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Archive for January 20th, 2016

2015 Earth’s Warmest Year by Widest Margin on Record

Posted by feww on January 20, 2016

Warmest December makes 2015 warmest year on record: NOAA

The 2015 globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces was the highest on record since 1880. The December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record, reported NOAA.

Global highlights: Calendar Year 2015

The 2015 average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average.

  • It is the warmest among all 136 years in the 1880–2015 record.
    • Fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century.
    • Largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken.
    • Ten months had record high temperatures for their respective months during the year.
    • The five highest monthly departures from average for any month on record all occurred during 2015.
  • During 2015, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.39°F (1.33°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.45°F (0.25°C). This is the largest margin by which the annual global land temperature has been broken.
  • During 2015, the globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.33°F (0.74°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of last year by 0.20°F (0.11°C).
  • The 1901-2000 average combined land and ocean annual temperature is 13.9°C (56.9°F), the annually averaged land temperature for the same period is 8.5°C (47.3°F), and the long-term annually averaged sea surface temperature is 16.1°C (60.9°F).

Global highlights: December 2015

December average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.00°F (1.11°C) above the 20th century average of 12.2°C (54.0°F). This was the highest for December in the 1880–2015 record.

  • The globally-averaged land surface temperature was 3.40°F (1.89°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for December in the 1880–2015 record.
  • The globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.49°F (0.83°C) above the 20th century average, also the highest for December in the 1880–2015 record.

Sixteen Warmest Years (1880–2015)

All but one of the 16 warmest year on record (1998 tied with 2009 for the 6th warmest) have occurred this century.

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for Annual 2015, published online January 2016, retrieved on January 20, 2016 from

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Latest Dengue Fever Outbreaks

Posted by feww on January 20, 2016

Brazil reported record number of dengue cases in 2015

Brazil registered 1.6 million cases of dengue fever in 2015, up from the previous record of 1.4 million cases in 2013, the Health Ministry reported.

  • Peak incidence of dengue infection rates occurred in April, with 229.1 cases for every 100,000 people.
  • Dengue-related fatalities reached 863 in 2015, also a record high.
  • Two other diseases transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, the Zika virus and chikungunya fever, are also spreading rapidly across the country.Transmission of the Dengue Virus [CDC]


Cambodia reported 15,412 cases of dengue fever in 2015, a rise 314 percent from the previous year.

  • “The incident rate was 93.5 cases out of 100,000 people,” said a senior health official. “Some 71 percent of the patients were children aged between 5 and 14 years old.”
  • At least 38 children were killed by the infection in 2015, a rise of 81 percent.


Tiwan reported 43,259 cases of dengue infection in 2015, which killed at least 212 people across the island, the worst outbreak on record.

  • In 2014, the country reported 15,732 cases, compared with the previous annual average of 2,000 cases.


Authorities and citizens alike in the Latin American country are concerned that another epidemic of dengue fever could “easily start up following December’s rains, which in Asuncion flooded entire neighborhoods and forced some 100,000 residents to evacuate their homes,” the Paraguayan Health Ministry said.

More than 150,000 people were infected in a 2013 dengue epidemic, which killed 252 people,  Agencia EFE reported.

Stats from WHO

  • Cases across the Americas, South-East Asia and Western Pacific exceeded 1.2 million in 2008 and over 3 million in 2013 (based on official data submitted by Member States). Recently the number of reported cases has continued to increase. In 2013, 2.35 million cases of dengue were reported in the Americas alone, of which 37 687 cases were of severe dengue.
  • Not only is the number of cases increasing as the disease spreads to new areas, but explosive outbreaks are occurring. The threat of a possible outbreak of dengue fever now exists in Europe and local transmission of dengue was reported for the first time in France and Croatia in 2010 and imported cases were detected in 3 other European countries. In 2012, an outbreak of dengue on the Madeira islands of Portugal resulted in over 2000 cases and imported cases were detected in mainland Portugal and 10 other countries in Europe.
  • In 2013, cases have occurred in Florida (United States of America) and Yunnan province of China. Dengue also continues to affect several South American countries, notably Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico. In Asia, Singapore has reported an increase in cases after a lapse of several years and outbreaks have also been reported in Laos. In 2014, trends indicate increases in the number of cases in the People’s Republic of China, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Malaysia and Vanuatu, with Dengue Type 3 (DEN 3) affecting the Pacific Island countries after a lapse of over 10 years. Dengue was also reported in Japan after a lapse of over 70 years. In 2015 an increase in the number of cases was reported in Brazil and several neighbouring countries. The Pacific island countries of Fiji, Tonga and French Polynesia have continued to record cases.
  • [At least] 500 000 people with severe dengue require hospitalization each year, a large proportion of whom are children. About 2.5% of those affected die.

Epidemiology of dengue []

Dengue is currently regarded globally as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease. A history of symptoms compatible with dengue can be traced back to the Chin Dynasty of 265–420 AD. The virus and its vectors have now become widely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly over the last half-century. Significant geographic expansion has been coupled with rapid increases in incident cases, epidemics, and hyperendemicity, leading to the more severe forms of dengue. Transmission of dengue is now present in every World Health Organization (WHO) region of the world and more than 125 countries are known to be dengue endemic. The true impact of dengue globally is difficult to ascertain due to factors such as inadequate disease surveillance, misdiagnosis, and low levels of reporting. Currently available data likely grossly underestimates the social, economic, and disease burden. Estimates of the global incidence of dengue infections per year have ranged between 50 million and 200 million; however, recent estimates using cartographic approaches suggest this number is closer to almost 400 million.


Dengue is an acute mosquito-borne viral infection that places a significant socioeconomic and disease burden on many tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is currently regarded as the most important arboviral disease internationally as over 50% of the world’s population live in areas where they are at risk of the disease, and approximately 50% live in dengue endemic countries.

Dengue virus

There are four distinct dengue virus serotypes, all of which originate from the family Flaviviridae and genus Flavivirus. The serotypes are termed DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4, and infection with any of the four viruses results in lifelong immunity to that specific serotype. Each of the four serotypes has been individually found to be responsible for dengue epidemics and associated with more severe dengue.

Female Aedes aegypti mosquito

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


Transmission of the Dengue Virus [CDC]

Dengue is transmitted between people by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are found throughout the world.  Insects that transmit disease are vectors.  Symptoms of infection usually begin 4 – 7 days after the mosquito bite and typically last 3 – 10 days.  In order for transmission to occur the mosquito must feed on a person during a 5- day period when large amounts of virus are in the blood; this period usually begins a little before the person become symptomatic.  Some people never have significant symptoms but can still infect mosquitoes.  After entering the mosquito in the blood meal, the virus will require an additional 8-12 days incubation before it can then be transmitted to another human. The mosquito remains infected for the remainder of its life, which might be days or a few weeks.

In rare cases dengue can be transmitted in organ transplants or blood transfusions from infected donors, and there is evidence of transmission from an infected pregnant mother to her fetus.  But in the vast majority of infections, a mosquito bite is responsible.

In many parts of the tropics and subtropics, dengue is endemic, that is, it occurs every year, usually during a season when Aedes mosquito populations are high, often when rainfall is optimal for breeding.  These areas are, however, additionally at periodic risk for epidemic dengue, when large numbers of people become infected during a short period.  Dengue epidemics require a coincidence of large numbers of vector mosquitoes, large numbers of people with no immunity to one of the four virus types (DENV 1, DENV 2, DENV 3, DENV 4), and the opportunity for contact between the two.  Although Aedes are common in the southern U. S., dengue is endemic in northern Mexico, and the U.S. population has no immunity, the lack of dengue transmission in the continental U.S. is primarily because contact between people and the vectors is too infrequent to sustain transmission.

Dengue is an Emerging Disease

The four dengue viruses originated in monkeys and independently jumped to humans in Africa or Southeast Asia between 100 and 800 years ago.  Dengue remained a relatively minor, geographically restricted disease until the middle of the 20th century.  The disruption of the second world war – in particular the coincidental transport of Aedes mosquitoes around the world in cargo –  are thought to have played a crucial role in the dissemination of the viruses.  DHF was first documented only in the 1950s during epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand.  It was not until 1981 that large numbers of DHF cases began to appear in the Carribean and Latin America, where highly effective Aedes control programs had been in place until the early 1970s.

Dengue is endemic in at least 125 countries

Dengue is endemic in more than 125 countries in Asia, the Pacific, the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean.

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Major Snowstorms Forecast in China, U.S.

Posted by feww on January 20, 2016

Cold wave sweeps across China

[Source: Xinhua]

Much of China will experience a rapid drop in temperatures together with heavy snow and rain in the coming days as a strong cold front approaches the country.

The National Meteorological Center forecast sharp drops in temperatures across northwestern, northern and northeastern China, with the mercury plunging by as much as 14 degrees Celsius.

“The center warned of snow and rain in central and eastern provinces, which will see their coldest days so far this winter.

“Meteorological authorities in eastern Jiangxi Province forecast a cold snap from Wednesday, adding rain and snow to the coldest week since 1992.”

“The temperature will stay minus zero for several days. Only ten percent of the vegetables will survive,” said a farmer.

Major cities in the affected regions including Shanghai and Changsha are expected to see record low temperatures.

In Beijing, the freezing weather catapulted power demand, raising the grid peak load to a record winter high of 16.6 gigawatt Monday evening, said the report.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., NWS forecasters issued the following alert:

Potential major winter storm for the Eastern U.S. later this week

NWS forecasters are monitoring the possibility of a major winter storm affecting the
Northeast later this week, including the possibility of heavy snow for the urban corridor extending from Washington, DC, to New York and Boston Friday into Sunday. Based on the anticipated storm track, as much as 1 to 2 feet of snow is possible near and northwest of I-95. Coastal flooding is also likely.

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ZIKV Infection Cases Reported in Illinois

Posted by feww on January 20, 2016

Two pregnant Illinois women test positive for the Zika virus

Two pregnant Illinois residents, who recently traveled to countries where Zika virus is spreading, have tested positive for the virus, said the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

The latest development follows the case of a ZIKV infected infant in Hawaii who was born with microcephaly, on January 17, 2016.

The following statement was issued by the Illinois Health Department:

Two Illinois Residents Test Positive For Zika Virus

SPRINGFIELD (January 19, 2016). The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is alerting the public of the potential of contracting Zika virus while traveling abroad.  Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites, similar to West Nile virus or dengue fever.  While illness is usually mild and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, there is a possible link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects.

Two pregnant Illinois residents who recently traveled to countries where Zika virus is found have tested positive for the virus.  Physicians are monitoring their health and pregnancies.

“There is virtually no risk to Illinois residents since you cannot contract Zika virus from another person, but only through the bite of an infected mosquito,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “But since this is a time of year when people travel to warmer climates and countries where Zika virus is found, we are urging residents, especially pregnant women, to take preventive measures when traveling in affected countries and check health travel advisories.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, including:

Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. [See below for the full list.]

This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.  However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship.

Until more is known, CDC recommends that pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.  Pregnant women, women trying to become pregnant, or women who are thinking about becoming pregnant and must travel to one of these areas should talk with their doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes).  Symptoms can last from several days to weeks.  There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus infection.

When traveling to countries where Zika virus has been reported, all travelers should take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as using use insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.  More information about Zika virus can be found on the CDC website.  CDC has also developed interim Zika virus guidelines for health care providers in the United State caring for pregnant women.

Countries with past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission

Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission —CDC

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.]

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