Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Fun!

May a smile be your cranberry sauce.

Monday, August 04, 2014

I'm Certainly Not Buying A Ticket For This Movie…. "Ebola - In Your Face, Jack!"

August 1, Margret Chen, Director-General of WHO, issued a warning that the current response in Africa to the latest Ebola outbreak has been "woefully inadequate." and that the  "outbreak is moving faster than our efforts to control it."

Most people outside of the affected areas of Guiana, Sierra Leone and Liberia feel that this is an isolated occurrence over a small portion of Africa. Not so, this is largest recorded Ebola outbreak in history. As of this writing the disease has infected more than 1440 people and claimed at least 826 lives. 

There was an airline passenger, an infected American, who died in Lagos, Nigeria having boarded a flight from Liberia. He was on his way to the United States after a conference meeting. 

Not widely publicized in the United States media was a second death, that of an airline traveler who died of ebola in Morocco sometime before July 30th. The death  was disclosed by the Moroccan Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Morris Dukuly, who also said that the deceased Liberian had arrived in Morocco two days before his death.

Yes it true that in today's world the disease can travel to distant lands without buying a ticket, just by hitching a ride with its host. And most medical authorities claim that due to ebola's fragile nature it does not have the infection strength of a flu virus. Right now this is so. 

Previously the largest outbreak of ebola occurred in Uganda in 2000 - 01. There were 425 people infected and 224 deaths. This time the ebola footprint is much larger. With the increased numbers of victims comes the likelihood that the disease will mutate to a hardier virus, perhaps an airborne variety. 

Is this idle speculation? Not according to Margret Chen. She stated that the longer the virus circulates, the more it becomes a public risk: "Constant mutation and adaptation are the survival mechanisms of viruses and other microbes. We must not give this virus opportunities to deliver more surprises.

In 1989, one such surprise occurred at a research quarantine center located in Reston, Virginia. A group of monkeys imported from the Philippines that year were found to have transmitted a variant of Ebola while in captivity at the lab. Richard Preston discussed the theory that virus may have become airborne in his 1994 non fiction book "The Hot Zone" It was lucky for all who involved in that incident that the strain of ebola didn't infect humans. 

The greatest risk comes from the rising number of new cases which increases the opportunity for  the virus to mutate into a more dangerous form.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Ebola Not A Hollywood Movie This Time

Events in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone look like the stuff of a Hollywood or television thriller. This time its for real. At the moment the news has been very low key.

On July 7 news agencies reported a US citizen was being tested for the Ebola virus in Ghana, which has had no confirmed cases of the virus in the current West African outbreak. As of this posting the results are not in.

On July 4th Tom Geisbert, a microbiologist at the University of Texas, agrees that the risk of somebody coming from the affected area and causing a huge outbreak in North America or Europe is extremely low.

But on July 6th British Ebola outbreak: Doctors ordered to look out for deadly symptoms as killer virus hits UK. Although authorities in Britain didn't expect it to spread there they weren't taking any chances. You can get a really bad feeling that something isn't quite right in the British Isles.

But on July 7th Aid agencies such as the French organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) suggest that the world quickly needs to wake up to what is unfolding. According to Bart Janssens, the director of operations for MSF, drastic action is required.
“The reality is clear that the epidemic is now in a second wave,” he said. “And for me, it is totally out of control.
There needs to be a real political commitment that this is a very big emergency,” he said. “Otherwise, it will continue to spread, and for sure, it will spread to more countries.”

Is this all the beginning of a larger and more horrifying pandemic? Let's hope not.

Friday, June 20, 2014


LITTLE OLD NEW YORK, published 1910

This vintage booklet contains 45 engravings depicting views and buildings seen and and built in New York City over the city's first 300 years.  The illustrations include numerous city and farm homes as well as a 1659 vista along the Broad Street Canal,  Gov. Stuyvesant's Mansion in the Bowery which burned in 1778,  the Government House which served as Federal Capital from 1788 to 1793, Tammany Hall in 1830,  the Shakespeare Tavern at Nassau and Fulton Streets which was demolished in 1836, Columbia College in 1758, and the Croton Water Procession passing City Hall in 1842 as part of the celebration of the new aqueduct.  The booklet closes with an 1808 map of the city.