(MONROVIA, Liberia) — One of Liberia’s most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying to combat an outbreak that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa — the largest ever recorded.
A second American, a missionary working in the Liberian capital, was also taken ill and was being treated in isolation there, said the pastor of a North Carolina church that sponsored her work.
Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a top Liberian health official, was treating Ebola patients at the country’s largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia, when he fell ill. He died Saturday, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant health minister. A Ugandan doctor died earlier this month.
The American physician, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, was in Liberia helping to respond to the outbreak that has killed 129 people nationwide when he fell ill, according to the North Carolina-based medical charity, Samaritan’s Purse.
He was receiving intensive medical care in a Monrovia hospital and was in stable condition, according to a spokeswoman for the aid group, Melissa Strickland.
“We are hopeful, but he is certainly not out of the woods yet,” she said.Early treatment improves a patient’s chances of survival, and Brantly recognized his own symptoms and began receiving care immediately, Strickland said.
(More… from TIME)
West Africa Is ‘Overwhelmed’ By Ebola
People are hiding from health care workers. New cases are turning up in unexpected places. At funerals, family members don’t always follow the advice not to touch the body of the deceased, which may still harbor the deadly virus.
These are a few of the signs that, in the words of public health specialist Armand Sprecher of , the Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in February is “not under control yet.”
The first cases were in Guinea, but the virus has since spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The death toll has risen to 330, making this the deadliest Ebola outbreak since the disease was first detected in 1976. The staff of Doctors Without Borders is “overwhelmed” by the need to set up new isolation wards and track down people who may be infected, Sprecher told NPR’s Jason Beaubien.
In past outbreaks, there have been what are called “satellite cases,” where the disease appears in different locations. But “not nearly as many as we’ve seen in this outbreak,” says Sprecher. That may be because people move around a lot in West Africa.
(From Shots—Health News from NPR)
Are African women more susceptible to acquiring HIV because of genital schistosomiasis?
(From The New York Times)
Agbogbloshie: the world’s largest e-waste dump – in pictures
Photographer Kevin McElvaney documents Agbogbloshie, a former wetland in Accra, Ghana, which is home to the world’s largest e-waste dumping site.
Boys and young men smash devices to get to the metals, especially copper. Injuries, such as burns, untreated wounds, eye damage, lung and back problems, go hand in hand with chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Most workers die from cancer in their 20s. More photos
This infographic for our new AIDS report shows why it’s time to stop saying the phrase “AIDS in Africa.” African countries have made widely divergent progress toward the beginning of the end of AIDS, and a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling AIDS on the continent does not make sense.
Violence, Chaos Let Polio Creep Back Into Syria And Horn Of Africa
Armed conflict and war are making it tough for the world to wipe out the polio virus — once and for all.
Polio has re-emerged in war-torn Syria after more than a decade, the World Health Organization reported Tuesday.
Over in the Horn of Africa, an outbreak has ballooned into more than 190 cases. The outbreak’s epicenter is Somalia, where fighting and violence have kept vaccinators from reaching hundreds of thousands of kids in the past few years.
A recent visit to the Somali-Ethiopian border highlights just how easily the virus can move silently around rural areas — and eventually find kids who aren’t vaccinated.
So far Ethiopia has reported only six cases of polio compared to 174 in Somalia. But the landlocked country shares a thousand-mile border with Somalia. Most of it’s unmarked and uncontrolled. Goat, sheep and camel herders move back and forth across the arid plains between the two countries seeking fresh pastures for their animals.
At the border town of Wajaale, a frayed, knotted rope strung across the road marks the international boundary. The rope is ignored by just about everyone. Young men step over it. Vendors with wheelbarrows full of vegetables scoot under it.
Top photo: Men demonstrate how open the Somali-Ethiopian border is in the town of Wajaale. A simple rope marks the international boundary.
Bottom photo: Ethiopia is trying to immunize 13 million kids with the oral polio vaccine to prevent the virus from spreading into the country from Somalia. But the mass vaccination campaigns are putting a huge burden on an already strained national health system.
Photos by Jason Beaubien/NPR
The first African clinical trial of an experimental vaccine against hookworm is planned for next year.
While rarely fatal, hookworm infestations are a serious problem for 600 million of the world’s poor, especially for children going barefoot. By constantly draining their victims’ blood, the worms cause anemia, stunted growth and learning problems, and leave children too weak to go to school. When they infest pregnant women, both mother and fetus are weakened.
The worms enter through the feet and ride the bloodstream to exit in the lungs, where they are coughed up and then swallowed into the intestines. Once there, two sets of teeth help them attach and suck blood. They grow to half an inch long.
Dr. Peter J. Hotez, director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, explained that the vaccine creates antibodies not against the parasites themselves but against two enzymes found in the worm’s own gut — one that detoxifies the iron in its blood diet, and another that digests blood proteins. Without those enzymes the worm slowly dies.
The trial will start on a few adults in Gabon, and children will eventually be enrolled. Even if all goes well, the trial could take at least five years. But Dr. Hotez noted that he began work on the vaccine as a graduate student at Rockefeller University 30 years ago “and I’ve been working on it my whole life.”
(From The New York Times)