Ebola region faces UK travel ban

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office says all travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia should be avoided – unless essential, due to the Ebola outbreak reports BBC world News

British Airways has suspended flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia and other airlines are taking similar measures.

Such flight restrictions may make it increasingly hard for people working in these areas to leave, the FCO warns.

Meanwhile scientists have announced plans to trial an Ebola vaccine on UK volunteers this September.

Travel insurance versus expat insurance

Travellers are being warned about the importance of buying insurance if they plan on going abroad. According to a recent survey from The Points Guy, only 21 percent of people buy travel insurance, and of those, only 7 percent purchase it regularly.

So what is travel insurance?

Designed for short trips abroad, a standard plan covers cancellation, personal belongings, and emergency medical treatment. It can bought as a single- or multiple-trip policy and prices vary depending on many factors such as: where you are travelling, additional winter or water sports coverage, your age, pre-existing conditions and so on.

And international insurance?

An international medical insurance plan is designed to cover people who are living and working abroad. It generally includes inpatient treatment, check-ups, and long-term care of chronic conditions. An expat health plan usually allows you to choose where you receive treatment, even transferring you to another country if necessary. You can include extras such as compassionate visits, maternity care, and dental treatment. Expat health plans generally last a minimum of 12 months, though there are some options for people moving abroad for less than a year.

Salt consumption has ‘dire impact’ on global health

Are diets low in sodium essential for everyone?
Excessive sodium consumption is putting the world’s health at risk, and placing a large burden on health systems, warns a new study. It is estimated that 1.65 million deaths from cardiovascular disease each year are linked to consuming too much salt on a regular basis.

“That’s remarkably high, that’s almost 1 in 10 of all cardiovascular deaths around the world,” Dariush Mozaffarian, study author told NPR.

“This suggests that a single factor in the diet [salt] could be contributing to almost 10 percent of the cardiovascular burden.”

This latest study adds weight to the argument that everyone should have a diet low in sodium, something many people ignore. Worldwide we consume on average, around 3,950 milligrams of salt per day. Although there are regional daily differences ranging from 2,000 to 5,500 milligrams, the global average is still nearly double what the World Health Organisation recommends (<2,000mg/day). The study found the areas where the most heart attack and stroke deaths are linked to sodium, varies quite a bit. In Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand around 10 percent of cardiovascular deaths can be attributed to salt intake. Interestingly there is a wide-band stretching from Eastern Europe to Central and East Asia where the percentage of sodium attributable deaths jumps to 20-25 percent. The study authors put this down to the centuries old trade routes that link the continents. “What seems to be linking those countries [in this band] … is that this is the Old Silk Road [trade] route, where people traveled many distances and needed salt to preserve their food,” says Mozaffarian. Centuries later, this tradition of eating salt-preserved foods remains strong. A diet high in sodium can cause high blood pressure, which in turn raises the risk of a heart attack or stroke. While sodium occurs naturally in many foods such as milk and eggs, it is found in much higher levels in processed foods and it is these people are being warned to cut down on. There is some disagreement over whether low-salt guidelines are beneficial for everyone. Another study, also published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said the risks associated with high salt consumption are increased in people with elevated blood pressure. It goes on to suggest that people with a healthy blood pressure can have as much as 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day, the typical amount Americans consume. Source : www.expathealth.org

Briton begins UK treatment for Ebola

Doctors at a hospital in north-west London have begun treating a Briton who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The man has been named as William Pooley, a 29-year-old volunteer nurse, by a US scientist who worked with him.

Mr Pooley was flown to RAF Northolt in a specially-equipped military aircraft on Sunday and taken under police escort to Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital.

He volunteered to go to west Africa to care for victims of the Ebola outbreak which has killed almost 1,500 people.

It is the first confirmed case of a Briton contracting the virus during the current outbreak.

DR Congo confirms Ebola outbreak

The Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed that an outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in the north of the country has been identified as Ebola.

Health Minister Felix Numbi told the BBC that tests on two people had confirmed the disease in Equateur province, where 13 had already died.

But he said the deaths occurred in an isolated area and the disease seemed a different strain to West Africa’s.

Dr Numbi said a quarantine zone was being set up to contain the disease.

The cases are the first reported outside West Africa since the outbreak there began.

So far 1,427 people have died from the virus.

The speed and extent of the outbreak has been “unprecedented”, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

An estimated 2,615 people in West Africa have been infected with Ebola since March.

There is no known cure but some affected people have recovered after being given an experimental drug, ZMapp. However, supplies are now exhausted.

SOURCE.. BBC World News

British Ebola patient to fly to UK

A Briton who contracted the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone is being flown back to the UK on a RAF jet, the UK Department for Health has said.

The patient, who is a healthcare worker, is to be flown to RAF Northolt and will then transported to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

The Briton is “not currently seriously unwell”, a spokesman said.

Health chiefs say the risk to the UK from the virus remains “very low”.

The Department for Health said the patient was being “medically evacuated” in a specially equipped C17 RAF aircraft following “clinical advice”.

It is the first confirmed case of a Briton contracting the deadly virus, for which there is no cure, during the latest outbreak.

The virus – one of the world’s deadliest diseases – is spread between humans through direct contact with infected bloodily fluids.

So far 1,427 people in West Africa have died – more than in any other Ebola outbreak.

SOURCE . BBC world News

Women with severe, chronic health issues are screened for breast cancer less often

Women with severe disabilities and multiple chronic conditions are screened for breast cancer less often than women with no disabilities or no chronic conditions, a new study has found.

They are also screened less often than women with moderate disabilities or women with only one chronic condition, according to Dr. Sara Guilcher, an affiliate scientist with the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital.

Dr. Guilcher said women with disabilities often have other measures of social vulnerability, such as low income and low education levels.

Her research, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, is consistent with other studies showing that low income and education were also associated with lower breast cancer screening rates. Previous research has also shown that having a certain level of disability is associated with higher breast cancer screening rates, perhaps because those women have more frequent contact with the health care system.

However, in contrast to previous research, this study identified higher screening rates for women with moderate disabilities compared to those with severe disabilities – who also have greater contact with physicians than other women with no disabilities.

“Despite the presence of a universal health insurance system in Ontario, our research highlights the persistence of significant health disparities in breast cancer screening, particularly for women who are more vulnerable due to severe disability, multiple chronic conditions, low income and lower education,” said Dr. Guilcher, who has a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto.

The highest rate of screening was 75 per cent, which was among women with moderate level of disability and one chronic condition. Women with severe disability, across levels of chronic conditions, had the lowest rate of breast cancer screening at 61 per cent. Women with two or more chronic conditions were screened particularly less often.

“Women who are at a lower socioeconomic position may be less likely to be assertive and to be strong advocates for their health care management,” said Dr. Guilcher.

Dr. Guilcher noted that in Ontario, women can refer themselves to the Ontario Breast Screening Program, which sends them reminders of when they are due for mammograms and can provide results at the same time the test is done. Further research could explore the demographics of the women who enrol in this program, she said.

Dr. Guilcher said that worldwide, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Deaths have significantly dropped due to advances in prevention and treatment. In Ontario, mortality rates fell 37 per cent for women between the ages of 50 and 74 between 1990 and 2009.

Her study was done in conjunction with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Studies (ICES), based on health records of 10,363 women in Ontario ages 50-69 whose health records are stored in databases at ICES.

Ebola outbreak speed ‘unprecedented’ reports WHO

The World Health Organization has said the speed and extent of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is “unprecedented”.

The WHO’s Dr Keiji Fukuda expressed concern over so-called “shadow zones”, areas which cannot be reached and where patients are not being detected.

The organisation confirmed 142 new cases of the disease had been reported since 19 August, as well as 77 deaths.

Already more people have died in this outbreak of Ebola than in any other.

At least 1,427 people have now died in the outbreak so far, with the number of cases now standing at 2,615.

Speaking at a news conference in the Liberian capital Monrovia, Dr Fukuda said combating the disease would take “several months of hard work”.

“We haven’t seen an Ebola outbreak covering towns, rural areas so quickly and over such a wide area,” he added.

Also on Friday, Nigerian authorities said that they had detected two new cases of the virus, both spouses of medical workers who had direct contact with a man who died from the virus in Nigeria after arriving from Liberia.

In Liberia on Friday, a boy of 16 shot during a protest about a quarantine died.

Shakie Kamara was one of three people seriously injured on Wednesday after security forces fired at protesters, angry after blockades were erected around the West Point slum.

SOURCE | BBC world News

Ebola Outbreak update from ALC Health

The Ebola disease outbreak which has been affecting Western Africa for the past 5 months is still not under control. It appears that local medical responses are organizing to face the crisis on the long term while neighbouring countries struggle to avoid importation of the disease into their territory.

Scepticism by some of the local population and lack of confidence in the healthcare provided to patients are complicating the crisis and creating additional challenges for medical teams (attack on a healthcare centre in Monrovia on August 18th).

On August 14th 2014, the W.H.O. “reiterated its position that the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel remains low”(…) “WHO is therefore advising against air travel bans” (…) Nonetheless, consistent with airline guidelines, travellers should use prudent judgment in avoiding contact with any passengers who have obvious symptoms of illness.

Locally, the risk of coming into close contact with the disease or being contaminated remains low for expatriates or travellers following strict hygiene rules (cf. Ebola Outbreak Memo).

However, there is a real risk of facing the indirect consequences of the epidemic: compromised healthcare facilities and limited access to medical care, increasing restriction on air transportation options after the annulment of regular flights to the affected countries, by a number of air operators, restrictions on movements, airport screenings, and strict guidelines for the transfer of inbound patients from impacted countries.

Such measures are expected to affect all patients, including those suffering from conditions other than Ebola and will likely delay and complicate attempts at evacuation.

For all the above reasons, our emergency evacuation assistance partner recommendation remains to avoid or interrupt any travel to the affected countries for nonessential personnel. You will find in the attached memo the most recent updates and additional useful information.

Dr Cai Glushak International Medical Chief Medical Officer

Ebola – Scheduled Airlines suspended flights

A number of Scheduled Airlines have announced that they have suspended their flights to countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.
– Ai
– Arik Air [W3 / Lagos + Abuja]
– Asky [KP / Lomé]
– British Airways [BA / Londres]
– Camair
– Eagle
– Emirates [EK / Dubaï]
– Gam
– Kenya Airways [KQ / Nairobi]
Flight operations to other areas may also be affected by the Ebola Outbreak could be suspended at anytime with little or very short notice given by governments or air carriers.