Sunday May 20, 2018

Air purifiers a good way to stay away from major respiratory diseases: Doctors

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New Delhi: In order to prevent respiratory diseases caused by indoor air pollution, doctors suggest people to install air purifiers at home which can prove helpful in preventing them.

According to doctors, air purifiers are becoming more reliable for people in cities because pollutants released indoors were 1,000 times more likely to reach the lungs than pollutants released outdoors.

More than 5.5 million people worldwide die prematurely every year due to household and outdoor air pollution, and India and China together account for 55 percent of these deaths, research has found.

Air pollution has come up as one of the major health challenges of modern Indian cities. With increasing respiratory problems, it is now important to know about pollutants, and their health hazards.

“Air purifiers are emerging as a good way to stay away from major respiratory diseases caused by indoor air pollution,” said Raj Kumar, head of respiratory allergy and applied immunology at Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute.

He said recent studies have revealed the strong link between major respiratory and lung diseases due to air pollution, which clearly indicated the need to cut down the sources of indoor air pollution.

With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring air quality of Indian metropolitan cities as the worst in the world, healthcare professionals are registering a sharp rise in respiratory problems, especially in immuno-compromised population like children, elderly and people with health issues or malnutrition.

Himanshu Garg, head of respiratory and critical care at Artemis Hospital, said: “In India, we have a long-standing tradition of burning of ‘incense sticks’ and ‘dhoop’ that could increase the concentration of particulate matter (PM) by about 15 times more than the permitted levels.”

“Smoke emitted by these releases harmful pollutants. Along with this, smoke from tobacco and cooking and dust from carpets, furniture and curtains, etc. add to the indoor air pollution.”

“Health problems caused can be reduced by installing air purifiers, which bring down the percentage of pollutants in the air,” said Garg. (IANS, Image source: austinair.com)

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Ebola Outbreaks in Congo

Congo has contained several past Ebola outbreaks but the spread of the hemorrhagic fever to an urban area poses a major challenge. The city of Mbandaka, which has one confirmed Ebola case, is an hour's flight from the capital, Kinshasa, and is located on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor.

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Congo has contained several past Ebola outbreaks but the spread of the hemorrhagic fever to an urban area poses a major challenge.
Ebola virus outbreaks again. Pixabay.

Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak does not yet warrant being declared a global health emergency, the World Health Organization announced Friday, as health officials rushed to contain the often deadly virus (Ebola) that has spread to a city of more than 1 million.

The vast, impoverished country now has 14 confirmed Ebola cases, with dozens of others probable or suspected.

WHO officials, speaking after an experts’ meeting on the outbreak, said vaccinations could begin as early as Sunday in a key test of an experimental vaccine.

The health agency called the risk to the public in Congo “very high” and the regional risk high, with the global risk low. The Republic of Congo and Central African Republic are nearby and are among nine neighboring countries alerted. WHO said there should be no international travel or trade restrictions.

Dr. Robert Steffen, who chaired the expert meeting, said there was “strong reason to believe this situation can be brought under control.”

He noted the almost immediate response by WHO and partners after Ebola was announced in Congo last week. Without a vigorous response, “the situation is likely to deteriorate significantly,” he added. If the outbreak spreads internationally, the expert committee would reconvene to reconsider its assessment of the epidemic.

Congo has contained several past Ebola outbreaks but the spread of the hemorrhagic fever to an urban area poses a major challenge. The city of Mbandaka, which has one confirmed Ebola case, is an hour’s flight from the capital, Kinshasa, and is located on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor.

For a health crisis to constitute a global health emergency it must meet th

Until now, the outbreak had been confined to remote rural areas, where Ebola, which is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected, travels more slowly.
Ebola Virus. Wikimedia.

ree criteria stipulated by WHO: It must threaten other countries via the international spread of disease, it must be a “serious, unusual or unexpected” situation, and it may require immediate international action for containment.

‘Major, major game-changer’

Ebola has twice made it to Congo’s capital in the past and was rapidly stopped. Congo has had the most Ebola outbreaks of any country, and Dr. David Heymann, a former WHO director who has led numerous responses to Ebola, said authorities there have considerable expertise in halting the lethal virus.

To read more on the same topic: How Chikungunya Virus Causes Arthritis Pain Decoded

The Ebola vaccine proved highly effective in the West Africa outbreak a few years ago, although the vaccine was used long after the epidemic had peaked. More than 4,000 doses have arrived in Congo this week, with more on the way, and vaccinations are expected to start next week. One challenge will be keeping the vaccine cold in a region with poor infrastructure and patchy electricity.

Just one Ebola death in the current outbreak has been confirmed so far. Congo’s health ministry late Thursday said the total number of cases is 45, including 10 suspected and 21 probable ones.

The health ministry said two new deaths have been tied to the cases, including one in a suburb of Mbandaka. The other was in Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak was announced last week. It is about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Mbandaka.

“This is a major, major game-changer in the outbreak,” Dr. Peter Salama, WHO’s emergency response chief, warned Thursday after the first urban case was announced. “Urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do.”

Until now, the outbreak had been confined to remote rural areas, where Ebola, which is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected, travels more slowly.

Health teams

Doctors Without Borders said 514 people believed to have been in contact with infected people were being monitored. WHO said it was deploying about 30 more experts to Mbandaka.

Read more: Study Shows That Antibacterial in Toothpaste May Combat Severe Lung Diseases

Amid fears of the outbreak spreading to neighboring countries, the U.N. migration agency said Friday it would support the deployment of Congolese health teams to 16 entry points along the nearby border with the Republic of Congo for infection control and prevention.

The U.N. children’s agency said it was mobilizing hundreds of community workers to raise awareness on protection against the disease.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the disease was first identified. The virus is initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain. VOA.