Jul 11, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – A Dutch woman who fell ill with Marburg hemorrhagic fever after visiting a bat-infested cave in Uganda has died, Dutch authorities announced today.Authorities said the 40-year-old woman, who was not identified, died overnight at Leiden University Medical Centre, according to reports from Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP). The woman’s illness was first announced yesterday.In a statement yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the woman was reportedly exposed to fruit bats during a visit to the “python cave” in the Maramagambo forest on Jun 19. The cave is thought to harbor bat species that have been found to carry Marburg virus and its close relative, Ebola virus, in other parts of Africa, the agency said.”A large bat population was seen in the cave and the woman is reported to have had direct contact with one bat,” the WHO said.The woman had visited another cave 3 days earlier, but no bats were seen there, the WHO said. She returned to the Netherlands in good health on Jun 28, but she became ill with a fever Jul 2 and was hospitalized Jul 5. She deteriorated rapidly and suffered liver failure and severe hemorrhaging Jul 7.WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said people who had contact with the woman have been monitored and have not shown any symptoms, Reuters reported. The WHO statement said no attempts were made to alert passengers who were on the woman’s return flight from Uganda, because she didn’t get sick until 4 days after the flight.”The chance of the virus spreading through the Netherlands is very small,” the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said in a statement yesterday. Marburg virus spreads through contact with bodily fluids of infected people or animals.Hartl said people don’t need to cancel trips to Uganda because of the case, but they should not enter caves with bats, according to Reuters.Uganda’s health ministry issued a statement advising people entering caves or mines in the western district of Kamwenge to take “maximum precaution not to get into close contact with the bats and non-human primates in the nearby forests,” Reuters reported.The story said the Kitaka mine in Kamwenge, about 155 miles from Kampala, the capital, was closed last August after three miners contracted Marburg and one died.There is no specific treatment or vaccine for Marburg fever, which is fatal in up to 90% of cases. In a major outbreak in Angola in 2004 and 2005, 227 of 252 confirmed cases were fatal.See also: Jul 10 WHO statementhttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2008_07_10/en/index.htmlJul 10 RIVM statementhttp://www.rivm.nl/en/Library/Common_and_Present/Newsmessages/2008/Dutch_tourist_infected_with_Marburg_virusJul 10 CIDRAP News story “Marburg fever case reported in Netherlands”
We’re by now familiar with the notion that smart meters are critical components of smart grids, the digital networks many utilities are developing to tightly monitor electricity usage, route power more precisely to meet demand, and incorporate renewable-energy sources into the delivery system. We’re also becoming familiar with some of the bumps on the road to smart-meter deployment.One of those bumps is customer dissatisfaction with the performance of smart meters – dissatisfaction grounded, in many cases, in suspicion that the meters are not fairly or accurately measuring usage. A recent New York Times story, for example, highlights the atmosphere of “open revolt” among consumers whose homes have been subject to Pacific Gas & Electric’s SmartMeter rollout in Northern and Central Caifornia. One of their principal complaints, aired in October at public hearings led by state Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, is that the new meters are clocking more kilowatts, at higher rates, than customers believe they’re using. Some customers complained that, even though their usage in 2009 had dropped below comparable periods in 2008, they still were receiving higher utility bills.PG&E blamed the higher bills on the especially hot summer, and noted that the company has been applying rates approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. The rates have included increases intended in part to help pay for smart meter installations for both electric and gas usage. By the end of October, about 1.7 million PG&E customers had received SmartMeters for electric service, while 2.3 million had received them for gas service. The utility is expected to spend $2.2 billion on installations overall.Florez and other officials imposed on the CPUC to have the meters audited by an independent firm that will use historical and other data to determine their accuracy.Smart-meter accessoriesCustomer irritation with smart meters – which also has authorities in Connecticut and Texas scrutinizing their performance – is likely going to be only the first of many wrinkles in the development of smart-grid infrastructure. But the growth of smart-grid networks also seems inexorable as utilities both in the U.S. and elsewhere seek ways to reduce their operating costs, pinpoint usage patterns, manage pricing, and fine tune delivery. This month in the U.K., the government announced that every household will have a smart meter by 2020.Other utility-based energy efficiency programs also will be put into play more widely, although they’re unlikely to achieve the ubiquity of the smart meter. We’ve noted in previous posts the possibilities and difficulties inherent in trying to reduce energy consumption with the help of in-home energy monitoring gadgets and consumer-oriented software. It’s a bit early to judge the effectiveness of those offerings, although the use of the OPOWER Home Energy Reporting System, which is designed to tell utility customers how their rates of energy use rank relative to those of other homeowners in their service area, seems to be producing positive results. The operative elements behind the OPOWER service: peer pressure and the desire for social approval.
Taking a leaf from the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, Goa is now planning to reserve 80% jobs in industrial units receiving State government subsidies for people of Goan origin, the Legislative Assembly was told on Wednesday. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant also said that “60% to 80% jobs” would be on a permanent basis.While the labour and employment policies will be drafted in the next six months, all industries in the State have been directed to register with the government and submit details about the workers and the sectors they are currently employed in, he said.Mr. Sawant said the BJP-led government will draft the labour and employment policies in the next six months in which it might consider reserving “80% jobs for Goans in the private sector, especially in the industrial units that get various subsidies from the State government, out of which 60% jobs should be on a permanent basis“.Responding to a question by Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, Mr. Sawant said the upcoming policies might make it mandatory for the industrial units to hire 80% Goans in jobs.The Chief Minister also said a task force has been set up to ensure that industries adhere to the Minimum Wages Guarantee Act.Mr. Sawant said since the private sector, especially industrial units, enjoys various subsidies from the State government, they are expected to reserve 80% of the total jobs to the people with the Goan origin. “But there is no regulatory authority to keep a tab. Once the policy is in place, we will come to know whether they are adhering to the requirement or not,” he said.