Ebola Has Landed in Texas, But Keep Calm

Categories: Public Health

Photo from Centers for Disease Control

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard that a man was diagnosed with Ebola up in Dallas on Tuesday. For anyone that has ever seen Outbreak, this may seem like a good time to panic, but that's what both experts and politicians are urging everyone not to do.

Dr. Charles Ericsson, the infectious disease specialist for Harris Health System and UT Health, understands why people might get nervous about the disease. "It's an outbreak of a vile disease for which there is no treatment and no vaccine, and so it gets everybody's attention. People assume that the fact that it kills at such a high level must mean it's quite transmissible. It's not," he says. While it's easy for people, particularly medical workers, to be infected in places like West Africa, the cause has more to do with their lack of resources than the infectious nature of the disease, he says.

The disease is transmitted by secretions and excretions of the body -- blood, sweat, feces, semen, mucous or urine -- so it takes a decent amount of direct contact to become infected, according to the CDC. In the case of the Dallas patient, identified by the Liberian government as Thomas Eric Duncan, he helped take a pregnant woman to a hospital in Liberia just four days before catching a flight to the United States, according to the New York Times.

The folks at Harris Health have been keeping an eye on the disease and preparing for the chance of having to deal with it for months, he says. "We've already got policies in place about how to triage people with fevers, starting with asking whether they've been in other countries," he says.

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7 Things Houstonians Don't Care About

Categories: Best of Houston

Photo by cemaxx
Houston likes big things. including our freeways.

Houston is a city full of passionate people, but there are a few things that most Houstonians just don't seem to care about.

7. Doing things on a small scale.

Well, this IS the Lone Star State, and everything's supposedly bigger in Texas, and boy do Houstonians seem to believe it. We love going big, and it shows. The Katy Freeway has 26 lanes at some points, and is the widest in the world. Then there's the enormous Lakewood Church, with the largest congregation in the U.S. We take conventional stuff and super size it here. Clearly Houstonians like large things, and aren't fond of doing stuff on a small scale.

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2002 Houston Texans Made Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Cry (w/ AUDIO)

It's finally here! Cowboys and Texans! HELL WEEK!

Because of the very methodical, easily forecast manner in which the NFL formulates its schedule (we literally know whom the Texans are playing and where they're playing in 14 of their 16 games from now until the next time the league expands or realigns), combined with the fact that the Houston Texans are in the AFC and the Dallas Cowboys are in the NFC, the two teams only square off in games that count every four years.

Yes, that blows.

Potential for parking lot knife fights between fan bases notwithstanding, it would be so much more awesome if the two Texas teams played every year or at least every other year. It would be fun if the Cowboys came to Reliant once every two, three, or four years, instead of once every eight years even if it was allegedly a bunch of rabble rousing Cowboy thugs who single-handedly caused the new "you must have a wristband or ticket" rules to tailgate outside NRG Stadium.

Indeed, NFL life would be more fun if our in-state rivals played the Texans enough to, y'know, feel like an actual rival.

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UPDATED Houston's Pride Parade Moving Out of Montrose to Downtown

Categories: Breaking News

Photo by Julian Bajsel
Coming to a downtown near you

Well there's been a lot of talk and reports (the Houston Press included) about the changing Montrose as well as attitudes about the LGBT community in Houston and now there's one more thing to point to.

Today, Pride Houston®, Inc. announced that the annual Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® will take place in downtown Houston rather than in Montrose next June. Its president noted that it's past time for "a segregated community" or event.

The press announcement acknowledged that: "For 36 years, the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration has been held along Westheimer near the Montrose neighborhood, considered to be the neighborhood for the LGBT community," but its organizers felt a change was needed -- because it was so successful.

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Red Tide Season is Upon Us: Oysters and Fish Beware

Categories: Environment

Photo by Jules Morgan
Won't somebody think of the oysters? (Everybody is.)

Beware the red tide. That may sound like a pseudo-biblical warning, but the nasty algae that goes by that name is already popping up in Texas waters this season. And you know what this means: Oyster season, that magical time of the year when we can eat raw oysters fished out of Texas waters, is in danger.

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UPDATED Ebola Reaches Texas: CDC Officials Confirm First U.S. Case in Dallas

Transmission electron micrograph of the Ebola virus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Update: 2:35 p.m. October 1
Update: On Wednesday afternoon Gov. Rick Perry announced that five children who attend Dallas schools had contact with the Dallas Ebola patient and are being monitored at home for any signs of the disease.

However, Perry used the press conference held at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to caution Texans to stay calm. "The disease cannot be transmitted before having any symptoms," he said. "This is a disease that is not airborne and is substantially more difficult to contract than the common cold."

Plus, he noted, Texas is ready to handle this. "There are few places in the world better equipped to meet the challenge that is posed by this case," he said. "Professionals on every level of the chain of command know what to do to minimize this potential risk to the people of Texas and to this country for that matter."

Original story:
On Tuesday afternoon, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health workers announced that Texas is home to the first case of Ebola confirmed in the United States.

At a news conference in Atlanta CDC director Tom Frieden downplayed widespread fears that the disease, which has already infected some 6,500 and killed over 3,000 people in West Africa, could reach epidemic levels in this country. The patient, who has not been identified, traveled from Liberia to visit family in Dallas earlier this month, officials confirmed. The man boarded a flight to the United States September 19, landed September 20, and first started to develop symptoms around the 24th, Frieden said.

The man was apparently first taken to Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 26, but he was sent home with antibiotics. "[H]e returned in an ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian two days later and was admitted," Bloomberg reports. He's now in intensive care at Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, according to officials, who say they're working to track down and monitor anyone who had close contact with the man.

As news continues to break on the first confirmed Ebola case in the country, here are a few things you might want to know.

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Fan Fighting League: Syracuse Squares Off With Notre Dame!

I attended the University of Notre Dame from the football seasons of 1987 through 1990. During that time, I saw a Heisman Trophy winner, a national championship, and a lot of really good football.

In my student lifetime there, I attended every home game and sat in the student section, and since graduating, I've attended at least a few dozen more home games and sat in the regular civilian areas. So I can say, with a massive amount of experiential equity, that Notre Dame is largely (compared to other major college football crowds) a wine and cheese kind of crowd.

Yes, the House That Rock Built can get loud, even disruptive under the proper circumstances, but it's never somewhere that you're fearful of engaging in any hand to hand combat.

Put it this way -- in what's easily been between 50 and 60 games in the stadium, I've never seen an actual fistfight, which is an astonishing streak for that much major college football, until you realize that people at Notre Dame games who get drunk are generally more the jovial or frustrated kind of drunks, not the belligerent kind.

So that's my preface for the next chapter in the 2014 Fan Fighting League -- a short donnybrook at the Notre Dame-Syracuse football game last Saturday night.

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Sheriff Launches Investigation After Inmate Found in Cell With Bugs, Garbage and Feces

Categories: Crime, Spaced City

Screenshot from KTRK
A whistleblower leaked photos of Goodwin's cell to KTRK
It's not necessarily that Harris County Jail officials didn't know about the squalid conditions inmate Terry Goodwin was forced to live in for weeks. It's just that nobody told Sheriff Adrian Garcia about it, his office insists.

Garcia would have immediately taken corrective action, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Christina Garza, but he didn't know about the incident -- how Goodwin was trapped in a cell with mounds of trash, swarms of bugs, and piles of his own feces -- until three weeks ago, right around the time someone sent an anonymous tip to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and a whistleblower shared photos of the gnarly-looking cell with KTRK. On Tuesday, the same day KTRK posted its story with photos showing Goodwin's cell, TCJS sent Garcia a letter temporarily putting the jail back in "at risk" status until his office sends the jail commission a plan to make sure something like this never happens again.

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Medical Marijuana Refugees Are Fleeing Texas to Help Their Loved Ones

Graphic by Brian Stauffer
Sitting cross-legged on the floor in her apartment outside of Houston, Faith's mother looks over at the toddler repeatedly as she talks. There are no physical indicators that signal the start of a seizure, but Faith's mother can tell one is on its way.

Everything about raising Faith involves watching and waiting, and today is no different.

Suddenly, Faith's mom jumps up, her words stalling mid-sentence, and makes her way to the mat where the chocolate-haired child is lying. She plops down next to her daughter, gives her moon face and chubby-cherub limbs a once-over, and places a hand across her tiny chest, feeling for any sign of what's to come.

It's an unnerving ritual, the watching and waiting, but Faith's mom can feel what is happening in her own bones. She knows that Faith is about to seize.

Slowly, the toddler's eyes begin to flicker. The gut-wrenching convulsions quickly follow, working their way up her tiny body, while the anxiety that has worn premature lines across her mom's forehead works its way into sheer terror.

Fear fills the room, and she yells out to no one in particular.

"It's a seizure," she says. "Faith is having a seizure."

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The Texans' Toughest Opponent May Be Under Their Feet

Photo by Groovehouse
Jadeveon Clowney told teammate J.D. Swearinger he hurt his right knee when he landed in a "hole" in the NRG Stadium turf.
With about three minutes to go in the first half of the season opener between the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins, the Redskins faced a daunting third down and 16 yards to go.

The sellout crowd in NRG Stadium was already abuzz from DeAndre Hopkins's 76-yard touchdown just minutes before, which gave the Texans a 7-6 lead, but now it was time to feast, with third and long for the opposition being the proverbial dinner bell for all-everything defensive end J.J. Watt and rookie beast Jadeveon Clowney to inflict pain and unleash hell on Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Watt and Clowney, Clowney and Watt. For Texans fans, on this and every Sunday going forward, third and 16 would be the main event. Third and 16 was why they had endured a 2-14 season that yielded the right to take Clowney as the top pick in the NFL Draft.

Third and 16 was the Texans fans' raison d'être.

Griffin dropped back to pass and was promptly tattooed by Watt just as he got rid of the ball, an innocuous nine-yard completion to running back Roy Helu that would bring up fourth down.

In what should have been an equally innocuous attempt to jump up and knock the pass down, though, Clowney landed awkwardly and immediately grabbed the outside of his right knee. All of a sudden, third and 16 wasn't nearly as much fun.

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