to find the virus. This time the effort succeeded, says Leroy, because the team sampled bats near where carcasses of apes killed by Ebola were found, within days of their deaths. Overall, they trapped and tested over 1000 small animals in the outbreak zones.

The study was also the first to look for fragments of viral genes and antibodies to Ebola instead of the whole virus. Intriguingly, the bats with viral fragments in their bodies had no antibodies, while those with antibodies had no viral fragments – and the proportion with antibodies increased over time following an outbreak.

This could mean that the virus was just moving into the bat population as they were sampling it, Leroy says. If so, it would support the notion that Ebola is not a constant resident of the region, but moves through it in a wave in a wave. The team is now looking at fruit bats from areas without outbreaks to test this.

Journal reference: Nature (vol 438, p 575)

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8387

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http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns? ... 825244.400

05 November 2005
Marburg and Ebola vaccine success in monkeys
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7466

05 June 2005
Ebola 'suspect list' drawn up as outbreak hits
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4407

20 November 2003

Weblinks

International Centre for Medical Research, Gabon
http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/idp/idp/entry/129

Nature
http://www.nature.com/nature
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#26
Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad:

31 March 2006

Recently citizen scientist Forrest Mims told me about a speech he heard at the Texas Academy of Science during which the speaker, a world-renowned ecologist, advocated for the extermination of 90 percent of the human species in a most horrible and painful manner. Apparently at the speaker's direction, the speech was not video taped by the Academy and so Forrest's may be the only record of what was said. Forrest's account of what he witnessed chilled my soul. Astonishingly, Forrest reports that many of the Academy members present gave the speaker a standing ovation. To date, the Academy has not moved to sanction the speaker or distance itself from the speaker's remarks.

If the professional community has lost its sense of moral outrage when one if their own openly calls for the slow and painful extermination of over 5 billion human beings, then it falls upon the amateur community to be the conscience of science.

Forrest, who is a member of the Texas Academy and chairs its Environmental Science Section, told me he would be unable to describe the speech in The Citizen Scientist because he has protested the speech to the Academy and he serves as Editor of The Citizen Scientist. Therefore, to preclude a possible conflict of interest, I have directed Forrest to describe what he observed and his reactions in this special feature, for which I have served as editor and which is being released a week ahead of our normal publication schedule. Comments may be sent to Backscatter.

Shawn Carlson, Ph.D.,
MacArthur Fellow,
Founder and Executive Director,
Society for Amateur Scientists

-----------------------------
Special Editorial: Dealing with Doctor Doom

Meeting Doctor Doom

Forrest M. Mims III
Copyright 2006 by Forrest M. Mims III.

There is always something special about science meetings. The 109th meeting of the Texas Academy of Science at Lamar University in Beaumont on 3-5 March 2006 was especially exciting for me, because a student and his professor presented the results of a DNA study I suggested to them last year. How fulfilling to see the baldcypress ( Taxodium distichum ) leaves we collected last summer and my tree ring photographs transformed into a first class scientific presentation that's nearly ready to submit to a scientific journal (Brian Iken and Dr. Deanna McCullough, "Bald Cypress of the Texas Hill Country: Taxonomically Unique?" 109th Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science Program and Abstracts [ PDF ], Poster P59, p. 84, 2006).

But there was a gravely disturbing side to that otherwise scientifically significant meeting, for I watched in amazement as a few hundred members of the Texas Academy of Science rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation to a speech that enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of Earth's population by airborne Ebola. The speech was given by Dr. Eric R. Pianka (Fig. 1), the University of Texas evolutionary ecologist and lizard expert who the Academy named the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist.

Something curious occurred a minute before Pianka began speaking. An official of the Academy approached a video camera operator at the front of the auditorium and engaged him in animated conversation. The camera operator did not look pleased as he pointed the lens of the big camera to the ceiling and slowly walked away.

This curious incident came to mind a few minutes later when Professor Pianka began his speech by explaining that the general public is not yet ready to hear what he was about to tell us. Because of many years of experience as a writer and editor, Pianka's strange introduction and the TV camera incident raised a red flag in my mind. Suddenly I forgot that I was a member of the Texas Academy of Science and chairman of its Environmental Science Section. Instead, I grabbed a notepad so I could take on the role of science reporter.

One of Pianka's earliest points was a condemnation of anthropocentrism, or the idea that humankind occupies a privileged position in the Universe. He told a story about how a neighbor asked him what good the lizards are that he studies. He answered, “What good are you?”

Pianka hammered his point home by exclaiming, “We're no better than bacteria!”

Pianka then began laying out his concerns about how human overpopulation is ruining the Earth. He presented a doomsday scenario in which he claimed that the sharp increase in human population since the beginning of the industrial age is devastating the planet. He warned that quick steps must be taken to restore the planet before it's too late.

Saving the Earth with Ebola

Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.

He then showed solutions for reducing the world's population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War and famine would not do, he explained. Instead, disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved.

Pianka then displayed a slide showing rows of human skulls, one of which had red lights flashing from its eye sockets.

AIDS is not an efficient killer, he explained, because it is too slow. His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world's population is airborne Ebola ( Ebola Reston ), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years. However, Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs.

After praising the Ebola virus for its efficiency at killing, Pianka paused, leaned over the lectern, looked at us and carefully said, “We've got airborne 90 percent mortality in humans. Killing humans. Think about that.”

With his slide of human skulls towering on the screen behind him, Professor Pianka was deadly serious. The audience that had been applauding some of his statements now sat silent.

After a dramatic pause, Pianka returned to politics and environmentalism. But he revisited his call for mass death when he reflected on the oil situation.

“And the fossil fuels are running out,” he said, “so I think we may have to cut back to two billion, which would be about one-third as many people.” So the oil crisis alone may require eliminating two-third's of the world's population.

How soon must the mass dying begin if Earth is to be saved? Apparently fairly soon, for Pianka suggested he might be around when the killer disease goes to work. He was born in 1939, and his lengthy obituary appears on his web site.

When Pianka finished his remarks, the audience applauded. It wasn't merely a smattering of polite clapping that audiences diplomatically reserve for poor or boring speakers. It was a loud, vigorous and enthusiastic applause.

Questions for Dr. Doom

Then came the question and answer session, in which Professor Pianka stated that other diseases are also efficient killers.

The audience laughed when he said, “You know, the bird flu's good, too.” They laughed again when he proposed, with a discernable note of glee in his voice that, “We need to sterilize everybody on the Earth.”

After noting that the audience did not represent the general population, a questioner asked, "What kind of reception have you received as you have presented these ideas to other audiences that are not representative of us?"

Pianka replied, "I speak to the converted!"

Pianka responded to more questions by condemning politicians in general and Al Gore by name, because they do not address the population problem and "...because they deceive the public in every way they can to stay in power."

He spoke glowingly of the police state in China that enforces their one-child policy. He said, "Smarter people have fewer kids." He said those who don't have a conscience about the Earth will inherit the Earth, "...because those who care make fewer babies and those that didn't care made more babies." He said we will evolve as uncaring people, and "I think IQs are falling for the same reason, too."

With this, the questioning was over. Immediately almost every scientist, professor and college student present stood to their feet and vigorously applauded the man who had enthusiastically endorsed the elimination of 90 percent of the human population. Some even cheered. Dozens then mobbed the professor at the lectern to extend greetings and ask questions. It was necessary to wait a while before I could get close enough to take some photographs (Fig. 1).

I was assigned to judge a paper in a grad student competition after the speech. On the way, three professors dismissed Pianka as a crank. While waiting to enter the competition room, a group of a dozen Lamar University students expressed outrage over the Pianka speech.

Yet five hours later, the distinguished leaders of the Texas Academy of Science presented Pianka with a plaque in recognition of his being named 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist. When the banquet hall filled with more than 400 people responded with enthusiastic applause, I walked out in protest.

Corresponding with Dr. Doom

Recently I exchanged a number of e-mails with Pianka. I pointed out to him that one might infer his death wish was really aimed at Africans, for Ebola is found only in Central Africa. He replied that Ebola does not discriminate, kills everyone and could spread to Europe and the the Americas by a single infected airplane passenger.

In his last e-mail, Pianka wrote that I completely fail to understand his arguments. So I did a check and found verification of my interpretation of his remarks on his own web site. In a student evaluation of a 2004 course he taught, one of Professor Pianka's students wrote, "Though I agree that convervation [sic] biology is of utmost importance to the world, I do not think that preaching that 90% of the human population should die of ebola [sic] is the most effective means of encouraging conservation awareness." (Go here and scroll down to just before the Fall 2005 evaluation section near the end.)

Yet the majority of his student reviews were favorable, with one even saying, “ I worship Dr. Pianka.”

The 45-minute lecture before the Texas Academy of Science converted a university biology senior into a Pianka disciple, who then published a blog that seriously supports Pianka's mass death wish.

Dangerous Times

Let me now remove my reporter's hat for a moment and tell you what I think. We live in dangerous times. The national security of many countries is at risk. Science has become tainted by highly publicized cases of misconduct and fraud.

Must now we worry that a Pianka-worshipping former student might someday become a professional biologist or physician with access to the most deadly strains of viruses and bacteria? I believe that airborne Ebola is unlikely to threaten the world outside of Central Africa. But scientists have regenerated the 1918 Spanish flu virus that killed 50 million people. There is concern that small pox might someday return. And what other terrible plagues are waiting out there in the natural world to cross the species barrier and to which scientists will one day have access?

Meanwhile, I still can't get out of my mind the pleasant spring day in Texas when a few hundred scientists of the Texas Academy of Science gave a standing ovation for a speaker who they heard advocate for the slow and torturous death of over five billion human beings.

Forrest M. Mims III is Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, and the editor of The Citizen Scientist. He and his science are featured online at www.forrestmims.org and http://www.sunandsky.org. The views expressed herein are his own and do not represent the official views of the Texas Academy of Science or the Society for Amateur Scientists.

------
Copyright 2006 by Forrest M. Mims III.
www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006- ... index.html
 

crunchy5

Justified & Ancient
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#27
Yeh I read that this morning and thought what a sadist, Ebola of all things how nasty a way to go is that, and think of the trauma for the survivors.
 

Mighty_Emperor

Beloved of Ra
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#28
More Mr 12 Monkeys business:

Prof threatened after 'Drudge Report' publishes his views on population control

Liz Austin, Associated Press

Last update: April 04, 2006 – 10:05 AM

AUSTIN, Texas — Talk radio and blogs are taking aim at a University of Texas biology professor because of a published report suggesting he advocates death for most of the human population as a means of saving the Earth.

However, Eric Pianka says his remarks about his beliefs were taken out of context, that he was just raising a warning that deadly disease epidemics are a threat if population growth isn't contained.

"What we really need to do is start thinking about controlling our population before it's too late," he said Monday. "It's already too late, but we're not even thinking about it. We're just mindlessly rushing ahead breeding our brains out."

Pianka, who has gotten vitriolic e-mails and even a death threat, said he believes the Earth would be better off if there were fewer people using up natural resources and destroying habitats.

The furor began when The Gazette-Enterprise of Seguin, Texas, reported Sunday on two speeches Pianka made last month to groups of scientists and students about vanishing animal habitats and the exploding human population.

That report was circulated widely and posted on "The Drudge Report," then quickly became talk radio fodder.

The Gazette-Enterprise quoted Pianka as saying disease "will control the scourge of humanity. We're looking forward to a huge collapse."

It said he weighed the killing power of various diseases such as bird flu and HIV but decided neither would yield the needed results.

"HIV is too slow. It's no good," he said.

Pianka said that doesn't mean he wants most humans to die.

However, Forrest Mims, an amateur scientist, author and chairman of the Texas Academy of Science's environmental science section, told The Associated Press there was no mistaking Pianka's disdain for humans and desire for their elimination in the speech he heard.

"He wishes for it. He hopes for it. He laughs about it. He jokes about it," Mims said. "It's got to happen because we are the scourge of humanity."


Pianka was expressing his own opinion, University of Texas spokesman Don Hale said.

"Dr. Pianka has First Amendment rights to express his point of view," Hale said. "We have plenty of faculty with a lot of different points of view and they have the right to express that point of view, but they're expressing their personal point of view."
www.startribune.com/484/story/350003.html

The story told by self-proclaimed time traveller John Titor has strong parallels with the story line of The Twelve Monkeys.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Monkeys

See also:

www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/single.php?post=645115
 
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#29
20 May 2006

KILLER BUG AIR SCARE

By Stephen Moyes

A WOMAN who arrived in London on a flight from Africa yesterday is reported to have died from the deadly and contagious ebola virus.

Panic has spread among cabin crew and hospital staff after the death of the 38-year-old Briton.

The unnamed woman is understood to work at an embassy in the African kingdom of Lesotho.

Before boarding a Virgin Atlantic flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow she visited a doctor complaining of flu-like symptoms.

She was allowed to fly, but during Flight VS602 to the UK she suffered a violent fit which left her unconscious.

Cabin crew and passengers rushed to her aid but towards the end of the flight she began to vomiting.

When the Airbus A340-600, carrying 267 passengers and crew, touchdown at Heathrow she was rushed to nearby Hillingdon Hospital, West London.

Her symptoms matched those of the viral haemorraghing fever, ebola. The results of a post mortem are awaited.

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew who came into contact with the woman have been told to monitor their health. One said: "We are now terrified what we may have caught."

Deadly ebola is often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
Source
 

Cirosol

Fresh Blood
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#30
Suspected Ebola and News Blackout.

Hi I've been reading here for a long time, this is my first post so I hope it's in the right forum.

The Daily Mirror and Daily record reported that a passenger had been taken ill on board a Virgin flight. On arrival to Heathrow she was admitted to Hillingdon Hospital and Ebola was suspected.

The crew and passengers were warned and told to watch for symptoms so why weren't they quarantined.?

Link

It was then said it wasn't Ebola so what did she die of.? There seems to be a complete news blackout on this story and you would have thought it would be mainstream news.

[Emp edit: Fixing big link]
 
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