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Archive for May 13th, 2014

2ND Case of MERS Reported in U.S.

Posted by feww on May 13, 2014


MERS infected traveler from Saudi Arabia hospitalized in Florida: CDC

CDC has confirmed a second imported case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)  in the United States. The patient is identified as a healthcare worker who resides and works in Saudi Arabia.

The first U.S. imported case of MERS was reported on May 2 in Indiana. Both imported MERS cases in the U.S. are healthcare workers who recently worked in and traveled from Saudi Arabia. However, the CDC says the two cases are unrelated.

“This second confirmed case of MERS in a person who worked in health care from an area of risk is not surprising,” said CDC Director. “To continue to strengthen our own health security, we need to increase our global ability to support other countries to help them find and stop threats such as MERS promptly, and to prevent them whenever possible.”

The patient flew  from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Orlando, Florida, via London, England, Boston and Atlanta on May 1. The patient reported feeling unwell during the flight with reported symptoms that include fever, chills and a slight cough. On May 9, the patient was admitted to the emergency department of a hospital in Florida. “The patient is isolated, being well cared for, and is currently doing well.”

The Florida Department of Health officials tested the patient for MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the virus that causes MERS. Those tests were positive, and CDC confirmed MERS-CoV infection in the patient late last night.

“Given the dramatic increase in MERS cases in the Arabian Peninsula, we expected and are prepared for additional imported cases,” said the assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. “The reason for this increase in cases is not yet known, but public health investigations are ongoing, and we are pleased to have a team in Saudi Arabia supporting some of those efforts.”

MERS in Saudi Arabia

Reported MERS cases in Saudi Arabia climbed to 491 on Monday, including 147 deaths, the Health Ministry has confirmed.

Six new cases were reported yesterday including patients that are  in critical condition.

MERS Cases Worldwide

As of May 12th, 2014, “a total of 538 laboratory-confirmed cases including 145 deaths due to MERS Coronavirus infection have been reported.  Saudi Arabia alone has reported 450 lab-confirmed cases and 112 deaths,” according to CDC.  [The CDC figures do NOT coincide with the data released by the Saudi  Health Ministry. Editor]

What’s MERS?

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness  caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).”


MERS symptoms include fever and pneumonia leading to kidney failure and often death. Most victims who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness within 14 days after traveling from countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries.

MERS Virus
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of these people died.

MERS-CoV is not the same coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, like the SARS virus, MERS-CoV is most similar to coronaviruses found in bats. –CDC

 Countries with Lab-Confirmed MERS – Reported Cases Since April 2012

  • Egypt (see below)
  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Unites States of America (USA)
  • Yemen

Source of MERS

MERS-CoV has been “extraordinarily common” in camels since the 1990s, and it may have evolved after being passed to humans, according to a recent study.  The virus has been found in camels in Qatar and a bat in Saudi Arabia. Camels in a few other countries have also tested positive for antibodies to MERS-CoV.

Doctors Resigning for Fear of Infection

At least four doctors at a Jeddah hospital resigned in April after refusing to treat MERS patients for fear of infection, said reports.

Egypt’s Reports First Case of MERS-CoV

Egypt reported its first case  of MERS two weeks ago. A man in his twenties who  had recently returned from Saudi Arabia, and showed symptoms of the infection, tested positive for MERS-CoV, according to a report.

MERS a Year Ago

A total of 38 infected cases had been reported in Saudi Arabia, 49 worldwide, as of May 30, 2013.

Related Links

Links to Other Infectious Diseases

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M6.8 Strikes Offshore Panama

Posted by feww on May 13, 2014


Strong quake occurs 105km SE of Punta de Burica, Panama

Centered at 7.249°N, 82.330°W the quake struck close to the Panama Fracture Zone at a depth of about 10.0km (6.2mi), said USGS/EHP.

The quake was followed by at least one aftershock measuring 4.4Mw , as of posting.

EQ Details

Magnitude: 6.8Mw
Event Time: 2014-05-13 06:35:24 UTC
Location: 7.249°N 82.330°W depth=10.0km (6.2mi)
Nearby Cities:

  • 105km (65mi) SE of Punta de Burica, Panama
  • 124km (77mi) S of Pedregal, Panama
  • 128km (80mi) SSE of Puerto Armuelles, Panama
  • 130km (81mi) S of David, Panama
  • 354km (220mi) SSE of San Jose, Costa Rica

EQ Location Map

Panama EQ
Earthquake Location Map. Source: USGS/EHP.

Tsunami Evaluation

A destructive tsunami is not expected.


The next detailed FIRE-EARTH Earthquake Forecast will be released together with Bulletin NO. 97 on May 14, 2014.


Related Links

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West Antarctic Glaciers Retreating Irreversibly: Study

Posted by feww on May 13, 2014

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Retreat Passes the Point of No Return

West Antarctic glaciers are retreating irreversibly and there is no barrier to hold them back, according to a recent study.

The Thwaites, Smith, Haynes, Pope, Smith and Kohler Glaciers and the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) have been thinning rapidly, the study says.

The warming seawater has been thinning six key glaciers from below, and they are flowing rapidly into the Amundsen Sea.

“In our new study, we present additional data that the junction of the glaciers with the ocean – the grounding line – has been retreating at record speeds unmatched anywhere in the Antarctic,” said the report’s lead author.

“We present observational evidence that a large section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has gone into a state of irreversible retreat; it has passed the point of no return.”

Nothing to hold the retreat back

“We also present new evidence that there is no large hill at the back of these glaciers that could create a barrier and hold the retreat back. This is why we conclude that the disappearance of ice in this sector is unstoppable,” he said.

“This retreat will have major consequences for sea level rise worldwide. It will raise sea levels by 1.2m, or 4ft, but its retreat will also influence adjacent sectors of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which could triple this contribution to sea level.”

Title: Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica from 1992 to 2011.


We measure the grounding line retreat of glaciers draining the Amundsen Sea Embayment of West Antarctica using Earth Remote Sensing (ERS-1/2) satellite radar interferometry from 1992 to 2011. Pine Island Glacier retreated 31 km at its center, with most retreat in 2005–2009 when the glacier un-grounded from its ice plain. Thwaites Glacier retreated 14 km along its fast-flow core and 1 to 9 km along the sides. Haynes Glacier retreated 10 km along its flanks. Smith/Kohler glaciers retreated the most, 35 km along its ice plain, and its ice shelf pinning points are vanishing. These rapid retreats proceed along regions of retrograde bed elevation mapped at a high spatial resolution using a mass conservation technique (MC) that removes residual ambiguities from prior mappings. Upstream of the 2011 grounding line positions, we find no major bed obstacle that would prevent the glaciers from further retreat and draw down the entire basin.

E. Rignot, doi: 10.1002/2014GL060140

Posted in Climate Change, Global Disaster watch, significant events | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »