Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits the Bouvet Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Mississippi, USA – A severe storm system in parts of the South and Midwest United States claimed the lives of at least six people on Wednesday, bringing several tornadoes to Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Paraguay – Flooding caused by heavy rains has forced the evacuation of more than 70,000 people in Paraguay. Authorities say the Paraguay River rose to nearly 24 feet (7.2 meters) Wednesday after weeks of torrential rains. That’s near its highest level of 1983, when it reached 25.3 feet (7.72 meters). About 72,000 people have been forced out of their homes in the Paraguayan capital. But many more are expected to be affected nationwide by the swelling of the Parana and other rivers. Communities living in low-lying slums are especially at risk. Most are seeking shelter in camps on higher ground, where they’re sleeping in improvised tents.

Cumbria, UK – Cumbria face their Christmas being ruined by flood waters as yet another storm, Storm Eva is predicted to hit Britain with rain and winds up to 70mph.

Disease

Korea declares end to MERS outbreak

The government declared the end of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, more than seven months after the infectious disease broke out here.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Wednesday that the country would be officially free of the respiratory disease at 12 a.m. today, 218 days after the first case appeared.

Thursday would be 28 days — double the incubation period of the virus — since the last patient’s death. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises waiting double the incubation period of a disease before declaring the end to an epidemic.

Zika Virus Spreading in Brazil

Brazil is in the grips of yet another crisis: a fast-spreading virus some health officials are linking to thousands of cases of infant brain damage and 40 related deaths this year.

Health authorities have declared a national emergency as they battle the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne pathogen that has been detected across much of South America’s largest country.

Symptoms include fever, rashes, headaches, joint aches and vomiting, lasting from a few days to about a week. The virus is rarely lethal, and it is usually treated with bed rest and liquids.

Health officials believe the virus this year alone is responsible in Brazil for an explosion of cases of microcephaly, an extremely rare condition in which babies are born with shrunken skulls because their brains aren’t growing properly. But they say microcephaly hasn’t been linked to Zika virus outbreaks before.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s Health Ministry released figures showing that as of Saturday, the number of suspected Zika-related microcephaly cases had climbed to 2,782, a surge of nearly 16% from the previous week. The number of confirmed deaths shot up to 40 from 29 over the period.

By comparison, Brazil had 147 cases of microcephaly for all of 2014.