UC Field Research Safety

Well, November is down to the bitter end. I participated in UC Davis Motorboat Operator Training Course (MOTC) at Bodega Marine Lab earlier this month to learn about our scientific boating programs (and useful knots). Starting January 1, 2018, California law will require boaters to carry the California Boater Card. MOTC training goes beyond recreational boating requirements; I was impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the instructors and had a lot of fun doing mock rescues and getting on the water with UC researchers and local fire fighters. Hands-on instruction included fire extinguishers, knots, trailers, radios, distress signals, PFDs, rescue, boat maintenance, and boat operation. Thank you James, Jason, David and Marti for providing such an excellent training program for our boaters! For more information, contact your UC Boating Safety Officers: James Fitzgerald (Davis), Eric Hessell (UCSB), Jim Hayward (UCB/Merced), Steve Clabuesch (UCSC), and Brett Pickering (UCSD/SIO).

Infectious Disease Updates

Valley Fever spike in California July-October: On Nov. 14, CDPH reported an increase in Valley Fever cases in California in 2017. Valley Fever is a year-round risk in California; rates are highest in the southern San Joaquin (Central) Valley and the Central Coast. People get infected by breathing in fungal spores present in dust. Outdoor workers or researchers should contact their EH&S department prior to using face masks for dust control for proper fit and training. Learn more here.  

A large Hepatitis A outbreak is ongoing in California. Hepatitis A virus is spread when virus is ingested by mouth from contact with hands, objects, food, or drinks that are contaminated by the feces of an infected person. San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles Counties have been most impacted; the majority of people infected in this outbreak are homeless and/or use illicit drugs. A vaccine has been available since 1996.  

Zika update: As of Nov. 3 there have been 608 travel-associated cases of Zika infection in California. A new collaborative study including researchers from UC San Diego School of Medicine has found that a medication used to prevent and treat malaria may also be effective for Zika virus: Chloroquine shows promise as Zika virus treatment

And, Flies Carry Even More Disease Than We Thought (Penn State/Scientific Reports). Lovely.

Drone Fire at a UC Field Station

On Oct. 28, a UAS racing competition was held at Richmond Field Station. Unfortunately, one of the drones malfunctioned and crashed into dry vegetation below, sparking a fast moving fire that burned nearly 4 acres. Campus Fire Marshals investigated the incident; additional controls, training, and No Go/No Fly criteria are being considered and will be distributed via Brandon Stark with UC UAS Safety, and on this listserv. Fire extinguishers were available on-site but were insufficient to contain the fire in windy conditions. Fortunately, Richmond Fire responded quickly and extinguished the fire.

Greater Good Science Center

I recently discovered this resource and in the spirit of Thanksgiving I'm passing it forward! In particular I've appreciated their studies on the value of nature in our lives, e.g. "The Benefits of Feeling Awe," about in-the-wild experiments such as how the experience of whitewater rafting can potentially alleviate symptoms of PTSD for military veterans. Photo credit: © A GoPro shot of Linda Saunders (right) and members of the Cal Vets Group. The trip was sponsored by the Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors program.

That's all for this month. As always, feel free to contact me at if you have any requests or suggestions regarding UC field safety support.

Best, Sara
Copyright © 2017 UC Field Research Safety, All rights reserved.

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