The Atacama Desert in Chile, known as the driest place on Earth, is awash with color after a year’s worth of extreme rainfall.
In an average year, this desert is a very dry place. Arica, Chile, in the northern Atacama holds the world record for the longest dry streak, having gone 173 months without a drop of rain in the early 20th century. In another Atacama neighbor to the south of Arica, the average annual rainfall in the city of Antofagasta is just 0.07 inches.
But strong El Niño years can be a rainy boom for the region, located just to the east of the warmest ocean water on the globe. In March, heavy thunderstorms brought 0.96 inches of rain in one day to parts of the Atacama Desert. This doesn’t seem like that much, but it was a huge rainfall event for the desert — over 14 years of rain in one day. The torrent caused the typically dry Copiapo River to swell far beyond its banks. Flooding killed at least nine people that day.
As El Niño strengthens, so does the rainfall increases across South America. As areas of low pressure swing east into the Andes Mountains, the usually warm waters off the coast provide more than enough water vapor to fuel extreme rainfall events.
The malva (or mallow) flowers on the floor of the Atacama desert bloom every five to seven years, usually coinciding with El Nino. But they have been taking advantage of this year’s particularly rainy conditions, leading to the “most spectacular blossoming of the past 18 years.”
Interestingly, Death Valley has also been overflowing this month. The official weather station at Death Valley National Park recorded 0.55 inches of rain on Oct. 5. That might not seem like a lot, but it’s a bucket-load for the world’s hottest location — enough to tie the wettest 24-hour period on record in the month of October.
“A series of unusual storms in October caused large amounts of damage throughout Death Valley National Park,” park officials wrote on Facebook. “Flash floods destroyed significant portions of multiple roads and heavily damaged several historic structures at Scotty’s Castle and deposited debris in Devils Hole.”
The Death Valley National Historic Association has set up a fund to help restore some of these damaged historic locations.
via: The Washington Post.
Source: The ‘driest place on Earth’ is covered in pink flowers after rain
Duru flew up to 5 metres above a lake for a total distance of 275.9 metres while aboard his homemade, propeller-powered hoverboard in a trip that lasted more than 1½ minutes.
Now, Duru is working on a secret, next-generation version of the device. Watch as he takes CBC’s Reg Sherren into his workshop, where he is building it, and then to a Quebec lake where he puts the new prototype to the test for the first time. Canadian inventor tests new prototype of record-setting hoverboard.
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Other Related Gadgets: http://www.huvrtech.com
This baby sloth is advocating for the creation of a park in the Paramaribo, Suriname! The park would be a safe haven for sloths and other animals, and would also provide ecotourism opportunities.
Monique Pool, founder of Green Heritage Fun Suriname, rescued many sloths after an area of forest within Paramaribo was cut down. Learn more about her sanctuary and advocacy efforts in our full video:
CDC: Over-prescibing Antibiotics promotes stronger More Resilient Bacteria Growth. This new Bacteria Growth is more resistant to medications, and often causes infections and cancer-type skin spots (these spots appear red and brown) that are much more serious than the original infection being treating.
The CDC has launched an increasingly urgent campaign to combat antimicrobial resistance. A report issued by the agency last fall found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect 2 million US individuals each year, causing 23 000 deaths and accounting for $20 billion in health costs. The report also raised the specter of the emergence of untreatable infections.
But in a March press briefing, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, said that it is possible to reduce drug resistance rates by establishing antibiotic stewardship programs at hospitals and improving coordination between facilities. “We want to develop the infrastructure in every hospital, so every physician knows how to prescribe properly in the context of [his or her] hospital,” said Arjun Srinivasan, MD, associate director for health care–associated infection prevention programs at the CDC.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises more judicious use of antimicrobials to treat urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
For its part, the CDC is providing checklists for hospitals and physicians. And with the help of an additional $30 million in funding in the Obama Administration’s proposed 2015 budget, the CDC also plans to build an improved surveillance system to rapidly detect the emergence of antibiotic resistance.
More than half of hospital patients receive an antibiotic during their stay, and nearly a third receive a broad-spectrum antibiotic, according to the CDC’s analysis of data from 323 hospitals. These statistics aren’t terribly surprising, but the wide variations among hospitals are. Frieden noted that some of the 26 hospitals reporting data to the National Healthcare Safety Network prescribe 3 times more antibiotics than others.
“This provides a warning bell that improvement is possible,” Frieden said.
The analysis found frequent mistakes in the treatment of common conditions. Using data from its Emerging Infections Program, which included information on about 11 000 patients at 183 hospitals in 2011, the CDC found that half of all antibiotics were prescribed for 3 conditions: lower respiratory infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and gram-positive infections that are presumed to be resistant. In a review of 296 cases at 36 hospitals in which physicians treated patients with intravenous vancomycin or treated patients with a UTI who did not have a catheter, the CDC found that more than one-third of those cases involved mistakes that could contribute to resistance. For example, samples were not taken before initiating therapy, doses were incorrect, therapy was not reevaluated after 48 hours, or antibiotics were administered for too long.
“The data on surveillance are no surprise, but it is important to have numbers to support stewardship programs,” said Helen Boucher, MD, a physician at Tufts Medical Center and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s board of directors. She noted that the society has advocated for better stewardship of antibiotics for years.
More judicious use of antimicrobials in hospitals could have a big effect. Based on its models, the CDC estimates that a 30% reduction in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in hospitals—representing a 5% reduction in overall hospital antibiotic use—could prevent 26% of Clostridium difficile infections related to antibiotic treatment. These reductions could also help prevent spillover transmission of C difficile into the community.
To aid all these efforts, the CDC plans to use its anticipated funding boost to build the infrastructure necessary to more quickly identify the emergence of resistant strains. Boucher explained that European public health officials are far ahead of the United States in this regard and can provide detailed information on resistance patterns by country and region.
John R. Combes, MD, senior vice president at the American Hospital Association, said that hospitals recognize the need for improvement and that the association is partnering with other organizations to build a toolkit for stewardship programs.
“We must improve our processes, not only to protect our patients, but to protect our antibiotics,” he said.
The CDC recommends that each hospital build an antibiotic stewardship program to provide physicians with the information and tools they need to make the right decisions.
“Antibiotics are a precious resource, yet for decades we have not had a systematic approach in hospitals across the US to ensure they are used wisely,” said Sara Cosgrove, MD, MS, chair of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America antimicrobial stewardship taskforce, in a statement. “Antimicrobial stewardship programs are a critical step toward stemming the tide of antibiotic resistance and ensuring patients are receiving the right antibiotic, at the right dose and for the right duration.”
The CDC recommends that stewardship programs include 7 components:
Dedicated human, financial, and technology resources
A physician or other leader responsible for overall outcomes
A pharmacist leader focused on prescribing
An action to improve prescribing, such as requiring reassessment of prescriptions after 48 hours for drug choice, dose, and duration
Monitoring of prescribing and resistance patterns
Regular reporting of resistance information to clinicians
Education about resistance and judicious prescribing
Boucher, who was hired by Tufts to lead its stewardship program, said that not only were these steps reasonable, but that taking them may also bring other benefits for hospitals. She explained that Tufts has saved millions of dollars by improving its stewardship of antibiotics.
Combes emphasized that the recommendations are not intended to limit physicians’ autonomy but to give them the information they need to provide the best care possible. In an age when “health care has become more of a team sport,” he said, the expertise of pharmacists and infectious disease specialists can help a physician choose the right drug.
“This shouldn’t be viewed as a bureaucratic obstacle to good clinical care,” he said. “This is good clinical care.”
The CDC is also recommending that hospitals work more closely with local public health agencies and neighboring health care facilities to better control the spread of microbes between facilities.
“Our hospitals are just one part of a continuous system of care,” said Combes. Courtesy of: Zedie @ wordpress.com
Older adults treated with atypical antipsychotics are at increased risk of kidney injury, according to a study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The findings add to previous evidence that this class of drugs is risky for older adults.
Although atypical antipsychotics are commonly prescribed for older adults to treat agitation and other behavioral symptoms of dementia, the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved the drug for this purpose. In fact, since 2005 the agency has warned that use of these drugs to treat older adults with dementia was associated with a 2-fold increased risk of death. An agency analysis of 17 placebo-controlled trials found the risk of death among patients with dementia taking olanzapine, aripiprazole, risperidone, or quetiapine was 4.5% compared with 2.6% among those taking a placebo.
Use of atypical antipsychotics is associated with a range of adverse effects, including hypotension, pneumonia, heart…
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Hugs can actually ward off stress and protect the immune system, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University. It’s a well-known fact that stress can weaken the immune system. In this study, the researchers sought to determine whether hugs — like social support more broadly — could protect individuals from the increased susceptibility to illness brought on by the particular stress that comes with interpersonal conflict. “We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses. We also know that people who report having social support are partly protected from the effects of stress on psychological states, such as depression and anxiety,” the study’s lead author, psychologist Dr Sheldon Cohen, said in a statement. “We tested whether perceptions of social support are equally effective in protecting us from stress-induced susceptibility to infection and also whether receiving hugs might partially account for those feelings of support and themselves protect a person against infection.” In the experiment, over 400 healthy adults who filled out a questionnaire about their perceived social support and also participated in a nightly phone interview for two weeks. They were asked about the frequency that they engaged in interpersonal conflict and received hugs that day. Then, the researchers exposed the participants to a common cold virus, and monitored them to assess signs of infection. They found that both perceived social support and more frequent hugs reduced the risk of infection associated with experiencing interpersonal conflict. Regardless of whether or not they experienced social conflicts, infected participants with greater perceived social support and more frequent hugs had less severe illness symptoms. “This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress,” Cohen said. “The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioural indicator of support and intimacy … Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection.” If you needed any more reason to go wrap your arms around someone special, consider this: Hugs also lower blood pressure, alleviate fears around death and dying, improve heart health and decrease feelings of loneliness.
WE know that hugs make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. And this feeling, it turns out, could actually ward off stress and protect the immune system, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University. It’s a well-known fact that stress can weaken the immune system. In this study, the researchers sought to determine whether hugs — like social support more broadly — could protect individuals from the increased susceptibility to illness brought on by the particular stress that comes with interpersonal conflict. “We know that people experiencing ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses. We also know that people who report having social support are partly protected from the effects of stress on psychological states, such as depression and anxiety,” the study’s lead author, psychologist Dr Sheldon Cohen, said in a statement. “We tested whether perceptions of social support are equally effective in protecting…
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