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Swapping chicken pox-infected lollipops illegal

http://news.yahoo.com/swapping-chicken-pox-infected-lollipops-illegal-200633795.html

NASHVILLE (Reuters) – A federal prosecutor is warning parents against trading chicken pox-laced lollipops by mail in what authorities describe as misguided attempts to expose their children to the virus to build immunity later in life.

The warning came after media reports surfaced about a multi-state ring of parents, wary of vaccinations that prevent the disease, who were swapping lollipops licked by a sick child in a modern day incarnation of a chicken pox party.

In those so-called parties, parents purposely put sick children together with healthy children in order to spread the ailment and build immunity without having the children vaccinated. This new form of party shares the disease anonymously and long-distance.

“Sending a virus or disease through the U.S. mail (and private carriers) is illegal. It doesn’t matter if it crosses state lines,” said David Boling, public information officer for the Attorney in Nashville.

“Also, it is against federal law to adulterate or tamper with consumer products, such as candy.”

Boling said the issue came to light after a television “news report out of Phoenix that involved a Nashville woman that was shipping and receiving adulterated products.”

Sending chicken pox-infected lollipops, swabs or vials of saliva to parents who want to infect their children and avoid vaccinations is not only illegal, it can be lethal, said Dr. Tim Jones, Tennessee’s state epidemiologist.

“They are putting at risk the people around them,” said Jones, commenting on a controversy that has sparked anger in both the medical and legal communities.

An epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta agrees. “It’s an incredibly bad idea for a variety of reasons,” said Dr. Rafael Harpaz, of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases.

The transport and sale of contaminated items has been linked to a Facebook group called “Find a Pox Party in Your Area,” which helps people anonymously arrange for the swapping and sale of contaminated items.

“There are a substantial number of people involved in it,” Boling said, referring to the ring.

Nashville-based U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin has been outspoken on the matter because he wants to warn “folks that want to continue to engage in this kind of activity that they are certainly exposing themselves to criminal prosecution,” said Boling, who would “neither confirm (nor) deny existence of an investigation.”

POX PARTIES

Jones said old-fashioned “pox parties” were bad enough, but shipping items to infect children “is utterly inexcusable. In this case, these are people who are buying and selling infected or contaminated body fluids from complete strangers.”

“There are a bunch of things wrong with this,” he said, adding that parents could also be inadvertently giving their children items contaminated with influenza or hepatitis, in addition to chicken pox.

CDC’s Harpaz said one major issue is that giving children the chicken pox instead of a vaccine could be a fatal mistake.

“Before the vaccine was licensed, there were in the order of 100 kids (in the U.S.) who died of chicken pox per year. Now there are very few among vaccinated children… It’s kind of like playing Russian roulette with your child.”

In addition to exposing children to chicken pox, those who have it are more susceptible to getting shingles later in life than are vaccinated children, Harpaz said.

“The idea that it’s safer to give your kid the infection than it is to immunize them is just wrong, completely misguided and puts your child at unnecessary risk,” said Tennessee epidemiologist Jones.

First of all, he said, the vaccine is safe, while those who give the children the disease “are putting at risk people around them. There may be people they could infect that don’t have a choice, who can’t take the vaccine.”

The CDC’s Harpaz said symptoms of chicken pox aren’t noticeable for “10 days to 21 days when you are exposed.” But that doesn’t mean children aren’t contagious.

Children taking chemotherapy or other medications that affect the immune system are among those who can’t take the vaccine and would be at risk if exposed to infected children.

“You could infect them and kill them,” said Jones. “That’s murder.”

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jerry Norton)

 

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Party+crasher+Michaele+Salahi+kidnapped+runs+with+Journey+guitarist/5408409/story.html

LOS ANGELES – Few people roll like Michaele Salahi and her husband, Tareq,  late of “The Real Housewives of D.C.” and originally infamous for allegedly  crashing a state dinner at the White House.

 

Depending on when a person checked in on the Salahi drama Wednesday, Michaele  was either kidnapped, according to Tareq, or just fine, according to police.  Then there was the part about Michaele running off with a guy from a rock  band.

 

But more about Journey guitarist Neal Schon later. Seriously. After the  police stuff, and before the Montel Williams stuff.

 

Tareq reported Michaele missing very late Tuesday night, telling law  enforcement that his wife had been gone for six hours, the North Virginia Daily  reported. She’d called him from a cellphone with an Oregon number, he said, to  tell him she was fine and on her way to her mom’s house.

 

He said that after talking to his mother-in-law, who according to TMZ told  Tareq she didn’t know what was up with Michaele, he feared a kidnapping. The  former house-husband of D.C. told NBC that his wife’s “cryptic” behavior during  the call made him think she was trying to convey a message to him in code, the  way they’d play-acted in the past in case either one were, you know,  kidnapped.

 

“I swear to God,” Tareq told NBC, denying that the kidnap report was a  publicity stunt. “I’m missing my wife,” he sobbed, breaking down in tears.

 

The Sheriff’s Department in Virginia’s Warren County then issued a statement  Wednesday afternoon saying essentially not to worry – officials had been in  touch with Michaele and were confident nobody had been kidnapped.

 

“She seemed calm, was engaged in conversation, and assured the deputy that  she had left the residence with a good friend and was where she wanted to be,”  authorities said. She allegedly didn’t want her husband knowing where she  was.

 

Tareq Salahi told NBC a different story. “I think she’s being forced by,  whatever this Oregon phone number is, she’s being forced to say she’s OK,” he  said. “She’s being forced to to say this to the local authorities.” The couple  had frequently dealt with stalkers and death threats, according to Tareq.

 

But the best was yet to come.

 

It seems Michaele had actually run off with Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon  in Tennessee on Wednesday, according to TMZ, which got confirmation from the  band’s rep that “nobody kidnapped her and they are in Memphis together.” Mrs.  Salahi and Schon had even hung out together in the past, including with Mr.  Salahi at a party at the Salahi family’s winery. It was what the missus called  an “intimate and passionate relationship,” the celeb website said.

 

Of possible interest to those who graduated high school in the early 1980s:  Foreigner and Night Ranger were opening for Journey on Wednesday night in  Memphis.

 

The drama around the non-kidnapping came just ahead of Sunday’s scheduled  auction of Oasis Vineyards assets _ an auction related the winery’s 2008  bankruptcy filing. Though the Hume, Va., winery is not on the block, bids can be  placed Sunday in person or online on items including winemaking supplies,  kitchen and catering equipment, trucks and tractors, more than 200 cases of  various wines, and about 5,000 bottles of unfinished sparkling wine currently en  tirage. Oasis was founded in 1977 by Tareq’s parents.

 

Also on the Salahis’ dance card: A Sept. 24 event at the Oasis that’s being  billed as a charity fundraiser, with “a portion of proceeds going to benefit the  National Multiple Sclerosis Society.”

 

At least that’s how it’s now being billed, after Montel Williams’ legal team  sent a cease-and-desist letter Aug. 25 demanding that the TV personality’s name  and the name of his foundation be removed from any materials associated with the  $150-a-ticket event.

 

“I have never met, never spoken with, never been involved with anything to do  with these people,” Williams told the Los Angeles Times shortly after learning  someone had been marketing “A Hollywood Oasis – When Hollywood Glamour Meets the  Capital Region” with an assertion that he would be attending, and that a portion  of proceeds would go to the Montel Williams MS Foundation.

 

“It appears that the Salahis, whose bizarre behavior has been widely  reported, are attempting to piggyback off of Montel’s record of advocacy on  behalf of MS sufferers worldwide to advance the apparent re-opening of their  failed winery,” rep Jonathan Franks said in an Aug. 26 statement on Montel’s  behalf, adding that Team Montel had that day been contacted by multiple  governmental agencies investigating the group responsible for the event.  Williams’ people intended to co-operate with authorities, Franks said.

 

The Salahis protested via TMZ that they were not responsible for the actions  of those who held events at their winery, placing blame instead on D.C.’s Most  Fabulous Magazine, which was affiliated with the event and had posted the  invites online. The mag is run by one Howard N. Cromwell, who has previously  represented the Salahis, serving as the PR contact when Michaele released her  dance track, “Bump It.” In May, she was down to serve as head judge for a  Memorial Day bikini contest publicized by Cromwell.

 

Though Cromwell’s DRAWOH LLEWMORC Omnimedia Inc. (DLO) had written to  Williams’ foundation Aug. 10 stating that the foundation would be the  unsolicited beneficiary of the magazine’s third-anniversary celebration, the  former talk show host did not reply or accept an invitation for any  representative of the foundation to attend.

 

“The use of Mr. Williams’ name without his permission is unacceptable, and  Mr. Williams’ attorneys intend to pursue all available legal remedies in this  matter,” Franks said.

 

In a letter to Williams’ attorney dated Aug. 26, Cromwell’s attorney said  Williams’ team was mistaken, and no materials had represented Montel as  confirmed to attend. “The charity event is . . . not a Salahi or Oasis Winery  event,” the letter stated. “Any misunderstanding or miscommunication is  therefore DLO’s responsibility, and not that of Mr. and Mrs. Salai or Oasis  Winery.” The letter also said Williams’ name had been removed from any DLO  websites.

 

Williams’ legal team had sent its cease-and-desist letter to the Salahis on  Aug. 25. On Aug. 30, Cromwell posted a link on his Facebook page to materials  again stating Montel was expected at the event. That offer of an “international  marketing & branding opportunity” had also been revised to reinforce  Michaele’s status as a person “who has MS.”

 

Michaele Salahi revealed her alleged MS diagnosis on “Fox & Friends” in  September, saying she’d left the White House state dinner not due to her and  Tareq’s lack of a seating assignment, but rather because she was suffering  MS-related fatigue. The two were spotted, however, hanging out at a hotel bar  nearby for hours after leaving the state dinner, ultimately allegedly skipping  out on the tab. Michaele has not publicly discussed any treatment she might be  undergoing for MS, which she said she’d been dealing with for 17 years.

 

Williams called it “egregiously offensive” that his name might have been used  to mislead people into buying tickets to an event he was not affiliated with.  “They might not have crossed the line enough” in this case, he said, but  “they’ve figured out how to skirt the law. I hope the next time they get  caught.”

 

Williams said he suspected his name came up as a result of success he’d had  recently on the D.C.-area charity circuit raising money for veterans causes.  Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, the veteran of both the  Navy and the Marines also has worked on behalf of MS research.

 

Various state regulatory and law enforcement agencies in Virginia have been  looking into the Salahis’ activities, a source familiar with the inquiries told  the Los Angeels Times.

 

Incidentally, flattering quotes on Michaele Salahi’s website attributed to  the Times were in fact taken from an article written by Jocelyn Noveck of the  Associated Press.

 

Said Williams: “These people need to go away.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Party+crasher+Michaele+Salahi+kidnapped+runs+with+Journey+guitarist/5408409/story.html#ixzz1Y3Hy43kO

 

 

Coast Guard closes stretch of Mississippi

An electronic bill board warns drivers the reason Mississippi Highway 465 is closed to Eagle Lake is because of flood waters from the Yazoo River, neahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110506/ap_on_bi_ge/us_severe_weather_flooding

By ADRIAN SAINZ and CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Adrian Sainz And Cain Burdeau, Associated Press 1 hr 7 mins ago

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Coast Guard closed a stretch of the swollen Mississippi to barge traffic Friday in a move that could cause a backup along the mighty river, while police farther south in Memphis went door to door, warning thousands of people to leave before they get swamped.

Emergency workers in Memphis handed out bright yellow fliers in English and Spanish that read, “Evacuate!!! Your property is in danger right now.”

All the way south into the Mississippi Delta, people faced the question of whether to stay or go as high water rolled down the Big Muddy and backed up along its tributaries, breaking flood records that have stood since the Depression.

Because of levees and other flood defenses built over the years, engineers said it is unlikely any major metropolitan areas will be inundated as the water pushes downstream over the next week or two, but farms, small towns and even some urban areas could see extensive flooding.

“It’s going to be nasty,” said Bob Bea, a civil engineer at the University of California-Berkeley who investigated levee failures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. How bad it gets depends on how well the flood protection systems have been built and maintained, he said.

The Coast Guard closed a five-mile stretch of the Mississippi to protect Caruthersville, Mo., and said barges could be banned for up to eight days. The fear was that the wake from big boats would push water over a floodwall and into the town of 6,700.

Barges regularly move coal, grain, ore, gravel, auto parts and other vital products down the Mississippi. A single barge can carry as much material as 70 tractor-trailers, and some towboats can move 45 barges at once.

Lynn Muench, a vice president of the American Waterways Operators, an industry group, said the eight-day shutdown would have a multimillion-dollar effect on the barge industry and slow the movement of many products.

“It’s just like if you took out every bridge going over the Mississippi what that would mean to railroad and vehicle traffic,” Muench said. “You’re shutting down a major thoroughfare.” She added: “The last thing we want is a levee to go, but we also want to keep moving.”

In Tennessee, local authorities were uncertain whether they had legal authority to order evacuations, and hoped the fliers would persuade people to leave. Bob Nations, director of emergency management for Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said there was still time to get out. The river is not expected to crest until Wednesday.

“This does not mean that water is at your doorstep,” Nations said of the door-to-door effort. “This means you are in a high-impact area.”

About 950 households in Memphis and about 135 other homes in Shelby County were getting the notices, Shelby County Division Fire Chief Joseph Rike said. Shelters were opened, and the fliers include a phone number to arrange transportation for people who need it.

Jeanette Twilley of south Memphis came home to find one of the yellow notices on her door. Her house is roughly 75 yards from Nonconnah Creek, which has overflowed its banks and flooded three houses on her street.

“Amazed. Amazed. I just can’t believe this,” said Twilley, who is retired and rents her home. She planned to leave in the afternoon and stay with friends or relatives. “There’s not going to be anybody here,” she said of the neighborhood, a working-class area in one of the poorer sections of Memphis.

In a section of south Memphis outside the evacuation zone, Billy Burke stood in his backyard, where water from a creek has been rising for days. About 20 feet away, a fish jumped out of a pool of standing brown water.

“I’m going to stay as long as I can,” Burke said. “But if the water goes up another 10 feet, I’m out of here.”

Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home and one of the city’s best-known landmarks, is about a 20-minute drive from the river and in no danger of flooding, spokesman Kevin Kern said. “We’re on a hill, high and dry and open for business, and will stay open,” Kern said.

Water pooled at the lowest end of Beale Street, the thoroughfare synonymous with Mississippi blues, but it was about a half-mile from the street’s world-famous nightspots.

The main Memphis airport was not threatened, nor was FedEx, which has a sorting hub at the airport that handles up to 2 million packages per day.

In Missouri, dozens of National Guardsmen and Highway Patrol members who had been rescuing people from floodwaters had to be rescued themselves after six boats got stuck in low water. Half were rescued before dark, and the others spent the night on a levee, relying on provisions dropped to them by the Guard.

Farther south, parts of the Mississippi Delta began to flood, sending white-tail deer and wild pigs swimming to dry land, submerging yacht clubs and closing floating casinos.

“We’re getting our momma and daddy out,” said Ken Gelston, who helped pack furniture, photos and other belongings into pickup trucks in Greenville, Miss. “We could have five feet of water in there,” Gelston said, nodding at the house. “That’s what they’re telling us.”

Bea, the civil engineer, said he is concerned because some levees across the U.S. have been built with inferior dirt, or even sand, and have been poorly designed.

“The standards we use to build these things are on the horribly low side if you judge them by world criteria and conditions,” he said. “The breaches, as we learned in New Orleans, are the killers.”

How long the high water lingers, and how much damage it does to the earthen walls of the levees as it goes down, are crucial factors.

“The whole summer will have to be watched,” said J. David Rogers, a civil engineer at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Since the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, a disaster that killed hundreds, Congress has made protecting the cities on the lower Mississippi a priority. The Army Corps of Engineers has spent $13 billion to fortify cities with floodwalls and carve out overflow basins and ponds — a departure from the “levees-only” strategy that led to the 1927 calamity.

The Corps also straightened out sections of the river that used to meander and pool perilously. As a result, the Mississippi flows into the Gulf of Mexico faster, and water presses against the levees for shorter periods.

___

Burdeau reported from Greenville, Miss. Jim Salter in St. Louis and Travis Loller in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

Water covers the west-bound lane of Interstate 40 on the approach to the White River Bridge near Hazen, Ark., Thursday, May 5, 2011. Eastbound lanes ohttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110505/ap_on_re_us/us_severe_weather_flooding

By DYLAN LOVAN and ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press Dylan Lovan And Adrian Sainz, Associated Press 2 hrs 35 mins ago

HICKMAN, Ky. – Jail inmates filled sandbag after sandbag to protect one of the many Southern river cities threatened by the swelling Mississippi as it broke more 1930s flood records and crept higher Thursday.

A flooding tributary threatened to cut off Interstate 40, a major east-west route through Arkansas, and the Army Corps of Engineers planned to blast a new breach in a Missouri levee in hopes of controlling the slow-motion disaster flowing downriver.

Thousands of people from Illinois to Louisiana have already been forced from their homes, and anxiety is rising along with the river, though it could be a week or two before some of the most severe flooding hits.

In Hickman, a town of about 2,500, Morrison Williamson was confident a towering floodwall would save his hardware store, despite small leaks that let some flood waters spray through.

Williamson was in a nearly deserted downtown, keeping his store open for customers who needed flood-fighting supplies. He said the decision to break open the Missouri levee upstream has kept the river from topping the floodwall, saving many communities to the south.

“They say blowing up the levee saved Cairo (Ill.) Well, it did. But if this breaks, you’re talking Dyersburg, Ridgely, Tiptonville, water all the way to Memphis,” Williamson said about places in neighboring Tennessee.

About 120 Fulton County jail inmate volunteers dressed in orange or white prisoner uniforms furiously filled sandbags for Hickman. They have made 120,000 since April 26.

“We’re just going to keep going until they say stop,” jail Sgt. James Buckingham said.

Up and down the Big Muddy, farmers braced for a repeat of the desperate strategy employed earlier this week in southeast Missouri, where Army engineers blew up the levee and sacrificed vast stretches of farmland to protect populated areas upstream.

The corps planned to blast a third and final breach in the Birds Point levee around 1 p.m. Thursday to allow water to flow back out of the flood plain into the river.

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” said 78-year-old Joe Harrison, who has lived in the same house in Hickman since he was 11 months old. Floodwaters turned his house into an island — dry but surrounded by water. He has been using a boat to get to his car, parked on dry ground along a highway that runs by his house.

Tom Salem, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis, said flooding is extreme this year in part because of drenching rain over the past two weeks. In some areas, Wednesday was the first day without rain since April 25.

“It’s been a massive amount of rain for a long period of time. And we’re still getting snowmelt from Montana,” Salem said.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky disasters, making the states eligible for federal help with relief efforts.

Forecasters and emergency officials said some of the high-water records set during the great floods of 1927 and 1937 could fall.

But because of the system of levees and locks built since those disasters more than 70 years ago, flooding this time is unlikely to be anywhere near as devastating.

“We have a high confidence in our levees, but in the sense of transparency, we have to say that the levees have not been tested,” Shelby County Emergency Management Director Bob Nations said in Memphis, Tenn.

The great flood of the lower Mississippi River Valley in 1927 was one of the biggest natural disasters in U.S. history. More than 23,000 square miles were inundated, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and hundreds died.

The flood found its place in folklore, literature and films, and popular songs including “When the Levee Breaks.”

More devastation came in 1937 when 31,000 square miles were submerged from West Virginia to Louisiana.

Lifelong Hickman resident H.L. Williamson, 77, was a boy when he and his family fled to the highest point in town. He recalled little except that his brother wouldn’t eat black-eyed peas or grapefruit for years because that was all they had during the flood.

This time, Williamson packed up and left his home, which was still dry thanks to a hill just inches higher than the floodwaters. He took only a few belongings, including the Navy uniform he hopes to be buried in.

The relief from blowing up the levee is probably only temporary downstream in Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana because the water will eventually find its way back into the Mississippi River.

In Arkansas, a stretch of westbound Interstate 40 was closed where it crosses the White River, adding a 120-mile detour to the main route to Little Rock from Memphis. The state highway department said eastbound lanes remained open Thursday but flooding appeared imminent and they too could be shut.

Arkansas recorded its eighth death since the rains started April 25 when authorities found the body of a man in the floodwaters in eastern Arkansas’ Prairie County.

In Kentucky, about 3,800 residents have left their homes.

Memphis, where the Mississippi was at 43.8 feet Tuesday, could see a crest of 48 feet on May 11, just inches below the record of 48.7 feet set in 1937. Water from the Wolf and Loosahatchie rivers already has seeped into the suburbs, and some mobile home parks were swamped.

Emergency management officials said more than 1,100 houses and apartments could be hit with flooding. Several hundred people have already left, and thousands more are expected to follow them.

In Louisiana, shippers, ports and the chemical industry hoped the government could dredge fast enough to keep a major channel into the Gulf of Mexico unclogged. The Mississippi sends huge amounts of sediment downriver during high-water times.

Because the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is particularly flood-prone, the state planned to evacuate the most medically vulnerable inmates by Monday, then others later.

Mississippi officials told about 1,000 people packed into a National Guard armory Wednesday that they are confident the main levees along the Mississippi River will withstand high water in the coming weeks, but they warned that some backwater levees could be overtopped by as much as a foot.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour warned people to expect monumental flooding and said he was moving his furniture from his family’s lakeside home to prepare for flooding from the Yazoo River.

With the recent deadly outbreak of tornadoes and, now, the threat of flooding, “we’re making a lot of unfortunate history here in Mississippi in April and May,” said Jeff Rent, a Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman.

___

Sainz reported from Memphis. Associated Press writers Jim Suhr in Metropolis, Ill., and Holbrook Mohr in Rolling Fork, Miss., contributed to this report.

Largest earthquake in 35 years hits Arkansas

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110301/ap_on_re_us/us_arkansas_earthquakes

By SARAH EDDINGTON, Associated Press Sarah Eddington, Associated Press Tue Mar 1, 12:07 am ET

GREENBRIER, Ark. – The central Arkansas town of Greenbrier has been plagued for months by hundreds of small earthquakes, and after being woken up by the largest quake to hit the state in 35 years, residents said Monday they’re unsettled by the increasing severity and lack of warning.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the quake at 11 p.m. Sunday, centered just northeast of Greenbrier, about 40 miles north of Little Rock. It was the largest of more than 800 quakes to strike the area since September in what is now being called the Guy-Greenbrier earthquake swarm.

The activity has garnered national attention and researchers are studying whether there’s a possible connection to the region’s natural gas drilling industry. The earthquake activity varies each week, though as many as nearly two dozen small quakes have occurred in a day.

“You don’t know what to expect. It’s unnerving,” said Corinne Tarkington, an employee at a local flower and gift shop. “I woke up last night to the sound of my house shaking.”

What woke Tarkington was a magnitude 4.7 earthquake that was also felt in Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi. No injuries or major damage have been reported, but the escalation in the severity of quakes in and around the small north-central Arkansas town has many residents on edge. Some said they’re seeing gradual damage to their homes, such as cracks in walls and driveways.

“We probably had 40 to 50 calls last night,” Greenbrier police Sgt. Rick Woody said, noting that the tone of the calls had changed. After pervious quakes, most callers simply wanted to find out if a loud noise they’d heard was an earthquake, he said.

“The fear had calmed down until last night,” Woody said Monday. “People’s biggest concerns (now) are whether or not these earthquakes are going to get any bigger.”

Scott Ausbrooks, seismologist for the Arkansas Geological Survey, said Sunday’s record quake was at the “max end” of what scientists expect to happen, basing that judgment on this swarm and others in the past. It’s possible that a quake ranging from magnitude 5.0 to 5.5 could occur, but anything greater than that is highly unlikely, he said.

Ausbrooks said he plans to hold a town hall meeting in Greenbrier next month to address people’s concerns.

“This quake actually scared folks,” he said. “It lasted longer than a lot of the others did.”

Ausbrooks said scientists continue to study whether there may be a connection between the earthquakes and local injection wells, where the natural gas industry pumps waste water that can no longer be used by drillers for hydraulic fracturing. Fracturing, or “fracking,” involves injecting pressurized water to create fractures deep in the ground to help free the gas.

Geologists don’t believe the fracturing is the problem, but possibly the injection wells.

A major source of the state’s natural gas is the Fayetteville Shale, an organically-rich rock formation in north-central Arkansas. A six-month moratorium was established in January on new injection wells in the area to allow time to study the relationship — if any — between the wells and the earthquakes.

In Greenbrier, many residents are starting to notice gradual damage. Tarkington said her house has started to show cracks in ceilings and walls.

“You can see the wear and tear on our houses,” she said. “I wish they’d go away.”

Taylor Farrell, 29, a Greenbrier resident and employee at a local flea market, said a large crack formed in her driveway several months ago, and as the earthquakes continue, the crack has spread into her garage.

She said she and her husband had removed everything from the walls of their house, including family photos and television sets, because many photos had fallen in recent quakes.

“Other than that, there’s really not much more you can do,” she said. “It’s Mother Earth. It’s going to do what it’s going to do. All we can do is wait for the big one and hope and pray it doesn’t happen.”

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