WBEZ | disease http://www.wbez.org/tags/disease Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Worrisome Bat-Disease Map Shouldn't Make People Fear Bats http://www.wbez.org/news/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats-114617 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/fruitbat.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Poor bats. Already typecast as movie villains and Halloween bad guys, the persecuted creatures have also been pummeled recently by a rapidly spreading&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/13/376092152/good-news-for-bats-things-are-looking-up-for-stemming-disease-spread">fungal disease</a>. Now this.</p><p>A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/684391">new map</a>&nbsp;published in the February edition of&nbsp;<em>The American Naturalist&nbsp;</em>highlights the hot spots where diseases are most likely to spill over from winged to bipedal mammals.</p><p>The biggest hot spot is in sub-Saharan Africa, where people continue to hunt bats as bushmeat. Southeast Asia is another danger zone.</p><p>A large swath of South America, meanwhile, emerged as a region where bats carry a particularly diverse array of viruses, although contact between bats and people there happens less frequently.</p><div id="res462404061" previewtitle="The map shows hot spots where the risk is highest for bats passing diseases to humans, based on degree of bat-human contact and number of diseases carried by regional bats. Red is superhot. Green is cool. Yellow is in the middle."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The map shows hot spots where the risk is highest for bats passing diseases to humans, based on degree of bat-human contact and number of diseases carried by regional bats. Red is superhot. Green is cool. Yellow is in the middle." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/08/bat-map_custom-7129551e42a12a47dd215df8b0c08785fd532c64-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 248px; width: 620px;" title="The map shows hot spots where the risk is highest for bats passing diseases to humans, based on degree of bat-human contact and number of diseases carried by regional bats. Red is superhot. Green is cool. Yellow is in the middle. (Courtesy The American Naturalist)" /></div><div><div><p>By identifying areas where the variety of viruses is richest and the risk for transmission is highest, the team hopes to help focus resources on the most important targets for research and public health efforts.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;What we&#39;re trying to do is point out these high-risk areas so that we can find out why they&#39;re high risk,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/Epigroup/Liam+Brierley">Liam Brierley</a>, a disease ecologist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom and co-author of the article about zoonotic bat viruses that featured the map. Another hope is to stop diseases from spreading beyond bats in the first place.</p><p>For reasons that aren&#39;t exactly clear, bats are particularly good at carrying diseases that also infect people. At his last count, Brierley says, the list of shared viruses totaled 33. Researchers now suspect that Ebola likely occurred in bats before infecting primates and then people. Bats have also been implicated in the spread of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.who.int/csr/sars/en/">SARS</a>, rabies and more.</p><p><a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article">Previous studies</a><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/08/462401329/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats?ft=nprml&amp;f=462401329#_msocom_1" name="_msoanchor_1" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(71, 116, 204); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: transparent; text-decoration: none;"></a>&nbsp;have identified some hot spots where new diseases are most likely to spread from wild animals to people. To refine this geographic search for so-called zoonotic diseases with a specific focus on bats, Brierley and colleagues started with more than 100 years of data about which bat species carry which viruses.</p><p>They turned those data into a map showing where the variety of diseases is expected to be greatest. Then they added layers of information about the kinds of situations that increase the risk for bat-to-human disease transmission, such as the expansion of farmland and urban areas into bat habitats.</p><p>The first identified outbreak of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.who.int/csr/disease/nipah/en/">Nipah virus</a><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/08/462401329/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats?ft=nprml&amp;f=462401329#_msocom_2" name="_msoanchor_2" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(71, 116, 204); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: transparent; text-decoration: none;"></a>&nbsp;(an often severe and frequently deadly disease that can cause brain inflammation), for example, occurred in the late &#39;90s and was linked to pig farms that bordered bat habitats in Malaysia. Bats very likely dropped fruit into pigpens, Brierley says. The pigs became infected with exposure to bat urine and saliva, and people became infected after close contact with infected pigs. Now people regularly spread the disease to other people in Bangladesh and India.</p><p>Preventing disease transmission from bats is not a lost cause, says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ecohealthalliance.org/about/experts/35-karesh">William Karesh</a>, a zoonotic disease expert at EcoHealth Alliance, an international conservation organization in New York. One important strategy, he says, is to educate hunters about proper hygiene, like washing hands and avoiding direct contact with bat blood.</p><p>Sometimes, prevention efforts are remarkably simple and cheap, he adds. One outbreak of Nipah virus in Bangladesh was traced to pots left out overnight to collect date palm sap from trees. Bats were contaminating the pots with feces and urine, which was spreading disease as people consumed the sap. All it took was covering the pots at night to keep people from getting sick.</p><p>Another benefit of the new research is that it can give advance warning to the veterinarians and doctors who treat sick livestock and people about where they need to be most alert to the unexpected, Karesh says. Medical professionals in parts of Africa, Asia and South America, in particular, should be on the lookout for new diseases if tests for traditional diseases turn up negative.</p><p>What the results don&#39;t mean, Brierley says, is that people should fear bats. After all, there is plenty of good that bats do for us. They eat insects. And they pollinate some crops, including coffee. It&#39;s not their fault that we keep encroaching on their habitat or that we share susceptibility to so many of the same viruses.</p><p>&quot;We can&#39;t expand into natural bat habitat,&quot; Brierley says, &quot;and then blame the bats.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/08/462401329/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats?ft=nprml&amp;f=462401329" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 11:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/worrisome-bat-disease-map-shouldnt-make-people-fear-bats-114617 What a Difference a Drug Makes in the Fight Against River Blindness http://www.wbez.org/news/what-difference-drug-makes-fight-against-river-blindness-114569 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/river1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res462954066" previewtitle="Bondi Sanbark, the chief in Beposo 2, says his village used to be full of blind men led around by boys — but that began to change when a new drug was distributed."><div id="res462953406" previewtitle="Albert Tamanja Bidim, a community volunteer, distributes ivermectin, the tablet that fights river blindness, in the Ghanaian town of Beposo 2."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Albert Tamanja Bidim, a community volunteer, distributes ivermectin, the tablet that fights river blindness, in the Ghanaian town of Beposo 2." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/13/img_1748-43_custom-62ef3265dba7463a42e611db754f65f519b9c4dc-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Albert Tamanja Bidim, a community volunteer, distributes ivermectin, the tablet that fights river blindness, in the Ghanaian town of Beposo 2. (Jason Beaubien/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>One of the problems with river blindness is that it doesn&#39;t kill you.</p></div></div></div><p>It&#39;s a nasty disease that causes agonizing itching, disfigured skin and, in the worst cases, blindness. River blindness is a parasitic infection transmitted by black flies that breed in rapidly flowing bodies of water. The worms burrow under your skin and eventually wiggle across your pupils, destroying your vision. But because the disease usually isn&#39;t fatal, health officials in cash-strapped tropical countries have slotted it lower on their to-do lists than malaria, TB, cholera, AIDS and other life-threatening diseases.</p><p>Indeed, the World Health Organization categorizes river blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, as a &quot;neglected tropical disease.&quot;</p><p>But over the past three decades, much of the world has made steady progress against the debilitating condition. And much of the credit for that progress is linked to ministries of health introducing the drug&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a607069.html">ivermectin</a>. Mass distributions of ivermectin tablets have sent onchocerciasis rates plummeting.</p><p>The village of Beposo 2 in central Ghana is one of those places.</p><p>Local chief Bondi Sanbark says his village used to be full of blind men being led around by young boys. But that started changing after Ghana changed its strategy in the battle against the disease in the late 1980s. Up to that point, Ghana had been using insecticides to try to kill the black flies that carry the river blindness parasite. The new strategy goes after the parasites inside people. The government treats entire villages, every year, with a drug called ivermectin that kills the offspring of the parasites, which cause the blindness and also can infect others.</p><div id="res462954066" previewtitle="Bondi Sanbark, the chief in Beposo 2, says his village used to be full of blind men led around by boys — but that began to change when a new drug was distributed."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Bondi Sanbark, the chief in Beposo 2, says his village used to be full of blind men led around by boys — but that began to change when a new drug was distributed." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/13/img_1715-42_custom-21695f01d73c4d40969227d769b6f8e18aa8f08c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 350px; width: 620px;" title="Bondi Sanbark, the chief in Beposo 2, says his village used to be full of blind men led around by boys — but that began to change when a new drug was distributed. (Jason Beaubien/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The mass ivermectin campaigns are now treating roughly 4 million Ghanaians a year, or more than 15 percent of the population. And the strategy is paying off.</p></div></div></div><p>No one has gone blind in Beposo 2 for years, says Sanbark.</p><p>Beposo 2 was founded around the time of Ghana&#39;s independence from Britain in 1957. The town is a half-hour&#39;s drive from the Pru River, where the black flies that carry the river blindness parasite swarm. Its founders wanted to get away from the river and from onchocerciasis. But they couldn&#39;t escape the reach of the flies.</p><div id="res462966651"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>The situation was better here away from the river, but people got sick with what they refer to as &quot;oncho.&quot; Since the introduction of ivermectin, onchocerciasis infections still occur in Beposo 2, but now they&#39;re much milder than in the past. The disease has been sharply curtailed in many parts of Africa and is on the verge of elimination from the Americas.</p><p>But even ivermectin isn&#39;t perfect.</p><p>Ivermectin doesn&#39;t actually kill the roundworm parasites that cause onchocerciasis. The drug is only able to kill the offspring of the parasites, the baby larvae. It&#39;s the spreading of hundreds of thousands of these immature worms through a person&#39;s body that causes the disease. Unfortunately, the parasite can live in a person&#39;s body for up to 15 years. So to suppress the spread of the parasites, entire villages have to be treated with ivermectin year after year in logistically complicated campaigns.</p><p>The distribution campaigns require armies of volunteers.</p><div id="res462953523" previewtitle="A volunteer shows the four ivermectin tablets he's about to give a woman for her yearly dose."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A volunteer shows the four ivermectin tablets he's about to give a woman for her yearly dose." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/01/13/img_1687-41_custom-3d31964802147025d00764351dc1a927727869a2-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 474px; width: 620px;" title="A volunteer shows the four ivermectin tablets he's about to give a woman for her yearly dose. (Jason Beaubien/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;This job is&nbsp;soooo&nbsp;difficult,&quot; says Albert Tamanja Bidim, the drug distribution volunteer in Beposo 2. Once a year he has to track down every resident of the village and give them the proper number of ivermectin tablets. He carries a long stick, a white bottle of pills and a handwritten ledger with all the villagers&#39; names in it. The markings on the stick indicate how many pills a person should get. Bidim holds it up next to a boy to determine what dosage to give him. Kids under 90 centimeters, roughly 3 feet tall, and pregnant women don&#39;t get any out of safety concerns. The dose varies from one to four tablets, washed down at once, for taller kids and adults.</p></div></div></div><p>Bidim doesn&#39;t get paid for this work but takes the job very seriously.</p><p>&quot;If the person is not here, and I know how many tablets the person will take, I will keep it for him,&quot; Bidim says. &quot;Sometimes, maybe if he has traveled or went to the farm, I&#39;ll keep the tablets until he gets back.&quot;</p><p>This process of volunteers pounding on doors and passing out ivermectin happens all across Ghana in villages prone to river blindness.</p><p>&quot;We have about 5 million Ghanaians at risk of onchocerciasis,&quot; says Dr. Nana-Kwadwo Biritwum, who heads the neglected tropical disease program in the Ghana Ministry of Health.</p><p>He says the annual distribution campaigns are a major undertaking. &quot;We go in with millions of tablets, every year, to treat every community.&quot;</p><p>Many of the villages hardest hit by river blindness are in remote, inaccessible parts. &quot;It takes a lot of work, a lot of resources,&quot; Biritwum says.</p><p>Onchocerciasis is less neglected than some other neglected tropical diseases in that a major pharmaceutical company has made it its cause celebre.</p><p>For decades, Merck has made an unlimited amount of ivermectin available for free under the brand name Mectizan. International aid groups including the World Bank,<a href="http://www.sightsaversusa.org/">Sightsavers</a>&nbsp;and the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cartercenter.org/health/river_blindness/index.html">Carter Center</a>&nbsp;have helped fund the distributions.</p><p>Ghana is seeing the results. Some villages have gone from having 70 to 80 percent of adults testing positive for onchocerciasis 25 years ago to just 2 to 3 percent today.</p><p>Ghana is now talking about trying to wipe out the disease by 2020. Biritwum at the ministry of health says before the arrival of ivermectin, that never would have been possible.</p><p>Ivermectin&#39;s incredible impact on river blindness and other roundworm infections also caught the eye of the Nobel committee. The 2015 prize for medicine went to William Campbell of the U.S. and Satoshi Omura from Japan for discovering the drug (a third honoree did work on malaria). The Nobel committee said, &quot;This year&#39;s Nobel Laureates have developed therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of some of the most devastating parasitic diseases.&quot; And the impact of their work can be clearly seen in villages like Beposo 2 in Ghana.</p><h3><em>Join Us For A Twitter Chat On River Blindness</em></h3><p><em>Want to know more about river blindness? Dr. Neeraj Mistry, the managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases,&nbsp;<a href="http://bit.ly/1PtfeEd">will be taking your questions on Twitter</a>&nbsp;on Friday, Jan. 22, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET. Leave your questions in a comment below, or tweet them to&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/nprgoatsandsoda">@NPRGoatsandSoda</a>&nbsp;with the hashtag #RiverBlindness.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-difference-drug-makes-fight-against-river-blindness-114569 What http://www.wbez.org/news/zika-virus-confirmed-texas-heres-primer-disease-114601 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-513671975-51_custom-b47d0796434e717ab7eefd40c2a3fc91e874e8a4-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em><a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/02/02/zika-virus-sexually-transmitted/?utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter">Update</a>: A patient in&nbsp;Texas has been diagnosed with Zika virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after returning from a trip to South America. About 22 patients in the mainland U.S. have fallen ill with the disease since 2007, but none of them contracted it domestically, according to the CDC.</em></p><hr /><div id="res456526337"><div>The mosquito-borne Zika virus has spread quickly in the past two years through the Pacific Islands and South America. Although there have been no reported deaths from the illness, a spate of recent outbreaks is cause for concern.</div></div><p>Earlier this fall, after Colombia reported its first cases of Zika virus infection, the World Health Organization recommended countries in North and South America step up efforts to identify and track the virus. Last week, cases were reported in the Yucatan in Mexico and in the Caribbean. And doctors in Brazil are trying to determine whether the virus may be linked to a spike in the number of babies with a congenital brain deformity called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/microcephaly/basics/definition/con-20034823">microcephaly</a>.</p><div><p>Here&#39;s what we know about Zika.</p><p><strong>What is it?&nbsp;</strong>Zika virus infection can cause Zika fever &mdash; an illness often accompanied by rash, fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis. It is spread by mosquitoes of the&nbsp;Aedesgenus,&nbsp;including&nbsp;<em>A. aegypti</em>, the same mosquito species that carries the dengue and chikungunya viruses. Severe illness happens less often with Zika infections than with dengue infections, but &quot;while Zika virus infections have been recognized for some time, large outbreaks have only been recognized within the last decade and we are still trying to understand the full spectrum of illness,&quot; says Susan Hills of the Center for Disease Control&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/">Division of Vector-Borne Diseases</a>.</p><p><strong>Where is it?</strong>&nbsp;After it was first described in 1952, Zika virus sporadically infected people in Africa and parts of South and Southeast Asia. Just 14 cases were reported in about 50 years. Then, in 2005, Zika virus was spotted for the first time outside Africa and Asia on Yap, an island in the western Pacific Ocean. The virus subsequently spread to other island nations in the Pacific, and eventually landed in the Americas on Easter Island in Chile in early 2014. Brazil reported Zika virus infections in May 2015, and since then, health authorities there have found the virus in 14 different states. In October, Colombia reported its first cases, and last week, the virus was reported in Yucatan, Mexico, and in the Caribbean. Although there are&nbsp;Aedes&nbsp;mosquitoes in parts of the United States, the likelihood of a future outbreak is low.</p><p><strong>How is it spread?&nbsp;</strong>Zika virus is primarily spread by several different species of&nbsp;Aedesmosquitoes. There have been reports of Zika virus being spread perinatally, from mother to infant either during birth or soon afterward. Authorities also worry that it might be spread via blood transfusions. The virus can be spread sexually, too, though only one case of sexual transmission has been documented. Mosquitoes, however, are by far the major avenue of spread and the focus of prevention strategies.</p><p><strong>What are the symptoms?&nbsp;</strong>Only 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus experience symptoms. Those who do get ill usually report fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, and sometimes headaches, muscle pain and vomiting. The illness lasts about a week. Cases severe enough to require hospitalization are rare and no deaths have been reported, but the virus has been linked to some alarming complications.</p><p>During a French Polynesian outbreak in 2013, a few people developed Guillain-Barre syndrome after Zika virus infection, and Brazilian authorities are investigating whether the virus causes microcephaly in fetuses of infected pregnant women. Babies with the defect are born with underdeveloped brains. Health authorities are still investigating Zika&#39;s role in both conditions.</p><p><strong>Treatment and cure?&nbsp;</strong>There is no treatment for Zika virus infection. Painkillers and fever reducers help manage the symptoms until the infection clears, usually in about a week.</p><p><strong>How do we stop it?&nbsp;</strong>Prevent mosquitoes from breeding in standing water near dwellings, promote the use of window screens and bed nets, and encourage people to wear long sleeves and pants.</p><p><em>Our source: Susan Hills of the Center for Disease Control&#39;s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases</em></p></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/11/18/456515544/zika-virus-101-one-more-mosquito-borne-disease-to-worry-about?ft=nprml&amp;f=456515544" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/zika-virus-confirmed-texas-heres-primer-disease-114601 Popular Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to Kidney Disease Risk http://www.wbez.org/news/popular-acid-reflux-drugs-linked-kidney-disease-risk-114447 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/nexium_custom-e01f0eaca7a6f8d5f57e6094eefba865bbad8cba-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>People who take certain popular medicines for heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux may want to proceed more cautiously, researchers reported Monday.</p><p>The drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (<a href="https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000381.htm">PPIs</a>), appear to significantly elevate the chances of developing chronic kidney disease, according to a&nbsp;<a href="http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.7193">study</a>&nbsp;involving more than 250,000 people.</p><p>An estimated 15 million Americans use PPIs, which are sold by prescription and over-the-counter under a variety of brand names, including Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;re very, very common medications,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/5426/morgan-grams">Morgan Grams</a>, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health who led the research, being published in the journal&nbsp;<em>JAMA Internal Medicine</em>.</p><p>When PPIs were first approved in the 1980s, the drugs appeared to be very safe. Since then, concerns have been rising about their safety. Evidence has emerged that the drugs may increase the risk for a variety of problems, including&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2010/05/26/127132723/fda-warns-about-bone-risks-from-heartburn-drugs">bone fractures</a>,<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104552350">infections</a>&nbsp;and possibly even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/11/413433350/data-dive-suggests-link-between-heartburn-drugs-and-heart-attacks">heart problems</a>.</p><p>Grams and her colleagues decided to examine whether PPIs might increase the risk for<a href="https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/chronickidneydisease.html">chronic kidney disease</a>. They examined the medical records of two groups of people: 10,482 participants in the Artherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and 248,751 patients in the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.</p><p>Among the 322 people using PPIs in the ARIC study, the 10-year estimated absolute risk for chronic kidney disease was 11.8 percent, the researchers reported. The expected risk would have been 8.5 percent. The 10-year absolute risk among the 16,900 patients using PPIs in the Geisinger Health System was 15.6 percent, whereas 13.9 percent would have been expected to develop chronic kidney disease.</p><p>Grams said it isn&#39;t possible from these data to determine who is at highest risk of developing kidney disease. The study looked only at whether someone had gotten a prescription for a PPI and did not look at how long someone may have been on the drug.</p><p>Grams also stressed that her study does not prove that the drugs can cause chronic kidney disease. More research is needed to explore the association she found, she says.</p><p>But the findings are worrying enough that people should use PPIs only when they really need them, she says.</p><p>&quot;Given the fact that so many people use PPI medications, I think it is judicious to exercise some caution,&quot; she says.</p><p>Other experts agree.</p><p>&quot;I think it&#39;s a pretty big concern,&quot; says Adam Schoenfeld, an internal medicine resident at the University of California, San Francisco, who co-authored an&nbsp;<a href="http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.7927">editorial</a>accompanying the study.</p><p>Schoenfeld noted that other research has found that many prescriptions for PPIs are inappropriate.</p><p>&quot;When they first came out they weren&#39;t associated with side effects, or we didn&#39;t think they were,&quot; Schoenfeld says. &quot;So we put [people] on this medication thinking: &#39;It&#39;s a quick fix and they&#39;re very safe.&#39; But in actuality they&#39;re associated with a range of side effects.&quot;</p><p>Schoenfeld says people should try other measures first to alleviate heartburn and indigestion. For example, people often feel better if they change their diet, stop smoking or reduce their alcohol consumption, he says.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s other ways that people can feel better with indigestion or heartburn. They can change their diet,&quot; he says.</p><p><em>Shots&nbsp;</em>queried several companies that sell PPIs, including&nbsp;<a href="https://www.astrazeneca.com/">AstraZeneca</a>, which markets Nexium. In an email to&nbsp;<em>Shots</em>, Alicia Dunn, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca, wrote:</p><p>&quot;Patient safety is an important priority for AstraZeneca and we believe all of our PPI medicines ... are generally safe and effective when used in accordance with the label.&quot;</p><p>She added: &quot;We encourage patients to work with their health care provider to determine the most appropriate treatment approach based on their individual needs.&quot;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/11/462423759/popular-acid-reflux-drugs-are-linked-to-kidney-disease-risk?ft=nprml&amp;f=462423759" target="_blank">&mdash; via NPR</a></em></p></p> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 16:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/popular-acid-reflux-drugs-linked-kidney-disease-risk-114447 This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of World Disease http://www.wbez.org/news/holiday-season-give-gift-world-disease-114235 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/pandm.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="res460306308"><div><div><img alt="Pandemic Legacy board game" src="http://www.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/pandemic-TLv3.gif" style="height: 374px; width: 620px;" title="(Ben de la Cruz/NPR)" /></div><div><p>I&#39;d just wiped out a virus known only as COdA-403a in Miami and Atlanta, boasting, &quot;I just saved North America, okay?&quot; But it resurfaced and caused an epidemic in Paris. The likelihood of the outbreak worsening was high, and I wasn&#39;t going to make it to France in time to prevent it.</p></div></div></div><p>But Parisians shouldn&#39;t get out their face masks. I&#39;m not a real disease fighter, I was just playing one in the board game Pandemic: Legacy, the latest version in the Pandemic series. Like its predecessors, Pandemic: Legacy is a mixture of luck and strategy. And to see just how accurate it was, I played with four real-life scientists who study infectious disease modeling at a&nbsp;<a href="http://bansallab.com/">Georgetown University epidemiology lab</a>.</p><p>In the Pandemic games, players move figurines across a world map crisscrossed by a network of major cities. The goal is to stop killer diseases from ravaging the planet using various game actions to control the epidemic. Every round, players draw from a deck of cards that instruct you to infect a city with a disease &mdash; represented by a cube in the game. Then up to four players work together and scurry around trying to find a cure and treat cities before they get too laden with sickness and suffer an outbreak.</p><p>The twist in Pandemic: Legacy is the timeline. The game&#39;s story unfolds over 12 games, one for each month of the year, and you win each round of play when you complete the month&#39;s objective. That could be something mundane like &quot;eradicate a disease&quot; or it could be &quot;find and apprehend a rogue, paranoid soldier.&quot;</p><p>The game is fairly easy in the beginning. &quot;We&#39;re going to win,&quot; one of our epidemiologists remarked. But things get harder and harder with each subsequent session.</p><p>Halfway through the January session, we flip over the next card in the story deck and it says that the virus COdA-403a has become treatment-resistant. At the start of the next game, February, COdA-403a becomes intractable and incurable. Over the next 12 games, there are deaths and betrayals from different in-game characters and the steady unraveling of a global conspiracy.</p><p>And the actions you take in earlier games cascade into later games. After a city suffers an outbreak, you place a &quot;permanent panic sticker&quot; on the board. Panic can lead to riots that destroy useful research facilities that you need to cure diseases. There are special cards like the experimental vaccine card, which averts an epidemic, but increases panic. Our epidemiologists showed their science stripes when we played the card in our game.</p><p>&quot;Why does science cause panic?&quot; said Ian Carrol, a post-doc who studies animal diseases.</p><p>&quot;Why does it say destroy this card after use?&quot; said Pratha Sah, an epidemiology graduate student.</p><p>&quot;Oh, it doesn&#39;t say discard. It says destroy,&quot; Carrol said.</p><p>&quot;Are you sure you want to do that?&quot; Sah said.</p><p>&quot;Well, we are playing the game,&quot; I said and shredded the card between my fingers. Sah gasped.</p><p>&quot;Jeez,&quot; Carrol said. &quot;I&#39;m kind of sweating. This is a game of real consequence.&quot;</p><p>There are aspects of Pandemic that mimic real epidemics, but the game doesn&#39;t take appear to take the science too seriously. Disease modelers like Ewan Coleman from Georgetown think carefully about how disease can spread and move around the world through road networks or air traffic. &quot;[The game] designed that network, why one city should be connected to another, but I feel they designed it to be entertaining rather than realistic,&quot; Coleman says.</p><p>For instance, one might expect a mega-metropolis like Beijing to be highly connected, but the Pandemic board only connects it to Seoul and Shanghai. The game doesn&#39;t take air traffic into account when diseases spread from city to city.</p><p>And the game doesn&#39;t have a strong rooting in real biology. There are four different diseases in Pandemic. They all behave more or less the same with the exception of the superbug COdA. Real viral, fungal, or bacterial diseases are extremely variable. Measles, for example, doesn&#39;t spread the same way that Ebola does. There&#39;s also no pattern to how cities get infected. &quot;Mostly it was just random, and diseases were popping out of nowhere,&quot; Coleman says.</p><p>Overall, the game is complicated. Coleman turned to the group and asked if they thought they could write an algorithm to optimize a game strategy. The consensus was maybe, but you&#39;d need a supercomputer.</p><p>It&#39;s nice that the game is co-operative. Where family-fun but competitive activities like Monopoly and Spades are relationship-destroying; working together to eradicate disease could be a way to bond. But, Carrol pointed out, disagreement over strategies can bring conflict, too.</p><p>In any case, if you&#39;re looking for a high-stakes game that can get your friends and family thinking about disease modeling (and really, who isn&#39;t these days), Pandemic is it.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/12/19/460281591/this-holiday-season-give-the-gift-of-world-disease?ft=nprml&amp;f=460281591" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 22:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/holiday-season-give-gift-world-disease-114235 More babies are dying because of congenital syphilis http://www.wbez.org/news/more-babies-are-dying-because-congenital-syphilis-113771 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/syphilis_wide-b388ef1516c9a9a65bcb6b0e42e8d00b490d7319-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res455770081"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="The bacterium that causes syphilis is spread through sexual contact. It's easily cured with antibiotics, but can be hard to diagnose." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/12/syphilis_wide-b388ef1516c9a9a65bcb6b0e42e8d00b490d7319-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="The bacterium that causes syphilis is spread through sexual contact. It's easily cured with antibiotics, but can be hard to diagnose. (CDC/Phanie/Science Source)" /></div><div><div><p>The number of babies born with syphilis has shot up, and it&#39;s taking a toll.</p></div></div></div><p>Of the 458 babies born last year with syphilis, 33 of were stillborn or died shortly after birth. From 2012 to 2014, there&#39;s been a 38 percent increase in cases of congenital syphilis. The spike reverses a previously falling trend in the rates of babies with syphilis from 2008 to 2012, according to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6444a3.htm?s_cid=mm6444a3_w">report</a>&nbsp;released Thursday in&nbsp;Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.</p><p>As rates of new syphilis infections rise and fall, rates of fetal and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis-detailed.htm">congenital syphilis&nbsp;</a>tend to follow suite, says Virginia Bowen, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead author on the study. If a pregnant woman carries the bacteria, syphilis can infect the unborn fetus. When that happens, a lot of things can go awry. &quot;Up to 40 percent of babies will die in utero or shortly after delivery,&quot; Bowen says. &quot;Or they might have a severe illness like blindness or deafness or other types of damage.&quot;</p><p>It&#39;s hard to know the reason behind the recent surge in syphilis cases, Bowen says. &quot;The only thing I can say is syphilis is going up right now across the board,&quot; she says. &quot;From &#39;13 to &#39;14, we are seeing syphilis going up everywhere, including among the women, and we don&#39;t have the answers as to why.&quot;</p><p>The rising rates in congenital syphilis might betray a larger problem among health care for women and pregnant women, Bowen says. &quot;There are a lot of barriers to getting into the door at the prenatal care provider. That could be related to insurance status, stigma or discrimination.&quot; If women aren&#39;t getting adequate prenatal care, then they can&#39;t be screened for syphilis.</p><p>Access to care can be particularly hard for certain populations, says&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bcm.edu/people/view/3b0b0dd8-3ad5-11e5-8d53-005056b104be">Dr. Martha Rac</a>, a maternal-fetal medicine physician at Ben Taub Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who was not involved with the study. &quot;African-American women are more disproportionately affected by syphilis than any other race,&quot; she says. And 57 percent of children with congenital syphilis were born to African-American women.</p><p>Lack of prenatal care is probably the greatest contributor to the upturn in congenital syphilis, Rac says. &quot;It seems to be the common theme that women having congenitally infected babies overwhelmingly have, if any, late, poor prenatal care. That is a big area which can be targeted from a public health standpoint.&quot;</p><p>Some states have been harder hit than others. California went from 35 cases in 2012 to 99 in 2014, while Texas continued to see a slight decline in the overall number of babies born with syphilis. &quot;In April, I designated Fresno County as an area of high syphilis, so providers are required to screen for syphilis three times during pregnancy,&quot; says Dr. Ken Bird, health officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health.</p><p>There are states that have free health coverage for pregnant women. &quot;In California, every pregnant female has coverage for prenatal care [through the Medi-Cal program]. Many don&#39;t realize that, and they&#39;re not sure how to access that care,&quot; Bird says. Other states may cover prenatal visits through state Children&#39;s Health Insurance Programs.</p><p>Syphilis is a difficult disease to diagnose, Bowen says. Many people become asymptomatic after the first lesions or rashes appear, but can still pass the infection on to their unborn children. But as long as the infection is caught early enough, a simple course of antibiotics is enough to ensure a healthy baby. &quot;Of the 458 cases we had last year, every single one of them is considered preventable,&quot; she says.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/12/455768422/more-babies-are-dying-because-of-congenital-syphilis?ft=nprml&amp;f=455768422"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 11:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-babies-are-dying-because-congenital-syphilis-113771 Work on parasite diseases earns Nobel Prize for medicine http://www.wbez.org/news/work-parasite-diseases-earns-nobel-prize-medicine-113173 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_264208766266_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res445981163" previewtitle="Satoshi Omura, Youyou Tu and William C. Campbell share in the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine."><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Satoshi Omura, Youyou Tu and William C. Campbell share in the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/nobels-winners-medicine_custom-5c0e8a8c02c077dca0d1c876ac562805d17298e8-s800-c85.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 263px; width: 610px;" title="Satoshi Omura, Youyou Tu and William C. Campbell share in the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. (Courtesy Nobel Prize Committee)" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">The medicines they helped develop are credited with improving the lives of millions. And now three researchers working in the U.S., Japan, and China have won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Among the winners: William C. Campbell of Drew University in Madison N.J., for his work on the roundworm parasite.</p></div><p style="text-align: justify;">Born in Ireland, Campbell shares half the prize with Satoshi Omura of Kitasato University in Japan, who has researched the same parasite. The other half of the award goes to Youyou Tu of the China Academy of Traditional Medicine in Beijing, China, for her work in developing therapies for malaria.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Taken together, the three &quot;have transformed the treatment of parasitic diseases,&quot; according to the Nobel Prize committee. &quot;The global impact of their discoveries and the resulting benefit to mankind are immeasurable.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">All of the researchers were born in the 1930s; much of their key research was published around 1980. And their findings came after intense searches for existing natural components that might help fight diseases.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Working in Japan, Omura isolated novel strains of Streptomyces bacteria from soil samples that not only had antibacterial components, but also had the potential to combat other harmful microorganisms.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In the U.S., Campbell explored the effects of Omura&#39;s Streptomyces cultures and found that, as the Nobel committee says, &quot;a component from one of the cultures was remarkably efficient against parasites in domestic and farm animals.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The active compound, called Avermectin, was further developed to become Ivermectin, which is now used around the world to protect people and animals from a range of parasites, from River Blindness to Lymphatic Filariasis (also known as Elephantiasis).</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;I humbly accept this prize,&quot; Omura said when he was contacted by the Nobel committee today. Saying there are &quot;many, many researchers&quot; who are doing important work, he added, &quot;I may be very, very lucky.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Anecdotes have long held that Omura found the life-changing soil sample while he was doing what he loved: playing golf. He clarified that a bit today, saying it had happened &quot;very close to the golf course.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Tu revolutionized how malaria is fought by applying ancient techniques from China&#39;s traditional herbal medicine to isolate and purify a component from the plant&nbsp;Artemisia annua&nbsp;that could fight malaria in animals and people.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IrNL27eWKOI?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Tu used those insights to extract the component, now known as Artemisinin, and to show that it could beat malaria. The Nobel committee says Artemisinin represented &quot;a new class of antimalarial agents that rapidly kill the Malaria parasites at an early stage of their development, which explains its unprecedented potency in the treatment of severe Malaria.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The plant that yielded the compound,&nbsp;Artemisia annua,&nbsp;is also known as qinghao, sweet wormwood and sweet Annie. Its use in traditional Chinese medicine dates back more than 2,000 years.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The work that led to the discovery of Artemisinin began in the late 1960s, when China launched a large-scale effort to develop an antimalarial treatment to protect North Vietnamese soldiers from the deadly disease.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">To illustrate how malaria works &mdash; and how humans have fought it &mdash; NPR&#39;s Adam Cole produced a video feature in 2012, explaining how that story ranges from the use of quinine (and the gin and tonic) to the Vietnam War.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/05/445976576/work-on-parasite-diseases-earns-nobel-prize-for-medicine?ft=nprml&amp;f=445976576" target="_blank"> via NPR</a></em></p></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/work-parasite-diseases-earns-nobel-prize-medicine-113173 Who needs an adult measles booster shot? http://www.wbez.org/news/who-needs-adult-measles-booster-shot-111524 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP233664971953_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If you&rsquo;re an adult of a certain age, the measles vaccine you received as a child might not be enough.</p><p>In the wake of the spreading measles outbreak that hit a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/five-children-palatine-day-care-diagnosed-measles-111503">local day care center</a> last week, officials say some adults may need to get measles boosters or be re-vaccinated.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a class="underlined" href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city-chicago-falls-below-safe-levels-measles-vaccination-111512">Chicago falls below safe levels for measles vaccination</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the only people who can be presumed immune are the following:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>Those with &ldquo;documentation&rdquo; of receiving a &ldquo;live measles virus containing vaccine&rdquo;</li><li>Those with &ldquo;laboratory evidence of immunity&rdquo; (determined through a test doctors can administer called a titer)</li><li>Those with &ldquo;laboratory confirmation of [having survived the] disease&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li>Those born before 1957</li></ul><p>&ldquo;Persons who do not have documentation of adequate vaccination or other acceptable evidence of immunity should be vaccinated,&rdquo; the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said in its <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6204a1.htm">2013 report. </a></p><p>Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Tina Tan said it&rsquo;s also important for adults, especially those in contact with children, to know if they got two doses of the vaccine. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;If you have an adult person who is worried about measles and doesn&rsquo;t know whether or not they&rsquo;ve received two doses of the vaccine, they should see their physician,&rdquo; Tan said. &ldquo;If for some reason they are not able to find out if they got two doses it&#39;s not going to hurt them to get a booster dose to protect themselves.&rdquo;</p><p>Between 1963 and 1967, U.S. doctors were administering both &ldquo;killed&rdquo; and &ldquo;live&rdquo; measles vaccines to their patients. Later, it was discovered that the &ldquo;killed&rdquo; vaccine was not effective. So, the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/measles/faqs-dis-vac-risks.htm">CDC suggests</a> that &ldquo;People who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with either inactivated (killed) measles vaccine or measles vaccine of unknown type should be re-vaccinated with at least one dose of live attenuated measles vaccine.&rdquo;</p><p>Tan says this is important not just for an adult&rsquo;s health.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons for adults to get vaccinated is basically to prevent them from getting the disease,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But also to protect young infants that may be around who are too young to be vaccinated.&rdquo;</p><p>The double dosage of measles vaccine is especially important, the CDC report states, &ldquo;for students attending colleges or other post-high school education institutions, health care personnel and international travelers.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/who-needs-adult-measles-booster-shot-111524 Illinois officials not enforcing rules on school vaccinations http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-officials-not-enforcing-rules-school-vaccinations-111513 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP233664971953.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>According to state records, at least 130 Illinois schools report measles vaccination levels of under 90 percent. That is the minimum percentage <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city-chicago-falls-below-safe-levels-measles-vaccination-111512">health officials believe communities must achieve for &ldquo;herd immunity&rdquo;&mdash;</a>an environment that can prevent a disease from spreading. &nbsp;</p><p>Schools are supposed to lose 10 percent of their state funding when they fall below the 90 percent level of vaccinations. But no school has ever been sanctioned for this violation, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.</p><p><a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=09300SB0805&amp;GA=93&amp;SessionId=3&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;LegID=3675&amp;DocNum=805&amp;GAID=3&amp;Session=">Illinois code</a> states that funding &ldquo;shall be withheld by the regional superintendent until the number of students in compliance&rdquo;... reaches the &ldquo;specified percentage or higher.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/officials-predict-more-illinois-measles-cases-111509">But even as measles cases arrive in Illinois</a>, the state&rsquo;s Board of Education says it has no plans to start enforcing the rules through funding sanctions any time soon.</p><p>&quot;We are not looking to penalize a district or remove money from a district,&quot; said ISBE spokesman Matt Vanover. &quot;What we&#39;re looking for is compliance. It&#39;s difficult for educators to remove or exclude a child from education, especially when the child is from a poor or struggling family. Local districts will follow through with initaitves and reminders of their own.&quot;</p><p>Still, some doctors believe the state&#39;s purported 90 percent vaccination standard is too low.</p><p>&ldquo;In order for a community to have herd immunity you really need to maintain vaccination rates around 95 percent,&rdquo; said Dr. Tina Tan, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital in Chicago. &ldquo;Otherwise, what happens is that when the rates below drop below 95 percent, you can have the reemergence or reappearance of these preventable diseases occurring in individuals that are either not vaccinated or are too young to be vaccinated.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s what happened this week in Illinois when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/five-children-palatine-day-care-diagnosed-measles-111503">infants at a day care center</a> in northwest suburban Illinois were diagnosed with measles.</p><p>All those children were too young to be eligible for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination (MMR), which is traditionally administered after a child turns 1-year-old. But Cook County health officials say they expect the disease to spread.</p><p>&ldquo;The cat is out of the bag,&rdquo; Dr. Terry Mason, chief operating officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health said yesterday at a press conference in Oak Forest.</p><p>According to the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/complications.html">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> one in 20 children who contract measles will also get pneumonia; one in 1,000 may develop encephalitis that could lead to deafness and mental retardation; and for one or two in 1,000, the disease could be fatal.</p><p>Thursday, WBEZ contacted schools who, according to the ISBE vaccination site, self-reported measles vaccination rates as low as 27 percent. The schools claimed that the site was showing inaccurate information.</p><p>Vanover acknowledges that the self-reported data may be flawed, but says it can&#39;t be fixed.&nbsp; After the yearly November 17 deadline, &quot;the data becomes locked in for reporting purposes and we don&rsquo;t have any opportunity to go back and correct it,&quot; he said.</p><p>For more updated information, Vanover suggests calling individual districts.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org.</em></p><p><em>WBEZ web producer Chris Hagan contributed to this story. </em></p></p> Fri, 06 Feb 2015 13:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-officials-not-enforcing-rules-school-vaccinations-111513 Suspicion lingers over Ebola treatment http://www.wbez.org/news/suspicion-lingers-over-ebola-treatment-110977 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/african food truck.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last Friday, Illinois health officials presented plans to deal with any future Ebola cases in the state. These include establishing a test lab, taking the temperature of some foreign travelers, and forming a task force aimed at better communication.</p><p>But a trip to a nearby West African lunch truck revealed that big communication gaps still remain in some parts of the city.&nbsp;</p><p>As the West African vendor served up plates of fufu and goat, he said that, so far, he hadn&rsquo;t seen any shortages in ingredients imported from Africa.&nbsp;<br /><br />But a customer standing in line thought the vendor was, instead, being asked about the safety of West African food.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Ebola cannot infect our food,&rdquo; said the cab driver who only wanted to be identified as Chris. &ldquo;Because our food is properly cooked. It is cooked to at least 90 degrees.&rdquo;</p><p>Chris continued by sharing his view on the true origin of Ebola.</p><p>&ldquo;That thing (Ebola) is a white man&rsquo;s disease,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They created it in a lab to kill us, and to make the pharmaceutical companies rich.&rdquo;</p><p>Within minutes, fellow cab drivers joined in the conversation, asking &ldquo;Why is it that the black man who came from Africa, he died? But the white man lived. We won&rsquo;t let anyone fool us anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>While some of these views may seem extreme, they echo a larger question in the world health community about why an Ebola vaccine has been so long in coming.&nbsp;</p><p>Laurie Garrett is a Senior Fellow for Gobal Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. She said market forces affect the development of these medications.</p><p>&ldquo;Because it&rsquo;s so rare, and it occurs among very poor people, where is the financial market incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to get in there and commercialize it?&rdquo; she asked.</p><p>Indeed, until recently, that incentive has not existed. But it did get a big push last month when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed $50 million to addressing Ebola.&nbsp;</p><p>Still, Garrett says there are other factors that have slowed progress on an Ebola vaccine.</p><p>&ldquo;How do you clinically test a vaccine against a disease that you cannot possibly ethically induce in your test subjects, and that occurs so rarely,&rdquo; she asks. &ldquo;Also, you don&rsquo;t really have a population that is routinely exposed in order to test how well the vaccine really works.&rdquo;</p><p>One Liberian-born, American professor offered up an answer to that question. He believes human trials have already begun...on unsuspecting Africans as part of a plan by the U.S. Department of Defense. The Delaware State plant pathologist detailed these suspicions in a letter that went viral last month in Liberia&rsquo;s largest daily paper, further fueling speculation.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>This and other factors have driven continuing suspicion about a racial component to the outbreak.<br /><br />&ldquo;The white woman who went to England: she was healed,&rdquo; Chris, the cab driver, noted. &ldquo;The nurse who went to Spain: She was healed. The white boy who who came to America. He was healed. But the black man who came to Texas, in America&mdash;in America he died.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Last week, Illinois&rsquo; Director of Public Health LeMar Hasbrouck stressed that communication will be key in the Ebola fight. And that the new task force would have to: &ldquo;Coordinate public messaging so we are not giving different messages to different audiences, so we are all on the same page there.&rdquo;</p><p>WBEZ asked Hasbrouck&rsquo;s department how and if it planned to address some of the racially-based perceptions on Ebola. The department did not respond.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/suspicion-lingers-over-ebola-treatment-110977