Airport health screeners in hazmat suits and armed with gun thermometers are becoming a familiar sight in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the Ebola epidemic continues to spiral out of control. Passengers boarding aircraft are checked for fever. If cleared, they receive a stamped leaflet declaring them fit for travel.
The precautions are similar to steps taken during previous outbreaks of contagious diseases, including Middle East respiratory syndrome and deadly bird flus.
Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 12:56 pm
A teenage boy should not die from gunshot wounds to his legs.
But that was the fate of 15-year-old Shakie Kamara.
This week, people in the neighborhood of West Point were angry that they'd been quarantined — a government step to prevent the spread of Ebola to other parts of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. On Wednesday, crowds of protesters tried to get past the checkpoints.
Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 7:32 pm
An eye exam may be the ticket to a longer life, researchers say, because good vision is essential for being able to shop, manage money and live independently. And maintaining independence in turn leads to a longer life.
Researchers have known for years that people who have vision problems as they get older are more likely to die sooner than those who still see well. But they weren't sure why that was so.
The Ebola virus has killed more than 1,300 people in West Africa, but the indirect deaths caused by this epidemic are likely to be far worse. Right now, it's the rainy season. And that means it's high season for malaria.
"Probably 85 percent of the fevers right now are malaria," says Laura Miller, health coordinator in Sierra Leone for the International Rescue Committee. "But more of those cases will go untreated than usual."
Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 3:30 pm
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.
Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 9:45 am
Brian Goldman is an emergency room physician who has worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto for more than 20 years. He's also a prominent medical journalist and the host of CBC Radio's White Coat, Black Art. He says every doctor makes mistakes but medicine's culture of denial keeps doctors from talking about and learning from those mistakes.
Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 2:31 pm
The two U.S. patients who were treated for Ebola have been discharged from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where they had been in an isolation ward since returning from Liberia early this month. They are the first patients treated for Ebola on American soil.
Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol have been released after "a rigorous course of treatment and thorough testing," Emory's Dr. Bruce Ribner said. He added that he's confident that their release from care "poses no public health threat."
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."
A recent fundraising challenge has gone viral on social media, calling attention to research into Lou Gehrig's disease. Audie Cornish talks with Forbes contributor Dan Diamond about the state of that research and where it goes from here after the fundraising success.
Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 5:28 pm
People were screaming and throwing rocks. The police were firing shots and hitting protesters with their batons. A riot had started in the slum neighborhood of West Point, in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.
"A riot is tough enough without knowing that you're in an Ebola-infected neighborhood," says NPR photographer David Gilkey, who was in West Point when it began.
Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 12:07 pm
At age 4, many young children are just beginning to explore their artistic style.
The kid I used to babysit in high school preferred self-portraits, undoubtedly inspired by the later works of Joan Miro. My cousin, a prolific young artist, worked almost exclusively on still lifes of 18-wheelers.
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.
With the continuous uptick in the number of cases and deaths in the current Ebola outbreak, the few agencies that are on ground are stretched thin.
That includes Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF. It's one of the main health care providers in West Africa, where there are more than 2,000 cases of Ebola and 1,200 deaths. Even with roughly 1,000 volunteers spread among the three Ebola-stricken countries, the agency says that still isn't enough.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the most explosive in history. One reason the virus spread so fast is that West Africa was blindsided. Ebola had never erupted in people anywhere close to West Africa before.
The type of Ebola causing the outbreak — called Zaire — is the deadliest strain. Until this year, it had been seen only in Central Africa, about 2,500 miles away. That's about the distance between Boston and San Francisco.
So how did it spread across this giant swath of land without anybody noticing?
Rachel Swinehart has commandeered her family's living room in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It's filled with large plastic tubs containing stuff like pink bedding and a coffee maker.
Rachel, 18, is about to head off to Shenandoah College, a small arts school in Virginia, where she'll study harp performance. In many ways, organizing her stuff is the easy part. Talking about the risks of college life — that's a bit harder.
As a young doctor working at a teaching hospital, Sandeep Jauhar was having trouble making ends meet. So, like other academic physicians, he took a job moonlighting at a private practice, the offices of a cardiologist. He noticed that the offices were quick to order expensive tests for their patients — even when they seemed unnecessary.
It was "made very clear from the beginning" that seeing patients alone was not financially rewarding for the business, he says.
Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 6:38 pm
Some Brita water bottles made for children pose a possible danger due to lids that can break apart into pieces with sharp edges, says Brita, which has announced a safety recall. The bottles have white lids with fold-up straws and filters that sit inside the bottle.