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August 19, 2016

United Nations admit role in Haitian cholera outbreak of 2010

United Nations admit role in Haitian cholera outbreak of 2010

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Friday, August 19, 2016

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For the first time, the United Nations (U.N) has acknowledged its involvement in the Haiti cholera outbreak of 2010, admitting the disease was carried by Nepalese peace workers, contracted with the earthquake relief on behalf of the U.N.. In an email sent this week, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon admitted that the U.N. played a role in the spread of the disease, which affected hundreds of thousands of Haitian people, but he stopped short of admitting sole culpability for the epidemic.

New York University law professor Philip Alston, convinced Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, that the U.N.’s operation lack of basic hygiene checks was legally indefensible: as quoted in the Washington Post.

Image of cholera bacteria though a scanning electron microscope.
Image: Ronald Taylor, Tom Kirn, Louisa Howard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the gastrointestinal illness hadn’t been recorded on the island nation prior to this outbreak, inviting immediate speculation over how it began.

Medical researchers tracked the disease to Haiti and found that Nepalese representatives had worked for the United Nations immediately after a mission in Nepal where cholera was present.

Reports from the United Nations indicate that this admission will lead to an overhaul in approaches to peacekeeping missions. According to a statement from Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for the Secretary General, these changes will be developed over the next two months.

The U.N. have long maintained legal immunity in national courts, resulting in the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit in the United States addressing the cholera involvement on Thursday.

The lawsuit was brought by representatives of the victims and their families and sought reparations for the damages brought by the cholera outbreak. The plaintiffs now have the option to appeal to the U.S Supreme Court to overturn this decision.



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Zika Virus outbreak in Puerto Rico

Zika Virus outbreak in Puerto Rico – Wikinews, the free news source

Zika Virus outbreak in Puerto Rico

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Friday, August 19, 2016

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A woman from South Dakota in the U.S. has contracted the Zika virus according to the Sioux Falls Health Department, and confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She had travelled to the Caribbean, where the situation is serious with the virus being spread by mosquitoes, according to a statement on Monday from the Department of Health.

This week there have been reports the mosquito borne virus has made it’s way to the U.S. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) the virus has been recorded in Miami where the Zika is being spread my mosquitoes not humans who have already contracted the virus. This means there are mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus in Miami. The CDC are urging pregnant women who have been recently or live in Miami to get tested.

The CDC in Puerto Rico reports 5,582 people, including 672 pregnant women, diagnosed with the mosquito-borne Zika Virus and these numbers are on the rise. The percentage of people infected rose from 14 percent in February to 64 percent in June.

A U.S. surgeon general visited Puerto Rico and told the press he believes 25 percent of the population in Puerto Rico will have contacted the Zika virus by the end of 2016. With a population of 3.5 million, that’s one in every four people.

One of the symptoms caused by the Zika Virus is a rare muscle disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months. Among the people contracting the Zika Virus, only a small percentage develop GBS.

Puerto Rican Officials reported 30 people have been hospitalised and diagnosed with the short term paralysis disorder this year.

Approximately 80 percent of people that are infected with Zika do not have symptoms, and the CDC reported the number of people infected would be much higher, but people do not know they have it so they don’t seek medical help.

The World Health Organization had declared the Zika Virus a global health emergency earlier this year, but the beginning of the Puerto Rico summer brought a spike in the number of people being effected on the island.



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May 29, 2016

WHO rejects concern to postpone Rio Olympics ahead of Zika Virus outbreak

WHO rejects concern to postpone Rio Olympics ahead of Zika Virus outbreak

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Olympic Games remain set to take place in Rio de Janeiro this August ahead of the Zika Virus threat after the World Health Organisation has dismissed concern to relocate or postpone the tournament, despite experts warning otherwise.

In wake of the Zika threat, 150 experts including a former White House science advisor rallied together to produce a signed and open letter to WHO, addressing their mutual concern that the incurable virus could manifest and therefore spread more rapidly in the Brazilian city as an influx of foreign visitors arrive.

Despite their distress, a spokesperson from the UN health body urged that the spread of the Zika Virus would not be prevented by moving or postponing the games in Rio, even after the country recently recorded to have high cases of the mosquito-borne disease.

According to a WHO statement, “Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes. People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice.” The statement also assured the public that the situation would continue to be monitored and that updates and necessary advice would be issued if circumstances were to change.

In light of the letter to WHO, the main concern of Bournemouth University’s reproductive health professor Edwin Van Teijlingen, who was one of the 150 academics involved, was that countries with poorer health systems would be able to facilitate in spreading the virus as people returned homed from Rio.

Despite having alarm about the letter itself, Van Teijlingen admitted that the main purpose of gaining a high number of supporting academic signatures was not in fact to get the games moved or postponed, but rather to raise awareness of the threat to the public health system that the Zika Virus currently poses.

As Brazil currently stands to be the second most affected city by the Zika Virus, the letter argued that it would be “unethical” and “irresponsible” to otherwise press on with the Rio games, as Australian experts believe that it positions an unimaginable risk.

Even with such heavy concern surrounding the virus and the Olympic event, former Olympic pentathlete Heather Fell told the BBC’s Today program that it was very common in her time for athletes to disregard medical advice from their doctors because of the passion, hard work and training that goes into Olympic level competing. The British star added that for anyone to decide not to travel to Brazil because of the importance placed on the games, a “world-changing” event would have to happen, and the Zika Virus is currently not that to hard working competitors.


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May 26, 2016

Telstra tasked with creating National Australian Cancer Screening Registry

Telstra tasked with creating National Australian Cancer Screening Registry

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

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Today, the Australian Government’s Department of Health awarded Telstra‘s health division a contract to create and manage a national cancer screening register to be called the Australian National Cancer Screening Register (ANCSR). This register would be digitised, with existing registers, such as the national bowel cancer register or various cervical cancer registers, being incorporated into the one.

The new register is expected to be operational around May 2017 and to involve a database which will house users’ personal medical records and do away with hard copy records. Services this registry is to provide include a portal for users to access their information, reminders for users to have screenings or follow-up on screening results via SMS, and general practitioners and medical specialists having access to patient data and records from any area of Australia from their clinical desktops.

Security of information and privacy infringement risks have been addressed by Telstra Health managing Director Shane Solomon who says upon winning the contract Telstra had to comply with strict privacy standards and security provisions. Commonwealth standards also required the medical data of users be stored in Australia.



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March 23, 2016

Former Toronto, Canada mayor Rob Ford dies after struggle with cancerous tumors

Former Toronto, Canada mayor Rob Ford dies after struggle with cancerous tumors

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Rob Ford in 2011.
Image: The City of Toronto.

Former mayor of Toronto, Canada Rob Ford died yesterday morning aged 46, following a cancerous tumor found in his abdomen in 2014 and two more in his bladder in 2015.

A statement issued by Ford’s chief of staff Dan Jacobs called Ford a “dedicated man of the people” who “spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto.”

The former mayor, whose father, a businessman, served on the Ontario Provincial Parliament, was elected mayor in 2010. Before entering office, he had served as a councillor for Ward 2 Etobicoke North, a district in Toronto. He described himself as an “ordinary guy” who wanted to show “respect for the taxpayers”, and proposed measures to reduce taxes. Ford was known for personally returning phone calls from constituents and hosting a summer barbecue every year.

As a mayor, Ford supported expanding the city’s subway system over expanding transit through cheaper means; this caused debate within the city council. Ford also implemented cost cutting measures for the taxpayer, including the abolition of a vehicle registration tax.

In 2013, Ford received global media coverage after a video apparently showing Ford smoking crack cocaine was shown to the press. This caused police to investigate Ford and discover he had links with drug dealers. In November of the same year, Ford admitted he may have smoked crack in a “drunken stupor”. Then, videos apparently showing Ford making offensive comments to minorities and women surfaced. The resulting scandal caused the Toronto City council to remove most of Ford’s powers; he wasn’t removed from office, however, due to a technicality.



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October 15, 2015

Scottish Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey \’critically ill\’ says Royal Free Hospital

Scottish Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey ‘critically ill’ says Royal Free Hospital

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

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The Royal Free Hospital in London yesterday said a nurse suffering with complications after Ebola, Pauline Cafferkey, is “critically ill” after her condition deteriorated. Cafferkey, 39, was readmitted to an isolation unit at the Royal Free on the night of October 8–9 where she had spent time earlier in the year after contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone whilst treating patients with the infection.

The hospital said in a statement: “We are sad to announce that Pauline Cafferkey’s condition has deteriorated and she is now critically ill. She is being treated for Ebola in the high level isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital.”

Royal Free Hospital, London; from file.
Image: User:Ryan4314.

Cafferkey visited an out of hours GP clinic on October 5 where her symptoms were not linked to Ebola, before deciding to go to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on October 6 where she was treated at the hospital’s infectious diseases unit. Two days later, she was flown by plane to the Royal Free. She is the only person known to suffer with Ebola in this way for a second time, which can remain in the body after an initial recovery.

Jonathan Ball of the University of Nottingham said he’d heard of nothing like this. “I am not aware from the scientific literature of a case where Ebola has been associated with what we can only assume as life-threatening complications after someone has initially recovered, and certainly not so many months after.”

Pauline’s sister Toni Cafferkey was critical of the wrong diagnosis, telling the Sunday Mail newspaper, “At that point me and my family believe they missed a big opportunity to give the right diagnosis and we feel she was let down. Instead of being taken into hospital, she spent the whole of Tuesday very ill”.

A spokesperson for NHS Glasgow and Clyde said Pauline Cafferkey did receive a diagnosis from an out of hours clinic and said: “Her management and the clinical decisions taken based on the symptoms she was displaying at the time were entirely appropriate. All appropriate infection control procedures were carried out as part of this episode of care.”

Experts say they do not believe the infection recurring within Pauline Cafferkey is contagious despite monitoring 58 people she has been in contact with. This is said to be a precaution as Ebola can only be spread through body fluids and the infection is not creating the same symptoms associated with a one-off diagnosis of Ebola.



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May 8, 2015

Indiana Governor signs needle exchange program

Indiana Governor signs needle exchange program

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Friday, May 8, 2015

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Pence was a former US Representative and elected Indiana’s Governor in 2012. He will face reelection next year.
Image: United States Congress.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence dropped his former opposition to needle exchange programs and on Tuesday signed legislation passed by lawmakers on April 29 — the last day of the state’s legislative session — that would allow local health departments, municipalities, counties, or nonprofit organizations to implement needle exchange programs. The debate about the controversial programs came on the heels of an HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana.

Austin, in Scott County, Indiana, was the epicenter of the outbreak. The number of new HIV positive cases in Scott County in this outbreak rose past 140. Governor Pence declared the outbreak a public health emergency on March 26, and at the same time approved a 30-day needle exchange program. Pence since offered a 30-day extension as the number of HIV positive cases continued to rise.

Needle exchange programs provide clean needles in exchange for dirty needles. The sharing of dirty needles has been linked to the outbreak. Experts like Chris Beyrer, president of the International AIDS Society, support needle exchange programs. Beyrer told the Indianapolis Star, however, that temporary measures, like the one Pence implemented on March 26, don’t solve the long-term problem. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend needle exchange programs. But experts say long-term needle exchange programs are needed.

The HIV epidemic in Southern Indiana has been linked to a drug problem in Scott County. HIV and Hepatitis C are blood-borne viruses that spread by way of bodily fluids and bloodstream injections, especially when more than one person is using the same needle.

Legislators on the committee responsible for Senate Bill 461 heard testimony last week before voting. Representative Thomas Washburne, Republican, Evansville, told Wikinews on April 27 that he was involved in conversations pertaining to needle exchange programs. “I am inclined to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control in implementing needle exchanges,” Washburne said in an interview with Wikinews. “My vote against Senate Bill 461 was not due to the needle exchanges, but other issues involved in the bill.”

House members passed the bill 80–19, senators 38–11.

After legislators passed the bill, Pence told WISH-TV: “From my perspective, the focus needs to be on health emergencies. I have throughout my career not supported needle exchanges as anti-drug policies. But with regard to addressing an epidemic, which is what we’ve seen in Scott County, which is unprecedented in any rural part of the country. I was prepared to support that through executive action.”

Louisville, Kentucky, about 35 miles south of Austin, was the first Kentucky municipal government to approve a needle exchange program. The Louisvile Metro Council voted 22–0 to approve the program on April 23. That approval requires reconsulting the council before actually implementing such a program. About 195 cities in the United States have adopted similar programs.

Dr. William Shaffner, a doctor and chair of the Department of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, told Wikinews reporters March 25 at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, the day before Pence declared the public health emergency, such a program would make sense. He said the best course of action would be to “block and tackle.”

“Needle exchange programs ought to be used,” Shaffner said. “They have been proven to work and do not cause an increase in drug use.”


USI Shaw Lecture 03.jpg

Dr. William Schaffner presents March 25, 2015 at the 2015 Shaw Lecture at the University of Southern Indiana about emerging infectious diseases.
Image: Gkstylianides.

USI Shaw Lecture 01.jpg

USI Biology Professor Marlene Shaw welcomes a full house to the 2015 Shaw Lecture on March 25, 2015 at the University of Southern Indiana.
Image: Gkstylianides.

USI Shaw Lecture 02.jpg

A crowd of students, faculty and healthcare professionals gather during the 2015 Shaw Lecture on March 25, 2015 in Mitchell Auditorium at the University of Southern Indiana to hear Dr. William Shaffner present.
Image: Gkstylianides.

USI Shaw Lecture 04.jpg

Dr. William Shaffner answers questions from students on March 25, 2015 during the 2015 Shaw Lecture at the University of Southern Indiana.
Image: Gkstylianides.



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January 21, 2015

Priests beaten in Forecariah, Guinea over Ebola fears

Priests beaten in Forecariah, Guinea over Ebola fears

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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Three Baptist priests in Guinea were assaulted and held hostage yesterday by local villagers after being mistaken for campaigners promoting awareness about Ebola, the BBC has reported. They were visiting Kabac, a village in the sub-prefecture of Forécariah, to spray insecticide for the treatment of wells and pit latrines. Locals reportedly thought they were bringing Ebola and attacked the priests. After the assault they were held hostage and had their vehicle set alight.

Electron micrograph of Ebola virus.
Image: Centers for Disease Control / Dr. Frederick Murphy.

Following the attack on the priests, town council workers were forced to evacuate as their building came under assault and was set fire to. A local report, not been independently verified, alleged a council worker was killed during the incident. Police intervened to arrest a number of the local villagers involved in the attacks but were met with hostility from those trying to stop the arrested being taken away.

Such incidents have been noted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). A recent WHO report said “community resistance” is a “major barrier to control” in the countries Ebola has worst hit.

Forécariah has seen incidents like this before. In one incident, on September 23, two Red Cross volunteers buried an Ebola victim, and were then attacked. Villagers removed the corpse from the grave and hid it. This then grew into an attack on a team of epidemiologists by a mob of about 3000 armed youths. This attack had undone “weeks of persistent and effective efforts to slow the outbreak” according to the WHO, who were overseeing the team.

Although not the worst affected country, Guinea has seen 1,876 deaths from 2,871 cases of Ebola, according to WHO. This is compared to Liberia and Sierra Leone with 3,605 and 3,145 deaths each from the effects of the Ebola virus.



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October 4, 2014

Patient under evaluation with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C.

Patient under evaluation with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

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A patient was admitted to a hospital in Washington, D.C. after showing Ebola-like symptoms, according to a statement yesterday by hospital spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton.

Howard University Hospital
Image: AgnosticPreachersKid.

Hamilton confirmed Howard University Hospital admitted the patient in stable condition. The patient had been to Nigeria, where some cases of the Ebola virus have occurred. The hospital has followed protocol for infection control, including separating the patient from others to prevent possible infection of others.

The director of the D.C. Department of Health said they have collaborated to monitor patients with Ebola-like symptoms with Howard University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland admitted another patient with Ebola-like symptoms, but health officials there yesterday night later determined this person had malaria, not the Ebola virus.

At the peak of Ebola countermeasures in Nigeria, almost 900 people there were monitored for the virus after contacting someone who was already sick.



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August 2, 2014

Leading Sierra Leone doctor dies in Ebola epidemic

Leading Sierra Leone doctor dies in Ebola epidemic

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Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan died from Ebola virus on Tuesday afternoon at Kailahun treatment centre in Sierra Leone. Dr. Khan led the response in Sierra Leone to the current Ebola outbreak there and treated dozens of patients. On Thursday, Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency, quarantining Ebola epicentres.

Electron micrograph of Ebola virus.
Image: Centers for Disease Control / Dr. Frederick Murphy.

The previous Tuesday, Minister of Health and Sanitation Miatta Kargbo announced Dr. Khan had contracted Ebola. Dr. Khan was moved to the Doctors Without Borders treatment center in Kailahun. A few days before he was admitted, three other senior staff in his department at the Kenema Government Hospital died from Ebola, including one, Nurse Mbalu Fonnie, with more than two decades’ experience with hemorrhagic fever.

September 11 of this year would have been Dr. Khan’s 40th birthday. In an interview on May 20, Dr. Khan told Awareness Times his department does the only testing south of the Sahara Desert for hemorrhagic fever such as Lassa and Ebola; a decade ago, these tests would have been done in Germany. He warned about the possibility of fresh outbreaks and necessity of engaging the public in health education and prevention.



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