1. The Ice Bucket Challenge And Other Good Causes: Do Stars Really Help?

    It’s been the social media hit of the summer — some of the world’s biggest celebrities dousing themselves with buckets of ice water to raise money for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

    Just about everybody who is anybody seems to have done the Ice Bucket Challenge, from Bill Gates to Lady Gaga to LeBron James, who’s challenged President Obama to step up. The idea is that the challenged individual either has to donate $100 to the cause or be doused with ice water. Good sports do both – then pass on the challenge to someone else.

    Between the A-listers and the millions of lesser-known mortals who have joined in, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised an estimated $15 million to fight the debilitating disease in just a few short weeks.

    That’s impressive, but it’s just a drop in the bucket — so to speak — of the $300 billion or so raised for charities and aid organizations in the U.S. alone each year. And in the fund-raising appeals, celebrities readily lend their names to a raft of causes, from combating cancer to removing land mines.

    But how much influence do celebrities really have when it comes to convincing us to support a charity? While celebrity endorsements in the commercial world are clearly seen as good value (why else would companies pay millions), studies on the impact of celebrity spokespeople for charities give conflicting results.

    The principles behind celebrity endorsements are much the same, whether you’re selling running shoes or compassion, says Julie Ruth, associate professor of marketing at Rutgers University Business School and an expert in brands and consumer behavior.

    "People who are less knowledgeable about a product or an issue are more likely to take their cues from a celebrity endorsement," she says. 

    Continue reading.

  2. celebrities

    ALS

    ice bucket challenge

    tom hiddleston

    unicef

  1. If Salt-N-Pepa Told You To Brush Your Teeth, You’d Surely Listen
The song starts slow, with soulful piano chords. Then a voice chimes in: “Ring the alarm, turn on the sirens. I see my people dying, but nobody’s firing.”
No, the lyrics aren’t about war or politics. About a minute in, Liberian hip-hop artists Tan Tan B and Quincy B make their message clear: “Ebola is real.”
But do people really pay attention to the lyrics?
The use of music to comment on public health issues is hardly new. Back in the 1300s, French poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut vividly described the horrors of the bubonic plague ravaging Europe in “Le Jugement du Roi de Navarre,” or “Judgment of the King of Navarre.”
But it took a few hundred years for public health experts to catch on. Inspired by the success of pamphlets, posters and motion picture propaganda for World War I, health organizations and the government began pursuing all sorts of media, including music, as a tool, says Michael Sappol, a historian at the National Library of Medicine.
The effort to put health messages in music really took off in the 1920s and early ’30s, as radio began reaching a mass audience. Songs about diseases and health became more common. In 1949, the U.S. Public Health and Services commissioned songs from Woody Guthrie as part of its anti-venereal disease campaign. Guthrie’s “V.D. City” warned people of “cold lower dungeons where the victims of syph roll and cry.”
Continue reading.
Photo: Sandra “Pepa” Denton, Deidre “Spinderella” Roper and Cheryl “Salt” James of Salt-N-Pepa at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images) View in High-Res

    If Salt-N-Pepa Told You To Brush Your Teeth, You’d Surely Listen

    The song starts slow, with soulful piano chords. Then a voice chimes in: “Ring the alarm, turn on the sirens. I see my people dying, but nobody’s firing.

    No, the lyrics aren’t about war or politics. About a minute in, Liberian hip-hop artists Tan Tan B and Quincy B make their message clear: “Ebola is real.”

    But do people really pay attention to the lyrics?

    The use of music to comment on public health issues is hardly new. Back in the 1300s, French poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut vividly described the horrors of the bubonic plague ravaging Europe in “Le Jugement du Roi de Navarre,” or “Judgment of the King of Navarre.”

    But it took a few hundred years for public health experts to catch on. Inspired by the success of pamphlets, posters and motion picture propaganda for World War I, health organizations and the government began pursuing all sorts of media, including music, as a tool, says Michael Sappol, a historian at the National Library of Medicine.

    The effort to put health messages in music really took off in the 1920s and early ’30s, as radio began reaching a mass audience. Songs about diseases and health became more common. In 1949, the U.S. Public Health and Services commissioned songs from Woody Guthrie as part of its anti-venereal disease campaign. Guthrie’s “V.D. City” warned people of “cold lower dungeons where the victims of syph roll and cry.”

    Continue reading.

    Photo: Sandra “Pepa” Denton, Deidre “Spinderella” Roper and Cheryl “Salt” James of Salt-N-Pepa at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

  2. public health

    salt-n-pepa

    ebola

    music

    woody guthrie

  1. Ebola Took Her Daughters And Made Her An Outcast
"When you say Ebola," says Amanda Ellis, "everybody will run."
Ellis is 79. She’s sitting in a blue plastic chair in the dirt yard in front of her house, in a rural area outside Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia. She looks worn out. She has lost five members of her family to the virus that has claimed over 1,400lives in her homeland and in neighboring countries.
Ellis’ daughter Thelmorine was the first to go. She was 58. She contracted Ebola after taking care of a friend who was infected at a hospital where both of them worked as nurses.
When Thelmorine got sick, her sister Rose came over to her house to tend to her. That’s how Rose got infected.
Ellis says she was there when her daughter Rose showed the first symptoms. She points to a small, white-washed house a few yards from her own. Rose lived there with her husband.
Rose told her mother she had stomachache. Ellis gave her warm water to drink and took her to a clinic several times.
But Rose’s decline was swift. “She come into the bathroom to take a bath and just dropped,” Ellis recalls.
Continue reading.
Photo: Amanda Ellis, 79, lost five members of her family to Ebola. Now, nobody will buy the mangoes that used provide her income. She must rely instead on handouts.
Related: Aid Workers In Short Supply As Ebola Grips Liberia View in High-Res

    Ebola Took Her Daughters And Made Her An Outcast

    "When you say Ebola," says Amanda Ellis, "everybody will run."

    Ellis is 79. She’s sitting in a blue plastic chair in the dirt yard in front of her house, in a rural area outside Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia. She looks worn out. She has lost five members of her family to the virus that has claimed over 1,400lives in her homeland and in neighboring countries.

    Ellis’ daughter Thelmorine was the first to go. She was 58. She contracted Ebola after taking care of a friend who was infected at a hospital where both of them worked as nurses.

    When Thelmorine got sick, her sister Rose came over to her house to tend to her. That’s how Rose got infected.

    Ellis says she was there when her daughter Rose showed the first symptoms. She points to a small, white-washed house a few yards from her own. Rose lived there with her husband.

    Rose told her mother she had stomachache. Ellis gave her warm water to drink and took her to a clinic several times.

    But Rose’s decline was swift. “She come into the bathroom to take a bath and just dropped,” Ellis recalls.

    Continue reading.

    Photo: Amanda Ellis, 79, lost five members of her family to Ebola. Now, nobody will buy the mangoes that used provide her income. She must rely instead on handouts.

    Related: Aid Workers In Short Supply As Ebola Grips Liberia

  2. Global Health

    Ebola

    Liberia

    infectious disease

    survivor

  1. Ebola In The Skies? How The Virus Made It To West Africa
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the most explosive in history. One reason the virus spread so fast is that West Africa was blindsided. Ebola had never erupted in people anywhere close to West Africa before.
The type of Ebola causing the outbreak — called Zaire — is the deadliest strain. Until this year, it had been seen only in Central Africa, about 2,500 miles away. That’s about the distance between Boston and San Francisco.
So how did it spread across this giant swath of land without anybody noticing?
To answer that, ecologist Peter Walsh says we need to look at the history of Ebola Zaire.
Back in the summer of 1976, a young Zairian doctor named Ngoy Mushola traveled to a rural village in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He heard people were dying of a strange disease, near the shores of the Ebola River. They had fevers, stomachaches and rashes. Some had internal bleeding.
"What’s so nasty about it is that it effectively melts your blood vessels," says Walsh, who’s at the University of Cambridge.
Continue reading.
Illustration by Leif Parsons for NPR View in High-Res

    Ebola In The Skies? How The Virus Made It To West Africa

    The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the most explosive in history. One reason the virus spread so fast is that West Africa was blindsided. Ebola had never erupted in people anywhere close to West Africa before.

    The type of Ebola causing the outbreak — called Zaire — is the deadliest strain. Until this year, it had been seen only in Central Africa, about 2,500 miles away. That’s about the distance between Boston and San Francisco.

    So how did it spread across this giant swath of land without anybody noticing?

    To answer that, ecologist Peter Walsh says we need to look at the history of Ebola Zaire.

    Back in the summer of 1976, a young Zairian doctor named Ngoy Mushola traveled to a rural village in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    He heard people were dying of a strange disease, near the shores of the Ebola River. They had fevers, stomachaches and rashes. Some had internal bleeding.

    "What’s so nasty about it is that it effectively melts your blood vessels," says Walsh, who’s at the University of Cambridge.

    Continue reading.

    Illustration by Leif Parsons for NPR

  2. Global Health

    Ebola

    infectious disease

    bats

  1. Hey Tumblr,
We’re working on a post about words in different languages that don’t have direct translations in English. For example, in German, schilderwald is said when a street has so many street signs, you get confused. And in Japanese, age-tori is to look worse after a haircut.
If you know any other words like these from around the world, let us know here on Tumblr!
Photo: iStockphoto
Do you know any untranslateable words? View in High-Res

    Hey Tumblr,

    We’re working on a post about words in different languages that don’t have direct translations in English. For example, in German, schilderwald is said when a street has so many street signs, you get confused. And in Japanese, age-tori is to look worse after a haircut.

    If you know any other words like these from around the world, let us know here on Tumblr!

    Photo: iStockphoto

    Do you know any untranslateable words?

  2. Global

    vocabulary

    translation

    language

  1. Reporting On Ebola: An Abandoned 10-Year-Old, A Nervous Neighborhood
Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, is under nighttime curfew as that country struggles to contain the Ebola epidemic. On Wednesday, an entire neighborhood in Monrovia was quarantined, sealed off from the rest of the city by the government. The neighborhood is called West Point and it’s where a holding center for patients suspected of having Ebola was attacked over the weekend. Patients fled, and looters carried off bloody mattresses and other possibly infected supplies. The NPR team in Liberia visited West Point on Tuesday. We spoke to correspondent Nurith Aizenman about the experience.
What is West Point like?
It is a sort of finger of land, a little sandy peninsula that juts out from a nicer area of Monrovia, abutting a river on one side and the ocean on the other. It’s about 800 meters long and 550 meters wide. There are only two roads in that are paved. The rest is a thicket of shacks and houses and huts, pretty much all one story and built of plywood or cement blocks, with corrugated metal on the rooftops. Between them are sandy pathways. It’s so closely packed that in some cases if you’re trying to get to your house you have to walk through someone else’s house.
Both sides of the paved roads are packed with shops selling all manners of goods, vegetables, fish. There are throngs of people, carrying big buckets on their heads with all sorts of goods. If you drive in, you gently nudge your way forward, parting this sea of people.
And that’s where NPR’s photographer David Gilkey encountered the 10-year-old in the picture above?
Residents had originally found this boy naked on the beach. They dragged him up to a sort of alleyway and put a shirt and pants on him. But beyond that no one wanted to touch him, no one wanted to give him shelter, because it seems he was a child who had been at that holding center for Ebola patients.
Continue reading.
Photo: A 10-year-old boy suspected of being sick with Ebola was found naked on the beach by residents of West Point. They dressed him but couldn’t find a clinic to take him in at first. Eventually he was was taken to JFK Hospital in Monrovia. (David Gilkey/NPR)
Related: Out, Out, Damned Ebola: Liberia Is Obsessed With Hand Washing View in High-Res

    Reporting On Ebola: An Abandoned 10-Year-Old, A Nervous Neighborhood

    Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, is under nighttime curfew as that country struggles to contain the Ebola epidemic. On Wednesday, an entire neighborhood in Monrovia was quarantined, sealed off from the rest of the city by the government. The neighborhood is called West Point and it’s where a holding center for patients suspected of having Ebola was attacked over the weekend. Patients fled, and looters carried off bloody mattresses and other possibly infected supplies. The NPR team in Liberia visited West Point on Tuesday. We spoke to correspondent Nurith Aizenman about the experience.

    What is West Point like?

    It is a sort of finger of land, a little sandy peninsula that juts out from a nicer area of Monrovia, abutting a river on one side and the ocean on the other. It’s about 800 meters long and 550 meters wide. There are only two roads in that are paved. The rest is a thicket of shacks and houses and huts, pretty much all one story and built of plywood or cement blocks, with corrugated metal on the rooftops. Between them are sandy pathways. It’s so closely packed that in some cases if you’re trying to get to your house you have to walk through someone else’s house.

    Both sides of the paved roads are packed with shops selling all manners of goods, vegetables, fish. There are throngs of people, carrying big buckets on their heads with all sorts of goods. If you drive in, you gently nudge your way forward, parting this sea of people.

    And that’s where NPR’s photographer David Gilkey encountered the 10-year-old in the picture above?

    Residents had originally found this boy naked on the beach. They dragged him up to a sort of alleyway and put a shirt and pants on him. But beyond that no one wanted to touch him, no one wanted to give him shelter, because it seems he was a child who had been at that holding center for Ebola patients.

    Continue reading.

    Photo: A 10-year-old boy suspected of being sick with Ebola was found naked on the beach by residents of West Point. They dressed him but couldn’t find a clinic to take him in at first. Eventually he was was taken to JFK Hospital in Monrovia. (David Gilkey/NPR)

    Related: Out, Out, Damned Ebola: Liberia Is Obsessed With Hand Washing

  2. Global health

    ebola

    liberia

    west point

    infectious disease

  1. 'Shadow' And 'D-12' Sing An Infectious Song About Ebola

    Ebola has been responsible for many hundreds of deaths, for fear, for panic, for disbelief and anger.

    And for a catchy dance song: “Ebola in Town.”

    The producers behind this unlikely music are Samuel “Shadow” Morgan and Edwin “D-12” Tweh, who grew up in the shadow of war. They both spent time as kids in refugee camps in Ghana after fleeing the civil war back home in Liberia.

    They made music together in the camp. Eventually they were able to move back to Monrovia, their country’s capital, where they regularly meet up with other musicians in each other’s home studios to make music together.

    Back in May, Shadow, D-12 and their friend Kuzzy were hanging out at Shadow’s studio, thinking about what to do next. Someone threw out the idea of a song about Ebola. They’d heard about the disease but not many of their friends were taking it seriously. Most people, they say, thought it was a trick made up by the government as a way to make money.

    Shadow and his collaborators have made music about social issues before – deadbeat dads, sanitation. And even though they weren’t sure exactly how bad Ebola was at the time, they did think that people should pay more attention to the disease.

    Continue reading.

  2. Ebola

    Ebola's In Town

    Liberia

    music

  1. Experimental Vaccine For Chikungunya Passes First Test
Scientists have taken the first steps to developing a vaccine for chikungunya — an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has infected more than a half million people in the Western Hemisphere this year. About 600 Americans have brought the virus to 43 states.
The study was small. Only 25 people were given the experimental vaccine. But the findings are promising. They demonstrate that the vaccine is safe and that it triggers a strong response from the immune system, scientists reported Friday in the Lancet journal.
Until last year, chikungunya was found only in parts of Africa and Asia. Then in December, the virus started circulating on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean.
From there, chikungunya spread like wildfire. It hopped from island to island in the Caribbean and spilled over into Central America and parts of South America. By July, chikungunya had found its way to Florida. At least four people have caught the virus in Florida. And the state has recorded 138 imported cases. New York state has the second largest number of imported cases, 96.
Chikungunya usually isn’t fatal. But it causes a high fever, headache, nausea and extreme joint pain — which can linger for months. And there’s no cure or vaccine.
Continue reading.
Photo: Residents walk amid fumes as workers spray chemicals to exterminate mosquitoes in a neighborhood of Petion Ville in Port-au-Prince on May 21. The virus swept through Haiti this spring, infecting more than 40,000 people. (Hector Retamala/AFP/Getty Images) View in High-Res

    Experimental Vaccine For Chikungunya Passes First Test

    Scientists have taken the first steps to developing a vaccine for chikungunya — an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has infected more than a half million people in the Western Hemisphere this year. About 600 Americans have brought the virus to 43 states.

    The study was small. Only 25 people were given the experimental vaccine. But the findings are promising. They demonstrate that the vaccine is safe and that it triggers a strong response from the immune system, scientists reported Friday in the Lancet journal.

    Until last year, chikungunya was found only in parts of Africa and Asia. Then in December, the virus started circulating on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean.

    From there, chikungunya spread like wildfire. It hopped from island to island in the Caribbean and spilled over into Central America and parts of South America. By July, chikungunya had found its way to Florida. At least four people have caught the virus in Florida. And the state has recorded 138 imported cases. New York state has the second largest number of imported cases, 96.

    Chikungunya usually isn’t fatal. But it causes a high fever, headache, nausea and extreme joint pain — which can linger for months. And there’s no cure or vaccine.

    Continue reading.

    Photo: Residents walk amid fumes as workers spray chemicals to exterminate mosquitoes in a neighborhood of Petion Ville in Port-au-Prince on May 21. The virus swept through Haiti this spring, infecting more than 40,000 people. (Hector Retamala/AFP/Getty Images)

  2. Global Health

    chikungunya

    Haiti

    mosquitoes

    vaccines

  1. Hit Hard By Ebola, Liberia Now Has A Third Treatment Center

    The Ebola outbreak has been spreading through Liberia with alarming speed — more than 780 cases, with 100 identified over a recent two-day period. Yet for weeks there have been only two places in the country where patients could get medical care, one in the country’s rural north and one in the capital, Monrovia.

    Doctors Without Borders has now opened a third facility.

    The new center sits in the middle of a vast, muddy field on the outskirts of Monrovia. Orange mesh fencing surrounds long white tents. The facility has only been open for an hour and already about a dozen men, women and children are waiting outside. They had arrived hours earlier, dispersed when it began raining heavily and then returned.

    "I’ve been trying to find them for the last hour or two but thankfully they’ve come back and we’ll screen them," says Brett Adamson, the coordinator of the center. Like everyone here, he’s soaking wet. He looks over at the people in line and says there’s a good possibility many of them have Ebola.

    "These are patients that have been to the existing facility and [there was] no space," Adamson says. "They’ve essentially been turned away, and they’ve been waiting for us to open."

    Continue reading.

    Top Photo: A man sits on a bed that will be part a new Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, run by Doctors Without Borders.

    Bottom Photo: A nurse dons protective gear before entering the new Ebola treatment facility in Monrovia.

  2. Global Health

    Ebola

    Liberia

    Doctors Without Borders

    infectious disease

  1. Fake Cures For AIDS Have A Long And Dreadful History
Electromagnetism can detect AIDS. The “Complete Cure Device” can wipe out the virus.
The Egyptian military made those claims earlier this year, but now they have backtracked after the announcement was widely denounced by scientists, including Egypt’s own science adviser.
Nonetheless, people are still eager to believe the unbelievable. Egypt’s announcement prompted 70,000 people to send emails asking to try the new treatment.
The Complete Cure Device is just one more false promise in the ongoing fight against AIDS. It is a reminder, too, that for 15 years, beginning in the early 1980s, AIDS was a slaughter, shrouded in mystery, of people in the prime of their lives.
Then came a breakthrough in 1996: A combination of drugs could control the virus, allowing infected people to live long and productive lives. Today, antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS is widely available. An outright cure still eludes scientists, but the once deadly disease has become manageable.
So any claim for an unproven cure, offering hope that could deter patients from effective treatment, is cruel. But myths, false claims and outright fraud have persisted in the AIDS epidemic.
Continue reading.
Photo: Over a decade ago, rumors spread in South Africa that sex with a virgin could cure HIV/AIDS. In 2001, 150 people gathered in Cape Town to protest the rape of children and even babies, allegedly as a result of belief in this canard. (Anna Zieminski/AFP/Getty Images) View in High-Res

    Fake Cures For AIDS Have A Long And Dreadful History

    Electromagnetism can detect AIDS. The “Complete Cure Device” can wipe out the virus.

    The Egyptian military made those claims earlier this year, but now they have backtracked after the announcement was widely denounced by scientists, including Egypt’s own science adviser.

    Nonetheless, people are still eager to believe the unbelievable. Egypt’s announcement prompted 70,000 people to send emails asking to try the new treatment.

    The Complete Cure Device is just one more false promise in the ongoing fight against AIDS. It is a reminder, too, that for 15 years, beginning in the early 1980s, AIDS was a slaughter, shrouded in mystery, of people in the prime of their lives.

    Then came a breakthrough in 1996: A combination of drugs could control the virus, allowing infected people to live long and productive lives. Today, antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS is widely available. An outright cure still eludes scientists, but the once deadly disease has become manageable.

    So any claim for an unproven cure, offering hope that could deter patients from effective treatment, is cruel. But myths, false claims and outright fraud have persisted in the AIDS epidemic.

    Continue reading.

    Photo: Over a decade ago, rumors spread in South Africa that sex with a virgin could cure HIV/AIDS. In 2001, 150 people gathered in Cape Town to protest the rape of children and even babies, allegedly as a result of belief in this canard. (Anna Zieminski/AFP/Getty Images)

  2. Global Health

    HIV/AIDS

    medical treatments

    Egypt

    South Africa