Monday, September 8, 2014

Third American doctor infected and other Ebola news

It's Monday, so it's time for more on the Ebola outbreak.  This morning's lead story is Massachusetts doctor infected with Ebola.  Here is the video from CNN.

Dr. Rick Sacra is the third American physician to be diagnosed with Ebola while working in Liberia.
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he is a professor, posted Debbie Sacra requests prayers for husband and practical help for Ebola-stricken Liberia by Sandra Gray and Bryan Goodchild on September 04, 2014.

Wife of American doctor infected with Ebola addresses news media at UMass Medical School

In response to the outpouring of concern about her husband, Richard Sacra, MD, who is the third American doctor to be infected with Ebola in Liberia, Debbie Sacra shared a message of gratitude and hope at a press conference held today at UMass Medical School.

Mrs. Sacra’s comments came moments after the announcement from the international Christian mission organization SIM that Dr. Sacra is being transported from Liberia to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, which has a biocontainment patient care unit, for treatment.

“He walked onto the plane and he is in good spirits,” said Mrs. Sacra. She fought back tears while expressing her hopes for his recovery, and thanked the media for bringing attention to the plight of Liberians “who needed a hospital to open” whether for malaria treatment, maternity care or other medical care.
UMass Medical School faculty joined Mrs. Sacra in commenting on the situation in UMMS faculty speak on colleague diagnosed with Ebola.

Dr. Warren Ferguson and Dr. Virginia Van Duyne worked with Dr. Richard Sacra and spoke briefly about their relationship with Dr. Sacra, UMMS Assistant Professor of Family Medicine & Community Health, and his work in Worcester and elsewhere.

Dr. Sacra has spent much of his career working overseas, including nearly two decades in Liberia. He has a faculty appointment at UMMS as an assistant professor of family medicine & community health, as a function of teaching in the medical school’s residency program at the Family Health Center of Worcester when he returns to the U.S. for periodic respite visits.
Dr. Sacra left Liberia to be treated in the U.S.  Reuters reported on his progress in U.S. missionary with Ebola showing signs of improvement, wife says.
The third U.S. medical missionary to become infected with the Ebola virus was showing signs of improvement Saturday at a Nebraska hospital but was still very ill, his wife said.

Dr. Rick Sacra, a 51-year-old Boston physician, arrived Friday at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for treatment after being flown there from Liberia, one of five West African countries affected by an outbreak of the virus.

"Rick is very sick and weak, but slightly improved from when he arrived yesterday," Debbie Sacra said Saturday. "He asked for something to eat and had a little chicken soup," she said.
Here's to a successful recovery, just like the other two U.S. physicians who came back to be treated.

Follow over the jump for other news about the epidemic from the past week, including statements from President Obama and the director of the WHO and the scariest silent video about the epidemic one could possibly watch.

Reuters has more on the epidemic, beginning with Sierra Leone to try lockdown to halt Ebola spread.

Sierra Leone's government defends lockdown plans to halt Ebola after the charity Medecins sans Frontiers said the measures will not help. Sarah Toms reports.
Next, Obama: U.S. must fight Ebola now or face long-term risk.
The United States needs to do more to help control West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak to stop it becoming a global crisis that could one day threaten Americans, President Barack Obama said in an interview.

Obama told NBC's "Meet the Press" that the outbreak, which has killed 2,100 people in [five African] countries, was unlikely to spread to the United States in the short term.

But he added there could be implications if Washington and other powers did not send urgently needed equipment, public health workers and other supplies to the region.
Here's the relevant portion of the interview: Obama on Meet the Press: Ebola.

President Obama said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press that Ebola "could be a serious danger to the United States" if America does not act now to help African countries deal with the virus.
Speaking of spreading, Vice shared the scary news that This Mathematical Model from 2006 Shows How Ebola Could Wipe Us Out.
The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst in history, and the death toll just surpassed 1,900. Previous WHO estimates indicated that the outbreak would end mid-fall, but the situation is quickly spiraling out of control and into a sea of unknowns.

The “Ebola epidemic is the largest, and most severe, and most complex we have ever seen in the nearly 40-year history of this disease,” World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan said in a special briefing yesterday. “No one, even outbreak responders, [has] ever seen anything like it.”

Yaneer Bar-Yam, the complex systems analyst whose model accurately predicted the global unrest that led to the Arab Spring, is also worried about the patterns he sees in the disease's advance. Models he designed for the New England Complex Systems Institute back in 2006 show that Ebola could rapidly spread, and, in a worse case scenario, even cause an extinction event, if enough infected people make it through an international airport.

“What happened was that we were modelling the dynamics of the evolution of diseases—of pathogens—and we showed that if you just add a very small amount of long-range transportation, the diseases escape their local context and eventually drive everything to extinction,” Bar-Yam told Motherboard. “They drive their hosts to extinction.”
Here's the video of the model: A cascade of infection starting in Africa.

That video is terrifying.

Vice quoted WHO director Chan. NMA News Direct reported some of her statement in World Health Organization declares international health emergency for Ebola outbreak.

The World Health Organization declared on Friday that the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes an international health emergency.
Ebola is already spreading.  In addition to the second outbreak in Congo that I mentioned last week, the Reuters article quoting President Obama mentioned cases in Nigeria and Senegal from the west African outbreak, making five countries involved in the epidemic.  Here's to hoping the outbreaks are contained in Africa. 

Finally, the epidemic is affecting sports, as Agence France Presse reports the shunning of a national soccer team in Sierra Leone aggrieved by Ebola pariah status.

Sierra Leone's footballers are motivated by a sense of betrayal by fellow Africans over the Ebola virus that has led to a near pariah status and forced them to play all their games away from home.
If AFP blocks the embed, click on the link above to watch the video on YouTube.  They've done that before.

Stay tuned for more on the epidemic.

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