Zika Virus – Severity & Extent of Outbreak
By Shahir Masri – October 13, 2016
As you all know, a virus called Zika has created a major epidemic, having even spread to the U.S. In this blog, I’ll highlight a bit of general info about Zika virus, including health effects and transmission. Zika virus is nothing new, in fact identified as early as 1947 in a monkey in Uganda. Researches quickly identified mosquitos as a carrier, and not long after discovered the first human cases of the virus. What is new, however, is the occurrence of large-scale Zika outbreaks. The first large Zika outbreak in humans occurred as recently as 2007, in the Pacific Island of Yap. According to the World Health Organization, only 14 human cases of the virus existed prior.
By Shahir Masri – October 10, 2016
The current Zika outbreak can be traced to Brazil. Brazil’s National Reference Laboratory confirmed the first cases of Zika in May of 2015. Unconfirmed cases in the country date back nearly two months prior, in late March. Originating in Brazil, Zika virus has since made its way through nearly every country of South America and the Caribbean, reaching as far north as Mexico and the southern United States. As of yesterday, October 12th, Zika cases (people infected with Zika) in the U.S. totaled to 3,936 (up by 100 compared to last week). On the plus side, most of these were travel-related cases.
Ebola Confirmed in Texas!
By Shahir Masri – October 1, 2014
Since my last blog, Ebola has not only worsened in West Africa, but the virus has finally hit the U.S. This is the first time Ebola has been diagnosed on U.S. soil, a scary reality to say the least! You may remember two Ebola patients being admitted to Atlanta’s Emory hospital in early August. These cases were different, however, in that they were diagnosed in Africa and consequently isolated prior to entering the United States. In the present case, the infected person arrived to Texas from Liberia on September 20th, but was not admitted to a hospital and isolated from the public for entire week! This is after the patient had already visited Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 26th complaining of Ebola-like symptoms.
Ebola - Getting Better or Worse??
By Shahir Masri – August 31, 2014
As we head into September, the wrath of Ebola continues to devastate West Africa. Now over five months since this deadly virus infected its first victim, one wonders where we are in terms of combating the disease. Are infection rates beginning to plateau or are they continuing to rise? And if they are rising, how quickly? This week I decided to answer this question by plotting WHO Ebola data dating back to late March, when the virus first popped up in Guinea. What I found was startling. Not only are infection rates continuing to rise, but they are rising near exponentially. As are the death rates. These exponential curves are depicted in the graph below, with total cases depicted in blue and total deaths depicted in red. Using the equations of the respective lines, I also predicted the total cases and deaths each week through the end of September, depicted as light green points.
Ebola - The Death Toll Rises
By Shahir Masri – August 16, 2014
The death toll in West Africa has recently exceeded an astonishing 1,000 dead. Official numbers, updated as of this morning, amount to 2,127 cases and 1,145 deaths from Ebola. In terms of infected people, this exceeds the previous worst Ebola outbreak by a factor of 5! To follow up on my last blog, a science/ethics panel which convened last week on the issue of administering experimental medication to infected Ebola patients has concluded that such medication is ethical to use given the severity of the current outbreak, provided that certain criteria are met, such as transparency about care, informed consent, freedom of choice, etc. Further details about the meeting are scheduled for release tomorrow.
Ebola: Has the Virus Gone Airborne?
By Shahir Masri – August 10, 2014
Since my last blog, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 68 new cases and 29 new deaths from Ebola in West Africa, bringing the new total to 1,779 infected and 961 dead. These numbers include suspected, probable, and confirmed cases alike. Given the magnitude of this crisis, the recently formed WHO Emergency Committee met for two days via teleconference this past week and unanimously decided that the present outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Importantly, no registered medicines or vaccines currently exist to combat Ebola. This Monday, however, a WHO-organized panel of medical ethics experts will meet to discuss the prospect of using experimental treatments to quell the outbreak.
Ebola: Death Toll Rises in West Africa
By Shahir Masri – August 6, 2014
Since the CDC hasn't updated their website, I thought I'd provide you with the latest statistics relating to the Ebola outbreak, according to the WHO Regional Office for Africa.
Ebola Virus Outbreak: Background & News
By Shahir Masri – August 4, 2014
To those unaware, a deadly Ebola outbreak of historic proportions is ripping its way through West Africa as of this writing. Further history was made last Saturday when an American infected with Ebola virus was flown in an isolation chamber from Liberia to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital to receive emergency treatment. This represented the first known Ebola patient to ever be treated on U.S. soil, something that has alarmed many Americans. This Tuesday, a second patient is due to arrive to the same hospital for treatment. In this blog, I will briefly outline the latest as it relates to this deadly Ebola outbreak. Additionally, I’ll provide insight as to what Ebola virus is and shed light on its background to help put the current situation in perspective.
Dr. Shahir Masri
Scientist, Author, Public Speaker
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