Ebola Contained in the Congo

Here is some good news: The WHO says the Ebola outbreak in the Congo is “largely contained” and likely over. So far 53 people have been infected and 29 have died. The last confirmed case was treated and released on June 12th. According to NBC News:

“More than 3,300 people had been given an experimental Ebola vaccine, using a technique called ring vaccination, in which cases of the disease are tracked down and all the people they have been in direct contact with are vaccinated. Then the contacts of those vaccinated people are tracked down and vaccinated. This method eradicated smallpox at the end of the 1970s.”

According to The New York Times, other methods used to fight the outbreak included deploying over 250 experts, three mobile laboratories, four treatment centers, equipment donations, and money.

“Donors provided four ambulances, numerous motorcycles and megaphones, and thousands of bleach tablets. Dozens of educational talks explaining the disease were organized…Donors gave $34 million toward stopping the outbreak. The W.H.O. initially spent $4 million from its emergency fund and asked for $26 million; as the outbreak expanded, the organization sought $57 million.”

The outbreak will not officially be declared over until one more 21-day incubation period has passed, but things are looking up, which is more than many of us can say for a lot of things in the world right now.

 

Next up in Summer Fun: Salmonella Melons

While it’s not technically summer just yet, the summer fun is already starting. Freshly cut melons including watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, and fruit medley products have been linked to a salmonella outbreak across five states. Customers in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio are advised to avoid any tasty fruit they have bought pre-cut from Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart, and Whole Foods/Amazon.

According to the CDC: 60 people infected with the outbreak strain have been reported, 31 people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported. It is believed that “pre-cut melon supplied by Caito Foods, LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana is a likely source of this multistate outbreak.”

Is salmonella serious? It can be:

Symptoms of salmonella begin 12 to 72 hours after a person is infected and include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping. This can last about four to seven days, and most individuals recover without treatment. However, those who develop severe diarrhea may need to be hospitalized. Those who are very young, who are very old or who have compromised immune systems are most at risk for complications and severe cases of illness.

 

Fruit Bats Spread Rare Brain Damaging Virus

Seventeen people have died in the Indian state Kerala from the Nipah virus (NiV), a disease that causes acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis (swelling of the brain). There is no vaccine for Nipah virus.

It is spread primarily by fruit bats, and is transmitted to humans “through secretions from the bat to the fruit it feeds on or touches.” According to the CDC, transmission to humans can also occur “after direct contact with infected bats, infected pigs, or from other NiV infected people.” Person to person transmission is commonly seen among family and caregivers of someone infected. Papers report that a nurse who was treating victims recently died of the disease herself.

Fruits and vegetables imported from the state of Kerala have been banned and the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention has also issued a travel warning. State Health Minister KK Shailaja says that although it seems the first wave of the outbreak may be over, people should prepare for a second wave:

“The presence of Nipah virus can be confirmed only when the affected people show symptoms. So it is very essential for the affected people to be alert till their incubation period is over…The government has made elaborate arrangements to check the spread of the disease and the people who closely engaged with the Nipah infected people should avoid public gatherings and meeting till the end of the incubation period.”

The CDC Reminds You Not to Swim with Diarrhea

Just in time for summer, the CDC reminds you not to swim with diarrhea:

“During 2000–2014, public health officials from 46 states and Puerto Rico reported 493 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water. These outbreaks resulted in at least 27,219 cases and eight deaths.”

Over half the outbreaks occurred during June, July, and August, and hotel pools were the leading culprit location. The majority of outbreaks (89%) were caused by Cryptosporidiuma parasite that causes diarrhea, thus passing the gift along to all the friends you went swimming with. Other infectious outbreaks were caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas and Legionella. Of these three, Cryptosporidium is the most chlorine resistant and the hardest to kill.

The CDC recommends that you 1) don’t swim with diarrhea or an upset stomach, 2) check the inspection score of the pool you are about to submerse your body into, and 3) don’t swallow the water. I don’t know many people who actively try and swallow pool water, but it’s worth noting that it’s very easy to swallow even small amounts of water accidentally when swimming. Cheers to summer!

Wrap It Up

The California Department of Public Health recently reported that STDs have reached a new all time high in California. Here are the very unsexy numbers: “More than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and early syphilis were reported: a 45 percent increase compared to five years ago.” According to the LA Times, “the trend is mirrored nationwide, where STDs have been rising for five years.”

Most concerning, reports the CDPH, is that in 2017 “there were 30 stillbirths due to congenital syphilis in California. This is the highest number reported since 1995.”  In addition, the CDC notes that “an infected baby may be born without signs or symptoms of disease. However, if not treated immediately, the baby may develop serious problems within a few weeks. Untreated babies can have health problems such as cataracts, deafness, or seizures, and can die.”

CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith is quoted as saying:

“STDs are preventable by consistently using condoms, and many STDs can be cured with antibiotics. Regular testing and treatment are very important for people who are sexually active, even for people who have no symptoms. Most people infected with an STD do not know it.

According to the statement from CDPH:

Chlamydia and gonorrhea rates are highest among people under age 30. If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain. Syphilis can cause permanent loss of vision, hearing and other neurologic problems.

If you are looking for a free testing site, the CDC has you covered: Get Tested.