Monday January 21, 2019
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Doctor Contracts Ebola Disease From Congo, A dreaded Scenario: WHO

More than 2,900 people have been vaccinated against Ebola since the outbreak began.

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Ebola, UNICEF. congo, DNA
A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a woman who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo

A doctor has become the first probable Ebola case in one of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s “high insecurity zones” which are dogged by militia violence and hard to access, a scenario “we have all been dreading,” the WHO said on Friday.

Since the outbreak erupted on August 1, 103 confirmed and probable cases of Ebola have been identified in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, including 63 deaths, the health ministry said in an overnight update.

The doctor living in Oicha town in North Kivu has been re-hospitalised with Ebola symptoms after his wife was confirmed as having the disease when she traveled to the nearby city of Beni, said Dr Peter Salama, the World Health Organization’s head of emergency operations.

Ebola Congo
A Congolese health worker checks the temperature of a man before the launch of the vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, near the town of Beni in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

Oicha is almost entirely surrounded by ADF Ugandan Islamist militia, there are “extremely serious security concerns,” he said. Aid workers, priests and government officials are held hostage in the area, he said.

The doctor’s initial test for Ebola — which causes vomiting, fever and diarrhea — had been negative, but fresh results are awaited, Salama told Reuters.

So far 97 of the doctor’s contacts who may have been exposed to the virus have been identified, and vaccination has begun in the town, he added.

“So for the first time really we have a confirmed case and contacts in an area of very high insecurity. It really was the problem we were anticipating and the problem at the same time that we were dreading,” Salama told a news briefing.

Ebola patient
A health care worker from the World Health Organization, left, gives an Ebola vaccination to a frontline aid worker who will then vaccinate people who might potentially have the virus, in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

WHO and health experts reached Oicha with an armed escort by MONUSCO troops this week, he said, adding: “We know from that incident now in Oicha we are going to have to operate in some very complex environments due to security and access concerns.”

In a further worrying development, angry youth burned down a health centre in another village, where vaccinations were under way, after learning of a death from Ebola, Salama said.

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More than 2,900 people have been vaccinated against Ebola since the outbreak began, he said.

“We are at quite a pivotal moment in this outbreak in terms of the evolution of the outbreak epidemiologically and in terms of the response,” he said. (VOA)

Next Story

New Technology That Can Clean Water Twice As of Now

more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas.

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water
Novel technology cleans water using bacteria

Researchers, led by one of Indian-origin, have developed a new technology that can clean water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes, an advance that brings hope for countries like India where clean drinking water is a big issue.

According to a team from the Washington University in St. Louis, more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

The team led by Srikanth Singamaneni, Professor at the varsity, developed an ultrafiltration membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose that they found to be highly efficient, long-lasting and environment-friendly.

The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling, or build up of bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms that reduce the flow of water.

Water
The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling. VOA

For the study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they used bacteria to build such filtering membranes.

The Gluconacetobacter hansenii bacteria is a sugary substance that forms cellulose nanofibres when in water.

The team then incorporated graphene oxide (GO) flakes into the bacterial nanocellulose while it was growing, essentially trapping GO in the membrane to make it stable and durable.

They exposed the membrane to E. coli bacteria, then shone light on the membrane’s surface.

After being irradiated with light for just three minutes, the E. coli bacteria died. The team determined that the membrane quickly heated to above the 70 degrees Celsius required to deteriorate the cell walls of E. coli bacteria.

While the bacteria are killed, the researchers had a pristine membrane with a high quality of nanocellulose fibres that was able to filter water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes under a high operating pressure.

When they did the same experiment on a membrane made from bacterial nanocellulose without the reduced GO, the E. coli bacteria stayed alive.

The new technology is capable of identifying and quantifying different kinds of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, as a threat to shut down water systems when it suddenly proliferates. Pixabay

While the researchers acknowledge that implementing this process in conventional reverse osmosis systems is taxing, they propose a spiral-wound module system, similar to a roll of towels.
Also Read: India Gets Assistance of Rs 3,420 Crore From Japan
It could be equipped with LEDs or a type of nanogenerator that harnesses mechanical energy from the fluid flow to produce light and heat, which would reduce the overall cost.

If the technique were to be scaled up to a large size, it could benefit many developing countries where clean water is scarce, the researchers noted. (IANS)