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WHO warns against spread of Ebola in Congo



GENEVA: An Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo has a high risk of spreading internally, the World Health Organization warned today ahead of a meeting on whether to declare it an event of international concern.

In a statement, the UN agency said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus would convene an emergency committee to discuss the matter.

He is due to speak to the media later on Friday. The fresh Ebola outbreak, publicly declared on May 8 with 23 deaths so far, was first reported in a rural part of Equateur Province in the vast country’s northwest but has now spread to the city of Mbandaka.

Mbandaka’s population has been variously estimated at between 700,000 and 1.2 million. Peter Salama, in charge of emergency response at the WHO, has said the spread to a city complicated the fight against Ebola, which depends on identifying and isolating suspected cases.

The city is on the banks of the Congo River which connects to the capital Kinshasa, hundreds of kilometers to the south, and also to surrounding countries, increasing the risk of a national and regional outbreak, according to WHO officials.

Ebola is lethal and highly contagious, which makes it difficult to contain – especially in urban environments where people are mobile and come into more contact with others. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed that a case of Ebola had been recorded in a northwest city, and a doctor there said several hundred people may have been in contact with people infected by the disease.

Health Minister Oly Ilunga said, “two suspected cases of haemorragic fever” had been reported in the Wangata area of Mbandaka, a city about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the epicenter of the outbreak in the rural Equateur province. “One of the two samples tested positive for the Ebola virus,” he said in a statement.

The case was reported earlier by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), which expressed concern over the spread of the virus to a city – a development that typically makes it far tougher to fight a contagious disease.

“We estimate that more than 300 people have been in contact, directly or indirectly, with people contaminated by the Ebola virus in Mbandaka,” a doctor at the city’s general hospital told the Media.

The outbreak — the ninth in the DRC since Ebola was first identified as a disease in 1976 – is centered in remote Bikoro, near the border with the Republic of Congo. Out of 44 confirmed, probable or suspected cases, 23 have died, according to WHO figures.

The head of the World Health Organization was due in DR Congo to aid preparations for “all scenarios” in combatting the latest Ebola outbreak.

“WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is on his way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assess the needs of the response first-hand. We are preparing for all scenarios,” the UN health agency said in a statement.

The outbreak in the region northeast of Kinshasa near the border with the Republic of Congo has so far killed 18 people around the town of Bikoro in Equateur province, according to the WHO.

A report from the provincial council of ministers said there were “three suspected cases” in the region’s capital Mbandaka, which has 700,000 inhabitants. WHO’s head of emergency response Peter Salama said Friday getting aid to the affected area was “extremely challenging” given its remoteness and lack of infrastructure.

“We know the number of suspected, probable and confirmed cases is significant. We are very concerned and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario,” he said. DRC health ministry Ebola responders have been dispatched to the affected area with a joint WHO and UNICEF team following.

“We are about to go to Bikoro after this stop at (regional capital) Mbandaka where we began the deployment of mobile labs to start analyses” of suspect cases,” Eugene Kabambi, leading the WHO communications team in DR Congo, told AFP Saturday, adding his team hoped to obtain results swiftly.






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 99 % target kids vaccinated: EOC KP Peshawar



PESHAWAR: The May round of anti-polio drive successfully conclude in selected districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 99.25 percent vaccination status reflecting the hard work and commitment of the teams on ground that brave many challenges to vaccinate the target children.

Emergency Operations Center Khyber Pakhtunkhwa here has informed on Friday, that 4.432 million children were vaccinated so far by the teams out of the total target of 4.466 million children.

It said that 34176 children were still Not Available while total refusals stand at 13044 (0.29 %) taking the total number of missed children to 47220 which is one percent of the total target population.

Coordinator EOC Atif Rehman while appreciating the motivation and commitment of Sehat Muhafiz for polio eradication said that phenomenal achievements have been made in polio eradication due to the efforts and hard work of teams and the support of the community.

He said that last polio case in Peshawar was reported in February 2016 and it is more than two years now that the provincial capital was free of polio case which speaks volumes of the efforts put in by the teams under the guidance and supervision of the government and technical experts.

Rehman held an appeal to the parents to turn deaf ears to rumours against polio vaccination saying that the vaccine was safe and harmless and was the only option to help us reach the finishing line and eradicate the menace of polio for good from the region.

Regarding the baseless propaganda against polio vaccine on social media, Rehman said that polio vaccine was certified by World Health Organization (WHO) and Pakistan Drug Regulatory Authority and was completely safe for the children.

It is pertinent to mention here that the May campaign was the last campaign of the low transmission season and was of great importance to stop virus circulation in the province.

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Link between TB, Parkinson’s identified



ISLAMABAD: Researchers have uncovered a potential cause of Parkinson’s disease which may also help combat drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB).

The biological causes of Parkinson’s remain largely unknown, making it more difficult to develop and improve treatments.

The study showed that the mechanism our immune cells use to clear bacterial infections like tuberculosis (TB) might also be implicated in Parkinson’s.

“We think that this mechanism might also be at play in Parkinson’s disease, where abnormal masses of protein called ‘Lewy bodies’ build up in neurons in the brain and cause damage,” said lead author Susanne Herbst, a post-doctoral student at the Francis Crick Institute – a biomedical research center in London.”

Drug-resistant TB is a serious emerging problem, and boosting the body’s own immune defense against TB is an important step in the battle against antibiotic-resistant strains,” said Max Gutierrez from the Crick.

The most common genetic mutation in Parkinson’s disease patients is in a gene called LRRK2, which makes the LRRK2 protein overactive.

Relevant piece published earlier: TB infects animals as well as humans. Archeologists have found TB in the bones of ancient bison that lived over 17,000 years ago. Today, we know TB is an airborne infectious disease, spread when a person with TB disease coughs, speaks or sings. When diagnosed with TB disease, a contact investigation is done to find and test people who may have been exposed to TB, the diagnosed people and the TB Infection are then treated. While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty, communities and groups that are marginalized, and other vulnerable populations. These include migrants, refugees, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, the elderly, marginalized women and children in many settings etc. Factors such as malnutrition, poor housing, and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes, affect vulnerability to TB and access to care. Furthermore, this access is often hindered by catastrophic costs associated with illness, seeking and staying in care, and lack of social protection, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health. The transmission of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) adds great urgency to these concerns. New technologies like whole genome sequencing help public health professionals see patterns of TB transmission. This tool can help focus public health efforts to find and treat persons with TB disease and latent TB infection. Albert Calmette and Jean-Marie Camille Guerin developed the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine in 1921. Prior to developing the BCG vaccine, Calmette developed the first antivenom to treat snake venom. The BCG vaccine is often given to infants and small children to prevent TB meningitis in countries where TB is common. BCG does not always protect people from getting TB. Today, four drugs are used to treat TB disease: isoniazid (1951), pyrazinamide (1952), ethambutol (1961), and rifampin (1966). This 4-drug cocktail is still the most common treatment for drug-susceptible TB. In addition to treating TB disease, we can treat latent TB infection to prevent the development of TB disease in the future. Treatment for latent TB infection can take from three to nine months.

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Cycling increases rate of life expectancy!



ISLAMABAD: Walking down to office or cycling can increase the rate of life expectancy. Physical activity, including less vigorous forms such as walking and cycling, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, but despite this well-known benefit, levels of activity are still low in many countries.

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Imperial College London investigated the associations between using alternatives to the car which are more active for commuting and non-commuting purposes, and illness and mortality.

According to the research, cycling was less prevalent, being mentioned by 8.5% and 7% of regular commuters for commuting and non-commuting travel, respectively, and by 4.8% of other participants, Medical Xpress reported.

“More active patterns of travel were associated with a reduced risk of incident and fatal Cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in adults.

This is an important message for clinicians advising people about how to be physically active and reduce their risk of disease,” said the researchers.

The study concluded that interventions that encourage people to make more use of public transport, walking and cycling could be more widely promoted.

Relevant piece published earlier: Cycling is known to be the best sort of workout.  It does not only endorse good health but also endows with a number of health advantages such as augmenting the immune structure, assisting in the toning of muscles, help in combating psychological concern. As a matter of fact, it has been now pointed out via fresh findings that cycling has innumerable health benefits for improved heart-health and merely 20 minutes of cycling can keep you off from heart-related syndromes. A study carried out by the Purdue University revealed that cycling on a daily basis could push down the peril of having heart ailment up to 50%. Likewise, the Copenhagen Heart Study (comprising on more than 5000 individuals) discovered a noteworthy connection between cycling and diminished threat of Coronary Heart Disease Mortality. As per the figures, some 30 percent individuals lost their lives due to cardiovascular ailments across the world per annum.    Less physical activity poses adverse threats to human life. In this regard, as per the World Health Organization (WHO), deficiency of bodily commotion is among the ten leading triggers of demise globally. The officials of WHO commends that people between the ages of 18 to 64 years should do approximately 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity all through the week.

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