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Tue, 12 Dec 2017
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Plagues


Biohazard

Death toll in Madagascar plague hits 195

© Getty
Some experts fear the bacteria that causes the illness could become resistant to antibiotics.
The death toll from plague in Madagascar has risen to 195 as experts warn the outbreak of the disease has reached crisis point.

A total of 2,267 people have now been infected by the illness since the outbreak began in August, according to the World Health Organisation - a jump of three per cent in recent days.

Experts fear the bacteria that cause the plague could become resistant to antibiotics as a result of doctors over-subscribing medication in a bid to control the spread of the illness - potentially creating a strain of plague that is far more difficult to treat.

The outbreak is thought to be the worst in 50 years and scientists fear it could spread to mainland Africa and beyond.

The current spread of the disease is unusual in that most of those affected have had the pneumonic form of plague, which affects the lungs and can kill within 24 hours. It can be transmitted through the air via coughing and sneezing and so spreads easily.

Comment: Plague outbreak plunges Madagascar into a state of emergency


Info

An update: Sunspots a la Cyclic Catastrophism

© NAOJ/Nagoya University/JAXA
Fig. 1 Fifty years of constant Sun observation.
This post is a response to "Variation of the Solar Microwave Spectrum in the Last Half Century", Masumi Shimojo et al. Astrophysical Journal, Volume 848, Number 1.

The abstract states:
"... we found that the microwave spectra at the solar minima of Cycles 20-24 agree with each other. These results show that the average atmospheric structure above the upper chromosphere in the quiet-Sun has not varied for half a century, and suggest that the energy input for atmospheric heating from the sub-photosphere to the corona have not changed in the quiet-Sun despite significantly differing strengths of magnetic activity in the last five solar cycles."
See Figure 1 above.

Biohazard

Madagascar plague cases rocket by almost 40% in just 5 DAYS and could hit a further 20,000 in weeks

© Mail Online / Leo Delauncey
Analysis of figures by MailOnline show the plague epidemic in Madagascar could strike a further 20,000 people in just a matter of weeks, if current trends continue
  • The World Health Organization now states there are 1,801 suspected cases
  • This is significantly higher than the 1,309 the agency reported last Thursday
  • Professor Robin May, an infectious diseases expert at Birmingham University, told MailOnline that the outbreak is 'concerning definitely'
  • Analysis of figures by MailOnline show the epidemic could strike a further 20,000 people in just a matter of weeks, if current trends continue
  • The 'unprecedented' outbreak has prompted warnings in 9 nearby countries
The deadly airborne plague spreading rapidly across Madagascar is now at 'crisis' point as cases have rocketed by 37 per cent in just five days, official figures reveal.

The outbreak, the 'worst in 50 years', is being fueled by a strain more lethal than the one which usually strikes the country off the coast of Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) now states there are 1,801 suspected cases - significantly higher than the 1,309 it reported last Thursday.

Academics have revealed such a jump in cases over the period of five days is concerning and have predicted it could get worse. The most recent statistics show there have been 127 deaths.

Professor Robin May, an infectious diseases expert at Birmingham University, told MailOnline that 'whichever way you look' at the outbreak, it's 'concerning definitely'.

© MailOnline/ Emily Beeny
More than 1,300 cases have now been reported in Madagascar, health chiefs have revealed, as nearby nations have been placed on high alert

Comment: See also: Plague outbreak plunges Madagascar into a state of emergency , where we read:
The Madagascar Plague is actually three plagues.

The first is bubonic - the type which ravaged Europe and the Mediterranean in the thirteen hundreds, leaving up to 60 percent dead.


Actually, the bubonic plague was universally and unequivocally believed to be the cause of the Black Death in the thirteen hundreds, despite the fact that it is well-established as biologically impossible. For more information, see: New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection.


The second is pneumonic - a super strain of the yersinia pestis bacterium which always results in death.

The third, more rare strain, is septecaemic - a life-threatening infection of the blood.

In Madagascar plague is endemic, and flare-ups cause public health emergencies on an almost annual basis but now the nation faces an uncontrolled epidemic which is terrifying the world's health agencies.

Between 1 August and 27 October, 113 people had died and 1,554 cases reported - out of which 985 were pneumonic plague, 230 bubonic plague and 339 unknown.



Ambulance

Plague outbreak in Madagascar is getting worse and is spreading to urban areas, say officials

© Unicef
Staff at at Black Death treatment centre wear gloves and masks to protect themselves from catching the killer bug. And health officials have warned things will get worse before they get better.
World health experts today warned an outbreak of the Black Death in Madagascar will get even worse.

More than 100 have been killed and 1,300 infected with the pneumonic plague since August - leading UK authorities to warn Brits off visiting the African wildlife paradise.

And now health officials are warning things will get even worse before they get better.

Olivier Le Guillou of Action Again Hunger said: "We have not yet reached the peak."

Health officials say the disease has now become much more contagious because it is now being transmitted from person-to-person through the air as well as from animals to humans through infected flea bites.

The disease, which contributed to the deaths of more than 50 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages, has spread from rural areas into urban areas which are not usually affected.

Comment: One wonders if this is truly the bubonic plague or just another example of disease hitting poor people with compromised immunity due to nutritional deficits and lack of proper sanitation.


Health

Dengue fever outbreak passes 100,000 cases in Sri Lanka

© ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
A worker fogs a neighborhood on the outskirts of Colombo in Sri Lanka in an effort to ward off mosquitoes. The country is facing an outbreak of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease.
Sri Lanka celebrated its eradication of malaria last year. But now the country faces another mosquito-borne illness: dengue fever. It's also sometimes known as "breakbone fever" because of the severe pain it can cause.

A dengue outbreak has left some Sri Lankan hospitals so full that they're turning away patients, says Gerhard Tauscher, an operations manager with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He is based in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

More than 107,000 suspected cases of dengue have been reported so far this year, according to Sri Lanka's ministry of health.

That's almost twice the number of people diagnosed with dengue in Sri Lanka last year. The death toll from this outbreak is about 300 people, the IFRC says.

Arrow Down

Green cronyism gone wild: It looks like the State of California is bailing out Tesla

© Twitter
The California state Assembly passed a $3-billion subsidy program for electric vehicles, dwarfing the existing program. The bill is now in the state Senate. If passed, it will head to Governor Jerry Brown, who has not yet indicated if he'd sign what is ostensibly an effort to put EV sales into high gear, but below the surface appears to be a Tesla bailout.

Tesla will soon hit the limit of the federal tax rebates, which are good for the first 200,000 EVs sold in the US per manufacturer beginning in December 2009 (IRS explanation). In the second quarter after the manufacturer hits the limit, the subsidy gets cut in half, from $7,500 to $3,750; two quarters later, it gets cut to $1,875. Two quarters later, it goes to zero.

Given Tesla's ambitious US sales forecast for its Model 3, it will hit the 200,000 vehicle limit in 2018, after which the phase-out begins. A year later, the subsidies are gone. Losing a $7,500 subsidy on a $35,000 car is a huge deal. No other EV manufacturer is anywhere near their 200,000 limit. Their customers are going to benefit from the subsidy; Tesla buyers won't.

This could crush Tesla sales. Many car buyers are sensitive to these subsidies. For example, after Hong Kong rescinded a tax break for EVs effective in April, Tesla sales in April dropped to zero. The good people of Hong Kong will likely start buying Teslas again, but it shows that subsidies have a devastating impact when they're pulled.

That's what Tesla is facing next year in the US.

In California, the largest EV market in the US, 2.7% of new vehicles sold in the first quarter were EVs, up from 0.4% in 2012, according to the California New Dealers Association. California is Tesla's largest market. Something big needs to be done to help the Bay Area company, which has lost money every single year of its ten years of existence. And taxpayers are going to be shanghaied into doing it.

To make this more palatable, you have to dress this up as something where others benefit too, though the biggest beneficiary would be Tesla because these California subsidies would replace the federal subsidies when they're phased out.

Ambulance

Cholera cases in Yemen pass the 300,000 mark

© Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images
A Yemeni infant suspected of being infected with cholera receives treatment in Sanaa, in June.
A 10-week cholera epidemic has now infected more than 300,000 people in Yemen, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday, a health disaster on top of war, economic collapse and near-famine in the impoverished country.

"Disturbing. We're at 300k+ suspected cases with ~7k new cases/day," ICRC regional director Robert Mardini said in a tweet.

The World Health Organization has said there were 297,438 suspected cases and 1,706 deaths by July 7, but it did not publish a daily update on Sunday, when the 300,000 mark looked set to be reached. A WHO spokesman said the figures were still being analyzed by Yemen's health ministry.

Although the daily growth rate in the overall number of cases has halved to just over 2 per cent in recent weeks and the spread of the disease has slowed in the worst-hit regions, outbreaks in other areas have grown rapidly.

Health

Hantavirus outbreak infects 5, kills 3 in Washington state

© CDC/Handout via Reuters
A micrographic study of liver tissue seen from a Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) patient seen in this undated photo obtained by Reuters.
Five people have been stricken with the rare, rodent-born hantavirus illness in Washington state since February, three of whom have died, in the state's worst outbreak of the disease in at last 18 years, public health officials reported on Thursday.

The three fatal cases also mark the highest death toll from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in Washington state during a single year since the respiratory ailment was first identified in the "Four Corners" region of the US Southwest in 1993.

The disease has been found to be transmitted to humans from deer mice, either through contact with urine, droppings, saliva or nesting materials of infected rodents or by inhaling dust contaminated with the virus.

Bug

WHO warns of spread of untreatable superbug gonorrhoea

At least three people worldwide are infected with totally untreatable "superbug" strains of gonorrhoea which they are likely to be spreading to others through sex, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

Giving details of studies showing a "very serious situation" with regard to highly drug-resistant forms of the sexually-transmitted disease (STD), WHO experts said it was "only a matter of time" before last-resort gonorrhoea antibiotics would be of no use.
"Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug," said Teodora Wi, a human reproduction specialist at the Geneva-based U.N. health agency. "Every time you introduce a new type of antibiotic to treat it, this bug develops resistance to it."

Biohazard

London Underground steps up cleaning to fight superbugs plaguing the tube

© Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Tube network to fight grime with industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic wands after discovery of threatening bacteria
Industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic wands will be used in a bid to rid the tube network of eight of the most dangerous superbugs.

Cleaning of the London Underground will be stepped up each night over the summer to remove metal particles, dust, oil and grease from about 50 stations and five tunnels.

An investigation published last month by London Metropolitan University and taxi insurers Staveley Head found 121 types of bacteria and mould on public transport in the capital.

Eight of the most threatening bacteria to human health were discovered on the tube, with the Victoria line deemed the dirtiest route.