US to Send Recent Uganda Visitors to 5 Airports for Ebola Screening

The Biden administration will begin redirecting U.S.-bound travelers who had been to Uganda within the previous 21 days to five major American airports to be screened for Ebola as public health officials sent an alert to health care workers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday issued an alert to health care workers to raise awareness about the outbreak but said there were currently no suspected or confirmed U.S. Ebola cases from the Sudan strain, which is behind the latest Uganda infections. According to Uganda’s Health Ministry at least nine people had died of the disease in Uganda by October 3. Authorities in the east African nation announced the outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever on September 20. There are 43 total cases, including the deaths. U.S. screening began Thursday at the airports but the funneling requirements are expected to take effect within the coming week or so, a source told Reuters. “Out of an abundance of caution (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will apply new layers of screening at these five U.S. airports in response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda,” the U.S. Embassy in Uganda said Travelers from Uganda need to arrive at New York-John F. Kennedy, Newark, Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare or Washington Dulles airports for screening. There is no approved vaccine for the Sudan strain of the disease, triggering fears of a major health crisis in the country of 45 million people. Two sources said …

The Mushroom King

VOA visits William Padilla-Brown, a self-taught citizen scientist and mycologist whose passion for mushrooms is leading to new discoveries as he teaches others and works to build a healthier, more sustainable world. Camera: Aaron Fedor Produced by: Kathleen McLaughlin …

Study: Climate Change Made Summer Drought 20 Times More Likely

Drought that stretched across three continents this summer — drying out large parts of Europe, the United States and China — was made 20 times more likely by climate change, according to a new study. Drought dried up major rivers, destroyed crops, sparked wildfire, threatened aquatic species and led to water restrictions in Europe. It struck places already plagued by drying in the U.S., like the West, but also places where drought is more rare, like the Northeast. China also just had its driest summer in 60 years, leaving its famous Yangtze river half its normal width. Researchers from World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists from around the world who study the link between extreme weather and climate change, say this type of drought would only happen once every 400 years across the Northern Hemisphere if not for human-caused climate change. Now they expect these conditions to repeat every 20 years, given how much the climate has warmed. Ecological disasters like the widespread drought and then massive flooding in Pakistan, are the “fingerprints of climate change,” Maarten van Aalst, a climate scientist at Columbia University and study co-author, said. “The impacts are very clear to people and are hitting hard,” he said, “not just in poor countries, like the flooding Pakistan …. but also in some of the richest parts of the world, like western central Europe.” To figure out the influence of climate change on drying in the Northern Hemisphere, scientists analyzed weather data, computer simulations and soil …

India-Made Cough Syrups May Be Tied to 66 Deaths in Gambia, WHO Says 

The deaths of dozens of children in Gambia from kidney injuries may be linked to contaminated cough and cold syrups made by an Indian drug manufacturer, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.  WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the U.N. agency was investigating along with Indian regulators and the drugmaker, New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals.   Maiden declined to comment on the alert, while calls and Reuters messages to the Drugs Controller General of India went unanswered. India’s health ministry also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.   The WHO issued a medical product alert asking regulators to remove Maiden Pharmaceuticals goods from the market. The products may have been distributed elsewhere through informal markets but had so far only been identified in Gambia, the WHO said in its alert.   The alert covers four products: Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup.   Lab analysis confirmed unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which can be toxic when consumed, the WHO said. Gambia’s government said last month that it had also been investigating the deaths, as a spike in cases of acute kidney injury among children younger than 5 was detected in late July.   Several children in Gambia began falling ill with kidney problems three to five days after taking a locally sold paracetamol syrup. By August, 28 had died, but health authorities said the toll would likely rise. Now 66 are dead, WHO said  Wednesday.  The deaths have shaken …

Russian Launches to Space From US, 1st Time in 20 Years

For the first time in 20 years, a Russian cosmonaut rocketed from the U.S. on Wednesday, launching to the International Space Station alongside NASA and Japanese astronauts despite tensions over the war in Ukraine.  Their SpaceX flight was delayed by Hurricane Ian, which ripped across the state last week.  “I hope with this launch we will brighten up the skies over Florida a little bit for everyone,” said the Japan Space Agency’s Koichi Wakata, who is making his fifth spaceflight.  Joining him on a five-month mission are three new to space: Marine Col. Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to orbit Earth; Navy Capt. Josh Cassada; and Russia’s lone female cosmonaut, Anna Kikina.  “Awesome!” said Mann as they reached orbit. “That was a smooth ride uphill. You’ve got three rookies who are pretty happy to be floating in space right now.”  They’re due to arrive at the space station Thursday, 29 hours after a noon departure from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and won’t be back on Earth until March. They’re replacing a U.S.-Italian crew that arrived in April.  Kikina is the Russian Space Agency’s exchange for NASA’s Frank Rubio, who launched to the space station two weeks ago from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket. He flew up with two cosmonauts.  The space agencies agreed over the summer to swap seats on their flights in order to ensure a continuous U.S. and Russian presence aboard the 260-mile-high (420-kilometer-high) outpost. The barter was authorized even as global hostilities mounted over Russia’s …

No Longer Out of Sight, Effort Gets Under Way to Combat Treatable Blindness

Africa and Latin America have the highest rates in the world of treatable sight problems, but a Spanish NGO is finding innovative ways to reverse this situation. Conditions like glaucoma or cataracts, which are easily treated in developed countries, often go unattended in many poorer countries that are struggling with more serious medical challenges like HIV or malaria. The London-based International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, IAPB, reports 161 million people suffer from uncorrected eye problems and of these, 100 million have operable cataracts. Another 510 million are short-sighted. By far the largest proportion of people with sight problems — around 90% — live in the world’s poorest regions, the agency said. About 55% are women. The Foundation Ojos del Mundo, Spanish for Eyes of the World, has been working for more than 20 years to help people whose sight problems could be easily corrected. With three projects in Africa and one in Latin America, the foundation aims to offer aid and train local doctors to do the work. It is a daunting task. In Western sub-Saharan Africa, 18.8% of the population suffer from vision loss, but this rises to 21.8% in southern sub-Saharan Africa, according to IAPB figures. These figures are exceeded only in South Asia, where the sight loss stands at 22.2%. This compares with 4.8% in Western Europe and 3.6% in North America. Across the Atlantic Ocean, the figure for Latin America is between 12.3% and 13.4%, according to IAPB. Ojos del Mundo, a Barcelona-based NGO, …

Three Share Nobel Prize in Chemistry 

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday three scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for “the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.” The prize and its $900,000 award went equally to Carolyn Bertozzi and Barry Sharpless of the United States and Morten Meldal of Denmark. For Sharpless, it is his second Nobel Prize in chemistry after being awarded the honor in 2001. The academy said Meldal and Sharpless each independently presented a chemical reaction that is now used widely to develop pharmaceuticals and materials, and for mapping DNA. Bertozzi developed the field further with reactions that function inside living things, the academy said, with applications that include exploring cells and tracking biological processes. The Nobel Prize for medicine and for physics were awarded earlier this week, with the literature prize and the Nobel Peace Prize due to be announced Thursday and Friday. Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. …

Plastic-Gobbling Enzymes in Worm Spit May Help Ease Pollution

Enzymes found in the saliva of wax worms can degrade one of the most common forms of plastic waste, according to research published Tuesday that could open up new ways of dealing with plastic pollution. Humans produce some 400 million metric tons of plastic waste each year despite international drives to reduce single-use plastics and to increase recycling. Around a third is polyethylene, a tough plastic thanks to its structure, which traditionally requires heating or radiation before it starts to break down. There have been several studies showing that microorganisms can release enzymes that start the degradation process on polyethylene, but the process has until now taken months each time. But the enzymes contained in the saliva of the wax worm moth (Galleria mellonella) can act in only a few hours, Tuesday’s research showed. Researcher Federica Bertocchini, an avid beekeeper, said she originally stumbled on the idea that this small caterpillar had unusual powers when storing honeycombs a few years ago. “At the end of the season, usually beekeepers put some empty beehives in a storage room, to put them back in the field in the spring,” she told AFP. “One year I did that, and I found my stored honeycombs plagued with wax worms. In fact, that is their habitat.” Bertocchini cleaned the honeycombs and put the worms in a plastic bag. When she returned a short time later, she found the bag “riddled with holes.” “That raised the question: Is it the result of munching, or is there …