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Medical Reporting Standards

The Associated Press could use a few good people with some medical knowledge to help them with the reporting on emerging threats: New deadly strain of Ebola emerges

A new strain of Ebola virus has infected 51 people and killed 16 in an area near Uganda’s border with Democratic Republic of Congo, U.S. health experts said on Thursday.

Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever, meaning it can cause internal and external bleeding. Victims often die of shock but symptoms can be vague, including fever, muscle pain and nausea.

There are four identified strains, Ksiazek said. The two strains that cause the most human disease are the Zaire and Sudan strains, named after the countries in which they first appeared.

A strain called Reston caused an outbreak in a primate facility in the Washington, D.C. suburb of the same name while a single human case in Ivory Coast was caused by the Cote d’Ivoire strain.

The Zaire strain killed 80 percent of victims, while the Sudan strain had just over a 50 percent mortality rate.

The new strain would be the fifth identified. Ksiazek said it had not yet been named.

I’m going to take a wild guess that they will call it the Democratic Republic of Congo strain, the Zaire-2 strain [the DRC was called Zaire from 1971 until 1997], or the Uganda strain. Researchers like consistency in such matters.

All versions of Ebola are potentially fatal, but this strain is one of the milder forms with a mortality rate of “only” a little over 30%. What we don’t know from this article is anything that would be useful in not catching this virus, nor any hints about treating it, as in what precautions to take if it is encountered. I feel certain the CDC would have been happy to “share” if the questions were asked.

Running medical scare stories like this serve no purpose other than keeping people on edge and supply yet another disease for hypochondriacs to worry about when they get “flu-like symptoms.” Of course, it won’t stop people from going to the DRC if they had made plans to visit, because if the civil wars, banditry, and general lawlessness in the area hadn’t stopped them, this certainly won’t.

Note: the AP are one of the few operations who are doing much real reporting, so I’m suggesting how they can add more information.  I’ve given up even worrying about most of the media who only seem able to repackage press releases.

14 comments

1 Michael { 11.30.07 at 9:12 pm }

Putting the DRC on your itinerary is pretty much asking for something bad to happen to you. And in comparison to some things that might entail, contracting Ebola might not be so bad.

2 Bryan { 11.30.07 at 9:49 pm }

The rise of Ebola is probably the result of people being forced deeper into the bush by the turmoil and coming in contact with, or eating something they wouldn’t normally touch, like primates.

It has a marked trend of showing up in areas of conflict, with the exception of the primate facility, but the animals may have come from such an area.

3 Michael { 11.30.07 at 10:37 pm }

Uganda strain, you mean.

4 Michael { 11.30.07 at 10:39 pm }

You said that, anyhow. I’m just slow today.

5 Bryan { 11.30.07 at 11:38 pm }

Aren’t we all, Michael?

6 The Culture Ghost { 12.01.07 at 1:43 am }
7 ellroon { 12.01.07 at 12:48 pm }

/shriek
/hides under bed

8 Bryan { 12.01.07 at 1:10 pm }

Now we know what you want for solstice, CG.

Yeah, Ellroon, these guys don’t look so vicious.

9 The Culture Ghost { 12.01.07 at 3:11 pm }

Hee-hee…just got one. The SigOt gave me one for my sobriety birthday which isn’t until next week.

10 Bryan { 12.01.07 at 3:56 pm }

Hmm, pretty weird that people know about those things. Tell your SO that people who think like I do generally need to seek professional help.

11 The Culture Ghost { 12.01.07 at 4:23 pm }

Bryan…you and I have almost an equal number of cats. You have more ferals…I have more indoor felines. This alone should qualify us for needing something if not relief from the food bills.

12 Bryan { 12.01.07 at 9:24 pm }

As far as cats go, I needed a few of the people who told me not to put the kittens up for adoption because they wanted one of them to have meant it.

The ferals are bad, it’s the freeloading possums and raccoons that tick me off.

13 hipparchia { 12.02.07 at 12:41 am }

i guess i can’t blame my potential adopters for backing out. the two kittens that everybody wanted [because they’re the most eye-catching] turned out to be the only two that don’t want to have anything to do with people.

14 Bryan { 12.02.07 at 11:42 am }

There is no telling which cats will have attitude. Income was a very stand-offish kitten but is a much friendlier cat that his siblings.