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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rocket explodes over eastern Virginia

Unmanned NASA-contracted rocket explodes over eastern Virginia

(CNN) -- An unmanned NASA-contracted rocket exploded in midair early Tuesday evening, producing huge flames and loud booms along the eastern Virginia coast but no injuries or deaths.

Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft had been set to launch at 6:22 p.m. ET from the Wallops Flight Facility along the Atlantic Ocean, carrying roughly 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

It exploded about six seconds after launch.

What was left of the spacecraft and rocket plummeted back to Earth, causing even more flames upon impact.

The rocket and spacecraft -- which together cost more than $200 million, according to Frank Culbertson, the general manager of Orbital's Advanced Programs Group -- are gone. And there's obvious damage beyond that, including to the launchpad, though the night skies made it hard to immediately gauge how much.

One thing officials do know is that rocket science is, in the words of NASA Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier, "a really tough business."

"Tonight's events really show the difficulty that it takes for us to do this task of delivering cargo to the space station," he said.

Witnesses: From 'breathtaking' to horrific

The Orbital rocket had been set to go up Monday, only to be scrubbed "because of a boat down range in the trajectory Antares would have flown had it lifted off," according to NASA. Coast Guard spokesman David Weydert said the boat that triggered the postponement was 40 miles offshore.

Tuesday, by contrast, seemed perfect. Just before liftoff, NASA reported "100% favorable" weather and "no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft being worked."

It seemed to be going perfectly when Ed Encina saw the launch brighten up the sky from his vantage point about 3 miles away.

"And then, all of a sudden, you see a big fireball," said Encina, a Baltimore Sun reporter.

Encina recalled a loud boom that caused "your feet (to) shake a little bit," as well as flames enveloping a roughly 100-yard area around the launchpad in a marshy area with brush.

CNN iReporter Dymetria Sellers, who watched from a drawbridge because the NASA visitors station was ful, recalled a "breathtakingly beautiful" sight when the rocket ascended, followed by mass confusion as flames lit up the early nighttime sky moments later.

"About 30 seconds later, we could hear and feel two booms reach us, and it was apparent the rocket had exploded," she said.

Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, said such a colossal fire was to be expected.

"It takes a lot of propellant to take a spacecraft of that size moving 25 times the speed of sound," Kelly told CNN, explaining how fast the rocket should have gone on its way to the space station. "So when it fails, it's usually pretty catastrophic."

Authorities said the safety parameters appear to have worked, and noted the lack of casualties.

"All we lost was hardware," Culbertson said. "That hardware, however, is very important."

NASA official: 'We'll fix it'

So what happened?

That's exactly what officials -- both from public agencies like NASA and private companies like Orbital -- hope to find out in the coming days and weeks.

"What we know so far is pretty much what everybody saw on the video," Culbertson said. "The ascent stopped, there was some, let's say disassembly, of the first stage, and then it fell to Earth. ... We don't really have any early indications of exactly what might have failed, and we need some time to look at that."

Orbital will lead the investigation, along with the Federal Aviation Administration, with NASA assisting.

Among other things, they'll try to collect and examine any debris that can be recovered, review data from the spacecraft before its destruction and look at videos around the launch time.

The main focus Tuesday night was safety. Bill Wrobel, the Wallops Flight Facility director, said fire crews had set up a perimeter around the affected area. "We're just basically letting the fire burn out, but they are contained," he added.

Authorities expressed confidence that no people were directly affected by the explosion, but they could come across scattered remnants that are possibly floating in the water.

As to when Orbital will fly again from Wallops, the only site it's now permitted to launch from, Culbertson didn't specify a timetable beyond saying, "We will fly again as soon as we can safely."

Gerstenmaier offered a similar take: "We'll figure out what the failure is, we'll fix it, and we'll learn from it."

2 missions set to resupply space station

In the meantime, they'll have to rebound from the loss.

A third of the spacecraft's cargo was material for scientific investigations such as a Houston school's experiment on pea growth and a study on blood flow in space.

There also were basic supplies meant for the crew of the space station -- now orbiting more than 200 miles above Earth -- including more than 1,300 pounds of food.

But in the short term, no one is saying the space station's six-person crew will go hungry.

NASA won't directly restock them, having relied on private companies to do so since the end of its space shuttle program. That includes Virginia-based Orbital, which had its first of eight planned ISS launches in January out of the Wallops facility as part of its $1.9 billion contract with NASA.

If Orbital can't resupply the space station, others can. On Wednesday, for instance, a Russian Soyuz resupply spacecraft stocked with cargo and crew supplies is set to launch from Kazakhstan. SpaceX, another private company, plans its fifth mission in December, including more supplies and a laser instrument to measure pollution, dust and other aspects of the atmosphere, according to NASA.

Even if those missions somehow fail, the space station crew has enough on hand to last well into next year.

"The station is in great shape; the crew is in good shape," said Mike Suffredini, NASA's ISS manager.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Two Dead in Washington High School Shooting

(CNN) -- One week ago, Jaylen Fryberg stood tall as part of his high school's homecoming court, spurring his fellow students to cheer.
On Friday, he brought them to tears.
There's a jarring disparity between the celebratory scene on the sidelines of Marysville-Pilchuck High School's football field and the horrific, later one inside the Washington state school's cafeteria. Fryberg was center of attention both times: first as one of his school's most popular students, then as a student who eyewitnesses said shot his peers, killing one of them, before turning his gun on himself.
As classmate Jordan Luton, among others, said: "Nobody would have expected it from him."
2 dead, including gunman, in school shooting
For some, high school can be a hard place to be widely embraced. But not for Fryberg, according to students there.
The scene at halftime of Marysville-Pilchuck High School's October 17 football game with Arlington High School is testament.
There stood Fryberg, looking dapper in a tie, vest and sneakers, with his long hair tied up tightly. A schoolmate noted Fryberg played football and planned to try out soon for wrestling; then people in the stands applauded him, with enthusiastic whistles and yells of admiration thrown in for good measure.
The occasion was Fryberg being named the freshmen's "Homecoming Prince," joining others in Marysville-Pilchuck High School's royal court. Friend and fellow student Nate Heckendorf explained that this honor means "a lot of people had good hopes for him and thought the best of him."
"That (title) means ... teachers like you. Your peers like you," said Rachel Heichel, another freshman. "You're a person that everyone likes and a good person."
All those applied to Fryberg, according to Heichel.
"He was a people person," she said. "... He was just a really nice kid and all-around good person."
An avid outdoorsman
Fryberg was more than a beloved student or talented athlete.
He was a proud Native American. According to his social media accounts, he belonged to the Tulalip tribe, which runs a resort casino in Marysville, a city of 60,000 located 30 miles north of Seattle.
A fellow tribe member and local CrossFit coach told CNN affiliate KIRO that the teenager was not only "very nice," but ambitious -- such that he might have one day become a tribal leader.
Fryberg was an avid outdoorsman who liked to go hunting and had guns. Just three months ago, he posted a picture to Instagram of himself holding a rifle, along with the words: "Probably the best BirthDay present ever! I just love my parents!!!"
Schoolmates and his social media accounts suggest that all was not happy with Fryberg, especially soon before the shooting.
Luton said that, a few weeks ago, Fryberg got into a fight with someone who "said something racist to him."
Heckendorf elaborated "there was bullying involved and a couple words said towards him that he obviously didn't like," noting that Fryberg got suspended after the fight. A federal law enforcement source also said he'd been suspended.
That's not to say, as Heckendorf and others stressed, that this altercation necessarily had anything to do with what happened Friday. Police have not formally identified the attacker.
Looking to social media for possible clues
Other potential clues might lie in Fryberg's Twitter feed, which hints at a breakup with a girlfriend in recent months. It also includes a post from Tuesday saying, "It breaks me... It actually does... I know it seems like I'm sweating it off... But I'm not.. And I never will be able to."
His final Tweet, on Thursday, was much shorter: "It won't last.... It'll never last...."
That same day, Luton said he talked to Fryberg at football practice "and he was all fine."
And Heckendorf chatted with him even more recently, on Friday morning, asking Fryberg how he was doing and offering him his ear whenever needed.
"And he said, 'OK, thank you,'" Heckendorf said. "We did a little handshake, and he was off. He looked pretty content with life."
All these impressions, all these interactions made what happened later that morning in Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria more shocking.
Heichel was there when Fryberg apparently went up to a spot a few tables away and fired his gun. When she heard more shots, she turned around and "saw him standing there ... the gun in his hand."
"When I saw him, I was like, 'Oh my God, that's Jaylen,'" she said. "I would have never expected it would have been him, out of all people.
"It was really heartbreaking for me to see that."

Jaylen Fryberg: the Washington School Shooter was 'Happy,' 'Popular': Students

Jaylen Fryberg, the shooter responsible for killing one student, injuring four and killing himself, was actually quite a popular guy at his school. Find out 5 things you should know about this high school freshman.

A Washington state high school student who opened fire on a cafeteria table full of students, killing one, before fatally shooting himself was described by classmates as a happy, popular football player who'd recently gotten into a dispute with another student. 

Two law enforcement sources identified the gunman as Jaylen Ray Fryberg, a freshman at Marysville Pilchuck High School, north of Everett. He pulled out a small handgun and opened fire on a table full of students about 10:30 a.m. (1:30 p.m. ET), killing a girl and wounding four other people, three of them critically, police and witnesses said. 

The names of the slain victim and those wounded weren't released, but police said all were under the age of 18. 

"He seemed like a nice guy, and he had lots of friends," Erick Cervantes, 16, a junior, told NBC News. 

Police didn't release a motive in the attack, which prompted a school lockdown that sent students running to hide in classrooms. But classmates said that Fryberg had recently gotten into an argument with another student that had racial overtones, and law enforcement sources said he may have been in recent disputes over a girl. In posts on Twitter, Fryberg seemed heartbroken over a breakup. 

Fryberg was smiling and waving just last week at the school's homecoming ceremony, where he was crowned freshman homecoming prince. "He seemed like a normal kid," Madison White, 16, a junior, told NBC News. 

But Friday, witnesses described him as blankly staring at his victims as he pulled the trigger.
"Sometimes the look I saw in his face was different, especially today," Erick said. "He looked very mad." 

Jayden Fryberg was crowned Homecoming Prince at his school weeks before he brought a gun to school and started shooting. Find out 5 things, some shocking, about this troubled young student who perpetrated this tragedy.

Jaylen Fryberg: He Was Popular, A Football Player And Homecoming Prince

The high school freshman was actually quite a popular student. He was not only on the school’s football team, but he was also on the wrestling team. He frequently posted messages on social media about his love for sports.

He was also crowned the Homecoming Prince at the school dance in October.

Shooter Just Had A Difficult Break Up With His Girlfriend

A friend of Jayden’s spoke to Fox news and revealed that the shooter recently “went through a breakup.” He was dating her for over 2 years and she recently took to Facebook to unload her feelings post-break-up. She said that people came and went in her life “for a reason.”
Jaylen also spoke out on social media.
He was also pretty angry with his “brother” for possibly talking to his girl?

These weren’t the first frightening tweets from the young student.

Jaden Watched The Violent Show – American Horror Story

If anyone is familiar with the terrifying show, people get murdered all the time. Earlier this month, Jayden tweeted that he is a fan of the show.

He Was Facebook Friends Gia Soriano — Alleged Student Killed

The student who he shot and killed was allegedly a young girl by the name of Gia Soriano. Also worth mentioning — Jayden and Gia were friends on Facebook.

According to student witnesses, he walked up to a specific table in the cafeteria and started shooting. Another witness told CNN, “They were his friends, so it wasn’t just random.”

After he shot at the students, he turned the gun around and shot himself.

His Parents Bought Him A Gun For His Birthday

Jayden posted a pic with a gun he received for his birthday. In the Twitter pic, Jaylen was holding the gun with the caption “Probably the best Birthday present ever! I just love my parents!”

Allegedly, the gun he used to shoot the students was his dads, not his. Regardless, his parents were ok with him owning a gun of his own.

– Shira Benozilio

NYC tries to ease Ebola fear after doctor infected

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Officials tried to tamp down New Yorkers' fears Friday after a doctor was diagnosed with Ebola in a city where millions of people squeeze into crowded subways, buses and elevators every day.

"We want to state at the outset that New Yorkers have no reason to be alarmed" by the doctor's diagnosis Thursday, said Mayor Bill de Blasio, even as officials described Dr. Craig Spencer riding the subway, taking a cab and bowling since returning to New York from Guinea a week ago. "New Yorkers who have not been exposed are not at all at risk."

Heath officials have repeatedly given assurances that the disease is spread only by direct contact with bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, vomit and feces, and that the dried virus survives on surfaces for only a matter of hours.

But some in the nation's most populous city, with more than 8 million people, were not taking any chances.

Friday morning, a group of teenage girls in Catholic school uniforms riding the L subway train passed around a bottle of hand sanitizer. They said they were taking extra precautions because of the Ebola case. It was one of the subway lines the doctor rode after returning home.

The governor and health officials said Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, sought treatment with diarrhea and a 100.3-degree fever - not 103 as officials initially reported Thursday night. The health department blamed a transcription error for the incorrect information. He was being treated in an isolation ward at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital, a designated Ebola center.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that the doctor "obviously felt he wasn't symptomatic" when he went out "in a limited way."

The governor, in an appearance on CNN's New Day, said there was no reason to fear riding the subway, and he would do so Friday.

But one commuter called riding the subway "a scary thing."

There are "a lot of germs in New York," said Chris Thompson who was riding the L train.
Another subway rider, 41-year-old construction worker T.J. DeMaso expressed concern.
"If the outbreaks get any more common, I'll be moving out of the city," he said. "You could catch it and not even know it. You could bring it home to your kids. That's not a chance I want to take."

Subway rider Alicia Clavell said she hoped it's "an isolated incident."

Veronica Lopez, who lives in the building next to the doctor, said "people were joking about it" but when the doctor's diagnosis was announced they "went crazy." She said she heard the city was notifying residents via fliers "and my roommate was freaking out because we didn't get a flier."

But Tanya Thomas, 47, who lives in Spencer's building, was matter-a-fact about the whole thing.

"He's the one with Ebola," she said. "If I get it, I get it."

Health officials say the chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are slim. Someone can't be infected just by being near someone who is sick with Ebola. Someone isn't contagious unless he is sick.

Bassett said the probability was "close to nil" that Spencer's subway rides would pose a risk. Still, the bowling alley was closed as a precaution, and Spencer's Harlem apartment was cordoned off. The Department of Health was on site across the street from the apartment building Thursday night, giving out information to area residents.

Evageline Love also was unconcerned. "I saw the mayor and the governor. What they're saying, I believe, is true. There's no need for hysteria," she said as he rode the L train to work.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will do a further test to confirm the initial results, has dispatched an Ebola response team to New York. President Barack Obama spoke to Cuomo and de Blasio on Thursday night and offered the federal government's support. He asked them to stay in close touch with Ron Klain, his "Ebola czar," and public health officials in Washington.

Health officials have been tracing Spencer's contacts to identify anyone who may be at risk. The city's health commissioner, Mary Bassett, said Spencer's fiancee and two friends had been quarantined but showed no symptoms.

The epidemic in West Africa has killed about 4,800 people. In the United States, the first person diagnosed with the disease was a Liberian man, who fell ill days after arriving in Dallas and later died, becoming the only fatality. None of his relatives who had contact with him got sick. Two nurses who treated him were infected and are hospitalized. The family of one nurse said doctors no longer could detect Ebola in her as of Tuesday evening.

According to a rough timeline provided by city officials, in the days before Spencer fell ill, he went on a 3-mile jog, went to the High Line park, rode the subway and, on Wednesday night, got a taxi to a Brooklyn bowling alley. He felt tired starting Tuesday, and felt worse on Thursday when he and his fiancee made a joint call to authorities to detail his symptoms and his travels. EMTs in full Ebola gear arrived and took him to Bellevue in an ambulance surrounded by police squad cars.

Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization, said per the guidelines it provides its staff members on their return from Ebola assignments, "the individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported this development immediately." Travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone must report in with health officials daily and take their temperature twice a day, as Spencer did. He also limited his direct contact with people, health officials said.

Spencer, 33, works at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. He had not seen any patients or been to the hospital since his return, the hospital said in a statement, calling him a "dedicated humanitarian" who "went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population."

Four American aid workers, including three doctors, were infected with Ebola while working in Africa and were transferred to the U.S. for treatment in recent months. All recovered. Health care workers are vulnerable because of close contact with patients when they are their sickest and most contagious.

In West Africa this year, more than 440 health workers have contracted Ebola and about half have died. But the Ebola virus is not very hardy. The CDC says bleach and other hospital disinfectants kill it.

Spencer is from Michigan and attended Wayne State University School of Medicine and Columbia's University Mailman School of Public Health.

According to his Facebook page, he left for West Africa via Brussels last month. A photo shows him in full protective gear. He returned to Brussels Oct. 16.

"Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders," he wrote. "Please support organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa, and help combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent history."
Associated Press writers Frank Eltman, Cara Anna, Cameron Young, Jake Pearson, Deepti Hajela and Tom Hays and researcher Susan James contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

CEO of France's Total dies in jet crash at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport

The CEO of France’s oil and gas giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, was among four people killed in a business jet crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow after the aircraft hit a snowplow on take-off.

Total’s chairman and CEO was the only passenger in the Falcon 50 business jet besides three crewmembers who were also French citizens.
“Total confirms with deep regret and great sadness that Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie died just after 10pm (Paris time) on October 20 in a private plane crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow, following a collision with a snow removal machine,” the company said in a statement. 

Total SA is France's second-biggest listed company, with a market value of 102 billion euros and the West's fourth biggest oil and gas group, as well as one of the top foreign investors in Russia. 

Despite Western-imposed sanctions on Russia that prohibit western financing and technology transfer to some Russian energy projects, Total is continuing to pursue a natural gas project in Yamal, a joint venture with Russia's Novatek and China's CNPC. 

“Can we live without Russian gas in Europe? The answer is no. Are there any reasons to live without it? I think – and I'm not defending the interests of Total in Russia – it is a no,” the Total boss told Reuters back in summer. 

Meanwhile, another Total project, with Russia’s sanctions-hit Lukoil, is “definitely stopped,” de Margerie said in September, but since the project had not started it did not have “any impact” on Total, he told the Financial Times. 

De Margerie had recently expressed his support for a wider use of other currencies in transactions outside the US – for oil purchases in particular – after the scandal involving France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, which was slapped with a record $9 billion fine and a 1-year dollar trading ban. 

“Nothing prevents anyone from paying for oil in euros,” de Margerie said in July. “The price of a barrel of oil is quoted in dollars. A refinery can take that price and using the euro-dollar exchange rate on any given day, agree to make the payment in euros.”

Sunday, October 12, 2014

CDC Cites 'Breach' In Ebola Protocol As Second Texas Case Emerges

Police stand guard outside the apartment of a hospital worker who has tested positive for Ebola in Dallas Sunday. In the background is a yellow barrel used to dispose of hazardous materials.
Roger Steinman AP

A health care worker in Texas who cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan has been confirmed to have the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The head of the CDC says the infection stems from a breach in protocol that officials are working to identify.
The worker helped treat Duncan during his second stay at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, officials say. Duncan died of the disease Wednesday

 A worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan died on Wednesday, has tested positive for the virus.
The case is the first instance of an Ebola infection being transmitted inside the U.S. The new patient, a woman, is not being identified; CNN reports that she's a nurse, citing an official familiar with the case. 

The worker reported a low fever Friday night and went to the hospital; a blood sample was sent for testing at the state public health laboratory in Austin. The preliminary result was released late Saturday. 

Update at 4 p.m. ET: Case Of Ebola Is Confirmed
The CDC has announced that its follow-up tests on the patient's blood confirm that she has Ebola. 

Update at 11:15 a.m. ET: Woman Was Not Among 48 Contacts From Duncan Case
"Our hearts really do go out" to the patient in Dallas and her family, says Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

He added that the health care worker "did what was appropriate, in coming in for a blood test" after noticing symptoms. 

Lakey said the woman is not among the 48 people who were identified as having had potential contact with Thomas Eric Duncan before he was put in an isolation unit. That group, which includes some health workers, is still being monitored, Lakey said, adding that none have shown signs of being infected. 

Speaking by phone at a the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention news conference, Lakey said that officials in Dallas are working to ensure they understand how the virus was transmitted in the new case, to improve health workers' procedures. 

Responding to questions, Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the worker hasn't identified a specific moment that might have led to the breach. 

Both health officials also said they're confident the virus will be contained, saying they would break the chain of transmission. 

"I firmly believe that we're going to stop this here," Lakey said, referring to the Dallas hospital. 

Update at 11:08 a.m. ET: 'A Breach In Protocol'
"We're deeply concerned" by the emergence of a second Ebola case in Dallas, says Dr. Tom Frieden, speaking at a CDC news conference in Atlanta. He said the agency is carrying out a second test Sunday to confirm or disprove the patient's initial positive test result for Ebola. 

"At some point there was a breach in protocol," Frieden said of the new case, which then resulted in the infection. 

Frieden said that so far, the level of Ebola in the patient's system is low. 

He said that after extensive interviews with the patient, experts have determined that only one person may have had contact with her when she may have been infectious. Frieden said they are evaluating other potential exposures. 

Frieden went on to outline several steps health agencies are undertaking, with a focus on protocols that will prevent the spread of Ebola. They include a review of the protective gear, he said, noting that putting on more materials isn't always a guarantee that the level of risk will fall. 

The CDC chief said that removing gear is a particularly critical process in preventing an Ebola infection. 

In another high-profile Ebola case that's ongoing, Teresa Romero, the nurse who contracted Ebola in Spain after treating an infected patient, has said she may have touched her face as she was removing her protective gear. 

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET: Patient Treated Duncan On Second Visit
Asked whether the worker treated Duncan on his first or second visit to the hospital last month, Dr. Dan Varga, the chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, the hospital's parent company, says it was on the second visit. 

He spoke at a Sunday morning news conference about the new Ebola case. 

Varga said that all of the health care workers are following CDC precautions. He added that the worker had been wearing protective gear when treating Duncan, including a "gown, gloves, mask and shield." 

The new patient had been working up until two days ago, Varga said. 

Varga added that officials are confident in the measures they've taken to protect health care workers. As an added precaution, Texas Health Presbyterian will not provide emergency services; instead, ambulances will be sent to other hospitals. 

Update at 8:45 a.m. ET: Patient Is In Stable Condition
The worker had been self-monitoring after caring for Duncan, Varga says, a process that included taking one's own temperature twice a day. The worker was admitted to an isolation unit at the hospital immediately after arriving. 

"The entire process, from the patient's self-monitoring to the admission into isolation, took less than 90 minutes," Varga said. He added that the patient's condition is currently listed as stable. 

"A close contact has also been proactively placed in isolation," he said. 

At the news conference, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the patient's house has been decontaminated and access to it is being controlled by police. He added that neighbors have been contacted in a door-to-door campaign, as well as by phone. 

Officials of the Texas department of health urged people not to panic, stressing that Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids or objects contaminated by an infected person. 

On the question of how contagious Ebola is, NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff recently noted, "Even in the current epidemic in West Africa, where the virus has been out of control, each person who has gotten sick has spread Ebola to only about two others, on average."
No details about the patient were released, with officials citing the worker's wish for privacy.
Our original post continues:
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta will perform further tests to confirm the diagnosis. 

"We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility," said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, in the statement. "We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread." 

Officials are identifying the patient's contacts and will monitor them based on the nature of their interactions with the patient. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, and is not contagious before patients show symptoms such as fever. 

The worker helped care for Duncan, the 42-year-old who contracted Ebola in Liberia and flew to Texas on Sept. 20. He first developed symptoms on Sept. 24. Duncan died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why nation’s top docs say Ebola won’t spread in US

In this photo provided by CBS News, the National Institute of Health's Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, speaks on CBS's "Face the Nation" in Washington. Speaking on the Ebola virus, Fauci said it's perfectly normal to feel anxious about a disease that kills so fast and is ravaging parts of West Africa, but predicts there won't be an outbreak in the U.S. (AP Photo/CBS News, Chris Usher)(Photo: Chris Usher, AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ebola has arrived in the United States and people are frightened.
The nation’s top infectious diseases expert says it’s perfectly normal to feel anxious about a virus that kills so fast and is ravaging parts of West Africa.

“People who are scared, I say, ‘We don’t take lightly your fear. We respect it. We understand it,’” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.

But Fauci emphasizes that the United States is different from African nations whose fragile health care systems have been overwhelmed by Ebola. Scientists know how to stop the virus from spreading with adequate resources, he says.

In the U.S., Fauci maintains, “We won’t have an outbreak.”

That’s not to say the first Ebola case diagnosed within the United States — a traveler from Liberia who began feeling the effects after arriving in Dallas — will be the only one.

The government took measures this past week to ensure hospitals are ready and is considering what more should be done.

Despite some initial missteps in Dallas, tried-and-true methods are underway: tracking everyone who came into contact with the infected man and isolating anyone who shows symptoms.

What to know about Ebola in America:


Expect to hear news reports in the coming days about people who are being cared for as potential Ebola cases. That doesn’t mean they have the disease.

Doctors and hospitals are isolating individuals they believe could be at risk. That’s based on a combination of their symptoms and recent travel from a country where Ebola is present.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has consulted with hospitals about more than 100 potentially suspicious cases in recent months. More than a dozen were worrisome enough to merit Ebola blood tests. Only the Dallas patient had Ebola.


Ebola doesn’t spread easily like the flu, a cold or measles.

The virus isn’t airborne. Instead, it’s in a sick person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, urine, semen or saliva. Another person can catch the disease by getting those germs into his own body, perhaps by wiping his eyes or through a cut in the skin.

Bodily fluids aren’t contagious until the infected person begins to feel sick. The initial symptoms are easily confused with other illnesses, however: fever, headaches, flu-like body aches and abdominal pain. Vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes bleeding follow as the disease progresses, increasing the risk to others.

In West Africa, the disease has spread quickly to family members who tended the sick or handled their bodies after death, and infected doctors and nurses working under punishing conditions, without proper equipment. Bed sheets or clothing contaminated by bodily fluids also could spread the disease.


It’s very unlikely.
To be on the safe side, the CDC defines “contact” with the disease as spending a prolonged period of time within 3 feet of someone ill with Ebola, a distance designed to protect health workers from projectile vomiting.

But health officials haven’t seen real world cases of the virus spread by casual contact in public, such as sitting next to someone on a bus, said Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC director.
“All of our experience with Ebola in Africa the last four decades indicates direct contact is how it spreads,” he said, “and only direct contact with someone who is ill with Ebola.”

Passengers who flew on the same plane as the Dallas patient, five days before he developed symptoms, are not considered at risk by the CDC. Nor are the schoolmates of children who came in contact with the infected Dallas man, but showed no symptoms of illness while in class.

As a precaution in case they become sick and therefore contagious, the children who were in contact with the infected man were pulled from school and are being monitored for symptoms.

Initially, about 100 people were assessed for potential exposure. Health officials said Friday that 50 were still being monitored, with 10 considered at the most risk during the disease’s 21-day incubation period. Four family members who shared their apartment with the patient are under quarantine.

Outside those circles, the odds of getting infected within the U.S. remain minuscule, health authorities say. 


The CDC is overseeing multiple layers of response:
—The Ebola-hit African nations are checking people at airports for fever, and asking them about any contact with an infected person, before allowing them to board planes out of the country.

—Airlines are required by law to watch for sick travelers and to alert authorities before landing.

—The CDC is warning doctors and hospitals to remember the possibility of Ebola and rapidly isolate and test sick patients with a risk of exposure to the virus, primarily those who have traveled recently from the hot spots.

Additional safeguards are being considered.

The Obama administration is looking at the possibility of stationing government workers at U.S. airports to screen passengers arriving from Ebola-stricken nations for signs of illness, Fauci said Monday. He said the idea, and the resources it would require, would be discussed at a Monday afternoon meeting at the White House.

“We all want to get to zero risk to the U.S. … We can only do that by making sure that we get it under control in Africa. And we’re beginning to see the response ramping up there. But it’s going to be a long, hard fight,” Frieden said Sunday.

The U.S. and other countries have stepped up aid to West African nations struggling with the disease. But the outbreak is out of control.

“We have never seen an Ebola epidemic before in the world,” Frieden said.


Before the Dallas case, four Americans diagnosed with Ebola in Africa returned to the U.S. enclosed in portable biohazard units, attended by health care workers protected by what looked like puffy space suits. The patients were treated in special isolation units.

The U.S. has only four of those isolation units; when people feel sick, they go to their nearest health care.

The CDC says any American hospital should be able to care for an Ebola patient.

Emergency room staff, potentially the first line, are used to safeguarding themselves from germs. They routinely treat patients with HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases.

The CDC says it’s fine to put a suspected Ebola case into a regular private room with its own bathroom, and doctors and nurses need only wear certain gowns, masks and eye protection to be safe, not the elaborate biohazard suits.

Yet the system isn’t perfect, as the Dallas case shows.

When the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, first arrived at a Dallas hospital, he told a nurse that he had recently traveled from West Africa, yet the possibility of Ebola was overlooked and he was discharged into the community. He returned in worse shape, by ambulance, two days later and was diagnosed with the virus. He is in critical condition.


Yes. It’s the worse Ebola outbreak in history, and still out of control in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Previous outbreaks in other parts of Africa have been halted more quickly.

Lack of experience with the disease in West Africa contributed to its spread this time. Other factors: a shortage of medical personnel and supplies, widespread poverty, and political instability in affected countries.

Also, the disease is crossing national borders and spreading in urban areas. Past outbreaks tended to be in relatively isolated spots.

It’s hard for Americans to grasp how much more easily diseases can spread in some of the poorest places on earth versus in the U.S., said Ebola expert Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

In countries where inadequate health systems have been overwhelmed by the virus, people are dying in their homes, outside clinics that are too overfilled to take them, and sometimes in the streets. Health workers have been attacked by panicked residents.

Yet the measures that have stopped past outbreaks still work, with sufficient knowledge and resources.

Senegal appears to have stopped the disease at one case this year. Nigeria had eight deaths but brought its outbreak under control by tracking 894 people who had been in contact with a man who brought the virus from Liberia, and visiting 18,500 more people to check for symptoms, the CDC said.

U.S. officials are confident they can stay on top of any more cases that arrive.

This is the first case of Ebola recorded in the United States. But some of its relatives have been here — a case of Marburg virus, considered just as deadly, and four cases of Lassa fever in the past decade.

“There is some history of people coming back with these exotic, highly lethal diseases where it’s been relatively well controlled,” Geisbert said. “Hopefully that continues.”

AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola

Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConnieCass
Associated Press reporter Matt Small contributed to this story.

Ebola Infects Spanish Nurse, a First in West 
A Spanish nurse infected with Ebola was transferred Monday from a hospital in Alcorcón to Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital. Credit Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images 

BARCELONA, Spain — A nurse in Spain has become the first health worker to be infected with the Ebola virus outside of West Africa, raising serious concerns about how prepared Western nations are to safely treat people with the deadly illness.

The nurse contracted the illness while treating a Spanish missionary who was infected in Sierra Leone and flown to Madrid’s Carlos III hospital, where he died on Sept. 25, Spain’s Health Ministry said. The priest, Manuel García Viejo, died three days after being flown back to Spain, and the nurse entered his room only twice, including once after his death, according to Antonio Alemany, a health official from the regional government of Madrid.

The case is particularly worrisome to health experts because Spain is a developed country that is considered to possess the kind of rigorous infection control measures that should prevent disease transmission in the hospital. Although the Ebola epidemic has killed hundreds of doctors and nurses in West Africa, health officials in Europe and the United States have reassured the public repeatedly that if the disease reached their shores, their health care systems would be able to treat patients safely, without endangering health workers or the public.