Why This Doctor Believes That Ebola Will Not Be an American Catastrophe

“Ebola is going to take over the country, right?”

These days, folks who know me as an infectious-diseases specialist kickstart conversations with a similar question and then ask, “Should I buy a gas mask and a space suit?”

Calm down, people! Yes, Ebola is devastating, and it may continue to gnaw at Africa and the developing world, but it won’t turn into an American catastrophe. Let me explain why I believe we will win this battle.

Having managed the outbreaks of SARS in 2003, swine flu in 2009 and fungal meningitis in 2012, many of us in the infectious-diseases community have been there, done that. Each time, the talking heads with zero experience with infections diseases increased the size of the haystack by piling up “What if?” scenarios like they are doing now: What if the virus mutates and becomes airborne? (Viruses don’t change their mode of transmission due to mutations.) What if one patient infected a whole airplane? (That would only be possible if such a patient were running a fever and vomiting or defecating all over the plane.) What if an exposed child spreads the infection to his or her entire whole school? (Thank you; this ridiculous fear has already forced —> Read More Here

Only One Way to Mars?

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Seventh grader Alyssa Carson grabbed recent headlines because she wants to be one of the first humans on Mars. Accumulating the right stuff starts early these days. This young woman has been pursuing her space dream since she was in diapers.

She’s been on a tear, attending Space Academy, Robotics Academy, National Flight Academy, NASA’s Space Flight Academy, Sally Ride Academy, Sally Ride day camps, Space Camp Turkey, Space Camp Canada — and every other space camp in the world. She’s witnessed three space shuttle launches. She’s done a TEDx talk in Greece. She’s an official Mars One ambassador, with a featured profile on the Mars One site.

She tweets her adventures. She puts multilingual videos (she’s fluent in four languages) on her Facebook page, where she’s listed as a “public figure” — which means you can “like” her but not “friend” her.

She and her father Bret Carson have a 20-year plan that includes higher education at Cambridge and the International Space University, followed (if all goes well) by her mission to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

NASA’s Paul Foreman says she’s “taking all the right steps to actually become an astronaut.”

Is Alyssa truly on a —> Read More Here

Wildlife Trafficking: Beyond Elephants and Ivory

Between 2000 and 2013, more than 27,000 seizures of tiger derivatives have been reported to CITES, mainly originating in China and Vietnam. Photo: ©WCS Russia.

By Susan Lieberman

In the wildlife trafficking policy debate in the U.S., the majority of attention to date has been on the ivory and horn of Africa’s elephants and rhinos. Given the devastating losses those species have suffered this is perhaps not surprising. That attention has engaged diverse parties from around the globe, including the Obama Administration, African elephant range states, the EU, and conservation NGOs like the Wildlife Conservation Society, for whom I work. WCS’s 96 Elephants campaign has attracted some 170 partners to raise awareness of this critical issue.

However, elephants and rhinos are not the only species threatened by illegal international trade. Numerous other species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and others are also subject to trafficking, and they too need increased attention and political and financial support. In testimony I submitted to a meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, I detailed some of the species whose illegal trade is under the radar but still are suffering the effects of wildlife trafficking.

Between 2000 and 2013, more than 27,000 seizures of tiger derivatives were reported to CITES, mainly originating in China and Vietnam. Photo: ©WCS Russia.

The final remaining tigersonly —> Read More Here

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