TIME ebola

There Are 53 Drugs That Could Treat Ebola

University of Utah Researchers Work Toward Cure For Ebola Strains
A container holds a Peptide that contains a potential new drug candidates for testing against a part of Ebola that is vulnerable to drugs, at the University of Utah on Oct. 14, 2014 in Salt Lake City. George Frey—Getty Images

New research raises prospect of treatments to be found in already available drugs

Scientists have identified 53 existing drugs that could be effective in fighting Ebola, according to newly published research.

There is currently no vaccine or drug available to treat the disease, which is one of the primary reasons the virus has been able to infect 18,603 people so far, and kill 6,915. A vaccine is undergoing clinical trials in humans, but a drug to treat people who already have the disease is critically needed. The experimental drug ZMapp has been used on a handful of Ebola patients, but resources of it are exhausted and it has not undergone adequate testing.

Running against the clock, some groups of scientists have decided that one of the most efficient ways to go about tackling the task of developing and distributing an Ebola drug is by screening drug compounds already available to see if any of those compounds could be used to create an effective drug.

MORE: Scientists Explore 10,000 Compounds for an Ebola Drug

In a new study published in the Nature Press journal Emerging Microbes and Infections, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said they’ve identified 53 promising drug compounds. The team used high speed technology to scan through a library of 2,816 U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved compounds already used for other ailments. Their method, which uses a virus-like particle that contained Ebola proteins, was calibrated to identify drugs that could prevent Ebola from infecting human cells by 50%.

Among these 53 promising compounds are ones used in cancer drugs, antihistamines, antibiotics, and antidepressants.

The compounds will be tested in animals to see what effects they have on Ebola, as well as their side effects. If a drug is proven both safe and effective, the government may use it in Ebola zones.

As TIME reported in October, scientists at Emory University Hospital are taking a similar approach to their library of 10,000 drug compounds. They think it’s possible Ebola could be treated similarly to the the treatments they’ve developed for viruses like HIV and Hepatitis C.

TIME Disease

There’s a ‘Super Bacteria’ in Waters Where the 2016 Olympics Will Be Held

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Athletes compete in the Men's Laser during the final day of Aquece Rio, the International Sailing Regatta 2014, the first test event for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games at Guanabara bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 9, 2014. Yasuyoshi Chiba—AFP/Getty Images

Newly discovered bacteria is resistant to much modern medicine

Scientists have discovered a hard-to-treat ‘super bacteria’ in the body of water where Olympic events are planned in 2016 in Brazil.

The bacteria, which contains a special enzyme that makes it highly resistant to medical treatment, was found in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay, which will be the site of competitions in sailing and wind surfing, the Associated Press reports.

The Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, a Brazilian health institute, said it had not yet detected any infections from the contaminated water but that an infected person would need very strong antibiotics and possible hospitalization to fight off the bacteria. Infected people can spread the bacteria even if they don’t become sick, the institute said.

In Rio 70% of sewage goes untreated and flows into rivers, bays and beaches. Olympic planners have said they will reduce the amount of sewage flowing into Guanabara Bay by 80% in time for the Games.

[AP]

TIME Infectious Disease

NHL Mumps Outbreak Grows With Sidney Crosby Diagnosis

At least 13 NHL players and two referees were infected in the outbreak

Sidney Crosby became the latest National Hockey League player to receive a positive diagnosis for mumps in an unusual outbreak of the disease which is typically prevented by vaccination.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Crosby’s diagnosis Sunday and on Monday said that the two-time NHL MVP was no longer infectious.

“He probably could have been here today, but we took an extra day to be cautious,” said team manager Jim Rutherford. “As far as I know, he will return tomorrow or the next day.”

The mumps outbreak, which has infected at least 13 NHL players and two referees, is odd given that most U.S. residents receive a vaccine for the disease, which causes headache, fever and swelling of the salivary glands. Crosby reportedly received a vaccination for the disease as recently as this February, according to the Penguins.

Still, doctors say that the effectiveness of the vaccine can wear off over time, and hockey players may be particularly susceptible to the disease given the exchange of saliva during heavy hits.

TIME animals

8 Animal Plagues Wreaking Havoc Right Now

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Getty Images

The scariest diseases plaguing the animal kingdom

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When we talk about studying, controlling, or just plain worrying about pandemics, we usually think of our own, human diseases. But many other species face existential threats as well. In the wild and on the farm, through climate change, human agency, and other causes, deadly diseases and conditions are ravaging specific animal communities. Here are eight of the scariest diseases plaguing the animal kingdom today.

Plague: White-nose syndrome

Target: Bats

This disease is named for the characteristic fuzzy white bloom found on the muzzles (as well as the wings and ears) of hibernating bats infected with the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. The fungus seems to have originated in Europe, where it does not harm the native bats. Since it was first documented in New York in 2006, white-nose syndrome has killed an estimated 6.7 million bats in 25 U.S. states and 5 Canadian provinces. Scientists believe bats primarily contract the disease from one another, though it’s also possible bats can pick up spores from contaminated cave surfaces. Some human cave explorers may also transport fungal spores in their clothing and equipment. There’s no known cure, and the disease is incredibly deadly, usually killing between 70 and 90 percent of bats in a hibernating group; scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how the fungus kills bats, and why European bats seem to be immune.

WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL: 12 Animals We’ve Driven to Extinction in the Last 50 Years

Plague: Canine distemper virus

Target: Tigers (and dogs, and other canines)

The virus that causes canine distemper is related to measles. It spreads through respiration, but quickly attacks the nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. The virus can also jump to big cats, and is cropping up in tiger populations across the world. In just five years, one population of tigers in Russia dropped from 38 individuals to 9; traces of CDV found in two dead tigers led scientists to finger the virus as the chief suspect in the population crash.

A recent study highlights how smaller populations of tigers are extremely vulnerable to CDV. Tigers are not abundant enough to act as reservoirs for the virus, so researchers think the key to preventing CDV from spreading amongst them is to target the canine species that are the sources of outbreaks. India is contemplating a massive dog vaccination campaign against the virus; the drive is already underway in villages near tiger reserves.

Plague: Starfish wasting disease

Target: Starfish

Over the past 40 years, starfish populations have been stricken by recurring outbreaks of a devastating condition. At first, a starfish’s limbs start to curl, then twist and fall off. Eventually, the wasting disease ravages the entire starfish, turning it into a mushy goo.

Researchers previously blamed this “starfish wasting disease” on environmental changes, like pollution or fluctuations in ocean temperatures. But a new study pins the blame primarily on a type of waterborne virus called a densovirus. One of the chief lines of evidence to support this theory was the fact that captive starfish in aquariums suddenly contracted the disease—except for those starfish in aquariums filled with UV-treated water, which kills viruses. The researchers also found higher genetic traces of the virus in diseased starfish tissue, and found that healthy starfish infected with densovirus would develop the disease within a week or so.

WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL: Can Animals Go Insane?

Plague: Brucellosis

Target: Bison, cow, elk

The bacterial disease brucellosis causes a wide range of symptoms in animals, from arthritis to inflamed joints to reproductive trouble. It can also spread to people via unpasteurized dairy products, causing fever and flu-like symptoms as well as arthritis. While brucellosis has largely been eradicated from cattle in the U.S., the disease persists in the bison and elk of Yellowstone National Park. Fears that the wild animals could reintroduce brucellosis to nearby cattle have been bolstered by 17 documented transmissions of the disease from wildlife to livestock in the greater Yellowstone area from 2002 to 2012. Despite protests from conservation groups, park officials are planning to cull up to 900 bison from the herd this winter to stem the spread of brucellosis and stabilize the population.

Plague: Colony collapse disorder

Target: Honeybees

Starting in 2006, beekeepers in the U.S. began to notice what looked like a honeybee version of the Rapture: At once, most or all of the adult worker bees in the colony vanished without a trace, leaving behind empty hives and queen bees bereft of subjects. Colony collapse disorder, as the phenomenon came to be known, is not entirely new to beekeeping, but the magnitude of losses is unprecedented. The root cause of CCD is still unknown: Pesticides, viruses, mites, fungi, antibiotics and other factors have all been proposed.

Most scientists think CCD is prompted by a combination of factors, and that it may not directly kill the bees outright. University of Maryland bee expert Dennis van Engelsdorp explained, in National Geographic: “You don’t die of AIDS; you die of pneumonia or some other condition that hits when your immunity is down. Once the bees’ immune defenses have been weakened, “we’re pretty sure in all these cases, diseases are the tipping point.” Hive losses are still being felt across the country, but the rate of collapse seems to be slowing. According to the USDA, the loss rate in honeybee colonies nationwide over the 2013-2014 winter from all causes was 23.2 percent—still above what beekeepers consider sustainable, but less dire than the 30.5 percent losses of the 2012-13 winter, or the 8-year average annual loss of 29.6 percent.

WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL: The Best (and Worst) Fathers in the Animal Kingdom

Plague: Rabies

Target: Bats, monkeys, dogs, raccoons, foxes…and a lot more

Rabies is present on all the continents of the world except Antarctica. The virus, transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal or person, travels through the nerves up to the brain, where it undoes an animal’s ability to regulate its own heartbeat, breathing, and salivation. Most victims die from respiratory failure or irregular heart rhythms.

In the U.S., vaccination drives for pets have caused the disease has to move from one primarily of domestic animals to one primarily found in wildlife, which represent 90 percent of all animal rabies cases reported to the CDC. Most mammals can contract rabies, but the primary source of human rabies transmission in the U.S. these days is bats, with raccoons and skunks the most frequently reported rabid animals.

To prevent the spread of rabies, health and wildlife departments in many Eastern U.S. states entice animals to consume oral rabies vaccine by concealing doses in a coating of dog food or fishmeal. The bait is deposited by hand in urban and suburban areas and dropped from planes in rural areas.

Plague: Chytridiomycosis

Target: Frogs

Around 200 amphibian species have declined or gone extinct thanks to this rapidly-spreading fungal disease. The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infects the cells of a frog’s outer layer of skin, which they rely heavily on for respiration. The infected skin becomes thicker, impeding the frog’s ability to absorb water and electrolytes through its skin, and eventually leading to cardiac arrest.

Various treatments are being investigated for chytridiomycosis, including incubating tadpoles in warmer water that kills the fungus and bathing adult frogs in antifungal treatments. While these methods show promise, it is still possible for the frogs to get re-infected out in the wild.

Plague: Cattle fever

Target: Cows, deer

The U.S. government employs a cadre of cowboys to ride the banks of the Rio Grande in order to stop the spread of ticks that cause cattle fever. Parasites transmitted by the ticks can kill a cow within days of the first symptoms, or can cause a wasting disease that can last for weeks and cut a steer’s weight by 20 percent in just a year. A nationwide tick eradication program has largely pushed cattle fever out of U.S. borders, but the “tick rider” cowboys still patrol the borders to catch any stray Mexican cattle—often abandoned by ranchers fleeing drug war violence—that might spark an outbreak.

Wildlife are another possible source of cattle fever, as both white-tailed deer and the imported nilgai antelope can also carry the ticks. Climate change may make the southern U.S. an even more hospitable environment for the ticks, as well as the spread of invasive reeds that shelter the bugs. Scientists are working on ways to combat the reeds, the ticks, and the cattle fever parasite—including a wildlife vaccine distributed in biscuit form.

This article originally appeared on World Science Festival.

TIME Behind the Picture

The Photo That Changed the Face of AIDS

LIFE.com shares the story behind one of the most harrowing and controversial photographs to emerge from the global pandemic

In November 1990 LIFE magazine published a photograph of a young man named David Kirby — his body wasted by AIDS, his gaze locked on something beyond this world — surrounded by anguished family members as he took his last breaths. The haunting image of Kirby on his death bed, taken by a journalism student named Therese Frare, quickly became the one photograph most powerfully identified with the HIV/AIDS epidemic that, by then, had seen millions of people infected (many of them unknowingly) around the globe.

Here, a quarter-century later, LIFE.com shares the deeply moving story behind that picture, along with Frare’s own memories of those harrowing, transformative years.

“I started grad school at Ohio University in Athens in January 1990,” Frare told LIFE.com. “Right away, I began volunteering at the Pater Noster House, an AIDS hospice in Columbus. In March I started taking photos there and got to know the staff — and one volunteer, in particular, named Peta — who were caring for David and the other patients.”

David Kirby was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. A gay activist in the 1980s, he learned in the late Eighties — while he was living in California and estranged from his family — that he had contracted HIV. He got in touch with his parents and asked if he could come home; he wanted, he said, to die with his family around him. The Kirbys welcomed their son back.

[See all of TIME.com’s coverage of HIV/AIDS]

Peta, for his part, was an extraordinary (and sometimes extraordinarily difficult) character. Born Patrick Church, Peta was “half-Native American and half-White,” Frare says, “a caregiver and a client at Pater Noster, a person who rode the line between genders and one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.”

“On the day David died, I was visiting Peta,” Frare, who today lives and works in Seattle, told LIFE. “Some of the staff came in to get Peta so he could be with David, and he took me with him. I stayed outside David’s room, minding my own business, when David’s mom came out and told me that the family wanted me to photograph people saying their final goodbyes. I went in and stood quietly in the corner, barely moving, watching and photographing the scene. Afterwards I knew, I absolutely knew, that something truly incredible had unfolded in that room, right in front of me.”

“Early on,” Frare says of her time at Pater Noster House, “I asked David if he minded me taking pictures, and he said, ‘That’s fine, as long as it’s not for personal profit.’ To this day I don’t take any money for the picture. But David was an activist, and he wanted to get the word out there about how devastating AIDS was to families and communities. Honestly, I think he was a lot more in tune with how important these photos might become.”

Frare pauses, and laughs. “At the time, I was like, Besides, who’s going to see these pictures, anyway?

Over the past 20 years, by some estimates, as many as one billion people have seen the now-iconic Frare photograph that appeared in LIFE, as it was reproduced in hundreds of newspaper, magazine and TV stories — all over the world — focusing on the photo itself and (increasingly) on the controversies that surrounded it.

Frare’s photograph of David’s family comforting him in the hour of his death earned accolades, including a World Press Photo Award, when published in LIFE, but it became positively notorious two years later when Benetton used a colorized version of the photo in a provocative ad campaign. Individuals and groups ranging from Roman Catholics (who felt the picture mocked classical imagery of Mary cradling Christ after his crucifixion) to AIDS activists (furious at what they saw as corporate exploitation of death in order to sell T-shirts) voiced outrage. England’s high-profile AIDS charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, called for a ban of the ad, labeling it offensive and unethical, while powerhouse fashion magazines like Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire refused to run it. Calling for a boycott of Benetton, London’s Sunday Times argued that “the only way to stop this madness is to vote with our cash.”

“We never had any reservations about allowing Benetton to use Therese’s photograph in that ad,” David Kirby’s mother, Kay, told LIFE.com. “What I objected to was everybody who put their two cents in about how outrageous they thought it was, when nobody knew anything about us, or about David. My son more or less starved to death at the end,” she said, bluntly, describing one of the grisly side effects of the disease. “We just felt it was time that people saw the truth about AIDS, and if Benetton could help in that effort, fine. That ad was the last chance for people to see David — a marker, to show that he was once here, among us.”

David Kirby passed away in April 1990, at the age of 32, not long after Frare began shooting at the hospice. But in an odd and ultimately revelatory twist, it turned out that she spent much more time with Peta, who himself was HIV-positive while caring for David, than she did with David himself. She gained renown for her devastating, compassionate picture of one young man dying of AIDS, but the photographs she made after David Kirby’s death revealed an even more complex and compelling tale.

Frare photographed Peta over the course of two years, until he, too, died of AIDS in the fall of 1992.

“Peta was an incredible person,” Frare says. Twenty years on, the affection in her voice is palpable. “He was dealing with all sorts of dualities in his life — he was half-Native American and half-White, a caregiver and a client at Pater Noster, a person who rode the line between genders, all of that — but he was also very, very strong.”

As Peta’s health deteriorated in early 1992 — as his HIV-positive status transitioned to AIDS — the Kirbys began to care for him, in much the same way that Peta had cared for their son in the final months of his life. Peta had comforted David; spoken to him; held him; tried to relieve his pain and loneliness through simple human contact — and the Kirbys resolved to do the same for Peta, to be there for him as his strength and his vitality faded.

Kay Kirby told LIFE.com that she “made up my mind when David was dying and Peta was helping to care for him, that when Peta’s time came — and we all knew it would come — that we would care for him. There was never any question. We were going to take care of Peta. That was that.

“For a while there,” Kay remembers, “I took care of Peta as often as I could. It was hard, because we couldn’t afford to be there all the time. But Bill would come in on weekends and we did the best we could in the short time we had.”

Kay describes Peta, as his condition worsened in late 1991 and 1992, as a “very difficult patient. He was very clear and vocal about what he wanted, and when he wanted it. But during all the time we cared for him, I can only recall once when he yelled at me. I yelled right back at him — he knew I was not going to let him get away with that sort of behavior — and we went on from there.”

Bill and Kay Kirby were, in effect, the house parents for the home where Peta spent his last months.

“My husband and I were hurt by the way David was treated in the small country hospital near our home where he spent time after coming back to Ohio,” Kay Kirby said. “Even the person who handed out menus refused to let David hold one [for fear of infection]. She would read out the meals to him from the doorway. We told ourselves that we would help other people with AIDS avoid all that, and we tried to make sure that Peta never went through it.”

“I had worked for newspapers for about 12 years already when I went to grad school,” Therese Frare says, “and was very interested in covering AIDS by the time I got to Columbus. Of course, it was difficult to find a community of people with HIV and AIDS willing to be photographed back then, but when I was given the okay to take pictures at Pater Noster I knew I was doing something that was important — important to me, at least. I never believed that it would lead to being published in LIFE, or winning awards, or being involved in anything controversial — certainly nothing as epic as the Benetton controversy. In the end, the picture of David became the one image that was seen around the world, but there was so much more that I had tried to document with Peta, and the Kirbys and the other people at Pater Noster. And all of that sort of got lost, and forgotten.”

Lost and forgotten — or, at the very least, utterly overshadowed — until LIFE.com contacted Frare, and asked her where the photo of David Kirby came from.

“You know, at the time the Benetton ad was running, and the controversy over their use of my picture of David was really raging, I was falling apart,” Frare says. “I was falling to pieces. But Bill Kirby told me something I never forgot. He said, ‘Listen, Therese. Benetton didn’t use us, or exploit us. We used them. Because of them, your photo was seen all over the world, and that’s exactly what David wanted.’ And I just held on to that.”

After the Benetton controversy finally subsided, Therese Frare went on to other work, other photography, freelancing from Seattle for the New York Times, major magazines and other outlets. While the world has become more familiar with HIV and AIDS in the intervening years, Frare’s photograph went a long way toward dispelling some of the fear and, at times, willful ignorance that had accompanied any mention of the disease. Barb Cordle, volunteer director at Pater Noster when David Kirby was there, once said that Frare’s famous photo “has done more to soften people’s hearts on AIDS than any other I have ever seen. You can’t look at that picture and hate a person with AIDS. You just can’t.”

[See more of Therese Frare’s work at FrareDavis.com]

TIME Aging

Taking Care: An Intimate Look at How Parkinson’s Disease Has Changed 1 Family’s Life

“Taking Care” is a series intimately covering the lives of caregivers and the people they care for. This month’s edition is on Parkinson’s Disease

When Eleanor Copeman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, an incurable condition that gradually attacks the nervous system and impairs even simple movements, family life for the Copemans changed forever. The vibrant, joyful matriarch who loved cooking for her family became dependent on her husband Douglas and daughter Tammy for everything from preparing meals to getting dressed.

Now, almost a decade later, Eleanor also has dementia, which strikes 50-80% of people with Parkinson’s. The physical and emotional burdens of caretaking fall to the family.

Eleanor Copeman sweeps the porch outside the family home as her daughter rides her horse toward the house in Elkins, West Virginia, on July 14, 2012. Abby Kraftowitz

“Physically, taking care of someone with Parkinson’s is intense—you have to be on 24/7,” Tammy Copeman tells photographer Abby Kraftowitz, who has been documenting the Copemans’ lives since 2012. “I think it’s just a whole different level of love and loving your family.”

Douglas says he chose to take care of Eleanor at home to honor a promise he made to her 51 years ago when they first married.

Kraftowitz’s work offers a deep look into life inside one household touched by this chronic disease.

Abby Kraftowitz is a photographer based in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @abbykraftowitz.

TIME health

Bird Flu Returns: What Past Outbreaks Can Teach Us

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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 Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 17

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. America needs a national service year: “Citizenship is like a muscle that can atrophy from too little use; if we want to strengthen it, we need to exercise it.”

By Stan McChrystal in the Washington Post

2. It’s time to pay college athletes.

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Jacobin

3. So-called ‘conversion therapy’ to change someone’s sexual orientation is discredited, dangerous and should be classified as torture.

By Samantha Ames in The Advocate

4. Wikipedia searches are the next frontier on monitoring and predicting disease outbreaks.

By Nicholas Generous, Geoffrey Fairchild, Alina Deshpande, Sara Y. Del Valle and Reid Priedhorsky at PLOS Computational Biology

5. Many kids lack an adult connection to spur success in school and life. A program linking them to retired adults with much to offer can solve that problem.

By Michael Eisner and Marc Freedman in the Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 3

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. “Ultimately, gender equality is a vital part of humanity’s progress. ” Read the 2014 Gender Gap Report.

By the World Economic Forum

2. Shopping for Water: Markets just might save the American West from its water crisis.

By Peter Culp, Robert Glennon, and Gary Libecap at the Hamilton Project

3. With Ebola in the spotlight, Liberia’s nurses take to the streets to care for the sick crowded out of the overwhelmed health care system.

By Jina Moore at BuzzFeed News

4. Humanitarians are preparing for a future with autonomous weapons, which are unlikely to understand mercy, proportionality or the difference between combatants and civilians.

By Malcolm Lucard in Red Cross Red Crescent

5. Markets in everything: Can letting the rich buy into clinical trials produce cures for rare diseases faster?

By Alexander Masters in Mosaic Science

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME ebola

Nurse’s Bike Ride Defying Ebola Quarantine Could Set Legal Precedent

Kaci Hickox, Ted Wilbur
Nurse Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine state trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, on Oct. 30, 2014 Robert F. Bukaty—AP

The standoff in Maine may influence policy around the nation

A morning bike ride in a rural Maine town may have set in motion a chain of events that could determine how state and local governments respond to outbreaks of contagious diseases.

Kaci Hickox — a Maine nurse who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa — has remained at odds with state health officials after she was placed under quarantine even though she tested negative for the virus and has not shown any symptoms.

On Thursday, Hickox defied Maine’s isolation order, leaving her Fort Kent home for a bike ride with her boyfriend. They were trailed by state police, but the officers were powerless to stop her.

That’s because the quarantine issued by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is considered “voluntary,” meaning the state needs a court order to prevent Hickox from actually leaving her home. State officials have filed an order to make it mandatory, and on Thursday, Governor Paul LePage tried to broker a compromise when he told ABC News that the state would drop the quarantine if Hickox submitted to a blood test for the disease. By Thursday evening, however, LePage announced that negotiations between Hickox and state health officials had failed.

“As a result of the failed effort to reach an agreement, the governor will exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law,” LePage’s office said in a statement released Thursday. “Maine statutes provide robust authority to the state to use legal measures to address threats to public health.”

The episode could set a precedent for how infectious diseases are dealt with in the future. Public-health experts say that depending on how the court decides, the case could either further establish that states have wide latitude in deciding who can be quarantined, or bolster the argument that the civil liberties of those who have no symptoms cannot be unduly restrained, even in a time of a public health emergency.

“The court could be plowing new legal ground,” says Robert Field, a professor of law and public health at Drexel University. “The decision would only be binding in Maine, but it could influence the thinking of courts around the country.”

A court order would force the state to show that Hickox’s confinement is justified and based on medical science, but that could be difficult considering Hickox has yet to show symptoms of Ebola. She says she has been tested twice since her return to the U.S. on Oct. 24 and the result came back negative each time.

Emory University law professor Polly Price says if the court decides in favor of the Maine health officials, other states may “feel free to post armed guards outside of asymptomatic people’s houses, or confine them in an institution.”

If a judge finds in favor of a mandatory quarantine, Hickox can still appeal based on her constitutional right of due process, and her lawyers have pledged to do so.

Either way, some experts fear that the case may also have a more short-term impact on Americans still looking to help Ebola patients in West Africa, where almost 5,000 people have died from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction that won’t do very much to protect the people of Maine or the U.S.,” says Susan Kim, a Georgetown University law professor. “It will, however, hurt efforts to contain the epidemic in West Africa if we treat returning health care workers like pariahs.”

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