For those of you who have been reading the news, I’m sure Ebola Virus Disease rings a bell. The recent outbreak of this filovirus, formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, in West Africa has already caused 729 deaths in Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Four of the five Ebola viral species can infect humans, with 90% of cases being fatal. The natural hosts are fruit bats, however infections have also been documented in chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines. Transmission from animal-to-human or human-to-human results through direct contact with blood, secretions and bodily fluids. Apparently semen is still infectious up to 7 weeks after recovery. After an incubation period of 2-21 days, the virus presents with a sudden fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and a sore throat. Vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver functions follow. There is also potential for internal and external bleeding. Amongst other blood results, one expects to find elevated liver enzymes and low white blood cell and platelet counts. Sadly there is no treatment or vaccine available, leaving patients with supportive care.
According to Médecins sans Frontieres, the epidemic is now out of control. There is a high chance of the virus spreading via international air travel and aid workers. The WHO suggests the following for reducing the risk of infection in people:
- “Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
- Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission in the community arising from direct or close contact with infected patients, particularly with their bodily fluids. Close physical contact with Ebola patients should be avoided. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
- Communities affected by Ebola should inform the population about the nature of the disease and about outbreak containment measures, including burial of the dead. People who have died from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried.”
As the risk of the epidemic spreading to Europe is present, I thought it was important to bring this virus to your attention. It is spreading like wildfire.
On a different note, today’s recipe is great for a Summer picnic in the park. I was initially sceptical about roasting grapes but WOW it makes such a difference in flavour. The caramelised pecans are an addition of my own, recently I have come to realise that caramelised nuts are perfect with almost any dish, especially salads and asian cuisine. Enjoy!
Roasted Carrot and Grape Rice Salad with Green Beans, Rocket and Caramelised Pecans
adapted from bbcgoodfood
200g wild rice-basmati rice mix
200g green beans
300g chantenay carrots, halved lengthways
300g red seedless grapes
4 handfuls of rocket leaves
100g pecan nuts
3-4 heaped tbsp caster sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan). Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Toss the sliced carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out on your tray. Once the oven has reached its temperature, roast the carrots for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the rice according to packet instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water once cooked.
- To cook the beans, boil water with some salt and cook for 5-ish minutes until still slightly crunchy. Drain and set aside with the rice.
- Once the carrots have been roasting for 20 minutes, add the grapes to the baking try and roast everything for a further 10 minutes or until roasted to your liking.
- Meanwhile you can caramelise your pecans: toast them in a small frying pan. Once toasted, sprinkle over the caster sugar and let it melt, stirring occasionally to coat all of the nuts. Once all of the sugar has melted and turned into a wonderful caramel, tip your nuts onto a plate and leave to cool. Once cool, break up the pecans bite size pieces.
- In a large bowl, mix together 2tbsp olive oil, 3-3.5 tbsp maple syrup with 3 tbsp balsamico. Season.
- Toss the rice, beans, carrots, grapes and rocket with the sauce.
- Serve the salad with the caramelised pecan nuts sprinkled on top.