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Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Disaster Declared amid Deadly Wildfires in South Africa

Posted by feww on June 10, 2017

Thousands flee their homes as Knysna declared a disaster area

Wildfires in the South Africa’s Western Cape town of Knysna are causing large-scale destruction, leaving about 10,000 about thousands of people displaced.

Uncontrolled wildfires have destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes, dozens of schools and scores of businesses, reports say.

At least ten people have been killed by the raging blazes that have also consumed several hectares of veld (grassland). said a report.

Winds of up to 110km/h were reportedly fanning the blazes.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille declared the province a disaster area last month, as “the most crippling drought in century” plagued the province.

Dam levels in the Cape area fell to an alarmingly low of 19%, with only 11.6% usable.

In 2015, South Africa experienced its driest year on record, according to the national weather service.

In 2016, Authorities declared drought disaster in five South African provinces—Limpopo, North West, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga—as worst drought on record continued to plague much of the country.

Drought decimated the nation’s agricultural output, killing livestock, pushing up food prices and increasing unemployment.



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Drought Disaster Declared in Western Cape Province, SA

Posted by feww on May 22, 2017

  • CJ

Water levels in dams that supply Cape Town drop to 11% of capacity

Port City of Cape Town has already imposed a water restrictions after dam levels dropped to about a tenth (11%) of their capacity.

“The Karoo and West Coast municipalities were declared a disaster area in 2016, but the disaster area has now been extended to the entire province,” said a report.

  •  Additional information available from FIRE-EARTH PULSARS.

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Drought Severely Affects Malawi and Zimbabwe

Posted by feww on May 25, 2016

Severe food shortages in southern Africa worsening dramatically

Severe drought said to be related to El Nino weather pattern is affecting southern and eastern Africa. Drought follows extreme rain events and severe flooding that had previously inundated parts of the region.

“The crisis has affected some 32 million people in Southern Africa alone, and experts say they expect new assessments to rise to nearly 50 million people in early June.”

Africa’s breadbasket is empty

The UN World Food Program estimates that 16 million people in southern Africa are affected by the El Nino phenomenon, and that’s not counting the drastic increase of numbers in South Africa. Seven of the country’s nine provinces have been declared disaster areas. The government has channeled the equivalent of 55 million euros towards emergency aid. A country which normally produces so much corn that it can provide for the needs in neighboring Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland is now forced to import huge quantities.

Hunger in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe declared a state of emergency back in February. Owing to the drought, today almost one out of three Zimbabweans is dependent on aid. In the past twelve months, rain precipitation was about half that of the previous year.

The situation is particularly dire in the Mudzi district in northeastern Zimbabwe, on the border with Mozambique. Over 85 percent of the population there is dependent on food aid.

Malawi plagued by extreme drought

Malawi is also suffering from extreme drought. Prices for staple foods like corn, beans and rice, have risen steeply. People this year have less than five percent of the amount produced in recent years at their disposal. More than half of the country’s population of 15 million is now dependent on aid. Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika declared a state of emergency in April and called on the world to help.

Mozambique: Drought in the south, floods in the north

Most water sources in the country have dried up. Much of the water that can still be found is salty. Animals are dying and the harvest will be even more meager than last year. A total of 600,000 Mozambicans are dependent on emergency aid. Authorities expect the number to increase significantly in the next couple of weeks. Rita Namucho, spokesperson for the country’s national water utilities, is very worried about the situation in Combumune: “For the last few months it has been possible to cross the river on foot. This is unusual because we are still in the rainy season.”

Meanwhile, recent rains in the north have destroyed 3,500 houses. “Many people drowned in the floods,” director of the Mozambican Center for Civil Protection told DW. Mozambique is one of the ten countries of the world hardest hit by climate change.

Angola’s government ‘is looking away

In Angola, the areas most affected by drought are the southern provinces of Cunene and Huila. DW correspondents have reported about people dying of hunger in an area inhabited by some three million people.

Read more…


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Drought Affecting 2.7 Million Households in South Africa

Posted by feww on February 19, 2016

Five SA provinces have already been declared drought disaster areas

Authorities have declared drought disaster in five South African provinces—Limpopo, North West, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga—as worst drought on record continues to plague much of the country.

Drought has decimated the nation’s agricultural output, killing livestock, pushing up food prices and increasing unemployment.

Speaking to the parliament, President Zuma said the drought issue was a big problem affecting millions of people across the country.

“The impact on the agricultural sector is severe and it will affect us for a long time to come.

“Farmers are facing serious challenge of dying livestock due to the drought… fact is, the drought is here…”

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Severe Drought Killing Crops, Cattle in South Africa

Posted by feww on January 14, 2016

South Africa paralyzed by worst ever drought, record temperatures

South Africa experienced its driest year on record in 2015, reported the national weather service on Thursday.

Severe drought continues to threaten the vital maize crop impacting the country’s economy.

The rainfall was about two-thirds of the 608mm annual average making 2015 the driest year on record since 1904.

“Weather officials said Sunday that just in the past week there have been 11 fatalities from heatstroke in the North West province after a week of record high temperatures.” Read more…

Drought has reached crisis point

The drought currently being faced by South Africa has reached crisis point. Provincial dam levels are down in all provinces, standing at 57% of capacity as of last week, compared to 82% for the same time last year. This represents a major economic and humanitarian crisis as food security is placed under threat and the livelihood of those in the agricultural sector is placed in jeopardy. This is not a crisis limited to commercial farming, but extends to each and every South African and the poor in particular.

Food crops will be affected across the board. When I visited Hoopstad and Bothaville in the Free State, less than 3% of the maize had been planted, and the planting season has now passed. This is the least number of hectares planted since 1926.

Grain SA said that South Africa imported about 750,000 tonnes of maize to meet the country’s needs. The 2015/16 season will see this increased to 5 million tons of maize. It is expected that we will also have to import about 10 million tons of grain, rice and soya into the country. This would put a heavy burden on our harbour and transport infrastructure while the decline in the Rand over December will increase the cost of this exercise greatly.

Rising food prices, particularly of maize and wheat, which are the staple diet of many South Africans, pose serious problems for the urban and rural poor. The drought will put pressure on food prices, with hikes likely in everything from maize and grains, to meat, poultry and dairy products. Read more…

Drought, record temperatures killing herds

Drought is killing thousands of cattle as well as crops, leading to a rise in food prices.

Cattle farmers in the Free State province are being forced to slaughter or sell their animals at give-away prices because the severe drought, which began in the summer of 2015, has scorched the grass they feed on.

‘‘Thousands of cattle have died. And farmers are now paying high prices for animal feed, making it difficult for farmers to substitute it for grass,’’ said Dr. Jack Armour, Free State’s Agriculture operational manager.

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South Africa Facing its Hottest Year Ever

Posted by feww on November 10, 2015

Second Heatwave of Year Hits South Africa

The heatwave is forecast to persist until Thursday with maximum temperatures hovering around 40°C in the northeast of the country.

The extreme weather conditions are forecast to persist in South Africa throughout the summer. The country is facing what may be its hottest year ever, said a report, as its largest city Johannesburg [metro pop: 4.5 million] announces water restrictions.

The country has already experienced two seasons of below-normal rainfall. Consequently, farmers are forced to plant only 2.5 million hectares of maize, a 3.8 percent reduction from last year, said a report.

Authorities have declared the provinces of Kwazulu Natal and Free State as disaster areas due to drought.  Two additional areas—Limpopo and Mpumalanga— are also expected to declare agricultural disaster, the report added.

“South Africa’s first maize production forecast estimates the 2015 harvest to be the worst in eight years,” according to a UN report released earlier this year. The farmers stand to lose up to R10 billion this year.

Last year, the drought destroyed about a third of the nation’s maize crop.


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Deadly Quake Strikes South Africa

Posted by feww on August 5, 2014


M5.3 Strikes Near Orkney, South Africa

Centered at 26.986°S, 26.741°E the rare quake struck at a depth of about 10.0km (6.2mi), said USGS/EHP.

The epicenter was located about 125 km (73 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, and 199km (124mi) SW of Pretoria, South Africa. The quake, which killed at least one person, is said to be the largest in the southern Africa region since 2006, when a magnitude 7.0 shock occurred in  Zimbabwe, according to Geological Survey of South Africa.

Induced Seismicity

There is increasing evidence that some earthquakes are  triggered or caused by human activities. Although the area around JHB is not prone to seismicity, it is plagued by the deepest gold mines in the world.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: FIRE-EARTH EQ Forecast.  For detailed FIRE-EARTH Earthquake Forecasts tune into FIRE-EARTH Reports daily @ 06:32UTC.

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Large Hail Stones Destroy Crops in NZ

Posted by feww on December 16, 2013


Submitted by a reader, edited by FIRE-EARTH

Golf ball-sized hail destroy crops, smash windows in Canterbury, New Zealand

Massive hail stones tore across mid-Canterbury, New Zealand, destroying crops and smashing scores of windows, said a report.

A fierce storm moving north along the South Island triggered a hailstorm dumping large hail on Mayfield, near Ashburton, for about 50 minutes.

The hailstorm broke scores of windows at homes and businesses across the township, residents said.

“Local crop farmer Rab McDowell predicted about 40 per cent of his carrot and maize crops were a ‘right off,’ but he would know more in the morning.”

“I haven’t seen hail through here that broke windows before,” he said.

Golf ball-sized hail falls on Southern Downs, QLD. Australia

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued a severe thunderstorm warning covering the entire Darling Downs in southern QLD, and surrounding  areas earlier today.

There were reports of golf ball-sized hail falling at Dalveen near Stanthorpe, said local reports.

On November 19, 2013, golf ball-sized hail bucketed down on Australia’s Gold Coast causing substantial damage to buildings, trees and crops.

Several hailstorms across parts of South Africa also produced golf ball-sized hail stones on 12, 14 and 28 of November 2013 causing major damage to property and crops.

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Drought Disaster Declared in 6 California Counties

Posted by feww on March 14, 2013

USDA designates 6 Calif counties disaster areas amid ongoing drought

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated six counties in California as agricultural disaster areas, both primary and contiguous, due to damages and losses caused by the recent drought.

  • The designated counties are Kings, Fresno, Kern, Monterey,  San Luis Obispo and Tulare.

US monthly precipitation map mar-feb-2013U.S. Monthly Precipitation Map, February 12 – March 13, 2013 (Total Precipitation, Last 30 Days). Source: HPRCC

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Other Disasters, Significant Events

HIV Epidemic in South Africa

More than 28 percent of schoolgirls are HIV positive in South Africa, according to the latest official figures.

  • About 4 percent of schoolboys are also HIV positive.
  • “It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls. It is old men. We must take a stand against sugar daddies because they are destroying our children,” SA Health Minister told reporters.
  • More than 94,000 schoolgirls fell pregnant across the country in 2011.
  • “Some (pregnant pupils) are known to the department of education, but there is a number which the education department does not know about. (About) 77,000 girls had abortions at public facilities. We can no longer live like that. We want to put an end to it,” the minister said.
  • “There is also a high number of TB infections … there is a lot of death and a lot of illness here. It is for this reason that we chose the district to be one of the 11 in the country where the National Health Insurance program will be piloted.”


DISASTER CALENDAR — March 14, 2013   SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,094 Days Left 

Mass die-offs resulting from human impact and the planetary response to the anthropogenic assault could occur by early 2016.

  • SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,094 Days Left to ‘Worst Day’ in the brief Human  History
  • The countdown began on May 15, 2011 …


Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background

Posted in Global Disaster watch, global disasters, global disasters 2013, global Precipitation, global precipitation patterns | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Flooding in Mozambique Displaces 70,000, Killing Dozens

Posted by feww on January 26, 2013


[January 26, 2013] Mass die-offs resulting from human impact and the planetary response to the anthropogenic assault could occur by early 2016.

  • SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,141 Days Left to the most Fateful Day in Human History
  • Symbolic countdown to the ‘worst day’ in human history began on May 15, 2011 …


Global Disasters/ Significant Events

“We are eating grasshoppers”

Severe flooding, triggered by week-long extreme rain events in South Africa and Zimbabwe,  continued to spread across southern Mozambique.

“The number of displaced people now stood at 67,995 while nearly 85,000 have been affected by the raging waters in recent days, the UN said, urging donors to urgently make more funds available ‘to help deal with this emergency’ in the impoverished southeast African nation.”

Hunger is setting in among tens of thousands of the victims who are waiting for help to arrive, said a report.

“We are eating grasshoppers,” a flood victim told AFP, adding that she believed they were the “lucky ones.”

“We have family in the town, our aunts. They must be on the rooftops now,” she said.

“We left at midnight without taking food. We have nothing to sleep under.”

The Great Crocodile Escape

A crocodile farm in northern South Africa was forced to open its gates after being inundated, letting loose at least 15,000 crocodiles.


Several ‘mini-tornadoes’ spawned by the remnants of cyclone Oswald have hit the Queensland coast injuring about two dozen people, as severe weather and flooding batters the disaster state.

The tornadoes have damaged scores of homes and forced the evacuation of towns around Bundaberg, reports said.

  • Tornadoes  caused severe damage to coastal townships of Bargara and Burnett Heads, both of which have since been declared disaster areas.

Further north, severe flooding in Gladstone led to the city (population ~ 30,000) being declared a disaster zone, and the authorities told at least 2,000 people  to evacuate.

Oklahoma, USA

The drought in Oklahoma has caused more than $2 billion in damage in the past two years, said a report.

oklahoma drought map
Oklahoma Drought Map. Source: Drought Monitor Archives

  • “Cities are facing water rationing, and Tulsa residents will see dying lawns, trees and plants.”
  • It cost twice as much to feed the livestock. “A load of feed, which lasts about a month, has gone from about $3,500 to $7,500.”
  • USDA has declared 917 counties as primary and contiguous drought disaster areas including the entire state of Oklahoma and parts of 25  other states, in January 2013.

high plains drought map
High Plains Drought Map. Source: Drought Monitor Archives


Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background

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Hard Freeze Hits the U.S.

Posted by feww on October 5, 2012


[October 5, 2012] Mass die-offs resulting from human impact and the planetary response to the anthropogenic assault could occur by early 2016. 

  • SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,258 Days Left to the ‘Worst Day’ in Human History


Global Disasters/ Significant Events

“Early season” snowstorm surges south and east across the U.S.

A powerful early season snow storm is forecast to bring light to heavy snow, freezing temperatures and strong winds to the north-central Plains today. Snow will expand to the central Plains and the northern Rockies on Friday and Saturday, NOAA forecasters said.

  • Forecasters in several locations are calling for overnight low temperatures in the 20s that will bring an end to the growing season. A hard freeze with temperatures in the 20s is expected through 9 a.m. Friday in western South Dakota and northeast Wyoming. Freezing overnight temperatures are also expected in parts of Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.
  • The cold front is expected to move into much of the Eastern United States and the Deep South.
  • Hard Freeze WarningsFreeze Warnings, Hazardous Weather Outlook,  and various winter-weather watches and advisories are in effect across much of the country.

Other Disasters/ Significant Events

China. Landslide death toll in Yiliang County, located in SW China’s Yunnan province,  has climbed to at least 19, including 18 primary school children.

  • Eight-hundred residents were relocated after the landslide.
  • Yiliang was struck by a cluster of earthquakes on September 7, which left 81 people dead and 800 others injured, said a report.

Rescuers search at the landslide site in the village of Zhenhe, located in Yiliang County, Zhaotong City, 
Yunnan Province, southwest China, October 4, 2012. Nineteen people, including 18 primary school students, who were buried in the landslide on Thursday are now confirmed dead. (Xinhua/Long Jiao).  More photos…

South Africa.  Anglo American Platinum, world’s largest platinum producer, has fired 12,000 striking South African miners after a protracted strike over wages, reports said.

  • Clashes between striking miners and police left one worker dead.
  • Some 34 miners were shot dead by the “post-apartheid” police in August.

Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background


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Washington Declared a Disaster Area

Posted by feww on March 6, 2012

Disaster in Washington state caused by severe winter storm, flooding, landslides, and mudslides

The Disaster President has declared a major disaster exists in the State of Washington in the areas affected by a severe winter storm, flooding, landslides and mudslides during the period of January 14-23, 2012.

Disaster Calendar 2012 – March 6

[March 6, 2012]  Mass die-offs resulting from human impact and the planetary response to the anthropogenic assault could occur by early 2016.  SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,471 Days Left to the ‘Worst Day’ in Human History

  • Washington, USA.   The Disaster President has declared a major disaster exists in the State of Washington in the areas affected by a severe winter storm, flooding, landslides, and mudslides during the period of January 14-23, 2012.
    • Areas worst affected by the disasters were Clallam, Grays Harbor, King, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Skamania, Snohomish, Thurston, and Wahkiakum counties.

Other Global Disasters

  • The Republic of Congo.The U.S. State Department has declared disaster in Congo after explosions in the capital Brazzaville.
    • The death toll from Sunday’s explosion that flattened buildings in Brazzaville has climbed to at least 236.
    • Many others are believed to be trapped under debris and the death toll may rise.
    • The explosions were reportedly started by a fire at a munition depot.
  • Georgia, USA.  A state of emergency has been declared in Paulding County, Ga., after an EF3 tornado hit the area.
    • The tornado damaged or destroyed more than 160 buildings.
    • “The Paulding County Regional Airport is temporarily closed due to more than $6 million in damage. Twenty-three planes were damaged, and 18 are a total loss, but authorities hope to have the runway open by the end of the week,”  said a report.
  • NSW, Australia.  NSW state government has declared a state of emergency for Wagga Wagga.
    • The deluge in the region has already been  described as the worst flooding in 40 years.
    • Wagga residents are working frantically to raise levee banks to hold back rising flood waters of the Murrumbidgee River.
    • The Burrinjuck dam, upstream from the city, has already reached about 110 per cent of its safe capacity, reports said.
    • Up to 10,000 people have already been evacuated from the Wagga Wagga CBD and those who stayed to protect their properties are now being urged to leave.
    • Wagga Wagga has received 188mm of rain since Feb. 27, its highest rainfall on record, causing the worst flooding in 160 years.
    • Since the NSW flooding began last week, about 14,000 people have been evacuated and at least 7,500 others have been isolated.
    • The cost of restoring roads, properties, fencing, livestock and infrastructure has already exceeded A$500 million, local government officials have said.
  • Queensland and Victoria. Widespread flooding continues also in two other states of Queensland and Victoria, with some areas receiving more than 160mm of rain in less than 48 hours.
  • Afghanistan.  A massive avalanche has obliterated a village in Afghanistan’s north-eastern Badakhshan province near the Tajikistan border, killing art least 40 people, and injuring more than a dozen.
    • The death toll is expected to rise as many others are reported missing.
    • Avalanches in the Badakhshan province left dozens of people dead in January.
  • UK.  “Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection has been identified on 121 farms [up from 92 farm on March 2, and 11 farms on January 31, 2012.] Eight of the positive cases have been diagnosed in cattle, 113 in sheep, and none to date in other species. Four new counties have reported disease: Devon, Dorset, Cambridgeshire and Somerset,” AHVLA reported. “So far, none of the affected farms have reported importing animals during 2011 from the affected areas in mainland Europe. SBV infection has only been identified in areas at risk of midge incursion from Northern Europe during summer / autumn 2011.”
  • Germany.  In Germany, animals on at least 847 farms have been tested positive for Schmallenberg virus, as of March 5, 2012, FLI reported.
  • Rest of Europe. Numbers of Schmallenberg infection in the Netherlands, BelgiumFrance, Italy and Luxembourg appear to be heavily under-reported.

Australian Disasters

Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background

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Thousands More Flee Australia’s NSW Floods

Posted by feww on March 5, 2012

UPDATE: An urgent evacuation order affecting more than 8,000 residents has been issued for central Wagga Wagga in southern NSW as floodwaters continue to rise to a 160-year high.


Issued at 10:00 pm EDT on Monday 5 March 2012

Flood Warning Number: 30

The Murrumbidgee River at Wagga is expected to peak near 10.90 metres around 9:00am Tuesday morning with major flooding. This prediction is slightly higher than the 1974 flood event.

The Murrumbidgee River flood peak at 9:00pm Monday was upstream at Eringoarrah where the peak level exceeded the 1974 flood height.

Major flooding is expected downstream of Wagga Wagga.  (Source Australia BOM)

9 more areas declared disaster zones; at least 5,000 ordered to evacuate NSW flooded areas

Severe flooding across three Australian states has left at least two people dead and forced more than 5,000 to evacuate.

Disaster Calendar 2012 – March 5

[March 5, 2012]  Mass die-offs resulting from human impact and the planetary response to the anthropogenic assault could occur by early 2016.  SYMBOLIC COUNTDOWN: 1,472 Days Left to the ‘Worst Day’ in Human History

  •  Australia.  Severe flooding across three Australian states has left at least two people dead and forced more than 5,000 to evacuate, with many others placed on high alert as flood levels continue to rise.

Australia rain map (week ending March 5, 2012)

  • New South Wales (NSW).  The state government has declared 9 more areas disaster zones.
    • The new local government disaster zones are: Young, Upper Lachlan, Boorowa, Weddin, Coolamon, Corowa, Gundagai, Snowy River and Cooma-Monaro.
    • The government has now declared more than 35 local government areas as natural disasters due to extreme rainfall events.
    • Many areas remain isolated after the unprecedented rain including the towns of Griffith, Leeton and Narrandera.
    • Also evacuated are parts of Cowra, Ungarie and Yoogali.
    • Flood warnings have been issued for 15 river valleys across NSW.
    • The Murrumbidgee river has breached its banks in several areas, threatening to inundate the city of Wagga Wagga (pop: ~ 50,000).
    • Major Flooding Forecast for Wagga Wagga, Naranderra, Darlington Point, Carathool, Hay and Balranald.
  • Queensland (QLD).  Parts of the state of Queensland (QLD) have been hit by the floods following torrential rainfalls.
    • A  town north of Brisbane, capital of QLD, received 312 mm (12.3 inches) of rain in a 24-hour period.
    • Flood warnings posted here.
  • Victoria. Flood and weather warnings for the state of Victoria posted here.

Other Global Disasters

  • KZN, South Africa.  “Hundreds of families have been left homeless and many roads and streets in Durban and other coastal areas north of the city right up to Kosi Bay were turned into raging rivers as tropical storm Irina wreaked havoc across the province,” a report said.

Australian Disasters

Global Disasters: Links, Forecasts and Background

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Viral hemorrhagic fever kills 4 in Johannesburg

Posted by feww on November 1, 2008

Killer virus in South Africa identified

South African health officials  have identified a viral hemorrhagic fever which killed four people in Johannesburg. They believe the bug is a new strain of the deadly arenavirus.

Vero E6 tissue culture cell infected with an arenavirus.  Image shows extracellular virus particles budding from the cell surface.  Magnification approx. 12,000 times. Image courtesy Cynthia Goldsmith, MS, Infectious Disease Pathology Activity, DVRD, NCID, CDC.

Epidemic curve of cases of infection with an arenavirus, South Africa, September – October 2008. Source: Special Pathogens Unit and Epidemiology Division, NICD; Gauteng Provincial Outbreak Response Team and partners; SA-FELTP residents; Department of Anatomical Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand and the National Health Laboratory Service. Image may be subject to copyright.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified the new strain, which has not been named yet.  that has yet to be named, said Barry Schoub, executive director of the National Insititute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).

“The virus is new in terms of its genetic make up and there is currently no vaccine against it, [and has] high lethal potential for humans.” said Barry Schoub, executive director of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).

South Africa’s department of health first identified the disease in a woman who was airlifted from Zambia to a Johannesburg hospital in September, 2008. AFP reported.

The female patient, a member of the medical staff who accompanied her, a nurse and a hospital cleaner who came into contact with her, later died.

“A last person who is currently under observation at a hospital is responding well to (anti-viral) treatment,” said Janusz Paweska, head of a special pathogens unit at NICD.

What are the Arenaviridae? (Source CDC)

The Arenaviridae are a family of viruses whose members are generally associated with rodent-transmitted disease in humans. Each virus usually is associated with a particular rodent host species in which it is maintained. Arenavirus infections are relatively common in humans in some areas of the world and can cause severe illnesses.

The virus particles are spherical and have an average diameter of 110-130 nanometers. All are enveloped in a lipid (fat) membrane. Viewed in cross-section, they show grainy particles that are ribosomes acquired from their host cells. It is this characteristic that gave them their name, derived from the Latin “arena,” which means “sandy.” Their genome, or genetic material, is composed of RNA only, and while their replication strategy is not completely understood, we know that new viral particles, called virions, are created by budding from the surface of their hosts’ cells. (Source: CDC).  Fact Sheet (PDF)

Related Links

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