Jul 10, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – European officials today reported a rare case of the often-deadly Marburg hemorrhagic fever on European soil, in a Dutch woman who recently was exposed to bats while visiting caves in Uganda.Dutch authorities informed the European Union and the World Health Organization of the case today, according to a statement from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The patient is a 40-year-old woman who had recently returned from a vacation in Uganda.”The travel included a visit to two caves in the Maramagambo forest (between Queen Elizabeth Park and Kebale), where she was exposed to fruit bats,” the ECDC said. The patient was at Leiden University Medical Centre; her condition was not disclosed.”ECDC’s initial assessment is that the threat to public health is limited and mainly focused on the people who have been in close contact with the patient after the onset of her symptoms,” the agency said. “People intending to travel to Uganda should be aware there may be a risk related to visiting caves in the Maramagambo forest.”The Marburg virus, like its cousin the Ebola virus, can cause a severe febrile disease for which there is no vaccine or specific treatment. The case-fatality rate ranges from 30% to 90%, depending on the strain, according to an ECDC fact sheet. The most recent large Marburg outbreak occurred in Angola in 2004 and 2005, involving 252 confirmed cases with 227 deaths.Marburg and Ebola can spread through contact with blood, secretions, or other body fluids of living or dead infected persons, and also through contact with living or dead infected animals, according to the ECDC.The natural reservoir for Marburg virus is unknown, but last year researchers reported finding genetic material from the virus in a species of fruit bat in Gabon. The bats might have been a reservoir for the virus, or they might have acquired it from some other animal, the researchers said.See also: Aug 22, 2007, CIDRAP News story “Traces of Marburg virus found in African bats”CIDRAP overview of viral hemorrhagic fevershttp://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/vhf/biofacts/index.html
Marc Benioff, CEO and chairman of salesforce.com, will deliver the university’s 131st commencement address, USC officials announced yesterday. Six honorary degree recipients, including Benioff, were also announced.The five additional honorary degree recipients include B. Wayne Hughes, the founder and chairman of Public Storage, the largest self-storage company in the world; Shonda L. Rhimes, the creator and executive producer of several ABC series such as Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal; Phillip A. Sharp, a Nobel laureate who has made significant discoveries in the understanding of genetic relations to cancer and other ailments; James Simons, the founder of the successful hedge fund Renaissance Technologies and the Simons Foundation, which is a leader in mathematical research and basic sciences and Twyla Tharp, one of the United States’ premier dancers and choreographers.Benioff is recognized as one of the pioneers of cloud computing. Both he and Hughes are USC alumni and trustees. Rhimes is a USC alumna.Graduating seniors expressed mixed reactions about Benioff being announced as the commencement speaker. Students such as Lindsay Rapkin, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said that she wished the speaker was someone who was more well-known and relatable to the general population of seniors.“I had to look him up, which I think says something for itself,” Rapkin said. “I do not feel that a tech billionaire is someone a lot of us can relate to. Also, USC places a large focus on business, but we are an extremely diverse academic institution and we have so many other interests.”Chelsey Christensen, a senior majoring in communication, expressed similar sentiments. She mentioned that she did not know much about Benioff initially and had to look up additional information online.“When I found out what he does, I thought it was ironic because it’s so USC to pick someone like that,” Christensen said. “I’m sure he will have cool things to talk about, but being in Annenberg I’m not as interested in hearing about business. It’s an interesting choice for the main ceremony but I don’t think it represents USC’s diverse interests.”For some students in the Marshall School of Business, the chance to hear Benioff speak is an exciting prospect. Lauren Estrada, a senior majoring in business administration, said that she is looking forward to hearing Benioff speak because she is interested in what he has accomplished professionally. She also said, however, that she understood why students in other schools would not be as interested.The speakers for individual schools can be found on USC’s website.Editor’s note: This post has been updated.