Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

SARS-like virus in the Middle East

DUBAI, 28 November 2012 (IRIN)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a global alert after six cases of a virus resembling the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) were discovered in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Two of the six cases confirmed by laboratories have been fatal, leading to fears of an outbreak similar to the original SARS virus in 2002-03, which killed around 10 percent of the 8,000 humans infected.

“From our understanding of the virus so far, and given the enhanced surveillance that is in place, we expect to see more cases reported and confirmed,” WHO spokesman, Glen Thomas, told IRIN. “We also expect to see more cases from countries other than the two that have confirmed cases so far.” WHO scientists are trying to find out the cause of the infections, and ascertain whether the virus is moving from human to human.

A study published by scientists from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam last week found similarities between the new SARS-like virus and a virus found in bats in Saudi Arabia.

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Bug Watch, Civilian Contractors, Health Watch, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Man, 38, dies from deadly tropical disease after returning to the UK from Afghanistan

The Daily Mail  October 6, 2012

A man diagnosed with a tropical disease after returning to the UK from Afghanistan has died in hospital, it has emerged today.

The 38-year-old was fighting for his life in a high security isolation ward at the Royal Free Hospital in London after contracting the deadly Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

He was transferred by the RAF on a C-130 Hercules aircraft from the Brownlee Unit in Glasgow to the specialist high security unit at the Royal Free London on Thursday.

It is the first laboratory-confirmed case of CCHF in the UK, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Other passengers who sat close to him on an aircraft are undergoing daily health checks.

‘Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever can be acquired from an infected patient only through direct contact with their blood or body fluids, therefore there is no risk to the general public,’ the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust said.

‘We would like to extend our condolences to his family.’

The man, 38, was diagnosed when he returned to Glasgow on a flight from Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.

He had flown into Scotland on a connecting flight from Dubai.

More Details at The Mail Online

October 6, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bug Watch, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Health Watch, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Military Cutback We Can’t Afford: Fighting Tropical Diseases

Leishmaniasis at The Iraq Infections

“In the coming years leishmaniasis may become the most important condition you have never heard of among veterans”

Barbara Herwaldt CDC on Leishmaniasis

 Contractors will be even less likely to be diagnosed and/or treated timely or effectively.   Diagnoses normally occurs long after they’ve had contact with their families.

Peter Hotez & James Kazura at The Atlantic

In recent months, many politicians and presidential hopefuls have called for budget reductions, and many have specifically targeted military spending for cutbacks. Unfortunately, even programs proven to be cost effective are vulnerable to cuts. Medical research for our troops is no exception to this rule — programs such as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) often find themselves low on the priority list despite their crucial role in saving the lives of our troops on the battlefield and here at home.

One important area of research is tropical medicine. During World War II and the Vietnam War, more than one million service members acquired tropical infections such as malaria, dengue fever, hookworm, and typhus, and many of these diseases continued to plague our veterans after they returned home. Today, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan still face formidable tropical disease threats, especially from a disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies known as leishmaniasis, which can cause a disfiguring ulcer in one form, and a serious systemic condition that clinically resembles leukemia in another. In the coming years leishmaniasis may become the most important condition you have never heard of among veterans.

WRAIR’s leishmaniasis diagnostic laboratory is the only one of its kind in the world, so each time funding is slashed our military loses considerable expertise and capabilities in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this devastating disease. For example, in the years prior to the Gulf War, the WRAIR leishmaniasis program was officially decommissioned and all research was halted. Only after cases of leishmaniasis among U.S. forces exposed to sand-fly bites in the Iraqi desert were the remaining leishmaniasis experts at WRAIR quickly assembled and tasked with making up for lost time. In 2002, the WRAIR leishmaniasis program was again dissolved only to be urgently activated once more with the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The interruptions to the WRAIR leishmaniasis program are part of much larger budget cuts across all of WRAIR’s tropical infectious disease research programs. There is no end to the irony of such cutbacks given that they coincide with the activation in 2008 of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), charged with fighting the war on terror across the African continent. Today, sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of cases of tropical diseases anywhere in the world. Many of these tropical infections, such as river blindness and African sleeping sickness, have been shown to destabilize communities and may actually promote conflict in the region.

Please see the original and read more here

January 21, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, Bug Watch, Central America, Civilian Contractors, Columbia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Soldiers Brought Deadly Superbug to Americas

UN Soldiers are not alone in spreading Cholera.

Civilian Contractors are being hospitalized with Cholera patients, infected, and then repatriated.

ABC News January 12, 2012

Compelling new scientific evidence suggests United Nations peacekeepers have carried a virulent strain of cholera — a super bug — into the Western Hemisphere for the first time.

The vicious form of cholera has already killed 7,000 people in Haiti, where it surfaced in a remote village in October 2010. Leading researchers from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere told ABC News that, despite UN denials, there is now a mountain of evidence suggesting the strain originated in Nepal, and was carried to Haiti by Nepalese soldiers who came to Haiti to serve as UN peacekeepers after the earthquake that ravaged the country on Jan. 12, 2010 — two years ago today. Haiti had never seen a case of cholera until the arrival of the peacekeepers, who allegedly failed to maintain sanitary conditions at their base.

“What scares me is that the strain from South Asia has been recognized as more virulent, more capable of causing severe disease, and more transmissible,” said John Mekalanos, who chairs the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. “These strains are nasty. So far there has been no secondary outbreak. But Haiti now represents a foothold for a particularly dangerous variety of this deadly disease.”

More than 500,000 Haitians have been infected, and Mekalanos said a handful of victims who contracted cholera in Haiti have now turned up in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and in Boston, Miami and New York, but only in isolated cases

Please read the entire story here

January 14, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bug Watch, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Haiti, Health Watch, Pakistan, United Nations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CONGO: Outbreak of dengue-like viral disease

BRAZZAVILLE, 15 June 2011 (IRIN) Almost 1,000 suspected cases of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral disease that causes fever and severe joint pain, have been recorded in the Republic of Congo’s capital over the past two weeks.

“More than 900 people are showing symptoms of chikungunya, which is transmitted by mosquito,” Director-General of Health Alexis Elira Dokekias told a news conference on 14 June.

The disease’s symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash, and are similar to those of dengue fever. There is no known cure; treatment consists of relieving the symptoms.

Dokekias said the first cases appeared in early June in the poor neighbourhoods of Bacongo and Makelekele in the south of Brazzaville.

Of 48 samples analysed in a laboratory in neighbouring Gabon, just over half tested positive for the virus, he said.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Bug Watch, Health Watch | , , , | Leave a comment