Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Allergy Seasons in New Zealand

Calendar by Allergy New Zealand

New Zealand has mild temperatures, moderately high rainfall, and many hours of sunshine. The sunniest city is Tauranga, the wettest - Wellington, the driest Christchurch and the warmest city is Auckland. 
January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC and in winter between 10-15ºC.
New Zealand has relatively little air pollution and very strong UV rays during the summer months.
The country has a unique variety of native flora, mostly evergreen.  The introduced plants are the main source of pollen allergies. Rye is the most troublesome plant and the major cause of springtime hay fever. The pollen season starts about one month earlier at the top of the North Island than the bottom of the south Island. Pollen concentrations are slightly lower in coastal areas. Inland pastoral areas such as Hamilton and Palmerston North, can have relatively severe allergy seasons. In Auckland the main pollen season is between October and February, and  - unlike Europe and USA - is not well defined.
People of New Zealand, however, are not as affected by humidity and temperature changes as Western Europe is [1].  Similar to the rest of the world [2], prenatal and early life exposure to pollen can offer protection  against asthma, respiratory  allergy and eczema, but continued exposure may be required to maintain optimal protection [3].

1. Asher MI, Stewart AW, Mallol J, Montefort S, Lai CK, Aït-Khaled N, Odhiambo J; ISAAC Phase One Study Group. Which population level environmental factors are associated with asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema? Review of the ecological analyses of ISAAC Phase One. Respir Res. 2010 Jan 21;11:8.

2. Burr ML, Emberlin JC, Treu R, Cheng S, Pearce NE; ISAAC Phase One Study Group.
Pollen counts in relation to the prevalence of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma and atopic eczema in the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). Clin Exp Allergy. 2003 Dec;33(12):1675-80.

3. Douwes J, Cheng S, Travier N, Cohet C, Niesink A, McKenzie J, Cunningham C, Le Gros G, von Mutius E, Pearce N. Farm exposure in utero may protect against asthma, hay fever and eczema. Eur Respir J. 2008 Sep;32(3):603-11. Epub 2008 Apr 30.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Listeria outbreak


Cantaloupes have been linked to listeria in the past: in 2008 it was imported from Honduras, In March 2011 tainted cantaloupes were from Guatemala. This time the source is whole cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms in Colorado.
According to CDC, as of September 26, 2011, a total of 72 people were reported to be infected with the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes. All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: California (1), Colorado (15), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (10), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (8), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1), as color-coded on the map. Thirteen deaths have been reported: 2 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas (shown as black circles on the upper map).
As of November 1, the number of infected people increased as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), California (2), Colorado (39), Idaho (2), Illinois (3), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (10), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (6), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), Nevada (1), New Mexico (15), New York (2), North Dakota (2), Oklahoma (11), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (18), Utah (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (4). 

    Most people infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.



    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Seasonal Allergies in the British isles

    Climate in the United Kingdom is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, and the areas closest to the ocean (Western England and Scotland, Northern island and Wales) are the mildest, wettest and windiest regions. Eastern parts of the country experience larger temperature variations, especially North East, are drier and less windy. 

    Plants native to the British Isles include Alder, Ash, Aspen, Beech, Birch , Cherry, Chestnut, Elm, Hazel, Maple and Willow. Roses. England is home to hundreds of flowers, such as sweet smelling roses with scent especially strong in the rain. Since 11th century hay meadows become commonplace, creating the abundance of flowers and grasses.

    In the Springtime the flowers as well as allergies come.

    Summer Pollen Calendar15 to 20% of the population in UK is affected by seasonal allergies, mainly related to grass pollen. It can affect ability to drive, work and study, so it should not be ignored. Mold allergies could trigger asthma - Didymelia, for example, is highest during harvesting of wheat and barley. Alternaria, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillum and Sporobolomyce can be also detected.


    Allergy forecasts can be found at many sites. Here is  one of the best ones, supported by National Pollen and Astrobiology Research unit.

    Another way to keep an eye on allergies is to listen to people - check for example, the respiratory allergies section of this UK forum.

    Zirtek privided a very useful resource for allergy sufferers in UK. They author the large map above.
    Some of the things not included in this map are Cedar trees that flower from September to December
    and Chenopodium (goosefoot) that flowers during late summer. Most notable fungal allergens include Alternaria, Didymella, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium and Sporobolomyces.

    Grass pollen map illustrates how seasonal allergies fluctuate on an annual basis. 

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Flu update: May through August

      
    In May, June, July and August 2011, Influenza activity was low in North America, Europe, Northern Asia, Middle East and North Africa. Tepid latitudes of Northern hemisphere remained at baseline inter-seasonal levels.

    The 2011 influenza season in South Africa peaked in the end of June. The majority of samples were identified as 2009 H1N1 virus. Flu levels were still moderate in early July but illness activity became low by the end of July.

    Dominican Republic, Cuba, Honduras and Brazil observed moderate activity (peak was in the end of June/beginning of July). Columbia had active circulation of 2009 H1N1 virus, but there were no new cases in July and August. Illness levels in Peru and Bolivia also returned to low levels.

    Flu activity in August was low in countries of Western Africa (Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal), and Southern Asia (India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Singapore).  Google flu trends predicted increased activity for South Africa and Chile in June-July and Uruguay in July-August. WHO data showed that flu levels returned to low in South Africa, but started to increase for Chile, Uruguay and Argentina marking the peak of the season.

    In Australia, influenza-like illness consultations and laboratory-confirmed cases continue to increase.
    The flu season started in the end of April, rates slightly declined in mid May but kept increasing since.  The most common virus was influenza A(H1N1)2009 but influenza B was also prevalent, unevenly distributed across the country.

    According to the ESR Kenepuru Science Centre and the WHO, flu incidents in New Zealand increased from mid-May through the end of July, but decreased during the first two weeks of August. ILI activity in New Zealand remained around expected levels and the majority of viruses detected have been influenza B.

    See the latest CDC  Global and WHO updates for more.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Allergy seasons in Germany

    Seasonal allergies in Germany are typical for central Europe.The Federal Office for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz or BfN) divides the country into 73 geographical regions that are in three major zones: German Plain in the north, the German Upland in the central region and the German Highlands in the south. National parks of Germany are famous for their woodlands. Mueritz National Park is rich with conifer woods, oak and beech trees. Nature lovers also appreciate elm, ash, larch and birch making the country very colorful and vibrant.

    Unfortunately, these beautiful plants could also bring sneezing, wheezing, and runny nose. According to this report by BfR, around 12 % of 13-14 year-olds and 14 % (Erfurt) and 22 % (Hamburg) respectively of 20 up to 44 year old adults suffer from seasonal rhinitis or hay fever in Germany. The incidence has increased in recent years. East Germany resident are affected less than those in West Germany. Among those born from 1942 to 1951, 19.8 % (West Germany) and 11.7 % (East Germany) of people had hay fever; in the birth cohorts 1952 to 1961 the figures were 21.5 % (West) and 12.9 % (East). In the birth cohorts 1962 to 1971 the number of hay fever sufferers was as high as 26.8 % (West) and 14.7 % (East).

    Here is an approximate 2011 calendar (based on data by University of Berlin and Institute of Meteorology) showing high and lows for Hazel, Alder, Birch trees, Rye grass and other pasture grasses, and weeds such as Mugwort and Ambrosia (common ragweed widespread in North America).   
    Allergies depend on sun, wind and rain, so fluctuate every year. Compare, for example, these grass pollen data collected for 1998, 2000 and 2003 (data from the German archive).

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Allergy Seasons in Hawaii

    Hawaii could be a perfect place to live for people with allergies to continental trees and grasses. Yet, it has myriads of flowers and tropical trees blooming all year around. The State of Hawaii has the second highest childhood asthma rate in the nation, with 10.8% percent of children ages 0-17 diagnosed with asthma. This is mostly caused by Hawaii’s topical climate which makes for abundant vegetation, pollen, high humidity, dust mites, dust, cockroaches, and outdoor living.

    One of the largest issues is outdoor mold. While in cold climates mold usually send their spores airborne from May through October, in warm and humid Hawaiian climate molds could persist throughout the year. Inhalation of mold spores could lead to sneezing, asthma, itchy and watery eyes. The symptoms may become worse for people eating cheese, mushrooms, soy sauce, dried fruits or vinegar. 

    Other issues could be dust and pesticides from the cane fields. The worst months in Maui are May to November, especially mid-May to August because of the wind pattern.  Residents could also suffer from smoke coming from burning crops or garbage (combined with high winds) and polluted air due to high car traffic. Big island and Maui, to some extent Oahu, are also exposed to sulfurous odor coming from active volcanoes. Kauai is the best place for those who can't tolerate volcanic air. Yet Kauai and Hilo side of the Big Island could be the worst place for other types of pollen allergies as they have the wettest climate.  Oahu has very high mold levels too, although it could vary from place to place and depend on the exposure to indoor mold. You can check current pollen, dust and dander levels here.

    See what people are saying about their experiences:  
    1. erik in honolulu
      I moved to Hawaii four months ago and my allergies have been the worst in my life since moving here. With so many flowers and fruits blooming year round, there is no relief from the pollen. Beware the rainbow state – bring allergy meds.
      I lived on Oahu for 13 years. It might just be that you were allergic to mold- that the place you were staying in had mold. Another place to stay might be fine. 
      My husband and I lived in Kihei on Maui for a year. I got what I thought was bronchitis every few months. Apparently, it was allergies. My husband was fine most of the year but mid May to mid August he was severly ill from his allergies and asthma.
      It was so bad we had to move. We would love to go back to Hawaii but do not know which areas of Hawaii are better for people with severe allergies/asthma. I have heard that Kauai and Hilo side of the Big Island are bad. Any insights into specific good or bad areas of each island would be very appreciated. — Donna, formerly in Hawaii
      1. Al Choholic
        ha , so you moved here hoping to catch a break with allergies ? :) Kihei has : 1.) basically two crowded roads , always glutted with cars ; 2.) cane growers , in tandem with Monsanto , waging chemical warfare against everyone on this island by burning their crops , which are contaminated by Monsanto ‘ s ” Franken – pesticides ” ….. not to mention the plastic piping , and various other ” miscellaneous ” items that they burn at these times ; 3.) much less than 100 miles away ( from Kihei , about 35 miles from Maui ) an active volcano . Hmmmmmm……
        I wouldn ‘ t so much call it ” allergies ” as I would call it ” polluted air ” . I ‘ m sure big cities are worse , the ones I ‘ ve been in are anyways , but Kihei is not the place to come for fresh air . If you had to be on Maui , I’ d suggest something Hana way , I ‘d LOVE to be there myself , but we ( gf and myself ) are not bohemian millionaires , nor are we locals , so nix that idea . If you have the money it ‘s the place to be …..
        unless if you have problems with mold . In which case , Kaua ‘ i , and Hilo area would be bad for you …. they both have a very wet climate , as I ‘ m sure you know Hana area has as well ( although not nearly as wet ) .
        My ” best ” suggestion for you two , I ‘ d guess something on Oahu , away from the city for sure , maybe towards North Shore , although somewhere thats not tooo wet . Oahu doesnt seem to get the vog as badly ( although they did get a spell of it around the time of the World Series last year ) as islands that are closer to Big Island …..
        by the way , your husband prob got sick between May and August because of the wind pattern at that time of the year …. pulling vog from Big Island .
        Lastly , I am a runner , moved from Minnesota , and the amount of stamina I ‘ ve lost in the year and a half that I ‘ ve been here ………wow .( And I run at night mostly. ) They burned here on Friday and now several people at work ( today is Sunday ) are sick …… I guess my points are 1.) money always tries to blame people for their ” allergies ” as they are sickening people ; 2.) there are better places out here than Kihei.
      1. Leilani Dune
        Hi:
        Kona is beautiful, but is not the place to be for asthma suffers. The State of Hawaii has failed its’ residents, as it failed to report the detrimental effects of asthma for fear of losing tourist or real estate business. As a result, our people have suffered greatly both economically and and physically.
        As a runner, and unaware of the detrimental effects of vog like conditions, I have developed a severe respiratory condition. I have never smoked, have been running since a teenager. We need to unite to make the State accountable to its’ people. Why sacrafice profit for health? ALoha, Leilani
      2. Alice Mastello
        We went to Hawaii in 1997 and I became horribly ill. I am very allergic to mold, systemically, and am afraid to go back there. Can not find out anything on mold there, but am reading the blogs and think I should continue to stay far away. Does anyone know how to find out what the mold counts are?
         
        by AllergyNurse

        I’m on Maui now. Different grasses but the Waddle trees here leave enough pollen to coat a house! Shorter season than grass though, and not quite as bad. Cost of living here is killing me instead!



        Keith
        I lived in the big Island and Oahu in the 90′s. Allergy Nurse, if you can handle the prices you might consider as a temporary fix moving to Oahu. It’s much more crowded than Maui, but I found it to be pretty good for me allergy-wise. We moved there as the mold in Hilo and the Vog in various places on the Big Island were too much for me. On Oahu I did fine. There were occasional days where I’d need to take an inhalor, but only a handful of times in a few years. You might also consider finding an environmental allergist who can help you build your immunity to allergies. These doctors are specially trained and more thorough than regular allergists. A good source for learning about this type of treatment would be to read some of Dr. Sherry Rogers’ books or google Dr. William Rea. He has a clinic in Texas and is big in the field. Not suggesting you go to Texas, but you can get the info on their site or from Rogers’ books like “Detox or Die” about how to find someone credible. Keep in mind you could have mold issues too, or even vog. You might think too of moving to the dryer part of Maui or Oahu where mold and pollen would be less. You’d still have access to the beaches, etc. Casey, the environmental allergy treatments migt help you too. I do have a friend who’s lived in Oregon for many years, he swears by the fact that no matter where in Oregon, it is very moldy and that could be what is affecting you more than the pollen. You need to be tested to see what the underlying causes are. If either of you had problems with mold or chemical sensitivities or there was something else depressing your immune system, it can manifest in greater sensitivity to allergies. Some other underlying immune issues could be: suppressed adrenals (read James Wilson’s book “Adrenal Fatigue”, underlying infections from dental cavitations or tooth, gum infections, sinus infections, use of steroids for asthma, arthritis also suppress immune function. Also having a plugged toxic liver is known as a great cause of allergies. Google “liver cleanses” and start reading about them. People have been known to get totally over allergies by doing them. Ideally you would do them under a practitioners supervision but you can do it on your own. You just need to prepare carefully and thoroughly. If any of you can find reputable alternative care that would be a big leg up to resolving some of these issues and Summer, you might some day be able to return to your beautiful home in the Hawaiian Islands. As per Arizona, I have heard very good things about it as far as being away from molds, that may be Summer what might have been aggravating your system. I hope this helps and I wish you all Aloha.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Mold Allergy

    According to a recent Quest Diagnostics Study, allergies are on the rise. Especially in regards to two environmental allergens: ragweed and mold. Over the four year period, sensitization to common ragweed grew 15% nationally while mold grew 12%. By comparison, sensitization to the 11 allergens combined (including two house dust mites, cats and dogs, and five foods) increased 5.8%. 
    Allergic responses to mold are quite common, the symptoms are hay fever-type: sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rush. 

    In US, mold allergies can appear any time. Mold is a precipitation-affected aeroallergen, it may increase in prevalence with a warmer climate. The southern part of United states faces the longest mold allergy season as warmer weather last for a longer time. Mold allergy season here normally begins in the month of June and continues up to the month of August, but it can start earlier and last longer. Mold allergy is especially bad in the coastal area due to the presence of humidity which results in wet summers. In the North, The map shows a snapshot of mold allergies in continental USA. Hawaii is not shown, but its climate is very favorable to mold growth. Midwest and Great Plains, mold allergy fluctuates throughout the year and can appear any time. 


    Mold spores usually land on wet surfaces and need water or moisture to grow. There are many types of mold. Cladosporium is one of the most common indoor and outdoor varieties. This fungi appear olive-green, brown and black and are usually found on living and dead plant material. In May, it was observed in Washington, DC, Delaware, Florida, Idaho and many other states. 


    Basidiosporus is another cosmopolitan mold. It can cause brown rot, grow and destroy the structural wood in buildings. It can cause type I allergies (hay fever-like, asthma) and type III hypersensitivity pneumonitis. 


    Smuts can be found on cereal crops, grasses and other flowering plants. They usually do not grow indoors and cause type I allergy symptoms. In May they were identified in Idaho and other states. 


    Ascospores are among the most variable fungi in appearance ranging from transparent and colorless to opaque black. They are very abundant in outdoor air on rainy days, often appearing when the first warm rains occur after winter.
    Although generally considered "outdoor" spores, some Ascomycetes producing ascospores grow well indoors on wet materials. In May this type of fungi were identified in Florida and other states.



    Alternaria - known as major plant pathogens - stimulates sensitization in the lower airways, grow on skin and mucous membranes, including on the eyeballs, not only within the respiratory tract. Many human health disorders  - related to alternariosis and alternariatoxicosis - can be caused by these fungi, although serious infections are rare.

    All fungi can produce some kind of allergens, but the most common ones are less likely to cause symptoms. Cladosporium, Alternaria, Bipolaris, Curvularia, Pithomyces and Stachybotrys contain allergens reacting to the IgE, but Epicoccum, Fusarium, and Spegazzinia apparently do not. Besides, personal exposure to airborne fungi could significantly vary even in exactly the same conditions. Thus personal spore traps may be a better measure of exposure than stationary air sampling equipment. 

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Foodborne outbreaks update

    E.coli outbreak is spreading through Europe. As of June 1, more than 1,500 people are infected in Germany, source of E.coli cases remains unknown. The death toll rose to 16 with the first death outside of Germany, in Sweden.



    Why is this strain of E. coli 0104:H4, 93% similar to EAEC 55989 with several antibiotic-resistant genes, so virulent? Was there something wrong with lettuce, tomatoes or cucumbers? Is it safe to eat vegetables? 

    These questions remain unanswered. 
    All we know is that women account for most of the cases, while young and middle-aged adults are most severely affected.  Kidney failure appears to be a signature of this E.coli.
    Meanwhile all is quiet on the foodborne outbreak front in the US.

    There were 8 E.coli cases (serotype O157:H7) reported in April (1 in Michigan, 3 in Minnesota and 4 in Wisconsin). 75% of infected were males. These cases were associated with in-shell hazelnuts. 

    14 more E.coli cases  (serotype O157:H7reported in April (3 in Maryland, 2 in New Jersey, 1 in North Carolina, 2 in Ohio and 6 in Pennsylvania) were associated with Lebanon Bologna. 




    There were more outbreaks of Salmonella Typhimurium infections associated with African dwarf frogs and clinical/teaching microbiology laboratories. 


    Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium from frogs

    Infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, by state
    As of May 9, 2011, a total of 222 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 41 states (statistics since April 1, 2009). The number of ill person identified in each state is as follows: Alaska (5), Alabama (2), Arizona (10), California (18), Colorado (12), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Georgia (4), Idaho (4), Illinois (8), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (2), Massachusetts (6), Maryland (5), Michigan (6), Minnesota (1), Missouri (5), Mississippi (1), Montana (2), North Carolina (1), Nebraska (2), New Hampshire (3), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (2), Nevada (4), New York (7), Ohio (7), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (15), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (4), Texas (4), Utah (18), Virginia (11), Vermont (1), Washington (23), Wisconsin (4), and West Virginia (1).


    Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium from microbiology labs

    Infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, by state
    As of April 20, 2011, a total of 73 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 35 US states: AK (1), AL (3), AZ (2), CA (1), GA (5), IA (1), ID (2), IL (3), IN (1), KS (1), KY (3), MA (2), MD (2), MI (2), MN (4), MO (2), NC (1), ND (1), NE (2), NJ (2), NM (3), NV (1), NY (1), OH (1), OK (1), OR (1), PA (6), SC (2), SD (1), TN (2), TX (1), UT (3), WA (5), WI (3), WY (1).



    Fewer people were infected with another type of Salmonella, Salmonella Panama from Cantaloupe:  Oregon (5 cases), Washington (4 cases), California (2 cases), Colorado (1 case) and Maryland (1 case). Dates of illness onset ranged from February 5, 2011 to March 4, 2011. 62% were male. 

    US foodborne outbreaks: 2011 stories

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Flu update: mostly in Southern Hemisphere


    No more (well, almost no more) flu in Northern Hemisphere, but the Southern Hemisphere is cooling down. 
    Flu activity is low throughout  the US and Canada. The only country in Europe reporting moderate flu levels is Armenia. Google trends shows slightly increased activity in Norway, but this may be an artifact of searches. 


    According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO, respiratory illness activity in Chile and Argentina was increasing between Week 12 (March 21-27) and Week 18 (May 2-8). However, almost all of this activity was attributed to non-influenza viruses. Google trends predicts increased activity in Brazil.

    Influenza activity was low in tropical regions, Australia and New Zealand. According to the Australia Department of Health and Ageing, the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases decreased in recent weeks, although it remains higher than during the same period in 2010.



    South Africa National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported low influenza activity as of May 1. According to Google flu trends, however, flu levels increased in the end of May. 

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    How cold is cold enough? How humid is really humid?

    How cold is too cold? How windy is really windy? It depends on where you live. If you are from the South you will need a blanket if it's below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 °C). If you are accustomed to cold weather, 70 (20+ C) is too hot.  For residents of Oymyakon in Eastern Siberia with average winter temperature of -49°F (−45°C) and record low -90°F (-67.7°C), -30°F (−34.4°C)  is pretty pleasant. If you live in Cold Bay, Alaska, 15 miles per hour is not really windy, while in Oak Ridge, Tennessee average wind blows at only 4 miles per hour.

    In general,
    110 Fahrenheit is considered dangerously hot
    100° F may be hazardous
    90° F is uncomfortably hot
    80-40 is considered a relatively comfortable range - the average surface temperature of the Earth is 59° F
    30° F is uncomfortably cold
    15° F is very cold (although for avid runners cold is below 10 F with winds over 15 mph)
    0° F is bitter cold with significant risk of frostbite

    But let's take a closer look at the world's climate, mostly defined by long-term (30 years) patterns in temperature and precipitation:


    Purple regions (A) in this map are hot and rainy year around. Orange areas (B) are dry with little rain and a large range of daily temperatures. Green areas are two-season climates with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Blue regions (C) have continental climates with distinct four seasons and moderate precipitation. E denote cold areas with permanent ice and tundra. Only about four out of twelve months temperature in these areas raises above freezing.

    3 most windy cities in US (seasonal wind averages are given in miles per hour):
    City                JAN    FEB    MAR    APR    MAY    JUN    JUL    AUG    SEP    OCT    NOV    DEC    ANN
    MT. WASHINGTON, NH  46.1   44.3   41.4   35.8   29.7   27.3   25.3   24.7   28.8   33.8   39.5   44.5   35.1
    ST. PAUL ISLAND, AK 19.9   20.0   18.8   17.4   14.9   13.6   12.1   13.7   15.4   17.4   20.0   20.1   16.9
    COLD BAY,AK         17.5   17.9   17.4   17.5   16.2   15.8   15.6   16.2   16.2   16.6   17.5   17.5   16.8

    10 most humid cities in US:
    No. 10: Olympia, WA
    Average relative humidity: 78%
    Average annual precipitation days: 163
    Highest precipitation month: November
    No. 9: Houston, TX
    Average relative humidity: 78%
    Average annual precipitation days: 105
    Highest precipitation month: June
    No. 8: Brownsville, TX
    Average relative humidity: 78%
    Average annual precipitation days: 73
    Highest precipitation month: September
    No. 7: Victoria, TX
    Average relative humidity: 78.5%
    Average annual precipitation days: 91
    Highest precipitation month: May

    Average relative humidity: 78.5%
    Average annual precipitation days: 77
    Highest precipitation month: September
    Average relative humidity: 79.5%
    Average annual precipitation days: 104
    Highest precipitation month: June
    Average relative humidity: 78.5%
    Average annual precipitation days: 77
    Highest precipitation month: September
    Average relative humidity: 81%
    Average annual precipitation days: 193
    Highest precipitation month: November
    Average relative humidity: 83%
    Average annual precipitation days: 209
    Highest precipitation month: November
    No. 1: Quillayute, WA
    Average relative humidity: 83.5%
    Average annual precipitation days: 209
    Highest precipitation month: November 

    Highest Average Annual Precipitation Extremes in the World

    Continent Highest
    Avg.
    (Inches)
    Place Elevation
    (Feet)
    Years
    of
    Record

    South America 523.6 * Lloro, Colombia 520 29

    Asia 467.4 * Mawsynram, India 4597 38

    Oceania 460.0 * Mt. Waialeale, Kauai, HI 5148 30

    Africa 405.0 Debundscha, Cameroon 30 32

    South America 354.0  Quibdo, Colombia 120 16

    Australia 340.0 Bellenden Ker, Queensland 5102 9

    North America 256.0 Henderson Lake, British Colombia 12 14

    Europe 183.0 Crkvica, Bosnia-Hercegovina 3337 22
    * The value given is continent's highest and possibly the world's depending on measurement practices, procedures and period of record variations.  

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Allergy Seasons in Alaska

    Internet  offers many allergy resources for US States. Examples are pollen.com providing allergy forecasts for US zip codes and American Academy of Allergy sources of allergy levels reported by certified counting stations. Weather.com features pollen maps too.  Neither of these sites, however, tells anything about Alaska and Hawaii.

    Actually Alaska's Aerobiology is similar to Northern Europe, with some tree patterns resembling northern states of US. Pollination of poplar  - food for honey bees - starts in April - as in Michigan. Birch is very high in May - as in Russia and Scandinavia. Grass is active in June and July. A core pollen season of prophylactic and clinical urgency in Fairbanks and Anchorage is defined from May 10 to June 5.

    You may want to visit Anchorage Daily news site  and Anchorage Pollen and Mold Reporting or Fairbanks area report to find today' allergy information for Alaska, or check Dr. Anderson's calendar below.  It is based on the observations made for six seasons: 1982-1987, from three sample locations in Fairbanks area, but represents a good prototype for other parts of Alaska.

     
    This pollen calendar shows the range of possible atmospheric pollen concentrations for late April through July, assuming the weather is relatively warm, dry, and breezy.
    pollen calendar
    Reference: James H. Anderson, MLIS, PhD, Institute of Arctic Biology and BioSciences Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks


    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Do you have a runny nose?

    Most likely this is not flu. Flu season is over in the Western Hemisphere and almost over on the East.
    Google trends (on the right) show low activity in line with actual epidemiological data. As of March 20 (end of week # 11, 2011), flu activity in Europe and Russia is decreasing, and the peak is over in 38 countries of the region. Flu levels remain moderate in Armenia, Georgia, Serbia, some areas of Russia, and Ukraine where the percentage testing positive for influenza is 58%. The UK analyzed most of the viruses screened and identified 3% viruses resistant to oseltamivir but still sensitive to zanamivir.
    Idaho was the last US state to get over flu in March, right after Nevada told it good bye.
    Flu is almost over, but  allergies are on the rise. High pollen levels, mostly from trees, are bad news for seasonal allergy sufferers.
    National Allergy Forecast Map
    Tree Pollen in US in March
    Knowing what is going on in your area, including flu and pollen levels, will help you to determine the reason for your scratchy throat or headaches. Additional clues include if you feel it in your nose (cold) or behind the nose (allergy), if you have itchiness (allergy) or fever (cold).

    Also, flu attacks you gradually while with allergies you get all the symptoms at once. 


    The EuroFlu bulletin describes and comments on influenza activity in the 53 countries in the WHO European Region. 










    A = Dominant virus A
    H1N1 = Dominant virus A(H1N1)
    H3N2 = Dominant virus A(H3N2)
    H1N2 = Dominant virus A(H1N2)
    B = Dominant virus B
    A & B = Dominant virus A & B

    = : stable clinical activity
    + : increasing clinical activity
    - : decreasing clinical activity

    Low = no influenza activity or influenza at baseline levels
    Medium = usual levels of influenza activity
    High = higher than usual levels of influenza activity
    Very high = particularly severe levels of influenza activity

    No activity = no evidence of influenza virus activity (clinical activity remains at baseline levels)
    Sporadic = isolated cases of laboratory confirmed influenza infection
    Local outbreak = increased influenza activity in local areas (e.g. a city) within a region,
    or outbreaks in two or more institutions (e.g. schools) within a region. Laboratory confirmed.
    Regional activity = influenza activity above baseline levels in one or more regions with
    a population comprising less than 50% of the country's total population. Laboratory confirmed.
    Widespread = influenza activity above baseline levels in one or more regions with a population
    comprising 50% or more of the country's population. Laboratory confirmed.










    Intensity Geographic
    Spread
    Impact Sentinel
    swabs
    Percentage
    positive
    Dominant
    type
    ILI per
    100,000
    ARI per
    100,000
    Sentinel
    SARI
    Virology graph
    and pie chart
    ArmeniaMediumLocalLow20%None0.0 (graphs)106.8 (graphs)






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    AustriaLowSporadicLow2751.9%Type A, Subtype pH1N117.9 (graphs)3.0 (graphs)
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    AzerbaijanLowSporadicLow190%Type A and B352.8 (graphs)


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    BelarusLowSporadicLow3915.4%Type A, Subtype pH1

    1211.0 (graphs)
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    BelgiumLowSporadic



    56.9 (graphs)1486.9 (graphs)
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    Bosnia and Herzegovina




    Type A, Subtype pH1
    (graphs)


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    BulgariaLowLocal
    20%None0.0 (graphs)886.1 (graphs)
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    CroatiaMediumWidespreadLow

    Type A, Subtype pH133.8 (graphs)


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    CyprusLowSporadicLow


    1.9 * (graphs)4.7 * (graphs)
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    Czech Republic


    2657.7%Type B

    (graphs)
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    DenmarkLowSporadic
    20%None66.8 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    EnglandLowSporadic
    2516.0%None7.4 (graphs)408.8 (graphs)
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    EstoniaMediumLocal
    2825.0%None12.5 (graphs)333.6 (graphs)
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    FranceLowSporadicLow250%None0.0 (graphs)1213.3 (graphs)
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    GeorgiaMediumWidespreadModerate3287.5%Type B and Type A, Subtype pH1428.1 (graphs)








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    GermanyLowRegional
    12258.2%Type B0.0 (graphs)1085.4 (graphs)
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    GreeceLowLocal
    1330.8%Type A, Subtype pH1N196.6 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    HungaryLowSporadicLow1926.3%Type B and Type A, Subtype pH1102.9 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    IcelandMediumRegionalModerate00%
    56.6 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    IrelandLowSporadicLow911.1%None5.9 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    IsraelLowSporadicLow2114.3%Type A and B8.8 (graphs)


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    ItalyLowRegionalLow1926.3%Type A197.9 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    KazakhstanMediumLocalLow5100.0%None1.4 (graphs)179.5 (graphs)






    sari
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    Kyrgyzstan


    70%None

    (graphs)






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    LatviaLowRegional
    00%Type B (graphs)


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    LithuaniaMediumWidespreadLow100%None75.5 (graphs)777.4 (graphs)
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    LuxembourgLowSporadic
    1421.4%Type B and Type A, Subtype pH11.0 * (graphs)20.8 * (graphs)
    Click here
    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia




    None
    (graphs)


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    MaltaMediumSporadicLow00%
    10.0 * (graphs)0 * (graphs)






    sari
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    Montenegro





    21.2 (graphs)


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    Netherlands


    1729.4%None (graphs)


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    Northern IrelandLowSporadic
    00%None14.4 (graphs)328.7 (graphs)
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    NorwayLowSporadic
    1100.0%Type B and Type A, Subtype pH1N151.1 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    PolandMediumRegional
    3627.8%Type B and Type A, Subtype pH199.7 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    PortugalLowNone
    40%None6.7 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    Republic of MoldovaMediumSporadicModerate2240.9%Type B and Type A, Subtype pH1N18.1 (graphs)229.3 (graphs)






    sari
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    RomaniaMediumLocalModerate2441.7%Type B22.8 (graphs)1078.2 (graphs)






    sari
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    Russian FederationMediumSporadicLow4531.1%Type A, Subtype pH15.5 (graphs)695.3 (graphs)






    sari
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    ScotlandLowSporadicLow2516.0%Type B2.3 (graphs)242.7 (graphs)
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    SerbiaMediumRegionalLow1100.0%None117.3 (graphs)








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    SlovakiaMediumSporadicLow540.0%Type A, Subtype pH1257.8 (graphs)1830.7 (graphs)
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    SloveniaMediumLocal
    850.0%Type B and Type A, Subtype pH18.5 (graphs)1008.7 (graphs)
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    SpainLowSporadic
    10816.7%Type B31.0 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    SwedenMediumWidespreadLow160%Type B5.7 (graphs)0.0 (graphs)
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    SwitzerlandLowLocal
    1163.6%Type B and Type A, Subtype pH1102.4 (graphs)


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    TurkeyLowSporadicLow11237.5%None6.0 (graphs)


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    UkraineMediumLocalLow110%Type A, Subtype pH15.2 * (graphs)624.6 (graphs)






    sari
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    UzbekistanLowSporadicLow

    None

    (graphs)
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    Europe


    91232.7%




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