Category: Organisms

Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

File:Brucella spp.JPG

Brucella spp. are gram-negative in their staining morphology. Brucella spp. are poorly staining, small gram-negative coccobacilli (0.5-0.7 x 0.6-1.5 µm), and are seen mostly as single cells and appearing like “fine sand”.

CDC/Courtesy of Larry Stauffer, Oregon State Public Health Laboratory

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Biological Hazard Israel Northern District, Afula Damage level Details




Biological Hazard in Israel on Tuesday, 13 May, 2014 at 03:36 (03:36 AM) UTC.

Five people were hospitalized at Emek Medical Center in Afula and another four were treated and discharged on Monday after being infected with brucellosis bacteria from drinking milk that had not been pasteurized or meat from unvaccinated animals. The patients were treated with antibiotics and given supportive care. Dr. Bibiana Hazan, who heads the hospital’s infectious diseases unit, said the disease is transmitted to man by sheep, cows and goats that have not been immunized against it. It is also possible that people can been infected by breathing in the bacteria near infected livestock. Brucellosis causes stomach aches, a fast pulse and joint pains, but it can also lead to complications such as damage to heart valves and serious infection of the joints.
Biohazard name: Brucellosis
Biohazard level: 3/4 Hight
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.
Status: confirmed






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Sep. 17, 2013 at 3:52 PM ET

Video: According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is the first time the deadly parasite has ever been discovered in a treated water supply system. It could take weeks before the system is completely clear. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

School officials in an area near New Orleans have shut off water fountains and stocked up on hand sanitizer this week after a brain-eating amoeba killed a 4-year-old boy and was found thriving in the local tap water system.

Water officials say they are “shocking” the St. Bernard Parish system with chlorine to try to kill off the parasite and get the water back up to a safe standard. And while health experts say the water is perfectly safe to drink, some school officials are taking no chances. They’ve shut off water fountains until they are certain.

Dr. Raoult Ratard, the Louisiana state epidemiologist, says the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 may ultimately be to blame. Low-lying St. Bernard Parish — where the boy Drake Smith Jr. from Mississippi was infected while playing on a Slip ‘N Slide in a backyard in the Parish — was badly hit by the flooding that Katrina caused.

“After Katrina, it almost completely depopulated,” Ratard told NBC News. “You have a lot of vacant lots and a lot of parts of the system where water is sitting there under the sun and not circulating.”

That, says Ratard, provided a perfect opportunity for the amoeba to multiply. Without enough chlorine to kill them, they can spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that it had found Naegleria fowleri in St. Bernard’s water supply – the first time it’s ever been found in treated U.S. tap water. The amoeba likes hot water and thrives in hot springs, warm lakes and rivers.

4-year-old boy Drake Smith Jr died after a rare but deadly amoeba infected him while he was playing on a back yard Slid 'N Slide in Louisiana.

NBC News
4-year-old boy Drake Smith Jr died after a rare but deadly amoeba infected him while he was playing on a back yard Slid ‘N Slide in Louisiana.

Very, very rarely it can get up a person’s nose. If it gets in far enough – driven in, perhaps, when a child dives into a pond – it can attach itself to the olfactory nerve, which takes it into the brain. The multiplying amoebas eat blood cells and nerve cells and cause encephalitis. Only three out of the 130 people known to have been affected in the United States have ever survived, including a 12-year-old Arkansas girl, Kali Hardig, who is still recovering.

Chlorine kills it, but evidently some of the part of St. Bernard’s water system farthest away from the water treatment plan ran low on the chemical. CDC’s top water safety expert, Dr. Michael Beach, says that’s why it is important for officials to constantly monitor chlorine levels and make sure they are effective right to the end of the line of any water system.

Doris Voitier, superintendent of St. Bernard Parish Public School District, says the district shut down a second grade swim program briefly out of an abundance of caution to ensure that chlorine levels were sufficient. “The swim team is back in the pool. The swim program will be reinstituted within the next few days – hopefully by week’s end,” she told NBC News.

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Slabs of houses that were demolished in St. Bernard parish.

Traces of a brain-eating amoeba have been found in New Orleans’ St. Bernard Parish’s water supply.

Photograph by Tyrone Turner, National Geographic

Ker Than

National Geographic

Published September 20, 2013

The deadly brain-eating amoeba that recently killed a four-year-old Louisiana boy may be linked to unsafe water conditions created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, experts say.

The boy, Drake Smith Jr., died from a rare but deadly swelling of the brain caused by Naegleria fowleri, a species of single-celled organism known as an amoeba. (Related: “What We Do—and Don’t—Know About Brain-Eating Amoebas.”)

The child was playing on a backyard Slip ‘n Slide in St. Bernard Parish, near New Orleans, and was apparently infected by amoebae present in the water in early August. About two days later, he was dead.

For N. fowleri to gain access to the brain, it must go up a person’s nose and climb the olfactory nerve. Simply drinking water that contains the amoeba is not enough to cause an infection, said Raoult Ratard, Louisiana’s state epidemiologist.

“[The boy] spent all day on the slide,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some water went up his nose.”

N. fowleri is commonly found in lakes and other freshwater systems, but is usually not considered a danger to swimming pools or municipal water systems because they are typically treated with chlorine or other types of disinfectants that kill the amoeba.

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