Ebola doesn’t threaten you or me.
Despite the seriousness of the crisis, the virus hasn’t “gone airborne.” The disease spreads only through contact with Ebola-infected blood or bodily fluids, and there’s no indication this fundamental mode of transmission is changing. The threat, therefore, is to people on the ground in affected areas.
But that doesn’t mean Ebola is West Africa’s problem alone. West Africans have not been able to keep up with the disease, which means the West must be extensively involved. The challenge now is defining who should play what role on the ground.
Though medical relief workers from around the world, especially the physicians of Doctors Without Borders, have worked bravely to combat the disease, a series of blunders has intensified the suspicion West Africans feel toward Western medical professionals.… Seguir leyendo »
On May 9, the World Health Organization stopped short of calling Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, a global health emergency. That’s a good thing.
In the 2 1/2 years since it was first identified, MERS has had a case fatality rate of about 30%, which sounds alarming. But during that period, there have been only 594 confirmed cases. Moreover, extensive surveillance in Saudi Arabia has shown that many people infected with the virus never showed symptoms, which means the fatality rate is actually far lower.
Still, case numbers have shot up in recent weeks. And the first two infections in the United States were recently reported, both of them in healthcare workers who flew in from Saudi Arabia.… Seguir leyendo »
If you were paying attention to the flap over two recent flu experiments involving ferrets, you may have come away with the impression that scientists all but waved a red flag in front of terrorists and said, «Here’s a perfect biological weapon — help yourselves.»
But there’s really not much cause for alarm.
Here’s the background. In December, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity asked the premier science journals Science and Nature to redact key information from two papers scheduled for publication, one by University of Wisconsin virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka and the other by a team at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, led by Ron Fouchier.… Seguir leyendo »
We’ve been waiting a long time for the eradication of polio. Since the World Health Organization’s 1988 decision to eliminate polio from nature, as it once did smallpox, billions of dollars have been funneled into this long war. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation alone has contributed more than $1 billion since 1999 to the effort, and it recently pledged an additional $119 million. The massive campaign has included armies of eradicators, mountains of research and the dedication of numerous governments and NGOs.
These efforts have spared perhaps 400,000 children a year worldwide from paralysis or death. But we’re not done with polio yet.… Seguir leyendo »