Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive – mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin in 2016

‘Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Brain and Placental Tissues’

Posted by feww on February 11, 2016

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Brain and Placental Tissues from Two Congenitally Infected Newborns and Two Fetal Losses — Brazil, 2015

The following are field notes from Brazil on ZIKV infection posted in the latest issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is related to dengue virus and transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, with humans acting as the principal amplifying host during outbreaks. Zika virus was first reported in Brazil in May 2015 (1). By February 9, 2016, local transmission of infection had been reported in 26 countries or territories in the Americas.* Infection is usually asymptomatic, and, when symptoms are present, typically results in mild and self-limited illness with symptoms including fever, rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis. However, a surge in the number of children born with microcephaly was noted in regions of Brazil with a high prevalence of suspected Zika virus disease cases. More than 4,700 suspected cases of microcephaly were reported from mid-2015 through January 2016, although additional investigations might eventually result in a revised lower number (2). In response, the Brazil Ministry of Health established a task force to further investigate possible connections between the virus and brain anomalies in infants (3).

Since November 2015, CDC has been developing assays for Zika virus testing in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples. In December 2015, FFPE tissues samples from two newborns (born at 36 and 38 weeks gestation) with microcephaly who died within 20 hours of birth and two miscarriages (fetal losses at 11 and 13 weeks) were submitted to CDC, from the state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil, for histopathologic evaluation and laboratory testing for suspected Zika virus infection. All four mothers had clinical signs of Zika virus infection, including fever and rash, during the first trimester of pregnancy, but did not have clinical signs of active infection at the time of delivery or miscarriage. The mothers were not tested for antibodies to Zika virus. Samples included brain and other autopsy tissues from the two newborns, a placenta from one of the newborns, and products of conception from the two miscarriages.

FFPE tissues were tested by Zika virus reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) targeting the nonstructural protein 5 and envelope genes using general methods for RT-PCR (4), and by immunohistochemistry using a mouse polyclonal anti-Zika virus antibody, using methods previously described (5). Specific specimens from all four cases were positive by RT-PCR, and sequence analysis provided further evidence of Zika virus infection, revealing highest identities with Zika virus strains isolated from Brazil during 2015. In the newborns, only brain tissue was positive by RT-PCR assays. Specimens from two of the four cases were positive by immunohistochemistry: viral antigen was noted in mononuclear cells (presumed to be glial cells and neurons within the brain) of one newborn, and within the chorionic villi from one of the miscarriages. Testing for dengue virus was negative by RT-PCR in specimens from all cases.

For both newborns, significant histopathologic changes were limited to the brain, and included parenchymal calcification, microglial nodules, gliosis, and cell degeneration and necrosis. Other autopsy tissues and placenta had no significant findings. Tests for toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and HIV were negative in the two mothers who experienced miscarriages. Placental tissue from one miscarriage showed heterogeneous chorionic villi with calcification, fibrosis, perivillous fibrin deposition, and patchy intervillositis and focal villitis, while tissue from the other miscarriage had sparsely sampled normal-appearing chorionic villi.

This report describes evidence of a link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly and fetal demise through detection of viral RNA and antigens in brain tissues from infants with microcephaly and placental tissues from early miscarriages. Histopathologic findings indicate the presence of Zika virus in fetal tissues. These findings also suggest brain and early gestational placental tissue might be the preferred tissues for postmortem viral diagnosis. Nonfrozen, formalin-fixed specimens or FFPE blocks are the preferred sample type for histopathologic evaluation and immunohistochemistry, and RT-PCR can be performed on either fresh frozen or formalin-fixed specimens. To better understand the pathogenesis of Zika virus infection and associated congenital anomalies and fetal death, it is necessary to evaluate autopsy and placental tissues from additional cases, and to determine the effect of gestational age during maternal illness on fetal outcomes.

Suggested citation for this article: Martines RB, Bhatnagar J, Keating MK, et al. Notes from the Field: Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Brain and Placental Tissues from Two Congenitally Infected Newborns and Two Fetal Losses — Brazil, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65(Early Release):1–2. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6506e1er

Related Links

Additional Links

ZIKV

DENGUE

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Deep Arctic Ozone Hole may Appear over Arctic this Spring —Report

Posted by feww on February 10, 2016

“Cold weather and a strong stratospheric vortex have allowed a deep Arctic ozone hole to open up” —Environment Canada

Persistent atmospheric pollutants and a strong stratospheric vortex have punched an unusually deep hole in Earth’s protective ozone layer over the Arctic, and it threatens to get larger, says a report.

Record cold temperatures in the Arctic stratospheric ozone layer, 15 to 35 kilometers up, are the proximate cause for this year’s losses, because they help to unleash ozone-destroying chemicals. “This winter has been stunning,” says Markus Rex, an atmospheric chemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam12. June 2013, Germany. By next week, about 25% of the Arctic’s ozone will be destroyed, he says.

Paradoxically, on 12. June 2013 Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam had prognosticated:

‘AWI longterm ozone measurements prove healing of the ozone layer’
https://www.awi.de/nc/en/about-us/service/press/press-release/awi-longterm-ozone-measurements-prove-healing-of-the-ozone-layer.html

Read more HERE.

 

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Strong Earthquake Strikes Chile

Posted by feww on February 10, 2016

M6.3 earthquake occurs 40km W of Ovalle, Chile

Centered at 30.634°S, 71.620 °W the quake occurred at a depth of 31.5 km (19.6 mi), reported USGS/EHP.

The 1960 M9.5 event in southern Chile is so far the largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the world.

Distances

  • 40km (25mi) W of Ovalle, Chile
  • 64km (40mi) W of Monte Patria, Chile
  • 79km (49mi) SSW of Coquimbo, Chile
  • 87km (54mi) SSW of La Serena, Chile
  • 326km (203mi) NNW of Santiago, Chile

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Major Disaster Declared for Texas

Posted by feww on February 10, 2016

Federal Disaster Declared in the State of Texas

Texas Severe Winter Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding (DR-4255)

  • Incident period: December 26, 2015 to January 21, 2016
  • Major Disaster Declaration declared on February 09, 2016

The White House has declared a major disaster exists in the State of  Texas in the areas affected by severe winter storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of December 26, 2015 to January 21, 2016.

The areas that were hardest hit by the destructive weather events include Bailey, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Dallas, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Ellis, Hall, Hardeman, Harrison, Henderson, Hopkins, Kaufman, Kent, King, Lamb, Lubbock, Navarro, Parmer, Rains, Red River, Rockwall, Titus, and Van Zandt counties.

Additionally, federal funding has also been made available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments, said the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Federal Disaster Declarations (2015)

The federal government proclaimed 43 Major Disaster Declaration [DR 4205-4247] for a U.S. state/tribal area/territory in 2015, two Emergency Declarations, EM-3372 and EM-3373 and 34 Fire Management Assistance Declarations [FM-5084 to FM-5117.]

Major Disaster Declarations (2016)

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State of Emergency Declared in Hawaii over Dengue Fever

Posted by feww on February 9, 2016

Dengue Fever and ZIKV share the same vector: mosquitoes of Aedes species

Hawaii County has declared a state of emergency amid the growing dengue fever outbreak in the state.

“A state of emergency for Hawaii County is authorized in order to prevent the continued spread of this outbreak and to eliminate the dengue fever virus from Hawaii Island,” said the mayor.

The state Health Department had confirmed 251 cases of dengue fever on Hawaii Island, including two potentially infectious individuals.

“The decision to issue an emergency proclamation is one made by professionals,” said Hawaii Gov. Ige. “There is a continuous conversation about it, as we proceed through an event and identify a course of action.”

Dengue Fever and Zika virus (ZIKV) share the same vector, mosquitoes of Aedes species (A. Aegypti & A. albopictus), and public health officials are concerned ZIKV could make its way to the Aloha State.

The same mosquitoes are also responsible for the spread chikungunya viruses.

 

Dengue Outbreak 2015 – 2016

Dengue Fever – Hawaii Island Outbreak

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is investigating a cluster of locally-acquired cases of dengue fever on Hawaii Island (the Big Island). Dengue is not endemic to Hawaii. However, it is intermittently imported from endemic areas by infected travelers. This is the first cluster of locally-acquired dengue fever since the 2011 outbreak on Oahu.  The Big Island and the rest of Hawaii remain safe destinations for visitors and residents.

  • As of February 8, some 227 of the confirmed cases are Hawaii Island residents and 24 are visitors.
  • 206 cases have been adults; 45 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 2/1/16.
  • A total of 1,124 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria (!)

 

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Heatwave Melts 50-Year Record in Perth, Australia

Posted by feww on February 9, 2016

CGFP

Perth records 40 plus degree temperatures three consecutive days

Western Australia’s capital city, Perth [pop:~ 2.1 million,] has recorded 40 plus degree (C) temperatures for three consecutive days, breaking a 50-year record for February, said a report.

The latest record-breaking heatwave was reportedly the seventh ever occurring in the region.

If the temperature reaches 40ºC or higher on Wednesday, it will be the first time there has been four consecutive 40ºC days since 1933, said Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) spokesman.

“Perth’s longest run of 40 degree days or more consecutively is four, and that was recorded back in 1933, if we get five we’ve broken that record and we’ve moved into uncharted territory basically.”

At sunrise today (Feb. 9), the temperature was 20ºC, reaching 32 within 2 hours, and 40ºC by 11:00am. It peaked at a sweltering 41.2ºC in the metro area, said the report.

“Pearce airbase was the hottest place in wider Perth at 44.3C and Mardie in the Pilbara was the state’s hotspot, reaching 45.6C.”

On Monday, the temperature reached 47ºCin Shark Bay Airport, situated in the Gascoyne region, northwest of Western Australia.

Image source: The Bureau of Meteorology BoM/ via news.com.au

 

Hottest place on Earth?

Temperatures touched 49°C in Sua Pan (Sowa Pan), a seasonal lake located in the Makgadikgadi region of Botswana, southern Africa, making it the hottest place on Earth, the UK Meteorological Office reported.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that 2015 was Australia’s fifth-warmest year on record, with the release of its final Annual Climate Report 2015.

Heatwave Situation for Thursday, Friday, & Saturday (3 days starting 11/02/2016)

Severe to extreme heatwave conditions continue over much of northern and central WA. Low intensity heatwave conditions for most of NSW and Tasmania. [BOM]

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Pharma Phleecing: It’s Déjà vu All Over Again!

Posted by feww on February 9, 2016

Sent by a reader

The White House to ask Congress for $1.8 billion in Zika emergency funding

Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget, to be submitted to the Congress Tuesday, will include more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight Zika.

The White House announced the request to cover research and planning globally shortly after CBS broadcast an interview with the U.S. President during which he declared, “there shouldn’t be panic on this — this is not something where people are going to die from.”

However, “it is something we have to take seriously,” he said.

“The good news is this is not like Ebola, people don’t die of Zika,” he said during an interview on “CBS This Morning,” Monday.

“A lot of people get it and don’t even know that they have it,” he added. “There appears to be some significant risk for pregnant women or women who are thinking about getting pregnant.

“There is much we do not yet know about Zika and its relationship to the poor health outcomes that are being reported in Zika-affected areas. We must work aggressively to investigate these outbreaks, and mitigate, to the best extent possible, the spread of the virus,” reads a White House Fact Sheet on Zika.

$1.8 Billion in Emergency Funding

The funding. if approved by Congress, would be used “to enhance our ongoing efforts to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus, both domestically and internationally,” according to the White House.

About $1.5 billion of the money would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, including nearly $830 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for work on “mosquito control programs.”

Another $250 million would go to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

And the rest of the money is earmarked for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, among various other agencies, mainly for “research, rapid advanced development and commercialization of new vaccines and diagnostic tests,” said the fact sheet.

 

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‘State of Disaster’ Declared in Zimbabwe over Drought

Posted by feww on February 8, 2016

If humans had more time left, they would probably wipe out the population of Africa in 10 – 20 years

Southern Africa: 14 Million people face hunger due to the prolonged drought

A “state of disaster” has been declared in much of Zimbabwe’s rural areas plagued by a severe drought, with more than a quarter of the population facing food shortages, AFP reported.

A regional drought has affected South Africa, Malawi and Zambia and Zimbabwe, killing tens of thousands of cattle, drying up dams and destroying crops.

“Initial indications were that 1.5 million people were food insecure with all the 60 rural districts being affected,” said the Public Works Minister.

“Overall, the food insecure population has since risen to 2.44 million [or 26 percent of the population.]

More than 16,500 cattle have died in Zimbabwe, and 75 percent of crops have been abandoned in the worst-hit areas, said the report.

At least 14 million people across southern Africa face hunger due to the prolonged drought, WFP said.

Horn of Africa – Somali

An estimated 4.7 million people — nearly 40 per cent of the Somali population — are in need of humanitarian assistance. About 950,000 of them are acutely food insecure and struggle every day to meet their food needs, with internally displaced people accounting for 68 per cent of those who are are in dire need of assistance.

“The level of malnutrition, especially among children, is of serious concern, with nearly 305,000 children under the age of five years acutely malnourished. We estimate that 58,300 children face death if they are not treated. The drought could push these numbers higher in the months to come. We must act now. Partners are ready to scale up response, but funding is urgently needed to ensure this is done in a timely manner,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. [What happens to the vast sums of money given to the UN?]

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in decades, leaving 10.2 million people in need of emergency food aid.

Northeast Africa – South Sudan

South Sudan is facing unprecedented levels of food insecurity, as 2.8 million people — nearly 25 percent of the country’s population — remain in urgent need of food assistance, and at least 40,000 people are on the brink of catastrophe, three UN agencies warned today.

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Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) Pandemic Manmade

Posted by feww on February 7, 2016

Varroa-vectored virus pandemic threatens world’s pollinators  —study

World’s honeybees are undergoing population collapses that are caused by multiple threats, especially the deformed wing virus (DWV), according to a new study.

Deformed wing virus (DWV) and its vector, the mite Varroa destructor, posed a major threat to the world’s honeybee populations. And researchers have found that European honeybees are the primary source of the virus.

“European honeybees acquired the rapidly spreading Varroa mite from Asian honey bees, possibly via the commercial exchange of queens,” says the study.

Analysis shows that DWV has since spread globally in honeybees from the European honeybee.

The European honeybee Apis mellifera is an important domesticated animal that is used worldwide for commercial pollination of intensive and high-value crops, such as nuts and fruit, as well as for honey production.

DWV destroys both managed A. mellifera populations and wild populations and has been “identified as an emerging disease in wild pollinators, with dramatic impacts on survival in bumblebees.”

DWV exhibits epidemic growth and transmission that is predominantly mediated by European and North American honeybee populations and driven by trade and movement of honeybee colonies. DWV is now an important reemerging pathogen of honeybees, which are undergoing a worldwide manmade epidemic fueled by the direct transmission route that the Varroa mite provides.

DWV poses a threat to all pollinators.”Wild pollinators, such as bumblebees and solitary bees, have experienced a loss of species richness and diversity during recent decades, which can be attributed partly to infectious diseases.”

The study conclude that there is a “global pandemic of DWV, with transmission mediated by European populations of A. mellifera,” and that the virus transmission is being “amplified by human-mediated movement of honeybees or other infected material,” which are “fueled by the concurrent emergence of V. destructor mites.”

“Pollinator populations are interconnected via trade and movement of managed pollinators, which offers the potential for rapid spread of pathogens and parasites around the globe and between species.”

Full text of the report is posted HERE.

Related Links

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Radioactivity at Indian Point Spiked by 65,000 percent

Posted by feww on February 7, 2016

Radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into groundwater at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

Radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into the groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.  The company reported massive levels of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity spiking 650 times from 12,300 picocuries per liter to over 8,000,000 picocuries per liter, or a rise of 65,000 percent, said NY Governor Cuomo.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant is located close to 2 active earthquake faults, with about 6 percent of the US population living within a 50-mile radius of the failing reactors.

[Dated February 6, 2016] Statement from Governor Cuomo Regarding Indian Point Nuclear Facility:

“Yesterday I learned that radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into the groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility.  The company reported alarming levels of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent. The facility reports that the contamination has not migrated off site and as such does not pose an immediate threat to public health.

The levels of radioactivity reported this week are significantly higher than in past incidents.

“Our first concern is for the health and safety of the residents close to the facility and ensuring the groundwater leak ‎does not pose a threat. [If true, the leaky plant should have been decommissioned years ago! —Ed]

This is not the first such release of radioactive water at Indian Point, nor is this the first time that Indian Point has experienced significant failure in its operation and maintenance. This failure continues to demonstrate that Indian Point cannot continue to operate in a manner that is protective of public health and the environment.

“This latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable and I have directed Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to fully investigate this incident and employ all available measures, including working with Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to determine the extent of the release, its likely duration, cause and potential impacts to the environment and public health.”

Cuomo’s letter directing Acting Commissioner Seggos and Commissioner Zucker to  begin their investigation can be viewed here. [Don’t hold your breath! —Ed.]

Related Links

The following video was published by Riverkeeper at http://www.riverkeeper.org

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Major Disaster Declaration Proclaimed for Arkansas

Posted by feww on February 6, 2016

Federal Disaster Declared in the State of Arkansas

Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding (DR-4254)

  • Incident period: December 26, 2015 to January 22, 2016
  • Major Disaster Declaration declared on February 05, 2016

The White House has declared a major disaster exists in the State of Arkansas in the areas affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of December 26, 2015 to January 22, 2016.

The areas that were hardest hit by the destructive weather events include Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Faulkner, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Little River, Perry, Sebastian, and Sevier counties.

Additionally, federal funding has also been made available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the destructive weather events in Benton, Boone, Bradley, Calhoun, Carroll, Clay, Crawford, Dallas, Drew, Franklin, Greene, Independence, Izard, Lawrence, Little River, Logan, Madison, Marion, Mississippi, Montgomery, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Polk, Randolph, Scott, Searcy, Stone, Washington, White, Woodruff, and Yell counties.

Federal Disaster Declarations (2015)

The federal government proclaimed 43 Major Disaster Declaration [DR 4205-4247] for a U.S. state/tribal area/territory in 2015, two Emergency Declarations, EM-3372 and EM-3373 and 34 Fire Management Assistance Declarations [FM-5084 to FM-5117.]

Major Disaster Declarations (2016)

 

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Federal Emergency Declared for Louisiana

Posted by feww on February 6, 2016

Emergency Declaration for Louisiana Issued by White House (EM-3376)

Flooding during the period of December 28, 2015 to February 1, 2016 has prompted the White House to declare a federal emergency in the State of Louisiana.

Areas that were most affected by “threat of a catastrophe” include in the parishes of Concordia, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, St. Mary, Terrebonne, and West Feliciana.

Federal Disaster Declarations (2015)

The federal government proclaimed 43 Major Disaster Declaration [DR 4205-4247] for a U.S. state/tribal area/territory in 2015, two Emergency Declarations, EM-3372 and EM-3373 and 34 Fire Management Assistance Declarations [FM-5084 to FM-5117.]

Major Disaster Declarations (2016)

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FIRE-EARTH Alert: WROP

Posted by feww on February 6, 2016

CJ Members

WROP

  • Details of the alert is being broadcast hourly on CH03.

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Deadly Quake Strikes Taiwan

Posted by feww on February 6, 2016

M6.4 EQ strikes S. Taiwan causing fatalities, destroying buildings

Centered at 22.871°N, 120.668°E the quake occurred at a depth of 23.0km (14.3 mi), reported USGS/EHP.

There are reports of multiple fatalities, and scores of injuries, with about a dozen apartment blocks and other buildings destroyed or damaged.

Aftershocks
Most of the reported damage occurred in Tainan, with several aftershocks rattling the city of 2.3 million, Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau reported.

A powerful 1999 quake killed more than 2,400 people in Tainan.

EQ Details
Magnitude: 6.4Mw
Location: 22.871°N, 120.668°E depth=23.0 km (14.3 mi)

Nearby Cities:
28km (17mi) NE of Pingtung, Taiwan
35km (22mi) SE of Yujing, Taiwan
46km (29mi) NE of Kaohsiung, Taiwan
48km (30mi) ESE of Tainan, Taiwan
672km (418mi) E of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us20004y6h#impact_pager

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us20004y6h#impact_shakemap

 

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Tonga Declares Zika Outbreak

Posted by feww on February 5, 2016

Five cases of the ZIKV infection confirmed, hundreds of suspected cases being investigated

The South Pacific island-nation of Tonga has declared an outbreak of the Zika virus after five cases of the infection were confirmed.

The outbreak comes shortly after Brazilian government’s health authorities announced that active Zika virus had been detected in the saliva and urine of an unspecified number of patients.

Meanwhile, Spain confirmed Thursday that a pregnant woman was diagnosed with the Zika virus infection, the first reported case in Europe.

“The woman is among seven people who showed symptoms of Zika after visiting affected countries, the ministry said, adding that she was under medical treatment in the northeastern region of Catalonia,” said a report.

Earlier this week, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a new case of infection involving the spread of virus through sex in Texas.

Zika in the U.S. (as of posting)

  • A total of 35 travel-associated Zika virus disease cases have been reported to CDC from 11 U.S. states, and DC, including 9 cases in Florida and 8 in Texas.
  • No locally acquired vector-borne cases have been reported from the continental United States.
  • Nine locally acquired cases and 1 travel-associated case have been reported to CDC from U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

mosquito distribution-s
Global map of the predicted distribution of Ae. aegypti. The map depicts the probability of occurrence (from 0 blue to 1 red) at a spatial resolution of 5 km × 5 km. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.08347.004

Zika Travel Notices -CDC

 

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Crop Disasters Declared in Two U.S. States

Posted by feww on February 5, 2016

Excessive rain and flooding destroy crops across 18 counties in Georgia, North Carolina

Continued excessive rain and flooding destroy crops across 18 counties in North Carolina and Virginia .

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated a total of 18 counties in North Carolina and Virginia as crop disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain and flooding that occurred from July 13, 2015, and continues. Those counties are:

North Carolina. Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Granville, Guilford, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person , Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes and Wake counties.

Virginia. Halifax, Henry and Pittsylvania counties.

Crop Disasters 2015

USDA declared crop disasters in at least 4,017 counties and county equivalents across 46 States [as well as Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands] in 2015. Those states are Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

  • About 99 percent of the 2015 crop disaster designations were due to drought last year.

Crop Disasters 2014

In 2014, USDA declared crop disasters in at least 2,904 counties across 44 states. Most of the designations were due to drought.

Those states were:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan. Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. [FIRE-EARTH has documented all of the above listings. See blog content.]

Notes:
i. USDA trigger point for a countywide disaster declaration is 30 percent crop loss on at least one crop.

ii. The counties designated as agricultural disaster areas, as listed above, include both primary and contiguous disaster areas.

iii. Some counties may have been designated as crop disaster areas more than once due to multiple disasters.

iv. The U.S. has a total of 3,143 counties and county-equivalents.

Related Links

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Sakurajima Volcano Explodes

Posted by feww on February 5, 2016

Sakurajimsa erupts at Showa crater

The explosive eruption occurred at 09:56UTC producing a large plume of smoke and ash followed by lava flow.

Authorities upgraded the volcanic warning to a “Level 3 (Do not approach the volcano).”

One of the most active volcanoes in the world, Sakurajima is located in Kagoshima Bay, southern Kyushu, Japan (about 1,100km WSW of Tokyo). The composite volcano has three peaks: Kitadake, Nakadake and Minamidake (southern peak).

Since 1955 the Minamidake crater, has been continually active. The ongoing activity includes strong strombolian to ash explosions at least once and as many as 8 times a day.

Sendai nuclear power station was built about 50km from the volcano, and despite hundreds of recent eruptions, it was restarted on August 11, 2015.

Sakurajima is a post-caldera cone of the Aira caldera, a gigantic caldera in the southern portion of the island of Kyushu. The caldera was formed by a massive VEI 7 eruption (~ 400km³ of ejecta), about 22,000 years ago, “shortly” after the Oruanui eruption of New Zealand’s Taupo Volcano.

In August 2015, a level 4 emergency warning [“prepare to evacuate”] was issued after the local “experts” warned that a major eruption was imminent.

Related Links

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Zika Virus Sold Online!

Posted by feww on February 4, 2016

Zika virus (ATCC® VR-84™) patented in 1947 by the Rockefeller Foundation

History & Description

Agent: Zika virus
Strain: MR 766 (Original)
Effect on Host: Paralysis and death
Name of Depositor: J. Casals, Rockefeller Foundation
Source: Blood from experimental forest sentinel rhesus monkey, Uganda, 1947
Year of Origin: 1947
Classification: Flaviviridae, Flavivirus
Product Format: freeze-dried
Storage Conditions: -70°C or colder
References: Dick GW. Trans. R. Soc. Trop. Med. Hyg. 46: 509, 1952.

zika online atcc

Biosafety Level: 2

Biosafety classification is based on U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines, it is the responsibility of the customer to ensure that their facilities comply with biosafety regulations for their own country.

Permits and Restrictions: View Permits

zika online

ATCC

ATCC is the premier global biological materials resource and standards organization whose mission focuses on the acquisition, authentication, production, preservation, development, and distribution of standard reference microorganisms, cell lines, and other materials. While maintaining traditional collection materials…

LGC Standards

LGC Standards is a division of the LGC Group, the UK’s designated National Measurement Institute for chemical and bioanalytical measurements and an international leader in the laboratory services, measurement standards, reference materials, genomics …

Headquartered in Teddington, Middlesex, UK, LGC Standards has a network of dedicated sales offices extending across 20 countries in 5 continents … We have an unparalleled breadth of ISO Guide 34 accredited reference material production in facilities at 4 sites across the UK, the US and Germany.

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ZIKV: Health Emergency Declared in 4 Florida Counties

Posted by feww on February 4, 2016

Florida Governor Declares Health Emergency in Four Counties

Gov. Scott has signed Executive Order 16-29 directing Florida State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to declare a public health emergency in the four counties which have the Zika virus, according to the governor’s website.

The Executive Order follows the discovery of a total of nine travel-associated cases (defined as disease believed to be contracted outside of the state) of the Zika virus across Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa Counties.

“Today I am directing Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to declare a public health emergency in the four counties that have individuals with the Zika virus.  Although Florida’s current nine Zika cases were travel-related, we have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state.  Our Department of Health will continue to be in constant communication with all county health offices, hospitals and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  We know that we must be prepared for the worst even as we hope for the best,” said Scott on Wednesday.

To view the Executive Order, click HERE.

Link to Microcephaly

Researchers suspect a possible link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly, a severe birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

Microcephaly can occur as a result of changes in babies genes, as well as other causes that can include the following exposures during pregnancy:

Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly. Microcephaly is not a common condition. State birth defects tracking systems have estimated that microcephaly ranges from 2 babies per 10,000 live births to about 12 babies per 10,000 live births in the Unites States.

Ae. aegypti Mosquitoes: The Principal Vectors of ZIKV

Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus are the principal vectors of dengue (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, DENV-4), chikungunya (CHIKV), yellow fever (YFV), and Zika (ZIKV) viruses. Of these seven arboviruses, DENV, YFV and CHIKV have caused outbreaks within the United States and its territories in the past 110 years.

With a newly-obtained fiery red blood meal visible through her transparent abdomen, the now heavy female Aedes aegypti mosquito took flight as she left her host’s skin surface. Photo Credit: James Gathany/ CDC

Approximate distribution of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus mosquitoes in the United States. -CDC-

ZIKV in Brief [CDC]

Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries. In December 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first confirmed Zika virus case. Locally transmitted Zika has not been reported elsewhere in the United States, but cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers.

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves from this disease by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. When traveling to countries where Zika virus (see map) or other viruses spread by mosquitoes have been reported, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

Zika and pregnancy

Zika Travel Notices

Latest Health Warnings

Authorities in four countries—Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica—have warned women to avoid pregnancy as cases of microcephaly, believed to be caused by Zika virus (ZIKV), continue to multiply.

Brazil. Authorities say the number of babies born with suspected microcephaly has now reached about 4,000 since October, 2015.

Colombia. Health Minister has urged women to delay pregnancies for about eight months.

Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica. Authorities have told women to delay pregnancies by up to two years.

U.S. In January, explosive outbreaks of ZIKV, a dangerous tropical disease linked to birth defects, prompted the  U.S. health officials to issue a travel alert for people traveling to regions and countries where the virus transmission is spreading: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission

AFRICA: Angola*, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt*, Ethiopia*, Gabon, Gambia*, Kenya*, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone*, Somalia*, Tanzania*, Uganda and Zambia*.

AMERICAS: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

OCEANIA/PACIFIC ISLANDS: Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

ASIA: Cambodia, India*, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan*, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam*.

[*For these countries, the only evidence of Zika virus transmission is from studies that detected Zika virus antibodies in healthy people.  These studies cannot determine where the people were infected or if they were infected with Zika virus because the antibodies may have resulted from infections with other closely related viruses, such a; s dengue virus.]

Related Links

Additional Links

ZIKV

DENGUE

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Major Disaster Declaration Proclaimed for Washington

Posted by feww on February 3, 2016

  • Incident period: December 01, 2015 to December 14, 2015
  • Major Disaster Declaration declared on February 02, 2016

The White House has declared a major disaster exists in the State of Washington in the areas affected by a severe winter storm, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, mudslides, and a tornado during the period of December 1-14, 2015.

The areas that were hardest hit by the destructive storms include Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments, said the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Federal Disaster Declarations (2015)

The federal government proclaimed 43 Major Disaster Declaration [DR 4205-4247] for a U.S. state/tribal area/territory in 2015, two Emergency Declarations, EM-3372 and EM-3373 and 34 Fire Management Assistance Declarations [FM-5084 to FM-5117.]

Major Disaster Declarations (2016)

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US, Belgian Energy Companies Accused of Criminal Negligence

Posted by feww on February 3, 2016

Southern California Gas Company & Belgian energy company Electrabel sued for criminal negligence

California Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against SoCal Gas Co, the company responsible for a massive gas leak near Los Angeles. There are now 11 local, state and federal agencies that are either suing or investigating the company, owned by Sempra Energy, a San Diego-based corporation whose board of directors includes Kathleen Brown, the sister of Gov. Jerry Brown.

The leak in Porter Ranch, which was discovered on 23 October, has forced more than 13,000 nearby residents from their homes.

More than 92,000 metric tons of methane have escaped from Aliso Canyon since Oct. 23.

The following statement was issued by Brown’s office in January, two months after the leak was first reported:

Given the prolonged and continuing duration of the Aliso Canyon gas leak and at the request of residents and local officials, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued a proclamation that declares the situation an emergency and details the administration’s ongoing efforts to help stop the leak. The order also directs further action to protect public health and safety, ensure accountability and strengthen oversight of gas storage facilities.

German city to sue Belgian nuclear power plant

The German city of Aachen is suing a nearby nuclear station for failure to fix safety issues at the aging plant. “The suit alleges that a reactor was brought back online with cracks in the protective concrete,” said a report.

The German city of Aachen and the federal government are launching a lawsuit against Tihange nuclear power plant in Belgium.

The Tihange nuclear power plant lies about 71 kilometers (44 miles) from Aachen, and the city itself is directly on Germany’s border with Belgium. According to city authorities, they are suing for breach of European law over re-commissioning a faulty reactor in an effort to have the entire power station shut down.

German media reported that one of Tihange’s reactors, called Tihange 2, was taken offline in March 2014 due to hairline cracks in the concrete blocks. The reactor was then put back in service in March 2015 without the necessary repairs, according to Aachen’s legal claim.

A series of dangerous incidents

“In recent weeks, the nuclear power plants Doel and Tihange have had several hazardous incidents. People in the ‘three-country region’ [of German, Belgium and the Netherlands] are deeply unsettled and worried,” according to a press release issued by the Aachen officials.

The suit will be heard by the Belgian courts first, but could also be lodged with the EU Court in Brussels, “with the aim of decommissioning Tihange 2,” said the report.

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ZIKV Update – Feb. 3, 2016

Posted by feww on February 3, 2016

Zika virus acquired through sexual transmission —Texas Officials

Health officials have confirmed that a person in Dallas County, Texas, contracted the Zika virus through sexual contact, the first such case reported in the continental United States.

The patient in Texas was infected after having sex with their partner who had returned from Venezuela, according to reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier released the following statement:

CDC has confirmed through laboratory testing the first U.S. case of Zika virus infection in a non-traveler in the continental United States. According to a Dallas County Health Department investigation, a person who recently traveled to an area with Zika virus transmission returned to the United States and developed Zika-like symptoms. The person later tested positive for Zika, along with their sexual partner, who had not traveled to the area. In this instance there was no risk to a developing fetus.

“Based on what we know now, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites. We do not have definitive information on the infectious time period, and will provide more guidance for individuals and clinicians as we learn more. Sexual partners can protect themselves by using condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections. People who have Zika virus infection can protect others by preventing additional mosquito bites.

Two confirmed cases of Zika virus reported in Ireland

Meanwhile, two cases of ZIKV infection have been reported in Ireland, which are being investigated by The Health Service Executive (HSE), said a report.

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Major Disaster Declaration Proclaimed for Idaho

Posted by feww on February 2, 2016

Federal Disaster Declared in Idaho due to Severe Winter Storms (DR-4252)

  • Incident period: December 16-27, 2015
  • Major Disaster Declaration declared on February 01, 2016

The White House has declared a major disaster exists in the State of Idaho in the areas affected by Severe Winter Storms during the period of December 16-27, 2015. 

The areas that were hardest hit by the destructive storms include Benewah, Bonner, and Kootenai counties.

Federal Disaster Declarations (2015)

The federal government proclaimed 43 Major Disaster Declaration [DR 4205-4247] for a U.S. state/tribal area/territory in 2015, two Emergency Declarations, EM-3372 and EM-3373 and 34 Fire Management Assistance Declarations [FM-5084 to FM-5117.]

Major Disaster Declarations (2016)

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Zika Virus Outbreak Result of Bioweapon?

Posted by feww on February 2, 2016

ZIKV outbreak possibly resulted from  biological warfare: Russian expert

Russia’s former Surgeon General has said that the Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak could be due to the use of biological warfare, said a report.

One of the possible causes for the spread of the deadly Zika virus outbreak could be the use of biological warfare, Russia’s former Chief State Sanitary Physician Gennady Onishchenko said Tuesday.

“This is being looked into… If we don’t do anything at all, this will become a man-made spread [of the disease]. This infection has been known since 1948 and it lived very quietly, but over the last few years, it began to grow,” Onishchenko told RIA Novosti.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on February 1.

WHY WHO Imposed No Travel Ban?

WHO failed to explain, however, as to why its Emergency Committee had “found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus,” despite the “explosive” outbreak.

State of Emergency Declared in Honduras

Meanwhile, Honduras declared a state of emergency, after recording nearly 3,700 suspected cases of Zika infections since late November, reports said.

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WHO Declares Microcephaly Cluster a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’

Posted by feww on February 2, 2016

Experts ‘strongly suspect’ causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly

WHO convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Some 18 experts and advisers assessed “the strong association, in time and place, between infection with the Zika virus and a rise in detected cases of congenital malformations and neurological complications,” and agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven, said WHO in a statement posted online.

After a review of the evidence, the Committee advised that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes an “extraordinary event” and a public health threat to other parts of the world.

Members of the Committee agreed that “a coordinated international response was needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread,” and that the “situation meets the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” said WHO.

“I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” said WHO Director-General.

WHO did not elaborate as to why the Committee had “found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus.”

Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission

AFRICA: Angola*, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt*, Ethiopia*, Gabon, Gambia*, Kenya*, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone*, Somalia*, Tanzania*, Uganda and Zambia*.

AMERICAS: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

OCEANIA/PACIFIC ISLANDS: Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

ASIA: Cambodia, India*, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan*, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam*.

[*For these countries, the only evidence of Zika virus transmission is from studies that detected Zika virus antibodies in healthy people.  These studies cannot determine where the people were infected or if they were infected with Zika virus because the antibodies may have resulted from infections with other closely related viruses, such as dengue virus.]

Related  Links

Additional Links

ZIKV

DENGUE

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