WBEZ | disease http://www.wbez.org/tags/disease Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 'Devastating' bat disease reaches Illinois, scientists report http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/devastating-bat-disease-reaches-illinois-scientists-report-105920 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/6847107816/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/white-nose%20bat%20by%20%20USFWS%20Headquarters.jpg" title="A bat with White-nose Syndrome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>Scientists have confirmed the arrival of the fungus known for causing White-Nose Syndrome, a disease blamed for more than 5.7 million bat deaths since its discovery in 2006.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s devastating news,&rdquo; said Julia Kilgour, a bat ecologist with the Urban Wildlife Institute.</p><p>Its arrival was predicted years ago, in light of <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/a-bat-fungus-on-the-march/">the disease&#39;s unrelenting march through bat populations</a> as far west as Oklahoma and as far north as Qu├ębec. Some infected caves on the East Coast have lost 90 to 100 percent of their population of little brown bats, a species also common in Illinois.</p><p>Perhaps as troubling as the disease&rsquo;s severity is how little scientists know about its pathology.</p><p>&ldquo;This disease has come up so quickly and spread so rapidly that it&rsquo;s very difficult for scientists to keep up with it,&rdquo; Kilgour said.</p><p>&nbsp;The name White-Nose Syndrome describes the fuzzy white fungus that accumulates on the noses of infected bats, but also on their wings, ears and tails. One prevalent hypothesis for how it affects its host is that it interrupts the bat&rsquo;s hibernation cycle. Irritated by the infection, bats rouse from their winter rest too frequently, burning up fat stores meant to carry them through lean winter months.</p><p>The disease also destroys skin tissue on the wings of infected bats, dehydrating the bats and leaving them with holes sometimes as large as an inch in diameter (the typical little brown bat wingspan is less than 10 inches). Scientists have not been able to determine whether the hibernation disruption, dehydration, or something else entirely is chiefly responsible for the disease&rsquo;s massive mortality.</p><p>Bats flock together from hundreds of miles around to hibernate, potentially spreading the fungus across state lines. And while humans cannot contract the disease, they may unknowingly ferry it between hibernacula, the scientific term for hibernation locations. White-Nose Syndrome <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/threat-bat-syndrome-closes-some-midwest-caves">has prompted cave closures and outright bans</a> on spelunking in some areas, and Kilgour said cavers should disinfect their gear with bleach solution or Lysol before entering a new cave.</p><p><a href="http://static.whitenosesyndrome.org/sites/default/files/wns_map_03-01-13_ds.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wns_map_03-01-13_ds.jpg" style="height: 524px; width: 610px;" title="White-Nose Syndrome has been found in 20 states to date. In Illinois, scientists detected it in LaSalle, Monroe, Hardin and Pope counties. (Map by Cal Butchkoski, PA Game Commission, courtesy whitenosesyndrome.org)" /></a></p><p>The fungus <em>Geomyces destructans </em>was first found afflicting U.S. bats in Schoharie County, N.Y., near the state capital Albany. But <em>G. destructans </em>is native to Europe, where it does not seem to cause the disease. Bats that migrate to Mexico or the southern U.S. can escape the cold-loving fungus.</p><p>Bats are responsible for perhaps billions of dollars worth of agricultural services each year, by way of pest-control and pollination. Although <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/13/white-nose-syndrome-scien_n_714426.html">research done in 2010 by New York state&#39;s Department of Health</a> suggested antifungal drugs already used to treat people and animals, the logistical difficulties of treating millions of bats in the wild are prohibitive.</p><p>&ldquo;Sterilizing nature is not really an option,&rdquo; Kilgour said.</p><p>Although the fungus is here, widespread bat fatalities typically don&rsquo;t happen until a year later.</p><p>Kilgour runs <a href="http://www.lpzoo.org/conservation-science/projects/monitoring-bat-diversity-and-around-chicago">a project attempting to take stock of Chicago&#39;s bat population</a>. Outbreaks like White-Nose Syndrome underscore the importance of wildlife monitoring programs, she said, because they provide a benchmark for future population losses.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll be listening this summer,&rdquo; she said.</p></p> Wed, 06 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/devastating-bat-disease-reaches-illinois-scientists-report-105920