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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

CDC confirms first case of Ebola in US

by tap taru  |  in Virus at  10:46 AM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Tuesday that a patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case diagnosed in the United States.

The patient left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. It’s the first patient to be diagnosed with this particular strain of Ebola outside of Africa.

The patient] had no symptoms when departing Liberia or entering this country. But four or five days later on the 24th of September, he began to develop symptoms,” said Frieden.

The patient, who was in the U.S. visiting family in Texas, initially sought care on September 26, but was sent home and was not admitted until two days later. He was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where he remains critically ill, according to Frieden.

“The next steps are basically threefold,” said Frieden.  “First, to care for the patient … to provide the most effective care possible as safely as possible to keep to an absolute minimum the likelihood or possibility that anyone would become affected, and second, to maximize the chances that the patient might recover,” said Frieden.

Frieden said the CDC and Texas health officials were working to identify and monitor anyone who may have come in contact with the patient.

“It's only someone who's sick with Ebola who can spread the disease,” said Frieden. “Once those contacts are all identified, they're all monitored for 21 days after exposure to see if they develop a fever.”

Frieden added that while it is possible that someone who had contact with the patient could develop Ebola in the coming weeks, he has no doubt the infection will be contained. At this point, he said, there is zero risk of transmission to anyone on the flight with the patient because he was not showing any symptoms at the time of travel.

It's unclear how the patient became infected, but health officials said he “undoubtedly had close contact with someone who was sick with Ebola or who had died from it.”

The patient will stay at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for treatment, where epidemiologist Dr. Edward Goodman, said medical staff have a plan in place for some time now in the event that a traveler brought Ebola to the United States, noting that the team had a crisis preparedness meeting just one week before the patient arrived at the facility. 

Hospital officials are currently evaluating different treatment options, including experimental therapies which have been successful in other patients, according to Frieden.

Both the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services performed lab testing that is said to be highly accurate for detecting the Ebola virus disease.

“Our lab has a specially trained team to handle high-risk patients like this,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of Texas Department of State Health Services. “We have no other suspected cases in the state of Texas at this time.”

Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services urged residents to rest assured the agency was doing everything they could to ensure the safety of the community, and that they would be working closely with the CDC and local health officials to follow up and track possible contacts of the patient.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas officials said in a statement Monday that an unnamed patient was being tested for Ebola and had been placed in "strict isolation" due to the patient's symptoms and recent travel history, and that the facility was taking measures to keep its doctors, staff and patients safe.

The hospital had announced a day earlier that the patient's symptoms and recent travel indicated a case of Ebola, the virus that has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa and infected a handful of Americans who have traveled to that region.

The CDC has said 12 other people in the U.S. have been tested for Ebola since July 27. Those tests came back negative.

Four American aid workers who have become infected while volunteering in West Africa have been treated in special isolation facilities in hospitals in Atlanta and Nebraska, and a U.S. doctor exposed to the virus in Sierra Leone is under observation in a similar facility at the National Institutes of Health.

The U.S. has only four such isolation units but the CDC has insisted that any hospital can safely care for someone with Ebola.

According to the CDC, Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus.

Jason McDonald, spokesman for the CDC, said health officials use two primary guidelines when deciding whether to test a person for the virus.

"The first and foremost determinant is have they traveled to the region (of West Africa)," he said. The second is whether there's been proximity to family, friends or others who've been exposed, he said.

U.S. health officials have been preparing since summer in case an individual traveler arrived here unknowingly infected, telling hospitals what infection-control steps to take to prevent the virus from spreading in health facilities. People boarding planes in the outbreak zone are checked for fever, but symptoms can begin up to 21 days after exposure. Ebola isn't contagious until symptoms begin, and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread.

Frieden said there may be a handful of potential patient contacts who need monitoring in the United States. He compared that with the nearly 900 contacts who were monitored when an infected patient brought the Ebola virus to Lagos in July, reiterated his confidence in health officials' ability to control the disease.

“The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely throughout this country,” Frieden said. “There’s no doubt in my mind, we will stop it here.”

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Japan's Mt Ontake volcano erupts; several hikers reported injuredSeptember 27,2014

by tap taru  |  in Volcanoes at  5:15 PM

Witnesses have reported smoke billowing down the south face of the 3,000 metre volcano, while the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has observed smoke stretching out 3 kilometres from the volcano.

Tokyo's NHK World TV reports at least 250 climbers are trapped near the summit of Mt Ontake, with rescue crews on the way.

The Nagano fire department has received several reports of injuries to hikers but has not confirmed their severity.

The JMA raised the alert level for Mt Ontake to three on a scale of one to five. It warned people to stay away from the mountain.

The agency is forecasting further eruptions that may affect nearby residents and is warning of volcanic cinder falling within a 4km radius of the crater.

The volcano straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures in central Japan and is located about 170km south-west of Nagano.

Japan Airlines said all flights will operate as normal, though the eruption may affect flights out of Tanegashima and Yakushima airports.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Strong earthquake jolts Kanto Region of Japan 2014-09-16

by tap taru  |  in Japan at  12:33 PM

12:28 pm on the September 16th, there was an earthquake in the Kanto region. 

An earthquake with magnitude 5.6 occurred near TOKYO, Japan at 03:28:31.10 UTC on Sep 16, 2014. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

An earthquake with preliminary magnitude of 5.6 shook buildings in eastern Japan, including the capital Tokyo, on Tuesday but there were no reports of serious damage.

The earthquake was centred in Ibaraki Prefecture, just northeast of Tokyo, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said. The depth of the earthquake was 31 miles (50 km) and there was no risk of a tsunami, it added.

Japan Atomic Power Co and Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) (9501.T) reported no irregularities at their three nuclear plants in eastern Japan.

A Japan Atomic official said there have been no irregularities at the 1.1-gigawatt Tokai Daini plant, which has been shut since May 2011. A Tepco spokeswoman said there has been no irregularities at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant, wrecked by the March 2011 quake and tsunami, and Fukushima-Daini plant, which has been shut since March 2011.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Meteorite Hits Nicaragua is The Piece of Asteroid 2014 RC?(video)

by tap taru  |  in Meteor at  4:51 PM

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaragua’s government said Sunday that a loud boom heard overnight by residents of the capital was made by a small meteorite that left a crater in a wooded area near the city’s airport.
Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said a committee formed by the government to study the event confirmed it was a “relatively small” meteorite that “appears to have come off an asteroid that was passing close to Earth.”
Murillo said Nicaragua will ask international experts to help local scientists in understanding what happened.
The crater left by the meteorite had a radius of 12 meters (39 feet) and a depth of 5 meters (16 feet), said Humberto Saballos, a volcanologist with the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies who was on the committee. He said it is still not clear if the meteorite disintegrated or was buried.
Humberto Garcia, of the Astronomy Center at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, said the meteorite could be related to an asteroid that was forecast to pass by the planet Saturday night.
“It could have come off that asteroid, because it is normal for that to occur. We have to study it more because it could be ice or rock,” he said.
Wilfried Strauch, an adviser to the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies, said it was “very strange that no one reported a streak of light. We have to ask if anyone has a photo or something.”
Local residents reported hearing a loud boom Saturday night, but said they didn’t see anything strange in the sky.
“I was sitting on my porch and I saw nothing, then all of a sudden I heard a large blast. We thought it was a bomb because we felt an expansive wave,” Jorge Santamaria told The Associated Press.
The site of the crater is near Managua’s international airport and an air force base. Only journalists from state media were allowed to visit it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

6.0 earthquake jolts Bay Area in California; outages, injuries reported

by tap taru  |  in Earthquake at  9:43 PM

A long rolling temblor pegged at 6.0 by the
 U.S. Geological Survey shook a wide swath of the Bay Area awake early Sunday.

Centered about nine miles south of wine country's Napa at 3:20 a.m., the quake was felt as far south as Santa Cruz and into Sonoma County. It was the largest earthquake to strike the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta temblor of 1989, the USGS said.

Residents reported power outages in Napa, and fire departments in several counties, along with the California Highway Patrol, were on the lookout for damage to bridges.

Reports were beginning to stream in of gas leaks, downed power lines and at least one fire.

Napa County Fire Department confirms they are swamped with calls, including reports of injuries. It is unclear how  severe the injuries are because units are still responding.

Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa reported calls of injuries, mostly cuts from glass.

According to PG&E, more than 42,000 customers are without power across the northern Bay Area, including American Canyon, Napa, Saint Helena, Santa Rosa and Sonoma, according to an outage map.

Pictures flooding in from Twitter show damage within homes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sea plankton found living on the outer surface of the ISS(video)

by tap taru  |  in space at  11:41 PM

Life in space? Sea plankton discovered attached to ISS outer hull

Russian scientists say they made a “unique” discovery while analyzing samples from the exterior of the International Space Station – traces of tiny sea creatures on the station’s windows and walls. It remains unclear how marine plankton ended up in space.
The results of the recent experiments prove that that some organisms are capable of living on the outer surface of the International Space Station (ISS), Vladimir Solovyev, head of the Russian segment of the ISS, has revealed. 

Some studies suggest that these organisms may even develop in the hostile conditions of spaceflight, which include vacuum, low temperatures, radiation and others, he added. 

“The results of the so-called ‘Test’ experiment are unique. On the surface of the [ISS] windows we found traces of marine plankton – the microparticles – that will become the subject of further studies,” Solovyev was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass. 

While the experiments on the matter were finalized last year, it is still unclear how the microparticles could get all the way to the ISS, Solovyev said. 

“[Plankton in] such phases of development is found on the surface of the ocean. It isn’t characteristic to Baikonur,” he explained, referring to Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan from where crew and cargo deliveries to ISS are launched. 

“It turns out that there are some rising air currents, which settle on the surface of the station,”Solovyev added.
The former cosmonaut, who spent nearly a year in orbit back in the 1980s, said that outer surface of ISS is “heavily contaminated” by the waste products from engines of the arriving spacecraft, atmospheric discharges from the station during spacewalks by the crew and other factors. 

“We are currently conducting special operations to be able to somehow to polish and clean up the windows [at the ISS]. This is especially important during long space flights,” Solovyev concluded. 

The assembly of the International Space Station began in 1998. Since then it has spent nearly 6,000 days in Earth orbit. 

Russia says it has no plans to continue its partnership in the station after 2020, while the US segment of the station is financed until 2024. 

Russian space agency Roscosmos has proposed using the ISS to commission modules for a new space station, called OPSEK (Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yellowstone Super Volcano:Resent Eruption Rumors Prompt USGS Issue Statement (Video)

by tap taru  |  in Volcanos at  10:58 AM

Recent Rumors About Supervolcano Erupting Prompts USGS to Issue Statement

Yellowstone National Park, home to Old Faithful and some of the prettiest and most pristine natural beauty on the planet, is one of the largest volcanoes ever discovered. Scientists made a wild hypothesis back in the mid-20th century that massive volcanoes spanning hundreds of square miles actually existed at one time on this planet. We would later find out that they still do exist on earth. One of the largest is in our own backyard. 

  Scientists have now located 7 of these giants on the planet. Any one of them erupting would cause massive devastation and threaten human existence on this planet. These same scientists have determined that the sleeping giant under Yellowstone National Park is the most likely to erupt, and is actually "overdue". But with the internet, social media, and the many ways to circulate information now days, many subjects can be exaggerated, and plenty of misinformation can hit the eyes of millions in just a few hours. Because of this misinformation as of late, the USGS issued a statement (something this meteorologist has never seen before) regarding some of these so called “facts” that have been circulating the internet about the majestic park and the monster hiding beneath it. Here is what it says…

“Though we love doing research at YVO (Yellowstone Volcano Observatory), we prefer it when the research is on topics geological rather than the origin of false rumors. Nevertheless, we have received enough concerned emails and phone calls that we've spent some time tracking down a few of the statements made on various "alternative Internet news sources."
1) First, everyone should know that geological activity, including earthquakes and ground uplift/subsidence is well within historical norms and seismicity is actually a bit low at present.
2) Concern over road closures is much overblown. There's been one road closure of a small side road – just over three miles long – that was closed for two days. As one can imagine, it is not easy to maintain roads that pass over thermal areas where ground temperatures can approach those of boiling water. Roads at Yellowstone often need repair because of damage by thermal features as well as extreme cold winter conditions.
3) The park has not been evacuated. This one is pretty easy to verify by everyone. If the Old Faithful webcam shows people, or if news articles are coming out about a hobbyist's remote control helicopter crashing into a hot spring, Yellowstone is certainly open for business.
4) No volcanologists have stated that Yellowstone is likely to erupt this week, this month or this year. In one recent article, a name was attributed to a "senior volcanologist", but that person does not appear to exist, and a geologist with that name assures us that he did not supply any quotes regarding Yellowstone.
5) Finally, we note that those who've kept track of Yellowstone over the past decade or so, have seen a constant stream of "predictions" regarding imminent eruptions at Yellowstone. Many have had specific dates in mind, none had a scientific basis, and none have come true.
We will continue to provide updates on geological activity at Yellowstone, and educational materials to help understand the science around Yellowstone monitoring.

Virtually everything known about Yellowstone's spectacular volcanic past comes from the scientists who work at this observatory, at all our eight member agencies. We're the ones who mapped the deposits, figured out the ages of the eruptions, measured the gases, located the earthquakes, and tracked the ground movement. A few of us have been doing it for over forty years. We will continue to help you understand what's happening at Yellowstone now, and what's likely to happen in the future.”
To sum this up… yes, Yellowstone National Park sits atop a huge volcano. But there is no evidence to show that this volcano will erupt anytime soon. So sleep easy…. For now….

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