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Mon, 18 Feb 2019
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Plagues

Biohazard

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

Madagascar plague
© 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'.

Madagascar plague
© 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

plague workers
© 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

Worker fogging for mosquitos 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

Elan Musk
© 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

Yemini infant suspected of cholera infection
© 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

Hantavirus kills three in Washington
© 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

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

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.

Magnify

Ebola virus leaves unique scar inside survivor's eyes

Ebola virus
© lmstockwork/Shutterstock
In some Ebola survivors, the virus leaves a unique scar at the back of the eye that can be seen long after they are cured of the disease, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed information from 82 Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone and 105 people who lived in the area but never had Ebola. All participants took a vision test and had the back of their eyes examined with an ophthalmoscope. Among Ebola survivors, more than a year had passed, on average, between the time they were cured of the disease and the time of the eye exam.

When asked to read letters on an eye chart, the Ebola survivors tended to perform just as well as those who'd never had the disease, meaning their infection didn't seem affect their vision.

But about 15 percent of Ebola survivors had a unique scar on their retina — the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The people who had never contracted Ebola did not have this particular type of scar, the study found.

Bad Guys

OxFam: Yemen cholera cases pass 100,000, killing one person almost every hour

Yemini child infected with cholera
© AFP

Comment: These abominable living conditions are a direct result of Saudi Arabia's genocide against the Yemini people - with U.S. support.


The number of suspected cases of cholera resulting from a severe outbreak in Yemen has passed 100,000, the World Health Organization says.

A total of 798 deaths associated with the disease have been recorded in 19 out of 22 provinces since 27 April.

The charity Oxfam said the epidemic was killing one person almost every hour.

Yemen's health, water and sanitation systems are collapsing after two years of war between government forces and the rebel Houthi movement.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera.