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Ebola Outbreak Shakes West Africa

Africa’s wrestling with a new Ebola outbreak.  We’ll look at what’s happening, and the efforts to keep this from going global.

Health workers teach people about the Ebola virus and how to prevent infection, in Conakry, Guinea, Monday, March 31, 2014. Health authorities in Guinea are facing an "unprecedented epidemic" of Ebola, the international aid group Doctors Without Borders warned Monday as the death toll from the disease that causes severe bleeding reached 78. (AP)

Health workers teach people about the Ebola virus and how to prevent infection, in Conakry, Guinea, Monday, March 31, 2014. Health authorities in Guinea are facing an “unprecedented epidemic” of Ebola, the international aid group Doctors Without Borders warned Monday as the death toll from the disease that causes severe bleeding reached 78. (AP)

There’s always Ebola somewhere in Africa.  The fear, panic, comes when it jumps from the wild to humans.  Ebola is fierce and deadly.  Terrible hemorrhaging and then, swiftly, almost certainly, death.  Touch the fluids and you’re in trouble too.  Family and healthcare workers, first in line for deadly danger.  Right now in West Africa, Guinea, Ebola has come out of the boondocks and into the capitol city of two million.  Epidemic is the word.  France is on alert for spread.  Canada’s had a scare.  Guinea is struggling.  This hour On Point:  the new Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and where it goes.

– Tom Ashbrook


Misha Hussain, West and Central Africa correspondent for the Thomson Reuters Foundation. (@mishahussain)

Dr. Armand Sprecher, public health specialist, emergency physician and epidemiologist with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).  (@agsprecher)

Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, professor in the department of Immunology and Microbial Science at the Scripps Research Institute. Director of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium.

Dr. David Heymann, head of the Centre on Global Health Security in London. Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Ebola Reaches Capital of Guinea, Stirring Fears — “An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the West African nation of Guinea has reached the crowded capital, Conakry, prompting new fears about its spread, health officials said Tuesday.Over the past month, the disease has traveled from Guinea’s remote forest regions near the Liberia and Sierra Leone borders and has already killed 83 people, including four in Conakry.”

NPR: Why Is Guinea’s Ebola Outbreak So Unusual? — “What is also important is to inform the population about the disease. This is the first time Ebola is detected in Guinea, so the population and the medical staff don’t know the disease. They need to be [told] how the disease is spread and how you can protect yourself, and what you need to do when you or somebody else has the symptoms (meaning that you have to go to an area where you can be isolated).”

Reuters: Miners in lock-down in Guinea as Ebola death toll hits 84 — “Foreign mining firms have locked down operations in Guinea and pulled out some international staff, executives said on Wednesday, as the death toll from suspected cases of Ebola there hit 84. The West African nation’s government said four new suspected cases of one of the world’s most lethal infectious diseases had been reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 134.”

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  • hellokitty0580

    Hey Tom! I asked for you to speak about the ebola outbreak in Guinea last week and now you are. Thanks so much!

  • skelly74

    One more reason to stop poaching Gorillas…

    • hellokitty0580

      I have a problem with the word “poaching.” I feel like it infers a these-people-got-what-they-deserved type of mindset. While some of these people may be poaching gorillas and contract the disease, a lot of the people in the rural African areas are doing what has been culturally acceptable for centuries and not for the point of selling what is sourced from the gorillas. I’m not saying that it’s correct to hunt for a species that is seriously endangered, I’m just saying that people aren’t really poaching so much as hunting in a way that they have done historically and that it’s important to be culturally sensitive. It’s about public health education and ensuring access to food that is not dangerous.

      • skelly74

        Ok. Maybe people should think about the heath risks of harvesting the great apes for food and commercial use.

        I thought it was illegal to hunt and kill gorillas. This is why is why I ussr the term poaching.

        Certainly, the ecosystem is fragile, ever-changing, and evolving. Adaptation is necessary for survival.

      • The poster formerly known as t

        I feel like being “culturally sensitive” is an excuse to NOT people who live in the hinterlands that they can no longer hunt gorillas because there are less of them and the ones that are left seem to have diseases because we are afraid of making them frown.

        “ensuring access to food that is not dangerous.” For the most part, food is not given away. and what’s given away, I have to wonder about its quality. Is it healthy food or cheap processed food with little to no nutrients?

        The problems seem to have started when Europeans visited Africa. Every solution, including sending food , which ends up only increasing the population at best, and that population puts more pressure on Africa’s ecosystems. I think it might be best if Europeans and Americans try a policy of non-interference. Europeans and Americans can’t seem to send food without sending weapons and instilling a sense of disregard for environmental sustainability in the name of “economic development”.

        • hellokitty0580

          I’m not using cultural sensitivity for an excuse to continue hunting endangered animals at all. Not in the slightest. I deeply believe in protecting endangered species. It’s a movement that I’m actually very committed to. The point that I was trying to make is that I think there is a distinct difference between “hunter” and “poacher”.
          “Hunting” does not have the same moral implications as “poaching” and
          people understand that. With that in mind, if you want people to change their actions, one can’t go into a community of people without understand their mindset. If you just tell people they’re wrong and their culture is wrong they’re automatically on the defense and they will never change. If anything they will grab more tightly to behaviors that are not sustainable. Understanding that not all people who hunt for bush meat are poachers and they don’t see
          what they’re doing as wrong because it’s something they’ve been doing
          for centuries is crucial to creating lasting change. So cultural sensitivity is not an excuse; it’s a tool for change.

          Furthermore, within the international community there is the concept of the Right to Food which is not about just giving food away (which I agree does more harm than good) but about availability, adequacy, and accessibility. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food describes the above elements:

          Availability refers to enough food being produced
          for both the present and the future generations, therefore entailing the
          notions of sustainability, or long-term availability, and the
          protection of the environment.
          Adequacy refers to the dietary needs of an
          individual which must be fulfilled not only in terms of quantity but
          also in terms of nutritious quality of the accessible food. It also
          includes the importance of taking into account non-nutrient-values
          attached to food, be they cultural ones or consumer concerns.
          Accessibility (economic) implies that the financial
          costs incurred for the acquisition of food for an adequate diet does
          not threaten or endanger the realization of other basic needs (e.g
          housing, health, education). Physical accessibility implies that
          everyone, including physically vulnerable individuals, such as infants
          and young children, elderly people, the physically disabled, the
          terminally ill, and persons with persistent medical problems, including
          the mentally ill, should be ensured access to adequate food.


          So when I talk about accessibility, I’m not talking about charity. I’m talking about institutions that enable people to feed themselves.

          • hellokitty0580

            Oh also, skelly74 comment is fairly irrelevant because silver-back gorillas don’t live in West Africa where the ebola outbreak is taking place.

  • hennorama

    Without making light of this virus, based on what was said about eating bats, do we need a new term — “bat soup crazy”?

    • brettearle


      Do you know about the proposed origin of AIDS, in a book entitled THE RIVER, written by a BBC journalist and published by Little Brown?

      It is absolutely fascinating….

      • hennorama

        brettearle — yes.

        Edward Hooper’s case is really powerful, but unfortunately, unproven. Kind of amazing how it might actually be a case of a self-inflicted wound, as it were.

        Should I be concerned about the fact that I was thinking about the origin of AIDS, and this very book, while watching Dallas Buyers Club this afternoon?

        And of course, now I’m thinking about Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.

        • brettearle

          So then you know who Hilary Kaprowski is?–who died quite recently actually….

          This [business of your own personal thought and "DBC"], is, of course, a synchronistic event–about which I have MUCH to say and to convey.

          [And synchronistic events are not always necessarily fully instructive; they can fall, I think, into the category of deception or, at the least, distraction....No?]

          • hennorama

            brettearle — I had forgotten Dr. Koprowski’s name, but as is my wont, did a bit of research, which led me to several very interesting sites:

            http://www.uow.edu.au/~bmartin/dissent/documents/AIDS/Pascal91.html#fn7 (What Happens When Science Goes Bad. The Corruption of Science and the Origin of AIDS: A Study in Spontaneous Generation, by Louis Pascal, with an introduction by Brian Martin. University of Wollongong Science and Technology Analysis Research Programme Working Paper No. 9, December 1991)

            http://www.aidsorigins.com/view-origins-aids-documentary (Edward Hooper’s website, where one can watch the documentary The Origins of AIDS and various other things)

            As to “synchronicity,” I prefer the much more modest idea of Great Minds Thinking Alike.

            But that’s just me.

            And naturally, we only recognize these synchronous events when we pay attention to them. No doubt they occur far more frequently than we observe. Whether we make too much or too little of them is undetermined, and perhaps undeterminable.

            Thanks for your response, as always.

          • brettearle

            I’m indebted to you for being reminded of these references.

            I believe that i had come across Pascal’s piece, before.

            Some early impressions:

            As i begin to pore through the Pascal monograph, I am reminded of Berra and GM.

          • hennorama

            brettearle — what’s freely offered results in no indebtedness, but your acknowledgement is appreciated nonetheless.

            [And, you're welcome, of course.]

            Indeed, when the stakes are very high, it can be difficult for individuals and groups to even acknowledge other lines of thinking, and especially evidence that might be dispositive of an established norm.

            ‘Twas ever thus.

          • Alchemical Reaction

            I appreciated reading this exchange but I must disagree with your theory on WHY these things are covered up. No doubt, human nature plays an obvious role, but I believe there is a more insidious and more immediate reason as to the behavior of large corporations. Corporate law states quite concisely. “corporations must act ONLY in the interest of shareholders (owners).” Not the public good or commonwealth. Not safety. Not sustainability. Only shareholders.

          • brettearle

            Where you, and I, might part company is that most shareholders–even if they don’t often, or ever, act in the interests of humanity–do have a conscience.

            The question is whether they ever choose to respond to their conscience or not–regardless of all the other pressures and incentives to do otherwise.

          • Alchemical Reaction

            Most shareholders have no idea what goes on at the companies they own. Most of them own the stock in a mutual fund along with 30 other stocks, and their broker trades their portfolio for them. Most baby boomers, for example, have no idea what stocks or funds are in their 401K… That absentee-ism is the problem!

            All grandma and grandpa know is whether or not their portfolio is up or down, and whether they should get a new broker or stick with the current one.

            Conscience has nothing to do with it.

            The market is a MACHINE. Humanity turned it on and now there may be no way to turn it off.

          • brettearle

            I was being free and loose with the term shareholders and stakeholders.

            I was referring to the men and women who do the research; drive the vision; invent the products; and ultimately sign off on their merchandising.

            In the NPR Forum, of “On Point”, there likely isn’t anyone who doesn’t already understand what you have written.

          • Guest

            Most shareholders have no idea what stocks are even in their mutual funds, or even what mutual funds are even in their portfolios. Their broker takes care of that for them. All the average investor knows is whether their portfolio is up or down.
            The only part conscience plays is them thinking, “I need to make sure my portfolio is up so I can plan a better future for my family.”

            The only way to truly “occupy” wall street is to buy stock in any “blue chip” company (likely to still be in business in the future)

            If everyone on earth were to do this, even by pooling together a group of people and buying one fractional share of a company’s stock, then EVERYONE on earth would be a shareholder, and guess what – since the corporations law states corporations must act ONLY in the interest of shareholders, suddenly, EVERYONE would be a shareholder, and things like sustainability, consumer safety and the public good would legally matter!

          • brettearle

            I was using shareholders and stakeholders in a libertine fashion.

            I was referring to the men and women who do the research; drive the vision; invent the products; and ultimately sign off on their merchandising.

            In the NPR Forum, of “On Point”, there likely isn’t anyone who doesn’t already understand what you have written.

          • brettearle


            I know–almost for a fact–that, some months ago, now, two people were kicked out of the Forum….

            And, since the fracas that occurred, a couple of weeks ago–the one that you arrived late to –the two parties, involved in that one, haven’t been heard from since.

            I can’t say for certain, whether they are simply licking their wounds or have actually been banished….

          • hennorama

            brettearle — that is very interesting info.

            As I arrived late to “the party,” I don’t recall the monikers involved, if I ever in fact knew them. Care to refresh my recollection?

          • brettearle

            Lobstabisque [sp?] and George Potts.

            [Maybe you've seen them, since. One may have made a cameo.]

            The others, who were nixed a few months ago, said such outlandish things against my race, that I decided to formally complain.

            The Brass agreed.

            I don’t like to be part of the Thought Police, but these were malicious exceptions.

            I’ve got something pending that is so outrageous it’d give Andrew Dice Clay a protracted seizure.

            Can’t help it; it’s the worst I’ve seen– and much to the chagrin of potential international attention, they’ll need to do something about it very soon…..even though it’s loitering `there’–like a malignant vagrant….

            Very likely, in a concealed manner (or by code) I will tell you about it, soon.

            By the way, the Crimea satire I sent to you, about 3 weeks ago [don't worry if you've forgotten], got me some national attention, when I sent it out to another venue….

            I denke noch, das was wir hier tun, sein richtig zu geben dich, mein Email kann.

            Mit Forum Gesprach, Wir kann vorher weiter gehen,

            Darf Ich versuchen?

          • hennorama

            brettearle — thanks for the info. What an interesting and volatile duo.

            I appreciate your efforts in these matters, and understand their import.

            I presume you’re referring to the Vancouver Island piece; congrats!

            As to your question: yes.

            Thanks again, and well done, sir.

          • hennorama

            Ihr Spitzname, plus … richtig?

          • hennorama

            .. + – .-. .. . -.. + -… .-. . – – . .- .-. .-.. . + .- – + .— ..- -. — + -.. — – + -.-. — — + – .– .. -.-. . + .– .. – …. + –.. . .-. — + ..-. . . -.. -… .- -.-. -.-

  • Alchemical Reaction

    How do chlorine dioxide and food grade peroxide work against ebola? Does anyone know?

  • Carla Hurst-Chandler

    Will someone please differentiate for these people the difference of the term blood products and bodily fluids. The immediate thought is the Universal precautions for dealing with HIV (blood borne pathogen) Not useful in this outbreak.

    Ebola is much different as it is contained in all bodily fluids…urine, tears, saliva, feces, mucous, blood and most insidious…sweat. Since the patient usually presents with an extremely high fever and is sweating profusely and the virus can live on contaminated surfaces/linens/clothing for 3-5 days…it is not hard to see how this has spread rampantly through families and uneducated caregivers.

    • brettearle

      Unfortunately, I do not believe that all of the practitioners, on the show, were as thorough, as you are, with regard to the specific depiction of the ease of spread.

    • American2345

      But is also needs to be clarified that all of the known cases were among people who had actually handled febrile or deceased individuals. We should fight against the tendency to be hysterical and think this is spreading like wildfire. It isn’t. We have somewhere around 100 cases in a country of 11 million people.

      • Carla Hurst-Chandler

        I do not consider it “being hysterical” to clarify the difference between the use of the term “bodily fluids” in this instance.

  • American2345

    Several news reports have stated that the ministry of health announced Saturday that the death count was seriously overstated. They are saying that the deaths are actually around 60. Have you heard about this? The statement was apparently made by Dr. Keita. Please comment.

  • American2345
  • http://paradevices.com/ ZapperDave

    Ebola is a terrifying viral illness that should be feared. It has not had its maximum impact. Consider the effect of one Ebola ridden body falling into a main water supply but not noticed.

    What is worse, is the lack of effort by the medical profession to look at alternatives such as colloidal silver ( a potent anti-viral ) and the zapper. Electric pulses from these non-medical devices may rip a virus to pieces, making it inert. Zappers such as ParaZapper MY have been shown to rip apart microbes such as protozoa, bacteria, fungi, and many other microbes.

  • hennorama

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