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FILE – In this Aug. 7, 2014 file photo provided by the Spanish Defense Ministry, aid workers and doctors transfer Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest who was infected with the Ebola virus while working in Liberia, from a plane to an ambulance as he leaves the Torrejon de Ardoz military airbase, near Madrid, Spain. Comparisons between Ebola and AIDS have surfaced in mid-2014 as the Ebola outbreak escalated. But Ebola is not expected to ever be in the same league as AIDS in terms of infections and deaths, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (AP Photo/Spanish Defense Ministry, File)
Mike Stobbe reporting,
NEW YORK (AP) — Is Ebola the world’s worst infectious disease threat since AIDS?
Comparisons between the two deadly diseases surfaced in the last few months as the Ebola outbreak escalated. Both emerged from Africa and erupted into an international health crisis. And both have been a shocking reminder that mankind’s battle against infectious diseases can take a sudden, terrible turn for the worse.
In his three decades in public health, the only thing like Ebola has been the AIDS epidemic, said Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“And we have to work now so this is not the world’s next AIDS,” he told a meeting of the world’s economic leaders in Washington last week.
But Ebola is not expected to ever be in the same league as AIDS in terms of infections and deaths, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
“There is no one that imagines that we’re going to see tens of millions of people infected with Ebola,” said Fauci, a longtime leader in the fight against AIDS.
This year’s Ebola outbreak — the largest ever — has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa. AIDS kills more than a million per year on the continent.
Both diseases are caused by viruses and spread through contact with bodily fluids, not the air, but health experts say the epidemics are more different than they are similar.
Ebola can be more infectious than HIV, according to Dr. Bruce Ribner, a physician involved in the care of four Ebola patients treated so far at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Indeed, a patient in the throes of Ebola can have 10 billion viral particles in a fifth of a teaspoon of blood — far more than the 50,000 to 100,000 particles seen in an untreated patient with the AIDS virus. Even the skin of an Ebola patient can be crawling with the virus, according to Ribner.
Still, there are reasons to be more optimistic about Ebola than about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Ebola was actually discovered before HIV. First identified in 1976 and named after a river in Congo, the virus has caused periodic outbreaks in Africa ever since. While a test was made to diagnose it, work on vaccines and treatments has been limited and difficult.
Ebola did not become an international epidemic until this year, when it unexpectedly mushroomed in West Africa. The rapid increase in cases — particularly in Liberia and Sierra Leone — led to the CDC’s worst-case-scenario estimate that there could be as many as 1.4 million cases in those two countries alone by January.
But at least scientists had a running start against Ebola.
The beginning of the AIDS epidemic was more challenging. When clusters of cases were first reported in 1981, health officials were facing a mysterious illness with no known cause.
FILE – In this Thursday, July 5, 2012 file photo, people visit the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington. Comparisons between Ebola and AIDS have surfaced in mid-2014 as the Ebola outbreak escalated. But Ebola is not expected to ever be in the same league as AIDS in terms of infections and deaths, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
“We didn’t know it was a virus. We had no idea what was going on,” recalled David Celentano, who was a young AIDS researcher in the 1980s and is now at Johns Hopkins University’s school of public health.
Scientists did not isolate HIV until a couple of years later. A test for the virus wasn’t available until 1985. There’s still no vaccine, but medications have allowed those infected to live longer and healthier lives.
In those first few years, AIDS was generally perceived as occurring mainly in gay men, intravenous drug users and Haitians who had recently entered the United States.
“There was kind of a sense that ‘it’s only happening in certain places, and it only happens to certain people,’” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a Columbia University professor who as a young physician treated AIDS patients in New York City.
It wasn’t until the mid-1980s when public anxiety and fear about the disease in the U.S. really began to reach the levels seen today with Ebola. In 1985, an Indiana school barred a boy with hemophilia named Ryan White because he was infected through a blood transfusion. Later that year, a national poll showed more than half of Americans favored the quarantining of AIDS patients and 15 percent supported tattooing people who had AIDS.
Beginning in 1987, HIV-positive travelers were banned from entering the country. The rule was changed in January 2010.
Public anxiety about Ebola took flight in the last month with the first case diagnosed in the U.S. in a man who traveled to Dallas from Liberia. In the Dallas area, attendance dropped at schools where children attended who had reportedly been in contact with the man, Thomas Eric Duncan. At the CDC, calls and emails to the federal health agency spiked to more than 800 from a few dozen daily asking questions about the disease.
This past week, screening of travelers from West Africa began at five U.S. airports.
The international response also has been accelerated with Ebola, compared to AIDS. The United Nation’s UNAIDS program didn’t begin until 1995. Some experts feel real momentum in the international campaign didn’t occur until 2000.
The Ebola response also has been faulted as dangerously slow, but it’s been much faster than what happened with AIDS. In the last month — about six months after the epidemic in West Africa first began — officials from the United State and other nations have met to ratchet up an international response with money, troops and supplies.
There’s one more big difference that ironically makes Ebola more dreadful to many people but possibly easier for health workers to one day beat back, said Dr. James Curran, dean of Emory University’s school of public health.
The scariest thing about the Ebola virus is how quickly and dramatically it kills. Initial infection to ghastly death is only a matter of weeks.
That’s different from HIV: An HIV-infected person may not have symptoms for years. And a decade may pass before an untreated AIDS victim dies. That means infected people can silently and unknowingly spread the infection for years.
HIV “is insidious,” said Curran, who led the CDC’s task force on AIDS in the mid-1980s.
Ebola’s speed is more terrifying. But it also allows cases to be identified and isolated and contacts to be tracked down and monitored before they can continue to spread the disease.
“It potentially gives us a way to break the back of the epidemic,” Curran said.
(Associated Press video producer Cindy Sharp in Washington contributed to this report).
This is an undated image released on Wednesday Oct. 8, 2014 by animal rights organisation PACMA of Javier Limon, husband of the nurse assistance who is infected with Ebola in Madrid, with his dog named Excalibur. Ebola’s victims may include a dog named Excalibur. Officials in Madrid got a court order to euthanize the pet of a Spanish nursing assistant with Ebola because of the chance the animal might spread the disease. At least one major study suggests that dogs can be infected with the deadly virus without having symptoms. But whether or how likely they are to spread it to people is less clear. (AP Photo. PACMA)
MADRID (AP) — The Madrid regional government says it has euthanized the pet dog of a Spanish nursing assistant infected with Ebola.
Police on Wednesday took the dog, called Excalibur, from the Madrid apartment where Teresa Romero and her husband live. The regional government said the animal was sedated before being euthanized and was then incinerated.
Authorities had obtained a court order to kill the mixed-breed dog, saying they could not rule out the possibility Excalibur could spread the deadly virus.
Animal rights groups launched an online campaign to save Excalibur, and the fight went viral in social media.
Protesters tried to stop the dog being taken away in a van, but police with batons cleared a path.
EVEN Factor 50 sun cream can’t ‘guarantee’ to keep you safe from skin cancer, according to a shocking new study conducted in Spain.
Berta Lopez Sanchez-Laorden, co-author of the study, said that while creams can protect against immediate damage – such as sunburn – radiation can still damage skin cells.
It’s a slap in the face for sun cream manufacturers whose profits have been riding high since the iconic Slip-Slap-Slop sun protection campaign of the 1980s.
The study – carried out at Elche’s Miguel Hernandez University – controversially used mice that had been genetically modified to make them susceptible to melanomas.
IN the largest action that Greenpeace has ever taken in Spain, nearly 100 activists from the non-governmental organisation daubed the hotel’s façade with black paint.
The activists painted an enormous black circle, with an area of 8,000 square metres, with its message ‘Illegal hotel’ spelled out in giant white letters.
Greenpeace describes the hotel as ‘the black spot on the Spanish coast’, a description that the NGO’s paintwork has made literal.
In their sixth Algarrobico demonstration, Greenpeace activists swarmed into the 21-storey unfinished building in the Cabo de Gata Nature Park in the early hours of Sunday morning.
They clutched banners that made their objective very clear, demanding ‘Demolition, NOW!’
Greenpeace has denounced the Junta for its indifference to the hotel, claiming the it is hiding behind the legal process in order to delay the demolition of the building.
They are demanding that the Junta applies the ‘Coastal natural heritage and biodiversity act’, that the NGO claims would allow the immediate demolition of the hotel.
Controversy around the hotel has rumbled on for nearly a decade, in what the Junta’s Environmental minister described as a ‘judicial tangle’.
Andalucia’s high court (TSJA) last month ruled that the land on which the unsightly hotel was built belongs to the Junta, just weeks after ruling it belonged to the local municipality of Carboneras.
The shock decision reversal was prompted when six European environmental agencies – including Greenpeace and Ecologistas en Accion – condemned the TSJA’s previous ruling.
In an Olive Press poll, it was revealed that more than 80% of readers agree that the Algarrobico is an eyesore that should be torn down immediately.
The Olive Press
Ms Carrasco originally trained as a lawyer before holding various positions in Leon
A top politician in northern Spain has been shot dead in public and two women have been arrested.
Isabel Carrasco, head of the provincial government in Leon and a member of the governing People’s Party (PP), was shot as she crossed a footbridge.
Spanish media say the arrested women are the wife and daughter of a local police chief.
It is also reported that the daughter was recently fired from a job with the provincial council.
Ms Carrasco, 59, led the PP in Leon.
All the main political parties have temporarily suspended campaigning for the European elections as a mark of respect.
‘Act of vengeance’
Ms Carrasco was attacked on her way to a party meeting near her home at about 17:20 local time (15:20 GMT).
A police spokeswoman told AFP news agency: “We are investigating the participation of both [women] in the act.”
El Pais newspaper reported that the women were the wife and daughter of the police chief of Astorga, a town in Leon province. (more…)