Archive | May 16, 2015

Deadly Ebola makes a come back to Guinea and Sierra Leone

Ebola Virus

Sierra Leone yesterday reported its first confirmed Ebola case in 8 days, as the virus flared in a new hot spot in Guinea, tempering the encouragement from a report earlier this week that both countries were making progress toward zero cases, the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) reported today.
In other developments, two new genetic studies showed reassuring signs that the outbreak strain isn’t gaining changes to make it a bigger threat, and responders reported some of their activities in Liberia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update today that the three countries have had 26,763 confirmed, probable, or suspected cases and that 11,074 deaths have been reported. The totals include cases reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone as of May 13. No new cases or deaths have been reported in Liberia in several weeks, and the country was declared free of the virus on May 9.
Guinea finds 15 cases
Sierra Leone’s new case-patient is from the Moa Wharf area near Freetown where two of the country’s most recent cases were reported, in a mother and her 10-year-old daughter. UNMEER said the patient left the area and was missing for about 2 weeks. It said surveillance teams took the patient to a treatment center and are looking for people who may have had contact with the individual.
Guinea reported 15 new cases in the first 3 days of this week, including 9 from an outbreak of in Dubreka district, UNMEER said. All of the patients are from Tanene subdistrict. None were registered contacts, but investigations after the illnesses were detected found links to other cases. Several contacts of a confirmed case in Boke had fled to Tanene using public transportation while showing symptoms of the disease, UNMEER said.
Media reports suggested that the number of fresh cases in Guinea is even higher. A government official told Reuters that there are 27 patients in treatment centers, including 18 confirmed Ebola cases. The official said people contracted the disease at funeral ceremonies.
The WHO warned in its weekly epidemiologic report 2 days ago that cases in Guinea could increase. It said one of the cases last week was in Dubreka and that preliminary reports suggested there were three related cases. It added that Guinea’s response indicators were still shaky, raising concerns that cases could surge again, as they have several times in the course of the outbreak.
Global health officials predicted earlier this spring that the outbreak would have a long and bumpy tail. Responders have faced increasing urgency to shrink the number of cases and limit them to urban areas ahead of the rainy season, which will slow the response and make it difficult for medical teams to reach remote areas.
Genetic studies reassuring
Genetic studies on Ebola viruses published over the past few days have found no worrisome signs, despite preliminary findings last fall that raised some concerns that the outbreak strain was changing faster than expected.
Researchers from the University of Florida and their colleagues from Italy looked at samples from humans and great apes collected during epidemics from 1976 to 2014. In Nature Scientific Reports yesterday they wrote that most genetic changes seem to be lost between epidemics, and they found little evidence that the virus is evolving to become more powerful or transmissible.
Taj Azarian, PhD, lead author with the department of epidemiology at the University of Florida, said in a university press release that concerns about airborne Ebola may persist, but the likelihood of its becoming an airborne infection is very low.
Meanwhile, Chinese scientists with links to a lab in Sierra Leone wrote in a May 14 Nature letter that the virus became more diverse between July and November, with the emergence of multiple lineages. However, they said the rate was similar to viruses in other Ebola outbreaks. They based their analysis on 175 full-genome samples from five hard-hit districts in Sierra Leone from September through November.
They added that the sharp increase in diversity warrants extensive surveillance to better understand evolution and transmission dynamics.
Lessons from Liberia
Outbreak responders from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their international partners today shared more lessons they learned from battling the disease in Liberia, now free of the disease. They detailed their experiences in two reports in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), one on Liberia’s last cluster and the other on a ring approach to infection prevention at non-Ebola health facilities early this year.
In the first report, they described how tried-and-true strategies were successful in stamping out the last known cluster. The index patient was a 50-year-old woman who got sick in late December in the Monrovia area. Over the next 7 weeks, 21 additional cases were linked to contact with the woman, and there were three generations of transmission.
Tactics for stamping out transmission included early detection of new cases, managing contacts in appropriate settings, effective triage in healthcare settings, and rapid isolation of asymptomatic contacts, the team wrote.
In the ring strategy report, responders described a program of intensified infection control practices at health facilities in areas of active Ebola transmission. Liberian health officials and their partners took the step in January and February in response to what turned out to be the country’s last cluster, which was in and around Monrovia.
In the 22-person cluster, 8 sought care at non-Ebola health facilities. The team noted that the ring efforts appeared to be associated with an increase in detection and isolation of suspected and probable Ebola patients, and only one of 166 exposed health workers who were contacts of the cluster patients got sick with the virus.
The authors concluded that the ring infection prevention strategy might be useful for limiting the spread of Ebola in other settings.
Courtesy of

Vet believes epidemic ‘dog flu’ in Texas, USA

Epidemic Alert

Canine influenza has been called a serious epidemic involving a viral strain never before seen in the United States, and one veterinarian believes canine influenza may be in Central Texas.
Like humans, dogs can get vaccinated for the most common version of canine flu, but there’s no specific vaccine for this strain, and experts don’t know if the current one will even help protect dogs from getting sick.
Homeopathic veterinarian Will Falconer diagnosed Sara Strandtman’s 3-year-old Akita, with canine influenza.
Strandtman said Mica was sneezing, feverish and had runny eyes and a severe cough. Strandtman said she had never heard of canine influence, but the symptoms matched exactly.
Influenza H3-N2 is typically found in dogs in Asia. It’s now running rampant through the Midwest. An estimated 1,300 dogs in the Chicago area are sick. Some kennels and shelters are temporarily shut down and many owners are keeping their animals away from dog parks. The virus is highly contagious and in some cases fatal.
“You get dogs in close confinement together and it spreads from one to the next,” Falconer said. “The tricky part about it is a dog can be infected with it even before they show symptoms and they can spread it to the next dog.”
To combat canine flu, some vets are giving sick dogs antibiotics or cough suppressants, but Falconer said homeopathic medicine shortened the length and severity of Mica’s case. Homeopathic remedies are available at health food stores.
If you suspect your dog may have the flu, let your vet know the symptoms before you go in, so staff can take special precautions and keep the virus from spreading.
Experts said humans cannot get this form of the virus from their dogs.
Courtesy of


Subject To Change

Depth: 10 km

Distances: 88 km E of Kathmandu, Nepal / pop: 1,442,271 / local time: 20:44:00.0 2015-05-16
40 km SE of Kodāri, Nepal / pop: 1,600 / local time: 20:44:00.0 2015-05-16

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Subject To Change

Depth: 10 km

Distances: 24km (15mi) N of Ramechhap, Nepal
55km (34mi) E of Panaoti, Nepal
55km (34mi) E of Banepa, Nepal
76km (47mi) ESE of Kathmandu, Nepal
76km (47mi) E of Patan, Nepal

Population Exposure Map

State of emergency declared due to bird flu outbreak in Nebraska, USA

State Of Emergency

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed a state of emergency declaration on Thursday after federal agriculture officials determined a second farm in the state has tested positive for the highly contagious avian flu virus H5N2.
Ricketts’ action follows similar moves by governors in other hard-hit states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. The declaration opens the door to releasing emergency funds and other aid to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and other state agencies trying to contain the bird flu outbreak.
The current outbreak, officials say, poses little threat to humans and no human infections have been reported so far. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease is not spread through eating poultry or eggs, and proper handling and cooking of poultry products kills the virus.
However, the outbreak does pose serious problems for the poultry industry, with over 33 million birds infected in 16 U.S. states over the past few months. Millions of chickens and turkeys have had to be destroyed. “While not a human health threat, the discovery of avian influenza is a serious situation for our poultry sector, and I want to provide responders with access to all appropriate tools to address it,” Ricketts said in a statement.
State officials do not know how the virus spread to the second farm, which houses 1.8 million egg-laying hens in Dixon County, but they have confirmed that it is nearby the first farm that tested positive earlier this week. Both farm sites are owned by the same company; officials declined to name the firm.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is coordinating a response to the outbreak. Current USDA avian influenza response plans call for the quarantine of affected poultry and poultry-moving equipment, euthanizing infected flocks, and disinfecting affected locations. Officials will also test birds found within a 6.2-mile radius of the infected farm.
Courtesy of


Subject To Change

Depth: 10 km

Distances: 161 km NE of Bogotá, Colombia / pop: 7,102,602 / local time: 04:00:55.8 2015-05-16
53 km E of Tunja, Colombia / pop: 117,479 / local time: 04:00:55.8 2015-05-16
8 km S of Aquitania, Colombia / pop: 5,718 / local time: 04:00:55.8 2015-05-16

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Subject To Change

Depth: 15 km

Distances: 129 km W of Santiago, Chile / pop: 4,837,295 / local time: 04:51:53.2 2015-05-16
30 km W of Valparaíso, Chile / pop: 282,448 / local time: 04:51:53.2 2015-05-16

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Raining spiders in Goulburn, Australia? Entirely possible, scientist says

Paddocks in Albury show the extent of the ‘spider rain’.
Paddocks in Albury show the extent of the ‘spider rain’. Photo: Keith Basterfield
Millions of baby spiders appeared to be raining from the sky in the Southern Tablelands earlier this month, with one astonished local fearing the region had been “invaded by spiders” and another reporting his home was “covered” in the creatures.
Goulburn resident Ian Watson said his house looked like it had been “abandoned and taken over by spiders”.
“The whole place was covered in these little black spiderlings and when I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred metres into the sky.”
Fields are covered in spiderwebs amid rising floodwaters in Wagga Wagga.
Fields are covered in spiderwebs amid rising floodwaters in Wagga Wagga. Photo: Reuters
It was beautiful, he said. “But at the same time I was annoyed because … you couldn’t go out without getting spider webs on you. And I’ve got a beard as well, so they kept getting in my beard.”
Watson took to Facebook to confirm he wasn’t the only one getting rained on by tiny black spiders. “Anyone else experiencing … millions of spiders falling from the sky right now?” he wrote on the town’s community Facebook page.
“I’m 10 minutes out of town and you can clearly see hundreds of little spiders floating along with their webs and my home is covered in them. Someone call a scientist!”
A home surrounded by spiderwebs as floodwaters rise around Wagga Wagga in 2012.
A home surrounded by spiderwebs as floodwaters rise around Wagga Wagga in 2012. Photo: Reuters
Naturalist Martyn Robinson from the Australian Museum said two migration techniques associated with spiders would explain why locals might have thought it was raining spiders.
The first, a dispersal technique called “ballooning”, is more commonly used by baby spiders, although some adults use it as well. The spider climbs to the top of vegetation and releases a streamer of silk that catches on the breeze and carries the spider aloft.
Spiders have been caught flying like this up to three kilometres above the ground, Robinson said.
“They can literally travel for kilometres … which is why every continent has spiders. Even in Antarctica they regularly turn up but just die,” he said.
“That’s also why the first land animals to arrive on new islands formed by volcanic activity are usually spiders.”
In some years, the mass migration of baby spiders means “you can have entire fields and paddocks and trees festooned with this gossamer or Angel Hair, as some people call it,” he said.
Gossamer is a non-adhesive silk that snags easily, one of nine different kinds of silks produced by spiders.
South Australian retiree Keith Basterfield has been tracking Angel Hair events since 2001 and appealed via the Goulburn Post for anyone who had witnessed last month’s event to contact him.
He has since heard from two residents.
“Around the 27th April we experienced this and thought we were been invaded by spiders for two days,” wrote one woman, who said she lived 30 kilometres from Yass.
“[E]very time I’d walk outside my feet would get covered in very fine cobweb-like substance and the clothes line and clothes were absolutely entangled in it.”
Another woman said she was sitting on the front verandah on May 4 when she saw what looked like lots of silk thread “floating through the sky.”
“It lasted for at least 30 mins. It was quite amazing,” she wrote.
The second phenomenon linked to angel hair, which can occur at the same time as ballooning, usually happens after heavy rains or floods.
“When the ground gets waterlogged, the spiders that live either on the surface of the ground or in burrows in the ground, come up into the foliage to avoid drowning,” Robinson said.
Much like baby spiders searching for a new home, these ground spiders throw silk “snag lines” up into the air and when they catch, use these to haul themselves up and out of the water.
The Angel Hair effect can be particularly dramatic after floods, when masses of spiders are using the same silk “roads” to escape, he said.
“Everywhere a spider goes it leaves a trail of silk … so if they use somebody else’s silk line, they put their silk line over that,” Robinson said.
“You end up with thick silk roads … criss-crossing finer silk lines to produce this interwoven shroud.”
He emphasised that it was unlikely any of the species of spiders involved in these phenomena were harmful. “There’s nothing to worry about … They’ll all disperse once the weather conditions warm up.”
Courtesy of

Atmospheric Electricity


Atmospheric Electricity

The first edition of the textbook Physics of the Air by W. J. Humphreys was published in 1920 with a second edition appearing in 1929 and the third [and final] edition appearing in 1940.

William Jackson Humphreys (February 3, 1862 – November 10, 1949) was an American physicist and atmospheric researcher.

He worked in the fields of spectroscopy, atmospheric physics and meteorology.

In the field of spectroscopy he found the shift of spectral lines under pressure.

In atmospheric physics he found a very good model for the stratosphere in 1909.

He wrote numerous books, including a textbook titled Physics of the Air, first published in 1920 and considered a standard work of the time, though it was last published in 1940.

Physics of the Air was considered “a standard work” between the 1920s and 1940s and provides a wonderful insight into Atmospheric Science before the era of

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Subject To Change

Depth: 2 km

Distances: 198 km NE of Prague, Czech Republic / pop: 1,165,581 / local time: 06:14:23.5 2015-05-16
71 km NW of Wrocław, Poland / pop: 634,893 / local time: 06:14:23.5 2015-05-16
7 km N of Lubin, Poland / pop: 77,532 / local time: 06:14:23.5 2015-05-16
7 km SW of Rudna, Poland / pop: 1,619 / local time: 06:14:23.5 2015-05-16

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