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Estimating the Future Number of Cases in the Ebola Epidemic — Liberia and Sierra Leone, 2014–2015

October 24, 2014 Comments off

Estimating the Future Number of Cases in the Ebola Epidemic — Liberia and Sierra Leone, 2014–2015
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

The first cases of the current West African epidemic of Ebola virus disease (hereafter referred to as Ebola) were reported on March 22, 2014, with a report of 49 cases in Guinea. By August 31, 2014, a total of 3,685 probable, confirmed, and suspected cases in West Africa had been reported. To aid in planning for additional disease-control efforts, CDC constructed a modeling tool called EbolaResponse to provide estimates of the potential number of future cases. If trends continue without scale-up of effective interventions, by September 30, 2014, Sierra Leone and Liberia will have a total of approximately 8,000 Ebola cases. A potential underreporting correction factor of 2.5 also was calculated. Using this correction factor, the model estimates that approximately 21,000 total cases will have occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone by September 30, 2014. Reported cases in Liberia are doubling every 15–20 days, and those in Sierra Leone are doubling every 30–40 days. The EbolaResponse modeling tool also was used to estimate how control and prevention interventions can slow and eventually stop the epidemic. In a hypothetical scenario, the epidemic begins to decrease and eventually end if approximately 70% of persons with Ebola are in medical care facilities or Ebola treatment units (ETUs) or, when these settings are at capacity, in a non-ETU setting such that there is a reduced risk for disease transmission (including safe burial when needed). In another hypothetical scenario, every 30-day delay in increasing the percentage of patients in ETUs to 70% was associated with an approximate tripling in the number of daily cases that occur at the peak of the epidemic (however, the epidemic still eventually ends). Officials have developed a plan to rapidly increase ETU capacities and also are developing innovative methods that can be quickly scaled up to isolate patients in non-ETU settings in a way that can help disrupt Ebola transmission in communities. The U.S. government and international organizations recently announced commitments to support these measures. As these measures are rapidly implemented and sustained, the higher projections presented in this report become very unlikely.

See also:
Importation and Containment of Ebola Virus Disease — Senegal, August–September 2014
Control of Ebola Virus Disease — Firestone District, Liberia, 2014
Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak — Nigeria, July–September 2014
Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak — West Africa, September 2014
Frequently Asked Questions About “Alternative” Therapies for Ebola (NCCAM)

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Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa — The First 9 Months of the Epidemic and Forward Projections

October 24, 2014 Comments off

Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa — The First 9 Months of the Epidemic and Forward Projections
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

As of September 14, 2014, a total of 4507 confirmed and probable cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD), as well as 2296 deaths from the virus, had been reported from five countries in West Africa — Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. In terms of reported morbidity and mortality, the current epidemic of EVD is far larger than all previous epidemics combined. The true numbers of cases and deaths are certainly higher. There are numerous reports of symptomatic persons evading diagnosis and treatment, of laboratory diagnoses that have not been included in national databases, and of persons with suspected EVD who were buried without a diagnosis having been made

The Check is in the Mail: Monetization of Craigslist Buyer Scams

September 10, 2014 Comments off

The Check is in the Mail: Monetization of Craigslist Buyer Scams (PDF)
Source: George Mason University, Department of Computer Science

Nigerian or advance fee fraud scams continue to gain prevelance within the world of online classified advertisements. As law enforcement, user training, and website technologies improve to thwart known techniques, scammers continue to evolve their methods of targeting victims and monetizing their scam methods. As our understanding of the underground scammer community and their methods grows, we gain a greater insight about the critical points of disruption to interrupt the scammers ability to succeed. In this paper we extend on previous works about fake payment scams targeting Craigslist. To grow our understanding of scammer methods and how they monetize these scams, we utilize a data collection system posting ”honeypot advertisements” on Craigslist offering products for sale and interact with scammers gathering information on their payment methods. We then conduct an analysis of 75 days worth of data to better understand the scammer’s patterns, supporting agents, geolocations, and methods used to perpetuate fraudulent payments. Our analysis shows that 5 groups are responsible for over 50% of the scam payments received. These groups operate primarily out of Nigeria, but use the services of agents within the United States to facilitate the sending and receiving of payments and shipping of products to addresses both in Nigeria and the United States. This small number of scammer organizations combined with the necessity of support agents within the United States indicate areas for potential targeting and disruption of the key scammer groups.

Hat tip: ResearchBuzz

See also: Scambaiter: Understanding Targeted Nigerian Scams on Craigslist (PDF)

CDC Digital Press Kit: Ebola Outbreak – 2014

August 27, 2014 Comments off

CDC Digital Press Kit: Ebola Outbreak – 2014
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC is rapidly increasing its ongoing efforts to curb the expanding West African Ebola outbreak and deploying staff to four African nations currently affected: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.

This is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa. The outbreak in West Africa is worsening, but CDC, along with other U.S. government agencies and international partners, is taking active steps to respond to this rapidly changing situation.

CDC elevated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to a Level 1 activation, its highest level, because of the significance of the outbreak in West Africa.
CDC is surging our response with the current challenges that we are facing. CDC is sending additional CDC disease control specialists into the four countries.

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Diaspora populations often perform essential functions in the economic and human capital development of their countries of origin, and can continue playing a strong role in shaping these countries long after they or their forebears departed.The Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute have launched the Rockefeller-Aspen Diaspora Program (RAD), a joint venture to better understand diaspora members’ financial and human capital investments and to design an approach to foster further growth in these areas. The Migration Policy Institute has partnered with RAD to produce profiles of 15 diaspora communities in the United States, which is home to nearly 60 million first- or second-generation immigrants.

These profiles address 15 different diaspora populations in the United States, gathering in one place key data and analysis on diasporas from Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Each profile explores the demographic characteristics of first- and second-generation immigrants in a particular diaspora, their educational attainment, household income, employment patterns, geographic distribution, and remittance volume.

Five longer profiles, focusing on Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, and the Philippines, also detail historical immigration pathways and contemporary entry trends, poverty status, active diaspora organizations, and country-of-origin policies and institutions related to interaction with emigrants and their descendants abroad.

CRS — Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Frequently Asked Questions

May 22, 2014 Comments off

Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Boko Haram, a violent Nigerian Islamist movement, has grown increasingly active and deadly in its attacks against state and civilian targets in recent years, drawing on a narrative of resentment and vengeance for state abuses to elicit recruits and sympathizers. The group’s April 2014 abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls has drawn international attention, including from the Obama Administration and Members of Congress. Periodic attacks against foreign targets in the region and growing evidence of ties to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a regional terrorist network affiliated with Al Qaeda, have also raised the concern of U.S. policymakers. The State Department named several individuals linked to Boko Haram, including its leader, Abubakar Shekau, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists in 2012, and Boko Haram was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. State Department in November 2013. The Obama Administration does not currently consider Boko Haram to be an affiliate of Al Qaeda.

Backgrounder: Boko Haram

May 9, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder: Boko Haram
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Boko Haram, a diffuse Islamist sect, has attacked Nigeria’s police, military, rival clerics, politicians, schools, religious buildings, public institutions, and civilians with increasing regularity since 2009. Some experts view the group as an armed revolt against government corruption, abusive security forces, and widening regional economic disparity in an already impoverished country. They argue that Abuja should do more to address the strife between the disaffected Muslim north and the Christian south.

The U.S. Department of State designated Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization in 2013. Boko Haram’s brutal campaign included a suicide attack on a UN building in Abuja in 2011, repeated attacks that have killed dozens of students, burning of villages, ties to regional terror groups, and the abduction of more than two hundred girls in 2014. The Nigerian government hasn’t been able to quell the insurgency.

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