TIME Diet/Nutrition

Most Schools Still Don’t Meet Federal Nutrition Standards

Few schools have embraced standards for healthier food

When schools aren’t forced to provide healthy food, they usually don’t, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Only a small number of schools offered healthy food options before the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) federally mandated them when the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was signed into law in 2010.

But for the small percentage of kids who did attend schools that revamped nutrition, researchers saw positive trends for obesity rates, suggesting wider execution really could lead to better health for students.

Researchers looked at nationally representative data of 22,716 eighth-grade students in 313 schools and 30,596 10th and 12th grade students in 511 schools from the 2007-2008 through 2011-2012 school years. That time span was before the new federal standards for school lunches were required to be implemented, though schools were well aware of them and knew when their deadlines were. “We were surprised by the number of students who attended schools where none of the noted standards were in place,” says study author Dr. Yvonne M. Terry-McElrath of the University of Michigan. “Full implementation of the standards will significantly improve U.S. school nutrition environments.”

Only 23% of middle school students and 15% of high school students attended schools with three or more of the USDA’s nutritional environment recommendations in place. The first school lunch requirements, including offering more fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk, were rolled out in the 2012-2o13 school year. Healthier breakfast requirements like adding more whole grains came at the start of the 2013-2014 school year. This academic year was set to see better on-the-go options, with healthy options replacing junk food in vending machines and snack bars.

The researchers were not able to make any significant links between the USDA standards and self-reported overweight and obesity among middle school students, but they did find a connection for high schoolers. Having more fruits and vegetables available and low-fat milk instead of 2% or whole was associated with much lower rates of obesity.

That difference between grades might be partly due to the parental involvement, researchers say. Parents (and their budgets for their kids) generally dictate what their middle-school aged students eat and the researchers suggest perhaps they opt for healthier food, which could help explain the diminished association between nutritional standards and middle school students’ weight. The study authors conclude that associations may be greater once more schools make changes to their cafeterias and food offerings.

“Full implementation of the USDA standards will not be easy and will likely necessitate additional training, support, and incentives from the states and the federal government,” the study authors write, noting that some schools had a harder time adjusting than others. Some schools have decided to opt out of the federal government’s school lunch deal, while others made immediate changes to their schools’ eating environments with great success.

Healthier lunchrooms are the future, and when schools start adopting them, so too may be lower obesity rates for America’s youth.

TIME Basketball

Derrick Gordon Opens Up About Troubled Family History

Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon playing against Ohio in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Athens, Ohio on Dec. 18, 2013.
Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon playing against Ohio in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Athens, Ohio on Dec. 18, 2013. Ty Wright—AP

The first openly gay Division I men's basketball player describes coming out to his family and his twin brother Darryl's jail time

University of Massachusetts basketball player Derrick Gordon, the first openly gay man to play Division I basketball, opened up about coming out to his family and his twin brother Darryl’s jail time in an Sports Illustrated profile.

Darryl was recently released from prison after a five-year sentence for shooting a man several times after an altercation, SI reports. “There was nothing that anyone could have said. My parents tried everything they could think of to help me. But I wasn’t listening to anyone,” Darryl told the magazine. “No one other than me could have stopped what happened.”

Derrick came out to his family while his brother was in prison — and eventually came out publicly, becoming the first college basketball star to do so.

You can read the full profile at SI.com.

TIME

This Soap Ingredient Linked to Liver Tumors In Mice

soap hand pump
Getty Images

Triclosan, a widely used antibacterial, is everywhere: in your cleaning supplies, soap, acne lotion, fabrics and even toothpaste. So too are the signs that it might be toxic: a 2012 study showed that triclosan impairs muscle contraction in cells, and other studies have linked it to endocrine disruption and bacterial resistance. Now, new research published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that long-term use of triclosan may promote the growth of cancerous tumors in lab mice.

Mice exposed to triclosan for six months—which is the equivalent to about 18 human years—had significantly more liver fibrosis, or hardening of the tissues. “If you have a damaged cell that’s been attacked by a mutagen”—like tobacco smoke, for instance—”triclosan promotes the development of the tumor,” says co-leader of the study Robert H. Tukey, PhD, professor in the departments of chemistry and biochemistry and pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. The compound also causes inflammation, which means that “all the ingredients necessary for developing cancer” are present, Tukey says. Compared to control mice, those exposed to triclosan grew tumors that were larger and more frequent. Triclosan may wreak such havoc by interfering with the protein that detoxifies chemicals in the body, the study says.

Researchers also found that in addition to causing liver fibrosis, triclosan caused some kidney fibrosis. That’s concerning to Tukey, since “there are really not a lot of environmental agents that have the potential to cause kidney fibrosis,” he says. “It definitely is doing some nasty stuff with long-term exposure in these mice.” Since it was performed in animals, the results don’t automatically apply to humans. But past studies have found the chemical in 75% of people and the breast milk of 97% of lactating women, suggesting at the very least that the chemical is ubiquitous.

“It has contaminated virtually all of the waterways in the United States, many in the world,” Tukey says. “It’s the major contaminant in sediment in most lakes. It’s present really everywhere.”

The FDA is “engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of this ingredient,” the agency website notes.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Energy Drinks Are Hurting Young Kids

TO GO WITH AFP STORY-LIFESTYLE-US-DRINK-
Cans of energy drinks are displayed in a store in San Diego on November 10, 2006. AFP/Getty Images

Poison centers are fielding calls about adverse health events from energy drinks for kids as young as six

Over 40% of calls to U.S. poison centers concerning energy drinks are for kids under age 6, some of whom reported experiencing symptoms like serious cardiac and neurological problems.

In a new study that examined the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, looking at reports from Oct. 2010 to Sept. 2013, researchers found that of the 5,156 reported cases of energy drink exposure, 40% where unintentional exposures by kids. Symptoms related to the heart, like abnormal rhythms, were noted in 57% of the reported cases. Neurological issues were reported in 55% of the cases.

American Heart Association

Prior data has shown that young kids are passing up caffeinated beverages like soda, but are instead consuming more energy drinks and coffee. The FDA is currently investigating the risks of added caffeine in products consumed by young people.

The trouble with energy drinks is that they are not always regulated the same way as other beverages. For instance, some are considered dietary supplements, and don’t need FDA safety approval. The FDA considers caffeine to be safe, but some energy drinks can contain up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per can, as compared to 100-150 mg in a coffee, the study’s authors say.

Researchers are unsure what part of energy drinks can cause adverse health problems. It’s possible other ingredients besides caffeine can result in medical issues.

The American Beverage Association responded to the study, which is not yet published but was presented recently at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions:

“This abstract has not been published and therefore the authors’ full methodology and analysis is not available for review. In the past, various experts have raised concerns regarding misinterpretation and inherent limitations of data from National Poison Data System when it comes to Energy Drinks. Based on the most recent government data reported in the journal Pediatrics, children under 12 have virtually no caffeine consumption from energy drinks.

Even so, leading energy drink makers voluntarily place advisory statements on energy drink packaging stating that energy drinks are not recommended for children. They also have voluntarily pledged not to market these products to children or sell them in K-12 schools. These guidelines and more are noted in the ABA Guidance on the Responsible Labeling and Marketing of Energy Drinks.

TIME flu

The New Bird Flu Outbreak: Should You Worry?

birds
Getty Images

So far, bird flu cases in Europe have been identified as the H5N8 strain

Bird flu strain H5N8 has been identified on a duck farm in England and in chickens at a farm in the Netherlands. Should people be scared about a new pandemic? Experts say, no.

Where are the latest cases?

On November 17, bird flu was confirmed on a duck farm in East Yorkshire. About 6,000 ducks will be killed and a 6-mile surveillance zone is going up around the farm. The emergence comes just a day after bird flu was detected in the Netherlands at an egg farm. According to the BBC, the Dutch government has imposed a three-day ban on poultry and eggs transport. Officials are currently figuring out whether the two cases are connected. Earlier this month, bird flu also appeared in Germany.

Should I be afraid?

Not right now. First, it should be noted that there are several strains of bird flu, or avian influenza, and the recent strains have only so far emerged in birds, not humans. The Dutch and German governments determined their strains of the flu are both H5N8, a highly contagious virus that has never been found in humans. The British government has not yet said what strain of bird flu is circulating in the duck farm, but they have confirmed that it’s not H5N1, which can infect humans.

So what’s the big deal?

Farms with H5N8 outbreaks can face serious economic losses.

So it hasn’t affected humans before. Does that mean it won’t—ever?

Experts cannot completely rule out the possibility of human infection. “This particular strain has not been known to infect humans but, based on experience with H5N1, we know that H5 viruses have that capacity,” says Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior associate of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Center for Health Security. “Thus far, avian influenza viruses have very limited human-to-human transmission capacity, so the general public need not panic, however poultry handlers may be at risk for infection. It will be important to understand the dynamics of this outbreak and understand the potential of H5N8 to infect humans.”

What about H5N1 makes it so much more worrying?

H5N1 is the strain that can spread to humans from birds, and it’s infected more than 600 people from 15 countries since November 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. About 60% of people who have contracted the strain have died. The majority of human cases are among people with direct or close contact with sick or dead infected poultry, and the disease does not efficiently transmit from person to person. However, if that were to change, scientists say we’d have a serious problem on our hands.

Is there a treatments or vaccine for bird flu?

Not exactly. In Nov. 2013, the FDA approved a H5N1 vaccine intended for the National Stockpile and not for commercial use. The CDC has told TIME that the vaccine is not very effective and would likely require more than one dose. Researchers are working on other vaccines for bird flu and its various strains, though none are currently approved. Right now, preventing the spread of infection is the best bet for keeping cases low.

“Avian influenza will always be a major infectious disease threat. Certain avian influenza viruses—such as H5N1 and H7N9—have very high case fatality rates and are leading contenders for wider spread amongst the human population,” says Adalja.

And while the current cases of bird flu shouldn’t freak you out, it is important for the global community to pay attention to the various strains and support vaccine and drug development.

TIME ebola

Doctors Without Borders Says DRC Ebola Outbreak ‘Under Control’

Medical teams pull out of affected areas

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières said in a statement Monday that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is under control and its teams from the affected area have been withdrawn.

There were a total of 66 cases and 49 deaths, according to the World Health Organization, and the aid group said no new cases had been reported after Oct. 4. The outbreak began separately in August alongside the more larger, more severe one ravaging West Africa, where some 5,000 people are estimated to have died, primarily in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Throughout the outbreak, the charity said it tracked more than 1,000 people and disinfected homes, as well as supported “safe” burial practices and worked to quell fears about the virus’ risks. Its remote location helped, too.

“Distances are greater there, transportation is more difficult and people cannot move that much, so the outbreak remains limited and contamination is more difficult,” Núria Carrera, coordinator at the Boende treatment center, said in the statement. “In these conditions, the risk of dissemination of the virus is much lower.”

The organization said it had withdrawn the nearly 70 staff members who had deployed to help treat patients and set up two treatment facilities, but plans to continue to monitor the area and has others nearby who could travel back if necessary.

TIME Heart Disease

Daily Aspirin May Not Prevent Heart Attacks

Aspirin
Getty Images

Taking low dose aspirin may not help people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes to avoid a heart event

There’s a lot of evidence that taking low doses of aspirin daily can help heart attack patients avoid a second event. Aspirin’s ability to reduce inflammation and keep blood from forming vessel-blocking clots can be a life-saver. But what about the many Americans who take it daily hoping to avoid a first heart attack or stroke? The data there is more conflicting, and a large new study in JAMA published Monday suggests it may not make much of a difference.

The Food and Drug Administration recently said there was not enough evidence to support the idea that aspirin can prevent a first heart attack. So researchers in Japan decided to investigate the issue among 14,646 volunteers between the ages of 60 years and 85 years. Between 2005 and 2007, these participants, none of whom had had any heart events, but all of whom had at least one of the risk factors that could make them vulnerable, were randomly assigned to take a low-dose aspirin every day or not. They were allowed to continue taking whatever medications they were already or, or begin taking new drugs if their doctor prescribed them during the study.

Now, reporting in JAMA, scientists say that after five years, the study’s review board ended the trial when it was clear that there were no significant differences between the two groups when it came to heart attacks, strokes, other heart events or death. In that time, 58 people in the aspirin group died of heart-related causes, while 57 in the non-aspirin group did. Overall, 2.77% of those taking aspirin had a heart attack or stroke, compared to 2.96% among those not taking the drug — a difference that was not statistically significant.

MORE: A Low Daily Dose of Aspirin Can Cut Deaths From 3 Kinds of Cancer

The results add to the growing data on what role aspirin can play in preventing first heart events; previous studies showed that the over-the-counter drug was linked to anywhere between a 12% to 23% lower risk of events compared to non-aspirin use. But concerns over aspirins side effects, which include gastrointestinal bleeding, have made doctors more wary of recommending it for patients who have not yet had a heart event. Studies on aspirin in this group of otherwise healthy people are also difficult to conduct, since many people currently take multiple medications for various heart risks, including blood pressure drugs and cholesterol-lowering medications, making it difficult to determine what effect aspirin may have.

That’s why three other studies are currently investigating aspirin’s potential role in helping patients who have not yet had heart disease to avoid having heart attacks or strokes. One involves those with diabetes, another focuses on those with multiple heart-disease risk factors and the final trial concentrates on people over 70. Until those results are available, the authors say that patients should discuss with their doctors whether daily low-dose aspirin can help them to lower their risk of having a heart attack. For some, the benefits may outweigh the risks of bleeding, while for others, the side effects may not be worth the risks.

 

TIME health

Bird Flu Returns: What Past Outbreaks Can Teach Us

BRITAIN-HEALTH-BIRD-FLU
A man wearing a face mask walks through a duck breeding farm where a case of bird flu has been identified in Nafferton, in Yorkshire, England, on Nov. 17, 2014. Oli Scarff—AFP / Getty Images

As bird flu rears its head once again, take a look at TIME's past coverage of the virus

Usually the health status of chickens in the Netherlands isn’t world news. But reports that the Dutch government had culled tens of thousands of birds at poultry farms that were potentially infected with the avian flu virus H5N8 will worry human health officials as well.

That’s because avian flus have shown the repeated ability to jump the species barrier, infecting human beings—and killing them. The most dangerous virus has been H5N1, which has infected hundreds of human beings over the past decade, mostly in Asia, killing an estimated 60% of them. Bird flu infections in human beings are still very rare, usually occurring because of close contact with a sick birds. Right now avian flus like H5N1 haven’t shown the ability to spread from person to person. But scientists fear that an avian flu virus could eventually mutate, and become more transmissible—potentially starting a new flu pandemic. And if that new flu was as transmissible as the seasonal human flu, but as deadly as H5N1 would be, the result would make Ebola look like a slight cold.

Learn about the potential dangers of avian flu with these stories from TIME’s archives:

Feb. 9, 2004: The Revenge of the Birds

An H5N1 outbreak in Asia kills thousands of chickens — and leads millions more to be slaughtered. Though the number of humans affected is low, the outbreak raises fears about what could happen if the virus mutated.

The virus probably originates in southern China, but no one knows how it has spread so widely. Transport of infected birds to chicken farms is one theory, but it’s also possible that migratory birds such as ducks and geese are spreading it through their droppings. “Did birds in Hong Kong, which nest in Siberia and North Korea, somehow spread the virus elsewhere?” asks Robert Webster, an expert in animal influenzas at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. “That’s a frightening possibility.” If H5N1 does evolve into a flu that humans can spread, a vaccine could be developed but would take months. “Once you know this virus can spread from human to human, region to region,” says Dr. Yi Guan, a SARS and avian-flu expert at the University of Hong Kong, “it’s already too late.”

Sept. 19, 2005: A Wing and a Prayer

The H5N1 virus, previously thought present in domestic animals only, appears in migratory birds, indicating that it has to potential to spread around the world.

For some time, health experts have warned of a worldwide bird-flu pandemic that could kill millions of people and wreck the global economy. “The most serious known health threat facing the world is avian flu,” said WHO director-general Lee Jong-wook earlier this year. And the threat is growing all the time, as nature keeps dropping hints that the links in a chain of events leading to a deadly pandemic continue to be forged. This summer, H5N1 spread west—perhaps in migrating birds—to new territory, including Mongolia, Tibet, Siberia and Kazakhstan. European countries are taking precautions by tightening surveillance of flocks within their borders; in the Netherlands, officials in late August ordered farmers to move the nation’s 90 million poultry indoors to prevent any contact with itinerant fowl. Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia, where at least 58 people have died and 150 million poultry have died or been culled because of avian flu since the end of 2003, the virus is still active; a Jakarta woman died of the disease on Sept. 10. The H5N1 virus has already shown it can be deadly to people who come into direct contact with infected birds or eat uncooked poultry. But bird-to-human transmission is relatively controllable because diseased flocks can be isolated or, usually, eliminated. The sum of all fears is that H5N1 could mutate into a strain with the ability to jump easily from person to person, as ordinary flu does. That could trigger a once-in-a-century catastrophe. How many would die? Nobody knows, or can know.

June 14, 2007: Living Cheek to Beak

A trip to Indonesia reveals some reasons why it’s harder than you might expect to contain the virus in birds: understanding of the potential for pandemic is low among village farmers, and the habits of daily life are harder to break. But, because of the close relationship between humans and livestock, the stakes in such a situation are particularly high.

Indonesia’s chickens are about meat and eggs, of course. But they are also a potentially deadly symbol of changing patterns of food production and consumption. While the H5N1 strain of avian flu has occasionally jumped from birds to people for several years now, the fear is that it will mutate and begin spreading easily from person to person, threatening the lives of millions. So a pandemic is why the world cares about dead chickens in a tiny rural village. Though the rare human bird-flu cases have gotten most of the attention, “the most effective way to prevent a pandemic is to stop the virus in animals,” says Dr. Bernard Vallat, director general of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). In other words: save the chickens, save the world.

May 18, 2009: How to Prepare for a Pandemic

An outbreak of swine flu (H1N1) highlights the reason why epidemiologists need to spend their time thinking about animals other than human beings. Many dangerous diseases (including Ebola) originate from animals and mutate into viruses that can be spread among humans.

Why should we spend scarce medical resources swabbing the inside of pigs’ nostrils, looking for viruses? Because new pathogens–including H5N1 bird flu, SARS, even HIV–incubated in animal populations before eventually crossing over to human beings. In the ecology of influenza, pigs are particularly key. They can be infected with avian, swine and human flu viruses, making them virological blenders. While it’s still not clear exactly where the H1N1 virus originated or when it first infected humans, if we had half as clear a picture of the flu viruses circulating in pigs and other animals as we do of human flu viruses, we might have seen H1N1 coming. (When it comes to sniffing out new pathogens, says one epidemiologist, “we’re like a drunk looking for his keys.”) Faster genetic sequencing and the Internet give us the technological means to create an early-warning system. But we need to spend more on animal health and get doctors talking to their veterinarian counterparts. “For too long, the animal side of public health has been neglected,” says Dr. William Karesh, vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s global-health program.

Read more about the current outbreak of bird flu here on Time.com.

TIME Research

Your State Bird Could Be Gone By 2080

birds
Getty Images

If our climate continues to change, many birds will lose significant portions of their habitat

WSF logo

By 2080, the skies over North America could be much emptier. A new report from the National Audubon Society, compiled from data collected over 30 years of bird counts and surveys, shows that more than half of North America’s most iconic birds are in serious danger. Of the 588 bird species surveyed, 314 are at risk for losing significant amounts of their habitat to a changing climate.

“Birds are a good barometer of the overall health and wellbeing of the natural systems we depend on for food, water, and clear air,” Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham wrote in an email. “If half the birds are at risk, the natural systems we depend upon are at risk too.”

Ken Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, cautions that it can be hard to tie any one specific effect on bird populations directly to climate change—other factors like human development, pollution, and invasive species play big roles. However, both Rosenberg and Langham point to clear examples of climate change affecting the avian landscape. Many birds are shifting their ranges farther north; some migratory species are arriving in the northern areas and the endpoints of their spring migrations earlier and earlier. Higher tides and storm surges are wreaking havoc on the nesting grounds of birds like the Saltmarsh Sparrow and the albatross. And foraging birds that live in Arctic sea ice environments are in decline.

“Some land birds, like the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, are finding that the availability of food supplies no longer matches their migration cycles,” Langham says. “And some seabirds, like Atlantic Puffins, are starting to run out of food as ocean temperatures change, causing adults and young to starve.”

If our climate continues to change, many birds will lose significant portions of their habitat, especially those birds that live in marshes and beaches, low-lying islands and snowy mountaintops. Tropical forests could dry out, spoiling the wintering spots for migratory birds. Drought and fire could devastate the habitats of prairie birds like the sage grouse. Even tiny differences in temperature can have big impacts. The gray jay, for example, hoards perishable food to get it through the winter, relying on freezing temperatures to keep it from spoiling, but a warmer climate will short-circuit its natural refrigerator.

“Every bird species has a ‘tolerance zone’ for climate conditions,” Langham says. “If the climate gets too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry, birds will be forced to leave their homes—but many will have nowhere else to go.”

These climate trends are set to impact birds big and small. By 2080, Audubon’s model predicts the summer range for bald eagles will shrink to 26 percent of the current extent. New areas could open up for them as areas get warmer, but it isn’t certain that food and nesting areas will be available to them in the new spots. Allen’s hummingbird could lose up to 90 percent of its summer range. The spotted owl, already a poster child for endangered birds, is expected to lose 98 percent of its wintering grounds. 10 states could lose their state birds—Maryland’s Baltimore Oriole, Vermont’s Hermit Thrush and the Mountain Bluebird (claimed by both Idaho and Nevada) are all among the imperiled.

But don’t count nature out of the game just yet. “A big ‘wild card’ is the ability of the birds themselves to adapt in ways we can’t predict,” Rosenberg told us. “For example, some Laysan Albatrosses have begun to nest in suburban yards and rooftops in Hawaii, as their usual nesting areas become more threatened.”

Rosenberg is also concerned about how humanity’s response to climate change will affect birds. In many areas, he says, sea walls are being built to protect coastal areas without taking into account how they will affect the ecosystem around them. The flow of water, nourishment of marches, and shaping of seaside habitats could all be negatively impacted by hastily built walls. And the rush to create alternative sources of energy has to be done in a smart way, he says. “Paving over fragile desert ecosystems for solar-panel fields, or placing wind farms in critical migration corridors and bottlenecks, or destroying natural habitats around the world to plant biofuels such as corn for ethanol, are NOT smart alternatives” to fossil fuels, Rosenberg says. “We will just be creating new environmental problems in an attempt to solve another.”

Langham urges bird lovers concerned about climate change to speak up.

“We can’t afford to sit quietly on the sidelines while a well-funded oil lobby gets a small number of people to intimidate the rest of us,” he says. “Decide what you want to say to your child or grandchild in 20 years. The day will come when that generation asks: What did you do to leave a better world when the science was clear? I think about my answer a lot and it motivates me to act boldly.”

This article originally appeared on World Science Festival.

TIME ebola

Nebraska Hospital Recalls ‘Heroic Effort’ to Save Ebola Victim Martin Salia

Doctor Being Treated For Ebola In Nebraska Dies Of Virus
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE - APRIL 5, 2014: In this handout provided by the United Methodist News Service, surgeon Dr. Martin Salia, poses for a photo at the United Methodist Church's Kissy Hospital April 5, 2014 outside Freetown, Sierra Leone. Salia, was flown to Omaha, Nebraska from Sierra Leone for treatment at the medical center's specialized bio-containment unit after testing positive for Ebola. According to the Medical Cental Martin Salia died on November 17, 2014 as a result of the advanced symptoms of the disease. (Photo by Mike DuBose/United Methodist News Service via Getty Images) Handout—Getty Images

Doctor arrived critically ill from Sierra Leone on Saturday

Doctors in Omaha who helped to treat a surgeon who had contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone said at a news conference Monday that the virus had progressed too far for him to be saved.

Nebraska Medical Center called its treatment of Dr. Martin Salia a “heroic effort.” Salia arrived critically ill on Saturday and was given the experimental drug ZMapp as well as a transfusion of blood from someone who had survived the disease. The hospital, which had previously treated two other cases successfully, did not disclose the donor.

“Even though this was the best possible place for a patient, at the very advanced stages, even the most modern techniques that we have at our disposal are not enough to treat these patients,” said a hospital representative involved in Salia’s care during the news conference.

Salia was said to have no kidney function, working extremely hard to breathe and was unresponsive. The hospital placed Salia on dialysis but he eventually went into complete respiratory failure. He had severely low blood pressure and progressed to cardiac arrest. He died around 4 a.m. on Monday.

“It was an absolute honor to care for Dr. Salia,” said one of the nurses involved in his care.

The White House issued a statement after news of Salia’s death became public: “Dr. Salia’s passing is another reminder of the human toll of this disease and of the continued imperative to tackle this epidemic on the frontlines, where Dr. Salia was engaged in his calling.”

More than 5,000 people have died in the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization reports, including at least 324 health care workers.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser