Ebola may have not been in the headlines much in the run-up to the US mid-term elections, but there’s still news to be found. First the good news from Liberia:
The Red Cross collected 117 bodies in the last full week of October in and around Monrovia, compared with a peak of 315 a week.
And the not quite so good news from Sierra Leone:
Ebola in Sierra Leone is ‘spreading nine times faster than two months ago’, campaigners warn
Perhaps because some of them are starving:
A group of aid agencies says that thousands of people in Sierra Leone are being forced to violate Ebola quarantines to find food because deliveries are not reaching them.
But a formidable new weapon has been unveiled by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN: the Ebola handshake.
Ebola Is Now “Aerostable” And Can Remain On Surfaces For 50 Days
And there is far more uncertainty about the disease than has been said:
For instance, virologists believe that Ebola is spread when people come in contact with the virus-laden bodily fluids of those who are already sick and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth, allowing the virus to pass through mucous membranes and enter the bloodstream.
But penetration through intact skin has not been definitively ruled out, said hemorrhagic-fever expert Thomas Ksiarek of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), who co-led a session on Ebola’s transmission routes.
“Does bleach or hand sanitizer,” which people in West Africa are using to protect themselves from Ebola, “make the skin more susceptible” to being penetrated by the virus?, Peters wondered. “It’s a question that has to be asked.”
Another crucial question is whether the virus can be spread by people who do not show symptoms. For months public health officials in the United States and elsewhere have insisted it cannot.
But the possibility of such “subclinical transmission” remains very much open, said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah….
Health officials emphasize the importance of taking the temperature of those exposed to Ebola, since people are not thought to be infectious until they run a fever of 100.4 F. (38 C). But at what temperature patients start shedding virus is not definitively known, said Dr. Michael Hodgson, chief medical officer of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Environmental mysteries also remain. Scientists do not know whether foam, gas, or liquid decontaminants are most effective for cleaning surfaces that might harbor Ebola.
But the WHO are stepping up to the plate:
they are meeting in Benin this week; on the agenda is the election of a new regional director.
In unusually strident comments, Dr Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO, attacked drug companies and said that the reason clinicians were “empty-handed” was because “a profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay”
And finally, the Islamic State may use Ebola as a weapon against the West:
In a somewhat stunning announcement, Spain’s State Secretary for Security, Francisco Martinez, said in an address to the parliament, that extremists connected to the Islamic State (the terrorist organization formerly known as ISIS) have been considering using Ebola as a weapon against the West.
Still, looking on the bright side, at least we have a new handshake.