disease

No, Seriously, How Contagious Is Ebola?

Oct 2, 2014

Update on Oct. 8: The Ebola patient in Dallas, the first diagnosed with the virus in the U.S., has died.

Holy moly! There's a case of Ebola in the U.S.!

That first reaction was understandable. There's no question the disease is scary. The World Health Organization now estimates that the virus has killed about 70 percent of people infected in West Africa.

Updated at 3:42 p.m. ET:

The number of "contact traces" for a man diagnosed with Ebola earlier this week in Dallas has risen to 100, officials say, as they add secondary contacts to a list of people being monitored for symptoms of the deadly virus.

Earlier today, Erikka Neros, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County Health and Human Services department, said the number of "contact traces" stood at about 80 because the 12 to 18 people who had been exposed directly to the patient then had contact with others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that the first case of Ebola has appeared in the U.S.

A man in Dallas has tested positive for the virus, the agency said. The man flew to the U.S. from Liberia, arriving on Sept. 20, NPR has learned. He wasn't sick on the flight, and had no symptoms when he arrived.

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Whether it's you or someone you know, why can't we be prepared to take certain actions if we're diagnosed with cancer? We prepare for retirement, for funerals, for wills—isn't it wise to have as much information as possible for ourselves and people we care about, should we face the challenge?

C-HIT

The Connecticut Department of Health announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 12 cases of enterovirus D68 in the state. The most recent confirmation came from cases at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford. The virus causes breathing problems but nationally, there are some cases that have other troubling symptoms, as well.

As the Ebola outbreak gains steam, experts continue to deploy to the region.

Teams from Doctors Without Borders, the World Health Organization, the U.S. military and others are in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia assembling treatment centers and fighting the deadly virus.

There's one group of experts missing from the picture, says Ann Kelly, senior lecturer at the University of Exeter: anthropologists.

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Historically, doctors recommended genetic screenings in certain women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. This month, Mary-Claire King, an influential the geneticist who discovered links between a gene called BRCA1 and breast cancer, said doctors need to offer genetic tests to all women 30 and older.

Two of the world's top health organizations released predictions Tuesday warning how bad the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could get.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization agree that the epidemic is speeding up. But the CDC's worst-case scenario is a jaw-dropper: If interventions don't start working soon, as many as 1.4 million people could be infected by Jan. 20, the agency reported in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

It is the biggest anti-Ebola effort yet.

After months of calls by aid workers for the global community to do something about the escalating crisis, President Obama has announced plans for a massive international intervention.

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Officials at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford said they're treating children with symptoms similar to those of a serious respiratory illness suspected of sickening dozens of boys and girls in at least 12 other states. 

The House of Representatives has passed a bill authored by a New York Congressman for tick-borne disease research.

P.K. Lee / Medecins Sans Frontieres

A doctor from Southern Connecticut State University is sharing what he saw while spending time in Africa fighting the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

Christian aid group SIM has identified the third American to catch the disease as Dr. Rick Sacra.

The 51-year-old family physician from Massachusetts has been working on and off in Liberia with his wife, Debbie, since 1995. He joined SIM in the late '80s and between 2008 and 2010 was the acting medical director at the group's ELWA Hospital in Monrovia. He had previously served as the group's Liberia director for several years.

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The number of workers sickened on the job in Connecticut has declined slightly, according to a new study by UConn. Occupational illnesses in the state, however, remain more prevalent than the national average. 

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Researchers in New York are taking a closer look at endometriosis. It's a disease that's not often talked about, but it affects one in ten women in the U.S., and 176 million women worldwide.

It was a photo that took the Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa and made it very personal. A little boy named Saah Exco, 10 years old, lies in a crumpled heap.

Don't expect Secretary of State John Kerry to accept the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" anytime soon: Lawyers at the State Department have banned high-profile U.S. diplomats from participating in the fundraising phenomenon that has swept social media in recent weeks.

The latest numbers on the Ebola outbreak are grim: 2,473 people infected and 1,350 deaths.

That's the World Health Organization's official tally of confirmed, probable and suspect cases across Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. But the WHO has previously warned that its official figures may "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

So how bad is it really?

Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, is under nighttime curfew as that country struggles to contain the Ebola epidemic. On Wednesday, an entire neighborhood in Monrovia was quarantined, sealed off from the rest of the city by the government. The neighborhood is called West Point and it's where a holding center for patients suspected of having Ebola was attacked over the weekend. Patients fled, and looters carried off bloody mattresses and other possibly infected supplies. The NPR team in Liberia visited West Point on Tuesday. We spoke to correspondent Nurith Aizenman about the experience.

Jeanine Thomas is a well-known patient advocate and active member of ProPublica's Patient Harm Facebook Community. But this week, she contributed in another forum: the World Health Organization.

Children as Young as Ten Battling Eating Disorders

Aug 12, 2014
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Thousands of Connecticut adults and children – some as young as ten – struggle with eating disorders with many suffering secretly because the life-threatening psychiatric condition has gone undiagnosed and untreated, experts in the field report.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa won't be stopped until front-line health workers get more support, World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said Friday at a news conference in Geneva.

After a unanimous vote by a committee of public health and risk management experts, the WHO decided to declare the outbreak an international public health emergency.

Cambridge Biotech Company Asks Feds For OK On New Ebola Drug

Aug 7, 2014

A Cambridge-based biotech company is seeking approval from federal regulators to use its experimental medication on patients brought to the United States for treatment after being infected in West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak.

Sarepta Therapeutics says if given approval, the firm will, within a few months, have enough of the injectible drug — AVI-75370 — for up to 125 patients.

The drug aims to stop the virus from replicating, allowing the body to fight it off.

In a news conference Wednesday that was largely about international relations and trade, President Obama also addressed the limits of his own authority at home.

"I never have a green light," Obama said. "I'm bound by the Constitution; I'm bound by the separation of powers."

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal announced on Wednesday a $600,000 federal grant to improve testing for Lyme disease.

The Connecticut Democrat made the announcement in Danbury alongside researchers from Western Connecticut Biomedical Research Institute and the Seattle-based RareCyte, Inc. 

In Boston, some natives of Liberia are working to improve sanitation conditions and train health workers on the ground in their homeland, as the country and two of its neighbors battle a deadly Ebola outbreak.

If you show up at a hospital emergency department with a high fever and you just happen to have been traveling in Africa, don't be surprised if you get a lot of attention.

Hospitals are on the lookout for people with symptoms such as a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea who had been traveling in parts of West Africa affected by Ebola, following instructions from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Monday, New York's Mount Sinai Hospital announced that it was evaluating a patient who had recently been in West Africa.

He didn't need a stretcher — not even an arm around his shoulder.

Kent Brantly, of Fort Worth, Texas, is the first person to be treated for Ebola on American soil. The 33-year-old family doctor surprised everyone Saturday when he walked out of an ambulance and into an Atlanta hospital.

Last week we learned that two Americans working in Liberia for a medical charity, Samaritan's Purse, were among those who had contracted Ebola. When their symptoms took a turn for the worse, the organization announced that the two were going to get experimental treatments. One was going to get a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old boy who recovered from the disease, the organization said; the other was to get an "experimental serum." What's that?

The head of the World Health Organization told leaders of the African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak that the deadly virus is "moving faster than our efforts to control it."

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