Tagged: warm water

Summertime – visit your favorite swimming hole, be attacked by brain-eating amoebas

Kansas health officials are urging swimmers to take extra care in warm freshwater, which could be home to millions of microscopic killers.

A 9-year-old Johnson County girl is the latest victim of Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba that lurks in warm, standing water. The girl died July 9 from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare but almost invariably fatal brain infection…

Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose, causing a severe frontal headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early symptoms give way to seizures, confusion and hallucinations as the amoeba migrates through the nasal cavity to the brain.

“After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about five days,” the CDC website reads.

Of 132 people infected with Naegleria fowleri in the United States between 1962 and 2013, only three have survived, according to the CDC. One survivor, a 12-year-old girl infected in 2013, was diagnosed early and treated with “therapeutic hypothermia” and the experimental drug miltefosine.

“Her recovery has been attributed to early diagnosis and treatment,” the CDC website reads.

But spotting the signs of the infection is tricky, because tests to detect the rare infection are “available in only a few laboratories in the United States,” according to the CDC…

The infection is most common in 15 southern-tier states, “with more than half of all infections occurring in Texas and Florida,” the CDC’s website reads. Three-quarters of all U.S. cases have been linked to swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers, but infections have also been associated with slip-n-slides, bathtubs and neti pots, according to the agency.

The infection is not contagious and can’t be contracted from a properly chlorinated pool or saltwater, according to the CDC.

Eeoough!

Thanks, Mike

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Don’t Go In The Water! At least not the Parana River on a hot day

At least 60 people were injured in the Argentine city of Rosario when they were attacked by a swarm of piranha fish, officials said.

The attack happened off the popular beaches of the Parana River, 300km north of Buenos Aires, on Wednesday, a medical official said on Thursday.

“This is not normal,” said Federico Cornier, the director of emergency services in the city of Rosario. “It’s normal for there to be an isolated bite or injury, but the magnitude in this case was great. This is an exceptional event.”

A seven-year-old girl had her finger partially amputated and dozens more suffered bite wounds on their extremities from a fish called “palometas,” a relative of the piranha, said Cornier…”There were some people that the fish literally had torn bits of flesh from,” Gabriela Quintanilla, health undersecretary, told reporters.

Local officials blamed the warm weather for the fish hanging out on the river’s surface. I think all those taste-tempting treats get some of the credit.

Harvesting energy: using body heat to warm buildings

When I first posted this over at the “big blog” – two years ago – Jernhusen was just getting started on the proposal to heat the train station with body heat. A delight to see the project continues – and brings positive results, savings and consternation to the spookier critics who predicted failure.

Body heat is not an energy source that normally springs to mind when companies want to keep down soaring energy costs. But it did spring to the mind of one Swedish company, which decided the warmth that everybody generates naturally was in fact a resource that was going to waste.

Jernhusen, a real estate company in Stockholm, has found a way to channel the body heat from the hoards of commuters passing through Stockholm’s Central Station to warm another building that is just across the road.

This is old technology being used in a new way. The only difference here is that we’ve shifted energy between two different buildings,” says Klas Johnasson, who is one of the creators of the system and head of Jernhusen’s environmental division…

Heat exchangers in the Central Station’s ventilation system convert the excess body heat into hot water. That is then pumped to the heating system in the nearby building to keep it warm.

Not only is the system environmentally friendly but it also lowers the energy costs of the office block by as much as 25%.

“This is generally good business,” says Mr Johansson. “We save money in energy costs and so the building becomes worth more.

“We are quite surprised that people haven’t done this before. For a large scale project like Kungbrohuset (the office block) this means a lot of money…”

“It means a low-grade waste heat source, like body heat, can be used advantageously. It’s worth them spending a little bit of money on electricity to move heat from building to building, rather than spending a lot on heating with gas.”

Bravo!

Origin of Life: RNA molecules forming in warm water

A key question in the origin of biological molecules like RNA and DNA is how they first came together billions of years ago from simple precursors. Now, in a study appearing in this week’s JBC, researchers in Italy have reconstructed one of the earliest evolutionary steps yet: generating long chains of RNA from individual subunits using nothing but warm water.

Many researchers believe that RNA was one of the first biological molecules present, before DNA and proteins; however, there has been little success in recreating the formation on RNA from simple “prebiotic” molecules that likely were present on primordial earth billions of years ago.

Now, Ernesto Di Mauro and colleagues found that ancient molecules called cyclic nucleotides can merge together in water and form polymers over 100 nucleotides long in water ranging from 40-90 °C –similar to water temperatures on ancient Earth…

This finding is exciting as cyclic nucleotides themselves can be easily formed from simple chemicals like formamide, thus making them plausible prebiotic compounds present during primordial times. Thus, this study may be revealing how the first bits of genetic information were created.

Surprising a few generations of True Believers, as well, who presumed scientists would find nano-angels pushing these bits of molecules together to form RNA chains.