Tag Archives: NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

INDONESIA

12-12-2012

    Indonesian authorities have stepped up bird flu monitoring after thousands of poultry have died on Java island in recent months, officials said Wednesday. A strain of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus was believed to have caused the deaths among poultry in Jakarta and other areas, said Emil Agustiono, the head of the National Zoonosis Committee. “We are investigating whether the source of the outbreak were imported poultry,” he said. “If it came from one source, it will be easier to contain.” “We must remain vigilant and step up biosecurity to prevent its spread.” No humans had been infected by the latest strain detected on Java, said the Health Ministry’s director for disease control, Tjandra Yoga Aditama. He said the same mutation had also been found in Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

   SANTA CRUZ CALIFORNIA

   Marine biologists are working to uncover what caused several thousand Humboldt squid to wash ashore along the Santa Cruz County shoreline on Sunday. Thousands of squid carcasses are littering the 12 mile stretch of coastline from Aptos to Watsonville, where the high tide may have had something do to with the sea creatures essentially committing mass suicide. The general public is advised by scientists not to touch or eat the squid, as they may contain dangerous toxins. Hanna Rosen, a graduate student at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, told San Francisco’s CBS affiliate that she saw people trying to put the squid back in the sea, only to watch them return to the beach. ‘They don’t see the shore very often,’ Rosen said. ‘So it might just be that they don’t understand what’s going on around them, and they’re just trying to get away and don’t realize that if they swim towards the shore, they’re going to run out of water eventually.’ Scientists from Stanford said the squid were predominantly juveniles as adult Humboldt squid can grow up to six-feet long and 100 pounds. They added that the squid were probably conceived and born in Monterey Bay, but were unable to navigate their way out to open waters.

Tests have shown that the stranded squid were well-fed from feasting on smaller market squid and cannibalizing each other, which is normal behavior for the creatures. Sunday’s phenomenon marks the third squid stranding in the past six weeks, from Santa Cruz to Pacific Grove. Marine biologists are currently analyzing the contents of the animals’ stomachs to see if they ingested something that might have disoriented them. One theory under consideration is that the squid were disorientated after consuming toxic algae.Scientists have found traces of domoic acid, a toxin produced by algae, in some of the beached squid, but the findings are so far inconclusive. Humboldt squid have not been observed in the Monterey Bay waters for a few years, making recent events all the more suspicious. Some scientists attribute the phenomenon to this year’s El Nino weather patterns, which could have attracted them to the cooler climates of Northern and Central California’s coast. Conservation of the Humboldt squid off the coast of California is not a major concern because the squid can reproduce in mass numbers.

12-13-2012

AUSTRALIA

   It could be some time before Fisheries authorities know what killed hundreds of fish and crabs in Safety Bay this week but early indications point to low oxygen levels. Hundreds of fish including herring and flounder, blue manner crabs and eels were found dead over several days on the beach near Tern Island and the Bent Street boat ramp. Many concerned readers contacted the Courier over the weekend after spotting the dead marine life. Department of Fisheries spokesman on fish health Paul Hillier said the department had visited the site several times this week, but had been unable to find suitable samples of fish to test – with most too decayed. Mr Hillier said it was too early to confirm what had caused the deaths with water samples also being tested. “From the reports received and observations of the Fisheries officers, it appears that excess weed in the water system has probably depleted the dissolved oxygen, which may have caused the fish kill,” he said. “But the fish health researchers can’t confirm that conclusively until the appropriate testing is completed.”

NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Landslide in Paraguay

At least 11 Peruvians were killed and 10 more are missing after a mudslide Wednesday slammed into a small village in a mountainous jungle region, officials said. Those killed in the landslide include five children, Ronald Garcia, the provincial mayor said. The avalanche of mud and rocks swept away 24 homes when it crashed into the village of El Porvenir, in the northern department of San Martin, at dawn. The head of Peru’s Civil Defense Institute, Alfredo Murgueytio, told the daily El Comercio in an interview posted online that rescuers pulled 11 bodies from the rubble, and that 10 people are still missing. Mayor Garcia said that some of the missing people may have fled into the hills to save their lives.

Flood in U.K.

Whitehaven and Egremont are among areas to have suffered flooding. Network Rail said buses were being used for passengers travelling between Sellafield and Whitehaven, with the line expected to remain closed until Thursday. Spokesman Keith Lumley said: “Unfortunately we’re in exactly the same situation as we were last time. “The earth has slid down from the top of the embankment, the majority of which has been caught by concrete barriers we put in after the last slip. In Cleator Moor, St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Primary School was forced to close after the heavy rain caused some ceilings to collapse. No-one was injured. Police urged motorists to avoid the centre of Whitehaven after hours of torrential rain coupled with exceptional high tides flooded roads and waterlogged properties. Market Street, Tangier Street, Roper Street, Lowther Street and Coach Road have all been closed. No evacuations have taken place. A spokeswoman for the Anchor Vaults pub in Whitehaven said: “At the bottom of the stairs the water is up to my hips. “But the further you go through into the cellar where the barrels are it’s deeper still. “The electric has gone off and there are a lot of barrels floating in the water down in the cellar. We’ve tried pumping the water out, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to be going down any.” Martin Slack, of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, added: “We have been pumping out properties where necessary and monitoring water levels. “The Market Place area seems to have been the worst hit, with a lot of properties affected.”

HAILSTORM At  Los Alamos Airport NEW MEXICO

It turns out a recent hail storm at the Los Alamos airport didn’t do a lot of highly visible damage but that numerous dings to metal surfaces to parked aircraft are causing big problems. The Los Alamos Monitor (http://bit.ly/V84e3t ) reports that many planes’ thin metal surfaces suffered hundreds of dings and divots, making them a risk to fly. Airport manager Peter Soderquist says up to 18 planes were damaged last week by what he described as an intense storm that produced hail of about an inch in diameter. According to Soderquist, every plane at the airport was damaged one way or another.

NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

UNITED KINGDOM

A plague of “super-slugs” has arrived in the UK from Spain, travelling on imported salads and flowers. The Spanish invaders are mating with species already found in Britain to create a “mutant” species which threatens to eat its way through our crops and native slug species. The giant Spanish slug, which can grow up to 15cm long, has already travelled as far as Wales. They produce hundreds more eggs than native slugs meaning they are capable of overrunning British species. They could also spread parasites and diseases that could wipe out native slugs. “The Spanish Slug (Arion vulgaris) and a close relative nicknamed the Spanish Stealth Slug (Arion flagellus) are both an invasion threat,” said Gordon Port, an invertebrate expert from the Newcastle University. “Both species are known to be present in the UK, but in mainland Europe they have produced plagues and it is only a matter of time before the same thing happens here.” The slugs aren’t picky when it comes to eating. They’ve been known to eat through dead rabbits, dog faeces and even their fellow slugs. Drivers are also at risk. The plagues of slugs are known to cause slicks on the road where they have been run over and squashed.

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

On September 14, the El Paso County Public Health’s lab tested a wild rabbit found on the northeast side of Colorado Springs and confirmed the animal had plague. Investigators say the area where the rabbit was found is East of Powers Boulevard near the St. Francis Medical Center/Hospital. According to a statement released Friday, Public Health infectious disease experts conducted an investigation to determine potential human exposures and to assess the general area for additional plague concerns. The people exposed have been identified and have been given antibiotics to prevent plague from developing. “Plague health alert” flyers will be provided to residents and signs will be posted in the general area to raise the level of awareness and ask people to take precautions to prevent plague. Public Health will continue to monitor plague activity in the area and maintain the signage as appropriate. Plague is a bacterial disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected flea. In humans, the symptoms are high fever, chills, headache, extreme fatigue and tender or swollen lymph glands. Public Health advises residents who experience these symptoms to contact their physician. El Paso County’s last reported human case occurred in 1991. The public shouldn’t attempt to catch, feed, handle or exterminate prairie dogs or any type of squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit or other wild animal. Also, keep your dogs on leashes and cats inside and do not allow them to chase wild animals. If you live in the affected area, it is especially important to keep cats indoors, because they are more vulnerable to plague than dogs. Residents within the affected area should also clear property of trash, lumber piles, and other areas where animals my live or hide. Talk with your veterinarian about treating your pets for fleas. Plague is endemic in El Paso County and precautions to prevent plague should always be taken. Additional information on plague can be found at the link below.

Verrado, ARIZONA

Two students at Verrado High School in Buckeye have been diagnosed with MRSA, a contagious skin infection, Agua Fria Union High School District officials have confirmed. They may have been exposed the infection, which is sometimes called a “superbug,” while participating in an after-school wrestling club. The private club includes Verrado students and students from other schools. Earlier, Verrado school officials indicated that one student was diagnosed with the superbug, and two other students were exposed and tested for possible infection. “Two families are now telling us that their children have MRSA,” said Tom Huffman, principal of Verrado High School. Huffman confirmed that the third student was allowed to return to campus and the two infected students will be able to return once they have been treated with antibiotics. The school has had no other reports of MRSA and is continuing to disinfect areas that could be contaminated. On Thursday, Verrado officials also alerted other wrestling club members and Verrado football players, who use the same athletic facilities. The school’s physical education facilities, including the wrestling room, weight room and the boy’s locker room, were disinfected on Thursday afternoon, said Phillip Nowlin,Verrado’s athletic director in a letter sent to parents on Friday.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a contagious bacterial infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is often called a superbug because it is resistant to many commonly used antibiotics. Outside of healthcare facilities, cases of MRSA are often skin infections which appear similar to a boil, a spider bite, or an infected pimple. The bumps can be swollen, red and painful. People with open wounds or broken skin are more susceptible to the bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All athletic rooms and classrooms will be disinfected over the weekend and will remain open for use, Huffman said. Earlier school officials had planned to close Verrado’s athletic facilities over the weekend. Now that won’t be necessary, school officials say. Verrado High School has 1,625 students. The district which has 6,640 students and high schools in Goodyear,Avondale and Buckeye. On Thursday, Nowlin was first notified that a student was diagnosed with the infection. The district will not identify the infected students, citing health privacy laws. Nowlin has said the students participate in an after-school wrestling club, which rents Verrado High School’s wrestling and sports facilities. In a letter to parents, the district encouraged students to wash hands thoroughly with water and soap, or hand sanitizer; to avoid sharing hygiene items such as razors and towels; and to bandage wounds, cuts and scrapes.

CROOK COUNTY, OREGON

A Crook County woman diagnosed with the plague is believed to have contracted the disease from the same outdoor cat that also infected a Prineville man earlier this summer. The Crook County Health Department reported Friday that the woman was bitten by the same outdoor cat that also bit Prineville resident Paul Gaylord, who was diagnosed with plague bacteria Yersinia Pestis in June. Gaylord spent several weeks in intensive care at a Bend hospital. The two were bitten by the cat at approximately the same time, the health department said. Laboratory blood tests conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed late last week that she had tested positive for the disease. The woman, whose name was not released, was beginning to display symptoms in June, and was attempting to get treatment at an unnamed hospital outside Crook County. She told doctors that she may have the plague, but doctors at the hospital did not believe this was possible, according nurse Karen Yeargain, communicable disease coordinator for the health department.

At the same time, Yeargain had put together a list of people that may have come in contact with Gaylord. Yeargain contacted the hospital, and informed them of the situation. “Her efforts there to receive treatment as a contact to a case of plague were being met with disbelief, as you might imagine, and it just wasn’t happening,” said Yeargain in a statement. “As we later found out, she was also starting into early symptoms that were similar to our known case. With my phone call confirming that this was real, the hospital Emergency Department literally walked her medication to the room where she was located and got her started. Yeargain said that the woman may have gotten critically ill if doctors had not gotten her the proper medication in time. She was administered antibiotics, which stopped the illness from progressing. The plague is a bacterial illness that can be spread through a bite from an infected flea, or by contact with an infected animal or person. Since 1995, only six people, including these two cases, have been diagnosed with the plague in Oregon. None of them have died.

LANDSLIDES In Darjeeling, INDIA

Landslides triggered by heavy overnight rain in the hills caused extensive damage in six tea gardens, while the National Highway 31A which was blocked was cleared by the Border Roads Organisation on Saturday. Work had to be stopped for the day in Takdah and Lopchu gardens because of the landslide, while Bannockburn, Phoobshering, Ging and Pussimbing reported loss of tea bushes, Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) Principal Secretary, Sandip Mukherjee said. “Takdah received around 18 inches of rainfall in the last 24 hours. A 40ft road in Takdah has been washed away in four places and five culverts have been damaged in landslides. There is no approach road to the garden factory now,” Mukherjee said. He said 13 labour quarters and two culverts were affected by the landslides at Lopchu. “Tea bushes in an acre have been uprooted in Lopchu and road connectivity within the garden has become a major problem. Given the extent of the damage, no work could be carried out in Lopchu,” he said. Road communication in the Ging tea garden, about 20km from Darjeeling, was hit after three culverts were damaged. “In Phoobshering, 6,500 tea bushes have been uprooted by the landslides. There is no approach road to the factory now. Water has also seeped into the garden factory,” he said. He alleged that constructions under the 100-days work scheme aggravated the situation in the tea gardens. District Magistrate Saumitra Mohan said “The NH31A was blocked at Tarkhola, Melli and Kalijhora but all major roads have been cleared of debris with the help of agencies like the Border Roads Organisation and the public works department.” Mohan, also the principal secretary of the GTA, said an order has been issued to all subdivisional officers and block divisional officers, that any project was to be cleared only after taking into account environmental concerns and technical viability.

NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

 

LANDSLIDES & FLOODING IN CHINA

 More than 300 tourists were evacuated after a landslide hit a forest resort in central China’s Hubei province on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.The landslide happened at 2 p.m. in Shennongjia, a forestry resort known for its natural beauty and disrupted traffic on the 209 national highway, said an official with the resort.However, no casualties have been reported so far.On Monday, a landslide hit the same section of the highway which runs from Inner Mongolia’s capital Hohhot to Beihai city in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Traffic did not resume until 2 a.m. on Tuesday.The resort’s workers blamed continuous rainfall for the frequent landslides in the region.

Continuous torrential rain in east China’s Jiangxi Province has left four people dead, it was announced on Wednesday.By 9 am Wednesday, 18,000 residents who were threatened by floods had been relocated, according to a statement issued by the provincial civil affairs department.Torrential rain has disrupted life for 543,000 residents in 34 counties, districts and cities of the province, and damaged 33,900 hectares of crops, the statement said.More than 5,700 houses have been toppled, with another 4,200 seriously damaged, it added.The National Disaster Reduction Commission and the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Monday initiated an emergency response to battle the rain-triggered disaster.Storms have affected large parts of southern China, bringing landslides.In Shaoguan city of Guangdong Province, which borders Jiangxi, one person was killed and another two were missing after rain-triggered landslides.Landslides also disrupted traffic on a section of an international highway in Tibet Autonomous Region, and in Shennongjia, a forestry resort in central China’s Hubei Province, although the flow of vehicles had resumed on Wednesday.


DEADLY THUNDERSTORMS IN NEPAL

Six persons, including two women and as many girls, were killed and over 50 others injured in a thunderstorm at Balwatoli in Bihar’s Kishanganj district, an official said today. The thunderstorm accompanied by cyclonic wind and hailstorm struck the area yesterday trapping the inhabitants under its fury killing six persons, while over 50 others sustained injuries, Disaster Management Additional Collector Shatrughan Chaudhary said. Of the dead, five of them were identified as Chameli Begum (10), Navolal Ram, his son Neeraj Kumar, Mando Devi, Samukta Khatun, he said. The injured were admitted to hospitals, Chaudhary said. The thunderstorm also caused largescale devastation in the area damaging several houses, he said. An ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh will be paid to the kin of the victims and Rs 10,000 will be given those whose houses have been damaged, the Assistance Collector said.

 


Federal appeals judge stops Planned Parenthood injunction, allows women’s health law

http://www.startribune.com/nation/149667895.html

NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

WEST COAST JELLYFISH INVASION

Strange, jellyfish-like creatures swarming a coastal nuclear power plant: It might sound like the premise of a cult horror flick, but the invasion has prompted officials at the Diablo Canyon facility in San Luis Obispo, Calif., to curtail operations for at least a few days. The plant’s operator, Pacific Gas & Electric, cut power generation from one of the plant’s two reactors to 25 percent of its capacity, spokesman Tom Cuddy said Wednesday. The other reactor was shut down this week for what PG&E described as routine refueling and maintenance, a procedure that could take about a month.

Workers on Monday discovered an influx of the creatures, called salp, clogging screens that are used to keep marine life out of the sea water used as a coolant, Cuddy said. Often thronging many square miles of ocean in huge, gelatinous masses, salp are tubular, transparent organisms that can be roughly the size of a human thumb. No one knows how many are at the Avila Beach plant or how long they will remain. “We’ll continue to monitor the intake structure and clean the salp off the screens,” Cuddy said. “Once they decide to move on and it’s safe to do so, we’ll resume full power.” That could take several days, he said, but no blackouts or interruptions are anticipated. Jellyfish swarmed Diablo Canyon in 2008, triggering a steep, sudden decrease in power generation. Over the years, they have been a problem at nuclear plants in the U.S., Japan, Israel and Scotland. The San Onofre plant in northern San Diego County, while currently closed over several equipment issues, has not had a jellyfish problem, according to a spokeswoman for its operator, Southern California Edison.

Salps do not usually go coastal. “Ordinarily they live further out at sea,” said Larry Madin, a salp expert and research director at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. “It sounds like these were brought in on a current or blown in by wind.” Salps live about a year. “They’re quite elegant animals,” Madin said. “They’re beautiful. They look like they’re made of cut glass, but they’re soft.” Research by Madin and his colleagues suggests that salps play a role in reducing greenhouse gases. They absorb carbon from plankton and drop it in heavy pellets to the sea floor, where it sits, instead of rising into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. When asked what he would advise for Diablo Canyon, Madin said, “Wait a few days. They’ll probably go away and probably won’t come back soon. They’re harmless _ they don’t sting _ but they’re not too good for power plants.” Victor Dricks, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the salp pose no threat to the plant. Curtailing operations while the creatures cling to the filters is a prudent move for PG&E, he said, because any potential shutdown is easier when the generator is at less than full power.

RECORD BREAKING TEMPERATURES IN THE U.S.A.

Spring unofficially turned to summer Wednesday. San Angelo broke the 100-degree mark for the first time this year, reaching 104. The heat broke the previous record for the day, 99 degrees, set on April 25, 1996. The normal high temperature for April 25 is 83 degrees. The April weather could have been worse. In 1925, San Angelo recorded 107 degrees on April 19, the highest temperature ever recorded on an April day in San Angelo. The earliest recorded date the temperature has reached 100 degrees in San Angelo was April 6, 1972. Yes, the immediate forecast predicts “sunny and hot” weather. And, yes, the temperature may break 100 degrees again today. And, yes, that will set another hot weather record (the old high for April 26 is 99, set in 1943). But the heat may back off a bit going into the weekend. The National Weather Service’s short-term forecast calls for highs of 96 Friday, 91 on Saturday, 79 Sunday, 81 Monday and 85 Tuesday. The weekend also brings a chance of rain, with cloudy weather and a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday night through Tuesday. Terry Huber, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in San Angelo, said he thinks three factors caused Wednesday’s unusually hot weather: a very strong high pressure ridge just to the west causing air compression — and therefore, heat — near the ground; clear skies with plenty of sunshine; and surface winds blowing into the Concho Valley from the south and southwest, which also caused compression and heat. Huber said the unusually hot conditions will continue at least through Thursday. He said in such hot weather it’s important to check on the conditions of elderly people and, if working outdoors, to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids.

BIG FOREST FIRE IN CHINA

More than 1,000 people are struggling to extinguish a forest fire that has been raging in a rural area of southwest China’s Yunnan Province since noon on Wednesday, according to an announcement on Thursday. The blaze has spread across more than 27 hectares of forest on a mountain near the village of Luohe in Yuxi city, a spokesman with the local forest fire control headquarters said. It was triggered by splashing coke from a blast furnace of a nearby steel plant, the spokesman said. Firemen, troops, police officers and local residents have been mobilized to put out the flames, but steep hills and dense vegetation have added difficulties to the operation, he added.

18 KIDS POISONED IN BULGARIA

18 of the children hospitalised with poisoning in the town of Kyustendil have been released, Mayor of Kyustendil Petar Paunov said. At around 10 p.m. on Wednesday the Emergency Room in Kyustendil received 18 children with vomiting. The children are of first to third grade. Later on, 15 more children were received at the E.R. They are from schools from Sofia, Lozen and Kostinbrob, and were on a green school at a spa centre. “At 11 p.m. I received a signal from the parents of some of the children and I went to the hospital immediately. The first symptoms were detected at around 22 p.m. yesterday. There were 18 children hospitalised already. There was a full coordination at the spot among the management of the hospital where the emergency room is, the management of the local structure of the food safety agency and the regional health inspectorate. Authorities have already taken samples of the vomiting of the children and the food offered at the hotel,” the mayor explained. Paunov assured that the current state of the children is not worrying and almost half of them are already ready to be released from hospital.

 

NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Wandoswaar INDONESIA 6.9 QUAKE with a depth of  20.51 miles,  Datimun INDONESIA 6.3 QUAKE with a depth of  24.85 miles ON APRIL 21st

APRIL 20th MAJOR FOREST FIRE IN INDIA!

Hundreds of hectares of forest was destroyed when a major fire broke out in the dense forests on Tirumala hills on Thursday, sources at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams said. They said that vehicular traffic came to a halt on the first ghat (down route) road for over an hour as the fire was noticed spreading downhill and moving quickly towards the road close to the statue of Lord Hanuman on the hills this afternoon. By the time fire tenders reached the spot, the fire destroyed one km length of forest close to the road, they said. Forest officials made a vain bid to contain the raging fire even two hours after dusk, the sources said. A thick blanket of smoke was visible as far as in Puttur, 35 km from here, according to devotees.

 APRIL 22nd CHEMICAL EXPLOSION IN JAPAN

Two blasts at a chemical plant in western Japan killed one worker and injured at least 22 others on Sunday, police said. The first blast occurred at around 2:15 a.m., and ther second at 8 a.m. The explosions and fire occurred at a factory operated by comprehensive chemical manufacturer Mitsui Chemicals in Yamaguchi Prefecture, an official at Yamaguchi prefectural police said. The deceased was a 22-year-old male employee, police said, with Jiji Press identifying him as Shota Sunakawa. Nine other company employees and workers for subcontract companies were severely or slightly injured, while at least four residents in the neighborhood were slightly injured, police said. The fire is not extinguished yet as the fire department is cooling the plant while waiting for combustible materials to burn out,” he said. “It may take more than a few days for us to find out the cause of the accident, but we are investigating it as a case of professional negligence resulting in death and injury,” he said. The plant had been manufacturing materials to make adhesives, he said.

 APRIL 22nd FOOD POISONING IN SOUTH AFRICA

Ambulances were bringing 67 children with suspected food poisoning from Chintsa to medical facilities in East London on Saturday afternoon, Eastern Cape health authorities said. “The children are all pupils at Byletts School,” department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said. The boarding school called the health department on Saturday when an abnormal number of children started suffering acute diarrhoea. They were being taken to Frere Hospital, Cecilia Makhwane Hospital and Gompo Community Health Centre in East London. “The staff are on stand-by to admit the children,” Kupelo said. He explained that food poisoning was a problem at schools in remote areas of the Eastern Cape where hygiene and proper food preparation procedures were sometimes neglected. In recent months there were three incidents where provincial health authorities had to fetch nearly 1000 children from rural villages all with suspected food poisoning.

APRIL 23rd BIRD FLU IN TAIWAN

Three poultry farm workers have been tested positive for the H5N2 avian influenza strain but none have displayed flu symptoms, Taiwan’s disease control authorities said. They were among 141 people working at five poultry farms where the avian flu was discovered. Tens of thousands of chickens in the farms have been culled since the outbreak of H5N2 in the past few months. Medical experts believe the test results may well be a cross-reactivity since all the three persons had flu jabs last year. Cases of humans who tested positive for H5N2 while showing no health disorders were previously reported in South Africa and Japan between 1993 to 1995. Taiwan authorities confirmed the outbreak of H5N2 following sporadic reports in farms in central Taiwan. The flu has so far affected chicken farms in Changhua, Tainan and Nantou.

APRIL 24th EXPLOSION IN CANADA

An explosion has rocked a sawmill in Prince George, B.C., setting off a massive fire and sending 23 people to hospital. RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass says five people were unaccounted for two hours after the blast at the Lakeland Mills sawmill. “Obviously our priority at this point is trying to track down those five people,” Cpl. Douglass said. “We do have a police dog team on scene working with the fire department.” The Northern Health Authority issued a news release saying a Code Orange was called at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia. Twelve were taken there by ambulance and another 11 arrived by other means. The blast rocked houses kilometres away and Cpl. Douglass said the fire is expected to consume the building. “The fire is fully engulfed,” the officer said. “They’re throwing water on it but I don’t think it’s going to be one we can win.” The explosion shattered a quiet evening for Glen Thielmann, who was reading bedtime stories to his kids when the blast occurred at about 9:40 p.m. “It rocked the house and sucked the window shut.” Shortly afterwards, he said his mother called from down the street and Mr. Thielmann walked down the block to join his neighbours, who were watching the flames consume the mill in the distance. Mr. Thielmann said he lives about two kilometres away from the mill site. He estimated the flames had shot more than 60 metres into the air. Two hours later, clouds and steam were still pouring from the mill.

APRIL 24th Blue Green Algae outbreak in AUSTRALIA

The Gordonbrook Dam, north of Kingaroy in southern Queensland, remains closed after another toxic blue-green algae outbreak. It is the third time in three months the dam has been closed due to algae. South Burnett Mayor David Carter says there is nothing council can do about another outbreak. He says although the dam supplies the Kingaroy township’s water supply, locals should not be worried. Mr Carter says the dam has been closed more than 50 per cent of the time this year due to the algae. “We’ve looked at some different issues we may be able to do, and it just one of things that’s triggered environmentally and we don’t understand it quite enough just yet,” he said. “It’s one of those things it’s just a matter of monitoring it. “Unfortunately we need to close it when the levels are too high.”

NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Landslide in Vietnam

One was killed and at least 7 are still missing in a rockslide that happened early Sunday morning at a 3-hectare earth and rock dump located near a coal mine in the northern province of Thai Nguyen. Thousands of cubic meters of earth and rocks suddenly fell onto around ten houses situated right beneath the tip where the materials, dug out from the Phan Me mine, have been dumped for years, local witnesses said. The winesses added that several people managed to escape the slide, among whom was Ha Van Xuan, who is being treated at a local hospital. Xuan’s wife Vu Thi Hong has been confirmed death after her body was found this afternoon. Police, soldiers, firefighters, and militias have been deployed to find the missing victims, but little hope is seen under the huge amounts of earth and rocks at the scene. A lack of specialized machines like bulldozers and excavators have greatly hampered their search and rescue efforts so far. Newswire Vietnamplus reported that earth and rocks mined at Phan Me have been dumped here in huge amounts during the past years, which make mountain-like heaps. Phan Me is owned by a local state-owned metal processing company.

Plague In Vietnam

More people are reported suffering from stiffness of the limbs, respiratory problems, and miscarriages, caused by a peculiar and unidentified skin ulceration that has plagued the central province of Quang Ngai since April [2012], said medical authorities from the province. According to statistics of the Son Ha District Medical Centre on [11 Apr 2012], the numbers of people suffering from the bizarre skin disease have increased to 50, most of them being residents of Son Ba and Son Ky Communes. Since 8 Mar 2012 to date, 3 inhabitants of Son Ky Commune have succumbed to the disease and 13 others are suffering from eye disease and respiratory problems. Medical experts suspect the victims are suffering from poisoning from chemical herbicides, as they were affected soon after spraying the chemical in cassava fields. The provincial health authorities have yet to determine the cause of deaths, but believe use of high contents of chemical herbicides have polluted the water sources in the commune. Residents in these communes use [Kanup 480 SL], a herbicide, imported by the Viet Thang Company in the northern province of Bac Giang. The chemical was offered for sale in the company’s catalog on [5 Nov 2011]. Samples of water, soil from cassava fields, and herbicide packages have been collected for testing. Preventive medicine centres in the province have warned people not to use the present water source but find an alternative source. Farmers must eat meals before spraying on fields, drink sugar water when experiencing symptoms, and visit a medical centre immediately.

Blanket Factory Collapses in India

At least 250 people were feared trapped under the debris of a blanket factory building that collapsed late on Sunday night in Focal Point area near here, police said. Efforts are underway to rescue the people trapped beneath the debris, they said. According to eye-witnesses, the entire factory building collapsed after an explosion in the boiler and it is estimated that around 250 to 300 people were present inside the building at the time of the incident. District Magistrate and senior police officials have rushed to the factory site to take stock of the situation.

Oil Spill In Nigeria

French oil major Total has shut down a gas plant in Nigeria’s onshore Niger Delta, following a leak caused by a technical incident, the company said in a statement. The leak occurred on a block that also contains crude oil in Rivers state, one of the three states that make up the Niger Delta, a vast wetlands region veined with hundreds of kilometres of labyrinthine creeks and waterways. “On April 3rd, Total E&P Nigeria Limited (TEPNG) was alerted about some water and gas resurgence points, observed in an uninhabited area close to its onshore Obite gas production facilities, on the OML 58 license,” a statement on the company’s website said. “This event is the likely consequence of a technical incident that occurred during drilling operations on the same site, on March 20. There have been no injuries. Production from the Obite gas plant has been stopped and wells shut down.” The company said it was working hard to limit the impact on the environment from the leak. It did not say how much gas output was affected or if any oil output had been cut off. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and holds the world’s seventh-largest gas reserves. Its light oil is popular with U.S. and Asian buyers, but it remains a relatively small player in the gas business. Block OML 58 also produced around 76,000 barrels per day of oil in 2004 and this increased in 2008, the company said on its website. The statement did not say if oil production at the site had been affected by the shutdown.

Human Rabies in Canada! Rage Virus?

Toronto has reported its first case of human rabies in 81 years, in an unidentified person who may have become infected during travel outside the country. Toronto Public Health won’t reveal the gender or age of the individual or say where and when the person had been travelling. Dr. Elizabeth Rae, associate medical officer of health for the city of Toronto said officials in an unnamed country have been notified of the case so that they can investigate whether the person’s contacts there need to be given treatment to prevent rabies. People exposed or believed to have been exposed to rabies are given a combination of rabies shots and human rabies immune globulin, antibodies taken from the blood of people immunized against rabies. Toronto Public Health is interviewing close contacts of the person and hospital staff who treated him or her before the diagnosis of rabies was made. “We’re still in the middle of those moving numbers. But I can tell you all told, the number of people that even need to be screened to find out if there’s a problem is probably going to be under 75,” Rae said. The investigation isn’t helped by the fact that it isn’t known how the person contracted the rabies virus, which is almost always fatal. By the time the diagnosis was made, the person was too ill to help in the investigation, Rae suggested. “We do suspect that it’s travel related. That part is not entirely clear yet, but it might become clearer in the next couple of days. Because one of the things that the laboratory does is strain typing of the specific (virus),” Rae said. “So what actual strain of rabies is it?”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is testing samples from the person to try to identify the strain of rabies, which could indicate which animal the infection came from and where transmission took place. Charles Rupprecht, chief of the rabies program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control explained that studying the genome of the particular virus can tell you a lot about what might have happened. “You can exquisitely type . . . the virus. And so for example you could tell that it’s a bat rabies virus from say the New World or it’s a dog rabies virus from Haiti or it’s a raccoon rabies virus from North America,” Rupprecht said. “What it doesn’t tell you necessarily is the animal that did the biting.” By that Rupprecht meant that the test won’t be able to tell if a rabid bat infected a cat and the cat infected the person. Testing would simply show infection with bat rabies. Knowing the animal that transmitted the virus is important because rabies cases involving domestic animals like cats or puppies can often result in multiple people being exposed where cases triggered by a rabid bat, skunk or raccoon may be more likely to be solo infections. The lab work should give investigators a fairly precise picture of where the virus came from, Rupprecht said, noting testing should be able to show — he used the example of a dog rabies virus — whether it came from Hispaniola, or Cuba or Latin America. “All of these rabies viruses have very distinct signatures,” he said in an interview from Atlanta. Rae wouldn’t comment on the condition of the infected individual, nor could she say whether the person is being treated with the Milwaukee Protocol, the name given to a treatment regime involving drugs to induce coma and antivirals.

The protocol saved the life of the first person known to have survived rabies infection, a (then) teenager named Gina Giese, who was treated in Milwaukee in 2004. Rupprecht noted the girl recently graduated from university. A handful of other people have subsequently survived thanks to this treatment. But rabies remains the most fatal infectious agent known to humankind. This is the first case of human rabies in Toronto since a three-year-old boy was infected in 1931. The last time Ontario reported a case was in 1967, when a four-year old girl in the Ottawa Valley contracted the disease. There have only been three other human cases of rabies in Canada since the turn of the century: one in Quebec in 2000, one in British Columbia in 2003 and one in Alberta in 2007. Though generally deadly, rabies isn’t easy to catch. Rae said infection occurs when a saliva from an infected animal gets into the body via a break in the skin or through contact with the mucous membranes in the mouth, nose or eyes. There have been no documented cases of human-to-human transmission of rabies, except where organs or body parts from a person who died of rabies but was never identified as a rabies case were transplanted into other people.

Oil Spill Near Seattle

Coast Guard and state officials are responding to an oil spill at the Bell Harbor Marina on Elliott Bay in Seattle. Coast Guard and state officials are responding to an oil spill at the Bell Harbor Marina on Elliott Bay in Seattle. Ecology spokesman Larry Altose says there’s enough oil to coat the marina area, but it’s difficult to tell how much has spilled. It appears to be tens of gallons. The spill was reported Tuesday morning by employees of the Port of Seattle, which owns the boat harbor. The port has hired a contractor to clean the oil.