Category Archives: healthcare

WHO | Plague – Madagascar

While the declining trend in new plague case reports and reduction in hospitalizations due to plague is encouraging, WHO expects more cases of plague to be reported from Madagascar until the typical plague season ends in April 2018. Sustaining ongoing operations, including active case finding and treatment, comprehensive contact identification, follow-up and antibiotic treatment, rodent and flea control, and safe and dignified burials is crucial during the outbreak and through the plague season as it is critical to minimize bubonic plague infections and human-to-human transmission of pneumonic plague.Based on available information and response measures implemented to date, WHO estimates the risk of potential further spread of the plague outbreak at national level remains high.

Source: WHO | Plague – Madagascar

Avian Flu Diary: WHO SitRep #7: Plague In Madagascar

Current risk assessmentThe risk assessment is in the process of being reviewed based on the evolving situation. While the current outbreak began with one large epidemiologically linked cluster, cases of pneumonic plague without apparent epidemiologic links have since been detected in regions across Madagascar, including the densely populated cities of Antananarivo in the central highlands and Toamasina on the east coast of Madagascar. Due to the increased risk of further spread and the severe nature of the disease, the overall risk at the national level is considered very high.

Source: Avian Flu Diary: WHO SitRep #7: Plague In Madagascar

How saving West African forests might have prevented the Ebola epidemic | Vital Signs | The Guardian – “Bingo! What I have been saying for past 5 years.”

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may have surprised most of the medical establishment – this is the first such outbreak in the region – but the risk had been steadily rising for at least a decade. The risk had grown so high, in fact, that this outbreak was almost inevitable and very possibly predictable.All that was needed was to see the danger was a bat’s eye view of the region. Once blanketed with forests, West Africa has been skinned alive over the last decade. Guinea’s rainforests have been reduced by 80%, while Liberia has sold logging rights to over half its forests. Within the next few years Sierra Leone is on track to be completely deforested.This matters because those forests were habitat for fruit bats, Ebola’s reservoir host. With their homes cut down around them, the bats are concentrating into the remnants of their once-abundant habitat. At the same time, mining has become big business in the region, employing thousands of workers who regularly travel into bat territory to get to the mines.

Source: How saving West African forests might have prevented the Ebola epidemic | Vital Signs | The Guardian

Nivea’s latest ‘white is right’ advert is the tip of a reprehensible iceberg | Media | The Guardian

Shadism, pigmentocracy – the idea of privilege accruing to lighter-skinned black people – and other hierarchies of beauty are a complex picture in which ads such as Nivea’s are only the obvious tip of an insidious iceberg. Celebrities with darker complexions, such as the Sudanese model Nyakim Gatwech – nicknamed Queen of the Dark – and actors such as Lupita Nyong’o, are so often discussed in the context of having achieved the seemingly impossible by being both dark and beautiful, that they become the exceptions that prove the rule.It is often observed that light-skinned black women are more likely to become global superstars, the Beyoncé-Rihanna effect. They are, however, still black women and therefore not immune from the pressure to lighten – most recently by fans following a new Photoshopping trend of posting pictures of whitened versions of their faces and remarking upon the improvement.In countries such as Ghana, the intended audience for the Nivea ad, and Nigeria – where an estimated 77% of women use skin-lightening products – the debate has so far, understandably, focused on health. The most toxic skin-lightening ingredients, still freely available, include ingredients such as hydroquinone, mercury and corticosteroid. It’s not unusual for these to be mixed with caustic agents ranging from automotive battery acid, washing power, toothpaste and cloth bleaching agents, with serious and irreversible health consequences. There is no suggestion that global brands such as Nivea or Lancôme are using any of these illegal and harmful ingredients, and African countries are moving towards greater regulation of the products themselves. Ghana, for example, has banned hydroquinone.These powerful corporations are, however, still freely operating in a context where millions of low-income women experience the high-end messaging of their glossy billboards, but can only afford to opt for cheaper, black market products. Advertising standards have been enforced against beauty conglomerates for adverts that are overly retouched, but only India, another of the biggest markets for skin lightening products, has banned adverts depicting people with darker skin as inferior. Maybe it is time that changed. This is an industry expected to reach $31bn by 2024, as growing awareness of dangerous, toxic products drives extra demand for a “fairness solution with natural, herbal and organic ingredients”, according to market analysts.

Source: Nivea’s latest ‘white is right’ advert is the tip of a reprehensible iceberg | Media | The Guardian

WHO | Plague – Madagascar

On 23 August 2017, a 31-year-old male from Tamatave, visiting Ankazobe District in central highlands, developed malaria-like symptoms. On 27 August, he developed respiratory symptoms during his journey in a shared public taxi from Ankazobe District to Tamatave (via Antananarivo). His condition worsened and he died. His body was prepared for a funeral at the nearest hospital, Moramanga District Hospital, without safety procedures. Additionally, 31 people who came into contact with this case either through direct contact with the primary case or had other epidemiological links, became ill, and four cases of them died.The outbreak was detected on 11 September, following the death of a 47-year-old woman from Antananarivo, who was admitted to a hospital with respiratory failure caused by pneumonic plague. The public health authorities Direction de la Veille Sanitaire et de la Surveillance Epidémiologique (DVSSE) immediately launched field investigations.As of 28 September 2017, a total of 51 cases (suspected, probable and confirmed) of pneumonic plague, including 12 deaths were reported in the country. The diagnosis was confirmed by the Institut Pasteur de Madagascar by polymerase chain reaction test and using rapid diagnostic test.In addition to the 51 suspected, probable and confirmed cases of pneumonic plague, and during the same period another 53 cases of bubonic plague including seven deaths have been reported throughout the country. One case of septicaemic plague has also been identified and they were not directly linked to the outbreak.

Source: WHO | Plague – Madagascar

San Diego is struggling with a huge hepatitis A outbreak. Is it coming to L.A.? – LA Times

San Diego County is experiencing the third worst hepatitis A outbreak in the nation since a vaccine was introduced. L.A. officials fear the outbreak is headed north.

Source: San Diego is struggling with a huge hepatitis A outbreak. Is it coming to L.A.? – LA Times

 officials in San Diego have scrambled for months to contain an outbreak of hepatitis A — vaccinating more than 19,000 people, putting up posters at bus stations and distributing hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes.

Despite those efforts, 16 people have died of the highly contagious virus in San Diego County and hundreds have become ill in what officials say is the nation’s second-largest outbreak of hepatitis A in decades.

Earlier this month, San Diego officials declared a public health emergency.

Though Los Angeles has so far escaped an outbreak, public health officials are hoping to head off a similar emergency. They say the virus could easily spread to Los Angeles because of its proximity to San Diego and the region’s large homeless population.

“We know it’s getting worse in San Diego so we’re really ramping up,” said Cristin Mondy, the county’s area health officer for a region that includes downtown Los Angeles.

In their efforts to get their outbreak under control, San Diego health officials have adopted a technique from L.A. that they hope will stop cases from spreading locally: washing the streets with water containing bleach.

“They didn’t have any outbreaks. We did. So we were like, ‘What’s going on there?’ ” said San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. “That’s what we wanted to replicate here.”

CDC issues alert over raw milk and Brucella infection | CIDRAP

“CDC advises that people who consumed raw milk or milk products from the K-Bar Dairy between June 1 and Aug. 7, 2017, should get antibiotic treatment to avoid the risk of lifelong, chronic infections,” the agency said in a news release today.People with brucellosis typically experience fever, sweats, aches, and fatigue initially. If not treated, however, the condition can lead to arthritis, heart problems, enlargement of the spleen or liver, and, in rare cases, nervous system problems.

Source: CDC issues alert over raw milk and Brucella infection | CIDRAP

Hookworm, a disease of extreme poverty, is thriving in the US south. Why? | US news | The Guardian

“We now need to find how widespread hookworm is across the US,” said Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, who along with Rojelio Mejia led the research team. Hotez, who has estimated that as many as 12 million Americans could be suffering from neglected tropical diseases in poor parts of the south and midwest, told the Guardian the results were a wake-up call for the nation.“This is the inconvenient truth that nobody in America wants to talk about,” he said. “These people live in the southern United States, and nobody seems to care; they are poor, and nobody seems to care; and more often than not they are people of color, and nobody seems to care.”

Source: Hookworm, a disease of extreme poverty, is thriving in the US south. Why? | US news | The Guardian