Archive for March, 2016

Cholera Contained in Jefferson County

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Martinsburg, WV – Officials with the Jefferson County, WV Health Department say there is no public health risk following a reported case of cholera earlier in March 2016. Jefferson County Health Department, said the health department was contacted on 4 Mar 2016 by state officials who said a female food service worker in Jefferson County had contracted cholera.

The CDC states that an estimated 3 million to 5 million cases of cholera and more than 100 000 deaths from the disease occur each year around the world. The official said cholera outbreaks typically take place in developing countries without proper drinking water treatment and sanitation. “The CDC and World Health Organization say that almost all cases of cholera in the U.S. involve travel to areas still endemic with cholera. If someone returns from or eats food from a country where cholera is present, they can get it.” The CDC reported 70 cases of cholera in the U.S. in 2012, and all of them are suspected to be foreign travel-related.

Elizabethkingia Outbreak Growing

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

Milwaukee, WI –  The Elizabethkingia outbreak is growing in Wisconsin, with 5 more cases reported since last week [week of 14 Mar 2016], according to Wisconsin Department of Health Services officials. That brings the total number of cases in Wisconsin to 59 since the start of November 2015.

Health officials are still trying to determine the source of the bloodstream infection. The majority of patients are over the age of 65, and have underlying health conditions.

Yellow Fever Outbreak Kills 178

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

The 1st yellow fever outbreak in Angola in decades has killed 178 people, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. WHO said that more than 450 people had been infected by the disease since December. Its statement said that, while 5.7 million people had been vaccinated against yellow fever, there is a global vaccine shortage.

Yellow fever is spread by mosquitoes, most commonly the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same species that spreads the Zika virus.

Synthetic Drug Overdose Outbreak

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

The country’s war on dangerous legal highs continues, as a fresh wave of synthetic cannabis overdoses causes concern among the healthcare community. Joining an ever-growing list of towns, cities and states across the US, law enforcement officials warned about an “unprecedented” spike in cases of hospitalizations due to the drug called “Spice” — a highly-potent and potentially lethal synthetic alternative to natural cannabis.

More than 200 emergency treatments were carried out due to adverse reactions to the drug between Thursday and Saturday, officials reported. Those affected had presented with a range of severe symptoms, including powerful hallucinations, seizures, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.

West Side Tragedy

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

After nearly 3 weeks in intensive care, Howie Carver, age 12 passed away at Baltimore General. Howie and his friends Tootsie and Avon were exploring an abandoned house on the West Side, a common activity for the West side Youths, when they were attacked by a foreign insect described as a Thai Black Fly. Each of the three children received thousands of bites; doctors estimated that the bites covered on average 80% of their skin. Young Tootsie had an immediate severe reaction to the bites and died a couple of days later as a result of complications from anaphylaxis. The other two children, Avon and Howie, died from secondary infections.

The City of Baltimore has cleared the site of the incident and has begun inspecting abandoned and derelict buildings in the city. The process has been slower than the city would like, as the inspectors require a police escort while performing the inspections. There have been a number of altercations between the inspectors and squatters of various types. Although no other infestations like this one have been found, there have been several sites that have needed hazmat teams to clear them.

The lawsuit between the parents of the children and the City of Baltimore has been resolved at an undisclosed amount in a sealed settlement.

Balkan Nations Close Borders

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

European leaders claim to have closed the main refugee route to northern Europe, raising the possibility of tens if not hundreds of thousands of refugees being trapped in Greece while the EU attempts to finalize a deal that could see them all returned to Turkey.

Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia, three of the countries that lie between Greece and the preferred refugee destinations in northern Europe, all announced last week that their borders were now shut. Several hundred thousand asylum-seekers have used this route to reach countries such as Germany since it became popular last summer, most of them transported and sheltered by Balkan countries during their journey.

Reported Cases of Scarlet Fever Hit an All Time High

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

The number of cases of scarlet fever has hit an all-time high in Wrexham and over the last 2 years. More than 200 cases have been reported to Public Health Wales (PHW) across the 2 counties since 2014 with a high of 73 recorded in Wrexham in 2014. That eclipsed the highest number of 9, set in 1997 when figures issued by PHW began. Figures in Flintshire peaked at 47, also in 2014, which surpassed a previous high of 5 in 2011. In 2013, just 3 cases were reported across the county. Across Wales, 283 cases of scarlet fever have already been reported this year.

Last week, Public Health England reported steep increases in scarlet fever with a total of 6157 new cases since the season began in September 2015. This is the 3rd season in a row where the incidence of scarlet fever has shown a marked elevation.

Scientists Gear up to Drill into the Impact that Killed the Dinosaurs

Friday, March 18th, 2016

This month, a drilling platform will rise in the Gulf of Mexico, but it won’t be aiming for oil. Scientists will try to sink a diamond-tipped bit into the heart of Chicxulub crater—the buried remnant of the asteroid impact 66 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs, along with most other life on the planet. They hope that the retrieved rock cores will contain clues to how life came back in the wake of the cataclysm, and whether the crater itself could have been a home for novel microbial life. And by drilling into a circular ridge inside the 180-kilometer-wide crater rim, scientists hope to settle ideas about how such “peak rings,” hallmarks of the largest impact craters, take shape.

At the end of March, a specially equipped vessel will sail from the Mexican port of Progreso to a point 30 kilometers offshore. There, in water 17 meters deep, the boat will sink three pylons and raise itself above the waves, creating a stable platform. By 1 April, the team plans to start drilling, quickly churning through 500 meters of limestone that were deposited on the sea floor since the impact. After that, the drillers will extract core samples, in 3-meter-long increments, as they go deeper. For 
2 months, they will work day and night in an attempt to go down another kilometer, looking for changes in rock types, cataloging microfossils, and collecting DNA samples.

New Elizabethkingia Cases

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Elizabethkingia is spreading in Wisconsin and traveling north, with 6 new cases reported, according to an update from the Department of Health Services (DHS) Wednesday afternoon, 16 Mar 2016.

To date there are 54 confirmed cases in Wisconsin, prompting the federal government to send additional investigators to determine the source of the deadly bacterial blood infection which has claimed the lives of 17 people. However, officials can’t say if they died from the bacterial infection or an underlying medical issue, since the illness usually affects people with compromised immune systems or serious underlying health conditions.

Back on 2 Mar 2016, The Wisconsin DHS, Division of Public Health (DPH) announced it is investigating the outbreak. The CDC initially sent 3 investigators to Wisconsin, but that number has now increased to 8, according a public affairs specialist with the CDC. On 8 Feb 2016, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health requested that CDC send a team to assist with their investigation into the outbreak.

Moonshine Deaths Escalating in Baltimore

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Since last month, Baltimore City Hospital has registered 21 deaths out of 32 patients who were admitted with suspected alcohol poisoning after drinking the popular locally made spirit. The hospital’s spokesperson said the hospital has ordered autopsies, which have yet to be performed, and is investigating. Health officials, however, suspect that the deadly culprit isn’t the popular moonshine that’s often sold out of unlabeled containers, but the toxic industrial alcohol, methanol. Similar in appearance and odor to ethanol, the alcohol found in beverages, methanol is cheaper and deadlier.

Freak Storm Hits San Diego

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

A freak storm with wind gusts of over 60 mph tore through San Diego early Wednesday Morning. The thunderstorm hit San Diego about 4am bringing with it heavy rains, hail and damaging winds for 30 minutes. Weather forecaster Adam Conroy said what many thought may have been a weak tornado was in fact an “intense thunderstorm”.

“It was a big pulse of winds that were pushed out as the thunderstorm went through,” he explained.

“We estimate the winds were probably in excess of 60 mph.”

O’Tolley’s Linked to Multistate E. Coli Outbreak

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

A multistate  E. coli outbreak has been linked to food served at O’Tolley’s. The outbreak includes 5 cases in Minnesota and one in Kansas. Other states may also be included. At least one person has been hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a complication of E. coli infections that causes kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death. HUS most often affects children. Pizza dough is a suspected source of the outbreak. But, health officials have not yet determined how the contamination occurred.

Machete Attacks Continue to Plague Baltimore

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Baltimore police continue to investigate a series of attacks and robberies in East Baltimore by a band of young men armed with machetes. Anyone with information regarding these attacks should contact the Baltimore Police Department.

Machete-related incidents have been on the rise in the city, from vigilantes guarding local businesses during last year’s riots to the recent robberies and assaults.

West Virginia Coal Mine Disaster

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

A collapse and fire on Monday at the newly reopened Ashford Coal Mine, near Charlston, purchased last year by Wilder Mining Co. Inc., is believed to have claimed the lives of at least sixty-two workers just weeks after resuming operation. Twenty-three other miners are unaccounted for and believed to be trapped, but were outside of the area of the initial fire. The mine had been closed in 2004, following an accident at a nearby coal mine which caused the bankruptcy of the previous mining company.

It is expected to be several days before help can reach the trapped miners if the fire remains contained, and may be months before the fires die down enough to investigate the initial collapse.

Controversial Artist to Hold Show at Paris Gallery

Friday, March 11th, 2016
French artist Jean Rouzet, best known for his performance art pieces involving latex paint, human refuse, and the destruction of duplicates of cultural icons or political or religions symbolism, has landed a personal show, displaying his sculptural and collage work, at the Galerie des Temps. This show has been praised by advocates of free expression but criticized by members of the Comite des Galeries as a vulgar mockery of even its own genre.

West Side Teen Dies from Parasitic Infection

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Yesterday evening, West Side teen, Avon Little, age 15, died from a parasitic infection that ravaged his body. Avon had been exploring condemned houses with his friends, Tootsie Weems and Howie Carver, when they were swarmed by an exotic black fly. Each of the children received bites over the majority of their bodies. Earlier this week, Tootsie Weems died as a result of her injuries, coupled with a severe allergic reaction to the bites. The remaining victim, Howie Carver, age 12, is in critical condition and is being treated in the isolation ward of Baltimore General Hospital.

The site of the incident has been cleared by the Baltimore Office of Public Works. Animal Control is still investigating the infestation with the help of the University of Baltimore. Although the type of fly has been determined, its origin has not been. Samples of the black fly have been sent to John Hopkins, University of Maryland, and Penn State for further analysis.

Bodies Found Deep in New York Subway Tunnel

Thursday, March 10th, 2016
The remains of seven people in various degrees of decomposition were found in the orange line tunnel south of the Grand St. station. The most recent appears to have died at least three years ago but the clothing and remaining possessions date to 2015.

Experts have cited the unusually warm and damp conditions over the first part of the winter as the cause of this disparity and are recommending that other cases be reexamined.

Girl Dies from Insect Bite

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

13 Year old Tootsie Weems died this morning from an infection as a result thousands of  insect bites. Tootsie received the bites while exploring an abandoned house earlier this week with two of her friends who are still hospitalized from similar injuries

Tootsie’s mother spoke about her daughter, saying she had survived various health ailments during her young life. She says her daughter had a passion for pandas, music and dreamed of being on the television show “American Idol.”

The State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore are still investigating the source of the biological waste found at the abandoned house. The University of Baltimore has identified the flies from the abandoned house as large variety of a Thai Black Fly that had not been previously cataloged.

Three Kids Hospitalized After Exploring Abandoned House

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Two boys and a girl, aged 12 to 15, were hospitalized after exploring an abandoned house in Western Baltimore. The children were exploring the abandoned and condemned house when they opened the basement and were swarmed by an unidentified species of biting flies. One of the children entered anaphylactic shock, while the other two suffered extreme insect bites over 80% of their bodies. The names of the children are being withheld at this time.

Baltimore Animal Control and the Baltimore Public Works believe that the house had become flooded in recent storms, tainted with animal waste that had been illegally dumped into nearby storm drains. Samples of the flies have been provided to the Entomology Department at the University of Baltimore for identification.