CDC admits droplets from a sneeze could spread Ebola

October 2014 HEALTH - Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted — and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before, experts told The Post Tuesday. “If you are sniffling and sneezing, you produce microorganisms that can get on stuff in a room. If people touch them, they could be” infected, said Dr. Meryl Nass, of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington, DC. Nass pointed to a poster the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released on its Web site saying the deadly virus can be spread through “droplets.” “Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose or mouth of another person,” the poster states. Nass slammed the contradiction.
“The CDC said it doesn’t spread at all by air, then Friday they came out with this poster,” she said. “They admit that these particles or droplets may land on objects such as doorknobs and that Ebola can be transmitted that way.” Dr. Rossi Hassad, a professor of epidemiology at Mercy College, said droplets could remain active for up to a day. “A shorter duration for dry surfaces like a table or doorknob, and longer durations in a moist, damp environment,” Hassad said. –NY Post
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Tests reveal Ebola can survive on some surfaces for up to 2 months

October 2014HEALTHThe number of confirmed Ebola cases passed the 10,000 mark over the weekend, despite efforts to curb its spread. And while the disease typically dies on surfaces within hours, research has discovered it can survive for more than seven weeks under certain conditions. During tests, the UK’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) found that the Zaire strain will live on samples stored on glass at low temperatures for as long as 50 days. This family includes the Zaire ebolavirus (Zebov), which was first identified in 1976 and is the most virulent; Sudan ebolavirus, (Sebov); Tai Forest ebolavirus; Ebola-Reston (Rebov), and Bundibugyo ebolavirus (Bebov) – the most recent species, discovered in 2008. For their 2010 paper, ‘The survival of filoviruses in liquids, on solid substrates and in a dynamic aerosol’, Sophie Smither and her colleagues tested two particular filoviruses on a variety of surfaces. These were the Lake Victoria marburgvirus (Marv), and Zebov. Each was placed into guinea pig tissue samples and tested for their ability to survive in different liquids, and on different surfaces at different temperatures, over a 50-day period. When stored at 4° (39°F), by day 26, viruses from three of the samples were successfully extracted; Zebov on the glass sample, and Marv on both glass and plastic.
By day 50, the only sample from which the virus could be recovered was the Zebov from tissue on glass. ‘This study has demonstrated that filoviruses are able to survive and remain infectious, for extended periods when suspended within liquid and dried onto surfaces,’ explained the researchers. ‘Data from this study extend the knowledge on the survival of filoviruses under different conditions and provide a basis with which to inform risk assessments and manage exposure.’ The researchers do stress that these tests were carried out in a controlled lab environment, and not in the real world, but published their findings to highlight the survival rates. Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its Ebola guidelines following the rise in infections. –Daily Mail
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Winnipeg experiencing worst syphilis outbreak in city’s history – 110 million Americans have STDs

October 2014WINNIPEG The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says it is experiencing the worst and fastest-spreading outbreak of infectious syphilis recorded in the city. The region has recorded 60 syphilis cases in the first 10 months of this year, up from 40 cases the same time last year, the medical officer of health said in a bulletin to health-care providers. There were fewer than three cases a year in the 1990s, the health authority said. Following an outbreak that ended in 2008, the city had experienced about three cases every four months, the health authority said. There has been an average of six new cases per month in 2014 (to the end of September). Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause serious health problems if left untreated. This is the city’s third outbreak since 2000. There were three new cases reported each month at the height of the previous two outbreaks. Most cases are being diagnosed in men who have sex with men and about one-third are in people who are HIV positive, the health region said. There have been reports of increasing numbers of syphilis cases in major Canadian cities from Halifax to Vancouver. –Global
110 million Americans infected with STDs – While the national media focus on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the patient in Dallas, the CDC is reminding Americans that sexually transmitted diseases are an ongoing but hidden epidemic. In the United States, nearly 20 million cases of new STD infections are reported each year, reports Live Science. Since infections can persist for a long time, and because some victims are not even aware they have a disease and can easily spread it to others. Based on data from 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the eight most common sexually transmitted diseases are: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B virus (HBV), genital herpes, HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis and trichomoniasis.
About 50.5 million current infections are in men while 59.5 million are in women, for a total of 110 million Americans with STDs at any given time. Fifty percent of new infections occur in young people from ages 15-24 and gonorrhea is the most commonly reported STD in that age group. Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD in the United States. The most commonly reported infection is chlamydia. But since many who are infected don’t show symptoms, the number could be far higher than the 1.4 million in 2012, a rate of 457 cases per 100,000 people. New infections with HIV and hepatitis B occur in less than 50,000 people each year. New cases of STDs cost nearly $16 billion a year in direct medical costs, according to the CDC. –CBS
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Hawaii volcano’s advancing river of lava prompts evacuation concerns

Hawaii Lava
October 2014 HAWAIIDozens of residents in a rural area of Hawaii were placed on alert as flowing lava from an erupting volcano continued to advance. Authorities on Sunday said lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii had advanced about 250 yards since Saturday morning and was moving at the rate of about 10 to 15 yards an hour, consistent with its advancement in recent days. The flow front passed through a predominantly Buddhist cemetery, covering grave sites in the mostly rural region of Puna, and was roughly a half-mile from Pahoa Village Road, the main street of Pahoa. Darryl Oliveira, director of civil defense for Hawaii County, told reporters during a late Sunday morning teleconference that the nearest home was at least 300 yards from the flow front. He planned to get better coordinates during a flight later in the day. Residents in the nearest home said they could see the flow front from their balcony and were prepared to evacuate when the time came, Oliveira said. Residents in the flow path have been told to complete all necessary preparations by Tuesday for a possible evacuation. The timeline could change, based on the flow rate. Oliveira estimated there were at least 50 to 60 structures, including homes and businesses, in the area most likely to be impacted.
Authorities went door-to-door, notifying residents Saturday of the need to be ready to evacuate. The vast majority of residents contacted had identified places where they could go, with “less than a handful” saying they may need to go to a shelter, he said. As the lava moved through the cemetery, Oliveira said a monument was visible, protruding through the molten mass. Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983. Most lava from this eruption has flowed south. But the lava has flowed to the northeast over the past two years. The current flow that has been threatening Pahoa began in June. It’s been moving toward town in fits and starts for weeks, speeding up and then slowing down. Janet Babb, a geologist and spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said methane explosions also have been going off. She said decomposing vegetation produces methane gas that can travel subsurface beyond the lava front in different directions, accumulating in pockets that can ignite. She said it was a bit unnerving to hear all the blasts on Saturday. One passed near where she and others were standing. “At the time that it happened, it was such a rumble I thought it was thunder and that we were about to be struck by lightning,” she said. –SF Gate
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Ebola Crisis: NJ Gov. Christie predicts quarantine will soon become ‘national policy’

October 2014 WASHINGTONNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he has no second thoughts about enacting a 21-day medical quarantine on medical workers returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa. “I think this is a policy that will become a national policy sooner rather than later,” the Republican governor said on “Fox News Sunday,” emphasizing the population density of his state and the New York metropolitan area. “The fact of the matter is that the CDC protocol, is as Dr. [Anthony] Fauci admitted himself, had been a moving target,” Christi added, referring to an earlier interview on the same show by the director of the Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“It was my conclusion that we needed to do this to protect the public health of the people of New Jersey,” Christie said.” [New York] Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo agreed, and now [Chicago] Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel agrees, and I think the CDC eventually will come around to our point of view on this. This is government’s job,” Christie said. “We have taken this action, and I have no second thoughts about it.” –Politico
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Powerful X-Class solar flares hit Earth, cause radio blackouts – largest sunspot seen in 24 years

Sunspot TEP
October 2014SPACE - At 17:09 UT (12:09 p.m. EDT) today (Saturday), active region (AR) 2192 erupted with another X-class flare directed at Earth. This is the second powerful eruption in less than 24 hours to be triggered from the large sunspot that occupies the region. Today’s flare registered at X1 on the solar flare Richter Scale, the most powerful class of flare, but weaker than Friday’s X3-class flare. Further radio black-outs have been recorded on the daytime side of the Earth, but, once again, today’s flare did not generate a significant coronal mass ejection (CME). There was already a high probability that active region (AR) 2192 was going to erupt with a powerful solar flare, so it came as little surprise when, yesterday, the huge sunspot fired a powerful X-class flare right at Earth. And we sure did feel its impact.
The sun has a myriad of effects on Earth during intense solar activity. When a flare erupts in the lower solar corona, the radiation generated can cause extreme ionization in the upper atmosphere, interfering with the propagation of high-frequency radio waves, meddling with global communications. Signals from global positioning satellites (GPS) can be interrupted, air traffic communications can get patchy and the interference can even be measured by amateur radio operators. On Friday at 21:40 UT (4:40 p.m. EDT), AR2192 erupted with an X3-class flare as the huge sunspot was facing Earth. Like looking down the barrel of a solar gun, the region crackled with X-ray and extreme-utraviolet (EUV) radiation that immediately washed over the Earth’s ionosphere. A “radio blackout” was reported across the sun-facing side of our planet, including much of the US. With the immediate effects of the X-class flare (which is the most powerful class of flare) subsiding, solar scientists monitored the region for any trace of a coronal mass ejection that may have been associated with the flare.
 Coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, are magnetic bubbles of highly-energetic particles that are hurled into space from the sun’s lower corona. They may take hours or days to reach Earth orbit, but their impact on our planet’s magnetosphere can be dramatic. However, it appears that yesterday’s flare did not launch a CME. In fact, none of the dozens of flares (all of lesser energies than yesterday’s event) AR2192 has produced have generated a CME, which is interesting. Although CMEs and flares are thought to be triggered by a common phenomenon (magnetic reconnection in the lower corona), they are not necessarily triggered at the same time. A flare may occur without a CME and vice versa. But for an active region not to generate any significant CMEs, and yet still generate a large number of flares, is rare. Needless to say, space weather forecasters will be studying this large sunspot — the largest sunspot seen on the sun for 24 years — until it rotates out of view to understand what is going on. –Discovery
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Mauritania closes border with Mali over Ebola fears – W. Africa cases three times higher than reported

October 2014MALIMauritania has closed its border with Mali to prevent the spread of Ebola, officials said on Saturday, high-lighting fears of further contagion in West Africa after a girl from Guinea died of the disease in Mali this week. Earlier, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said that his country would not close its border with Guinea despite the girl’s case, which may have exposed many to the disease as she traveled hundreds of kilometers through Mali – including a stop in the capital Bamako – on public transport. Health experts are rushing teams to Mali to help try to contain the outbreak in the sixth West African nation to record Ebola this year. Senegal and Nigeria contained their outbreaks and been declared free of the disease but at least 4,922 people have died elsewhere, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Limame Ould Deddeh, chief medical officer in Kobenni, a town in eastern Mauritania near the Mali frontier, said the government in Nouakchott had sent orders to close all land crossings. Weekly markets had been suspended, he said. A second Mauritanian official confirmed the move. “Guinea is Mali’s neighbor. We have a shared border that we did not close and we will not close,” he told France’s RFI radio station.
Land-locked Mali relies on the ports of neighboring Senegal, Guinea and Ivory Coast as gateways for much of its import needs. There is little accurate data but border closures by West African states trying to protect themselves from the epidemic have had a crippling effect on regional economies. Keita said that the girl’s grandmother had made a mistake by going to a funeral in Guinea, where more than 900 people have died of Ebola, and bringing her back. “We are paying dearly for this,” he said. “But I think this will cause more fear than anything else. The case was quickly contained.” Ebola experts say the real death toll from the worst outbreak on record may be as much as three times higher due to under-reporting. Over 10,000 people have been infected by the disease but U.N. officials warn that figure could rise exponentially in coming weeks if the global response pledged does not swiftly translate into action on the ground. Diplomats and health experts say the Guinean girl appears to have had Ebola-like symptoms and traveled for four days before she was eventually diagnosed with the disease on Oct. 23. Ebola cases are contagious as soon as they show symptoms. The World Health Organization said that 43 contacts had been identified and isolated. But a Malian health official, who asked not to be identified, said authorities estimated that at least 300 people had been in contact with the infected child. –Reuters
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