Tag Archives: Ebola

Ebola scare as patient put into isolation after returning from West Africa with a fever

One person is in isolation at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital with possible Ebola symptoms

  • One person in isolation at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
  • The patient recently returned from West Africa with a fever
  • This is the second scare this month after Cairns nurse Sue Ellen Kovack 
  • She returned from Sierre Leone with symptoms but was later cleared


One person is reportedly in isolation at an Australian hospital showing possible symptoms of Ebola.

The individual is at the the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, after they returned from West Africa with a fever. The Courier Mail report that the patient is an African man.

The patient recently returned from West Africa with a high fever 

Police are due to give a press conference shortly.

This is the second scare this month after Cairns nurse Sue Ellen Kovack returned from Sierre Leone exhibiting symptoms.

She had been working as a volunteer treating patients but was later cleared of having the potentially deadly virus.


NYC’s Ebola Patient Went Bowling. Why Don’t Americans Just Stay Home When They’re Sick?

On Thursday, Dr. Craig Spencer, who had recently been in Guinea treating Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders, tested positive for Ebola in New York, America’s most populous city. While Spencer’s work in West Africa risking his life fighting this horrific disease is commendable and selfless, his subsequent behavior isn’t.

Spencer, who lives in Harlem, was on a self-monitoring regimen since his return from Guinea nine days ago, on October 14. Since then, he has not been seeing patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, where he is a fellow of international emergency medicine.

Dr Spencer, 33, returned from West Africa seven days ago and was taken to Bellevue Hospital on Thursday after reporting a 103F fever

On Tuesday night, according to the Times, he began to feel sluggish. By Thursday morning, he had a fever of 103. In between, he went bowling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and took the subway there.

Hospitalized: Morgan Dixon, Dr Spencer's girlfriend, is also in Bellevue Hospital, where she is being monitored for possible exposure to Ebola

While medical professionals have been reassuring us that a person with Ebola is not contagious until someone begins showing symptoms, it’s worth noting this little nugget in the Times piece:

A health care worker at the hospital said that Dr. Spencer seemed very sick and it was unclear to the medical staff why he had not gone to the hospital earlier, since his fever was high, at 103.

How Ebola spreads

Which is to say, if Spencer, out of an abundance of caution, stayed home from work in order not to infect his patients and colleagues, why in god’s good name was he going bowling across the East River?

What was in that bowling alley that was so pressing that he needed to get on a crowded, poorly ventilated subway car a full day after the onset of symptoms?

This is not the first time we’ve seen this movie. There was, for example, Amber Vinson, the nurse who treated Thomas Eric Duncan as he lay dying of Ebola in a Dallas hospital. Vinson was also on a self-monitoring regimen, taking her temperature twice a day.

And yet, she took two flights, the last of which was while she had a fever that was elevated enough for her to call Texas health officials, who then called the CDC. The next morning, she was in the hospital with the third confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S.

Dr Spencer returned to the US from West Africa just seven days ago, flying through Brussels to the United States

The CDC apparently gave her the green light, though now they are saying that there is “the possibility that she was exhibiting symptoms for days before she sought medical attention.”

That is, Vinson knew what was happeningshe was starting to display symptoms, i.e., had become contagiousand yet she called to get permission anyway.

Subway fears: The mayor said that being near someone in places like a subway car does not put someone at risk because 'Ebola is an extremely difficult disease to get.'

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Vinson and Spencer’s cases. But it’s well known among those of us who have loved ones in the healthcare profession that many of these valiant souls never think it’ll happen to them.

And it’s also well known that Ebola is pretty hard to transmit because it is not airborne. And yet, it has been one year since my last health-related rant, so I might as well use the opportunity to rant about how good Americans are at spreading germs.

Rode the subway: New York City Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett reported that he took three different subway trains--the 1, the A and the L (pictured)

This is something my Soviet family and I could never get used to in the States, the stubbornness with which Americans trudge to work or school with triple-digit fevers or noses like spigots, the obliviousness with which an American will greet you with a hug and then say,

Spencer was rushed to Bellevue in this ambulance Thursday.  EMTs in full Ebola gear arrived and took him to Bellevue surrounded by police squad cars


“I’m sick!,” or reach to try your drink while hacking up a lung. Come to think of itwhy are they even at the bar with you? Or the way Americans cough with childlike abandon, like a sprinkler. Or sneeze like no one is watching.

Treated: Spencer was being treated at Bellevue Hospital, the health department said. The historic city hospital is one of the eight in New York state designated this month as part of an Ebola preparedness plan

Don’t believe me? Just look at this survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, published at the height of flu season in 2011, that shows that a full two-thirds of Americans don’t stay homeas the CDC advisesthem to dodespite having symptoms of the flu and therefore being highly contagious.

Forty percent said that the stuff they needed to do outside the homework, school, trying my beveragewas more important than the risk of spreading the flu.

Dr Spencer, pictured with girlfriend Morgan Dixon at right. He is being cared for in an isolation unit at Bellevue hospital in Manhattan but spent the previous evening out in busy Wiliamsburg


That is, Ms. Vinson just had to go to Cleveland, even though she put at riskhowever smallover a hundred people on that plane on the way there, and a hundred more on the way back. We still have no idea how many people Spencer put at risk because just had to go bowling, but it’s likely more than a hundred.

Why do people do this? Well, the survey strongly implies ignorance68 percent didn’t know that a flu virus can be transported, via cough or snot pellet, five or six feetand, for hourly-wage workers it is probably not selfishness but dire necessity that propels them to handle your coffee lid with infected hands. For some, it must just be the Protestant work ethic.

Police officers guard the building where Dr Craig Spencer lives in New York

But I think it’s something else. From where I sit, it often looks like the other side of American individualism, which becomes selfishness when you lay it on thick.

It’s the belief that you and your needs are acutely exceptional and important, and take precedence over those of the people around you.


It’s the unspoken belief that your day radiating sickness at the office is worth a couple of your colleagues being bedridden with your flu for a week.

You may not be actively thinking that, but that’s the math your actionsand those of the 40 percent polled in that surveyimply. It’s selfishness and solipsism, pure and simple.

For proof, I refer you back to the survey: 66 percent still go to the office while showing symptoms of the flu, and 59 percent said they were annoyed at those who did so because it jeopardized their own health. I’m no math major, but that there looks like some overlap.

We’ll likely ride out this Ebola thing without it spreading too much further, but flu season is around the corner. So please, if you’re feeling sluggish and febrile, be a mensch and don’t go bowling.

Don’t blackmail me, Putin warns West, as he threatens to cut gas supplies in Cold War tirade

Don't mess with Russia: Vladimir Putin had a stark message for the West while speaking today in Serbia


  • Putin spoke at military parade to mark Red Army liberation of Belgrade
  • He lambasts Western sanctions accusing U.S. of ‘absurd, illusory goal’
  • Tomorrow he travels to key summit where he will meet Ukrainian president 

Vladimir Putin today issued a Cold War-style tirade to Western leaders warning them not to ‘blackmail’ major nuclear power Russia.

Ahead of a key summit showdown with European leaders including David Cameron, he also threatened to shut of gas supplies to the EU this winter.

The tough-talking former KGB spy took aim at a ‘hostile’ Barack Obama who listed ‘Russian aggression’ in Ukraine among the top global threats alongside Islamic State jihadists and Ebola.

Show of force: President Nikolic and President Putin review the honor guard during the welcome ceremony 

He lambasted Western sanctions now hitting his struggling economy, accusing the US and EU of an ‘absurd, illusory goal’ in seeking to isolate Moscow.

‘We are hoping our partners will understand the recklessness of attempts to blackmail Russia, (and) remember what discord between large nuclear powers can do to strategic stability,’ warned the Kremlin strongman.

If pro-Western but energy-starved Kiev siphons gas from a pipe carrying supplies to the EU this winter, then Moscow would cut supplies, warned Putin, after receiving a red carpet welcome in Serbian capital Belgrade.

‘If we see that our Ukrainian partners begin unsanctioned siphoning of gas from the pipeline system aimed for export, we will also cut the flow for the amount of stolen gas,’ he said.

Cult of personality: Serbian nationalists hold posters of Putin ahead of his appearance at the parade

He warned of ‘major transit risks’.

We are hoping our partners remember what discord between nuclear powers can do to strategic stability

Cameron is taking part in a key summit in Milan tomorrow which will see Putin hold make-or-break talks with his Ukrainian opposite number Petro Poroshenko.

But last night Angel Merkel warned Putin that an enforceable ceasefire this winter depended on urgent action from Russia.

Fearing the conflict could escalate, Ukraine announced it has dug a 39-mile anti tank ditch and 30 miles of other defences on a key section of its border to discourage Putin from sending his forces into its territory.

Meanwhile, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev expressed fear of a damaging return to the Cold War. He urged both the West and Putin to pull back from the brink.

‘As a first step, the logic of mutual accusations and sanctions must be left behind,’ the 83-year-old told Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper, the Kremlin’s official organ.

‘One must not get dragged back into a new Cold War. Shared threats to our security have not disappeared.’

The elder statesman demanded the leaders concentrate on critical global threats such as the Ebola virus and the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq and Syria.

‘In the face of shared challenges, we can again find a common language,’ he said.

‘It won’t be easy but there is no other way.’

But Moscow denied it had agreed to share intelligence on the IS with America.

Heathrow to Start Advanced Screening for Ebola Followed by Gatwick and Eurostar

Heathrow to being Ebola screening

Heathrow airport is to start advanced Ebola screening for passengers who travel from vulnerable countries.

Passengers’ temperature will be checked and they will be asked to fill up a questionnaire during the screening at Terminal One, which will eventually be extended to other terminals.

Gatwick airport and Eurostar rail terminals will also start screening by the end of this week.

The contact numbers of the passengers will be recorded and anyone with symptoms of the virus infection will be taken to hospital,

The latest measure is to prevent any outbreak in the UK which has so far killed 4,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Nearly 1,000 passengers travel from these three countries to the UK a month, and the vast majority of them arrive at Heathrow.

“We would like to reassure passengers that the government assesses the risk of a traveller contracting Ebola to be low,” a Heathrow spokesperson has been quoted as saying by BBC.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has earlier said it is likely that people with the Ebola virus would be diagnosed in the UK before Christmas, but insisted the number of such cases is not expected to exceed 10.

Hunt, in a statement to Commons, said: “Whilst there are no direct flights from the affected region, there are indirect routes into the UK. In the next week, Public Health England will start screening and monitoring UK bound air passengers identified by the Border Force coming on to the main routes from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.”

“This will allow potential Ebola virus carriers arriving in the UK to be identified, tracked and given rapid access to expert health advice should they develop symptoms.”

Those who are found positive for Ebola will be immediately shifted to the Royal Free Hospital in north London while the hospitals in Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield would also be on standby in case of any emergency.

Worst Ebola epidemic in history LIVE UPDATES

Health workers in protective suits stand near a window at an isolation ward on the sixth floor of Madrid's Carlos III Hospital October 12, 2014 (Reuters / Paul Hanna)

The worst outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in history is threatening to spread out of West Africa and affect countries further afield. The first case was reported in Guinea on March 22.

Tuesday, October 14

08:14 GMT:

An Ebola patient being treated in Germany’s Leipzig has succumbed to the virus, according to the clinic. It was a 56-year-old UN aid worker with an active career in Liberia. Three patients with the virus have so far been treated in Germany. One of them has already been released from a medical facility in Hamburg.

Monday, October 13

18:01 GMT:

The Texas nurse who is now being treated for the deadly Ebola virus after caring for patient has been identified as Nina Pham, a 26-year-old Dallas woman who graduated from Texas Christian University in 2010. Pham was diagnosed over the weekend with the disease and was “clinically stable” on Monday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden said.

Pham’s identity was confirmed to USA Today by her family, but officials have yet to determine exactly how she contracted the virus. She is one of around 50 people who cared for Liberian national Thomas Duncan while he was being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas for Ebola. Duncan, 42, died on Wednesday.

Workers unload containers as officials prepare to empty the apartment of a health worker who was infected with the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas October 13, 2014.(Reuters / Jaime R. Carrero)

Workers unload containers as officials prepare to empty the apartment of a health worker who was infected with the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas October 13, 2014.(Reuters / Jaime R. Carrero)

16:34 GMT:

The healthcare worker in Dallas, confirmed on Sunday to have contracted the Ebola virus from initial patient Thomas Eric Duncan, will receive safe and effective care, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden said Monday during a press conference. He added that the worker’s contacts, including a dog, are being monitored for signs of the virus.

Dir. Frieden also apologized Monday for remarks made on Sunday in which he alleged that a breach of protocol was to blame for the newly-infected worker.

“The healthcare workers who cared for this individual may have had a breach of the same nature,”Frieden said during a press conference on Sunday. “It is certainly very concerning and it tells us there is a need to enhance training and make sure protocols are followed.

“The protocols work… but we know that even a single lapse or breach can result in infection,” he added.

Dr. Daniel Varga of Texas Health Resources, which owns Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said the nurse was infected despite wearing full protective equipment, which included a gown, gloves, mask, and shield.

16:12 GMT:

The Canadian Health Agency and NewLink Genetics Corp have begun human testing of an experimental Ebola vaccine, VSV-EBOV, Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose said. The trial will be carried out on a small group of people, and results of the study are expected in December.

15:41 GMT:

Liberian health workers have rejected calls to join a strike over poor pay and working conditions. They have “agreed, collectively as a community, to go back to work,” said Alphonso Weah, the head of the medical staff at the Island Clinic.

The strike was scheduled for Monday midnight, but the majority of hospitals and clinics were operating normally, Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown told reporters.

Health workers in protective gear pose at the entrance of the Ebola treatment unit of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, in the Liberian capital Monrovia, on October 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Zoom Dosso)

Health workers in protective gear pose at the entrance of the Ebola treatment unit of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, in the Liberian capital Monrovia, on October 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Zoom Dosso)

15:38 GMT:

A non-emergency phone line run by Britain’s National Health Service will question callers about their symptoms and their recent travel history to find possible Ebola suffers, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced as the UK steps up measures to combat the fast-spreading virus. The 111 phone line is staffed 24/7 and has 46 different call centers across the country.

15:38 GMT:

Spain will intensify training for health workers and emergency services, including “police, firemen and anyone who has something to bring to the fight against [Ebola],” local healthcare academic Fernando Rodriguez Artalejo said.

15:16 GMT:

Russia is ready to provide emergency medical flights to help fight Ebola, President Vladimir Putin has told Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization. He said that Russian experts are now looking into the possibility of such aid flights, and that some European countries have already asked Russia to provide assistance by sending planes with medical equipment. He added that Russia would need to act carefully to “protect our population” from Ebola.

12:21 GMT:

Russian health minister Veronika Skvortsova has expressed certainty that Russia has virtually no chance of seeing the type of Ebola outbreak witnessed elsewhere.

“There are no conditions here to support an outbreak of Ebola, no sources from which it might emerge,”she told reporters, emphasizing, though, that no one is safe from a random importation of infection.

Russian health authorities have been working closely with air traffic control to monitor for signs of infection.

12:11 GMT:

The EU is to hold a meeting on Thursday in Brussels to discuss the strategy for battling the outbreak, along with new entry regulations to pass in light of the region-state’s policy on free movement. These, according to the leadership, will be given top priority.

New York’s JFK Airport Launches Ebola Passenger Screening

JFK Airport

JFK becomes first US airport to implement Ebola screening for passengers arriving from West Africa

New York’s JFK airport launched Ebola screening measures for passengers arriving from West Africa on Saturday, becoming the first US airport to implement procedures to combat the deadly virus.

Passengers from the worst affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, will have their temperatures taken using no-touch thermometers, and will have to answer a series of questions about their travel history.

2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa - Outbreak Distribution Map

Passengers will also be asked if they have come into contact with anyone infected with Ebola. If they answer yes to any of the questions or have a fever, a representative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will intervene to provide a public health assessment. Quarantine areas have also been set up at JFK to be used if necessary.

Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, said the new procedures would cover 94% of travellers from the affected region, and would provide the American public with extra assurance.

Over the next few days, checks will also be introduced at airports in Chicago, Newark, Washington and Atlanta.

There are currently no scheduled direct flights to the US from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, with most passengers from Africa travelling via Europe.

The measures come after Thomas Duncan, who travelled to the US from Liberia, became the first person to die of Ebola in Texas on Wednesday. Duncan was only diagnosed with the disease once he arrived in Dallas.

Zero risk

Bill de Blasio

Recently elected New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, says the city is ready for Ebola appearing(Reuters)

Martin Cetron, director of the division of global migration and quarantine for the CDC, said at a press conference in New York on Saturday: “No matter how many procedures we have in place we cannot get the risk to zero.”

On Thursday, New York mayor Bill de Blasio chaired an “Ebola preparedness” meeting of city agencies, with representatives from hospitals, emergency services and coroners attending to discuss possible scenarios.

De Blasio stressed that as there has not been an Ebola case in New York, there is no cause for alarm.

“The city is particularly well prepared for any possible instance of Ebola because of our extraordinary health care system,” he said.

“Physicians, hospitals and emergency medical personnel are trained in how to identify this disease and how to quickly isolate anyone who may be afflicted.”

Additional protection

Dr Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a press briefing earlier this week: “What we’re doing is putting in additional protections. I understand there have been calls to ban all travel to West Africa. The problem with that approach is that it makes it extremely difficult to respond to the outbreak.


CDC director Thomas Frieden (L) says that Ebola is ‘far ahead of us’(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

“It makes it hard to get health workers in because they can’t get out. If we make it harder to respond to the outbreak in West Africa, it will spread not only in those three countries but to other parts of Africa and will ultimately increase the risk here.”

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, the number of deaths attributed to haemorrhagic fever has risen to 4,033. The vast majority of fatalities (4,024) were in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Dr David Nabarro, the UN special envoy on Ebola, warned that the world may have to live with Ebola forever unless almost every country is fully prepared to combat it.

“The world has never seen anything like it,” he said. “Time is our enemy. The virus is far ahead of us.”

West Africa Ebola outbreak deaths exceed 4,000 – WHO

A burial team from the Liberian Red Cross sprays disinfectant over the body bag of an Ebola victim while collecting the man his home on 8 October 2014 near Monrovia, Liberia

The number of people killed in the Ebola outbreak has risen above 4,000, the World Health Organization has said.

The latest figures show there have been 8,376 cases and 4,024 deaths in the worst-affected West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The news comes as Liberian MPs refused to grant the president additional powers to deal with the Ebola crisis.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has already declared a state of emergency that allows her to impose quarantines.

One parliamentarian, Bhofal Chambers, warned that creeping extra powers could turn Liberia into a “police state”.

The total death toll of 4,033 includes the death of a Liberian man in the United States this week and the eight people who died in Nigeria, where health authorities say they have now contained the virus.

The UN says more than 233 health workers working in West Africa have now died in the outbreak, the world’s deadliest to date.

A nurse in Spain is being treated for the virus after becoming infected from an Ebola patient who had been repatriated from Liberia – the country most badly hit by the disease with 2,316 deaths.