Friday, August 1, 2014

Ebola 'moving faster than efforts to control it': WHO warn virus could spread to other countries causing 'catastrophic' loss of life


  • WHO chief warns virus could spread to other countries causing loss of life
  • Says that Ebola is moving faster than their efforts to control it
  • Added that the response to the virus had been 'woefully inadequate'
  • Made the comments at a summit in Guinea to discuss the infection
  • Around 700 people have died from the virus so far, with 1,201 reported cases
The World Health Organisation has warned that the deadly Ebola virus was spiralling out of control in West Africa and could spread to other countries causing catastrophic loss of life.
The warning came from the head of the WHO Margaret Chan who said that the epidemic was moving faster than their efforts to control it.
Dr Chan made the stark warning at a regional summit of the leaders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in the Guinean capital of Conakry, where she also said the response the virus had been 'woefully inadequate.'
Medical workers in Sierra Leone wear protective clothing while treating patients infected with the Ebola virus in Kenema District
Medical workers in Sierra Leone wear protective clothing while treating patients infected with the Ebola virus in Kenema District
A government worker in Liberia mixes disinfectant to spray the streets of Monrovia to try and bring the Ebola virus under control
A government worker in Liberia mixes disinfectant to spray the streets of Monrovia to try and bring the Ebola virus under control
Dr Margaret Chan arrives at Conakry airport in Guinea for talks with the leaders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia about the Ebola virus
Dr Margaret Chan arrives at Conakry airport in Guinea for talks with the leaders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia about the Ebola virus




She explained: 'If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socio-economic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries.
'It is taking place in areas with fluid population movements over porous borders, and it has demonstrated its ability to spread via air travel, contrary to what has been seen in past outbreaks.
'Cases are occurring in rural areas which are difficult to access, but also in densely populated capital cities. This meeting must mark a turning point in the outbreak response.'
However, she did emphasise that the general public is not at a high risk of infection.
The warning came from the head of the WHO Margaret Chan who said that the epidemic was moving faster than their efforts to control it
The warning came from the head of the WHO Margaret Chan who said that the epidemic was moving faster than their efforts to control it

She added: 'Constant mutation and adaptation are the survival mechanisms of viruses and other microbes.
'We must not give this virus opportunities to deliver more surprises.'
The leaders of the three countries at the summit hoped to organise the deployment of hundreds of extra medical personnel as part of a $100million emergency response to the epidemic, which has claimed more than 700 lives.
The outbreak, which has been described as the largest ever in the nearly four-decade history of the disease with 1,201 Ebola cases reported in the three countries, starts with flu-like symptoms before evolving to cause catastrophic internal bleeding.
Dr Chan's warning comes as Sierra Leone today declared a public health emergency to tackle the deadly virus and called in security forces to quarantine infected areas.
Soldiers have been deployed to the streets of Liberia to prevent panic as fears spread about the deadly virus
Soldiers have been deployed to the streets of Liberia to prevent panic as fears spread about the deadly virus
Health officials in the U.S. have warned Americans not to travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea
Health officials in the U.S. have warned Americans not to travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea


President Ernest Bai Koroma said the measures resembled a tough anti-Ebola package announced by neighbouring Liberia last night.
Mr Koroma also announced he was cancelling a visit to Washington for a U.S.-Africa summit next week because of the crisis.
The first cases of Ebola emerged in Guinea in March, and later spread across the borders to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Outbreaks of the virus in previous years had occurred in other parts of Africa.
The virus has infected three African capitals with international airports and officials are trying to step up screening of passengers.
Medical vehicles in Liberia drive through the streets with posters on them saying 'Ebola must go' as the virus spreads
Medical vehicles in Liberia drive through the streets with posters on them saying 'Ebola must go' as the virus spreads
The outbreak has been described as the largest ever in the nearly four-decade history of the disease, with 1,201 Ebola cases reported
The outbreak has been described as the largest ever in the nearly four-decade history of the disease, with 1,201 Ebola cases reported


Experts say the risk of travellers contracting it is considered low because it requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, blood, sweat or saliva. Ebola can't be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air.
Patients are contagious only once the disease has progressed to the point they show symptoms, according to the WHO. The most vulnerable are health care workers and relatives who come in much closer contact with the sick.
In Liberia, authorities say 28 out of the 45 health workers who have contracted the

Study traces dinosaur evolution into early birds

Associated Press


This undated artist rendering provided by the journal Science shows the dinosaur lineage which evolved into birds shrank in body size continuously for 50 million years. From left are, the ancestral neotheropod, the ancestral tetanuran, the ancestral coelurosaur, the ancestral paravian and Archaeopteryx. Scientists have mapped how one group of dinosaurs evolved from the likes of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex and primitive Herrerasaurus to the welcome robin and cute hummingbird. The surprisingly steady shrinking and elegant evolution of some Triassic dinosaurs is detailed in the journal Science on Thursday. Comparing fossils of 120 different species and 1,500 skeletal features, especially leg bones, researchers constructed a detailed family tree of theropod dinosaurs. That suborder of dinos survives to this day as birds, however unrecognizable and improbable it sounds. (AP Photo/Davide Bonnadonna, Science)

This undated artist rendering provided by the journal Science shows the
 dinosaur lineage which evolved into birds …

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists have mapped how a group of fearsome, massive dinosaurs evolved and shrank to the likes of robins and hummingbirds.
Comparing fossils of 120 different species and 1,500 skeletal features, especially thigh bones, researchers constructed a detailed family tree for the class of two-legged meat-eaters called theropods. That suborder of dinos survives to this day as birds, however unrecognizable and improbable it sounds.
The steady downsizing and elegant evolution of the theropods is detailed in the journal Science on Thursday.
"They just kept on shrinking and shrinking and shrinking for about 50 million years," said study author Michael S. Y. Lee of the University of Adelaide in Australia. He called them "shape-shifters."
Lee and colleagues created a dinosaur version of the iconic ape-to-man drawing of human evolution. In this version, the lumbering large dinos shrink, getting more feathery and big-chested, until they are the earliest version of birds.
For a couple decades scientists have linked birds to this family of dinosaurs because they shared hollow bones, wishbones, feathers and other characteristics. But the Lee study gives the best picture of how steady and unusual theropod evolution was. The skeletons of theropods changed four times faster than other types of dinosaurs, the study said.
A few members of that dino family did not shrink, including T. rex, which is more of a distant cousin to birds than a direct ancestor, Lee said.
He said he and colleagues were surprised by just how consistently the theropods shrank over evolutionary time, while other types of dinosaurs showed ups and downs in body size.
The first theropods were large, weighing around 600 pounds. They roamed about 220 million to 230 million years ago. Then about 200 million years ago, when some of the creatures weighed about 360 pounds, the shrinking became faster and more prolonged, the study said. In just 25 million years, the beasts were slimmed down to barely 100 pounds. By 167 million years ago, 6-pound paravians, more direct ancestor of birds, were around.
And 163 million years ago the first birds, weighing less than two pounds, probably came on the scene, the study said
Paul Sereno, a dinosaur researcher at the University of Chicago who wasn't part of this study, praised Lee's work as innovative.
The steady size reduction shows "something very strange going on," Sereno said. "This is key to what went on at the origin of birds."
People may think bigger is better, but sometimes when it comes to evolution smaller can be better because bigger creatures are more likely to go extinct, Sereno said.
And when the theropods started shrinking there weren't many other small species that would compete with them, Lee said.
"The dinosaur ancestors of birds found a new niche and a new way of life," Lee said.
Sereno added, "When you are small, it's a totally different ball game. You can fly and glide and I think that's what drove it."
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Online:
The journal Science: http://www.sciencemag.org