A kitten plays at the feet of the Paramount Chief presiding over some 25,000 people in the Kenema district.

 Image and text by Amy Maxmen, via Instagram. Sierra Leone, 2014. 

Read  ‘Sierra Leone: Blood from Ebola Survivors Shows Promise in a Clinical Trial’- Amy Maxmen, from the project, “Disaster Science During the Ebola Outbreak.”

A message to any of Momma’s scared babies in the US:

Ebola will not infect you.

It cannot be caught through the air or through food or water.

It can only be caught if you are touching an infected person’s bodily fluids.

Even if a person has Ebola, but is not showing any symptoms, you will not catch it.

Calm down and do not fall prey to fear mongering.

Stay safe, and stay healthy!


Why Vaccines Work

This week’s It’s Okay To Be Smart is a shot in the arm about the importance of vaccines. Please check it out, and share it with your friends and family.

We’ve all heard the recent news that diseases like measles are making a comeback in some parts of the U.S. thanks to some parents decision to not vaccinate their kids (or to vaccinate them on a different schedule than what doctors recommend). Vaccine rates remain pretty high overall (although the U.S. is far from first place), but super-infectious diseases like measles only require a bit of complacency to rear their ugly viral heads. 

Vaccines have saved more than 700,000 children’s lives, and that's just since 1994. Diseases like diphtheria and polio have essentially been eradicated from Earth. In the 20th century, 1.7 BILLION people were killed by infectious diseases, many of which are now vaccine preventible.  

Anyone needing further reminder of just how effective vaccines have been at saving lives need only look at this infographic by Leon Farrant:

As Seth Mnookin puts it, vaccines have become “victims of their own success." 

What do I mean by that? Thankfully (Jonas Salk FTW!), almost no one in my generation knows anybody with polio, or any of a host of other horrible diseases. But I worry this has made their threats seem distant, giving us a sort of complacency or "generational amnesia” for things that are actually really freakin’ dangerous. In fact, my video features a story about scurvy, another forgotten disease, that rings disturbingly true today.

Vaccine fears are not new. They didn’t start with Jenny McCarthy or Andrew Wakefield or the completely fraudulent claims of vaccines causing autism. They actually go back to 1796 when Edward Jenner tested the first smallpox vaccine. But to refuse them, to deny their life-saving importance in this day and age, in a nation where science has allowed us to have a quality of life never before seen in the history of human civilization, that is the worst kind of privilege.

When we protect ourselves and our children with vaccines, we protect everyone around us. As Eula Biss says, vaccines are “based on people voluntarily using their bodies to protect other vulnerable people.” They are one of the most altruistic and friendly things we can do to aid our fellow humans. Let’s not forget that.

What you need during a genital herpes outbreak


Dermoplast pain relieving spray

I found this in the kit my sister got after giving birth, it’s a miracle worker. DO NOT get the antibacterial kind, blue top only!


Perineal warm and cold packs. You can get really fancy and by these special, or you can just get a regular flexible cold pack. I’ve also heard of people wetting menstrual pads and freezing them but my skin is super sensitive during an OB and disposable pads just are horrible. You could use cloth pads though. There’s also undies with pockets you can fit them in, but the less walking you do during an OB the better.


Perineal Irrigation Bottle. Especially if you have a particularly bad OB, peeing can hurt and wiping is like fire. You can put a warm wet wash rag put on your sores as you pee or you can squirt these bottles and also use them to clean up. Then use a gentle towel to gently pat dry.


Sitz Baths. Need I say more? It makes your genitals happy.


Oatmeal Baths. Speaking of baths, grind up about a cup of non-flavored oatmeal and put it in a warm bath. Relax and enjoy!


comfy, loose, cotton underwear or no underwear at all! Your genitals need to breath and need to not be contained by tight and uncomfortable underwear. (Boxers are great for everyone)


hair shears. If you like to have groomed pubic hair, you’re not going to want to shave any time around an OB. Outbreaks can also leave sensitive skin, so even after it’s all healed you may not want to go back to shaving. You can use good hair shears to cut pubic hair really close to the skin and keep up a groomed bush.


Notebook. You may not need an actual notebook, but really examine when you have outbreaks. Some people have them at certain points of their cycle, some when they’re sick, some when they’re really stressed. Try to find the pattern and then you can attack! If your menstrual cycle is the problem (if you have a menstrual cycle), birth control can help. If getting sick or stressed is the problem boost your immune system with vitamin C, Echinacea, Garlic, good food, exercise, plenty of rest, and water. Also think about getting flu vaccines or taking medications like valtrex to suppress the virus. Ask your doctor what you can do to make your outbreaks shorter, milder, and less often.


Self Care! Really, just do what you can to enjoy yourself and relax during outbreaks. Stress can make it worse, and there’s no rule that says herpes has to be the worst thing ever. It’s easy to get down on yourself during an outbreak, especially because of the stigma attached, but don’t let yourself go down that road. You are not your Herpes, and Herpes does not rule your life.

What are some of your tips and ideas for coping with outbreaks?

What does Ebola actually do?
By Kelly Servick, 13 August 2014 ||  Science/AAAS | News

Behind the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa lies a species with an incredible power to overtake its host.

Zaire ebolavirus and the family of filoviruses to which it belongs owe their virulence to mechanisms that first disarm the immune response and then dismantle the vascular system.

The virus progresses so quickly that researchers have struggled to tease out the precise sequence of events, particularly in the midst of an outbreak. Much is still unknown, including the role of some of the seven proteins that the virus’s RNA makes by hijacking the machinery of host cells and the type of immune response necessary to defeat the virus before it spreads throughout the body. But researchers can test how the live virus attacks different cells in culture and can observe the disease’s progression in nonhuman primates—a nearly identical model to humans

Continue reading to find out some of the basic things we understand about how Ebola and humans interact …


This article is cracking me up, idek.

“I thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,’” Pattakos said in a telephone interview Friday.

“I didn’t exchange any bodily fluids with anyone, so I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I’m much more likely to be mistakenly killed by a police officer in this country than to be killed by Ebola, even if you were in the same bridal shop.”

I don’t understand how it’s possible that no one could have imagined this. I saw the movie ‘Outbreak’ nearly two decades ago, and this is exactly how Ebola spread and became a very dramatic national catastrophe. Why weren’t there things in place, because you can’t say we couldn’t imagine this. It was in a Hollywood movie.
—  “View” Co-Host Nicole Wallace weighs in on the U.S. Ebola outbreak

From January 1 to February 13, 2015, 141 people from 17 states and Washington DC were reported to have measles [AZ (7), CA (98), CO (1), DC (1), DE (1), IL (11), MI (1), MN (1), NE (2), NJ (1), NY (2), NV (4), OR (1), PA (1), SD (2) TX (1), UT (2), WA (4)]†. Most of these cases [113 cases (80%)] are part of a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.

The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the greatest number of cases sincemeasles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.

  • The majority of the people who got measles were unvaccinated.
  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
  • Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
  • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.

(More from CDC)

Food for Thought:

I find it interesting that HIV and Ebola both originate from the same region in Africa. (Yambuku and Kinshasa are both in the Congo within 682 miles of one another. That’s 24 miles more than the distance between Chicago and Harrisburg, which is about a 10 hour drive.) I find it interesting that HIV and Ebola have been found to use the same mechanism to spread in the body. It is even more interesting that there was no history of either disease existing before this region was colonized. They both have suddenly developed from monkeys and bats in the last 100 years, right?

“It’s remarkable to see two such different viruses share a common budding mechanism,” -Dr. Paul D. Bieniasz, staff investigator at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and professor and head of the Laboratory of Retrovirology at the Rockefeller University.

(It’s also interesting that halfway into research my connection became “untrusted” and I was unable to access Google. That could just be a coincidence, but the timing was certainly interesting…how many government watch lists do you think I’m on?)