Archive | June 10, 2014

Fatal Virus Kills Seven in Litchi, India

Virus Alert

A recent incident in West Bengal’s Malda district left everyone alarmed when seven children died due to an unknown virus infection found in litchis. The litchi syndrome is an infection caused due to a virus that has been attacking litchis, just when the much-awaited summer fruit hit the markets. This summer delight has lately been lethal for many when it caused sudden deaths immediately after its consumption. Since there was an abundant production of litchis in Malda this year, its price had trickled down in the past few days which led to rise in its consumption.
The children who died have been reported to be aged between two to four years. They were admitted to the state-run Malda Medical College and Hospital when their health condition began to deteriorate. “From June 3 to June 7, seven children have died. The viral syndrome occurred last in 2012 and can be called rare,” M.A. Rashid, hospital’s vice principal-cum-superintending officer.
Further scientific probe found that the litchi fruit virus once consumed reaches the brain which results in instant swelling. This rare infection is known to have originated in China, though it has been experienced in some parts of North India during summer months. Scientifically, it is known as encephalopathy. Encephalopathy refers to any type of brain damage or malfunction and can be of many types. It may cause permanent brain injury or even death, while in some cases it may be reversible.
“The parents noticed fever and spells of vomiting which intensified and culminated in convulsions, leading to death in five to six hours. The symptoms were sudden. A team of specialists from the School of Tropical Medicine in Kolkata and a team from Indian Council of Medical Research will visit the area, ” Rashid added.
In 2012, a similar spell of encephalopathy killed more than 100 children.

Deadly MERS Virus kills man in Algeria

MERS Virus Alert

Algeria said a 66-year-old man died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the first deadly case of the virus in the North African country

The man died late on Monday at a hospital in western Algeria where he had been receiving treatment since the confirmation of his infection late last month, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The man was one of two identified with MERS after returning from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, which has seen a jump in cases.

A 59-year-old man, the second confirmed case, is still being treated in hospital and his health has improved, the statement said.

Four Cases of Human Infection With H7N9 Virus are Reported to WHO

H7N9 Virus Alert

On June 4, 2014, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of four additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. Details of the cases are as follows:

A 61-year-old man from Yantai City, Shandong Province became ill on May 6 was admitted to a hospital on May 10 and subsequently died. The patient had exposure to live poultry. He is the father of the 33-year-old man described below.
A 33-year-old man from Yantai City, Shandong Province became ill on May 16 and was admitted to a hospital on the same day. He has mild symptoms of illness. The patient did not have exposure to live poultry. He is the son of 61-year-old man described above. He was living and caring for his father during his hospitalization.

A 51-year-old man from Huaian City, Jiangsu Province became ill on May 17 and was admitted to a hospital on May 25. He is currently in a severe condition. The patient had no exposure to live poultry.

A 51-year-old woman from Changzhou City, Jiangsu Province became ill on May 22 and was admitted to a hospital on May 27. She is currently in critical condition. The patient had no exposure to live poultry.

The Chinese government has taken the following surveillance and control measures: strengthen surveillance and situation analysis; reinforce case management and treatment; and conduct risk communication with the public and release information.

The previous report of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus detection in live poultry exported from mainland China to Hong Kong SAR shows the potential for the virus to spread through movement of live poultry. At this time there is no indication that international spread of avian influenza A(H7N9) has occurred. However as the virus infection does not cause signs of disease in poultry, continued surveillance is needed. Further sporadic human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) infection are expected in affected and possibly neighbouring areas.

Should human cases from affected areas travel internationally, their infection may be detected in another country during or after arrival. If this were to occur, community level spread is unlikely as the virus does not have the ability to transmit easily among humans. There has been no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, therefore the risk of ongoing international spread of H7N9 virus by travelers is low.

WHO advises that travelers to countries with known outbreaks of avian influenza should avoid poultry farms, or contact with animals in live bird markets, or entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals. Travelers should also wash their hands often with soap and water. Travelers should follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, nor does it currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions.

As always, a diagnosis of infection with an avian influenza virus should be considered in individuals who develop severe acute respiratory symptoms while travelling or soon after returning from an area where avian influenza is a concern.

WHO encourages countries to continue strengthening influenza surveillance, including surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns, in order to ensure reporting of human infections under the IHR (2005), and continue national health preparedness actions.

Tropical storm Two is forecast to strike Oman as a severe cyclonic storm at about 12:00 GMT on 15th June 2014

Tropical storm Two is forecast to strike Oman as a severe cyclonic storm at about 12:00 GMT on 15 June. Data supplied by the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that the point of landfall will be near 20.0 N, 59.3 E. Two is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 120 km/h (74 mph). Wind gusts in the area may be considerably higher.

According to the Saffir-Simpson damage scale the potential property damage and flooding from a storm of Two’s strength (category 1) at landfall includes: Storm surge generally 1.2-1.5 metres (4-5 feet) above normal. No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage. There is also the potential for flooding further inland due to heavy rain.

Landslide kills 3 workers in Phuket, Thailand

A landslide killed three Myanmar construction workers as they were excavating land to build a hotel on a hillside in Phuket’s Muang district on Tuesday afternoon, reports said.  According to the reports,… 

Cyclone strength winds up to 190kmh strikes New Zealand

storm 11/6
Cyclone-strength winds and heavy rain have caused chaos in Auckland, Northland, Waikato and the Coromandel Peninsula

Emergency services were kept busy as winds gusting up to 190kmh brought down trees, cut power and damaged properties.

Tens of thousands of homes were still without power this morning across Auckland and the Coromandel, and several schools were forced to close.

Across Vector’s northern network there were still 55,000 households without power this morning.

At the height of the storm there were 70,000 customers cut off. So far 15,000 homes have had power restored.


At the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which was forced closed, wind gusts reached 130kmh and at the Tiritiri Lighthouse in the Hauraki Gulf, up to 170kmh.

On the Whangaparaoa peninsula the average wind speed was 104kmh and in Coromandel winds hit 190kmh.

“I have some pretty high figures and I think it was one of the windiest nights,” MetService meteorologist John Law said.

“Cyclone category one or two would have an average wind speed of 89kmh to 117kmh. So that puts you into that category but that is not a direct comparison,” Law said.

Auckland had 60 millimetres to 70mm of rain in 24 hours.

The storm was this morning moving south.


The power outages were caused by three severe wind periods throughout the night blowing sodden vegetation on to lines or bringing trees down across lines, the last of those being about 3am this morning, Vector said.

Crews were assessing damage caused to lines reportedly by letterboxes, trampolines and garden furniture being blown into them.

At least one person was injured by a falling tree, a child hit when a tree crashed through the roof of a house in Manly, on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland. The child was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Auckland Transport said traffic on the city’s roads was generally flowing well but there was still debris about. It said some traffic lights may be out, particularly north of the harbour bridge.

The winds tipped over a truck on the Harbour Bridge about 3am, blocking two lanes. It was cleared about 5am and the bridge fully reopened.

A boat was also blown off its moorings and into the bridge, with its mast against the railing.

Many of the navy’s sailors got unscheduled leave after the storm blacked-out its main base in Auckland.

Lieutenant Commander Victoria Rendall said hundreds of non-essential staff were sent home from the Devonport Naval Base.


As the storm headed south, there were still severe weather warnings with more rain expected in the Bay of Plenty, as well as parts of the Coromandel, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

“But the good news is things are slowly going to improve as we head in towards the weekend,” Law said.

A commercial fishing boat with three people on board was in difficulty about 200 metres off the western Coromandel coast.

Police said the vessel had ropes wrapped around its propeller which was preventing it from making its own way. Its anchor was holding it in place in about 3m of water, off Amodeo Bay.

Emergency services were called to free a person trapped under a damaged house at Wharekaho, near Whitianga overnight.

Police closed Blacksmith Lane in Whitianga due to flying roof iron as firefighters worked to secure the roofs. State Highway 25 south of Whitianga, and the roads near Tairua and south of Thames were flooded.

Hamilton police city shift manager Sergeant Dave Raffan said a truck and trailer unit had rolled by the railway crossing on SH27 at Tatuanui about 5.30am.

There was flooding across parts of Hamilton and drivers were advised to take caution, he said.

MetService forecast persistent rain for Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay from tonight to Friday morning, with up to 250mm of rain possible in the ranges and 150mm in other areas.

In the Rangitikei district up to 200mm of rain could fall today and tomorrow.

In Wairarapa and eastern Wellington, up to 160mm is possible could fall overnight tonight.

Record-Breaking 118°F Heat Grips India, Causing Blackouts And Riots

Heatwave Alert

The usually chaotic streets of Delhi have been nearly deserted for days and the city’s markets have been eerily quiet. While the city is no stranger to warm weather, temperatures hovering around 115°F have kept even the heartiest sheltering indoors. On Sunday, a 63-year-old heat record melted away in a 118°F blaze.

“Every day, the heat seems to be getting more intense and is not bearable anymore. I have taken a week-long leave from work,” Amar Luthra, a young professional, told NDTV, adding that he planned to head to the hills as he could no longer bear to commute on his motorcycle.

The sweltering heat has led to a dramatic surge in demand for electricity in the city of over 22 million causing widespread blackouts. While most people in Delhi are accustomed to sudden power cuts, the current heatwave makes such cuts not just annoying, but dangerous.


The government is now cutting power to shopping malls and switching off street lights in an attempt to reduce the strain on the grid. Government officials will also get their AC cut over the next few days.

While the heat on its own can be deadly, it also bakes the polluted air in the city, leading to dangerous spikes in ground level ozone. Analysis of real-time air quality data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) monitoring stations from January to early June have recorded the rapid build-up of ozone as summer heat has intensified. In the week before the current heat wave set in, the average ozone level across the stations was 73 micrograms per cubic meter on June 1. That figure doubled by June 5, soaring past levels considered safe. There are around 8 million vehicles in Delhi that contribute to the toxic soup of chemicals that can cook into ozone.


In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, similarly sweltering weather has also caused widespread blackouts and water shortages as pumps shut down. Electricity demand in the state rose to 11,000 megawatts, far beyond the 8,000-megawatt capacity of the grid. Less than half of the state’s 200 million people have access to electricity under normal circumstances, but the recent power outages set tempers ablaze. Riots broke out across the state over the weekend. Electricity substations were torched and power company officials taken hostage.

While even extremely hot weather in India may not seem out of place to some, India isn’t the only country enduring an early heatwave this year.

Central Europe has been baking in unseasonable heat since last week. Berlin has seen temperatures over 90°F since Sunday, more than 20 degrees hotter than normal. Eastern France and southern Germany have also been flirting with 100°F for days. Switzerland, best known for its snowy alps, has been enduring temperatures in the mid 90s all week.

And in Japan, 4 people died last week and at least 1,637 people were hospitalized as temperatures in some areas topped out at 99°F. Japan’s aging population makes the country especially vulnerable to the public health effects of extreme heat.

In the U.S. more people die from extreme heat than any other weather-related cause. Heat waves are expected to increase in intensity and frequency as humans emit more heat-trapping greenhouse gases and the climate changes.

Plane set for East Midlands (UK) declares emergency

Breaking News

A Jet2 plane from East Midlands Airport to Murcia-San Javier in Spain has declared an emergency and has been redirected towards Paris where it now has now landed.

The nature of the emergency is yet to be released.


Subject To Change

Depth: 48 km

Distances: 121km (75mi) WSW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea
132km (82mi) WSW of Arawa, Papua New Guinea

373km (232mi) SE of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
506km (314mi) ESE of Kimbe, Papua New Guinea

661km (411mi) WNW of Honiara, Solomon Islands

Global view


Subject To Change

Depth: 13 km

Distances: 105km (65mi) WSW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea
116km (72mi) WSW of Arawa, Papua New Guinea

375km (233mi) SE of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
515km (320mi) ESE of Kimbe, Papua New Guinea

654km (406mi) WNW of Honiara, Solomon Islands

Global view