Archive | December, 2012

More than a million people struck down by norovirus

More than a million people have now contracted the norovirus this winter, official figures reveal amid fears the outbreak could overwhelm emergency services.

 

 

Norovirus

 

 

Levels of infection of the winter vomiting bug, which usually peak in January, are now running at almost twice those of the same time last year.

Calculations are that 1.018million people have been hit with the virus this season, 83 per cent higher than the same period in 2011.

Laboratory tests by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have confirmed 3,538 cases of norovirus this season, up from 3,046 cases last week.

Officials work on a ratio of one laboratory case probably means there are a further 288 cases among people who do not seek medical treatment and are not tested.

The latest figures, which show no let up in the grip it has on the nation, compare with 1,934 cases last Christmas.

During the two weeks up to 23 December there were 70 hospital outbreaks reported, compared to 61 in the previous fortnight, bringing the total of outbreaks for the season to 538.

The outbreak has sparked alarm among the emergency services who have urged people not to phone 999 amid fears operators will be overwhelmed by emergency calls.

One ambulance service warned a rise in calls about the bug could get in the way of sending paramedics to life-threatening emergencies such as car crashes.

Phil Convery, who is Infection Control Leader for South Central Ambulance Service, said: “Winter is traditionally the busiest time for your ambulance service and as such, we are urging patients with flu or norovirus not to call 999 so that valuable resources remain available to respond to genuinely life threatening medical emergencies.”

The distribution of norovirus cases across the season varies significantly from year to year, but the number of cases has risen earlier than expected this year, said the HPA

John Harris, an expert in norovirus from the HPA said: “The number of laboratory confirmed cases has risen once again as it appears that we have seen the rise in cases that usually begins in January start a little earlier than we normally expect.

“Norovirus is very contagious, and very unpleasant. To help prevent spread of the disease, it’s important that people who believe they are unwell with the virus maintain good hand hygiene and stay away from hospitals, schools and care homes, as these closed environments are particularly prone to outbreaks which can cause severe disruption.”

Norovirus can be transmitted by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, by contact with an infected person, or by the consumption of contaminated food or water. Symptoms of norovirus include a sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Some people may have a temperature, headache and stomach cramps. The illness usually resolves in one or two days and there are no long-term effects. The Telegraph

Reblogged from The Survival Place Blog.

Study: Colorado River can’t meet long-term demand

Study: Colorado River can’t meet long-term demand

Reblogged from the THE SURVIVAL PLACE BLOG

Posted on December 12, 2012 by Bob Berwyn

A 2001 NASA satellite image shows the dessicated Colorado River delta. Click on the image to visit the NASA Earth Observatory page. New U.S. Bureau of Reclamation report outlines tough scenario for resource managers By Bob Berwyn

A 2001 NASA satellite image shows the dessicated Colorado River delta. Click on the image to visit the NASA Earth Observatory page.

A 2001 NASA satellite image shows the dessicated Colorado River delta. Click on the image to visit the NASA Earth Observatory page.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Upper Colorado River Basin — including Summit County — could see deficits in its compact obligation to deliver water downstream as often as once every five years by 2040, according to a massive new Bureau of Reclamation study released this week. The study details a 50-year Colorado River water supply and demand outlook. Based on a combination of population growth and climate models that show a general drying trend in the region, the river could be short by at least 3.2 million acre feet by 2060, and perhaps by as much as 8 million acre feet, according to the Colorado River Water Users Association. Colorado River water is used by about 40 million people in seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. Under the most aggressive growth scenario, that number could nearly double, to about 76 million people, by 2060. “You can’t manage a resource that you can’t measure,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, announcind the results of the study during a press conference. “With he help of the U.S. Geological Survey, we are gathering crucial science about our water supplies and how we will use them … We need to work with other partners on the Colorado River, as we have been. That same spirit of partnership is needed to tackle all the water challenges we will face,” Salazar said. Those challenges are daunting, Salazar continued, acknowledging that the river is already stretched to the limit. “We need to recognize that frankly, the legal construct we have already over-subscribes the water by several million acre feet,” he said explaining that the best available climate science suggests that the Colorado River Basin could see an overall 9 percent reduction in flows in the next 50 years.Salazar also acknowledged that there is no easy answer to filling the projected shortfall, and said that federal resource managers won’t look outside the basin, rejecting ideas like shunting Missouri River water to Colorado, or towing icebergs to Southern California. “Those ideas are “impractical and technically not feasible,” Salazar said. “We will pursue practical common sense solutions … like reducing demand thru efficiency and conservation, and also increasing our supply through practical measures like re-use,” he added. The Colorado River Basin States will have to work together to find ways to make the existing water go further, he said. That will include intensified conservation efforts, significant re-use of water and conversion of agricultural water to municipal and industrial purposes, since that’s where the greatest demand will continue to come from. That work must begin now, said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Ann Castle. “The problem of a drier Colorado River Basin is one that we have to tackle now so that our children and grandchildren will have water,” she said. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor reinforced Salazar’s comments about practical solutions. He said the agency has no plans to pursue Missouri River imports and explained that uncertainties related to conservation, weather modification and water banking must be resolved as part of the equation. Scientists must also continue to refine climate projections to help firm up estimates of future supplies, he concluded.

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