TIME ebola

Emory Hospital Will Treat Ebola Patient

CDC Ebola
The Ebola virus in an undated photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC/AP

Two Americans are fighting the virus in Liberia

Emory University Hospital in Atlanta announced Thursday that it expects to receive a patient with the Ebola disease within the “next several days.”

Two Americans, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, contracted the infection in Liberia. The hospital does not yet know whether the patient is one of these two Americans or when he or she will arrive.

“Emory University Hospital has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases,” the hospital said in the statement. “It is physically separate from other patient areas and has unique equipment and infrastructure that provide an extraordinarily high level of clinical isolation. It is one of only four such facilities in the country.”

The Ebola virus can spread through bodily fluids, putting health care workers treating patients at risk. The doctors and nurses who work with the patient will wear full-body protective suits.

Meanwhile American health officials have advised against nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the disease has taken 729 lives this year. Up until now, the CDC has only advised travelers to take precautions when traveling in West Africa. This is the first time the CDC has issued a high-level warning since the SARS outbreak in Asia in 2003. The warning is meant both to protect U.S. citizens and help overwhelmed hospitals and clinics in West Africa.

“It is frankly a dreadful and merciless virus. The current outbreak is bad. It’s the biggest, most complex and the first time it’s been present in this region of the world which means that response systems and community understanding of the disease is not what it is elsewhere,” CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said during a call with the press on Thursday.

However, Frieden says that he does not think Ebola can spread in the U.S. “That’s not in the cards,” he told reporters.

In terms of evacuating the Americans who are infected, Frieden said that any organization looking to airlift the infected would have to exercise caution. “We do not have effective treatment or vaccine for Ebola. There is no proven treatment. There is no proven vaccine. There is not likely to be one for at least a year, even in the best case scenario,” he said.

“There is the potential that the actual movement of the patient could do more harm than the benefit from more advanced supportive care outside of the country.”

Emory University Hospital says it is well equipped to handle any patients it does receive. “Emory University Hospital physicians, nurses and staff are highly trained in the specific and unique protocols and procedures necessary to treat and care for this type of patient,” the statement says. “For this specially trained staff, these procedures are practiced on a regular basis throughout the year so we are fully prepared for this type of situation.”

Some have recovered from Ebola, but the mortality rate for people infected ranges from 50% to 90%. Experts estimate that about 60% of the people infected with the virus during this particular outbreak have died.

TIME Infectious Disease

The Psychological Toll of Ebola in Sierra Leone

A nurse from Liberia sprays preventives to disinfect the waiting area for visitors at the ELWA Hospital where a US doctor Kent Bradley is being quarantined in the hospitals isolation unit having contracted the Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, 28 July 2014.
A nurse from Liberia sprays preventives to disinfect the waiting area for visitors at the ELWA Hospital where a US doctor Kent Bradley is being quarantined in the hospitals isolation unit having contracted the Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, 28 July 2014. Ahmed Jallanzo—EPA

Ane Bjoru Fjeldsaeter has been counselling staff, patients and their families at the Doctors Without Borders' Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone

In West Africa, the deadly Ebola outbreak is worsening daily. The U.N. announced Thursday that 1,323 people have been infected in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Of those afflicted, 729 have died.

The tiny country of Sierra Leone has been hit hardest, with 533 reported cases. The President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma,
has announced a public health emergency, some schools and banks have closed, and doctors are scrambling to treat people for a virus they can’t cure—or contain. As patients worsen, their bodies—and their minds—take a toll.

Amid that chaos and fear was Ane Bjoru Fjeldsaeter, a psychologist who was working at a Doctors Without Borders’ treatment center in Kailahun until recently, when she returned home to Norway. The only mental health professional in the 64-bed center, she was tasked with providing emotional support and counseling to victims, their families and those treating them.

“The fear is widespread,” she says. “When we first started working in the region there was a lot of denial. It’s a common psychological response when faced with a horrible situation.”

For those inside the treatment center, the grim reality of Ebola was impossible to ignore. “They see people around them with a rapidly progressing and ugly disease,” Fjeldsaeter says. “It’s a scary situation to be in.”

Doctors Without Borders has been operating in Kailahun since June 25 and the mortality rate within the center has dropped from 90% to 60%, according to Fjeldsaeter. She counseled patients at a distance of 1.5 meters, separated by two orange fences that came up to waist height. “If someone is so sick they can’t come to the fence, I’ll wear protective equipment and go to the isolation ward,” she says.

“Most of the patients were more concerned about their relatives than their own lives,” she explains. For others, the isolation can be extremely trying, and as their health worsens and their own mortality looms, many turn to God. “Sometimes they asked me to pray with them or for them,” she says.

In such an emotionally charged environment, staff are often affected. “It’s a workplace where it’s common at times to become overwhelmed with emotion,” Fjeldsaeter says. “Staff told me they didn’t feel professional. I had to tell them, ‘Nobody’s made of stone, we’re all affected by this. It’s a national tragedy and it’s okay to cry.'”

She also offered some group counseling for staff. “They have shared concerns. There’s a fear of contamination and the feeling of helplessness because there’s no cure. They’re up against the disease and they don’t know what to do. There’s clear sadness.”

Despite the horrors that she witnessed during her month in Sierra Leone, Fjeldsaeter remains stoic. She admits to being scared but adds: “If you’re not scared then you’re not careful. You have to embrace your fear a bit, but you can’t let it paralyze you.”

 

 

TIME Infectious Disease

The CDC Says You Shouldn’t Fly to Countries Hardest Hit by Ebola Outbreak

LIBERIA-US-HEALTH-DISEASE-EPIDEMIC-EBOLA
Staff of the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, on July 24, 2014 Zoom Dosso—AFP/Getty Images

CDC director calls the disease a "dreadful and merciless virus"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel advisory for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in response to an Ebola outbreak ravaging those West African countries, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden announced in a press conference Thursday.

The CDC’s warning recommends against nonessential travel to the three countries. Frieden also said the CDC is sending an additional 50 disease-control specialists into the three countries over the next 30 days in order to establish emergency operation centers in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The centers will provide resources and fast diagnoses, according to Frieden. The CDC already has workers tracking the epidemic and its spread.

“The bottom line is Ebola is worsening in West Africa,” said Frieden. “CDC, along with others, are surging to begin to turn the tide. It is not going to be quick. It is not going to be easy. But we know what to do. The current outbreak is bad. It’s the biggest, the most complex, and the first time it’s been present in this region.”

Frieden said the shared border of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia appears to be the epicenter of the outbreak. One of the greatest problems facing containment efforts, he said, is that the three countries’ health care systems are not highly functional. Some residents of the worst-hit countries also lack an understanding of the disease, and many have developed a hostility toward health workers over fears they are spreading the very disease they are working to prevent.

So far, the Ebola outbreak has been isolated to West Africa. It recently spread into Nigeria, when a traveler from Liberia was recently diagnosed with the virus. Sierra Leone, meanwhile, has declared a public-health emergency over the outbreak.

Despite the CDC’s travel warnings, Frieden said Ebola, which he called “frankly a dreadful and merciless virus,” poses little risk to the American population. Even if the U.S. were to have a confirmed case, the director says it is highly unlikely the disease would spread significantly — every hospital with an intensive-care unit can isolate a patient, he said. Ebola transmission, meanwhile, only happens via direct contact with infected bodily fluids.

“In past outbreaks, we’ve been able to stop every outbreak, but it takes meticulous work,” said Frieden. “It’s like fighting a forest fire. If you leave behind even one burning ember, one case undetected, it could reignite the epidemic. But as difficult as it is, it can be done.”

Currently, the CDC is not screening travelers from the affected countries.

For the basics on the disease, check out the infographic below.

Sources: WHO, CDC, Mayo Clinic
TIME Diet/Nutrition

11 Foods That Make You Hungrier

Kids cereal
JGI/Jamie Grill—Getty Images/Blend Images

Feeling hungry? You should eat. But what if the foods you’re eating actually make you hungrier than you were before you dug in? It’s a more common conundrum than you might think. “Hunger is a result of many complex interactions that occur in the stomach, intestines, brain, pancreas, and bloodstream,” says weight-loss specialist and board-certified internist Sue Decotiis, MD. Problem is, it’s a circuit that’s easily hijacked. Here are 11 foods that can make you feel like you’re running on empty—even when your stomach is stuffed.

White bread

The white flour used to bake white bread has been stripped of its outer shell (the bran), which depletes the grain’s feel-full fiber content. Eating it spikes your insulin levels, Dr. Decotiis says.

In a recent Spanish study, researchers tracked the eating habits and weights of more than 9,000 people and found that those who ate two or more servings of white bread a day were 40% more likely to become overweight or obese over a five-year period compared to those who ate less of it.

Health.com: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast

Juice

Juicing is all the rage, but these “healthy” drinks contain all the sugar of your favorite fruit, but none of the fiber-containing pulp or skin. That means drinking a glass of juice can shoot your blood sugar levels up—and then back down again—bringing on hunger, according to Mitzi Dulan, RD, author of The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way Thin. Your better bet: blend a smoothie using whole fruit instead, and mix in a scoop of protein powder or nut butter to help balance your blood sugar and boost satiety. (Just be sure to steer clear of sugary fro-yo or sherbet.)

Salty snacks

There’s a reason why you crave something sweet after polishing off a bag of potato chips. Chips, pretzels, and salty snack mixes are little more than quick-digesting simple carbs, which can spur insulin highs and subsequent lows, Dulan says. And since your taste buds and brain link fast-acting energy with sweet foods, it’s common to have a craving for something sweet once you finish your salty nosh. What’s more, thanks to a phenomenon known as sensory specific satiety, you can fill up on chips and feel like only your salty stomach is full. Your sweet one can still feel empty, Dulan says. So get ready to eat two stomachs’ worth of food.

Health.com: 13 Foods That Are Saltier Than You Realize

Fast food

Pretty much every ingredient behind a fast food counter is designed to make you supersize your meal. For instance, trans fat inflames the gut, potentially impairing the body’s ability to produce appetite-controlling neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, Dr. Decotiis says. Meanwhile, the GI tract absorbs high fructose corn syrup (commonly found in buns, condiments, and desserts) quickly, causing insulin spikes and even bigger hunger pangs. Lastly, fast food’s huge helpings of salt can spur dehydration. And with symptoms that closely mimic those of hunger, it’s easy for dehydration to trick you into thinking you need to go back for seconds.

Alcohol

Alcohol doesn’t just lower your healthy-eating resolve, it downright makes you hungrier: According to research published in Alcohol & Alcoholism, just three servings can slash your body’s levels of leptin—a hormone designed to squash hunger and keep you feeling full—by 30%. “Alcohol can also deplete your body’s carbohydrate stores (called glycogen), causing you to crave carbs in order to replace what was lost,” Dr. Decotiis says. And if you find yourself craving salty snacks, dehydration and a loss of electrolytes may be at work.

White pasta

White pasta packs all of the same problems as white bread, but it does deserve its own mention as a hunger-offender because it’s so easy to eat far too much of it. A standard serving size of cooked pasta is just half a cup cooked, but restaurants regularly serve up four cups in a single entrée. When you overload your body with simple carbs, your pancreas goes into overdrive churning out insulin, and soon you’ve produced so much of the sugar-managing hormone that your blood sugar levels are low and you’re ravenously hungry. And consider this: What are you pouring over your pasta? If it’s a store-bought sauce, then it probably contains even more hunger-spiking sugar.

Health.com: Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

MSG

MSG (aka monosodium glutamate) is a flavor-enhancer best known for being added to Chinese food, and may also be found in other foods including canned veggies, soups, processed meats, and even beer and ice cream. One animal study from Spanish researchers suggests the chemical triggers a 40% increase in appetite, and according to research published in the journal Obesity, people who consume the most MSG are nearly three times more likely to be overweight than those who don’t eat it at all. “The effects of leptin (a “satiety hormone” made by fat cells) may be blunted by the damaging effects of MSG on the hypothalamus,” Dr. Decotiis says. What’s more, the effects can compound over time, so the more frequently you eat MSG, the more you’ll eat, period.

Sushi rolls

You might intend to load up on good-for-you fish, but you’re really eating more rice than anything else, says dietitian Susan M. Kleiner, RD, PhD, a scientific consultant with USANA Health Sciences. Case in point: the California roll. Loaded with 30-plus grams of carbohydrates, it’s like eating three slices of white bread. “If you don’t eat anything else, sushi rolls are fairly rapidly digested and emptied from the stomach without a high level of satiating properties like fiber or protein,” she says.

Health.com: 30 Healthy Foods That Could Wreck Your Diet

Artificial Sweeteners

Whether they are in your diet soda or sprinkled in your coffee, artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and others) excite your brain cells, making them think they are about to get a sweet serving of energy (aka calories), and then let them down—hard, Dr. Decotiis says. The upshot: You may crave—and eat—more sweets throughout the day, trying to make up for the letdown. Over time, this process can actually affect the hunger control centers of the brain, she says. And get this: It has been proposed that artificial sweeteners cause insulin spikes just like real, calorie-packed sugar.

Kids’ cereals

White flour with a generous dusting of table sugar, these morning starters may cause blood sugar and insulin swings. “Eating such a high carbohydrate load in the morning when cortisol levels are at their highest is a double assault to your metabolism,” Dr. Decotiis says. During the night and into the morning, your body pumps out huge amounts of cortisol, which is believed to be a natural part of your body readying itself for the stresses of the day ahead. “Higher cortisol levels mean a lower ability to metabolize ingested sugars. Therefore blood sugar may be high, but still not reach the tissues where it is needed, leading to fatigue and hunger.” Cereal can be a smart way to start your day—look for whole grain or bran cereals that contain at least 5 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of sugar per serving.

Pizza

You know you can’t eat just one slice—no matter how big it is. That’s because your favorite pizza joint’s combination of white flour dough, hydrogenated oils, processed cheeses, and preservatives can throw off your blood sugar levels, production of satiety hormones, and hunger-regulating regions of the brain, according to Dr. Decotiis. That said, if you make pizza at home with whole-wheat dough and top it with lean meat, lots of veggies, and just a sprinkling of cheese, then you’ll have a fiber- and protein-packed meal that’s less likely to have you reaching for more food in an hour.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Drugs

It’s Easy to Overdose on Tylenol, Study Warns

Tylenol Pills Spilling Out Of Bottle
Shelley Dennis—Getty Images

A new analysis from Consumer Reports calls out the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for inconsistent and potentially dangerous labeling of acetaminophen painkillers

The rise in prescriptions and non-prescription use of painkillers in the U.S. is no secret – in the past decade, prescriptions for opioids have skyrocketed by 300%, making them the most prescribed drugs in the country.

And the consequences of that spike can be deadly, according to the latest report from Consumer Reports: nearly 17,000 people die each year from overdosing on painkillers.

Equally alarming is the rise in other popular painkillers that also have over-the-counter (OTC) versions. Acetaminophen, which includes Tylenol and other generic brands, causes more than 80,000 emergency room visits each year because people often aren’t aware they’re taking too much. The drug is found in more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as allergy and cold remedies and sleep aids.

To address the potential for accidental overdose of acetaminophen, the FDA asked physicians earlier this year to stop prescribing more than 325mg of acetaminophen to patients, noting that there isn’t evidence that higher doses provide any additional benefit for relieving pain and that high levels of the drug are linked to liver damage. But the warning did not apply to OTC versions of the drug, which account for 80% of acetaminophen use in the U.S., and are still available in higher doses.

MORE: Tylenol and Panadol Prove No Better Than Placebo at Helping Back Pain

The Consumer Report authors also say that OTC drugs have inconsistent advice about how much acetaminophen is too much for people to take in a day. “We found recommendations varying from 1,000mg per day in some nighttime pain relievers to 3,900 milligrams in some products that combine acetaminophen with allergy drugs or cold and flu drugs. We think the labeled daily limit should be no more than 3,250 milligrams,” they write.

Regarding opioids, the authors call for the FDA to reconsider its December 2013 approval of Zohydro ER, a long-acting version of hydrocodone, over concerns that longer-acting forms are more likely to be misused and abused and don’t show any clear pain-killing benefit over shorter-acting medications. They advise doctors to consider starting their patients who need pain relief with short-acting opioids first, to better gauge whether these forms can provide enough pain relief.

For consumers, the report urges people taking opioids or acetaminophen to ask for and expect regular monitoring of their pain and other symptoms. If the pain isn’t going away, then continuing to take the medications isn’t going to help, and will only expose you to potentially harmful side effects.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

3 Reasons You Should Eat More Spicy Food

Spicy chili, Salento, Apulia, Italy in March 2014.
Spicy chili, Salento, Apulia, Italy in March 2014. DeAgostini—Getty Images

They have more health perks than you know

Hot peppers add a lot of flavor to our food, but they may be doing much more than just making our eyes water. New research shows they might have tumor-fighting benefits, as well. Here are a few reasons you should consider adding some spice into your diet.

It may reduce risk for tumors

A new study in mice published in the journal The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that the spicy chemical in peppers, capsaicin, can activate cell receptors in the intestinal lining, thereby creating a reaction that reduces the risk of developing tumors. The researchers suggest that capsaicin, which is also used as a analgesic by exhausting nerves so they cannot report pain, could help turn off an over-reactive receptor that might spur tumor growth. They fed capsaicin to mice genetically prone to develop more tumors and found that the capsaicin reduced tumors and extended the lives of those mice, especially when they were also given an anti-inflammatory drug. The findings are very new and haven’t be replicated, but it could be another win for spicy food lovers down the line.

It improves your sex life

Now, there’s some debate over how effective natural aphrodisiacs really are, but hey, if you’re not interested in trying pharmaceutical libido boosters, why not give more flavorful food a try. A review of research published in the journal Food Research International in 2011 found ginseng and saffron booth boosted sexual performance. What’s unknown are what the most effective doses are, and how it’s best to consume them. But adding a pinch here or there won’t hurt.

It helps with weight loss

Research has shown that spicy food can increase satiety, but researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Human Nutrition have also shown that peppers might actually encourage your body to burn more calories. In a small study of men and women, those who were taking pills with pepper components over one month were shown to burn more fat than those taking a placebo. Other researchers at Purdue University found that eating less than a teaspoon of dried cayenne red pepper lowered appetite and increased calorie burn.

While the science isn’t bulletproof, it’s growing, and provides a simple way for eaters to give themselves an edge. Not to mention the numbers show that consumers are eating more spicy food anyway. A 2014 food industry report found that 54% of consumers say hot or spicy foods are appealing compared to 46% in 2009. And, younger diners between ages 18 and 34 are the most likely to order something spicy off the menu.

TIME behavior

This Blood Test Can Predict Suicide Risk, Scientists Say

Researchers report encouraging advances toward a blood test that can pick up genetic changes linked to suicide

Behaviors can’t be reduced to your genes – they’re far too complicated for that. But genes can lay the foundation for making people more or less likely to respond and act in certain ways, and suicide may be the latest example of that.

In a paper published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers led by Zachary Kaminsky, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, found reliable differences in the activity of a specific gene among those who had committed suicide and those who had not. They conducted a series of tests to verify their result. First, they studied brain samples of mentally ill people and those not affected by mental illness, and revealed that a gene, SKA2—which is most abundant in the prefrontal regions of the brain that are involved in inhibiting negative thoughts and corralling impulses—was less active among those who ended up committing suicide than among those who had not. If there isn’t enough of SKA2, or if it isn’t working properly, then receptors that pull the stress hormone cortisol into cells to put a brake on the stress response also don’t work. That can lead to unchecked negative thoughts and impulsive behaviors, like a runaway car without brakes.

MORE: U.S. Special Ops Are Soldiers Committing Suicide in Record Numbers

The scientists also compared amounts of SKA2 among people with suicidal thoughts or those who had already attempted to kill themselves. Based on levels of the gene’s products in the blood, they could predict with 80% to 90% accuracy whether a particular participant had had suicidal thoughts or had tried to commit suicide.

The differences Kaminsky and his colleagues found isn’t a genetic mutation, but a change in how active the SKA2 gene is. Environmental exposures and life experiences can affect how and when genes are turned on or off. That’s what is happening with SKA2 in those who commit suicide; their gene is inhibited from doing its job of controlling their stress response and modulating it properly.

The work is just the first step in potentially developing a blood test for identifying people at highest risk of harming themselves, says Kaminsky. “We are not going to recommend screening everybody,” he says. “I don’t think that makes sense.” But among those at high risk of suicide, knowing that they also have a possible genetic tendency to react negatively to stress may help to them to get consistent support and more aggressive mental health services to help them cope with their stress and avoid more tragic outcomes.

TIME Men

Are You Man Enough? The Truth About Low Testosterone

+ READ ARTICLE

Low-T drugs marketed to help men get their mojo back are having a moment, but are they safe?

With the market for low-testosterone, or “Low-T,” therapy projected to reach $5 billion by 2017, many new centers have sprung up across the country offering a spectacular catch-all treatment.

TIME spoke to experts in the field and visited the Ageless Men’s Health testosterone clinic to get the inside story on a treatment that promises to “boost your strength training, sex drive and performance to the levels you’ve been wanting.”

Read TIME’s cover story, “Manopause?! Aging, Insecurity and the $2 Billion Testosterone Industry,” here.

TIME Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Declares Health Emergency Amid Ebola Outbreak

"Fellow citizens, this is a national fight, and it behoves all of us to stand together to promote the truth about this deadly disease."

+ READ ARTICLE

Updated 9:16 a.m. ET July 31

The president of Sierra Leone has declared a public health emergency over a deadly Ebola outbreak that has killed 729 people across West Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

In a statement posted online late Wednesday, President Ernest Bai Koroma said he is implementing for up to 90 days a series of measures aimed at tackling the Ebola virus, including quarantining areas where the disease has emerged and banning most public meetings. Koroma also said he is canceling a planned trip to the United States and instead meeting with regional leaders to address the outbreak.

“Fellow citizens, this is a national fight, and it behoves all of us to stand together to promote the truth about this deadly disease,” Koroma said in the address. “Ebola is real, and we must stop its transmission.

“I hereby proclaim a State of Public Emergency to enable us take a more robust approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak,” he added.

Koroma also called on the country’s parliament to convene and for officials to avoid non-essential foreign trips.

The measures, which came a day after Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor, Sheikh Umar Khan, died from complications caused by the disease, are in line with similar policies announced Wednesday in Liberia, which said it would shutter schools.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Peace Corps said it was pulling all 340 volunteers from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia amid what has become the worst-ever global Ebola outbreak, while two volunteers were isolated after having been exposed to a person who was later killed by the virus.

Sources: WHO, CDC, Mayo Clinic

For more on the Ebola outbreak, see the infographic and video above.

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