I found this on WeatherUnderground News this morning. What scares me is that there may be more victims, many more, shepherds who work with goats, laborers, people thought to have very bad colds, maybe even pneumonia, who don’t have the kind of money to fly to London to be diagnosed. If one man spread it to two family members, imagine how many people he had contact with on that airplane flying to London.
LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) – The emergence of a deadly virus previously unseen in humans that has already killed half those known to be infected requires speedy scientific detective work to figure out its potential.
Experts in virology and infectious diseases say that while they already have unprecedented detail about the genetics and capabilities of the novel coronavirus, or NCoV, what worries them more is what they don’t know.
The virus, which belongs to the same family as viruses that cause the common cold and the one that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), emerged in the Middle East last year and has so far killed seven of the 13 people it is known to have infected worldwide.
Of those, six have been in Saudi Arabia, two in Jordan, and others in Britain and Germany linked to travel in the Middle East or to family clusters.
“What we know really concerns me, but what we don’t know really scares me,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the U.S.-based Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and a professor at the University of Minnesota.
Less than a week after identifying NCoV in September last year in a Qatari patient at a London hospital, scientists at Britain’s Health Protection Agency had sequenced part of its genome and mapped out a so-called “phylogenetic tree” – a kind of family tree – of its links.
Swiftly conducted scientific studies by teams in Switzerland, Germany and elsewhere have found that NCoV is well adapted to infecting humans and may be treatable medicines similar to the ones used for SARS, which emerged in China in 2002 and killed a tenth of the 8,000 people it infected.
“Partly because of the way the field has developed post-SARS, we’ve been able to get onto this virus very early,” said Mike Skinner, an expert on coronaviruses from Imperial College London. “We know what it looks like, we know what family it’s from and we have its complete gene sequence.”
Yet there are many unanswered questions.
Spotlight on Saudi Arabia, Jordan
“At the moment we just don’t know whether the virus might actually be quite widespread and it’s just a tiny proportion of people who get really sick, or whether it’s a brand new virus carrying a much greater virulence potential,” said Wendy Barclay, a flu virologist, also at Imperial College London.
To have any success in answering those questions, scientists and health officials in affected countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan need to conduct swift and robust epidemiological studies to find out whether the virus is circulating more widely in people but causing milder symptoms.
This would help establish whether the 13 cases seen so far are the most severe and represent “the tip the iceberg”, said Volker Thiel of the Institute of Immunobiology at Kantonal Hospital in Switzerland, who published research this month showing NCoV grows efficiently in human cells.
Scientists and health officials in the Middle East and Arab Peninsular also need to collaborate with colleagues in Europe, where some NCoV cases have been treated and where samples have gone to specialist labs, to try to pin down the virus’ source.
“One Big Virological Blender”
Initial scientific analysis by laboratory scientists at Britain’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) – which helped identify the virus in a Qatari patient in September last year – found that NCoV’s closest relatives are most probably bat viruses.
It is not unusual for viruses to jump from animals to humans and mutate in the process – high profile examples include the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS and the H1N1 swine flu which caused a pandemic in 2009 and 2010.
Yet further work by a research team at the Robert Koch Institute at Germany’s University of Bonn now suggests it may have come through an intermediary – possibly goats.
In a detailed case study of a patient from Qatar who was infected with NCoV and treated in Germany, researchers said the man reported owning a camel and a goat farm on which several goats had been ill with fevers before he himself got sick.
Osterholm noted this, saying he would “feel more comfortable if we could trace back all the cases to an animal source”.
If so, it would mean the infections are just occasional cross-overs from animals, he said – a little like the sporadic cases of bird flu that continue to pop up – and would suggest the virus has not yet established a reservoir in humans.
Yet recent evidence from a cluster of cases in a family in Britain strongly suggests NCoV can be passed from one person to another and may not always come from an animal source.
An infection in a British man who had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, reported on Feb. 11, was swiftly followed by two more British cases in the same family in people who had no recent travel history in the Middle East.
The World Health Orgnisation says the new cases show the virus is “persistent” and HPA scientists said the cluster provided “strong evidence” that NCoV, which like other coronaviruses probably spreads in airborne droplets, can pass from one human to another “in at least some circumstances”.
Despite this, Ian Jones, a professor of virology at Britain’s University of Reading, said he believes “the most likely outcome for the current infections is a dead end” – with the virus petering out and becoming extinct.
Others say they fear that is unlikely.
“There’s nothing in the virology that tells us this thing is going to stop being transmitted,” said Osterholm. “Today the world is one big virological blender. And if it’s sustaining itself (in humans) in the Middle East then it will show up around the rest of the world. It’s just a matter of time.”
Every time I read those words from the Gospel of John, I am transported back to our first tour in Jordan, sitting outside our little villa near fourth circle, watching the shepherd and the sheep go by. Dusk is falling, you can hear multiple calls to prayer issuing from nearby mosques, and the shepherd is crossing back to their night time pastures.
But there is a ditch, a deep ditch, for new sewer and water lines, and there is only a thin board by which to cross.
One by one, he carries the sheep across. It takes a long time. The sheep are restless, but with a few words, he calms them. They don’t stray, they wait for him to lift and carry them across. Once across, they wait for the rest to follow before they all head on their way. The shepherd is grimy and dusty, covered with mud from ferrying the sheep across the ditch.
The sheep know the shepherd’s voice, and when faced with a new threat, they trust that he will deliver them safely. Sheep are pretty stupid. On their own, they can get into all kinds of trouble. If they have a good shepherd, they are safe.
10‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
11 ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes* it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.’
We just figured this was going to be a rough boring stretch, driving I-10 across West Texas to New Mexico, but, as so often does, magic happened and the day changed totally.
AdventureMan had a little allergy, so I did the driving across the wilds of west Texas. It wasn’t anything like I had expected. I’ve read lots of books set in Texas, and seen movies. I expected No Country For Old Men. What I got was a long empty highway with hardly any fellow travelers, some spectacular scenery, hardly any speed limit at all, and lots of time to think and enjoy the ride. Wooo HOOOO on West Texas!
Turning north at Ft. Stockton, we entered Hackberry Holland country (James Lee Burke) with those long empty landscapes punctuated with endlessly pecking derricks, whirling dust, endless pick-ups and tankers, and not much else. The scenery went from those plateaus and arroyos to Qatar flat and white desert, from Texas wildflowers to succulents. Then, just around Pecos, Texas, as we are in the end stretch toward New Mexico, it turns more golden, like Kuwait, with some elevations. Across the border, I asked AdventureMan (now awake and feeling good again) “where is the red tint we see in all the ‘Visit New Mexico’ brochures?” Within half an hour, the iron-oxide tint shows up and we see the red glow start to appear.
We know we want to visit Carlsbad Caverns, so we spend the night in Carlsbad, and eat at Mi Casita. Here is what the desk clerk told us:
“I can’t eat at Mi Casita because the food is too spicy, but everyone who really loves Mexican food eats there.”
We loved it. I ordered things I don’t usually order, enchiladas and beans and rice, and it was so GOOD.
As we left, we went down to the city park and took pictures of the river, and AdventureMan fed the hissing geese some of his peanut-butter and crackers that we carry along in case we might starve or something .
As soon as I can get these photos transferred from my iPad to my computer, I will put in the photos and this will be a much more interesting entry.
We’ve been waiting. Ever since we read in the papers that this restaurant would open another branch not too far from us (the first is downtown on Palafox and the second is on Navy Boulevard) we’ve been eager to visit the newest restaurant and wish them well. As you know, we love “Mediterranean” foods
First, the dishes take us right back to our earliest experiences eating out in the Middle East, when we lived in Jordan. The dishes are perfect!
For our first visit, on opening day, we were overwhelmed with choices, so we ordered a lot of appetizers, saving the swarmas and shish taouks for another day:
It was good. We couldn’t really eat it all, but it was fun having all those old familiar tastes. We hope they do well.
This morning, Father Neal Goldsborough of Christ Church Pensacola gave a sermon that held us all totally spellbound. It had to do with the fundamentalist preacher who – once again – forecast the coming rapture, which he says was scheduled for yesterday. (I wonder what he has to say today? He was wrong once before, in 1994. Or maybe people were raptured yesterday, but all the folk I know are, like me, sinners who didn’t make the cut.)
Father Neal talked about his service in the chaplain corp overseas, and faiths which exclude based on narrow rules, specific rules, churches and religions who say ‘this is the only way and all the rest of you are damned to everlasting fire” whether they use those words or paraphrases. He pointed to Jesus, who broke the rules of his time and flagrantly spent time with sinners, and the unclean, and showed them by his love and by his actions what the infinite love and mercy and forgiveness of Almighty God looks like.
It couldn’t have come at a better time for me.
Soon, I will be meeting up with three women who are particularly dear to me, friends for many years in Qatar, friends who worshipped at the Church of the Epiphany in Doha, Qatar. The new Anglican Church of the Epiphany is being built on land dedicated to church use by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, and will be used by many denominations.
My friends and I all returned to the USA within months of one another, and have been sending e-mails with “reply to all” as we struggle with our re-entry into our old church communities. We struggle with the hatreds and prejudices and ignorance about our Moslem brothers and sisters, and we struggle with the narrow strictures imposed by our churches and study groups. I thank God to have these wonderful women among whom we can share our dismay and our hurting hearts, and re-inforce the lessons we learned living in a very exotic, and sometimes alien culture, but which had so many wonderful and mighty lessons to teach us. I often joke that in my life, God kept sending me back to the Middle East (Tunisia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait) until he saw that I finally got it. My sisters-in-faith were quicker studies than I was.
It was a breath of the Holy Spirit I felt this morning, as Father Neal spoke about God’s mercy, his plan to redeem ALL of his creation, God’s desire for our love and our service. I couldn’t help it, it made me weep with relief to know my church is a church that serves God by including, rather than excluding, and which mercifully welcomes sinners like me.
Here is the really cool part. Christ Church Pensacola has recently begun putting the sermons online. If there is one thing Christ Church has, it is great sermons – and if you want to hear Father Neal’s sermon, you can click HERE, in a few days and you can hear his sermon for yourself. Look for the May 22 sermon by Father Neal Goldsborough.
The 0815 service this morning was glorious. We got there early, because those who had gone to the early-early service and had stayed on for breakfast would be leaving, and this is Easter – we needed a parking place. The front of the church was laden with flowers, so many flowers it looked like a private garden, and the flowers scented the entire church, an odor of sanctity.
Getting there early was a really good thing – just after we entered, the brass trio started serenading us, exultant music, full of joy and triumph, perfect way to start an Easter morning service. It’s a special treat, having music and the full choir at the 0815 service, but a member of the choir told me earlier that this is the only Sunday of the year that they sing at all three services. If you like music, oh, what a treat!
The church filled up quickly. I couldn’t help it, I had to look around to see if there were any Easter bonnets. I remember being a kid – a girl kid, that is. We always had hats for Easter. Being kind of a snotty kid, I was often critical of the one I got and somewhere along the line that tradition was discontinued. I guess it must have been discontinued widely, as there were only six ladies wearing hats (we couldn’t help it, we counted), but very nice hats they were. The little girls were all dressed in lovely dresses, some even with chiffon and lots of ribbons.
As we reached the offering, people behind us were criticizing the parents whose children were making noise.
“They should know better! Why don’t they just take them out, so they won’t bother the rest of us?”
“It’s SO disrespectful!”
There is child care available, but I personally love having the children in the service. Maybe it’s a little disruptive, but you know – we’ll live. And I just thank God they are there! I want them to be welcome! I want the parents not to have to leave, but to know their children – and their antics – are welcome! I miss our noisy services in Doha and in Kuwait, with the babies, the children. Even though they left, there was always a little serendipitous bedlam in the service to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously.
As we left, we also sighed – we miss the gorgeous colorful displays of all the saris on the high holy days, the saffrons and fuschias and peacock blues and greens and golds.
Later this afternoon, when the Happy Baby wakes up from his nap, we’ll be having Easter Dinner. He got going too fast this morning and split his lip when he fell. I remember our son at that age, and the doctor who looked at me meaningfully and asked “does your son often have bruises?” I was so offended, but all I could do was laugh – when they start running, they fall down. Once, I was right there when he tripped – inches away from me – and fell against a sharp edged table. It all happened so fast there was nothing I could do (except take him to the emergency room for stitches).
Actually, we were at a school friend’s house in Jordan, his father owned the hospital, his driver drove us, he Dad-the-doctor put in the stitches and we were back at the party before ice-cream and cake were served.
We try to protect them. We do our best. We try to teach them how to behave at public gatherings, like parades, like church, like change-of-command ceremonies, things we are not born knowing. It takes practice. Like parenting.
The woman who forwarded these ‘truths’ to me is ageless. She never hesitated to master the newest technology and the newest systems if it would make her more efficient. She never complains about aging and still has a great sense of humor.
Truths For Mature Humans
1. I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my
13. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Bud Light than Kay.
17. I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.
18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
19. How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?
20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
22. Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!
24. The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.
Woooo HOOOOOO on YOU, AdventureMan, you were RIGHT! (He always looks for his name, so might as well put it right up front for him )
We had visited an international grocery store to look for some particular spices, and AdventureMan spotted the Mediterranean Plus just around the corner. We thought they might be related . . . both have felafel and other “Mediterranean” specialties we have come to associate with the Middle East – hummus, tabouli, baba ghannoush, fattoush . . .
The menu was to die for – almost all the things we love. The owner is Jordanian, and, while there is no fattah for my early breakfast he has a lot of other wonderful dishes to satisfy our ‘Mediterranean’ cravings. Once again, I apologize. Sometimes when the food shows up, I forget about photos until it is too late. I wish you could have seen this plate when it was prepared, it was beautiful. Even better, the baba ghannoush is lush and smokey, as good as any I have ever had in Kuwait and Qatar. The tabouli was just exactly right, the right blend of parsley and bulgar, exactly the right amount of lemon. Mumtaz.
I have been on a mission. I have a good friend who is down to the last of some Kuwait biriyani spices I had brought back as a guest gift a while back, and I was hoping to find more. I found biriyani spice AND I found Lebanese olive oil. I laughed when I saw Vimto:
As AdventureMan talked with the owner, he discovered we actually had been in the restaurant before, in its previous location on Cervantes. This location has a lot more space for diners and for parking. We are thrilled to find it – the food is GOOD!
6895 N 9th Ave
850 469 9225