Zimbabwe Development

Government land seizures redistributed farmland to government supporters, practically destroying the whole agriculture industry, removing export ability, food security and much of the rural population’s jobs. Poor monetary policies and huge, unsustainable government spending produced massive budget deficits. The government tried to make up for the debt by printing off more money, leading to hyper inflation. They remained in power by using violence and intimidation.

Zimbabwe has had an economic meltdown since 2000. Food production declined ~1/3 from 2000 to 2005. 45% of Zimbabweans are malnourished.

Annual inflation in 2008 was 11,000,000%, so a loaf of bread ing Z$5 in 1998 would cost Z$1.6 x 10^12 in 2008.

Many skilled and highly educated workers have left the country, leading to a lack of doctors, nurses and farmers. Foreign aid has been suspended and few foreign investors are left. Poverty has become the norm. 30% lived in poverty (less than US$2 daily) in 1999 while 83% did in 2009.

Why Trump is ISIS’ President

I’m not armed with stats, or anything like that for this, beyond what google can quickly equip me with and having read through many, many articles on how people become terrorists for an MUN conference where I was representing Russia in the Security Council last year.  I am going to do my best to afford rambling or ranting- that doesn’t help the case, and it doesn’t help my attempts to store mostly pure fact, even here.

It’s been on my mind quite intensely the last week or so, thanks to the result of a certain election.

Deporting people for being Muslim is EXACTLY what terrorists want.

If I could remember where I found it, I would use the actual quotes of the psychologist who said the fuller version of this, but essentially people don’t become angry at their society unless their society gives them something to be angry at.

The general plan of ISIS, from what I read then, is to be so intimidating to everyone that non-Muslims make the assumption that all Muslims are like that. They would then start to act in slight prejudiced manners, which would eventually lead to conscious prejudice. After that, it would become institutionalised, so that the public role itself was attacking Muslims. ISIS then assumed that the marginalised Muslims would turn by default to them due to hopes of being more included.

We skipped right past slight prejudice: One of the girls in my form at school described how just the day after the Paris attacks, a young Muslim woman had been at a tube station and been pushed into the path of an oncoming train very deliberately by a fellow passenger, which my classmate’s mother had witnessed. She’d survived, due to hitting the train at a very fortunate angle, and rebounded onto the platform, but she was definitely hurt. This was not reported in any major newspapers, which is somewhat understandable due to wanting to focus on the attacks in the short term, but I really doubt that it was the only incident, and I feel any incident that may have been an attempted hate-related killing should be known, even if it were a few weeks later.

The Leave campaign is a good demonstration of institutionalising prejudice too. The actual campaign wasn’t anywhere near as racist as I was anticipating, but at least in the area I live, the only reasons for people voting out seemed to be that they hadn’t fact checked data, that they hadn’t thought critically about data or, seemingly overwhelmingly, that they just didn’t want Muslim people diluting the culture, or even worse statements about Islam (The amount of people over 20 who respond like that is terrifying). The EU parliament is actually more representative than the UK parliament (The UK has 19% women, the EU has 37% women, just for starters), with a closer representation of what people would vote as well, and no good politician would sign up to a deal where £350 million was being spent daily on something not in direct national interest. So I don’t think the campaign was racist- just really poorly fact checked- but a lot (not all) of the votes were racist.

And a lot of the most popular ideas from Brexit campaigners went along the lines of forcibly removing migrants from our country. Many people got called racist terms used against them over the first few weeks after the vote- including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who got called the “p” word numerous times. Clearly a lot of people saw the Brexit vote as an excuse to increase our openness to racist attitudes. I’m not saying don’t express your views- I’m saying consider your views and if they’re justified, which racism is not.

Meanwhile we started increasing paranoia thoroughly throughout society. France had good reason to- I’d be concerned if France wasn’t paranoid right now- but everyone increasing their fear is exactly what terrorists want. It’s in the name. A terrorist is someone who aims to achieve their goals through means such as mass murder to induce a state of terror among the population. The very worst thing you can do after a terrorist act is to be overly terrified, and to act on the terror to be prejudiced. Terrorists thrive under oppression.

President-elect Donald Trump stated in many of his speeches that he plans to stop Muslims coming into the country full stop. Far beyond the sheer logistical issues of a complete ban (and the question of what happens if one of the few Muslim senators (I can find two) had a holiday abroad during their term and the rule meant they couldn’t return, then senate couldn’t enter session?), the pressure this will put on Muslim people will be tremendous. Quite apart from shutting them really going to have no impact on migration rates, the hatred this will cause among Muslim populations could be enormous. Tightening up immigration controls tends to increase migration as people rush through to reach family they won’t see otherwise. I know that a minute proportion of people are ever radicals, but if anything is going to raise hatred, and therefore radicalism, making people feel imprisoned and hated by the general population is going to do it.

The US has been responsible for, by conservative estimates, 10 million Muslims’ deaths in the Middle East just since 1990, whilst the total deaths to terrorism in this time has been, judging from graphs, possibly around 390,000 worldwide, and Europe has a figure at scale of 10 around 20,600 deaths in this time. I’m not saying any of those deaths are justifiable- just that they are nothing compared to 10 million deaths.

graph source: http://www.datagraver.com/case/worldwide-terrorism-1970-2015

Even just Trump’s current pleas of removal of 2 million undocumented migrants are unrealistic- the official estimate is 168,000 undocumented migrants in total in the USA, which is absolutely minute and really not enough people, in a population of 324,600,000 for it to be worth worrying over if they’re contributing to the economy- which they are. Trump claims that immigration control does not know who Middle Eastern refugees are when they come in, despite current legislation meaning that about 2 years are spent checking out every single potential migrant, which should be plenty to work out if they’re a likely terrorist.

Prejudice breeds contempt, and contempt spawns radicals.

The best figures I can find for how many British ISIS members there are is about 1,600. There are 2,660,116 Muslim people in the United Kingdom. That means that 0.0006015% of Muslims are ISIS sympathisers, let alone actual ISIS agents. Given the amount of hatred aimed at Muslim people, that’s pretty low. The chances of being murdered in the UK are 0.0062%, including by terrorist attack. You are 100x less likely to even meet an ISIS agent as to be murdered. The UK has a 2.9 per 100,000 death rate from car crashes, amounting to a 0.0029% chance. You have a 10% chance of being sexually assaulted in the UK in your life time, which is 16,625x more likely than meeting a terrorist. Basically, if you’re willing enough to take risks of walking out into the street, you should be willing to admit that terrorism can’t be that likely to affect you-as the statistics prove.

So basically, please, please, stop trying to fight terrorism by hating on Muslim people. All the Muslims I know are perfectly reasonable human beings, with perfectly reasonable sets of opinions and views. US attacks on the Middle East for, let’s face it, oil, have killed far more people than terrorist attacks- at least 20x as many. People only start practicing terrorism if their society has driven them to it, and I can see why just the US war record would do it.

Hatred never solved anything. If Russia (where, from what I could find, the 10% Muslim population seems to be treated reasonably fairly) is being more inclusive than your supposedly highly liberal society towards a religious group, you might want to check out why that is and consider it critically.

Sri Lanka Mudslides, 2016

Image result for sri lanka mudslide 2016

Mudslides hit Sri Lanka in May this year. Mudslides hit three villages in central Kegalle district. The landslide started near the town of Aranayake on the 17th May, 2016, but events leading up to it should have made the outcome predictable from the 15th onward.

Many cities were flooded with more than 100mm of rain just on the 15th of May. International airports had to be closed just from the weather, and 35 families had been displaced. Airports would remain closed over the next few days.

Causes

3 days of torrential rain destabilised slope areas, in the heaviest rainfall in 25 years. The rain started on the 14th May.

Before the extreme weather, Sri Lanka had been experiencing a drought, and power cuts as hydroelectric power stations could not function. A rare benefit of the extreme weather which triggered the event was that the dams filled up to 75% capacity, allowing a supply of electricity to rescue workers to help them work effectively.

The main landslide area was very sparsely populated by only a few minor villages. No major work had been undergone on the slopes, as evidenced by footage of the event. Instead it was caused by a sudden huge increase in slope water content combined with susceptible rock type.

Impacts

On the 18th, 134 people remained unaccounted for, and 14 bodies had been recovered, with 37 deaths total. 350,000 people were displaced. 92 deaths have now been confirmed. 220 famlies were reported missing according to the Sri Lankan Red Cross. As of May 25th, the death toll was deemed to be 101 with 100 missing people.

The slide crashed into 3 separate villages; Elangapitiya, Pallebage and Siripura, all of which were obliterated.

60 houses were buried in dirt.

The mud level was up to 30ft deep in some areas.

Many sectors of infrastructure were effected, such as planes. Many major roads were entirely flooded, including the Southern Expressway. There were heavy power failures in some towns. The government warned members of industries such as fishing to not go to work until the situation was sorted- this was of course an attempt to save lives, but there was an economic impact because of this upon fishermen.

Response

The Meteorology Department of the government issued a severe weather warning on the 14th, for 12 hours. 100mm of rainfall was expected, with wind speeds of up to 80kmh in exposed areas.

One of the initial responses to the initial weather, was closing down air traffic.  Closed airports included: Bandaranaike International Airport (flights diverted to Cochin International Airport or Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport), and Ratmalana Airport. The Sri Lanka Airforce had to be called in to rescue stranded fishermen. The Navy had to save 200 people trapped in floods on the 17th, and the mud slides started, killing 21 in just one slide. The Airforce continued rescue work throughout using military grade helicopters. 81 Navy flood relief teams were dispatched.

Rescue teams were sent out to the area specifically, so that 156 people had been rescued by the 18th May, along with 1,550 people already sheltered in seven different evacuation sites. Soldiers were active in rescue efforts for weeks afterwards. Military spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera said that the situation was being constantly assesed and that more troops would be deployed as needed, but that he doubted they would find many survivors.

More than 185,000 people who lost their homes were housed in temporary emergency shelters. The rain hindered the effectiveness of rescue efforts, in addition to causing the initial event. Many roads were underwater, and impassible, and national parks were completely closed off, and rescuers struggled to bring in their equipment. The Ceylon Electricity Board imposed emergency power cuts as a precautionary measure. In one night, the Army and Navy evacuated 26,000 people from Colombo (the capital). 1,500 armed personal were rallied,  including 71 officers.

All schools were closed on the 20th.

International efforts from other countries included:

  • Australia contributing $500,000 to UNICEF for humanitarian assistance
  • India pledging to provide assistance, and then bringing in Navy ships full of supplies.
  • Japan sent planes carrying emergency items, such as generators, blankets, and water purifiers.
  • Nepal offered $100,000
  • Pakistan gave a 30-bed field hospital
  • Singapore Red Cross donated $150,000 in relief items
  • United Nations- in collaboration with other NGOs- offered people to help administer aid
  • USofA provided $50,000 in immediate aid and a further $1 million in providing water for populations vulnerable to floods.

(Image Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-36328863)

Campania Mudslides, Italy – 1998

On the 5th May 1998, a mudslide hit Campania in Southern Italy.

The region was very hard hit by the area, and many individual towns were at high risk; Sarno and Quindici being two of the most effected. The area has the highest mudslide rate in Italy, with more than 631 since 1918. One such earthquake was in 1980, when nearly 3,000 people in Campania were killed in a single event. 65% of Italy in deemed at risk from landslides.

There were at least 17 slides during the event.

Causes

”Everything is to blame — It’s nature, it’s the authorities, and it’s also us, the citizens”–  Francesco Fligente, a local bus driver. ‘The mountain has been burned systematically” –Andrea Giordani, land surveyor. “[The mudslide was] not a natural calamity but a disaster caused by decades of ransacking the land and sprawling construction.” – WWF

The town had been hit by torrential rains beforehand, which remained ongoing during rescue attempts. The area is made of sedimentary rocks, which are predicted to eventually crumble into the nearby Tyrrheanian Sea, as the soil is very fragile and prone to erosion. This was not helped by local deforestation and a habit of burning patches of ground to achieve this, or by structural work that weakened slope integrity further. Removal of chestnut trees has an especially large effect, as these trees’ large root systems hold soil very firmly together.

The government received criticism for not declaring a state of emergency in the region on the 3rd, and not giving evacuation notice, when geologists first came to believe that slides were about to occur.

Campania is a centre for illegal housing projects, with 20% of Italy’s illegal construction, according to environmental watchdogs. Farmers regularly burned down local plantlife to make room for crops and livestock. Environmental law was regularly not enforced, or even just entirely ignored. Regional officials blamed central government for not giving enough funding to properly maintain the laws.  Meanwhile, the central government blamed the Mafia for the apathy towards environmental laws, and that they were benefiting from the poor regulations.

Geologists were regularly warning about the dangers of building while ignoring regulations in a risk prone zone.

Many homes in the area were built in very land-slide-prone sites, or too close to rivers. 24% of the area is deemed “at risk” land.

Many of the demolished buildings were poorly built out of concrete, and did not have proper foundations.

Impacts

The first news of the start of the event was the Sarno mayor calling up Civil Protection Authorities asking for help to cope with a torrent of debris approaching the city.

At least 147 people died, with about 100 of them from  just the town of Sarno. 1,000 people were left homeless. More than a dozen of the deaths were children. About 5,000 people lived in Sarno. Mud deposits were up to 13 feet deep. The Sarno hospital- Villa Marta- was entirely decimated, with 6 members of hospital staff killed. Workers carried 60 patients outside, and had they not, many more would have died; building of a new hospital outside the worst risk zone had been planned, but government budgeting to allow EU entry slowed this down- the unfinished new hospital was completely undamaged.

A whole public school was also destroyed, trapping many teachers and pupils inside. Many other buildings were also destroyed. Rivers became clogged up with mud up to 2m deep, and 1,5000 people lost all their posessions.

Whole swaths of greenery on the mountain slopes were flattened.

The  most effeceted towns were: Irpine, Salernitano, Sarno, Quindici. Episcopio, Taurano and Bracigliano, but over 230 were impacted.

The most dangerous areas were inhabited by the poorest civilians, who are the most hard hit, as they cannot pay effectively for future accomodation or relocation.

Response

Rescuers from Civil Protection arrived only a few hours after the initial plea was given, at night time. This timing hindered rescue work, as it was too dark to start any serious rescue work and helicopters to help would be unsafe to pilot. The government vastly underestimated the event’s scale, too, and initially only sent a few earth-moving vehicles, that became stuck themselves. By the 6th, volunteers had resorted to digging with their bare hands.

A funeral was held on the 11th May 1998 for the dead in a football field locally, with rescue workers contributing to the ceremony.

Prime Minister Romano Prodi pledged $30 million in relief and reconstruction on the Friday, 4 days after the event.Previous aid efforts had been largely cut down from what was pledged however, due to concerns that over spending would prevent their entry into the European Union. The government even cut funding to the Centre of Geological Studies, so that thousands of geology graduates and scientists were unemployed.

President Scalfaro said that they should focus on reconstruction and aid efforts before trying to find a guilty party. International trips by government officials were cut short in order to stand with the Italian populus and help organise repairations.

4,000 firefighters, troops, forest rangers and medical workers including 80 US marines based in Naples aided the rescues. 5 schools were converted into emergency shelters. Just one of these schools, Edmonde de Amiciis Elementary School housed 260 survivors.

Philippines mudslide 2006

On 17th February 2006, a mudslide hit the village of Guinsagon in southern Leyte province in the Philippines. The slide covered 9km^2, was 3km wide and in places 30m thick. Half a mountain collapsed on the single village. .

Causes

The main cause of the mudslide was a La Ninya event in the Western Pacific. 200cm of rainfall fell in 10 days, weakening the slope strength. Slopes in the region are mostly very steep and mass movement and mudslides occur frequently.

Widespread deforestation during the past 70 years have also increased slope instability. The slide was ultimately triggered by a small local earthquake of magnitude 2.6Mw.

Exposure in that area of the Philippines is high. In 1991, 5,000 people were killed when typhoons triggered landslides, and a similar event in 2003 killed 133 people. Mudslides and landslides are a constant threat due to:

  • heavy and prolonged rainfall from typhoons
  • Steep hillsides largely built of weathered volcanic rock
  • Extensive faulting and earthquake activity

Many villages are located at the base of steep slopes in the direct path of mudslides, and rural populations are high. The people are very poor and have high population growth. Southern Leyte is one of the poorest areas of the Philippines. Between 1995 and 2000 the population grew by +2.73%, placing pressure on environmental resources.

Logging bans have not been enforced by the government, largely due to political corruption. Even where sustainable logging has been practiced, in many places trees with shallow roots have replaced trees with deep roots, and thus made the slopes far less stable.

Impacts

Survivors described how a “wall of mud” descended on the village, killing over 1,000 people, including 246 children at a primary school. Almost every one of the 300 homes was destroyed. The slide killed thousands of livestock and buried the farmland; around 16,000 people were affected.

Response

Hazard mitigation maps have been made of Southern Leyte, but are not very detailed, so that villages that will be effected by mudslides cannot be identified. Following heavy rains and the deaths of 20 people in a nearby village, warnings were issued between the 4th and 17th of February, and several hillside villages were evacuated. However, many people chose not to leave.

Evacuation centres were set up around St Bernard, the capital of the region. Emergency aid in these centres provided safe drinking water, sanitation and health services. The region is very poor, however, so they cannot afford communications, which slowed down response times. Two hundred rescue workers were brought into the site. Unlike earthquakes, mass movements have few survivors.

International aid was provided by the Red Cross and Red Cresent, and their appeal raised US$1.6 million.

The government has commissioned a US$1.5 million geohazards survey and mapping of Leyte to try to prevent future similar disasters.

MRSA

MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA has developed in hospitals in response to the use of drugs there. When anti biotics are used, certain bacteria may survive- those which have the necessary genes or alleles (depending on the antibiotic) to resist it. The resistant pathogens then have less competition, and can multiply their population rapidly up to the original levels, and most of the new bacteria will also be resistant to the drugs. Some will even become more resistant.

Penicillin, the first discovered antibiotic, was first introduced clinically during WWII- then 90% of the strains were sensitive to the drug, so this was usually successful. Resistent strains soon started to emerge; within about 5 years halfof all strains had become resistant, and today this proportion has reached 90%.

The issues with penicillin resistance were initially overcome by finding how penicillin worked and then making varient forms which performed a similar task, and would not be broken down by the same enzymes in the bacteria; the drugs created included methicillin, flucloxacillin, ampicillin and amoxillin, which are still used today. However, some strains have become resistant to these today, and now form MRSA.

The normal varient, Staphylococcus aureus can be found in the nose and on the skin of roughly 30% of people, and is fairly harmless, as long as it does not manage to get into abrasions, cuts, or other wounds. Even if they do infect, symptoms tend to be relatively mild, such as forming pimples or possibly conjunctivitis in the eye. More extreme reactions can occur, especially when the normal varient can enter into skin, bone, muscle, blood or the urinary tract.

Symptoms

For non-methicillin-resisant Staphylococcus aureus, if a cut or abrasion is infected, it may cause:

  • Pimples
  • Boils

An eye infection can lead to conjunctivitis.

More severe versions can cause pneumonia and heart disease, and can be fatal.

MRSA can also cause skin ulcers.

Transmission

MRSA is rare among the general public, and is typically only found in hospitals. It is very capable of surviving away from the human body on dry surfaces, meaning it can easily be picked up by touching a contaminated surface, and visitors should regularly be washing their hands.

Up to 9% of patients in hospital may have MRSA. This is largely due to being in a confined environment, which leads to the disease spreading easily between those present. Patients may be on treatments that reduce the sensitivity of their immune systems, or have other illnesses which pose this symptom.

Treatment

Probably 30% of hospital infections could be avoided by closer adherence to hygiene rules. However, many factors which cause infection are just due to being in a hospital environment, not cleanliness.

Sufferers of MRSA often have to have a long stay in the hospital, while the bacteria are removed using vancomycin and other antibiotics.

1918 Flu

The death toll from the Spanish flu was somewhere between 20 million and 100 million worldwide, after the end of WWI. It was partly so high because  so many of the countries infected had been decimated by war, but it is hard to determine how many people really died due to a lack of documentation. If such  a disease emerged again today, it would kill more people in a year than heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease, AIDs and Alzheimer’s disease combined.

Spanish flu has largely been forgetting due to occurring so soon after the upheaval of the deaths of 9 million soldiers and a further 9 million civilians during WWI.

The name itself is deceptive- it did not origin in Spain, nor was it most devastating to Spain. However, Spain immediately started reporting about the disease. It is unknown where the virus originated from, but it may well be from the Far East, and it was spread by the active troops across Europe.

In 2005, scientists from the USofA processed the genetic code of the 1918 flu virus; the sample was taken by extraction from a female patient buried in Alaskan permafrost. The pandemic was found to have been caused by gradual genetic changes from a flu virus that had originated in birds.

Flu most frequently effects humans, birds and pigs. Interspecies infections can quite easily lead to deaths, even in otherwise mild strains.

Symptoms

Typical Spanish flu symptoms included:

  • Spots over cheek bones within hours of admission to wards
  • Cyanosis (skin turning blue) extending across he face from the ears
  • Starting to struggle for breath within hours
  • Sudden collapse
  • Infection of the lungs by other diseases in addition

The collapses were especially common. In South America, a mine operator collapsed at control of a lift and sent at least 20 miners plummeting back down the mine shaft to their deaths.

Spanish Flu death-causing symptoms included:

  • Bleeding from the nose and ears
  • Swollen hearts
  • Solidified lungs weighing up to 6x their normal weight
  • Accumulation of fluid in delicate tissues such as the lungs

Clogged up lungs from the disease would have offered little ability for gas exchange across the lung surface by the volume of water. Thus the patient would have drowned; it was called  “Drowning death”.

It was common for those who survived the initial infection to then be infected by another disease, such as pneumonia, which would then kill them.

Causes of symptoms: 

The influenza virus weakens respiratory epithelia and cilia (a type of cell that wafts dirt out of the lungs), and immune cell dysfunction, leaving them weakened to other infections.

Distinguishing features

Most influenza break outs focus upon the young and old, and have the greatest death toll upon these age groups, due to having a weaker immune system. The Spanish flu also specifically targeted young healthy adults.

One theory for this was “cytokine storming”. Cytokines are small chemicals used to signal between various white blood cell types to co-ordinate fighting infections. Cytokines work a lot like hormones, and travel through the blood. They encourage inflammation, swelling, increasing vasopermeability (ability for chemicals to move through blood vessels) and attract other white blood cells. This fights infection, but sometimes damages organ tissue. It can lead, eventually, to internal scarring and organ failure.

Cytokine storms are thus when the cytokines overreact to a pathogen and this can lead to deaths.

Infection

All strains of flu are viruses, and belong to the family orthomyxovirus. Influenza A is the worst sort of the virus group. Its genome includes genes for the coding of only 10 proteins. 2 of these- haemoggluttin and neuraminidase are the most important, and flu strains tend to be named after these. The Spanish flu and 2009’s swine flu were both H1N1. H2N3, H5N1 (Bird flu) and H7N7 are all common strains.

Haemoggluttin binds receptors on the outside of the virus with the membrane of the target cell. Neuraminidase lets new viruses formed within the cell leave and move out to attack further cells.

Viruses have to integrate their genetic material into a host cell. They themselves have RNA, rather than DNA, so have to have specialised enzymes to convert their RNA into DNA. The host cell then incorporates this DNA into its own nucleus- much the same way that a computer will absorb the coding to produce certain types of virus itself. When the host produces its own proteins, it also produces copies of the virus proteins, which eventually combine to form more viruses- this continues until the host cell has used up all its contents in the worst case scenario. Typically, viruses will be released gradually from the host cell over time.

Treatment

The viruses of Haemoggluttin and Neurominidase can be extracted. Each year this is done to produce a new flu vaccination. The body can then produce antibodies specific to those proteins, and learn how to tackle the virus more effectively if it should enter the body. However, the viruses always mutate over the year, so new jabs have to be developed frequently.

They are also individually targeted by other jabs. TamiFlu is an example of this. The UK government spent £500 million on TamiFlu during the swine flu outbreak of 2009- but in practice, for many, this does little more than just paracetamol to relieve symptoms.

Finding one set treatment is hard, as mutations in the virus genome mean an antibody that works one year may well not by the start of the next. The body has to constantly adapt to every new strain.

Salmonella

Salmonella is part of a large family of bacteria (Enterobacteriaceae) which live inside the human gut, as well as the guts of various other species. More than 2,500 types of salmonella have  been identified. All could cause disease in humans, although in practice only a small proportion are responsible for most outbreaks of the disease.

Salmonella is generally divided into two groups- those which specifically target humans, and tend to have the most severe symptoms, and those which target species less specifically, are associated with food poisoning and tend to be milder.

Salmonella typhi alone is responsible for 27 million cases of typhoid a year, and 217,000 annual deaths.

Symptoms

Typhoidal Salmonella will enter the blood stream and into circulation, where it can reach the lymph nodes, gall bladder, liver, spleen and many other parts of the body, where it can enter into human cells. Symptoms start within a few weeks of ingestion, and get progressively worse throughout infection as the greater numbers of bacteria over stimulate the victim’s immune system. The actions of the immune system can result in tissue damage and even death.

Non typhoidal Salmonella will enter into the gut’s epithelial cells (The gut lining) and the immune system is quickly alerted, leading to gut inflammation. This typically results in:

  • Shedding of gut cells
  • Substantial fluid loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pains/ cramps

Symptoms of non-typhoidal varients typically start 6-24 hours after infection and last for 4-7 days, before quickly clearing.

Transmission

Salmonella is typically contracted by ingesting something contaminated by faeces from another infected individual, or carrier. The most common source is polluted water, so Salmonella is most common in areas with poor, or no, water sanitation.

Contact with cattle and chickens are also typical methods of contraction. Bacteria often can be found in raw meat or other products from these animals, as well as their faeces. Pets can also pass the infection, especially amphibians and reptiles.

Some people remain carriers long after their own infection is over.

Infection

Occasionally, non typhoidal Salmonella will enter the victim’s blood stream and can cause bacteraemia (when bacteria multiply in the bloodstream), which can be fatal, and in those with weaker immune systems form typhoid-like symptoms. It is estimated that there are 1.3 x10^9 cases and 3 million deaths of non-typhoidal Salmonella each year.

Salmonella move to the gut shortly after being ingested; they are then able to out-compete the bacteria which naturally occur in the gut for nutrients and will start to attack the gut cells.

Salmonella produces tiny syringe-like structures called Type 3 Secretion Systems (T3SSs), which inject proteins from the bacteria into victim’s cells. In the intestines, these T3SS1 proteins will cause the cell membrane to form lumps and eventually absorb the bacterium responsible, and it becomes trapped in a membrane within the cell. T3SS2 is used by bacteria already inside human cells, and produces virulence factors- a type of chemical which allows infection to be ignored- to avoid being killed by the human immune system. Essentially, our cells absorb the bacteria in the hopes of being able to kill them before infection occurs, but the bacteria stop this from occuring once inside; instead of killing them, the pathogens enter into a protected environment.

Treatment

Proper cooking of any meats and eggs should kill off bacteria housed within our food. Similarly, boiling water before drinking it should prevent any bacteria surviving to be ingested.

The best method to avoid Salmonella food poisoning is just to regularly wach your hands, especially when handling food.

If a mild form of the disease is encountered, generally not much interference is needed. The human immune system is generally pretty effective, and naturally will come up with methods to fight it over time.

In more severe forms, antibiotics are typically used to halt the increase in bacterial presence, and reduce the severity of symptoms. Patients may need rehydration therapy and antibiotics if there are signs that the disease has entered the blood.

Salmonella typhi supposedly has a sugar coating around itself, which stops it being recognised by the immune system, leading to food poisoning. By not getting an immune response, S. typhi can spread through our bodies fairly freely.

There are no vaccines to protect against non-typhoidal Salmonella. Two vaccines are available in the UK against typhoid, and use of them is rrecommended before travelling to anywhere with high typhoid levels. These vaccines only offer limited protection, however. Improved vaccines will be needed in the future.

It may be possible to prevent infection by Salmonella by developing drugs which target the virulence factors that stop the immune system detecting them.

Malaria

Malaria kills 1-3 million people a year, mainly among children under 5. This is about 500 every hour, and it tends to come back in recurrent bouts throughout life.

It has been known since the 1890s that mosquitoes transmit malaria by protozoa such as Plasmodium falciparumP. falciparum is the main transmitter in humans, causing 90% of modern cases.

There are eventually 3 outcomes of malaria:

  • Infected blood cells are recognised by the immune system and killed
  • Drug treatments kill the infected cells
  • The patient dies

Symptoms

Symptoms become less serious as a person becomes older, as their immune system becomes stronger. This is why the majority of deaths are from young children. Malaria does have a tendency, however, of returning and reinfecting a person multiple times; each time the protozoa uses a different set of genes and the person has to be reinfected several times before they gain immunity to all of the responsible genes.

Common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills

These symptoms are seen as being caused due to the release of toxins by the protozoa. Symptoms increase as the new merozites- the sort of cell produced by the protozoa- are released.

The invasion of a red blood cell can be seen by some obvious changes. The normal disc shape turns highly uneven and lumpy. As the P. falciparum is released from host cells, the lumps move further to the outside of the cell, creating the bumps on the outside of the cell. The knobs also produce a sort of protein which takes the red blood cell out of commission and away from the other red blood cells. Normally mis-shapen cells are taken to the spleen and destroyed, but the cells are no longer reach the spleen, so are not destroyed, allowing the merozites to be freely produced.

More serious physical symptoms:

  • Infected blood cells bind with uninfected cells, that can block blood capillaries
  • Infected blood cells bind to blood vessel linings in the brain, which can cause cerebral malaria, which is the biggest cause of death.

Transmission

Mosquito saliva contains anticoagulants, which allow them to suck up blood through their probosces, but the anticoagulants are irritant and thus cause itching. The saliva also contains the Plasmodium parasites, which enter directly into the blood.

Within a few minutes, a certain type of cell, known as sporozites, have reached the host’s liver.

Infection

Once inside the host’s liver cells, the Plasmodium falciparum cell nucleus divides rapidly, creating a cell with many nucleus. Then each new nucleus buds off from the original parent cell, with a little cytoplasm, forming a new type of cell called a merozite. The liver cell bursts, releasing the merozites.

Merozites  then infect red blood cells and digest the haemoglobin in them as a food source. The merozites each undergo nuclear division several times, and produce up to 32 new offspring each. The blood cell bursts and within just a few minutes, merozites are released and each one then enters a new red blood cell.

The cycle of release of the merozites occcur every 3-4 days.

Treatment

Injection is normally a quite effective method of prevention . If the insect involved can be removed, the transmission is far less effective than even with the injection, however.

Vaccines must be suitable for use among small children, as they have the highest fatality rates. The variety of malarial forms and antigens makes finding a single vaccine very challenging. Researchers are working on finding a vaccine that recognises antigens present in the most severe forms of malaria first. The idea behind this is to reduce acute symptoms and keep the infant alive long enough for them to fight an infection naturally.

When in the past marshland has been drained for farming, this has reduced the number of mosquitoes, and thus the rate of incidence of malaria. However, this does have a large environmental cost, due to species which have then lost their habitats. A method of separation without environmental damage is even easier- installing glass into windows. Mosquito nets are another very easy, very effective method.

Insecticides are a popular method of eradication of malaria. However, this is not a sensible method in most areas, because the effected areas are massive, and thus the insecticide needed would be massively expensive and infeasible to deliver. Delivery to small, localised waters is feasible, and could be done easily.

Drugs to prevent malaria can be taken before and throughout visiting a country where malaria is endemic. The best known sorts are based of quinine. Quinine has been used by native American peoples in Bolivaria and Peru using natural bark from a Cinchona tree to treat malaria before scientists researched its use properly. The bark of the tree was then transferred back to imperialist powers which found the native peoples from the sixteenth century on-wards.

Quinine derivatives have since had to be added, thanks to the increasing incidence of strains resistant to quinine. Some are even more effective than quinine was originally. Chloroquinine is one of these. In a red blood cell, the merozite digests the haemoglobin, and uses amino acids from it in order to grow. The haem group left is normally toxic, but Plasmodium neutralise it by converting it into another chemical, haemozoin. Chloroquinine interferes with this conversion.The haem then builds up and kills of the merozites itself.

Other drugs target enzymes involved in Plasmodium DNA replication and growth. Artemisinins are a new class of drugs discovered from research based on Chinese traditional medicine for malaria. It is unknown how artmesinins work, but they have been used for over 2,000 years to cure malaria.

These methods could help save many lives from the disease in the tropics. The main limiting factors seem to be extreme poverty, a lack of infrastructure for distribution, poor governance, and disturbances, as well as any other number of human failures to develop nations evenly worldwide.

BRV Debris Flows 1999

In December 1999 Vargas province in  the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was by many debris flows, made of sand, gravel, boulders and trees, with a consistency similar to concrete.

Boulders up  5m diameter were transported down to the coast. 2 million^3 of debris appeared in coastal alluvial fans, which extended of the coast by up  250m into what previously the sea.

Causes

Between the 8th to the 19th of December 1999, a cold front across the BRV deposited 914mm of rain on mountainous coastal regions. In that area, the Cordillera de la Costa runs alongside the coastline. The highest is just 10km away  from shoreline. The seaward slopes thus very steep. Runoff of water is very rapid and the steams high energy because of this.

The mountains themselves heavily weathered. They covered in clay, which very weathered away. The clay feeds of sedimentation downstream.

Widespread deforestation has reduced numbers of trees hugely. Roots are less able to fulfil purposes; therefore interception is reduced, and an even greater addition of slope instability.

Because the mountains drop suddenly, there is not much free available for settlement, and alluvial have become popular for settlement. A 6.3% population increase between 1990 and 2001 gas concentrated urban development closely. These coastal developments hit hardest by debris . The fans themselves are caused by continuous flooding events, so a disaster  bound to at some point.

Impacts

Estimates of death toll range  15,000 to 30,000 deaths. 214,000 people effected. 44,000 people refugees.

20,000 homes destroyed with a further 40,000 damaged. Many single storey homes entirely buried. Towns in Carmen de Uria were even swept away.

Hazard mitigation

The people entirely unaware of the risk and thus there was no preparation in case such an event occurred. Flows can be somewhat predicted based on accumulation of sediment in mountain waters, as a debris cannot without sediment present.

Removal of slums on slopes should have been a priority. The president announced shortly afterwards that victims be re-settled away from the coast, but this was questionable as many  people  chose to live on the coast in order to avoid  the struggles of life in the interior of the country. Afterwards, 100,000 people whose homes had n destroyed were relocated to neighbouring  regions.

Many plains will not be suitable for human settlement in the future unless check dams can be built along rivers in  area. Flood channels have been constructed on the alluvial fans. Monitoring and early warning of exceptional rainfall runoff events had suggested, as have land controls in mountain catchment areas, and alignment of towns to match the path debris flows.