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WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak An International Emergency 183

mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that, with the Ebola outbreak growing out of control, the WHO has declared an international health emergency. From the article: With cases rapidly mounting in four West African countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) today declared the Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), a designation that allows the agency to issue recommendations for travel restrictions but also sends a strong message that more resources need to be mobilized to bring the viral disease under control. ... This is only the third time the health agency has issued a PHEIC declaration since the new International Health Regulations (IHR), a global agreement on the control of diseases, were adopted in 2005. The previous two instances were in 2009, for the H1N1 influenza pandemic, and in May for the resurgence of polio.
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WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak An International Emergency

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  • Unavoidable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature. ...
    10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

    • by Anonymous Coward
    • Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

      Putting the implied mass murder and ironclad tyranny aside for a moment, it's impossible to live in perpetual balance with nature, since nature is not static. Nor did low world population prevent Smallpox or the Black Death from appearing; indeed, diseases like Ebola typically emerge in regions that are less developed and thus "closer to nature", according to this kind of hippy bullshit.

      Be not a cancer on the earth â" Leave room for

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @12:20PM (#47630853) Homepage
    Ebola, while a horrible deadly disease is not the doom and gloom its being made out to be for anyone not living in a 3rd world country., and even for those living in 3rd world countries for that matter. more people die in 1 month from the flu in africa (over 5 K from the last article i saw ) than they die from ebola last year. to put it in prospective, less than 1000 people died from it last year.

    Unless you are literally playing in a sick persons bodily fluids, the risk is almost 0
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So the nearly 1800 people infected so far were literally playing in a sick person's bodily fluids?
      What do you think goes on in West Africa?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2014 @12:40PM (#47631053)

        They haven't ingrained with germ theory since they were toddlers. Their funeral rites often include hand-washing and kissing the deceased.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Terrible sanitation, including drinking from the same water supply in which people bathe and defecate? There are few places in the affected region where one can turn on the tap and get municipal water, you know. That's why simply installing hand-washing stations with soap and relatively clean water has routinely made such a huge impact on the spread of Ebola and other gut-wrenching illnesses over there.

        If you're going to be a pedantic ass, you really should make an attempt to have a passing familiarity with

      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

        That's a crude way of wording typical funeral rites over there, which apparently involve washing the deceased by hand.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How do you explain the doctors and nurses who have been infected ? Playing with a sick person fluids while they knew it is highly likely to kill them ? Get a clue.

      • by Gavagai80 ( 1275204 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @01:00PM (#47631251) Homepage
        Playing with sick people's fluids is the job description of a doctor or nurse.
      • their JOB is to play with the sick persons fluids, get a clue of course doctors and nurses will be more likely to get it over others.
      • by Znork ( 31774 )

        From reading a few articles on the conditions there it seems that it's because they're one or two doctors or nurses in a ward with several dozen patients puking, shitting, pissing, bleeding and falling out of beds and spreading contamination _everywhere_.

        Fair enough. I can see why no hazmat gear and protective procedures in the world will protect you over a longer period under those conditions.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      less than 1000 deaths were REPORTED, people are fleeing the scene, doctors included.
      how accurate a picture can such a summation be?

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @12:45PM (#47631091)

      Unless you are literally playing in a sick persons bodily fluids, the risk is almost 0

      As I said last time this topic came up, the fear is not that Ebola will spread by people playing in each others' bodily fluids. The fear is that it'll spread beyond a containment zone in Africa, then mutate into a form which can be spread through the air. That's what happens to the various strains of flu. It usually starts off in a form which jumps from animals to man via direct contact. That limits it to farmers and people who work directly with animals (e.g. butchers, cooks in restaurants). But then mutates into a form which spreads easily via the air, which is when it becomes a pandemic.

      Of course Ebola is very different from the flu. It may be very difficult or impossible for Ebola to mutate into a form which can survive long enough in water droplets that sick people cough/sneeze into the air. But we don't know that. Given how deadly the disease is (50%-90% fatality rate, vs about 15% for the Spanish Flu that killed more people than WWI), it's a stupid assumption to make. That's why the international health agencies are assuming the worst-case and handling it as if it was going to mutate into something communicable via the air.

      • fair enough of an argument, I in no way intended to say there was not a problem, I just dont want to see americans freak out over something that they are less likely of getting than they are of winning the lotto
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Why do you invent bullshit, like this: The fear is that it'll spread beyond a containment zone in Africa, then mutate into a form which can be spread through the air.
        That is your fear because you have no clue.
        Why don't you ... for fuck sake ... if it concerns you so much that you even fear it, read a few articles about Flu and another few articles about Ebola?

        It is completely impossible. Ebola is a Filovirus, Flu is a Orthomyxoviridae. The most important difference is, Flu has a 'hull' around its genome. Eb

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by gstoddart ( 321705 )

          Setting aside the specific mechanics of the virus ...

          Are you making the claim there is no way that Ebola could mutate into something which could spread more readily than it does now?

          I'm pretty sure there's probably more people currently infected than at any point in history -- because historically it's spread in a small community and then died out, no?

          Having is spread further outside of Africa doesn't seem all that impossible -- what with modern air travel and the like, you could end up with a huge amount o

          • Yes, most of your 'fear of mutation' arguments can be dismissed right away.

            The disease infects slowly, so, it takes a while that people realize, there is an out break.

            The only concrete fear/sound concern is: people are infected roughly 2 weeks until the illness manifests.

            Hence there are extreme chances that an infected person reaches a country outside of africa. Hence all outbreak regions are closed off.

            However the topic was about bringing an infected american into a hospital in america. People suddenly sh

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Heres a genetic study demonstrating the feasibility of mutation. It's targeted at catastrophic social collapse, and I think it's highly appropriate for this discussion. http://tinyurl.com/4ckyxw

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You're wrong. Like, really wrong. Ebola isn't a blank RNA strand (ignoring the fact that "blank RNA" doesn't make any sense - in order for it to be RNA, it has to have bases in it, which means it encodes information; you meant bare, probably, but even that is wrong). It has a protein-based envelope around it, as well as a small lipid bilayer. Seriously, that took less than a minute to look up. If it was just RNA, the normal RNAses in your body would make it a non-issue.

          I also really enjoy how you make fun o

        • by moke ( 574418 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @03:11PM (#47632423)
          Ebola Reston is a Filovirus and it is airborne (deadly to monkeys but harmless to humans), so it's not that far fetched.
          • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

            Since it's already happened in one form, it's not only not far-fetched, it's more likely than not, and we can't say what its effects would be (perhaps benign, perhaps even more lethal). So, yeah, by all means keep the damn thing contained as best we can.

            This game video done by a friend is interesting from a modern-vectors standpoint:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

          • Also researches in Canada, USA and Russia have found forms, in labs, of air borne ebola.
      • by Andrio ( 2580551 )

        Ebola mutating to be airborne is a terrifying concept. Basically it'll be a real life Captain Trips.

    • Rigged statistics. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @12:48PM (#47631127)

      more people die in 1 month from the flu in africa (over 5 K from the last article i saw ) than they die from ebola last year.

      But those people dieing of of the flue are often compromised in some other way, such as old age or malnutrition.

      you might as well say that more people in africa die of old age every day than all ebola deaths combined.

      The reason people fear ebola is that unlike old age, it spreads and attacks the healthy.

      Unless you are literally playing in a sick persons bodily fluids, the risk is almost 0

      the exact same exaggeration is true of flu. You catch flu by being in close proximity to someone with the flu or some a vector that can temporarily support the flu's transmission, just like ebola.

      • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @01:06PM (#47631299)

        I think it's more about the fatality rate. 50-90% vs 2-3% for really virulent flu like in 2009.

        Even the spanish flu was about 15%.

        Plus choking isn't nearly as dramatic as bleeding blood out of every orafice and even the skin.

        • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
          I'm certainly not an epidemiologist, but i'm pretty sure there are fairly strong selective pressures for viruses and bacteria to become less deadly as they spread. In fact there is _some_ evidence that this is already taking place.

          As you say, the death rate is normally between 50 and 90%, but obviously that's comparing different outbreaks, not an average of all infections from Ebola ever. Some past outbreaks have been at the 90% rate but current reports seem to indicate that the death rate for this outbre
    • by jafac ( 1449 )

      I think this is panic, mainly because experts are afraid of some mythical nightmare scenario where it gets into a large city and overwhelms the medical infrastructure's ability to cope, and it infects millions.

      I think it remains to be seen whether such a scenario would actually play-out that way, or whether other factors would intervene. We've seen situations in history, like Black Plague, and the Spanish Flu, where they did, indeed balloon up beyond anyone's expectations - one wonders whether that will hap

      • by div_2n ( 525075 )

        Funny enough I think "panic" is _exactly_ what frightens the crap out of governments of heavily populated and prosperous countries. Citizens acting irrationally and taking evasive actions that craters economies -- that's the stuff apocalyptic books are made of. The entire world could change in a matter of months if this hit a few major cities in America, Europe, Russia and other major nations.

        People don't panic _as much_ about flu pandemics because of lower death rates and healthy folks typically only havin

        • Actually the problem with people panicking is they tend to do the stupidest possible thing en masse. Ebola infection in a city - quick, cram on the buses and flee! Congregate in public places to stockpile supplies! Like 90% of the things people would try are the exact things which turn a mild, containable outbreak into a large one.

          • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

            Same principle applied to the Newcastle outbreak on chicken farms (mostly small producers) a few years ago. Inspectors dashed madly from farm to farm checking for infected chickens, spreading the virus as they went. Smart farmers locked the gate (the inspection was voluntary) and saved their chickens. (Smarter ones vaccinated, but I don't know how good the vaccine is. Tho it's useful for treating distemper in dogs.)

    • by linebackn ( 131821 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @01:35PM (#47631563)

      Ebola, while a horrible deadly disease is not the doom and gloom its being made out to be

      You wouldn't know that listening to the idiotic TV news. They seriously have been playing it as if everyone in the US is at grave risk of dropping dead from this.

      The threats made against that second infected doctor being brought back to the US were almost certainly a direct result of the media's irresponsible reporting.

      Despite all their condescending scaremongering, there is simply zero realistic risk to the US general public.

    • Sure more people might get the Flu and die, but they would eventually die from what? Dehydration? Suffocation?

      It isn't quite the same as getting the "Flesh Eating" disease having your tissue go necrotic and dying from either the above, organ failure or bleeding out due to lack of clotting. It also looks a hell of a lot scarier in the media.

      So yeah, while the numbers are not really there, any increase, even small increase compared to others, are taken as more alarming.

      You probably have a better chance of dyi

      • I wonder if a more dangerous vector would be a mutation that allowed it to have other carrier species. Something is carrying it now without dying. If some bird species got it without dying that could turn ugly.

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @12:33PM (#47630981)

    Am I the only one who views these things differently after playing a few hours of Plague, Inc?

    • No, you're not :)

      I've been addicted to that game for a long time. My favorite strategy is to do whatever it takes to keep the disease from producing symptoms, even at a great upfront cost. The key is to let it spread as far as possible before it mutates symptoms.

      Fun fun fun!

  • The WHO has declared an emergency? Well, that's fine, but let's do it the Murkan way. Would you prefer "Hot Pink," "Schoolbus Yellow," or "Fire Engine Red." We badly need for our top world leaders to work out the colors for our color code. What are these world leaders wasting their time on, if we don't have color-coded posters for airports?

  • You can help out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AndrewBuck ( 1120597 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @12:49PM (#47631131)

    The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) has been working with WHO, MSF, and Red Cross since the outbreak began in march to map roads and villages in the affected areas. These maps are used by medical teams to move people, medicine, and equipment around, as well as to do "contact tracing" of infected people to see who they might also have infected. The maps are crowdsourced and released under a copyleft license like wikipedia uses. If you want to help out you can check out a task to work on on the HOT task manager [hotosm.org] and help improve the maps these organizations are using to do their work. There are some instructional videos on the MapGive site [state.gov] run by the US State Department which has donated a bunch of imagery for us to better map the affected areas.

    Please take some time to learn how to help with this mapping and help these doctors do what they need to do.


    • slashdot makes sense.
    • Thanks I will have to check that out, and probably dump a large number of hours into it. At least now I can put my OCDness with maps to good use instead of just mapping way too much of my home town, and trails in northern Minnesota.
  • The WHO's timing is impeccable. 5:15 on the dot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2014 @01:39PM (#47631599)

    Abbott: You have a disease outbreak in Africa.
    Costello: Then WHO declares it?
    Abbott: Naturally.
    Costello: Naturally.
    Abbott: Now you've got it.
    Costello: The outbreak is declared Naturally.
    Abbott: No, it is declared by Who!
    Costello: Naturally.
    Abbott: Well, that's it—say it that way.
    Costello: That's what I said.
    Abbott: You did not.

  • Madagascar has closed their ports.
  • Why are you calling him a WHO? I thought he was just "the doctor".

  • It'll either die out as it kills too many people too quickly, or it is becoming less lethal.
  • Actual Data (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    For people who want to base opinions/conclusions on actual data, here's one chart of the progression trend as of Aug 8, tracked since beginning of July (data taken directly from WHO):


    Time to move to Prepperville, USA? Not really.
    Global epidemic? Not at this point.
    Getting worse? Yup.
    Tapering off? Maybe, but the most recent data tends to get revised.

    So maybe this will get much worse, maybe it will peter out. Either way, whoever looks at the data will hav

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