News roundup: Ebola in US, Japanese volcano eruption, quake swarm at Mammoth


CDC confirms first case of Ebola in US
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Tuesday that a patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case diagnosed in the United States. The patient left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. It’s the first patient to be diagnosed with this particular strain of Ebola outside of Africa.“[The patient] had no symptoms when departing Liberia or entering this country. But four or five days later on the 24th of September, he began to develop symptoms,” said Frieden. The patient, who was in the U.S. visiting family in Texas, initially sought care on September 26, but was sent home and was not admitted until two days later. He was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where he remains critically ill, according to Frieden.
The assurances we've been receiving from officials since the outbreak in Africa spread have not made much sense to me.

"The risk of the spread of Ebola in California is low."

"and the past-president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told Americans should not fear the disease. "We see the risk as essentially zero,"

If an ill traveler arrives in the U.S., CDC has protocols in place to protect against further spread of disease.

The problem is, the patient in Dallas was not showing any symptoms. Secondly, he had traveled to Liberia and when he arrived at the Dallas hospital for treatment, he was sent home. It doesn't seem those protocols are working.

Granted, one patient isn't an outbreak. But the worry is that he was ill, AND showing symptoms and walked around Dallas for days. The CDC press conference last night never did answer the question as to whether the patient's family has been quarantined. However, several medical workers are now quarantined:

Paramedics, ER staff under Ebola observation in Dallas
DALLAS — Three Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics and several emergency room workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital are off work and under observation after making contact with the patient being treated for Ebola. Perhaps the most tangible evidence of Ebola in Dallas is an ambulance parked in a city lot in Pleasant Grove, an area about 15 minutes southeast of downtown Dallas. It's quarantined and roped off with red tape warning of a biohazard. Ambulance No. 37 carried the Ebola patient to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday morning.
So on September 26 the patient walked into the hospital seeking care, and just three days later had to be taken by ambulance. It seems that this is either a very rapid progression, or symptoms were evident on the 26th and were missed. Neither scenario are particularly comforting.

The ambulance used to transport the Dallas Ebola patient is now a biohazard,
and the paramedics are quarantined. Source
But the CDC assures us, still, that everything is just fine. But just in case, they issued Ebola guidelines for US funeral homes. The article's opening poses the following question:
ROSWELL, GA (CBS46) - CBS46 News has confirmed the Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines to U.S. funeral homes on how to handle the remains of Ebola patients. If the outbreak of the potentially deadly virus is in West Africa, why are funeral homes in America being given guidelines?
They asked the question because the article was initially published on September 29. The news did not break about the Dallas Ebola patient until September 30. Now we know the answer.

All I can say is that the same thing is on many peoples' minds. First is Mark Davis' tweet

Fred Butler summed it up.



I love spooky clouds. Or non-spooky clouds. I just like clouds.

PSU meteorology student & storm chaser Jacob DeFlitch ‏@WxDeFlitch tweeted this pic yesterday, "Incredible photo of clouds this morning over NYC from the air." [Via: Angela Wang]

Ginger Zee, Chief Meteorologist at ABC News; re-tweeted this photo yesterday morning.

"Great capture! “@TheNan08: Heading into NYC crazy looking clouds @Ginger_Zee @Evansweather"

Denver severe weather dumps massive amounts of hail
An impressive hail storm slammed into the Denver metropolitan area around 2 p.m. MDT, dropping hail as large as golf balls. Photos posted to social media show what looked like snow, but was actually a thick sheet of hail covering highways and grassy areas. Denver's 9 News reports Cherry Creek schools delayed dismissing students because of the weather. Hail drifts several feet deep were reported in some towns, according to
South of France hit by devastating floods
Around 60 towns in the south of France have been officially declared natural disaster sites following severe flooding caused by torrential downpours, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced on Tuesday.
Scientists are grappling for reasons as to why the weather is worsening so palpably. This is from NOAA weather:
New report finds human-caused climate change increased severity of 2013 heat waves in Asia, Europe and Australia September 29, 2014. The report, "Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From a Climate Perspective," can be viewed online. (Credit: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society) A report released today investigates the causes of a wide variety of extreme weather and climate events from around the world in 2013. Published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, "Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective" addresses the causes of 16 individual extreme events that occurred on four continents in 2013. NOAA scientists served as three of the four lead editors on the report.


The Weather Channel ‏@weatherchannel posted the following yesterday,
"JUST IN: M4.2 #earthquake near Perry, OK at 10:01pm CDT; shaking felt from Wichita KS to Norman OK."

4.2 is pretty big for Oklahoma.

Mammoth Lakes in California has been experiencing the "most intense" quake swarm of the last decade. LA Times has mapped them in a .gif

Watch 900 earthquakes erupt during Mammoth swarm
There were 947 total quakes



Mount Ontake, a Japanese volcano, erupted unexpectedly, unfortunately killing and injuring climbers. A hiker who was on scene filmed the terrifying event. Below is a screen shot and below that, the video.

I truly hope those poor people made it out!

UK Daily Mail
The search for at least two dozen victims of Japan's worst volcanic eruption in decades has been called off again today amid fears that another deadly steam explosion is imminent. Hundreds of military searchers had been preparing to enter Mount Ontake by foot and helicopter to resume the recovery of at least 24 people caught in a deadly rain of ash and stone after the peak erupted without warning on Saturday when it was crowded with hikers, including children. Twelve bodies have been recovered from the 10,062 feet peak but at least 36 are feared to have died, with the recovery hampered by high levels of toxic gas and ash piled hip-high in places on the still-smoking mountain. At least 69 people have been injured, 30 of them seriously.
UK Daily Mail(as usual, great photos)
Mount Sinabung Spouts Off
Mt. Sinabung in Sumatra let out a long roar on Wednesday, erupting for a full 907 seconds, or just over 15 minutes – about 0.0028% of the year since it first started acting up. Daily eruptions, which started last November and lasted for months, coated the countryside in gray ash and forced tens of thousands of people from their villages.

Video: Fla. commissioner walks out of meeting when Pagan delivers bizarre ‘satanic,’ singing invocation
A Florida pagan was given the opportunity to offer the invocation at an Escambia County Commission meeting Thursday, but one commissioner wouldn’t stick around to hear it. By law, the commission had to allow David Suhor, a self-described Agnostic Pagan Pantheist who worships nature, to give an invocation, according to ABC affiliate WEAR-TV. When Suhor recited the pagan prayer in song calling of the directions north, east, south, and west, Commissioner Wilson Robertson walked out. “People may not realize it,” Robertson told WEAR. “But when we invite someone, a minister to pray, they are praying for the county commissioners, for us to make wise decisions and I’m just not going to have a pagan or satanic minister pray for me.”

Good for him. The law may require that equal opportunity be given to all religions, but that does not mean we have to accept the prayer in the 'spirit' in which it was intended. I hope the commissioner prayed for the pagan man to repent and come to Jesus.


  1. My youngest daughter is a research scientist- an immunologist to be exact. At the end of August, her unit of 63 immunologists were all laid off. Upon contacting her old employer, she found that they also are closing their immunology lab. In light of the discovery of new threats to our health every day, does it make sense that our immunologists are losing their jobs?

    1. Absolutely not. Especially when they believe that both the enterovirus and the Ebola virus are mutating. I hope your daughter can find a job soon.

  2. I was thinking to myself last night, "I wonder if Elizabeth will cover the ebola in the U.S. and the volcano?"
    Amazing times we are living in. It is surreal. My thoughts when reading about Ebola over the last several months, mirror Fred Butler's.

  3. Ebola

    Come at me bro.

    I heard a recent statistic off of CSPAN or NPR (I landed on one briefly between channelsurfing in the car) that some organization (WHO?) anticipated 20,000 infections by the end of October, and, if nothing changes, exponentially increasing to 4 million people infected in the countries of origin by the end of January.

    This could go so many ways.

  4. I believe Dr. Brantly said something to the effect that we are naive if we think the Atlantic Ocean will keep ebola from our shores...

    I echo Jennifer's sentiments. Surreal indeed.


  5. Ebola was first identified in 1976. From then until now--38 years--the disease has not left the African continent. Why now? It's not like we haven't had immigrants from African for the past 38 years! --Linda Dodson

    1. It's because it's been mostly constrained to provincial villages. People with poor understanding of Germ Theory undercook meat, and a common organism in fruit bats -- a local delicacy -- tends to infect a couple people or a couple dozen people in any given year.

      Because the towns are far from large population centers, quarantining it is not difficult, and it tends to not spread. It had a habit of dying out on its own every year it made an appearance.

      This time it's different. Once it made it to urban populations, by the sheer power of statistics and human nature (no way you'll get a million people to stay indoors for 3 weeks), it's bound to spread.

      There's ways to deal with it, and it's not as hopeless as it may seem -- but it COULD become that way. It's all due to chance, or as we faithful prefer to say, Providence.

      When anybody dies from Ebola, I can't stop thinking that it's because some idiot somewhere didn't cook his dinner properly. There has to be a lot of people in eternity wondering, "THAT'S what killed me??!!?"

      Anyway. Hope this explains why it all of a sudden appeared now.

    2. I felt compelled to comment again, since I'm now less than fully confident that it came from bats. This is an article with more detailed background information -- for example, it was undiscovered for a 15 year period, so it hasn't been a very broadly active disease. That particular website speculates that it's a disease that jumped, or jumps, from apes to humans.

      Ah, but wait: -- this website supports a few more of my initial comments.

      I just couldn't rest my conscience without double checking so that what I was saying was at least rooted in something more authoritative than "what I've heard."

    3. Sorry again for another comment, Elizabeth. :P The short and simple answer to your initial question, Anonymous, with regard to immigration, is that the virus's death rate is so high that it works against its infectuousness.

      From an effectiveness standpoint, seen as a virus's success at replicating itself and infecting as many hosts as possible, it needs to accomplish two things, primarily.

      1. Be highly transmissible. Spreading through bodily fluids makes Ebola highly contagious. This already makes it "airborne" on the level of being a few meters from somebody. For example, just by breathing, small amounts of saliva are aerosolized and fly away from your mouth by simple physics. They'll fall to the ground, but because of their microscopic size, they can travel on a breeze several feet and come in contact with somebody else. Sneezes are an even better example, and any virus that makes people sneeze has an advantage over ones that don't.
      If Ebola were to become truly *airborne,* it wouldn't just be contagious over a few feet. You could infect everybody in an entire office, school, etc via the central air system. You could infect everyone in an entire auditorium in minutes, even just by walking through it. People fail to realize how much microscopic stuff flies off of us just in the course of our daily lives. There was a recent study that showed that the bacterial count of the air in a lab went up by tens of thousands per whatever unit of air they were measuring, simply by the PRESENCE of a person in the lab, compared to when empty. And that's bacteria. Viruses are large molecules, not small cells. They are even easier to transmit in the air.

      2. Do as little as possible to harm the host. This can take several forms. Have a low mortality rate (not Ebola), or extend the amount of time before your host develops symptoms (HIV does this, sometimes over decades), or be very effective at replicating yourself using the host's cellular machinery. The common cold does this, using your body cells' natural self-death mechanism (apoptosis) to burst open infected cells and spread the virus all over the body.

      Ebola, with its high death rate, needs to be either extremely infectious or have a delayed onset of symptoms. And as it turns out, it has both.

      Scary enough as it may seem, so long as no one infected actually traveled to major population centers, the high death rate would overcome the sometimes-long incubation period and high infectivity.

      But now that that barrier has been breached, we all would do well, not to panic, but at least be cautiously concerned and independently educated on the present progress of this outbreak.

      I think I'm finally finished. Thanks for hearing me out, and for posting, Elizabeth, if it wasn't too much of an eyesore for you. :)


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