Delaware County Council and the county Department of Intercommunity Health are alerting residents that the first human cases of West Nile Virus of 2012 have been confirmed in Delaware County.
Delaware County Senior Medical Advisor Dr. George Avetian said the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) confirmed two human cases in Delaware County, both males, as of Tuesday. The cases are now posted as part of the data that is continually updated on the DEP website at www.westnile.state.pa.us.
The two Delaware County cases come just five days after the Department of Health (DoH) reported the first two human WNV cases statewide, in Lancaster and Franklin counties.
Avetian said the human cases are not unexpected considering that the DEP surveillance program is reporting an unprecedented level of mosquitos carrying the West Nile Virus (WNV) this year.
He said the report of human cases in Delaware County serves as a cautionary reminder to all residents to protect themselves from exposure to mosquitos, which spread West Nile virus.
“The surveillance program in Pennsylvania is showing higher numbers of WNV-infected mosquitos than any other summer since monitoring began 10 years ago. We don’t want to alarm people, but it’s important to take precautions. Prevention is the best treatment. The risk for WNV infection is highest during August and September, so we are in prime season, and the risk doesn’t end until the first hard frost,” Avetian said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported the earliest detection of West Nile virus carrying mosquitos in the state since testing began in 2000, likely due to the unseasonably warm temperatures in March which caused the virus cycle to begin earlier this year.
There were no human cases of West Nile virus in Delaware County in 2011. There were six human cases statewide in 2011.
While most infected people do not get sick, a small percentage of those infected will experience a fever, rash, headache, meningitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Anyone is at risk, but older adults and people with compromised immune systems have the highest risk of developing severe illness because their bodies have a harder time fighting off disease.
Intercommunity Health is coordinating the mosquito surveillance and control portion of the multi-agency effort in conjunction with DEP and the Delaware County Penn State Cooperative Extension.
Avetian emphasizes the best course of action is prevention and education.
West Nile virus information is available on the county website at www.co.delaware.pa.us and at the state’s site at www.westnile.state.pa.us, which posts the latest statistics and cases. Residents can sign up to receive email information regarding West Nile viral activity and spraying at the state site.
Avetian said there is no specific treatment for WNV. In cases with mild symptoms, people can experience fever and aches that pass on their own, although the illness may last weeks to months even in healthy persons. In more severe cases, people need to go to the hospital where they get supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and attention to any complications.
Avetian said residents can take a few simple steps in their own back yards to reduce their risk of contracting the West Nile virus. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts for more than four days.
Because dead birds can be an indicator of increased risk for West Nile virus infections, people are asked to report dead birds by going to the Pennsylvania West Nile website at www.westnile.state.pa.us, or by calling Intercommunity Health Coordination at (610) 891-5311.
For information about West Nile virus, contact the Department of Health at 1 (877) PA-HEALTH, or visit the West Nile website at www.westnile.state.pa.us.
For the third consecutive year, The Chronicle of Higher Education has named Delaware County Community College a “Great College to Work For.”
The results were released as part of The Chronicle’s fifth annual report on the academic workplace in which more than 47,000 employees from 294 institutions around the country were surveyed.
Out of the 103 colleges recognized overall, the College is one of only two, 2-year colleges in Pennsylvania to earn this distinction in 2012.
“The 2012 Great Colleges to Work For distinction continues to be an excellent benchmark that shows we are part of a community that values the needs and contributions of every individual, works well together toward student success, and helps to make Delaware County Community College a great place to work,” said College President Jerry Parker.
Great College to Work For is one of the largest and most-respected higher education workplace recognition programs in the country.
This year’s assessment was administered by ModernThink LLC and consisted of two-parts: a questionnaire about institutional characteristics and a survey of faculty and staff members’ evaluations of their institution. The assessment also included an analysis of demographic data and workplace policies, including benefits, at each participating college.
Founded in 1967, Delaware County Community College is the center of educational opportunity in Delaware and Chester counties, serving more than 28,000 credit and non-credit students each year.
The College welcomes and serves anyone seeking academic achievement, career advancement, or personal fulfillment. The quality, range and accessibility of the College’s programs and services reflect and respond to the goals of today’s students, the demands of a changing workforce and the needs of a dynamic community.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has announced the arrest of a group of individuals for running a corrupt organization, theft by unlawful taking, computer trespass and other related charges.
As top level members of an elaborate criminal organization, these six individuals developed and implemented a sophisticated scheme that provided unauthorized, discounted Comcast cable services to thousands of Comcast customers in exchange for a one-time payment to them and/or their agents.
Arrested were Alston Buchanan, Richard Justin Spraggins, Nicholas Caputo, Leighton Harrell, Brandon Irving and Kendall Singleton.
This corrupt organization was headed by Alston Buchanan of Philadelphia. Buchanan designed, implemented and controlled the organization that utilized compromised Comcast technician identifications (IDs) to apply promotional discounts onto Comcast customer accounts.
When used legitimately, the IDs allow Comcast personnel to authorize services, such as premium cable channels or other promotions, to new or existing customers. Buchanan obtained these unique IDs from a number of sources, including from a terminated employee and an employee on disability.
In one instance, Buchanan paid a Comcast subcontractor $5,000 in exchange for her user ID. This arrangement was brokered by Leighton Harrell of Philadelphia.
Once Buchanan had the IDs, he could access the billing accounts for Comcast customers and lower their payments and/or provide them with additional services without Comcast’s knowledge.
Those involved in the scheme paid various amounts to Buchanan and his agents ranging from $100 to $200 to manipulate the billing and services of their Comcast accounts.
The investigation determined there were 5,795 accounts affected over the course of a year from April 2011 to April 2012, with a revenue loss to Comcast Cable of $2,401,673. The affected Comcast accounts were located throughout the Delaware Valley with the majority in Montgomery, Philadelphia, Delaware and Bucks counties.
Buchanan was familiar with Comcast’s billing system, because he was employed by Comcast as a dispatcher from May 2007 through March 2008 and as a dispatcher for Advanced Communications, Incorporated (ACI), a Comcast subcontractor, from October 2009 to July 2010.
In 2010, Comcast began investigating an identical scheme of billing manipulation through unauthorized promotions and believed that Buchanan was responsible.
Earlier this year, Comcast learned this same scheme was being perpetrated when a Comcast employee reported the fraudulent use of IDs to obtain services.
An internal investigation by Comcast revealed that Nicholas Caputo of Virginia Beach, Va., was soliciting customers to provide one-time payments in exchange for a reduction of their Comcast bills.
Comcast Security, working with ACI, determined that the account manipulations were originating from the ACI Business Services Router located in the local office for ACI in Hatboro, Upper Moreland Township.
On April 9, ACI searched the data closet where the Business Services Router was stored. Upon checking the closet, an unauthorized computer tower was discovered secreted in the corner.
This unauthorized computer tower was hardwired to the modem in the data closet which, in turn, was connected to the Business Services Router in the closet. Accordingly, the hidden computer tower provided unauthorized access into the Comcast billing accounts.
The investigation revealed that the website “LogMeIn” was used to gain remote access to the unauthorized computer tower. Ultimately, the computers located in Buchanan’s apartment were found to have accessed the “LogMeIn” accounts associated with the hidden computer tower.
Comcast’s investigation revealed that Buchanan had an inside connection to ACI through Kendall Singleton of Philadelphia, an ACI employee.
On April 9, an unrelated power outage occurred at the ACI office, which caused the shutdown of the unauthorized tower.
Knowing that the unauthorized tower would have to be turned-on, Comcast Security installed a hidden camera to monitor the closet.
The next day, Singleton was seen on the camera entering the area of the closet and stooping down in the area of the unauthorized computer tower. After the computer was re-booted, 96 customer-billing accounts were accessed and manipulated within the following hour.
During the course of the investigation, Montgomery County detectives served search warrants in several locations including the Philadelphia home of Buchanan and Richard Justin Spraggins, resulting in the recovery of $103,000 cash in an attaché case, computers, cell phones and handwritten ledgers that contained records of the theft scheme, including the agents working for them.
Both Buchanan and Spraggins were in possession of these ledgers. Analyses of the phones, computers and ledgers revealed the depth and scope of this corrupt organization, and extensive internal communications within the organization pertaining to the illegal scheme.
An investigation into the bank accounts of Buchanan and Spraggins revealed additional evidence of the profitability of the organization’s illegal scheme.
For example, a review of Buchanan’s checking account from December 2010 through April 2012 revealed 748 deposits totaling $221,133.29. Of these 748 deposits, only 175 were not deposits of $150 or increments thereof. Notably, $150 was the usual fee charged for the illegal billing manipulation.
Interviews with Comcast customers whose bills were manipulated, as well as records contained in the ledgers, cell phones and computers, revealed that these agents profited through the solicitation of customers for this illegal scheme.
Preliminary hearings are scheduled for September 14, at 9:30 a.m. before Magisterial District Judge Jay S. Friedenberg in Willow Grove, Upper Moreland Township.
These cases will be prosecuted by the captain of the Economic Crimes Team, Assistant District Attorney John F. Walko.
Roland T. Albert passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in Wynnewood, Pa.
He was born on Oct. 19, 1925, in New Orleans, La.
He was the son of Thomas Albert and Louise Robinson, also of New Orleans, La. He attended McDonogh 35 College Preparatory High School. Roland was enlisted in the United States Army where he served as a typist. He was stationed at Saipan and the Eniwetok Islands. He was discharged from the Army, having attained the rank of Corporal in January 1946 and later enrolled in Xavier University in New Orleans.
Roland married his high-school sweetheart, Ruby T. Cheval, and moved to Philadelphia in 1954. This union produced seven children.
After arriving in Philadelphia, Roland held several positions as a laborer. Most notably, he was employed as a stationary engineer for Alan Wood Steel and Bethlehem Steel. Further employment also included twenty years with the Philadelphia Parking Authority, until his retirement at age 82.
Roland enjoyed and believed in God, his family and working to provide for them. Roland had several interests. He enjoyed keeping up with the latest medical advances for human health. He also found pleasure in watching documentaries and dramas about war history and nature and science programs. He was also an avid music listener. At 86 years of age, Roland had maintained his mental abilities. He could discuss in detail news and happenings in the country and around the world. Roland was a recent resident of a local nursing home and was personable to all. He liked to engage in light banter with the staff and other residents.
Roland was a gracious and dignified man who was the light of his children’s eyes.
Roland is survived by his sister, Louise Perry; daughters Roslyn (Seth) and Lois (Lorine); and sons, Raymond (Theresa), Donald Sr. (Terri) and Scot (Vicki). Roland was preceded in death by Ruby, his wife of 65 years, daughter, Sheila (Bruce) and first-born son, Roland Jr. (Felicidad). He also leaves to mourn several nephews and a niece, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Roland’s interest in the advancement of medicine led to his request that his body be donated to science. In lieu of flowers, all tokens of sympathy may be sent to the Jefferson Foundation, 925 Chestnut Street, Suite 110 Philadelphia, Pa. 19107.
A graveside memorial service has been planned for 12 p.m. at Fernwood Cemetery, Fernwood Pa., on Saturday October 20, 2012.
A redesigned License & Inspections website will give Philadelphians access to more information, in a move officials said would improve service and bolster transparency.
“We are excited to provide this tremendous resource, since it will further inform community members about our work in their neighborhoods, which in turn will help us do a better job,” said L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams.
Department officials announced the redesign Monday at a press conference.
Chief among the new features are tools that allow users to map L&I activity, and to search by address for construction and demolition permits, zoning and use permits, variances, and business and rental licenses. It will also list vacant properties, and list those that are for sale by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. It also breaks properties into to two categories — public and private. The new site will also list a complete history of L&I activity associated with an address, including violations and appeals made within the last year.
It does not show who owns specific properties, but officials said that they expected that feature in the future.
“We’re looking at providing layers of public information,” said Maura Kennedy, a department spokesperson.
In addition, the site will include a list of all licensed contractors in the city and include a full calendar for the zoning board of adjustment, the L&I review board and the board of building standards along with decisions by each of those boards.
Though the site will be mostly devoted to zoning and building issues, it will also include a feature that allows people to view appeals by city residents who have appealed to have their gun licenses restored within the last 730 days.
The redesign is part of a larger overhaul of the city’s website.
“The … new L&I website is part of the [city’s] ongoing initiative to revamp phila.gov,” said Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid.
L&I is the first of the city’s departments to put online its extensive collection of data in a way that can be easily searched, mapped and analyzed by any user with Internet access.
To view the site, go to: www.phila.gov/li.