Here is a further follow-up on the health implications of the Cyclone in Mozambique. Vox reports that cholera is beginning to spread among the victims of Cyclone Idai
Cholera is an often-deadly intestinal disease. It’s caused by drinking water or food that’s been tainted with sewage and human waste carrying the bacteria Vibrio cholera. Reports indicate that there are more than 1,000 cases of cholera in the port city Beira, Mozambique, and one confirmed death as of Tuesday the 2nd. That’s more than a doubling of cases since the weekend — and that number is expected to rise.
When cholera starts spreading, it can be difficult to control. Outbreaks usually happen when a country’s health, hygiene, and water systems break down — and that’s why they can appear after a natural disaster or amid a humanitarian crisis.
Not everyone who gets cholera falls gravely ill, but about one in ten experience the profuse, watery diarrhoea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration, and sometimes death.
The good news is that if people are treated quickly with rehydration solutions (and sometimes, antibiotics), cholera is survivable. After treatment, the death rate drops from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. There are also effective cholera vaccines.
Thank you to Brian Resnick and Julia Belluz for those notes.
Writing in New Atlas, David Szondy reports that a new study by Queen’s University Belfast and Aberystwyth University indicates that the Sun’s magnetic field is 10 times more powerful than previously thought. By analyzing a solar flare on September 10, 2017 using the Swedish one-meter Solar Telescope at an observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands, Dr David Kuridze, Research Fellow at Aberystwyth University, was able to determine that the magnetic field is an order of magnitude greater than earlier measurements have suggested.
The Sun’s magnetic field is of more than academic interest. Though the Sun is so far away that its light takes eight minutes to reach us, its magnetic field has tremendous impact on our world.
The solar magnetic field reaches out and defines the limits of the solar system. It shields us from galactic cosmic rays. It confines and directs the massive solar flares that burst from the Sun’s interior and expand to over 20,000 km above its surface.
The solar magnetic field also has more direct effects on us. It can impact terrestrial weather and climate. Its effects form the auroras in the polar regions and it can affect magnetic compasses, GPS, and radio communications. A really big solar magnetic storm might even lead to an electromagnetic pulse event that could knock out the power grid of an entire continent.
According to the new study, the problem is that the Sun’s magnetic field isn’t so easy to measure. Instruments are limited and the Earth’s atmosphere tends to dampen the solar lines of force, making them appear weaker than they really are. But through good fortune and favourable conditions, the researchers were able to gain a clearer picture by turning their telescope to an area of the Sun’s surface they knew to be particularly volatile.
Kuridze says that by observing the Sun over a 10-day period, his team was lucky enough to catch a large flare and by analyzing its structure inside the Sun’s corona, he calculated that the Sun’s magnetic field is 10 times stronger than previously believed. This may sound daunting, but that makes it only about as strong as a fridge magnet, or 100 times less than that of an MRI scanner.
“Everything that happens in the Sun’s outer atmosphere is dominated by the magnetic field, but we have very few measurements of its strength and spatial characteristics,” says Kuridze. “These are critical parameters, the most important for the physics of the solar corona. It is a little like trying to understand the Earth’s climate without being able to measure its temperature at various geographical locations.
“This is the first time we have been able to measure accurately the magnetic field of the coronal loops, the building blocks of the Sun’s magnetic corona, with such a level of accuracy.”
The Air Force Technology website reports this week that Rocket Lab has launched an experimental satellite for the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) from Launch Complex 1 on Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.
The launch sent a prototype reflect array antenna on board Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle to orbit.
DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) mission aims to space-qualify a new type of membrane reflect array antenna to improve radio communications in small spacecraft.
The antenna is made of Kapton membrane and is as thin as a tissue. It is designed to pack tightly inside the R3D2 satellite for stowage during launch, before deploying to its full size of 2.25m in diameter once it reaches low Earth orbit (LEO).
The idea behind the design is to provide the capability of large spacecraft in a much smaller package, removing the need for satellite owners to build large satellites.
The mission took around 18 months from satellite design and development to launch.
In another World Health Organisation report, women outlive men everywhere in the world – particularly in wealthy countries. The World Health Statistics 2019 – disaggregated by sex for the first time – explains why.
The gap between men’s and women’s life expectancy is narrowest where women lack access to health services. In low-income countries, where services are scarcer, 1 in 41 women dies from a cause related to childbirth, compared with 1 in 3300 in high-income countries.
Attitudes to healthcare differ. Where men and women face the same disease, men often seek health care less than women. In countries with generalized HIV epidemics, for example, men are less likely than women to take an HIV test, less likely to access antiretroviral therapy and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses than women. Similarly, male TB patients appear to be less likely to seek care than female TB patients.
Of the 40 leading causes of death, 33 causes contribute more to reduced life expectancy in men than in women. In 2016, the probability of a 30-year-old dying from a non-communicable disease before 70 years of age was 44% higher in men than women.
We men are doomed from the start, and that’s the truth!
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.