Update as of September 18th, 2006
Warming -- Signed, Sealed and Delivered
agree: The Earth is warming, and human activities are the
Oreskes, NAOMI ORESKES is a history of science professor at
UC San Diego.
AN OP-ED article in the Wall Street Journal a month ago
claimed that a published study affirming the existence of a
scientific consensus on the reality of global warming had
been refuted. This charge was repeated again last week, in a
hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
I am the author of that study, which appeared two years ago
in the journal Science, and I'm here to tell you that the
consensus stands. The argument put forward in the Wall
Street Journal was based on an Internet posting; it has not
appeared in a peer-reviewed journal — the normal way to
challenge an academic finding. (The Wall Street Journal
didn't even get my name right!)
My study demonstrated that there is no significant
disagreement within the scientific community that the Earth
is warming and that human activities are the principal
Papers that continue to rehash arguments that have already
been addressed and questions that have already been answered
will, of course, be rejected by scientific journals, and
this explains my findings. Not a single paper in a large
sample of peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and
2003 refuted the consensus position, summarized by the
National Academy of Sciences, that "most of the observed
warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to
the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."
Since the 1950s, scientists have understood that greenhouse
gases produced by burning fossil fuels could have serious
effects on Earth's climate. When the 1980s proved to be the
hottest decade on record, and as predictions of climate
models started to come true, scientists increasingly saw
global warming as cause for concern.
In 1988, the World Meteorological Assn. and the United
Nations Environment Program joined forces to create the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to evaluate the
state of climate science as a basis for informed policy
action. The panel has issued three assessments (1990, 1995,
2001), representing the combined expertise of 2,000
scientists from more than 100 countries, and a fourth report
is due out shortly. Its conclusions — global warming is
occurring, humans have a major role in it — have been
ratified by scientists around the world in published
scientific papers, in statements issued by professional
scientific societies and in reports of the National Academy
of Sciences, the British Royal Society and many other
national and royal academies of science worldwide. Even the
Bush administration accepts the fundamental findings. As
President Bush's science advisor, John Marburger III, said
last year in a speech: "The climate is changing; the Earth
To be sure, there are a handful of scientists, including MIT
professor Richard Lindzen, the author of the Wall Street
Journal editorial, who disagree with the rest of the
scientific community. To a historian of science like me,
this is not surprising. In any scientific community, there
are always some individuals who simply refuse to accept new
ideas and evidence. This is especially true when the new
evidence strikes at their core beliefs and values.
Earth scientists long believed that humans were
insignificant in comparison with the vastness of geological
time and the power of geophysical forces. For this reason,
many were reluctant to accept that humans had become a force
of nature, and it took decades for the present understanding
to be achieved. Those few who refuse to accept it are not
ignorant, but they are stubborn. They are not unintelligent,
but they are stuck on details that cloud the larger issue.
Scientific communities include tortoises and hares,
mavericks and mules.
A historical example will help to make the point. In the
1920s, the distinguished Cambridge geophysicist Harold
Jeffreys rejected the idea of continental drift on the
grounds of physical impossibility. In the 1950s, geologists
and geophysicists began to accumulate overwhelming evidence
of the reality of continental motion, even though the
physics of it was poorly understood. By the late 1960s, the
theory of plate tectonics was on the road to near-universal
Yet Jeffreys, by then Sir Harold, stubbornly refused to
accept the new evidence, repeating his old arguments about
the impossibility of the thing. He was a great man, but he
had become a scientific mule. For a while, journals
continued to publish Jeffreys' arguments, but after a while
he had nothing new to say. He died denying plate tectonics.
The scientific debate was over.
So it is with climate change today. As American geologist
Harry Hess said in the 1960s about plate tectonics, one can
quibble about the details, but the overall picture is clear.
Yet some climate-change deniers insist that the observed
changes might be natural, perhaps caused by variations in
solar irradiance or other forces we don't yet understand.
Perhaps there are other explanations for the receding
glaciers. But "perhaps" is not evidence.
The greatest scientist of all time, Isaac Newton, warned
against this tendency more than three centuries ago. Writing
in "Principia Mathematica" in 1687, he noted that once
scientists had successfully drawn conclusions by "general
induction from phenomena," then those conclusions had to be
held as "accurately or very nearly true notwithstanding any
contrary hypothesis that may be imagined…. "
Climate-change deniers can imagine all the hypotheses they
like, but it will not change the facts nor "the general
induction from the phenomena."
None of this is to say that there are no uncertainties left
— there are always uncertainties in any live science.
Agreeing about the reality and causes of current global
warming is not the same as agreeing about what will happen
in the future. There is continuing debate in the scientific
community over the likely rate of future change: not
"whether" but "how much" and "how soon." And this is
precisely why we need to act today: because the longer we
wait, the worse the problem will become, and the harder it
will be to solve.
Update as of September 8th, 2006
(Reuters) -- Many people have experienced the phenomenon of
receiving a telephone call from someone shortly after
thinking about them -- now a scientist says he has proof of
what he calls telephone telepathy.
whose research is funded by the respected Trinity College,
Cambridge, said on Tuesday he had conducted experiments that
proved that such precognition existed for telephone calls
and even e-mails.
Each person in the
trials was asked to give researchers names and phone numbers
of four relatives or friends. These were then called at
random and told to ring the subject who had to identify the
caller before answering the phone.
"The hit rate was 45
percent, well above the 25 percent you would have expected,"
he told the annual meeting of the British Association for
the Advancement of Science.
"The odds against
this being a chance effect are 1,000 billion to one."
He said he found the
same result with people being asked to name one of four
people sending them an e-mail before it had landed.
However, his sample
was small on both trials -- just 63 people for the
controlled telephone experiment and 50 for the email -- and
only four subjects were actually filmed in the phone study
and five in the email, prompting some skepticism.
Sheldrake -- who believes in the interconnectedness of all
minds within a social grouping -- said that he was extending
his experiments to see if the phenomenon also worked for
mobile phone text messages.
Update as of September 6th, 2006
The World Health
today expressed concern about the emergence of virulent
strains of tuberculosis (TB) that are virtually untreatable
with existing drugs and called for the strengthening of
Resistant TB (XDR-TB) is resistant to not only the two main
first-line TB drugs – isoniazid and rifampicin – but also to
three or more of the six classes of second-line drugs.
Recent findings from
a survey conducted by WHO and the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) found that XDR-TB has been
identified in all regions of the world but is most frequent
in the countries of the former Soviet Union and in Asia.
“XDR-TB poses a
grave public health threat, especially in populations with
high rates of HIV and where there are few health care
resources,” said WHO in a statement issued in Geneva.
Separate data on a
recent outbreak of XDR-TB in an HIV-positive population in
Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa found alarmingly high
mortality rates, said WHO. 52 out of 53 patients identified
with XDR-TB died within 25 days on average, including those
benefiting from antiretroviral drugs.
WHO noted that its
recommendations for managing drug-resistant strains of TB
include strengthening basic TB care, ensuring prompt
diagnosis and treatment of drug resistant cases, increasing
collaboration between HIV and TB control programmes, and
boosting investment in laboratory infrastructure.
On Thursday, WHO
will join other TB experts at a two-day meeting in
Johannesburg, South Africa, to assess the response required
to critically address TB drug resistance, particularly in
Update as of September 4th, 2006
Global warming is
affecting the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes, according to
a new study by a university professor in Florida who says
his research provides the first direct link between climate
change and storm strength. Reuters
the Latest Thing to Be Discouraged About? The Rise of
NY Times- The early
stages of the Iraq war may have been a watershed in American
optimism. The happy talk was so extreme it is now difficult
to believe it was sincere: “we will be greeted as
liberators”; “mission accomplished”; the insurgency is “in
the last throes.” Most wildly optimistic of all was the
goal: a military action transforming the Middle East into
The gap between
predictions and reality has left Americans deeply
discouraged. So has much of what has happened, or not
happened, at the same time. Those who believed New Orleans
would rebound quickly after Hurricane Katrina have seen
their hopes dashed. Those counting on solutions to health
care, energy dependence or global warming have seen no
progress. It is no wonder the nation is in a gloomy mood; 71
percent of respondents in a recent Associated Press-Ipsos
poll said the country is on the wrong track.
These are ideal
times for the release of “Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic,
Spirit,” by Joshua Foa Dienstag, a U.C.L.A. political
theorist. Mr. Dienstag aims to rescue pessimism from the
philosophical sidelines, where it has been shunted by
optimists of all ideologies. The book is seductive, because
pessimists are generally more engaging and entertaining than
optimists, and because, as the author notes, “the world
keeps delivering bad news.” It is almost tempting to throw
up one’s hands and sign on with Schopenhauer.
is the most un-American of philosophies. This nation was
built on the values of reason and progress, not to mention
the “pursuit of happiness.” Pessimism as philosophy is
skeptical of the idea of progress. Pursuing happiness is a
fool’s errand. Pessimism is not, as is commonly thought,
about being depressed or misanthropic, and it does not hold
that humanity is headed for disaster. It simply doubts the
most basic liberal principle: that applying human reasoning
to the world’s problems will have a positive effect.
difference between optimists and pessimists, Mr. Dienstag
argues, is in how they view time. Optimists see the passing
of time as a canvas on which to paint a better world.
Pessimists see it as a burden. Time ticks off the physical
decline of one’s body toward the inevitability of death, and
it separates people from their loved ones. “All the
tragedies which we can imagine,” said Simone Weil, the
French philosopher who starved herself to death at age 34,
“return in the end to the one and only tragedy: the passage
history as the story of civilization’s ascent. Pessimists
believe, Mr. Dienstag notes, in the idea that any apparent
progress has hidden costs, so that even when the world seems
to be improving, “in fact it is getting worse (or, on the
whole, no better).” Polio is cured, but AIDS arrives.
Airplanes make travel easy, but they can drop bombs or be
crashed into office towers. There is no point in seeking
happiness. When joy “actually makes its appearance, it as a
rule comes uninvited and unannounced,” insisted
Schopenhauer, the dour German who was pessimism’s leading
pessimists do not believe in undertaking great initiatives
to ameliorate unhappiness, since they are skeptical they
will work. They are inclined to accept the world’s evil and
misery as inevitable. Mr. Dienstag tries to argue that
pessimists can be politically engaged, and in modest ways
they can be. Camus joined the French Resistance. But
pessimism’s overall spirit, as Camus noted, “is not to be
cured, but to live with one’s ailments.”
was often mocked for his declarations that he still believed
“in a place called Hope.” But he understood that instilling
hope is a critical part of leadership. Other than a few
special interest programs — like cutting taxes on the
wealthy and giving various incentives to business — it is
hard to think of areas in which the Bush administration has
raised the nation’s hopes and met them. This president has,
instead, tried to focus the American people on the fear of
terrorism, for which there is no cure, only bad choices or
Part of Mr. Bush’s
legacy may well be that he robbed America of its optimism —
a force that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other presidents,
like Ronald Reagan, used to rally the country when it was
deeply challenged. The next generation of leaders will have
to resell discouraged Americans on the very idea of
optimism, and convince them again that their goal should not
be to live with their ailments, but to cure them.
Update as of September 3rd, 2006
- A New study on mice suggests
exposure to ultrasound to effect fetal brain development, researchers say
the findings should not discourage pregnant women from having ultrasound
scans for medical reasons-CNN
- Alzheimer’s drug galantamine
protects guinea pigs from the effects of compounds in pesticides and poisons
that attack the nervous system, researchers at the Univ of Maryland School
of Medicine report-CNN
- In just one meal high unsaturated
fat can quickly prevent “good” cholesterol from protecting the body against
clogged arteries, a small study shows-CNN
- A 6.7 earthquake reported off coast
of Vanuatu US geological survey says, pacific tsunami warning center reports
higher initial reading of a 7.0 magnitude but said that there is no Pacific
Ocean wide tsunami threat. – CNN
- Philippines troops and officials
evacuated tens of thousands of villagers as the restive Mayan volcano showed
more signs of an imminent eruption. CNN
- UN’s Humanitarian Chief describes
Gaza as a “ticking time bomb” the head of a key foreign and donors meeting.
- Zimbabweans express outrage at
proposed legislation to monitor telephone calls and Internet use. BBC
- Nigeria’s police are planning to
buy 80,000 new firearms ahead of New Year’s Elections, a spokesman says. BBC
- Police say that a Connecticut
lawyer has been charged with 1st degree murder for allegedly stabbing his
59-year-old neighbor to death, after being told the neighbor had sexually
assaulted his two-year-old daughter. CNN
- Rules to stop convicted pedophiles
from committed sex abuse abroad are being evaded, campaigners say. BBC
Update as of August 31st, 2006
Almanac Predicts Unusually Cold
LEWISTON, Maine -- After one of the
warmest winters on record, this coming winter will be much colder than normal
from coast to coast, according to the latest edition of the venerable Farmers'
The nearly 190-year-old almanac, which
says its forecasts are accurate 80 percent to 85 percent of the time, correctly
predicted a "polar coaster" of dramatic swings for last winter, editor Peter
Geiger said. For example, New York City collected 40 inches of snow even though
it was one of the warmest winters in the city's history.
This year, predicts the almanac's
reclusive forecaster, Caleb Weatherbee, it will be frigid from the Gulf Coast
all the way up the East Coast.
But it'll be especially nippy on the
Northern Plains -- up to 20 degrees below seasonal norms in much of Montana, the
Dakotas and part of Wyoming, he writes.
And, he says, it'll be especially snowy
across the nation's midsection, much of the Pacific Northwest, the mountains of
the Southwest and parts of eastern New England.
Last winter was the fifth-warmest on
average in the lower 48 states. Forty-one states had temperatures above average,
according to the National Climatic Data Center. That reduced energy demand by an
estimated 11 percent, it said.
This year's retail edition of the
Farmers' Almanac is the biggest ever, at 208 pages. It includes traditional
charts on astronomy, average frost dates, and planting and gardening calendars.
It also has the usual down-home features and cornball humor.
Update as of August 26th, 2006
imports of US long grain rice
Brussels (dpa) - The European Commission on Wednesday slapped stringent testing
requirements on imports of American long grain rice in a bid to restrict entry
of unauthorized genetically modified foods (GMOs) into the 25-nation bloc.
The commission, the European Union's executive body, said all imports of US long
grain rice would now have to be certified as free of the unauthorised GMO LL
Rice 601 before being exported to the EU.
"The decision has been taken in light of the recent announcement by the US
authorities that this unauthorised GMO had been found in samples of commercial
rice on the US market," said a commission spokesman.
The emergency measures mean that, with immediate effect, only consignments of US
long grain rice that have been tested by an accredited laboratory using a
validated testing method and accompanied by a certificate assuring the absence
of LL Rice 601, can enter the EU, the spokesman added.
"We have strict legislation in place in the EU to ensure that any GM product put
on the European market has undergone a thorough authorisation procedure based on
scientific assessment. There is no flexibility for unauthorised GMOs - these
cannot enter the EU food and feed chain under any circumstances," said Markos
Kyprianou, EU chief for health and consumer protection.
Under EU rules, national authorities are responsible for controlling imports at
their borders and for preventing any contaminated consignments from being placed
on the market.
In addition, controls will be carried out on products already on the market, to
ensure that they are free from LL Rice 601. European importers will also have to
ensure that the products they import from the US are free of the banned GMO.
The commission decision will be reviewed by national EU experts within ten days.
Once approved, the measures will remain in place for 6 months, after which the
situation will be reviewed again.
The US is a major supplier of rice to the EU, followed by India, Thailand and
US authorities informed the commission on August 18 that trace amounts of non-authorised
genetically modified rice had been detected in samples of commercial long grain
rice on the US market.
The EU decision has been criticised by environmental group Greenpeace
International as "a minimal response to a serious contamination problem."
Greenpeace said the EU should stop reacting to contamination "accidents" and
start preventing them instead.
Brussels and Washington have often crossed swords on GMOs in recent years, with
US officials complaining of overly-strict EU requirements which they say act as
a trade barrier.
The EU has argued that its hardline stance is only prompted by concerns for the
safety of consumers.
Update as of August 21st, 2006
Scientists measure the 'dark
matter' of the universe
Across the tapestry of the
night sky, hundreds or perhaps thousands of stars are doing frantic dances of
death, spinning wildly around each other and shooting off waves of invisible
gravitational energy like interstellar beacons.
In one of the most exotic
observatories in the world, Fred Raab is waiting for those waves to wash up on
the shoreline of Earth. When they do, they could change our understanding of the
"We've spent 400 years since
the invention of the telescope looking at a small portion of what exists," said
Raab, head of the LIGO laboratory in the high desert of southeastern Washington.
LIGO -- the Laser
Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory -- could reveal the rest.
"This gives us an observational
tool to probe the dark, strong-gravity part of the universe, which we've never
really done," said Kip S. Thorne, a California Institute of Technology physicist
who is one of the world's foremost experts on relativity.
Like the first bathysphere
diving into deep-sea trenches, the $300 million LIGO project, conceived more
than 25 years ago, is expected to uncover exotic creatures, such as dancing
neutron stars and binary black holes, circling each other like heavyweight
fighters. Physicists also may uncover the mysterious "dark matter" that is
believed to be all around us but has never been measured. Some think they might
find gateways into extra dimensions.
What makes LIGO different from
other observatories is that it doesn't "see" the cosmos by detecting
electromagnetic energy in the form of light, radio waves or X-rays. It feels it,
measuring waves of gravity that wrinkle space-time like ripples on a lake.
One advantage to gravity-wave
science over light-wave science is that whereas light bounces off solid objects,
gravity waves go through everything -- planets, stars, people's bodies.
Raab, Thorne and about 500
other scientists around the world caught up in the race to measure the first
gravity waves are essentially giving birth to a new science.
It has been gestating 90 years,
since Einstein theorized that large bodies moving through space would give off
waves of gravity, traveling at light speed, that would shrink and expand
The problem with gravity waves
is that they are so difficult to detect that many physicists long doubted they
would ever be found. In November, however, LIGO reached a level of sensitivity
at which Thorne and other experts believe they might detect waves.
Now excitement has gripped the
scientific community as it awaits word.
It can be felt inside the LIGO
control room, where Raab studies a series of constantly changing graphs flashed
up on the wall. Like a man translating a foreign language, Raab points to one
squiggly line that he says is traffic passing on the main road a dozen miles
away. Another is construction in the nearby cities of Richland and Kennewick.
If you know what to look for,
Raab said, you can pick out the seismic signature of ocean waves hitting the
shoreline of western Washington -- 200 miles away.
In the dun-colored desert-scape
of southeastern Washington sits the Hanford nuclear site. Plutonium for the
atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was made here. Now, the signs of decay and rust
are everywhere. The site has become a relic of the Cold War.
Down a twisting side road, LIGO
appears out of the Russian cheatgrass and mustard plants, a bulky apparition
with two tubes extending at right angles into the desert.
The 2.4-mile-long tentacles are
the heart of LIGO. They are at right angles so that incoming gravity waves will
shrink one arm while lengthening the other. An identical facility sits in a
forest in southern Louisiana, so that the readings made at one observatory can
be cross-checked almost 2,000 miles away.
The National Science Foundation
has provided the funding.
Inside the arms is a laser
interferometer, which works by splitting a laser beam and sending one of the two
resulting beams down each arm. The beams then bounce around 100 times on a set
of mirrors before being sent back to a photodetector.
The two beams should recombine
at exactly the same time because they travel an identical distance.
But if a gravity wave passes
by, the beams will be thrown off as the arms are alternately stretched and
Detecting such a minute signal
has required extraordinary steps.
Because the site had to be as
flat as possible, satellites were used to survey the land, which was eventually
graded to within three-eighths of an inch over five miles.
To get around the problem of
air molecules shaking the mirrors, workers sucked the air out of the tubes down
to a billionth of an atmosphere. But that still wasn't good enough to make sure
the speed of light would be constant throughout the tubes. So the team had to
get the tubes down to a trillionth of an atmosphere.
The surface of the four 10-inch
mirrors in the arms is so smooth it doesn't vary by more than 30-billionths of
an inch. Thirty control systems keep the lasers and mirrors in alignment. The
vibration isolation system is so sophisticated, the only thing approaching it is
the mechanics used by semiconductor chip makers to etch circuits on the chips.
Even though ground was broken
for the LIGO project more than a decade ago, it was only in November that the
facility was ready to hunt seriously for gravity waves.
"We're operating right now
where we can see changes a thousandth the size of a proton," Raab said.
Some vibrations still manage to
"A bulldozer 10 miles away
knocks us offline," he said.
One recent problem was caused
by a stunt pilot practicing loops.
Since the November data run
began, LIGO has managed to get 10 weeks of clean data.
The hunt is on.
On the wall outside Thorne's
cluttered office at Caltech are framed letters containing the bets he has made
with other prominent scientists, including two with physicist Stephen Hawking.
Thorne won both.
In fact, Thorne has lost only
two bets, and both were over gravity waves. In 1978, he bet a dinner that
gravity waves would be found within a decade. It didn't happen.
The second time, he bet a case
of good California wine that the first gravity wave would be detected by Jan. 1,
2000. Once again, he had to pay up.
Thorne is no longer taking bets
on when gravity waves will be found. But found they will be, he said.
It just might not be with this
version of LIGO. Even though LIGO is operating within the range where gravity
waves are thought to exist, it's just barely there.
"We're at a level now where we
could see one every 30 years to every three years," said Jay Marx, executive
director of the LIGO program.
Those aren't great odds. The
solution is Advanced LIGO, a $200 million upgrade that will increase the
sensitivity by a factor of 10. Among the improvements are a more powerful laser
and more sophisticated vibration isolation hardware. Work is expected to begin
sometime after 2008.
After the improvements, a
gravity wave could be detected every three weeks, Marx said.
Thorne said: "We are at a level
where we could see waves now. After the upgrade we will be operating in a domain
where we are likely to see waves."
And if they don't find waves?
"That would show something is
wrong with our understanding of the universe," he said.
Update as of August 2oth, 2006
Long after mosquito bite,
ill effects could linger
KRISTINA HERRNDOBLER, The Enterprise
It has been
more than three years since Laura Booker was bitten by a West Nile-infected
mosquito - a bite she thinks might have caused her declining health.
A new study
suggests that Booker's ongoing health problems could be linked to West Nile
virus, an illness once thought to rarely cause long-term effects in those who
More than a year after being diagnosed with West Nile virus, half of the
patients have continuing health complaints, including fatigue, memory problems,
extremity weakness, depression, tremors and headaches, according to an article
in the current issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, a medical journal.
Booker said joint pain and tremors, among many other problems, prompt frequent
"I don't know if all of it is because of West Nile," said Booker, 47, of
Nederland. "But I was perfectly healthy. I was never sick. And now all the
sudden I have all these problems."
The new study concludes that abnormalities in motor skills and executive
functions are common long-term problems among patients who have had the West
Nile viral infection.
"Patients with milder illness are just as likely as patients with more severe
illness to experience adverse outcomes," it states.
The majority of people infected with West Nile virus develop no symptoms, but
about 20 percent experience a flu-like illness called West Nile fever, according
to the study.
About 1 percent of patients develop more severe diseases such as meningitis or
encephalitis, it states. Patients who develop meningitis or encephalitis often
are hospitalized and some die, but the fever generally is considered benign and
That might be about to change, the study suggests.
"What we found is that there is a substantial amount of ongoing symptoms, both
among those patients diagnosed with West Nile fever as well as those with the
more severe diseases, encephalitis and meningitis," Dr. Paul Carson, lead author
of the study, said in news release.
The study involved testing and surveying 49 patients, all from eastern North
Dakota, who had lab-confirmed West Nile virus infections.
Beaumont physician James Holly said the problem with long-term effects is that
they are incredibly subjective.
"It is very hard to control for those subjective symptoms," he said, adding the
study contradicts what the medical field currently thinks about West Nile virus.
Holly himself was infected with West Nile in June. He had a fever, became weak
and had severe muscle soreness before being tested for the virus, he said.
He said on the day he first experienced symptoms, he spent 66 minutes on a
treadmill. This week, he has only been able to stay on the treadmill for 30
minutes - and that was at a reduced incline and a slower pace, he said.
But Holly does not believe he will have long-term health problems because of the
illness. He said it will take up to two months to get back to his pre-West Nile
"There is no doubt there is a physiological price you pay for having this
illness," he said. "But it is not a permanent physiological price until you
allow it to change your life."
Jefferson County officials Thursday said there have been eight confirmed West
Nile cases in Beaumont this year. Five of those were in Beaumont. One person who
had West Nile died, according to the Beaumont Public Health Department. There
have been no confirmed cases of West Nile in humans in Jasper or Newton
counties, officials there said.
There have been at least a half dozen West Nile-related deaths in Southeast
Texas since 2002, when someone died in Jefferson County, according to the Texas
Department of State Health Services.
Statewide, there have been 47 confirmed cases of meningitis or encephalitis
caused by West Nile this year. There have been five deaths, according to the
Department spokeswoman Emily Palmer said these numbers only include cases
confirmed in state labs. They do not, for example, include the recent West
Nile-related death in Beaumont.
In 2005, there were 128 human cases in Texas, including 11 deaths, according to
Nationwide, there have been 388 confirmed human cases in 26 states this year,
according to the most recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
numbers, released on Aug. 15. Thirteen infected people have died.
West Nile has been confirmed in mosquitoes or animals in 40 states this year,
according to the CDC.
West Nile virus first appeared in North America in 1999, many decades after it
was first reported elsewhere, the CDC reports. It was first isolated in the West
Nile District of Uganda in 1937.
Toni Matherne, 38, of Mandeville, La., became ill with West Nile in 2002. She
spent a week and a half in the hospital, but has generally recovered, she said.
"The only thing I noticed long-term is that my immune system is not as good,"
she said. "It is a coincidence that ever since getting West Nile, it has been