Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: First Case Of West Nile Virus In 2018

EDM Wednesday Briefing: First Case Of West Nile Virus In 2018

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 18, 2018: Severe weather along the East Coast prompted flash flood alerts, downed trees and power lines, and caused flight cancellations; a lava bomb injured 23 people on a tour boat who were viewing lava from Mount Kilauea entering the ocean; a GAO report finds that 41 percent of school districts are not regularly testing for lead in the water; a paramedic in Indiana was arrested for allegedly stealing fentanyl supplies for several months; a mid-air collision between 2 small planes in Miami leaves at least 3 dead; a recall for Valsartan has been issued due to a cancer causing impurity found in the drug; the first case of the West Nile Virus for 2018 has been reported in Texas; and the CDC and the FDA are warning consumers nationwide to avoid crab meat from Venezuela after 12 people were sickened by the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria.

  1. Showers and thunderstorms moved through the mid-Atlantic and into the northeast yesterday, creating travel delays for anyone trying to fly into or out of the region. At least 1,500 flights were cancelled, and another 4,000 flights were delayed as severe weather moved through the area, bringing torrential rainfall, gusty winds, frequent lightning and a funnel cloud over New York. The heavy rainfall prompted flash flood alerts, with Massachusetts and New Hampshire being hardest hit by damaging winds that downed power lines and trees.  
  2. A tour boat making passes about 250 yards offshore in the area of the lava entry from Mount Kilauea was hit by a lava bomb from a lava explosion on Tuesday, injuring 23 people. The lava bomb broke through the roof of the tour boat and entered the passenger cabin, seriously injuring at least four people who were transported to Hilo Medical Center, including one with a broken femur. The incident prompted new rules to be implemented by the U.S. Coast Guard, including the requirement that boat captains must now remain at least 300 yards away from lava entry points.  
  3. A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 43 percent of school districts across the United States test their water for lead, and at least eight states require schools to complete the testing. Of those 43 percent that test, 37 percent found elevated lead levels in their water, and implemented measures that reduced or eliminated exposure to the 35 million students they serve. In the 12 months before completing the GAOs survey, 41 percent of school districts, that serve 12 million students, had not tested for lead, and a full 16 percent of school districts did not know if testing had been completed or not.  
  4.  Authorities arrested a paramedic in Indiana on Monday for allegedly stealing fentanyl from ambulances and fire trucks beginning in March and occurring over the last several months. In the investigation that started in May, a statewide audit of Seals ambulances revealed that 34 vials of fentanyl across five counties were found to be tampered with, and according to reports, Howard was working in those counties during that time. According to the Indiana State Police, Jason Howard, 41, admitting to taking the fentanyl and replacing it with saline.  
  5. A mid-air collision between two small planes near Miami, Florida has killed at least three and left one person missing. Calls were made to 911 after witnesses say they saw an explosion in the air just after 1:00 p.m., about nine miles west of Miami over the Everglades. First responders found two bodies in one aircraft and another body was recovered from the second airplane, but the search for a fourth victim continues, as it is believed that there was a student and an instructor in each plane.  
  6. The Food and Drug Administration has requested three companies recall heart medications that contain the active ingredient Valsartan, a drug used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. The recall covers drugs that were manufactured in China that were found to contain an impurity that causes cancer, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), and distributed by the companies Major Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, Ltd., and Solco Healthcare. The impurity may have been present in the drug since 2012, possibly exposing patients to the cancer causing drug for several years.  
  7. The first reported case of the West Nile Virus in 2018 has occurred in Galveston County, Texas. Health officials reported that a woman on Galveston Island contracted the virus, but has been treated and since recovered. Mosquitos infected with the West Nile Virus have also been found in 5 Connecticut towns, Bridgeport, Easton, New Canaan, Stratford, and Waterbury, and health officials are urging everyone to take precautions against mosquito exposure, including using bug spray and wearing long sleeves when outside.
  8. Crab meat from Venezuela is being tied to a multi-state outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a disease which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever within 24 hours of exposure. At least 12 people across the country have been sickened by the disease as of Friday, including 4 that have been hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are advising individuals to avoid consuming crab meat from Venezuela, and to ensure that crab meat products consumed in restaurants have not been sourced from the country. 

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.