- Deadly bacterial infection linked to rat urine in NYC kills 1 person with 2 seriously ill: First time a cluster of cases has been identified
- New Zealand city of Christchurch in path of massive out of control wildfire: Hundreds of residents to evacuate! flames 20 meters high
- Two dead after a week of record breaking rain and floods with massive damage to crops and infrastructure across Western Australia
- Tropical Cyclone Dineo in the Mozambique Channel has reached Hurricane strength expected to make landfall this afternoon
|Deadly bacterial infection linked to rat urine in NYC kills 1 person with 2 seriously ill: First time a cluster of cases has been identified |
Posted: 16 Feb 2017 01:54 AM PST
One person died and two more fell seriously ill after contracting a disease that commonly spreads through "contact with rat urine," according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The city's health department has identified a "cluster of three cases of leptospirosis" in one block of the Bronx, according to a statement the department emailed Wednesday to The Washington Post. "Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is most commonly spread by contact with rat urine and is very rarely spread from person to person," the statement said.
"This illness can be serious but is treatable with readily available antibiotics."
The New York Times reports that the city is investigating the matter.
Two people were diagnosed with leptospirosis in December, and another case was diagnosed in February.
Leptospirosis - which the health department also described as a "bacterial disease spread by animal urine, in this case by rats (not mice)" - is pretty rare in New York, according to the agency.
Typically, the city sees about one to three cases of leptospirosis each year.
As a letter issued Tuesday to heath-care providers noted: "Human leptospirosis cases are very rare in New York City; this is the first time a cluster of cases has been identified."
Some of those who become infected with leptospirosis suffer no symptoms.
Others, however, might experience symptoms that included a fever, chills, vomiting or diarrhea, the department said.
The New York Times reported that 26 cases of leptospirosis were reported in New York City from 2006 to 2016.
Of those cases, eight were in the Bronx, according to the newspaper.
All three patients from December to February suffered from "acute kidney and liver failure" and were hospitalized, the Times reported.
The two survivors are now out of the hospital.
The health department is working with housing and building officials, as well as building owners to try to deal with rodent infestations, according to the agency.
At a news conference Wednesday, Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx borough president, called for calm in the wake of the news.
"There's no need for panic at this moment," he said.
"We have been in contact with the elected officials in the area, we've been in contact with the city. There's going to be some more education.
I think that what we need to do now is educate the public on exactly what it is that leptospirosis is." Diaz also said he frequently hears complaints about rodents and rats, and not just from those who live in the Bronx.
"This is, ladies and gentlemen, an issue that's a quality-of-life issue, it's a health issue," he said.
"And unfortunately what we've seen over the last couple days, it's a life-and-death issue."
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene advised people to avoid contact with rats or places where rats might have urinated.
If someone comes in contact with areas where rats might live, the department suggests washing hands with soap and water afterward.
|New Zealand city of Christchurch in path of massive out of control wildfire: Hundreds of residents to evacuate! flames 20 meters high |
Posted: 15 Feb 2017 03:46 AM PST
A local state of emergency was declared on Wednesday in the New Zealand city of Christchurch as wildfires threatened its suburbs and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.
"It's gone from being a rural fire on the boundary between a city and a district, now to a city response being required,"
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel stated during an interview with Radio New Zealand.
"Every window you look out of ... you can just see the pall of the smoke."
Prime Minister Bill English reportedly announced that the New Zealand Defence Force is on standby, stating the fires are now "disturbingly close" to communities.
The Christchurch Civil Defence Emergency Operations Centre has been reactivated to assist in evacuations.
The Mayors of Christchurch City and Selwyn District on New Zealand's South Island made the decision to declare the state of emergency.
Residents of an outlying suburb of Christchurch were evacuated from their homes from 3am on Wednesday morning as wildfires on Port Hills threatened to engulf them, with further evacuations occurring throughout the day as the fires continued to burn.
Approximately 200 to 300 residents have since been affected by the evacuations, while tens of thousands of Christchurch homes suffered a power loss in the afternoon with the possibility of more power outages until the fires have been extinguished.
Fire services have been battling the blazes since Monday evening when two separate fires broke out. The situation worsened after a change of wind direction flared up the fire overnight on Wednesday, pushing the flames in the direction of houses and burning roughly 50 hectares of land in the process. Dry, windy weather conditions have made the situation challenging for fire-fighting services, with flames 20 meters high reportedly being recorded.
It has been reported that approximately 650 hectares of land has been burned since Monday.
Local media reported that the fires are expected to continue for another 48 to 72 hours with fire-fighting services concerned the fire may become too volatile to contain.
Smoke dominated the skyline in Christchurch on Monday afternoon, prompting the Canterbury District Health Board to issue health advice.
Local media reported that Civil Defence and Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has advised the media that a liaison officer from the New Zealand Defence Force has been deployed to work alongside the Selwyn Rural Fire Authority to provide support and logistical advice, while equipment, aid and manpower will also be deployed.
Twenty firefighters and 15 helicopters have been enlisted to help fight the blaze.
A former member of the New Zealand Special Air Service died on Tuesday after his helicopter crashed into Port Hills while fighting the blaze.
|Two dead after a week of record breaking rain and floods with massive damage to crops and infrastructure across Western Australia |
Posted: 15 Feb 2017 03:10 AM PST
A week of record breaking rain and floods has killed at least two people with another one missing with massive damage to crops and infrastructure across Western Australia.
Western Australia Premier announced that the heavy rain has affected huge areas of the state, including Swan Valley, where it has had a dramatic impact on grape growers, as well as parts of the Kimberley, the Pilbara, the Gascoyne, Mid-West areas and the south coastal areas.
The flooding has been described as some of the worst in decades and is estimated to have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage with roads, bridges and farms affected.
On a visit to affected areas in the Swan Valley, WA Premier Colin Barnet said that “an enormous volume of water has fallen and is probably the biggest flood we have had in 20 years.”
“Many of the grape producers here have lost a significant amount of their grape crop, damage to their vines and some have lost virtually everything.”
There are still many areas with current flood warnings in place. WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned earlier today that flooding was likely in the Swan and Murray Catchments in Perth Metropolitan area, reported Floodlist .com.
The period between 09 to 10 February saw some of the heaviest rainfall. On 10 February, Kalgoorlie recorded 37mm of rain in just 1 hour. In a 24 hour period to 10 February, Yangedine recorded 75 mm. During the same period, Perth recorded 114 mm of rain, making it the second wettest day on record. The highest remains 9 February 1992 when 120.6 mm of rain fell.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Perth has seen 165.2 mm of rain so far this year and 134.8 mm in February alone. This summer has been the wettest on record, with a total of 190.4mm, beating the previous record of 180.4mm in 1955.
|Tropical Cyclone Dineo in the Mozambique Channel has reached Hurricane strength expected to make landfall this afternoon |
Posted: 15 Feb 2017 02:28 AM PST
NASA's Terra satellite captured this visible image of Tropical Cyclone Dineo in the Mozambique Channel on Feb. 14, 2017.
Madagascar is to the east (right) and Mozambique lies to the west (left). Credits: NASA
The Mozambique Channel is the body of water bordered by the island nation of Madagascar to the east and Mozambique on the mainland African continent on the west.
On Feb. 14 , Dineo had maximum sustained winds near 63 mph (55 knots/102 kph).
Dineo's winds are expected to reach hurricane strength later today, February 14, and peak near 75 knots by 7 a.m. EST (1200 UTC) on February 15.
Dineo was located about 78 nautical miles west of Europa Island near 22.5 degrees south latitude and 38.6 degrees east longitude.
Dineo was crawling to the southwest at 3.4 mph (3 knots/5.5 kph).
Residents of Mozambique should be preparing for the storm's landfall.
As Dineo continues to strengthen and move toward Mozambique, residents can expect heavy rainfall, strong surf and hurricane-force winds.
Dineo is forecast by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to make landfall along the east coast of Mozambique on February 15 around 2100 UTC (4 p.m. EST) at hurricane-force.