Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for August, 2019

8/24/79AD: Mount Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, devastating the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands.

HxC


8/24/1992: Hurricane Andrew videos


8/24/1992: Hurricane Andrew makes landfall at 4:52 a.m. 25 miles south of Miami.

Orlando Sentinel

National Hurricane Center

“……Its $47.8 billion worth of devastation no longer ranks it as the most costly natural disaster in American history. But it is probably the most impactful storm to ever hit the U.S.Andrew’s legacy is felt in weather forecasting, building codes and emergency management. When people began crawling out of the debris that morning, they quickly discovered the government was nowhere near prepared…..

Part of the post-disaster disaster was due to complacency. Only two Category 5 hurricanes had ever hit the U.S., and nobody foresaw Andrew turning into a 175-mph monster……

Almost 26,000 homes were totally destroyed, and 102,000 more were damaged. The number of homeless was 160,000, though that didn’t include hundreds of monkeys, snakes, llamas, birds, cougars and other wildlife that escaped from zoos.

Prices for food, batteries, generators and ice soared since there were no laws against gouging. Looters descended and property owners armed themselves to protect what was left of their homes……”

 

  The last radar image taken from NHC before the WSR-57 radar was blown off the roof, 0835 UTC August 24, 1992.


“…During June 2018–March 2019, an outbreak caused by multidrug-resistant Salmonella Newport with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin led to 255 infections and 60 hospitalizations. Infections were linked to Mexican-style soft cheese obtained in Mexico and beef obtained in the United States….”

CDC

Plumb ID, Schwensohn CA, Gieraltowski L, et al. Outbreak of Salmonella Newport Infections with Decreased Susceptibility to Azithromycin Linked to Beef Obtained in the United States and Soft Cheese Obtained in Mexico — United States, 2018–2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:713–717. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6833a1external icon

The visual abstract discusses a salmonella outbreak and offers information on how to prevent illness.


Polypills: Good or bad?

NYT

“…….The pill in the study, which involved the participation of 6,800 rural villagers aged 50 to 75 in Iran, contained a cholesterol-lowering statin, two blood-pressure drugs and a low-dose aspirin.

But the study, called PolyIran and published Thursday by The Lancet, was designed 14 years ago……..Its advocates — including some prominent cardiologists — point to the study as evidence that the World Health Organization should endorse distributing such pills without a prescription to hundreds of millions of people over age 50 around the globe. Some have estimated that widespread use could cut cardiac death rates by 60 to 80 percent...….”


The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) & The Threat of Supervolcanoes like in Yellowstone

Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) is a numeric scale that measures the relative explosivity of historic eruptions. (Click image to view full size.)

The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) is a relative measure of the explosiveness of volcanic eruptions. It was devised by Chris Newhall of the United States Geological Survey and Stephen Self at the University of Hawaii in 1982. Newhall and Self, 1982
“……Volcanologists believe a Yellowstone supereruption would bury large swaths of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah in up to three feet of toxic volcanic ash. Depending on the weather patterns, much of the Midwest would receive a few inches, too, plunging the region into darkness. Even the coasts — where a majority of Americans live — would most likely see a dusting as the ash cloud spread. Crops would be destroyed; pastureland would be contaminated. Power lines and electrical transformers would be ruined, potentially knocking out much of the grid...….That’s just the United States. Modeling by meteorologists has found that the aerosols released could spread globally if the eruption occurred during the summer. Over the short term, as the toxic cloud blocked sunlight, global average temperatures could plunge significantly — and not return to normal for several years. Rainfall would decline sharply. That might be enough to trigger a die-off of tropical rain forests.….”

The Amazon on fire

CNN


Latest research: Ambient Particulate Air Pollution and Daily Mortality in 652 Cities

Ambient Particulate Air Pollution and Daily Mortality in 652 Cities

August 22, 2019
N Engl J Med 2019; 381:705-715
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1817364

“……Conclusions

Our data show independent associations between short-term exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 and daily all-cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality in more than 600 cities across the globe……..”


Microplastics: Another cause for concern in this troubled world?

WHO Microplastics Document 2019

“……..Background
Over the past few years, several studies have reported the presence of microplastics in treated tap and bottled water, raising questions and concerns about the impact that microplastics in drinking-water might have on human health. This report, which contains a summary of the evidence, key findings, recommendations and research needs, is the World  Health Organization’s (WHO) first effort to examine the potential human health risks associated with exposure to microplastics in the environment. The focus of this report is on the potential human health impacts of exposure to microplastics through drinking-water. However, brief information on other routes of human exposure is included for context.
This report was informed by literature reviews undertaken on the occurrence of microplastics in the water cycle, the potential health impacts from microplastic exposure and the removal of microplastics during wastewater and drinking-water treatment. Throughout the report, WHO experts examined the quality and relevance of the studies they found. The report was also informed by reviews conducted by several major entities; these are referenced throughout the report.
As a category, microplastics encompass a wide range of materials with different chemical compositions, shapes, colours, sizes and densities. There is no scientifically-agreed definition of microplastics, although most definitions focus on composition and size.
………

 

“……Recommendations
Routine monitoring of microplastics in drinking-water is not recommended at this time, as there is no evidence to indicate a human health concern. Concerns over microplastics in drinking-water should not divert resources of water suppliers and regulators from removing microbial pathogens, which remains the most significant risk to human health from drinking-water along with other chemical priorities. As part of water safety planning, water suppliers should ensure that control measures are effective and should optimize water treatment processes for particle removal and microbial safety, which will incidentally improve the removal of microplastic particles.
However, for researchers, it would be appropriate to undertake targeted, welldesigned and quality-controlled investigative studies to better understand the sources and occurrence of microplastics in fresh water and drinking-water, the efficacy of different treatment processes and combinations of processes, and the significance
Executive summary xiii
of the potential return of microplastics to the environment from treatment waste streams including the application of sludge biosolids to agricultural land.
Measures should also be taken to better manage plastics and reduce the use of plastics where possible, to minimize plastic and microplastic pollution despite the low human health risk posed by exposure to microplastics in drinking-water, as such actions can confer other benefits to the environment and human well-being. 


Research needs
To better assess human health risks and inform management actions, a number of research gaps need to be filled. With respect to exposure, there is a need to better understand microplastics occurrence throughout the water supply chain, using quality assured methods to determine the numbers, shapes, sizes, composition and sources of microplastics and to better characterize the effectiveness of water treatment. Research is also needed to better understand the significance of treatment-related waste streams as contributors of microplastics to the environment.
With respect to potential health effects, quality-assured toxicological data are needed on the most common forms of plastic particles relevant for human health risk assessment. Further, a better understanding on the uptake and fate of microplastics and nanoplastics following ingestion is needed.
Finally, given that humans can be exposed to microplastics through a variety of environmental media, including food and air, a better understanding of overall exposure to microplastics from the broader environment is needed.


Cases due to the wild poliovirus found in nature have decreased by more than 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases then, to 33 reported cases in 2018

CNN


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