Friday, November 30, 2007

Ebola hits again!

Health officials in Uganda say they have identified a strain of the deadly Ebola virus as the likely killer of at least 16 people in the west of the country since late August. But as VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu reports from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi, officials are baffled and worried by what they believe is a new strain of the hemorrhagic fever.

The director general of Uganda's health services, Dr. Sam Zaramba, tells VOA that scientists in South Africa and the United States conducted numerous laboratory tests to determine the cause of the deaths across 14 villages in the western district of Bundibugyo.

-New Ebola Strain Blamed for Killing 16 in Uganda

Virus Hunting on the Web;
With a little luck, ProMED and GPHIN will both take care of what CDC arbovirus researcher Paul Reiter suggests has been the regrettable history of infectious disease fighting to date. To put it simply, he says, all the monitoring and surveillance has only served to mobilize the world's resources to fight "ex-epidemics. Whenever we've been sent out to epidemics, we've always arrived when the epidemic was pretty much history." He cites, for example, a 1993 yellow fever epidemic in Kenya, at which the medical cavalry arrived in time to see the last two cases. Or, going way back, a yellow fever epidemic in the Omo River Valley in Ethiopia between 1960 and 1962. "You had something like a million people susceptible to yellow fever," says Reiter, "with 30,000 deaths"; no one outside Ethiopia, he says, "had the faintest idea until it was all over." Now with the Internet the news should get out in time to make a difference. "We're primed," he says.

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