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Posts Tagged ‘worst’

Cholera-hit Haiti told to prepare for worst

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:10 am

 Officials warned that Haiti should prepare for the worst as hundreds more patients packed into hospitals amid a deadly cholera outbreak that has claimed almost 300 lives.

A total of 4,147 people were being treated for the disease, said the head of Haiti’s health department Gabriel Thimote, while eight new fatalities brought the death toll to 292.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned the outbreak was far from over and Haiti should prepare for the disease to hit its capital Port-au-Prince, which is teeming with squalid tent cities after January’s catastrophic earthquake.

“We cannot say it is contained,” WHO’s cholera chief, Claire-Lise Chaignat, told journalists in Geneva.

A woman checks on her cholera-stricken child at Saint Nicolas hospital in Saint-Marc, 100 kms (62 miles) north of Port-au-Prince.

“I think we haven’t reached the peak,” she said, recommending that Haitian authorities prepare for the “worst case scenario” — cholera in the capital.

The acute intestinal infection is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which is thought to have infected the Artibonite River, a major artery that runs through Haiti to the coast near Saint Marc — the outbreak’s epicenter.

Although easily treated, cholera has a short incubation period — sometimes just a few hours — and causes acute watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death.

Some 1.3 million people displaced by the 7.0 quake are still crammed into thousands of makeshift camps, and aid agencies have voiced fears cholera could spread like wildfire in such conditions.

Fear of the disease is turning to anger, as Haitians begin to blame foreign aid workers and peacekeepers for the Caribbean nation’s first ever outbreak of cholera.

Rumors have swirled this week that Nepalese troops with the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) were the source of the outbreak.

The mission rushed to deny the claims, insisting the mission “uses seven septic tanks” situated far away from the Artibonite River.

The installation of a vital treatment center in Saint Marc, meanwhile, had to be halted after some 300 residents confronted doctors and aid workers.

Fuelled by fear the facility would spread cholera to two nearby schools, residents of Saint Marc threw stones at medical workers of the international medical agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The specialized treatment center was being set up outside the overwhelmed St Nicolas hospital here, where some 800 patients are already being treated with hundreds of new cases arriving each day, officials said.

Argentine troops with MINUSTAH stepped in to stop the protest, and on Wednesday they were overseeing the dismantling of the facility, some 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Port-au-Prince.

“It was a big misunderstanding,” Haitian doctor Yfto Maquette told AFP in the hospital’s chaotic courtyard overflowing with patients who were supposed to have been moved to the new facility.

“The fact that we don’t have the center is stopping us from effectively treating people,” said an MSF official who declined to be named.

“We need to get the message out that cholera is a disease that we are very experienced in treating,” he said.

Maquette pointed out there was still need for basic response tools for the crisis, saying the medical team “only has one ambulance to bring people into the hospital.”

MSF, which has eight facilities open to treat cholera infections in the region, said however the fact fewer deaths were being reported was a good sign.

“The fact that we are seeing fewer severe cases is positive,” said Federica Nogarotto, the MSF field coordinator in Saint-Marc.

“It suggests that people are taking precautions and that there is a greater understanding in the community of the need to maintain strict hygiene and to seek medical assistance at the first sign of symptoms.”

Mexico said Wednesday it has sent military cargo plane with 11 doctors and 2.2 tons of medical supplies to help Haiti tackle the cholera outbreak.

So far, the Americas’ poorest country has managed to avoid the nightmare scenario of the epidemic taking hold in the unsanitary tent cities that cling to the hilly slopes of Port-au-Prince.

But worryingly for doctors, a number of patients in the town of Arcahaie said they had drunk only treated water before falling ill.

The treated water, the main source of “clean” water for most of the population in the region, is taken from the Artibonite river.

Source: SGGP

Pakistan races to help 15 million affected by ‘worst’ floods

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 at 11:20 am

SOOMRA PANHWARI, Pakistan, Aug 7, 2010 (AFP) – Pakistan raced to evacuate families threatened with fresh floods on Saturday as heavy rains worsened the disaster in its second week, with up to 15 million people already affected.

Authorities in southern Sindh province have warned that a major deluge could hit impoverished river communities in the fertile basin, where they said up to three million people had already been affected and one million evacuated.

Pakistani soldiers use a loader to rescue Lal Pir Thermal Power employees during flooding in Lal Pir on August 7, 2010. AFP

Torrential rains continued to hammer northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and helicopter services ferrying aid to some areas had to be suspended until the bad weather subsided.

Those uprooted from their homes in Sindh have been moved to temporary relief shelters in government buildings, schools and tents, but many families living in low-lying areas along the swollen Indus river were resisting evacuation.

“There are some areas where people are still reluctant to leave their homes and belongings. We are compelling them to evacuate because there is massive danger to their lives,” said irrigation minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo.

“The water flow in some places along the river is exceptionally high and intermittent rains continue,” he added.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has appealed for immediate international help to cope with the country’s worst ever floods, which have already devastated provinces in the northwest and centre.

Countries including the US, Britain and China have pledged tens of millions of dollars in aid for victims of the nearly two-week-old disaster.

Floods across the largely impoverished, insurgency-hit country have swept away entire villages and killed at least 1,600 people, according to UN estimates.

Those marooned in Soomra Panhwari in southern Sindh faced a shortage of food and drinking water and authorities said their priority was shifting women and children to safety.

Zaibun Nisa, 40, said she had been forced to leave her husband to whisk her three children away from the floods after all the family’s cattle were lost.

“All our belongings have been swept away, our cattle have been lost. My daughter was to be married once we had the money from our sugarcane harvest but the crop is destroyed. Now we are battling for our survival,” she said.

The meteorological office has warned that at least two more days of rain are expected in Sindh, where a red alert is in place because of the “imminent” and “extreme” flood threat.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, head of flood relief operations Major General Ghayoor Mehmood, has said some 1,400 people have been killed, with 213 still missing.

Flooding has spread to Indian-held Kashmir, where at least 115 people have died, while some parts of the Punjab are under six feet (two metres) of water, affecting nearly two million people, a senior crisis management official said.

“The scale of the needs is absolutely daunting,” Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said Friday.

More than 252,000 homes are thought to have been damaged or destroyed across Pakistan and 1.38 million acres (558,000 hectares) of crop land flooded, and it could take weeks before electricity is fully restored.

The flooding has threatened electricity generation plants, forcing units to shut down in a country already suffering a crippling energy crisis.

In Punjab a senior government official said water had entered an oil refinery unit, oil depot and a power generation plant, with workers being forced to leave their homes in the area.

Survivors have lashed out at authorities for failing to come to their rescue and provide better relief, piling pressure on a cash-strapped administration straining to contain Taliban violence and an economic crisis.

Particular scorn has been heaped on the unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari for pressing ahead with a visit to Europe at the height of the disaster.

The United States has pledged a total of 35 million dollars in aid, with military helicopter relief missions travelling into the worst-hit regions.

Australia on Saturday doubled its aid pledge to 10 million dollars (9.2 million US).

In neighbouring Afghanistan, authorities asked residents of several villages along the Kabul river to leave their homes as smaller floods caused minor damage to homes, an official from the national disaster authority said.

Source: SGGP

China flooding kills 701, worst toll in a decade

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm

More than 1,000 people have died or disappeared in severe flooding in China so far this year, and the heaviest rains are still to come, a senior official warned Wednesday.

This year’s floods, which have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage already, have exacted the highest death toll since 1998, which saw the highest water levels in 50 years.

In this Tuesday, July 20, 2010 photo, a street lamp is partially emerged by the flooded Yangtze River in southwest China’s Chongqing city.

With the typhoon season rolling in, Liu Ning, general secretary of the government’s flood prevention agency, told a news conference authorities must ramp up preparations.

“Since 60 to 80 percent of the annual rain level occurs in June, July and August, we should be prepared to prevent and combat potential disasters,” Liu said.

Tropical storm Chanthu is expected to hit China’s southern island of Hainan and Guangdong province this weekend. Six to eight typhoons are expected this year.

Already, three-quarters of China’s provinces have been plagued by flooding and 25 rivers have seen record-high water levels, Liu said.

Flooding, particularly along the Yangtze River basin, has overwhelmed reservoirs, swamped towns and cities, and caused landslides that have smothered communities, including toppling 645,000 houses. The Three Gorges Dam faced its highest levels ever this week and water breached the massive dam.

“Although water levels in the upper stretches of the Yangtze River have surpassed that of 1998, the flood situation is still not as severe because the Three Gorges Dam has played a key role in preventing floods along the river this year,” Liu said.

The waters have killed 701 people and left 347 missing. The overall damage totals 142.2 billion yuan ($21 billion), Liu said.

Source: SGGP

Gulf of Mexico now worst accidental spill on record

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – A Taiwanese supertanker skimmed oil from the Gulf of Mexico Saturday as the months-long disaster became the worst accidental spill on record.

Oil cleanup workers try to remove thick oil that washed ashore in Gulfport, Mississippi. AFP

Rough seas and strong winds continued to delay clean-up efforts, displace protective booms and push the oil deeper into fragile coastal wetlands, endangering wildlife preserves and the thousands of birds nesting there.

“This is going to be a very long and arduous clean-up operation in the days to come,” said Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft.

“I’m especially concerned with some of the wildlife habitats.”

An estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day has been gushing out of the ruptured well since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank on April 22, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana.

A containment system has captured about 557,000 barrels of oil, but rough seas have delayed the deployment of a third vessel which is set to increase capacity from 25,000 barrels to 53,000 barrels a day.

That means an estimated 1.9 to 3.6 million barrels — or 79.5 to 153 million gallons — of oil has now gushed into the Gulf.

Using the high end of that estimate, the spill has now surpassed the 1979 Ixtoc blowout which took nine months to cap and dumped an estimated 3.3 million barrels (140,000 million gallons) into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is topped only by the deliberate release of six to eight million barrels of crude by Iraqi troops who destroyed tankers and oil terminals and set wells ablaze in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.

And it will likely be mid-August at the earliest before the Gulf well is permanently capped by injecting mud and cement with the aid of relief wells.

The Taiwanese supertanker dubbed “A Whale” could radically increase the amount of oil crews are able to recover.

“It ingests oil and oily water and then separates out the oil and expels the water,” BP spokesman Toby Odone told AFP.

The giant ship, which has cuts in its sides, is some 300 yards (275 meters) long and can suck up 21 million gallons of oily water a day.

The small skimming boats which have been patrolling the Gulf for the past 10 weeks have only collected 28.2 million gallons of oily water to date.

The tanker began initial skimming operations Friday, with crews testing whether it could safely handle and dispose of the oil, but it will take several days before a final deployment decision is made, Odone said.

Rough seas caused by the first hurricane of the Atlantic season have kept the thousands of ships hired to skim oil, lay boom, carry out controlled burns, and move equipment in harbor since Tuesday.

Skimmers had been collecting about 12,000 barrels of oil a day before they were sent back to port while about 8,000 barrels of oil was being burned off the surface.

Around 450 miles (725 kilometers) of US shorelines have now been oiled as crude spews into the sea at an alarming rate, 73 days into the worst environmental disaster in US history.

A third containment ship aimed at doubling the amount of oil captured from a rupture well in the Gulf of Mexico should hopefully be working by Wednesday, said Admiral Thad Allen, who oversees operations.

The deployment of the Helix Producer is set to increase capacity from about 25,000 to 53,000 barrels of oil per day.

Officials will have a better estimate on the actual flow rate once the Helix Producer is attached “just by the visual evidence of how much oil is actually coming out around that cap,” Allen said.

They will then have to decide if the existing system should stay in place, or if it would be best to undergo a risky procedure to replace the cap with another system capable of capturing up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day.

“The decision window associated with that would be sometime in the next I would say seven to 10 days,” Allen said in a conference call Friday.

A key advantage of the new system is that it would greatly reduce the amount of time oil would be gushing freely into the sea if crews had to evacuate the spill site due to a bad storm.

“All of this is being weighed very, very carefully,” Allen said.

Meawhile, a US government agency warned the Florida Keys and resort beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale were at high risk from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used a computer model to estimate the likelihood that toxic crude will ride the Loop Current into the Gulf Stream, which whips around the southern tip of Florida and up the eastern US seaboard.

The study found that much of Florida’s western coastline along the Gulf “has a low probability (one to 20 percent) for impact,” while the Florida Keys, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale areas “have a greater probability (61 to 80 percent).”

Source: SGGP

AO – one of the worst inventions of all time

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm

AO – one of the worst inventions of all time

QĐND – Saturday, June 05, 2010, 21:13 (GMT+7)

Agent Orange, the deadly herbicide that the US Army used in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971 to destroy the country’s thick canopy of foliage, which provided cover for Vietnamese troops, has been listed as one of the 50 worst inventions of all time by the US magazine Time.

Exposure to AO has “proved deadly to humans, causing cancers, birth defects and a slew of other disorders,” said the magazine, adding that “some 21 million gallons of it were dumped on Vietnam, resulting in hundreds of thousands of injuries and birth defects to Vietnamese citizens.”

Many US veterans were also exposed, said the newspaper, adding that they received a US$180 million settlement from the manufacturers of Agent Orange in 1984.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Trying last-ditch lung bypass for worst swine flu

In World on November 25, 2009 at 4:14 am

A technology originally developed for premature babies may be helping to save some of the sickest swine flu patients by rerouting their blood so their lungs can rest.

It’s a risky approach using equipment that only certain specialized hospitals have. But faced with children and young adults struggling to breathe despite ventilators has intensive-care doctors dusting off these machines, named ECMO, that they often consider last-ditch and almost never use for influenza.

“It was pretty scary knowing that was his blood flowing through those tubes in and out of his body,” says Susie Damm of Omaha, Neb., whose 19-year-old son Ryan survived a life-threatening bout after 10 days on ECMO.

“I was one of the people sick and tired of hearing about the swine flu, thinking people were making a big deal of it,” she adds. “Now I’ve had a different look, and I’m very, very thankful” he survived.

No one knows which patients are most likely to benefit — not everyone does. But ECMO is gaining attention after Australian researchers reported that the machines helped during that country’s outbreak of what scientists call the 2009 H1N1 flu strain. A voluntary U.S.-based registry counts 107 critically ill swine flu patients recently treated with ECMO, most from this country.

In Omaha, Dr. Jeff DeMare credits the technique with saving Ryan Damm and 7-year-old Tania Romero-Oropeza after both patients’ lungs went from clogged to nearly useless in a stunning matter of hours. Tania’s care was complicated by a drug-resistant staph infection.

“You wonder, ‘OK, we’ve got a lot of folks who get this disease and why is it so bad in some cases?’ We don’t have a real good handle on that,” says DeMare, a critical care specialist at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.

Whatever the reason, “your body needs time to fight the infection,” he adds, and he gambled that the pricey equipment could buy that time.

Estimates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that swine flu has hospitalized 98,000 Americans in the past six months, and killed nearly 4,000. For most, standard treatment works.

But the sickest often need ventilators to pump their lungs, and ventilators damage lung tissue, especially as they’re turned up to higher pressures as patients worsen.

Hospitals are “exhausting all measures” on those patients, says Dr. Pauline Park, a University of Michigan ICU co-director who’s helping to analyze the ECMO registry in hopes of determining best candidates. “Physicians don’t want to give false hope to families, but also don’t want to stand by if a life can be saved.”

Enter ECMO, decades-old technology that essentially offers a temporary lung bypass. Tubes carry blood out of the body so a filter can remove carbon dioxide and reinfuse oxygen, and then dump the blood back.

It’s a twist on the heart-lung machine used for open-heart surgery, modified so that patients can stay on the machine for weeks instead of just hours and, key here, so that blood doesn’t have to bypass the heart if only the lungs need a rest.

There are many cautions. It’s risky, requiring blood thinners to avoid clots and posing the potential for additional infection. It can double the cost of ICU care. Only about 120 hospitals in the U.S. offer it, most just a few times a year for newborns with respiratory failure, its primary use.

ECMO in adults is hugely controversial because past research couldn’t prove that it significantly increased survival.

Ryan Damm, 19, a swine flu patient whose life was saved by using a lung-bypass technology called ECMO, sees his physician, Dr. Jeff DeMare at Children’s Hospital of Omaha in Omaha, Neb

Here’s what’s new:

_Australian researchers reported last month that they used ECMO in 68 critically ill swine flu patients who failed standard care, and about 71 percent survived. That research predicted some 800 people might be ECMO candidates if the U.S. experienced similar rates of swine flu.

_Coincidentally, a British study also published last month found that nearly two-thirds of adults randomly assigned to ECMO survived other types of respiratory failure — before swine flu hit — while just 47 percent survived with regular ICU care. It’s the most rigorous study of ECMO performed in adults and one that has lung specialists debating wider use.

_Preliminary data from the Michigan-run ECMO registry suggests survival can reach 72 percent if recipients get it within six days of using a ventilator. With longer ventilator use, the survival rate plummets.

Back in Omaha, DeMare agrees ECMO shouldn’t be last-ditch, noting his own patients were on ventilators for just hours before getting it. Still, Tania had a monthlong hospital stay, including her eight days on ECMO.

“Thank God the doctor took that decision to use this machine,” said Tania’s mother, Antonieta Oropeza, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share