Ebola has been responsible for many hundreds of deaths, for fear, for panic, for disbelief and anger.
And for a catchy dance song: “Ebola in Town.”
The producers behind this unlikely music are Samuel “Shadow” Morgan and Edwin “D-12” Tweh, who grew up in the shadow of war. They both spent time as kids in refugee camps in Ghana after fleeing the civil war back home in Liberia.
They made music together in the camp. Eventually they were able to move back to Monrovia, their country’s capital, where they regularly meet up with other musicians in each other’s home studios to make music together.
Back in May, Shadow, D-12 and their friend Kuzzy were hanging out at Shadow’s studio, thinking about what to do next. Someone threw out the idea of a song about Ebola. They’d heard about the disease but not many of their friends were taking it seriously. Most people, they say, thought it was a trick made up by the government as a way to make money.
Shadow and his collaborators have made music about social issues before – deadbeat dads, sanitation. And even though they weren’t sure exactly how bad Ebola was at the time, they did think that people should pay more attention to the disease.
This slideshow is part of a multimedia package, published by Al Jazeera America. To view the article, video and slideshow together, visit Al Jazeera online. Below is an excerpt from the full article.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is the world’s second-deadliest infectious disease and kills 1.4 million people every year, according to the World Health Organization. While its bacteria are easily transmitted through the air, the disease can be readily treated and cured. Yet much of the world lacks sufficient treatment.
That’s the case in Vietnam. The country is successful at treating patients once diagnosed, but prevention and detection efforts are poor. Nearly half of TB cases go undetected, a main reason that the disease is responsible for some 18,000 deaths a year — nearly twice as many as automobile accidents.
(From The Pulitzer Center)
It is easy to romanticize a life with limited connectivity: candles, campfires and conversations. And how creative of the Ugandans to keep their insulin floating in a ceramic pot buried in the dirt. But the reality is that the only difference between the boy in southwest Uganda and the boy in anytown, USA is one was born powerless, the other empowered at birth. The Oxford dictionary defines power as “the ability or capacity to do something.” It is how things get done.
"The future of humanity is increasingly African."
That’s the prediction in a new UNICEF report, which estimates that by the end of this century, 40 percent of the world’s people will be African – up from 15 percent now. The continent’s population currently sits at roughly 1.2 billion but will soar to more than 4 billion by 2100. Nearly a billion will live in Nigeria alone.
In a report released Wednesday, UNICEF projected the growth of Africa’s child population within the next century. And the numbers are staggering.
An estimated 1.8 billion births will take place in Africa in the next 35 years, the authors predict. By 2050, Africa will have almost a billion children under 18, making up nearly 40 percent of kids worldwide.
Lead author David Anthony tells NPR’s Melissa Block on All Things Considered that even the researchers were surprised by the findings. “[We] knew that the world’s population was swinging toward Africa,” he says. “But there have been new estimates released by the U.N. population division … that shows an even stronger swing than we have anticipated.”
Fertility rates have fallen in Africa but remain high compared to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the number of women of reproductive age has grown enormously and is set to more than double in the next 35 years.
Image: With high fertility rates among woman and slowing child mortality, Africa’s population will swell to more than 4 billion by the end of this century. (Courtesy of UNICEF)
WHO responds to Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa
In March 2014, the Ministry of Health of Guinea notified the World Health Organization of an Ebola virus disease outbreak in the south-eastern part of the country. This video was produced in April 2014. The virus rapidly spread to the capital, Conakry, as well as to neighboring countries, such as Liberia. This is the first Ebola outbreak in West Africa. WHO, along with partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) and other international organizations, responded to requests from countries and deployed doctors and nurses, laboratory technicians, epidemiologists, logisticians, and other support staff to Conakry and other affected locations.
Back in 2008, doctors in Cambodia made a worrisome discovery. They were having a hard time curing some people of malaria.
Even the most powerful drug wasn’t clearing out the parasite from patients’ blood as quickly as it should. Malaria had evolved resistance to the last medicine we have against it, a drug called artemisinin.
At the time, scientists thought they might be able to keep this dangerous form of malaria from spreading, says biologist Carole Sibley, of the University of Washington.
"There has been a hope that we could keep drug-resistant malaria in the Pailin province of Cambodia," she says. "That you could launch a massive intervention, cast a ring around it and extinguish it."
Now all those hopes have been dashed.
A study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that artemisinin-resistant malaria is common throughout mainland Southeast Asia. It’s cropped up in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, an international team of scientists reported.
"The take-home message of the study is clear," says Sibley, who wasn’t involved in the study. "Drug-resistant malaria hasn’t stayed in Pailin."
Photo: Yonta, 6, rests with her sister Montra, 3, and brother Leakhena, 4 months, under a mosquito net in the Pailin province of Cambodia — an epicenter of drug-resistant malaria. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
By Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC and our partners are currently fighting the biggest and most complex outbreak of Ebola virus disease ever recorded.
There are hundreds of cases in West Africa and now a new cluster of cases in Nigeria is very concerning. The spread of Ebola shows what happens if we don’t have meticulous infection control, contact tracing, and proper isolation of those with symptoms of the disease.
There are two things that are very important to understand about how Ebola spreads.
The evidence suggests that Ebola only spreads from sick people — not from people who have been exposed to the disease but haven’t yet become sick from it. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period, although in rare instances the incubation period may be as short as two days or as long as 21 days, which is why we recommend monitoring for 21 days after any potential exposure.
People are not contagious during that incubation period; they become contagious only when they start having symptoms.
Second, the evidence shows that Ebola outbreaks aren’t propagated by casual contact or through the air or in water.
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with body fluids of an infected, symptomatic sick person, or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated.
This is a disease that has been hard to stop in Africa, but if it were to show up here, we can stop in the United States.
Ebola virus disease spreads in Africa through inadequate infection control in hospitals as well as through traditional burial ceremonies that directly expose people to body fluids. We can avoid those problems here.
The standard, rigorous infection control procedures used in hospitals in the United States will prevent spread of Ebola.
The problem isn’t that Ebola is highly infectious — it’s not.
It’s that the stakes are so high.
So the key to contain the virus is to have meticulous, rigorous procedures in place to ensure adherence to scrupulous infection control.
In the past decade, the United States has had five imported cases of hemorrhagic fevers - one of Marburg and four of Lassa, both viruses that are similar to Ebola. Each time, the American public health system identified the cases and through scrupulous infection control procedures prevented any one else from becoming ill.
The best way to protect Americans is to stop the outbreak in West Africa.
We know how to control Ebola. Previous outbreaks of Ebola virus disease have been contained by patient isolation, rigorous use of infection control measures in hospitals, intensive and thorough contact tracing in affected communities, and community education.
CDC, the World Health Organization, and our partners are committing to deliver a surge of resources and expertise to help end this outbreak. Far too many lives have been lost already. We have a difficult road ahead, which will take many months, but we must redouble our efforts to bring this terrible outbreak under control.
CDC is sending at least 50 public health staff to West Africa in the next few weeks. These staff members include epidemiologists, data managers, health educators, and other specialists who can assist with efforts to control the outbreak.
We have stopped every previous outbreak of Ebola in Africa, and CDC is ready to help the World Health Organization stop this one, too.
As part of the Global Health Security Agenda, a partnership of the U. S. government, WHO and other multilateral organizations and non-government actors, the President’s FY 2015 budget includes $45 million for CDC to accelerate progress in detection, prevention, and response and potentially reduce some of the direct and indirect costs of infectious diseases. Improving these capabilities for each nation improves health security for all nations.
It’s like fighting a forest fire.
Leave behind one burning ember and the epidemic could re-ignite.
That ember could be one case undetected, one contact not traced or health care worker not effectively protected, or burial ceremony conducted unsafely.
Our efforts will not only stop these outbreaks, but we are working to leave behind stronger laboratories, emergency operations centers, and trained public health staff who can prevent, detect, and stop future outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases before they spread.
(From Huffington Post)
Until this year, the world had recorded 1,640 deaths from Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976.
Then Ebola appeared in West Africa.
So far this year, 887 people have died of Ebola in West Africa, the World Health Organization said Monday.
To put that into perspective, more than a third of all people known to have died from the Ebola virus have died in the current outbreak.
And the outbreak is still spreading at a frightening rate. Last week, there were more than 200 new cases reported across four countries.
To find out more about the origins of Ebola — and what may lie ahead — we talked to author David Quammen. He wrote the book Spillover, which traces the evolution of Ebola, HIV and other diseases that move from animals to people.
Here’s an excerpt from our conversation, which has been edited for clarity.
The title of your book is Spillover. What does this term mean?
Spillover is the event when a disease, or the agent that causes it, moves from one species to another.
In particular, there’s a group of diseases, called zoonotic diseases, which pass from nonhuman animals into humans. And spillover is the moment when a new virus has the opportunity to leap from a bat, monkey or rodent into its first human victim.
We’re pretty sure that’s what happened with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Photo: The usual suspect: Bats harbor dozens of deadly viruses, such as rabies and influenza. Several studies suggest that bats may also carry Ebola. (Tyler Hicks/Getty Images)