News Scan for Apr 19, 2016

first_imgTFAH says US public health spending still below pre-recession levelsA nonprofit group’s annual report on US public health spending says overall funding is still stuck below where it was before the recession of 2008-09, although spending by states may be picking up a bit.”Federal funding for public health has remained relatively level for years,” says the report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), based in Washington, DC.For example, funding for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program, which supports state and local preparedness, is $651 million for fiscal year (FY) 2016, TFAH says, compared with $643 million in FY 2015. The program peaked at $940 million in FY 2002. The Hospital Preparedness Program is funded at $255 million this year, the same as last year.Federal dollars for preventing disease and improving health in states in FY 2016 range from $15.99 per person in Indiana to $53.06 in Alaska, according to TFAH. That compares with a range of $15.14 to $50.09, bookended by the same states, cited in last year’s TFAH report.The FY 2016 budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is $6.34 billion, about $600 million less than in FY 2015 when adjusted for inflation, the report states.As for state spending on public health, the median amount for FY 2014-15 was $33.50 per person, compared with $31.06 in FY 2013-14, according to TFAH. The amounts varied all the way from $4.10 in Nevada to $220.80 in West Virginia. The current level is about the same as the 2008 figure of $33.71, but when adjusted for inflation it represents an overall cut of $1.2 billion, the report contends.Further, TFAH’s analysis concluded that 16 states decreased their public health budgets from FY 2014 to 2015, and six states—Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oklahoma—cut their budgets 3 or more years in a row. A year ago TFAH reported that 22 states and Washington, DC, had cut their budgets in the preceding year.TFAH offers a set of recommendations for increasing public health funding, with a priority of ensuring that “foundational public health capabilities and services” are provided nationwide.Apr 19 TFAH report summary Full TFAH report Apr 16, 2015, CIDRAP News item on 2015 TFAH report Saudi officials report 2 new MERS cases, 1 of them healthcare-relatedSaudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported two new MERS-CoV cases, one of which involved a healthcare worker.The first MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involved a 31-year-old foreign male healthcare worker in Riyadh. He is in stable condition, and his infection was healthcare-acquired, the MOH said. He had no contact with camels.The second case involves a 24-year-old Saudi man from Hofuf who is asymptomatic. He is not a healthcare worker, and the probable source of his infection is contact with camels, the MOH said.The country has now confirmed 1,376 cases since the outbreak began in 2012, including 587 deaths. Twelve patients are still being treated, the MOH said.Apr 19 MOH update PAHO reports 2,500 new chikungunya cases in AmericasThe Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) late last week reported 2,508 new cases of chikungunya in the Americas, bringing the 2016 outbreak total to 43,624 confirmed and suspected cases.The previous update, which included 2 weeks’ worth of data, noted 4,587 new cases. The outbreak total since 2013 has now reached 1,923,170 cases.According to the Apr 15 report, Colombia, the hardest-hit nation so far in 2016, reported the largest gain, with 1,628 new cases and 12,043 for the year. Honduras was next, with 579 newly reported cases and 7,181 for the year, followed by Venezuela, which logged 180 new infections, bringing its 2016 total to 2,080 cases. Many countries, however, have not reported new numbers for many weeks.PAHO did report did not report any new chikungunya-related deaths for the year, leaving that number at two. The outbreak was first reported in December 2013 on St. Martin in the Caribbean with the first recorded cases of the disease in the Americas.Apr 15 PAHO update China and Hong Kong report pair of H7N9 casesHealth officials on China’s mainland reported a case of H7N9 avian flu from Anhui province today, while Hong Kong reported an imported infection from Guangdong province, with live-poultry market exposure reported in both instances.The health department in Anhui today said the virus sickened a 62-year-old man, according to a statement translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog.An investigation revealed that the patient had visited a live poultry market before he got sick. The man is hospitalized in critical condition in the city of Ma’anshan. Anhui province, in eastern China, has reported six cases, four of them fatal, this year.Also today, Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) reported its third imported case of the year, in an 80-year-old man who is hospitalized in stable condition.The patient had traveled to Dongguan in Guangdong province during the first days of April, where he got sick a few days after buying a live chicken at a poultry market and slaughtering the bird. So far his two travel companions are asymptomatic, as are three of his close contacts, the CHP said, adding that further contact tracing efforts are under way.Today’s new cases, the region’s fourth in recent days, raises the global H7N9 total to 780, according to a case list kept by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.Apr 19 Avian Flu Diary post Apr 19 CHP statement FluTrackers H7N9 case list Athletes have high rate of MRSA colonization, risk of infectionThe prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization in asymptomatic athletes, particularly college athletes, is comparable to that in people with chronic disease and higher than that in intensive care unit (ICU) patients, plus it is associated with a sevenfold risk for future infection, according to study findings published yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.Brown University researchers analyzed 15 studies of community-acquired MRSA in 1,485 asymptomatic athletes and athletic staff. Overall MRSA colonization prevalence was 5% (6% when only athletes were included), a rate that rose to 13% among collegiate athletes. Among the latter, prevalence was highest in wrestlers (22%), followed by football and basketball players (8% each), the authors said.Once colonized, college athletes had a sevenfold increased risk of skin and soft tissue infections within 90 days. Decolonization treatment reduced subsequent infection risk by 33%, though treatment effectiveness was documented in only three studies, the authors said.The USA300 strain, which has been associated with fatal MRSA infections, was the most common strain present, colonizing 22% of athletes. More than half of cases (62%) were resistant to clindamycin, while high rates of resistance were also observed for erythromycin (40%), trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (36%), tetracycline (31%), and rifampin (23%). Given potential resistance, the authors cautioned against using clindamycin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole as empiric treatment.Rates of MRSA colonization in college athletes were almost twice as high as those observed in ICU patients (7%) and higher than documented rates in people with HIV (6.9%) and people undergoing dialysis (6%).Among the factors thought to increase the risk of MRSA in athletes are equipment sharing, close contact, and frequent skin trauma, notes the article. The authors conclude that “Infection control and decontamination protocols for this population need to be studied and implemented with urgency.”Apr 18 Clin Infect Dis studylast_img read more

ALE and Megatranz in 8,000 tonne load-out

first_imgThe module is for the Mexilhão field in the Santos Basin in Brazil. The field lies off the coast of Sao Paulo, approximately 160 km offshore and in water depths of between 320 m and 550 m. The total cost of the development has been put at around USD 1.9 billion.For the load-out, ALE used four x 850 tonne capacity strand hydraulic pulling units. The load out average speed was 11 metres per hour. The barge used for the load-out was the S-600 owned by Saipem.last_img

Oceanographer’s ashes going to sea aboard rescued sea turtle

first_img Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. Published: September 30, 2017 9:26 AM EDT SHARE Oceanographer’s ashes going to sea aboard rescued sea turtle PORT ARANSAS, Texas (AP) A rescued green sea turtle will be released this weekend back into the Gulf of Mexico, carrying the ashes of a self-taught Texas oceanographer who founded the rehabilitation center that nursed it back to health.Thousands are expected to attend a ceremony Saturday that effectively allows Tory Amos, who devoted his life to helping the endangered reptiles, to do so once more in death. His final voyage comes on a stretch of beach named in his honor.Amos, 80, died of complications from prostate cancer on Sept. 4, mere days after Harvey roared ashore as a fearsome Category 4 hurricane. It caused extensive damage to the Animal Rehabilitation Keep for ailing sea turtles and aquatic birds that Amos opened nearly four decades ago.But the turtles there weathered the storm well – as their counterparts in the wild also appear to have done, scientists say.An early hatching season meant most turtles headed to sea before the storm arrived, with their eggs already hatched rather than lying on the beach to be subsumed. Also, few turtles became stranded inland as Harvey pulled the tide far out and, since the punishing winds and rains subsided, only a relatively small number has washed back onshore or been found among storm debris.“This certainly could have been worse,” said Tim Tristan, executive director of the Texas Sealife Center, a nonprofit rescue and rehabilitation facility in Corpus Christi, close to where Harvey first made landfall Aug. 25. Five of the world’s seven sea turtle species are found in the Gulf of Mexico and have been documented in parts of Texas: green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback and loggerhead.At Amos’ turtle and aquatic bird center in the Harvey-ravaged beach town of Port Aransas, the hurricane smashed roof tiles and solar panels and collapsed parts of buildings. Partially submerged, concrete tanks housing around 60 rescue turtles were also damaged, but the animals weren’t harmed. Even Barnacle Bill, a 200-plus pound loggerhead who first came to the center in 1997, was fine despite the storm mangling the cover of his pool.Staff arriving by pickup truck had to steer though downed powerlines and assorted destruction to reach the rehabilitation facility just after Harvey passed. They put turtles in the back before returning a second time with plastic tubs.“We had turtles crawling around back there,” said Jace Tunnell, director of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, which encompasses Amos’ rehabilitation center. Animals well enough were released to sea, but those who weren’t went to Tristin’s facility. They will likely remain there for months amid repairs to the Animal Rehabilitation Keep.Sea turtles generally are good at avoiding hurricanes except for eggs that can be flooded or babies who are displaced from floating mats of seaweed where they feed, said Jeff George, executive director of Sea Turtle, Inc., a rescue and rehabilitation center on South Padre Island near the Texas-Mexico border. As Harvey approached Texas, George and volunteers scoured the beach and collected about 280 eggs that waited out the storm indoors, inside insolated containers. All but a few hatched and were released about a week later.Since then, only a few recent hatchlings have had to be rescued after washing up on South Padre area beaches, and George said many of those came from the Caribbean, far from their nesting areas near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Normally the turtle hatching season runs from May through late August, but a mild winter kept the Gulf waters warmer and ensured hatchings began extra early this year – meaning many turtles were born and swam away pre-Harvey.“You wonder if that was luck or if Mother Nature has things balanced,” George said.In Port Aransas, Tunnell said a few turtles were discovered amid Harvey’s wreckage, but “nothing too crazy.”Amos was born in London and went to Bermuda at 17, trying unsuccessfully to engineer a color, flat-screen television. Having never graduated from college, he moved to Port Aransas in 1976 and became an oceanographer for the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.Three years later, the Ixtoc I exploratory well exploded in the Gulf about 50 miles from Mexico’s coast, and Amos saw the devastating effects of the resulting oil spill on sea life. He later founded the Animal Rehabilitation Keep, which still helps hundreds of turtles and birds annually – tackling everything from pelicans that swallow plastic to turtles stricken with a tumor-causing virus.Known for a long, white beard that helped him play Santa Claus at Christmas, Amos retired in 2003 but continued working, collecting and analyzing debris on Texas beaches and painstakingly entering findings in databases. He also sailed on marine voyages throughout the world.“I considered him a genius,” Tunnell said. “He was a great oceanographer but he was so humble.”last_img read more

Lockheed Martin Demonstrates Adaptive Communications Jamming

first_imgDuring an airborne test series, DARPA and Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories (ATL) demonstrated the capability of a cognitive electronic warfare (CogEW) system that learns to dynamically counter adaptive communications threats. DARPA’s Behavioral Learning for Adaptive Electronic Warfare (BLADE) program acted as a pathfinder program in DoD CogEW, detecting, characterizing, and countering advanced wireless communication threats in minutes, not months. This effort proves the viability of applying machine learning techniques to spectrum challenges, providing smarter spectrum operation capabilities.The BLADE program successfully demonstrated their communications jamming technology at a government test site. Their engineers, joined by representatives from their subcontractor, Raytheon, flew in a modified Piper Navajo aircraft for several hours, collecting over-the-air RF energy from instrumented wireless communications test signals that included military radios, cell phones and specialized datalinks. Raytheon provided their next generation Electronic Warfare System, Silencer, to host the BLADE machine-learning software for the flight test series. More than 25 people representing multiple government organizations watched as the airborne BLADE system dynamically sensed, characterized and jammed adaptive wireless communication threats across various tactical scenarios.BLADE is enabling a shift from today’s manual-intensive, lab-based countermeasure development approach to an adaptive, in-the-field systems approach. More importantly, the technology provides the warfighter with increased capability to counter new or advanced threats which can quickly adapt or change its electronic profile. Lockheed Martin engineers and scientists developed novel machine-learning algorithms and techniques that rapidly detect and characterize new radio threats, dynamically synthesize new countermeasures, and provide accurate electronic battle damage assessment based on over-the-air observable changes in the threat.last_img read more

Family car goes to a good cause

first_imgBy Alana Mitchelson A BEACONSFIELD resident has donated his old car to a charity that converts the proceeds of car…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img