Home Emergency Management News EDM Briefing: Deadly Rat-Spread NYC Disease, Oroville Dam, Cheese Recall

EDM Briefing: Deadly Rat-Spread NYC Disease, Oroville Dam, Cheese Recall

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 15, 2017: A rat-spread disease kills one and sickens two in New York City as health officials launch an investigation, residents are allowed to return home as threat of spillway failure at the Oroville Dam lessens, Listeria contamination prompts expanded cheese recall to other brands and products, current and former TSA and airport workers in Puerto Rico indicted on drug smuggling charges, H7N9 bird flu in China is prompting concerns of an outbreak, World Health Organization declares yellow fever outbreak is over, a robot able to access Unit #2 reactor core at Fukushima Daiichi records highly lethal radiation levels, El Niño being blamed as cause of historic beach erosion on West Coast beaches, U.S. losing battle against cyber attacks.

  1. One person has died and at least two more individuals have been infected by a rat-spread disease in the Bronx borough of New York City. The three individuals were diagnosed with a bacterial infection known as Leptospirosis, a disease that is most commonly spread through contact with rat urine. City health officials noted that the infections occurred within a one block radius and are working to reduce the rat population in the area to prevent further spread of this serious, but treatable disease.
  2. After two days, evacuation orders were lifted Tuesday afternoon for those living in the valleys situated below the Oroville Dam in California. The evacuation order was reduced to an evacuation warning, with officials cautioning residents to be prepared to evacuate again at a moments notice if conditions within the spillway change. Nearly 200,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes on Sunday night after a hole developed in the emergency spillway and prompted concerns that it might collapse.
  3. Multiple cheese products distributed by MDS foods in Massillon, Ohio are being recalled after being found that they were contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Other products that might be contaminated with the bacteria are also being recalled by the distributor. MDS Foods was supplied by Deutsch Kase, LLC of Middleburg, Indiana with Colby and Colby Jack minihorn cheeses that were found to be contaminated with the bacteria that can cause serious, and sometimes fatal infections. This is just the latest in a string of recalls prompted by the discovery of Listeria monocytogenes in finished cheeses distributed by the Indiana supplier.
  4. A ring of current and former U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airport workers in Puerto Rico were indicted Tuesday on charges of allegedly smuggling more than 20 tons of cocaine into the United States over more than a decade. According to authorities, the cocaine's worth likely topped $100 million, and charges included conspiracy to possess and the intent to distribute cocaine. TSA baggage screeners and security checkers used their positions as federal employees to waive luggage containing cocaine through security.
  5. According to Chinese officials, at least 79 people died in January from the H7N9 bird flu prompting concerns of an outbreak among the nation's residents. The total since October now stands at 100 deaths and infections have increased at an alarming rate, with 306 individuals infected since October and 192 of those reported in just the last month. World Health officials note that the disease is transmitted by contact with "infected poultry or contaminated environments", and Chinese officials are warning residents to avoid live poultry markets to prevent exposure to the virus. 
  6. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the yellow fever outbreak in Congo and Angola that has killed nearly 400 people is over. Angola first detected the outbreak late in 2015 which resulted in 965 confirmed cases of yellow fever in both nations and thousands of suspected cases in both Congo and Angola. The use of vaccines can easily prevent this mosquito-spread disease for which there is no known cure.
  7. Nearly six years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, a robot has accessed a location near the reactor 2 core and found massive radiation levels. The measurement recorded a jaw-dropping 530 sieverts of radiation per hour. Now the concern is how Japan will move forward in the decommissioning process of the three nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi with such high radiation level readings nearly six years after the disaster.
  8. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) indicate that as a result of El Niño, West Coast beach erosion in 2015/16 is the highest recorded in over 145 years. The recent study focused on 1243 miles of coastline from Washington to Southern California and measured sand, wave, and water levels and conducted GPS topographical surveys. According to the USGS, findings showed that erosion was 79 percent above normal on 29 beaches in California, Oregon, and Washington, with California beach erosion exceeding historical extremes.
  9. In a recent statement, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), noted that the United States is losing the fight against cyber attacks that are coming from faceless hackers. Rep. McCaul noted that the threats are also coming from nation-states and from terrorists who have exploited social media to encourage mass murder attacks, and are "snatching our financial data and locking down access to our healthcare information."

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.