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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.
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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.

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Marital Spats May Deteriorate Your Health

Significant link between hostility and the biomarker LBP, which indicates the presence of bacteria in the blood. And there was a strong link between that biomarker and evidence of inflammation.

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How marital spats can affect your health. Pixabay

Couples, please take note. Fighting with your spouse may deteriorate your health, a new study has found.

The findings suggest that married people who fight are more likely to suffer from leaky guts — a problem that unleashes bacteria into the blood and can drive up disease-causing inflammation.

“We think that this everyday marital distress — at least for some people — is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and, potentially, illness,” said lead author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser from the Ohio State University.

For the study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, the team recruited around 50 healthy married couples, surveyed them about their relationships and then encouraged them to discuss and try to resolve a conflict likely to provoke strong disagreement.

The researchers left the couples alone for these discussions, videotaped the 20-minute interactions and later watched how they fought.

Couples have tough time understanding soft negative emotions like sadness, loneliness of each other: Study.
Couples have tough time understanding soft negative emotions .

They categorised their verbal and non-verbal fighting behaviours, with special interest in hostility — things such as dramatic eye rolls or criticism of one’s partner.

The researchers also compared blood drawn pre-fight to blood drawn post-fight.

Men and women who demonstrated more hostile behaviours during the observed discussions had higher levels of one biomarker for leaky gut — LPS-binding protein — than their mellower peers, the researchers said.

Evidence of leaky gut was even greater in study participants who had particularly hostile interactions with their spouses and a history of depression or another mood disorder, they added.

Also Read: Reduce Loneliness and Boost Your Mental Health With Cycling

The study found a strong, significant link between hostility and the biomarker LBP, which indicates the presence of bacteria in the blood. And there was a strong link between that biomarker and evidence of inflammation.

Lifestyle changes that could contribute to decreased risk of gut-related inflammation include diets high in lean proteins, healthful fats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Probiotics might also be useful, Kiecolt-Glaser noted. (IANS)

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