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Latest News: Lawsuit: Surgical gowns let diseases pass through

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A lawsuit says Kimberly-Clark Corp. falsely claimed its surgical gowns met the highest standards for protecting against Ebola and other infectious diseases.

Lead attorney Michael Avenatti says the Texas hospital where two nurses contracted Ebola used to stock the gowns but it's not clear if the nurses had used them.

The $500 million fraud suit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles on behalf of a surgeon who wore the gowns.

The lawsuit says Kimberly-Clark knew for a year that the gowns failed industry tests and allowed the transfer of bodily fluids, bacteria and viruses, but the company still promoted them as having the highest level of impermeability.

The maker of Kleenex and other consumer products says it doesn't comment on lawsuits but stands behind its products' safety.

Latest News: Flu or Ebola? US hospitals prepare for a confusing season

After weeks of Ebola panic, false alarms and quibbles over quarantine in the United States, health authorities are bracing for a new battle: flu season.

The end of October marks the start of influenza season, bringing with it the predictable sniffles, sneezes, fever and aches that can extend well into the spring months.

But this year is different for two reasons. First is the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that spilled into the United States when a Liberian man traveled to Texas in September and infected two nurses who helped care for him.

The second is the late summer outbreak of enterovirus D68, a respiratory illness that has sickened more than 1,100 people in 46 states since August, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Most areas of the country are reporting a decline in EV-D68, but seven states including California say they are still seeing increases.

There is no vaccine against the EV-D68, which has been linked to paralysis and neurologic symptoms in a small number of child patients.

Nor is there any treatment on the market to cure or prevent Ebola, though experimental vaccines are being fast-tracked.

The prospect of facing all three illnesses in a single season has led the CDC to start a public education campaign to help people understand the risks, and to remind people to get their annual flu vaccine.

"There may be some public concern or confusion between seasonal influenza and Ebola this season," a CDC spokeswoman said in an email to AFP, citing past experience with fears over the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

"Flu-like symptoms in US residents this flu season will most likely be caused by seasonal influenza, not Ebola."

- Similar symptoms -

Flu and Ebola share some common symptoms, such as fever, headache, fatigue and aches and pains.

But there are big differences, too. Influenza causes cough, sore throat and runny nose, while Ebola does not.

Ebola leads to vomiting and diarrhea within three to six days, severe weakness and stomach pain, as well as unexplained bleeding and bruising.

To illustrate these differences, the CDC has issued a flyer titled "Flu or Ebola?" that offers a side-by-side comparison, available at www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/is-it-flu-or-ebola.pdf.

The simple, bold print is accompanied by graphics, including one person sneezing on another to show how flu transmits by droplets spewed when sick people cough, sneeze or talk.

Ebola transmission is illustrated by a bright red blood drop and needle. "Ebola can only be spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids," the flyer says.

As part of increased screening measures, patients around the country are now asked to fill out a questionnaire asking if they have traveled to West Africa recently and if they have any Ebola symptoms.

"Everybody is screening now, in outpatient offices, in hospital emergency rooms, in ambulatory centers," said Debra Spicehandler, infectious disease expert at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York.

"The only problem is we are all spending a lot of time getting prepared for Ebola, so we may have lost our focus a bit on influenza and preparation for the influenza season," she told AFP.

The CDC recommends an annual flu shot for everyone over six months of age, preferably by the end of October.

Last year, 42 percent of adults and 59 percent of children received their flu shots. The CDC said it is too early to tell how many have received their vaccinations this year.

- By the numbers -

Every year, between five and 20 percent of Americans get the flu, as many as 200,000 are hospitalized and deaths have reached as high as 49,000 in recent decades, the CDC says.

Worldwide, the flu infects anywhere from three to five million people per year and kills up to 500,000, according to the World Health Organization.

The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is the world's largest in history, killing more than 4,900 people and infecting more than 13,000 since the beginning of the year.

Ebola is rare, but lethal about half the time. Of the nine patients treated for Ebola in US hospitals this year, however, just one has died.

The flu is common, but rarely lethal except among the young, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Only a doctor can tell if a patient should be tested for Ebola, based on travel history and potential exposure to infected patients.

"The important thing is not to panic. The most important thing to be concerned about is the flu, not Ebola," said Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

"The most important thing people can do is get a flu shot."

Latest News: Efforts to compromise with Maine nurse stall

FORT KENT, Maine (AP) — Insisting she is perfectly healthy, nurse Kaci Hickox again defied the state's Ebola quarantine Thursday by taking a bike ride with her boyfriend, and Maine health authorities struggled to reach a compromise that would limit her contact with others.

Hickox, 33, stepped out of her home on the remote northern edge of Maine for the second day in a row, practically daring authorities to make good on their threat to go to court to have her confined against her will. On Wednesday evening, she went outside for an impromptu news conference and shook a reporter's outstretched hand.

By evening, it was unclear whether the state had gone to court or whether there had been any progress toward ending the standoff that has become the nation's most closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of Ebola. The governor's office and Hickox's lawyers would not comment.

Hickox, who returned to the U.S. last week from treating Ebola victims in West Africa as a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, has been under what Maine is calling a voluntary quarantine at her home in this town of 4,300 people.

She has rebelled against the restrictions, saying that her rights are being violated and that she is no threat to others because she has no symptoms. She tested negative last weekend for Ebola, though it can take days for the virus to reach detectable levels.

Her 21-day quarantine — the incubation period for the Ebola virus — is scheduled to end on Nov. 10.

Gov. Paul LePage said state attorneys and Hickox's lawyers had discussed a scaled-down quarantine that would have allowed her to go for walks, runs and bicycle rides while preventing her from venturing into populated public places or coming within 3 feet of others.

Around midday, however, LePage said that the hours of negotiations had gone nowhere, and that he was prepared to use the full extent of his authority to protect the public.

"I was ready and willing — and remain ready and willing — to reasonably address the needs of health care workers meeting guidelines to assure the public health is protected," he said.

Hickox stepped into the media glare when she returned from Sierra Leone to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After an uproar, she was released and traveled more than 600 miles to the small town on the Canadian border where she lives with her boyfriend.

She said she is following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of daily monitoring for fever and other signs of the disease.

An unmarked state police cruiser followed Hickox on her hour-long morning bike ride on trails near her home, but police could not take action to detain her without a court order signed by a judge.

"I really hope that we can work things out amicably and continue to negotiate," she said.

Her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, met with reporters Thursday evening to tell them she was staying inside.

Addressing the bicycle ride, Wilbur said they purposefully rode away from town to avoid coming into contact with people. "We're not trying to push any limits here. We're members of this community, too, and we want to make people comfortable," he said.

Maine law allows a judge to confine someone if health officials demonstrate "a clear and immediate public health threat."

States have broad authority under long-established law to quarantine people to prevent the spread of disease. But legal experts said there are differences here that could work in Hickox's favor in court: People infected with Ebola are not contagious until they have symptoms, and the virus is not spread through casual contact.

Word made its way quickly around the town about Hickox.

Priscilla Staples said that some are fearful of Hickox's presence, but Hickox "has done nothing wrong, and she has every right in the world to go for a bike ride."

Some states like Maine, New York and New Jersey are going above and beyond the CDC guidelines to require automatic quarantines. So is the U.S military.

President Barack Obama, the nation's top infectious-disease expert and humanitarian groups have warned that such measures could cripple the fight against the disease at its source by discouraging volunteers like Hickox from going to West Africa, where the outbreak has sickened more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 of them.

"The volunteers are heroes to the people they help, and they are heroes to our own countries. They should be treated like heroes when they return," Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in Brussels.

In other developments:

— Ebola fears infected a medical conference on the subject. Louisiana state health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical-diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.

— Liberia is making some progress in containing the outbreak, while Sierra Leone is "in a crisis situation which is going to get worse," the top anti-Ebola officials in the two countries said.

— The World Bank announced it will give an additional $100 million to help bring in more foreign health workers. That raises the money it has given to the fight to $500 million.

___

Associated Press writer Patrick Whittle in Portland contributed to this story.

Latest News: French researchers to test Ebola diagnostics in Guinea

French researchers will conduct trials with prototype Ebola diagnostic tests in Guinea in November, with results expected within weeks for speedy deployment, the head of France's Ebola task force said Thursday.

They will include a prototype device unveiled last week, similar to a home pregnancy test, that may make diagnosis possible in under 15 minutes, a potential game-changer, Jean-Francois Delfraissy, who spearheads France's Ebola campaign, told journalists in Paris.

"It will make a big difference not to have to wait for six hours, but only 15 minutes," he said, referring to the time it currently takes for results to come back from the laboratory.

The biggest Ebola epidemic in history has claimed more than 4,900 lives in west Africa since the beginning of the year, according to the World Health Organization -- almost all of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Earlier this month, France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) announced that a new 15-minute Ebola test has proved effective in high-security laboratory trials.

It has not yet been validated by regulators.

The diagnostic tool works by antibodies reacting to the presence of the virus in a tiny sample, which can be a drop of blood, plasma or urine, it said.

A European pharma company Vedalab is turning the prototype into a user-friendly kit called eZYSCREEN that will see a positive result yield a small stripe in a results window on the hand-held device.

The kit is simple to use in the field without any additional equipment, said the CEA.

Other pharmaceutical teams are also working on fast diagnostic tools for Ebola. They include Primerdesign, a spinoff company of Britain's University of Southampton, and Corgenix Medical Corp of the United States.

Work is also under way in several laboratories on developing a vaccine or cure for the killer haemorrhagic fever against which no drug treatment exists.

Delfraissy said the diagnostics experiments will be conducted by volunteers Doctors Without Borders (MSF -- Medecins Sans Frontieres) under the supervision of experts from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm).

Some of the trials will take place at a new, French-sponsored health centre in Macenta in southeast Guinea.

Delfraissy said he hoped the tests would yield "reliable information by the beginning of December to allow the tests to be used in the field".

Latest News: US right-to-die woman holds on, in new video

A young American woman with terminal cancer who triggered shock and controversy when she said she would kill herself on November 1 now says she may wait a little longer.

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old brain cancer sufferer, won notoriety earlier this year when a video of her making her suicide threat went viral and was seen by millions of web-users.

On Thursday she released a new video in which she said she might temporarily delay her appointment with a self-administered cocktail of potentially deadly drugs.

"I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn't seem like the right time right now," she said, in a new six-minute video.

"But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It's happening each week," she said in the video posted on a site set up to raise funds to support right-to-die advocates: www.thebrittanyfund.org.

In January, Maynard was given six months to live and told her death would be painful because of the aggressive nature of her cancer.

She had been trying for a first child with her husband Dan Diaz at the time, but gave up due to her disease.

Maynard and her husband, who had just married when she began having severe headaches, moved from their home in California to Oregon, one of a handful of states with a "right-to-die" law.

A doctor could therefore prescribe her the medication she needs to end her own life, surrounded by her family in the bedroom she shares with her husband.

Earlier in October, a first video went viral. It has now been viewed more than 9 million times on YouTube. Some 3.5 million people have visited the www.thebrittanyfund.org website.

Her story has made headlines around the world: she was featured on the cover of last week's People magazine in the United States.

She has previously said she planned to end her life after her husband's birthday on October 26, but before her own on November 19. The new video was recorded on October 13.

Maynard has in recent weeks and months been working to tick off items on a "bucket list" of what she wants to do before she dies -- including traveling to the Grand Canyon last week.

"The canyon was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature," she wrote in a blog post.

She is currently on medication to limit the swelling of her brain, but which has the side effect of making her gain weight.

- Debilitating seizures -

A spokesman for Compassion and Choices, the right-to-die organization helping Maynard manage her final days, said Wednesday she will likely end her life in the next week or two.

"Brittany's seizures are becoming more debilitating and frequent, so obviously her family worries about her suffering," spokesman Sean Crowley told AFP.

"November 1 always was a tentative date. It is now early November. Whether Brittany takes aid-in-dying medication depends upon if her dying process becomes unbearably painful."

Maynard's family, including her husband and her mother Debbie Ziegler, are supporting her all the way. "It sounds so cliche: We take things one day at a time," said her husband.

"But it's like, that's the only way to get through this," he added.

Choices and Compassion spokesman Crowley added that, for Maynard's family, grief at her passing will likely also be accompanied by relief.

"Anyone who loses a loved one under and circumstances experience grief, but when your loved one dies with dignity, gently and peacefully by going to sleep after taking the medication, rather than prolonged suffering, it is a relief."

Latest News: Genes 'play role in Ebola survival'
A burial team wearing protective clothing prepare the body of a person suspected to have died of the Ebola virus for interment, in Freetown September 28, 2014A burial team take away a victim of the Ebola virus

Genetic factors could play an important role in whether people survive the Ebola virus, say US scientists.

A study of mice infected with the virus found they showed a number of different symptoms, with 19% remaining unaffected by the disease.

This could explain why some people recover from the illness while others die in pain, the scientists said.

Their study is published in the journal Science.

Scientists from the universities of Washington and North Carolina, and the National Institute of Health in Montana, examined mice they had infected with the same species of Ebola virus causing the current outbreak in West Africa.

Start Quote

It may not be necessary to completely eliminate Ebola virus from the body during infection to ensure that there is no disease”

End Quote Prof Andrew Easton University of Warwick

Although all the mice lost weight in the first few days after infection, nearly one in five regained that weight within two weeks and showed no evidence of the disease.

But 70% of the mice became very ill, some showing signs of liver inflammation and a larger group having blood that took too long to clot.

These mice also had internal bleeding, swollen spleens and changes in liver colour.

They also had a greater than 50% chance of dying from the disease.

Host's genes

Angela Rasmussen, from the Katze Laboratory at the University of Washington, said the different ways in which the mice were affected mirrored the variety of symptoms seen in humans in the 2014 outbreak.

Recent Ebola survivors could have had immunity to this virus or a related virus which may have saved them, for example.

This would have meant the disease reacting in a particular way to a host's genes, which is seen with many other viruses.

Andrew Easton, professor of virology at the University of Warwick, said the study provided valuable information, but the data could not be directly applied to humans because they have a much larger variety of genetic combinations than mice.

He added: "The paper also does not assess the role of environmental factors that undoubtedly also play a role in the disease process such as the underlying health status of the at-risk population."

However, Prof Easton said the data suggested that "it may not be necessary to completely eliminate Ebola virus from the body during infection to ensure that there is no disease, and that reduction of virus growth in the body may offer alleviation from some aspects of the disease".

Start Quote

It will be important to see if a similar phenomenon is happening in humans”

End Quote Prof Jonathan Ball University of Nottingham

This suggests new treatments may not have to be as thorough as initially expected, he said.

'Intriguing'

Prof Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said some of the study's discoveries regarding blood clotting were interesting.

"In this mouse model study, the finding that levels of expression of a gene involved in coagulation differs between mice showing different severity of disease symptoms is really intriguing.

"Of course, this is merely an association and needs to be explored more to know definitively how expression is controlled and how it might influence disease.

Prof Ball added: "It will also be important to see if a similar phenomenon is happening in humans."

Another study published in Science, on how best to stop the transmission of the Ebola virus, concluded that funerals were "super-spreader events".

Researchers from Yale University, Oregon State University and Liberia, said funeral practices - which often involve washing, touching and kissing of the bodies - had to end in order to bring the disease under control.

They also said aggressive steps should also be taken "to isolate cases and and better protect healthcare workers".

Latest News: Compromise efforts stall for quarantined nurse

FORT KENT, Maine (AP) — Insisting she is perfectly healthy, nurse Kaci Hickox again defied the state's Ebola quarantine Thursday by taking a bike ride with her boyfriend, and Maine health authorities struggled to reach a compromise that would limit her contact with others.

Hickox, 33, stepped out of her home on the remote northern edge of Maine for the second day in a row, practically daring authorities to make good on their threat to go to court to have her confined against her will. On Wednesday evening, she went outside for an impromptu news conference and shook a reporter's outstretched hand.

By evening, it was unclear whether the state had gone to court or whether there had been any progress toward ending the standoff that has become the nation's most closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of Ebola. The governor's office and Hickox's lawyers would not comment.

Hickox, who returned to the U.S. last week from treating Ebola victims in West Africa as a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, has been under what Maine is calling a voluntary quarantine at her home in this town of 4,300 people.

She has rebelled against the restrictions, saying that her rights are being violated and that she is no threat to others because she has no symptoms. She tested negative last weekend for Ebola, though it can take days for the virus to reach detectable levels.

Her 21-day quarantine — the incubation period for the Ebola virus — is scheduled to end on Nov. 10.

Gov. Paul LePage said state attorneys and Hickox's lawyers had discussed a scaled-down quarantine that would have allowed her to go for walks, runs and bicycle rides while preventing her from venturing into populated public places or coming within 3 feet of others.

Around midday, however, LePage said that the hours of negotiations had gone nowhere, and that he was prepared to use the full extent of his authority to protect the public.

"I was ready and willing — and remain ready and willing — to reasonably address the needs of health care workers meeting guidelines to assure the public health is protected," he said.

Hickox stepped into the media glare when she returned from Sierra Leone to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After an uproar, she was released and traveled more than 600 miles to the small town on the Canadian border where she lives with her boyfriend.

She said she is following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of daily monitoring for fever and other signs of the disease.

An unmarked state police cruiser followed Hickox on her hour-long morning bike ride on trails near her home, but police could not take action to detain her without a court order signed by a judge.

"I really hope that we can work things out amicably and continue to negotiate," she said.

Her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, met with reporters Thursday evening to tell them she was staying inside.

Addressing the bicycle ride, Wilbur said they purposefully rode away from town to avoid coming into contact with people. "We're not trying to push any limits here. We're members of this community, too, and we want to make people comfortable," he said.

Maine law allows a judge to confine someone if health officials demonstrate "a clear and immediate public health threat."

States have broad authority under long-established law to quarantine people to prevent the spread of disease. But legal experts said there are differences here that could work in Hickox's favor in court: People infected with Ebola are not contagious until they have symptoms, and the virus is not spread through casual contact.

Word made its way quickly around the town about Hickox.

Priscilla Staples said that some are fearful of Hickox's presence, but Hickox "has done nothing wrong, and she has every right in the world to go for a bike ride."

Some states like Maine, New York and New Jersey are going above and beyond the CDC guidelines to require automatic quarantines. So is the U.S military.

President Barack Obama, the nation's top infectious-disease expert and humanitarian groups have warned that such measures could cripple the fight against the disease at its source by discouraging volunteers like Hickox from going to West Africa, where the outbreak has sickened more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 of them.

"The volunteers are heroes to the people they help, and they are heroes to our own countries. They should be treated like heroes when they return," Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in Brussels.

In other developments:

— Ebola fears infected a medical conference on the subject. Louisiana state health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical-diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.

— Liberia is making some progress in containing the outbreak, while Sierra Leone is "in a crisis situation which is going to get worse," the top anti-Ebola officials in the two countries said.

— The World Bank announced it will give an additional $100 million to help bring in more foreign health workers. That raises the money it has given to the fight to $500 million.

___

Associated Press writer Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this story.

Latest News: VIDEO: Lab for world’s worst animal viruses

A laboratory that will hold some of the world's most contagious livestock viruses has opened in the UK.

The BBSRC National Virology Centre at the Pirbright Institute in Surrey has cost £125m, and will be a centre for research on diseases such as avian flu, African swine fever and foot-and-mouth.

It was built partly in response to the 2007 foot-and-mouth outbreak, which was traced back to the Pirbright Institute's site.

The BBC's Rebecca Morelle took a look around the lab - the last chance to do so before it undergoes full containment.

Latest News: Alcohol 'should have calorie labels'
Fat man

Related Stories

Alcohol should have a calorie content label in order to reduce obesity, according to public health doctors.

The doctors warn a large glass of wine can contain around 200 calories - the same as a doughnut.

Yet the Royal Society for Public Health says the vast majority of people are blissfully unaware.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said "great strides" had been made with labelling food, and that the government will look at the issue.

The drinks industry said it was open to the idea of calorie labels, but that labelling drinks with units of alcohol was more important.

The UK is one of the most obese nations in the world with about a quarter of adults classed as obese.

'Startling'

Food already comes with calorie information, but alcohol is exempt from EU food labelling laws.

And the European Commission is considering whether drinks should also carry such information.

Research by the Royal Society for Public Health suggested the measure would be popular with British drinkers.

The RSPH's chief executive, Shirley Cramer, told the BBC: "Quite startling really - 80% of adults have no idea what the calorie count is in anything they're drinking and if they do think they have an idea they totally underestimate it anyway.

"It could help the nation's waistlines as well as probably reduce alcohol consumption."

In a small pub experiment conducted by the society, people who were told the calories content of their drink consumed 400 fewer calories in a session.

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How many calories
Wine
  • A large 250ml glass of 8% wine is 170 calories
  • The same amount of 14% wine is 230 calories
  • A 275ml alcopop can be 170 calories
  • A pint of 4% beer is more than 180 calories
  • Four pints on a night out equates of two-and-a-half burgers or 73 minutes of running
  • In comparison a sugary doughnut comes in around 200 calories

Source: Royal Society for Public Health, Drinkaware

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Estimates suggest 10% of an adult's calorie intake comes from alcohol.

Gram for gram it is the second most calorie-dense source of energy, just behind fat.

'Open to discussion'

The Portman Group, which represents drinks manufacturers, said it took the health consequences of drinking "very seriously" and provided calorie information on the Drinkaware website.

In a statement it said: "Drinks producers can play a key role in informing and educating consumers and are open to further discussions about calorie information.

"However, it is essential that alcohol content, not calorie content, should primarily inform consumer decision-making."

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said the government had been dragging its feet on the issue.

"A calorie-count on wine and beer bottles can't come soon enough.

"Just one premium lager contains by itself contains enough calories for a small meal and, added to the meal itself, eats up a chunk of anyone's maximum allowance."

Ms Ellison said: "It is very positive to see that people want more information to help them lead a healthier life.

"We have made great strides in food labelling and customers can see at a glance the calories they are consuming on many products.

"While it is already possible for alcohol producers and retailers to display calorie content on their labels, we will continue to look at what else can be done to help people make healthier lifestyle choices."

Latest News: Genetics could influence whether Ebola will kill: study

The Ebola virus is often deadly, but not always, and a study on mice Thursday suggested that genetics may play a role in the severity of the illness.

At a high-security, state-of-the-art biocontainment laboratory in Hamilton, Montana, scientists infected mice with a mouse form of the same species of the Ebola virus that is sweeping West Africa.

Seventy percent of the mice got sick, and more than half of this group died, some due to liver inflammation and others due to internal hemorrhage, according to the study in the US journal Science.

About 19 percent of the mice lost weight initially but then regained it in two weeks and made a full recovery.

The remaining 11 percent showed a partial response to the virus and less than half in this group died.

Scientists said the variability in outcomes resembled what has been seen in the human epidemic sweeping West Africa this year, killing more than 4,900 people and infecting more than 13,000.

They were also able to find associations in disease outcomes and mortality rates according to specific genetic lines of mice.

"Our data suggest that genetic factors play a significant role in disease outcome," said Michael Katze from the University of Washington Department of Microbiology.

Those that died showed more activity in genes that promoted blood vessel inflammation and cell death, leading to more serious illness.

Those that survived tended to show more activity in genes responsible for blood vessel repair and making infection?fighting white blood cells.

Specialized types of liver cells might have also helped stop the virus from reproducing, the study said.

"We hope that medical researchers will be able to rapidly apply these findings to candidate therapeutics and vaccines," Katze said.

Similar observations about the link between genes and outcomes have been made in many different viruses, so the finding should not come as a surprise in Ebola, said Andrew Easton, professor of virology at the University of Warwick.

"While this is valuable information, the data in the paper cannot be directly extrapolated to the human situation and used as a basis for potential therapy at the moment," said Easton, who was not involved in the study.

"Unlike the mice used in the study, humans are extensively outbred and have a large variety of genetic combinations, making assessment of the impact of the genes in humans difficult."

The study also did not account for environmental factors that experts say can affect whether a person lives or dies from Ebola, including the quality of care, their age and how healthy they are when they first become infected.

Latest News: African funeral rites are 'superspreaders' of Ebola: study

Traditional funeral rites in West Africa that include kissing and touching a dead body are "superspreaders" of Ebola and must be halted, researchers said Thursday.

If not, Liberia can expect 224 new cases per day by the beginning of December, and 348 new Ebola infections per day by the end of December, according to the study in the journal Science.

"To stem Ebola transmission in Liberia, it is imperative to simultaneously restrict traditional burials, which are effectively serving as superspreader events," it said.

Funeral practices often include washing, touching and kissing bodies that are still capable of transmitting Ebola, and may have particularly high levels of the live virus in excretions.

The findings were based on mathematical modeling done by scientists at Yale University, Oregon State University and the Ministry of Health in Liberia, the country hardest hit by the current Ebola epidemic.

"It is imperative that funeral transmission be stopped," said Jan Medlock, an assistant professor in the OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences and an expert in mathematical epidemiology and the evolution of infectious disease.

"The cultural body preparation and funeral practices that are common in West Africa have driven the initial spread of this disease."

The virus has already infected more than 13,000 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year and killed more than 4,900 according to the World Health Organization.

Ebola is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or a person who has recently died of the virus.

While it is important to isolate patients, trace their contacts and provide better protection for health care workers, these measures alone are insufficient, the researchers said.

Every two Ebola cases currently result in the infections of three more people in Liberia, the study found.

A better way to safely bury the dead would be to disinfect "the cadaver before placing it in a plastic body bag and doing further disinfecting," said the study.

The authors also called for substantial international aid to help end the outbreak.

Latest News: Pot-infused edibles: One toke over the line in Colorado?

Marijuana shops have sprouted across Denver ever since Colorado legalized the drug for adults in January, but the popularity of pot-infused edibles has surprised authorities, and parents are seeking a ban ahead of Halloween.

Many here are content taking the traditional approach -- lighting up a joint -- to embrace the Rocky Mountain state's marijuana legalization.

But alternative ingestion is booming, and it takes a single visit to one of Colorado's 282 dispensaries to grasp that cannabis can also be baked, stirred or sprayed into almost any food: candies, cookies, chocolate truffles, drinks, cereal, even tomato sauce.

The Growing Kitchen, based in a former research facility near Boulder, outside Denver, features two flagship products: "rookie cookies" and "chill pill" lozenges.

The first contains a base dose of 10 milligrams of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. The lozenges contain half that dose.

In three rooms of the single-story building, plants are flowering in dazzling artificial light.

Employees harvest, dry and trim the ripened buds, from which is extracted a concentrated oil with 65 percent to 85 percent THC.

In a commercial kitchen, young workers in T-shirts mix tiny amounts of the oil into dough used for cookies and other goodies -- more than 7,000 per week.

The parking lot outside is packed. With 33 employees, the small enterprise keeps growing, and a new greenhouse is planned.

- Identical candies -

Edibles are showing major commercial potential -- more than weed that can be smoked, said Growing Kitchen's sales manager Holden Sproul.

"Those products are not easily made at home. It's not very easy to extract cannabis oil," he explained.

Discretion is another advantage of edibles. "You can also dial in an effect that's perfect for you, whether it's energy, sleep or pain moderation," said Sproul.

The Growing Kitchen creates only original products that would be difficult to confuse with generics or other brands. But in the dispensaries, one can buy generic-looking candies sprayed with cannabis oil.

Lack of pre-market regulation for such sweets has alarmed some parents, including those who banded together after marijuana legalization to launch an anti-pot group.

Smart Colorado has sponsored two billboards in Denver to warn parents in the run-up to Friday's Halloween celebrations: "Can you spot the pot?" the billboards read, above pictures of harmless-looking lollipops and gummy bears.

"Some people don't even know that marijuana is in candy, and in very recognizable candy," warned Gina Carbone, a founding member of the group.

"The real question is, why is the industry putting marijuana in kids' candy? These are items that are marketed directly to kids."

- No pot for kids -

Adults eat sweets too.

But after several emergency cases of children accidentally ingesting cannabis, Colorado lawmakers in May tightened regulations on edibles and called on the Health Department to formulate new color and other guidelines that would make pot edibles clearly recognizable, even without their packaging.

Health officials sparked an uproar last week by proposing rules that would have prohibited all pot edibles with the exception of certain liquids and lozenges.

While the recommendations were immediately withdrawn, they sent cannabis producers into a sweat.

"I think it was a reactionary recommendation," said Julie Dooley, co-founder of Julie and Kate's Baked Goods, which sells marijuana-infused granola.

Such restrictions would only fuel the pot black market, already bloated due to tax rates north of 20 percent imposed on recreational cannabis.

Dooley, a mother of three, described concerns over edibles as a non-issue.

"There has been no solid data to prove that regulated, manufactured edibles are causing any kind of epidemic," she said.

Dooley opposes moves by some companies to infuse store-bought candies with pot, but argued it was useless to try to set color coding for all marijuana edibles, especially because several products, like her cereal, have weed's distinct aroma.

Authorities already require pot product sellers to use child-resistant packaging above and beyond what's required for pharmaceuticals and alcohol, Sproul noted.

Today only Colorado and Washington state have legalized recreational marijuana use in the United States.

Colorado's example in particular has inspired similar ballot measures that will get votes in Tuesday mid-term elections in Alaska, Oregon and the capital Washington.

Twenty-three states and the capital district already allow medical marijuana use, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

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