There Will Be Pestilences:
Why Are So
Many Deadly Diseases Breaking Out All
Over The Globe Right Now?
So why is this happening?

There Will Be Pestilences: Why Are So Many Deadly Diseases Breaking Out All Over The Globe Right Now?

by Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse | October 7, 2014

 

Ebola, Marburg, Enterovirus and Chikungunya – these diseases were not even on the radar of most people coming into 2014, but now each one of them is making headline news.  So why is this happening?  Why are so many deadly diseases breaking out all over the world right now?  Is there some kind of a connection, or is the fact that so many horrible diseases are arising all at once just a giant coincidence?  And this could be just the beginning.  For example, there are now more than a million cases of Chikungunya in Central and South America, and authorities are projecting that there will be millions more in 2015.  The number of Ebola cases continues to grow at an exponential rate, and now an even deadlier virus (Marburg) has broken out in Uganda.  We have gone decades without experiencing a major worldwide pandemic, and many people believed that it could never happen in our day and time.  But now we could potentially see several absolutely devastating diseases all racing across the planet at the same time.

On Monday, we got news that the first confirmed case of Ebola transmission in Europe has happened.  A nurse in Spain that had treated a couple of returning Ebola patients has contracted the disease herself

A nurse’s assistant in Spain is the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside of Africa in the current outbreak.

Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato announced Monday that a test confirmed the assistant has the virus.

The woman helped treat a Spanish missionary and a Spanish priest, both of whom had contracted Ebola in West Africa. Both died after returning to Spain.

Health officials said she developed symptoms on September 30. She was not hospitalized until this week. Her only symptom was a fever.

How many people did she spread the virus to before it was correctly diagnosed?

Meanwhile, Ebola continues to rage out of control in West Africa.  It is being reported that Sierra Leone just added 121 new Ebola deaths to the overall death toll in a single day.  If Ebola continues to spread at an exponential rate, it is inevitable that more people will leave West Africa with the virus and take it to other parts of the globe.

In fact, it was being reported on Monday that researchers have concluded that there is “a 50 percent chance” that Ebola could reach the UK by October 24th…

Experts have analyzed the pattern of the spread of the disease, along with airline traffic data, to make the startling prediction Ebola could reach Britain by October 24.

They claim there is a 50 percent chance the virus could hit Britain by that date and a 75 percent chance the it could be imported to France, as the deadliest outbreak in history spreads across the world.

Currently, there is no cure for the disease, which has claimed more than 3,400 lives since March and has a 90 percent fatality rate.

I have written extensively about Ebola, but it is certainly not the only virus making headlines right now.

Down in Uganda, a man has just died from a confirmed case of the Marburg Virus…

A man has died in Uganda’s capital after an outbreak of Marburg, a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola, authorities said on Sunday, adding that a total of 80 people who came into contact with him had been put under quarantine.

Marburg starts with a severe headache followed by haemorrhaging and leads to death in 80% or more of cases in about nine days. It is from the same family of viruses as Ebola, which has killed thousands in West Africa in recent months.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Marburg virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva and blood or by handling infected wild animals such as monkeys.

The Marburg Virus is an absolutely horrible disease, and many consider it to be even more deadly than Ebola.  But the fact that it kills victims so quickly may keep it from spreading as widely as Ebola.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, a disease that sounds very similar to Ebola and Marburg has popped up in Venezuela and doctors down there do not know what it is…

“We do not know what it is,” admitted Duglas León Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation.

In its initial stages, the disease presents symptoms of fever and spots on the skin, and then produces large blisters and internal and external bleeding, according to data provided week stop by the College of Physicians of the state of Aragua, where the first cases were reported.

Then, very quickly, patients suffer from respiratory failure, liver failure and kidney failure. Venezuelan doctors have not been able to determine what the disease is, much less how to fight it.

Why aren’t we hearing more about this in the mainstream news?

Here in the United States, enterovirus D-68 has sickened hundreds of children all over the country.  So far cases have been confirmed in 43 different states, several children have been paralyzed by it, and one New Jersey boy has died

Parents in New Jersey are concerned after a state medical examiner determined a virus causing severe respiratory illness across the country is responsible for the death of a 4-year-old boy.

Hamilton Township health officer Jeff Plunkett said the Mercer County medical examiner’s office found the death of Eli Waller was the result of enterovirus D-68. Waller, the youngest of a set of triplets, died in his sleep at home on Sept. 25.

The virus has sickened more than 500 people in 43 states and Washington, D.C.— almost all of them children. Waller is the first death in New Jersey directly linked to the virus.

The CDC seems to have no idea how to contain the spread of enterovirus D-68.

So why should we be confident that they will be able to contain the spread of Ebola?

Last but not least, the Chikungunya virus is at pandemic levels all over Central and South America.

We aren’t hearing that much about this disease in the U.S., but at this point more than a million people have already been infected…

An excruciating mosquito-borne illness that arrived less than a year ago in the Americas is raging across the region, leaping from the Caribbean to the Central and South American mainland, and infecting more than 1 million people. Some cases already have emerged in the United States.

The good news is that very few people actually die from this disease.

The bad news is that almost everyone that gets it feels like they are dying.

In a previous article, I wrote about the intense suffering that victims go through.  According to Slate, the name of this virus originally “comes from a Makonde word meaning ‘that which bends up,’ referring to the contortions sufferers put themselves through due to intense joint pain.”

Right now, the number of cases of Chikungunya is absolutely exploding.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Fox News report

In El Salvador, health officials report nearly 30,000 suspected cases, up from 2,300 at the beginning of August, and hospitals are filled with people with the telltale signs of the illness, including joint pain so severe it can be hard to walk.

“The pain is unbelievable,” said Catalino Castillo, a 39-year-old seeking treatment at a San Salvador hospital. “It’s been 10 days and it won’t let up.”

Venezuelan officials reported at least 1,700 cases as of Friday, and the number is expected to rise. Neighboring Colombia has around 4,800 cases but the health ministry projects there will be nearly 700,000 by early 2015.

So why is this happening?

Why are so many absolutely horrible diseases emerging all at once?

 

 

Some Ebola experts worry virus may spread more easily than assumed

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World Health Organization instructors watch as health workers in protective suits take part in a training session in Monrovia, Liberia.

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Matua Fallah waits to receive a ration of rice at a makeshift distribution center in Dolo Town, Liberia, in August.

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Relatives of a local government official are escorted from the West Point slum of Monrovia, Liberia, in August after unrest erupted in response to a government quarantine.

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Saah Exco, 10, lies in a back alley of Monrovia’s West Point slum in August. The boy was one of the patients pulled out of a holding center for suspected Ebola patients when the facility was overrun by a mob.

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A resident looks from behind a gate during the Liberian government’s 11-day Ebola quarantine in the West Point district of Monrovia.

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Residents of Monrovia’s West Point slum wait for a food aid distribution during the government-imposed quarantine there.

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A burial team from the Liberian Ministry of Health unloads the bodies of Ebola victims onto a funeral pyre at a crematorium in the town of Marshall.

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Residents in New Kru Town, Liberia, complain they have not received enough disinfection kits being distributed by the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

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Liberians in New Kru Town wait before dawn for disinfection kits being distributed by Doctors Without Borders.

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A health worker speaks with a boy at a center for suspected Ebola patients, formerly the maternity ward at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia.

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A woman carries a disinfection kit distributed by Doctors Without Borders in New Kru Town.

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Residents walk home with disinfection kits distributed in New Kru Town.

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Sanitized gloves and boots hang to dry at a Liberian Ministry of Health center for cremation in Monrovia.

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An Ebola awareness mural is displayed in Monrovia.

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A Liberian Ministry of Health worker speaks to Banu, 4, in a holding center for suspected Ebola patients at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia.

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U.S. Air Force personnel offload a mobile command center from a transport plane outside Monrovia to assist Liberia’s Ebola response.

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A man walks past the residence in Monrovia, Liberia, where Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, had rented a room.

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A health worker watches as a burial team collects the bodies of Ebola victims from a Ministry of Health center for cremation in Monrovia.

By David Willman contact the reporter

NationMedical ResearchAfricaScientific ResearchDiseases and IllnessesEbolaU.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ebola researcher says he would not rule out possibility that the virus spreads through air in tight quarters

‘There are too many unknowns here,’ a virologist says of how Ebola may spread

Ebola researcher says he thinks there is a chance asymptomatic people could spread the virus

U.S. officials leading the fight against history’s worst outbreak of Ebola have said they know the ways the virus is spread and how to stop it. They say that unless an air traveler from disease-ravaged West Africa has a fever of at least 101.5 degrees or other symptoms, co-passengers are not at risk.

"At this point there is zero risk of transmission on the flight," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said after a Liberian man who flew through airports in Brussels and Washington was diagnosed with the disease last week in Dallas.

First Ebola infection outside West Africa

Three more were placed under quarantine at Madrid hospital where a Spanish nurse became infected, the first case infection outside of West Africa.

Other public health officials have voiced similar assurances, saying Ebola is spread only through physical contact with a symptomatic individual or their bodily fluids. "Ebola is not transmitted by the air. It is not an airborne infection," said Dr. Edward Goodman of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where the Liberian patient remains in critical condition.

Yet some scientists who have long studied Ebola say such assurances are premature — and they are concerned about what is not known about the strain now on the loose. It is an Ebola outbreak like none seen before, jumping from the bush to urban areas, giving the virus more opportunities to evolve as it passes through multiple human hosts.

Dr. C.J. Peters, who battled a 1989 outbreak of the virus among research monkeys housed in Virginia and who later led the CDC’s most far-reaching study of Ebola’s transmissibility in humans, said he would not rule out the possibility that it spreads through the air in tight quarters.

"We just don’t have the data to exclude it," said Peters, who continues to research viral diseases at the University of Texas in Galveston.

Dr. Philip K. Russell, a virologist who oversaw Ebola research while heading the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, and who later led the government’s massive stockpiling of smallpox vaccine after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, also said much was still to be learned. "Being dogmatic is, I think, ill-advised, because there are too many unknowns here."

If Ebola were to mutate on its path from human to human, said Russell and other scientists, its virulence might wane — or it might spread in ways not observed during past outbreaks, which were stopped after transmission among just two to three people, before the virus had a greater chance to evolve. The present outbreak in West Africa has killed approximately 3,400 people, and there is no medical cure for Ebola.

"I see the reasons to dampen down public fears," Russell said. "But scientifically, we’re in the middle of the first experiment of multiple, serial passages of Ebola virus in man…. God knows what this virus is going to look like. I don’t."

U.S. To Increase Airport Screening For Ebola

The deteriorating conditions in Africa make it more likely additional cases of Ebola will appear in the United States and officials are pushing for increased screenings at airports.

Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the CDC in Atlanta, said health officials were basing their response to Ebola on what has been learned from battling the virus since its discovery in central Africa in 1976. The CDC remains confident, he said, that Ebola is transmitted principally by direct physical contact with an ill person or their bodily fluids.

Skinner also said the CDC is conducting ongoing lab analyses to assess whether the present strain of Ebola is mutating in ways that would require the government to change its policies on responding to it. The results so far have not provided cause for concern, he said.

The researchers reached in recent days for this article cited grounds to question U.S. officials’ assumptions in three categories.

One issue is whether airport screenings of prospective travelers to the U.S. from West Africa can reliably detect those who might have Ebola. Frieden has said the CDC protocols used at West African airports can be relied on to prevent more infected passengers from coming to the U.S.

"One hundred percent of the individuals getting on planes are screened for fever before they get on the plane," Frieden said Sept. 30. "And if they have a fever, they are pulled out of the line, assessed for Ebola, and don’t fly unless Ebola is ruled out."

Individuals who have flown recently from one or more of the affected countries suggested that travelers could easily subvert the screening procedures — and might have incentive to do so: Compared with the depleted medical resources in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the prospect of hospital care in the U.S. may offer an Ebola-exposed person the only chance to survive.

Ailing in Monrovia, Liberia

Relatives pray over a weak Siata Johnson, 23, outside the Ebola treatment center at a hospital on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia. (John Moore / Getty Images)

A person could pass body temperature checks performed at the airports by taking ibuprofen or any common analgesic. And prospective passengers have much to fear from identifying themselves as sick, said Kim Beer, a resident of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, who is working to get medical supplies into the country to cope with Ebola.

"It is highly unlikely that someone would acknowledge having a fever, or simply feeling unwell," Beer said via email. "Not only will they probably not get on the flight — they may even be taken to/required to go to a ‘holding facility’ where they would have to stay for days until it is confirmed that it is not caused by Ebola. That is just about the last place one would want to go."

Liberian officials said last week that the patient hospitalized in Dallas, Thomas Eric Duncan, did not report to airport screeners that he had had previous contact with an Ebola-stricken woman. It is not known whether Duncan knew she suffered from Ebola; her family told neighbors it was malaria.

The potential disincentive for passengers to reveal their own symptoms was echoed by Sheka Forna, a dual citizen of Sierra Leone and Britain who manages a communications firm in Freetown. Forna said he considered it "very possible" that people with fever would medicate themselves to appear asymptomatic.

It would be perilous to admit even nonspecific symptoms at the airport, Forna said in a telephone interview. "You’d be confined to wards with people with full-blown disease."

On Monday, the White House announced that a review was underway of existing airport procedures. Frieden and President Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counter-terrorism, Lisa Monaco, said Friday that closing the U.S. to passengers from the Ebola-affected countries would risk obstructing relief efforts.

CDC officials also say that asymptomatic patients cannot spread Ebola. This assumption is crucial for assessing how many people are at risk of getting the disease. Yet diagnosing a symptom can depend on subjective understandings of what constitutes a symptom, and some may not be easily recognizable. Is a person mildly fatigued because of short sleep the night before a flight — or because of the early onset of disease?

Moreover, said some public health specialists, there is no proof that a person infected — but who lacks symptoms — could not spread the virus to others.

"It’s really unclear," said Michael Osterholm, a public health scientist at the University of Minnesota who recently served on the U.S. government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. "None of us know."

Russell, who oversaw the Army’s research on Ebola, said he found the epidemiological data unconvincing.

"The definition of ‘symptomatic’ is a little difficult to deal with," he said. "It may be generally true that patients aren’t excreting very much virus until they become ill, but to say that we know the course of [the virus’ entry into the bloodstream] and the course of when a virus appears in the various secretions, I think, is premature."

The CDC’s Skinner said that while officials remained confident that Ebola can be spread only by the overtly sick, the ongoing studies would assess whether mutations that might occur could increase the potential for asymptomatic patients to spread it.

Finally, some also question the official assertion that Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air. In late 1989, virus researcher Charles L. Bailey supervised the government’s response to an outbreak of Ebola among several dozen rhesus monkeys housed for research in Reston, Va., a suburb of Washington.

What Bailey learned from the episode informs his suspicion that the current strain of Ebola afflicting humans might be spread through tiny liquid droplets propelled into the air by coughing or sneezing.

"We know for a fact that the virus occurs in sputum and no one has ever done a study [disproving that] coughing or sneezing is a viable means of transmitting," he said. Unqualified assurances that Ebola is not spread through the air, Bailey said, are "misleading."

Peters, whose CDC team studied cases from 27 households that emerged during a 1995 Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo, said that while most could be attributed to contact with infected late-stage patients or their bodily fluids, "some" infections may have occurred via "aerosol transmission."

Ashoka Mukpo

Ebola patient Ashoka Mukpo is loaded into an ambulance after arriving in Omaha. The American photojournalist became ill while working in Liberia and was taken to Nebraska Medical Center, where he will be kept in isolation. (James R. Burnett / World-Herald)

Skinner of the CDC, who cited the Peters-led study as the most extensive of Ebola’s transmissibility, said that while the evidence "is really overwhelming" that people are most at risk when they touch either those who are sick or such a person’s vomit, blood or diarrhea, "we can never say never" about spread through close-range coughing or sneezing.

"I’m not going to sit here and say that if a person who is highly viremic … were to sneeze or cough right in the face of somebody who wasn’t protected, that we wouldn’t have a transmission," Skinner said.

Peters, Russell and Bailey, who in 1989 was deputy commander for research of the Army’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, in Frederick, Md., said the primates in Reston had appeared to spread Ebola to other monkeys through their breath.

The Ebola strain found in the monkeys did not infect their human handlers. Bailey, who now directs a biocontainment lab at George Mason University in Virginia, said he was seeking to research the genetic differences between the Ebola found in the Reston monkeys and the strain currently circulating in West Africa.

Though he acknowledged that the means of disease transmission among the animals would not guarantee the same result among humans, Bailey said the outcome may hold lessons for the present Ebola epidemic.

"Those monkeys were dying in a pattern that was certainly suggestive of coughing and sneezing — some sort of aerosol movement," Bailey said. "They were dying and spreading it so quickly from cage to cage. We finally came to the conclusion that the best action was to euthanize them all."

david.willman@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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