HOW EBOLA IS TRANSMITTED
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 23, 2014 By Stone Hearth News
Boston, MA – Although the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) reports no known cases of Ebola transmission in the United States, a Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH)/SSRS poll released today (August 21, 2014) shows that four in ten (39%) adults in the U.S. are concerned that there will be a large outbreak in the U.S., and a quarter (26%) are concerned that they or someone in their immediate family may get sick with Ebola over the next year.
The nationally representative poll of 1,025 adults was conducted August 13-17, 2014 by researchers at HSPH and SSRS, an independent research company. The margin of error for total respondents is +/-3.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Ebola: a brief insight into what it is all about
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates, such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees. Four countries have reported infections: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Officials report 1,350 have died as of August 21, 2014 and over 2,473 people have been infected since March 2014. For an update on the outbreak, see this CDC link: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/index.html
The HSPH/SSRS poll found people with less education are more likely to be concerned about an outbreak in the U.S. (less than high school 50% vs. some college 36% vs. college grad or more 24%). People with less education are also more concerned they or their family will get sick with Ebola (less than high school 37% vs. some college 22% vs. college grad or more 14%). Perhaps related, those with less education are also less likely to be following the news about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa closely (total 63%; less than high school 57% and some college 62% vs. college grad or more 73%).
Two-thirds of people (68%) surveyed believe Ebola spreads “easily” (“very easily” or “somewhat easily”) from those who are sick with it. This perception may contrast with CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and other health experts who note that Ebola is not an airborne illness, and is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, infected objects, or infected animals. For more on how Ebola is transmitted: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/index.html
A third of those polled (33%) believe there is “an effective medicine to treat people who have gotten sick with Ebola.” According to the CDC and WHO, there is no proven anti-viral medicine, however, treating symptoms – such as maintaining fluids, oxygen levels, and blood pressure – can increase the odds of survival. To date, the media reports two people infected with Ebola overseas have been treated in the U.S.
“Many people are concerned about a large scale outbreak of Ebola occurring in the U.S.,” said Gillian SteelFisher, PhD, deputy director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program and research scientist in the HSPH Department of Health Policy and Management. “As they report on events related to Ebola, the media and public health officials need to better inform Americans of Ebola and how it is spread.”
For more information about the disease, see the CDC’s Questions and Answers about Ebola: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/qa.html
WHO information: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/
Harvard School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at HSPH teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.
SSRS is a full-service survey and market research firm managed by a core of dedicated professionals with advanced degrees in the social sciences. SSRS designs and implements solutions to complex strategic, tactical, public opinion, and policy issues in the U.S. and in more than 40 countries worldwide. SSRS partners with clients interested in conducting high-quality research. SSRS is renowned for its sophisticated sample designs and its experience with all modes of data collection, including those involving multimodal formats. SSRS provides the complete set of analytical, administrative and management capabilities needed for successful project execution.
IBUPROFEN POSING POTENTIAL THREAT TO FISH
From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne HambletonPosted on August 22, 2014 By Stone Hearth News – Source University of York – Environmental International
Research led by the University of York UK suggests that many rivers contain levels of ibuprofen that could be adversely affecting fish health.
Using a new modelling approach, the researchers estimated the levels of 12 pharmaceutical compounds in rivers across the UK. They found that while most of the compounds were likely to cause only a low risk to aquatic life, ibuprofen might be having an adverse effect in nearly 50 per cent of the stretches of river studied.
The results of the study, which involved York’s Environment Department, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd (Switzerland) and the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), are reported in the journal Environment International.
In what is believed to be the first study to establish the level of risk posed by ibuprofen at the country scale, the researchers examined 3,112 stretches of river which together receive inputs from 21 million people.
Professor Alistair Boxall, from the University of York’s Environment Department, said: “The results of our research show that we should be paying much closer attention to the environmental impacts of drugs such as ibuprofen which are freely available in supermarkets, chemists and elsewhere.”
The researchers have developed a combined monitoring and modelling approach that takes into account factors such as the non-use of prescribed drugs by patients, and addresses differences in metabolism in individuals who are using a drug. The new approach also accounts for removal processes in the local sewerage network and for differences in the effectiveness of different wastewater treatment technologies. In this way, it provides more accurate estimates of the concentrations of compounds entering rivers than previous modelling approaches.
Richard Williams, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) – a public-sector research centre which is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said: “When we compared the results of our modelling with available monitoring data for pharmaceuticals in the UK, we were delighted at the close agreement between the modelled and measured data.”
Professor Boxall added: “While our study focused on pharmaceuticals, the approach we have developed could also be valuable in assessing the risks of other ‘down the drain’ chemicals and could help inform our understanding of the important dissipation processes for pharmaceuticals in the pathway from the patient to the environment.”
CITIES ARE MAKING SPIDERS GROW BIGGER AND MULTIPLY FASTER
From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Posted on August 20, 2014 Stone Hearth News By Nick Stockton Permalink WIRED
Something about city life appears to be causing spiders to grow larger than their rural counterparts. And if that is not enough to give you nightmares, these bigger urban spiders are also multiplying faster.
A new study published today in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spiders living near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.
The study’s authors collected 222 of the creatures from parks and bushland throughout Sydney, and correlated their sizes to features of the built and natural landscape.
They dissected each specimen back at the lab, and determined its size, health, and fecundity by measuring four attributes: the length of the spider’s longest leg segment, the ratio of that leg segment to overall body weight, the amount of fat on the spider, and its ovary size.
To measure urbanization, the authors looked primarily at ground cover throughout the city, at several scales, where they collected each spider: Are surfaces mostly paved? Is there a lack of natural vegetation? Lawns as opposed to leaf litter?
“The landscape characteristics most associated with larger size of spiders were hard surfaces (concrete, roads etc) and lack of vegetation,” said Elizabeth Lowe, a Ph.D student studying arachnids at the University of Sydney.
Humped golden orb weavers are a common arachnid along Australia’s east coast. They get their name from their large, bulging thorax, and the gold silk they use to spin their spherical webs. They typically spend their lives in one place, constantly fixing the same web (which can be a meter in diameter). Each web is dominated by a single female, though 4 or 5 much smaller males usually hang around the edges of the web, waiting for an opportunity to mate (only occasionally does the female eat them afterwards).
Paved surfaces and lack of vegetation mean cities are typically warmer than the surrounding countryside. Orb weavers are adapted to warm weather, and tend to grow bigger in hotter temperatures. The correlation between size and urban-ness manifested at every scale. Citywide, larger spiders were found closer to the central business district. And, their immediate surroundings were more likely to be heavily paved and less shady.
More food also leads to bigger spiders, and the scientists believe that human activity attracts a smorgasbord of orb weavers’ favorite prey. Although the study was not designed to determine exactly how the spiders were getting bigger, the researchers speculate that things like street lights, garbage, and fragmented clumps of plant life might attract insects. They also believe that the heat island effect might let urban spiders mate earlier in the year, and might even give them time to hatch multiple broods.
The orb weavers could also be keeping more of what they catch. Because they are such prolific hunters, orb weavers’ webs are usually home to several other species of spiders that steal food. The researchers found that these little kleptos were less common in webs surrounded by pavement and little vegetation.
Lowe says quite a few species of spider are successful in urban areas, and she would not be surprised if some of these other species were also getting bigger. Despite how terrifying this sounds, she assures me that this is actually a good thing.
“They control fly and pest species populations and are food for birds,” she said.