Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Second EEE Case Confirmed in Massachusetts
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Second EEE Case Confirmed in Massachusetts

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Second EEE Case Confirmed in Massachusetts

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 19, 2019: A prairie dog colony in Colorado has been infected with the plague; Caesium-137 was allegedly found in one doctor who treated patients from the nuclear explosion in Russia; a fire that swept through a shantytown in Dhaka, Bangladesh, has left nearly 10,000 poor people homeless; thousands of people have been evacuated in Gran Canaria as a wildfire burns out of control; police have arrested and charged a suspect in connection with the planting of fake bombs in New York City Friday morning; a man was arrested in Volusia County, Florida, for allegedly texting mass shooting threats; a second human case of EEE has been confirmed in Massachusetts; and a temporary computer outage at CBP caused long processing lines for international travelers at major airports across the country on Friday.

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1) A plague-infected black-tailed prairie dog colony was found near Denver in July, which prompted the closure of parts of a wildlife refuge in Colorado to help prevent transmission of the disease to humans and pets. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge remains partially closed to visitors as workers continue to treat the prairie dogs, their dens and wilderness areas with insecticides to kill the fleas that are responsible for the transmission of the plague. Wildlife officials anticipate that the area will remain closed at least through Labor Day, but some areas remain open to visitors.

2) The mysterious blast that occurred at a military test site in Russia earlier this month killed at least five people and sent at least three others to the hospital, according to new reports. New information indicates that Russian doctors, nurses, and staff were not warned that the incoming patients involved in the accident -- who were naked and wrapped in translucent plastic bags -- may have had radiation exposure. Doctors who treated the patients discovered that their scrubs were setting off radiation meters, and were later flown to Moscow. One doctor was reportedly found to have Caesium-137 -- a radioactive isotope -- in his muscle tissue.

3) Nearly 10,000 people are homeless after a fire swept through a shantytown in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday. There were no fatalities. Several people were injured as a result of the fire, which left little else but charred debris in its wake. The slum housed primarily low-wage garment factory workers, who lost everything in the fire. The government is working to provide the immediate needs of those affected, including water, food, toilets and shelter.

4) A wildfire burning on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, has prompted the evacuation of at least 8,000 people. The blaze, which has already scorched 4,200 acres, is being fought by at least 700 firefighters, including 200 from the military, along with five airplanes and eleven helicopters. The wildfire began Saturday and was advancing through mountainous areas on two fronts. Efforts to fight the wildfire have been hampered by low humidity, high temperatures and strong winds.

5) The man accused of placing fake bombs in public places Friday morning in New York City was arraigned Sunday. Larry Griffin, 26, was implicated for placing three rice cookers in separate locations -- including two in a subway station and one on the curb with garbage -- causing a scare and disrupting public transportation services briefly. The devices turned out to be harmless, however. Griffin is being charged with several different counts of placing a false bomb or hazardous substance.

6) Authorities in Volusia County, Florida arrested a man on Friday after being alerted to text messages that allegedly detailed plans for a mass shooting. Tristan Scott Wix, 25, allegedly noted in his texts that he "wanted to shoot as many people as possible in a crowd," and that he wanted to set a world record with his shooting. Police obtained a search warrant for his home. However, the suspect allegedly stated that while he was fascinated by mass shootings, he did not own any firearms.

7) A second case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed in an individual in Massachusetts. The state Department of Health said that the virus was found in a man between the ages of 19 and 30 in Worcester County, prompting health officials to raise the risk alert level to critical for seven nearby communities. One community in Middlesex County and three in Bristol County are also at critical risk alert levels, while the original nine communities in Plymouth County remain at the critical alert level. EEE is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and the viral disease, which can be fatal, affects people of all ages.

8) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) experienced a temporary computer outage on Friday that caused lengthy processing delays for many international airline passengers. CBP reportedly stated that they were using alternative procedures to process travelers while still "maintaining the highest levels of security." The computer outage, which appeared to affect the CBP processing system nationwide, caused significant wait times at major airports across the country before it was resolved around 6:00 p.m.

 

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Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.