Virus Scares!

by Feeds of Today

At a glance:

  • A new outbreak of the Ebola virus is believed to have killed at least 14 people in the last few weeks in Kibaale, Uganda, East Africa.
  • Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) is the name of five known and incurable Ebola viruses. Symptoms of the Ebola virus include: fever, severe headache, chills, sore throat, weakness. Over time, the symptoms expand and become more severe including: nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes, raised rash, chest pain and cough, stomach pain, severe weight loss, and bleeding from the nose, mouth, rectum, eyes and ears. Read more (Mayo Clinic)
  • A new seal flu could pose as much of a threat as H1N1, in time.
  • Autopsies of five of the 163 harbor seals which died last year off the coast of New England indicated the remains harbored a new viral strain of influenza that could potentially affect other animals and humans.
  • “Since it’s similar to the bird flu virus that has devastated U.S. avian populations, scientists suspect the seals may have caught the virus from birds. Once inside an affected seal, the virus then evolved to become the H3N8 flu. This new version of the strain has the ability to target a protein found in the human respiratory tract, say the researchers who published their report in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology.” Read more (Discovery News)

Viruses of any kind are a scary breed. If you get a computer virus, there’s risk of losing valuable information and files which may be on your computer, but if you get an infection virus, there’s risk of human capabilities, hospitalization, isolation and even death.

Recently, an Ebola virus outbreak has roared its gruesome head into the lives of the people living and visiting Uganda.

“The president of Uganda is calling on people in the East African country to avoid physical contact, including handshaking and kissing, to prevent the spread of the deadly and highly contagious Ebola virus that is believed to have killed 14 people in the last few weeks.

“The disease has no known cure or vaccine and some strains can kill up to 90 percent of victims within days. Ugandans are so fearful of the disease that residents in Kibaale province where the outbreak was reported said that people immediately fled the hospital after hearing patients with Ebola were there.

“In a nationally televised speech today, President Yoweri Museveni said health officials are working to contain the disease to the rural district where the outbreak was confirmed Saturday, but at least one of the suspected victims was taken to a hospital in the capital city of Kampala. Now, nearly two dozen medical workers at Mulago Hospital are being held in isolation.

“”We have asked people in the whole country to be careful and aware of those who present with symptoms. We have informed health facilities of the right way to respond,” said Dr. Anthony Mbonye at Uganda’s Ministry of Health.

Mbonye said no other patients at Mulago Hospital in Kampala are at risk, and he is optimistic the outbreak in the Kibaale district 125 miles west of the capital city can be contained soon.

“I have hope because since Friday we have not had any new suspected cases of Ebola,” he said.

“However, another health official from the affected district told the Associated Press up to six more patients suspected to have Ebola have been admitted to a hospital there and said people in other villages are reporting possible Ebola infections.

“Mbonye said people are frightened because many illnesses that are common in the region, such as malaria, have the same symptoms as Ebola. He said health officials have to balance the need to inform the public while not wanting to cause unnecessary panic. In Kibaale, schools are closed and social gatherings have been cancelled.

“Experts from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Uganda to advise health officials responding to the outbreak.” Read more (Yahoo! News)

Furthermore, a new seal flu could pose threat to humans. “A new influenza strain found in New England harbor seals could potentially threaten people as well as wildlife, new research suggests.

“Scientists cautioned that viruses like the newly discovered seal flu must be monitored in order to predict new strains and prevent a pandemic flu emerging from animals. The report was published online July 31 in mBio.

“”There is a concern that we have a new mammalian-transmissible virus to which humans haven’t been exposed yet. It’s a combination we haven’t seen in disease before,” report editor Dr. Anne Moscona, professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, said in a journal news release.

“Another expert agreed that the flu strain could someday pose a threat to people.

“”Infections that threaten wildlife and human lives remind us how our health is intermingled on this dynamic planet,” said Dr. Bruce Hirsch, attending physician in infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. He said that while transmission via direct contact between humans and harbor seals is unlikely, the virus could find other ways to get to people.

“”A dangerous virus infecting mammals increases the risk to us — not by direct infection — but by evolutionary development of even more riskier strains,” Hirsch explained. For example, he said, the strain might pass from seals to birds, expand its presence in the environment and mutate in ways that make it easily passed to or between humans.

“Scientists from several organizations, including Columbia University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, co-wrote the new report. They said that flu viruses found in mammals, such as the H1N1 “swine flu” that emerged in 2009, can put people’s health at risk. The new seal flu, they warned, presents a similar threat to humans.” Read more (Yahoo! News)

Sources:

“Ebola Outbreak Prompts Ugandans to Stop Kissing” (Yahoo! News)

“Ebola Virus and Maburg Virus” (Mayo Clinic)

“New Seal Flu Could Pose Threat to Humans” (Yahoo! News)

“Next Scare: Seal Flu?” (Discovery News)

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