flight-induced fever (40°C) made bats immune to Ebola-viruses, while training the Ebola-viruses to be immune to non-flying-mammals (37 °C) like us
"The coronavirus czar" (science on 1st of May 2020) Christian Drosten established a system for probing the function of the SARS virus’ genes and started to study viral evolution, looking for close relatives of human viruses in animals. In one such study, his team discovered that mumps, which like measles is caused by a paramyxovirus, had jumped to humans from bats. They also showed that Nipah, another bat-borne virus, originated in Africa, even though it was discovered in Malaysia after hundreds of pig farmers there developed encephalitis in 1999.
Drosten said in 2002 that MERS which was transmitted by camels could follow the same course as SARS, which had originated in bats, and evolve to become a true human disease.
Why do Bats Transmit so many Diseases like Ebola?
Bats appear to carry more human-killing diseases than pretty much any other animal, but it’s not entirely their fault, as MinuteEarth explains.
Nipah, Hendra, Ebola, Marburg, and SARS are some of the world’s scariest viruses. They can be extremely fatal, like Ebola – which has the capacity to kill 90 percent of the people it infects – and can be extremely fast to spread, like SARS. What binds these terrible viruses together is not only the fact that they’re all carried by bats, but also that each of them has surfaced in humans in just the past 50 years.
So what is it about the past 50 years that’s suddenly brought all these viruses to the forefront? In the latest episode of MinuteEarth, Kate Yandell explains that because humans and our farm animals have been increasingly encroaching on the territories of wild bats, we’re now in more frequent contact with them than ever before. Plus bats are the perfect carriers of a virus – they love company, and will often roost with hundreds or thousands of their peers in close quarters, allowing the viruses to spread, sometimes even across species.
And on top of all of that, infected bats don’t die from the disease, which gives the viruses plenty of time to find a new host. What makes these little mammals more resistant to a virus that can topple an otherwise healthy human being? Flight. Flight might have helped bats gain virtual immunity to viruses, while training the viruses to be virtually immune to us, says Yandell. Watch the latest episode of MinuteEarth above to find out how.
How to keep viruses in the wild from finding humans
Much has been written about the many failures the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa represents: from the genuine lack of access to basic health care in many developing countries to the fact that the front line first response has largely fallen upon the brave volunteers of the nongovernmental sector.
This week we have learned that a Spanish dog potentially exposed to Ebola was euthanized out of an abundance of caution, another reminder of how the fates of people and animals are often intertwined. But the animals that need to be much more front and center as we think about Ebola are not domestic dogs, but wildlife.
As the human toll and financial costs continue to mount, it is worth taking a moment to consider that the majority of emerging and resurging viral pathogens like Ebola find us through wildlife — or, more accurately, we find them. How can we most effectively intervene to prevent these tragic disease outbreaks?
We likely will continue to invest millions in virus hunting, in cataloging the vast array of pathogens that lurk in wildlife around the world. That is intriguing and challenging work, and such efforts will likely continue to reveal a subset of pathogens we should worry about.
It’s important to note, however, that while there are likely hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of viruses we don’t even know about on land and sea, there are literally only a handful of human behaviors likely to bring humanity into contact with the potentially contagious ones carried by wildlife.
How do we encounter viruses carried by wild animals? We kill wildlife and eat or trade their body parts, we capture and trade live wildlife and mix species together in markets, and we encroach upon wilderness areas at increasingly dramatic scales. That’s about it. Three pretty straightforward things we can focus on. Of course our potential intervention points require more fine-grained information.
We next need to know who needs to eat wildlife. Food security is a basic human right. Many people around the world simply need to hunt to feed themselves and their families. For those people, we then need to identify species that should be avoided if at all possible.
If alternative, safe sources of nutrition can be made practically and reliably available, people should simply stop eating bats and primates. This is not the voice of conservation speaking here; it’s the voice of public health and common sense.
Knowing that bats are uniquely positioned in the animal kingdom as veritable virus factories, we need to know where people rely on access to bats as a food source. There are such places in the world, but there are likely as many if not more locales where bats are a preferred food, but not an essential one.
It’s important to note that the current Ebola outbreak appears to have originated when a 2-year-old child either touched a captured bat or consumed meat from one.
Bats seem to be a unique source of zoonotic viruses (viruses transmissible from animals to people) — from SARS and Ebola to Nipah and rabies — just to name a few. Because of this we should work to discourage the capture, killing and consumption of bats, the disruption of their roosting trees, and the establishment of farms right where they defecate and urinate.
The same can be said for primates, our closest relatives. We share a lot of diseases with them, and indeed we know that HIV/AIDS arose from the butchering and consumption of chimpanzees. If we can make sure those in need of nutrition can get it in other ways, humanity would be much better off not eating primates of any kind.
Will that do the trick: stop all emerging diseases? Of course not. There are plenty of other wild (and domestic) animals that carry pathogens of significant concern to humanity. But avoiding bats and primates would go a long way toward decreasing the odds of a virus making that critical leap from an animal to a human host.
Yes, we can and should worry about the health of dogs from a public health perspective; prevention of human rabies usually depends on good dog vaccination protocols. But the news about the dog in Spain should remind us about, not distract us from, the fact that across the planet, the health of people is closely tied to how we interact with the natural world.
This is not about cultural insensitivity or about telling hungry people to stop eating. But it is about making a distinction between need and want, recognizing that cultures throughout history learn and adapt, generation to generation. Especially in areas where eating bats and primates continues in the absence of a deep cultural attachment to the practice, educational efforts need to reveal these disease pathways to these consumers.
A significant number of people could likely be deterred from eating high-risk species if real political will and resources were brought to bear. For those consumers of high-risk bushmeat who simply have no other dietary options, we need to redouble our development efforts, replacing dependence on wildlife with safe and nutritious alternatives suitable to the local context.
Wildlife and the pathogens they carry have been around since the dawn of time. Many recent emerging disease outbreaks correlate directly with the fact that our growing numbers continue to demand more and more from wild nature in unprecedented and increasingly risky ways.
We can try to find and unravel the life history of every virus of potential risk. But we need to alleviate poverty, improve food security, and tap into the capacity for human culture to adapt in order to mitigate some very clear and present threats to our very survival.
Editor’s note: Steve Osofsky is executive director for wildlife health and health policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
One woman walked in, and the Ebola nightmare began
By Adam Levine, Special to CNN, September 24, 2014
— A middle-aged woman walked into the emergency room of Phebe Hospital with a fever on the evening of June 23.
Phebe was known as one of the best hospitals in rural Liberia, supported by the local government and international religious and academic partners. Phebe was especially known for its high-quality nursing care, serving as a training hospital for nearby Cuttington University, one of the country’s few nursing schools.
A few hours after arriving in the emergency room, the woman was admitted to the medicine ward with a list of potential infections — all the usual suspects in Bong County: malaria, typhoid, sepsis.
An epidemic had been raging for months in nearby Guinea, but Ebola was not considered as a possible diagnosis. After all, nobody at Phebe had ever seen a patient before with Ebola, and as the axiom goes in medicine, when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras. Certainly don’t start imagining unicorns.
The nurse who cared for the woman that night drew her blood and helped her to the toilet to urinate. When the woman began vomiting and soiled her sheets, the nurse cleaned up the mess, as nurses do all over the world every day.
For a disease whose transmission depends on the direct contact of one human being with the body fluids of another, Ebola has no better customer than nurses.
The other thing about nurses that the virus finds particularly helpful is they tend to work in shifts. Before the week was out, Bong County’s first Ebola patient had died, and seven nurses caring for her had fallen ill. Six of them would also die in the coming weeks.
The remaining clinical staff, watching their colleagues falling ill all around them, abandoned the hospital. When the patients saw what was happening, those well enough to walk out did just that.
Over the ensuing months, the epidemic rippled across Bong. Hundreds of individuals were infected, and perhaps more importantly, basic social institutions also began to collapse.
One by one, all three hospitals in the county shut down due to fear of the spread of the virus, followed by most of the primary care clinics. Women were left without midwives to deliver their babies, accident victims without emergency rooms to care with them. Next the primary schools closed, then the secondary schools, and finally Cuttington University.
Guilty of Ebola until proven otherwise
Ebola is not just a disease of individuals but also one that infects society’s most basic health and social welfare structures.
As a disease that afflicts health care institutions, it is perhaps fitting that the most powerful weapon in the fight against Ebola is not a single drug or vaccine but instead a particular type of health care institution: the Ebola Treatment Unit, or ETU.
On September 15, I helped International Medical Corps open the first ETU in Bong County. I have worked in many hospitals, both rich and poor, and have set up refugee camp clinics and trauma field hospitals in poverty-stricken and war-torn countries.
But managing an ETU has been an entirely different experience.
The primary goal of a hospital or clinic is to care for patients and, if possible, to save their lives. The primary goal of an ETU is to protect the lives of its staff.
The secondary goal is to protect surrounding communities and resuscitate local health care systems by taking patients suspected of having Ebola out of their homes and hospital emergency rooms, breaking the chain of transmission.
Caring for patients comes third on the list of priorities, though still remains important. After all, why would people go to an ETU if they did not think there was at least a chance that it would help make them better?
During the week before opening our ETU, I can honestly say that I worked harder and slept less than during any other time in my life. The sheer number of details involved in the construction and management of this unique type of health care facility is almost endless.
Ebola’s $1 billion bill hits Africa’s bright economic lights
First, a site had to be chosen, which has been a significant roadblock to the opening of other ETUs. Hospitals tend to be built close to the communities they serve; most communities, however, tend to want their ETU as far away as possible.
Our ETU sits in the middle of a forest, 2 kilometers (more than a mile) down a rough dirt road, on the grounds of an old leper colony. Perhaps it is not surprising that the survivors of one of humanity’s oldest and most stigmatized diseases would be among the few to welcome a treatment facility for one of the newest stigmatized diseases.
Second, the design and infrastructure of the ETU had to be perfected, with separate spaces and wards designating different levels of risk, where staff members would know to take different kinds of precautions.
A borehole was drilled and giant tanks erected to mix up the nearly 12,000 liters of chlorine required each day to disinfect the ETU and its staff properly. A giant incinerator was built to burn the vast amounts of infected waste produced by the facility safely.
Third, supplies had to be purchased, both the normal kind present in any hospital, such as bed sheets and intravenous fluids, but also the expensive (and increasingly difficult to purchase) personal protective equipment. A single outfit of boots, gloves, suit, mask, hood, goggles and apron costs as much as $90, and at full capacity the ETU might go through 100 outfits a day.
Ebola hospital overwhelmed by patients
Finally and most importantly, local staff had to be hired and trained to work in the facility. While a small team of expatriates working with International Medical Corps manages our ETU, more than 90% of the staffing remains local.
During the week before opening our facility, I helped organize an intensive training for our first 50 staff members, including physician assistants, nurses, nursing aids, hygienists, sprayers, safety monitors, waste handlers, chlorinators, laundry staff and burial team members, to ensure they knew how to protect their health and the health of their colleagues while working in the ETU.
Just 72 hours before our opening day, we had a checklist of almost 50 items, ranging from goggles to gravediggers, that we still needed to be able to begin admitting patients safely to the ETU. The pressure to open the ETU had been building for weeks as the numbers of cases of Ebola in the county began to skyrocket.
Somehow, and I’m still not sure how, we made it happen.
Editor’s note: Adam Levine is an assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of the Global Emergency Medicine Fellowship at Brown University. He is a member of the emergency response team for International Medical Corps. The views expressed in this post are his.
Russland macht den Kampf gegen Ebolafieber mit
STIMME RUSSLANDS, 14.Oktober 2014
Die Ebola-Verbreitung nimmt Ausmaße einer Pandemie an. Am Montag wurden Patienten mit Symptomen dieser Erkrankung in Polen und Belgien in Krankenhäuser eingewiesen. Zuvor wurden Ebola-Fälle in Spanien, Norwegen, den USA und Frankreich bestätigt.
In den Staaten Westafrikas gibt es über 8.500 Kranke. Es gibt keine Arzneien gegen diese Ansteckung, deshalb bieten die Ärzte eine rein symptomatische Behandlung an. Aber sie bringt in den meisten Fällen keinen Erfolg. Eine Quarantäne und sanitär-hygienische Maßnahmen sind jetzt die wichtigsten Vorbeugungsmaßnahmen.
Russland tut alles Mögliche für den Schutz der Bevölkerung gegen das Ebolafieber. Das teilte Präsident Wladimir Putin in seinem Gespräch mit der WHO-Generaldirektorin Margaret Chen mit. „Dabei wird Russland anderen Ländern auch weiter gegen diese gefährliche Erkrankung kämpfen helfen“, unterstrich Wladimir Putin.
„Wir nehmen an dem Kampf gegen diese Infektion teil. Einige europäische Staaten baten uns nötigenfalls ihnen spezielle Flugzeuge, die unsere europäischen Partner vorläufig nicht haben, zur Verfügung zu stellen. Experten prüfen jetzt die Möglichkeit eines Zusammenwirkens in dieser Richtung. Wir sind bereit auch andere Handlungen der russischen Seite zu erörtern“, so der russische Präsident.
„Russland hat neben speziell ausgerüsteten medizinischen Flugzeugen so genannte „Kapseln“ – einzigartige mobile Boxen, die für den Transport von infizierten Kranken bestimmt sind“, sagte der stellvertretende Direktor für die wissenschaftlich-klinische Arbeit des Instituts für die Epidemiologie, Akademiemitglied Viktor Malejew:
„Die Kapseln sind eine sehr gute Isolierung, deshalb stellt ein Kranker beim Transport keine Gefahr der Verbreitung der Infektion dar. Drinnen wird der Unterdruck gewährleistet, damit die Ausflüsse des Kranken, der sich darin befindet, nicht in die Umwelt gelangen. Das sind Kapseln russischer Herkunft.“
Russische Wissenschaftler stehen außerdem kurz vor der Entwicklung eines Vakzins gegen das Ebolavirus. „Man arbeitet in Labors sowohl in Russland als auch in Guinea, wo sich jetzt russische Fachleute befinden, in mehreren Richtungen“, teilte die russische Gesundsministerin Weronika Skworzowa mit:
„Wir entwickeln jetzt drei Vakzine. Mit einem davon wurden bereits vorklinische Tests durchgeführt, jetzt stehen klinische Tests bevor. Das Vakzin wird unmittelbar aus einem inaktivierten Virusstamm produziert. Zwei andere sind Geningenieurvakzine, die von führenden russischen Instituten für die Virologie entwickelt werden. Man wird sie, wie ich denke, in den nächsten sechs Monaten produzieren.“
Jetzt sind schon einige experimentelle Vakzine gegen das Ebolavirus, unter anderem US-amerikanischer und britischer Herkunft, bekannt. Sie bewährten sich gut bei Untersuchungen an Primaten, aber es stellte sich heraus, dass sie für die Menschen wenig effektiv sind. Fachleute aus verschiedenen Ländern arbeiten weiterhin aktiv in dieser Richtung.
Ebola-Infektion: Im Frankfurter Flughafen Ansteckungsgefahr am größten RIA Novosti/ STIMME RUSSLANDS, 10 Oktober 2014
Bei Reisen über den Flughafen Frankfurt am Main ist das Risiko für Passagiere, sich mit einem Virus, darunter auch dem Ebola-Virus anzustecken, größer als bei Flügen über andere internationale Airports, geht aus Berechnungen von Forschern des Saarbrücker Max-Planck-Instituts für Informatik hervor.
Die Forscher erstellten ein Rechenmodell zur Ausbreitung von Pandemien. Dabei werteten sie eine Datenbank von 3.458 Flughäfen mit 68.620 Flugverbindungen und 171 verschiedenen Flugzeugvarianten aus.
„Mit der Zunahme des weltweiten Flugverkehrs steigt die Gefahr von Pandemien“, erklärten die Forscher. Frankfurt am Main erreicht dabei wegen sehr vielen Verbindungen und hohen Fluggastzahlen den Skala-Höchstwert von 100. Mit 97 Prozent kommt Peking auf Rang zwei. Darauf folgen London Heathrow Airport mit 92 Prozent und der Flughafen New York JFK mit 91 Prozent.
Britische Medien hatten zuvor berichtet, dass sich die Ebola-Epidemie auch in Frankreich und Großbritannien ausbreiten könnte. Das Ebola-Virus wird mit einer Wahrscheinlichkeit von 75 Prozent bis zum 24. Oktober Frankreich erreichen. Bei Großbritannien liegt die Wahrscheinlichkeit bei 50 Prozent.
Das gefährliche Ebola-Virus breitet sich rasend schnell aus. Der aktuelle Ausbruch betrifft die westafrikanischen Länder Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, die Demokratische Republik Kongo und Senegal.
Das Ebola-Virus wird ausschließlich über direkten Kontakt mit der Körperflüssigkeit von Erkrankten oder Verstorbenen übertragen. Laut den jüngsten Angaben der Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO) wurden in Westafrika mehr als 8.000 Ebola-Patienten registriert. Mehr als 3.800 Menschen sind bereits an der Krankheit gestorben.
Ebolaviruses were first described after outbreaks of EVD in southern Sudan in June 1976 and in Zaire in August 1976.The name Ebolavirus is derived from the Ebola River in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the location of the 1976 outbreak, and the taxonomic suffix -virus (denoting a viral genus). This genus was introduced in 1998 as the "Ebola-like viruses". In 2002 the name was changed to Ebolavirus and in 2010, the genus was emended. Ebolaviruses are closely related to marburgviruses.
Rates of genetic change are 8*10-4 per site per year and thus one fourth as fast as influenza A in humans. Extrapolating backwards Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus probably diverged several thousand years ago. A study done in 1995 and 1996 found that the genes of Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus differed by about 55% at the nucleotide level, and at least 67% at the amino acid level. The same study found that the strains of Ebolavirus by about 37-41% across the nucleotide level and 34-43% across the amino acid level. The EBOV strain was found to have an almost 2% change in the nucleotide level from the original 1976 strain from the Yambuki outbreak and the strain from the 1995 Kikwit outbreak. However, paleoviruses (genomic fossils) of filoviruses (Filoviridae) found in mammals indicate that the family itself is at least tens of millions of years old.
Veröffentlicht von: Dr. rer. nat. Geraldine Nagel (23. Oktober 2014)
Das Hauptproblem bei Ebola ist die nicht eindeutig geklärte ursprüngliche Infektionsquelle – also die Tierart, welche das ursprüngliche Virus beherbergt, ohne selbst daran zu erkranken (sog. natürliches Reservoir). Erst wenn diese Quelle gefunden ist, können Ärzte und Wissenschaftler viele ihrer Fragen zu der Infektionkrankheit klären. Daher untersuchten Forscher während der letzten Epidemien zahlreiche Tierarten in den betroffenen Regionen.
Momentan nehmen Wissenschaftler an, dass möglicherweise Flughunde das natürliche Reservoir des Ebola-Virus sind. Diese könnten das Virus direkt an Menschen weitergeben (z.B. wenn Flughunde verzehrt werden) oder indirekt über infizierte Affen. Es gibt Ebola-Fälle, bei denen sich die Betroffenen durch den Verzehr von Affenfleisch infiziert haben. Da diese Tiere aber selber auch an der Krankheit versterben, kommen sie als Ursprungswirt nicht infrage.
The mystery viruses far worse than flu
Spanish flu was one of the most serious pandemics humanity has faced over the last century. But there are others, and some have the capacity to be even deadlier.
One not-so-surprising finding was that the next pandemic will probably emerge from bats. No one knows why, but bats are absolutely riddled with nasty viruses. They’re known to be the source of many, many human pandemics, including Sars, which we picked up from cave-dwelling bats in China, as well as Ebola.
Coronavirus outbreak raises question: Why are bat viruses so deadly? University of California – Berkeley | 02-10-2020
A new University of California, Berkeley, study finds that bats’ fierce immune response to viruses could drive viruses to replicate faster, so that when they jump to mammals with average immune systems, such as humans, the viruses wreak deadly havoc.
“Some bats are able to mount this robust antiviral response, but also balance it with an anti-inflammation response,” said Cara Brook, a postdoctoral Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley and the first author of the study. “Our immune system would generate widespread inflammation if attempting this same antiviral strategy. But bats appear uniquely suited to avoiding the threat of immunopathology.”
“Heightened environmental threats to bats may add to the threat of zoonosis.” The project, Bat One Health, explores the link between loss of bat habitat and the spillover of bat viruses into other animals and humans.
Generally, vigorous physical activity and high metabolic rates lead to higher tissue damage due to an accumulation of reactive molecules, primarily free radicals. But to enable flight, bats seem to have developed physiological mechanisms to efficiently mop up these destructive molecules.
This has the side benefit of efficiently mopping up damaging molecules produced by inflammation of any cause, which may explain bats’ uniquely long lifespans.
This rapid tamping down of inflammation may also have another perk: tamping down inflammation related to antiviral immune response. One key trick of many bats’ immune systems is the hair-trigger release of a signaling molecule called interferon-alpha, which tells other cells to “man the battle stations” before a virus invades.
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