Emergency At Salton Sea, Stronger Weather Events, Detecting Drones
KPBS Midday Edition / October 23, 2019
Imperial County officials have declared a state of emergency for the Salton Sea, which has become surrounded by dust. Residents are concerned about air pollution coming from the dust. And, a new study finds climate change is making weather events like El Nino stronger. Plus, a Utah community celebrates the removal of toxic materials from the Colorado river. The military is testing a new drone detecting system throughout the week in San Diego. And, a scientist is racing against the clock to save her husband who is dying from a superbug.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Today, we've got two types of weather conditions to talk about both extreme and at the opposite ends of the spectrum. We're talking about the dry Santa Ana winds. We're all feeling that could easily spark a fire and then the potential of rainy El Nino conditions that could cause a flood. A recent study by the national Academy of scientists suggest we could see more El Nino weather patterns. Alex tardy with the national weather service joins us to talk about how those weather extremes could impact our area. Alex, welcome. Thanks for having me on. Before we get to the prospect of stronger El Ninos, let's look at current weather conditions. Are we still in the middle of a Santa Ana?
Speaker 2: 00:38 We are. We're in a transition right now from the first Senate Anna, which developed Sunday, Monday, and I'm sure everyone's feeling it either with the warm temperatures, very warm and there or the dry conditions. Now a new Santa Anna is going to form. In fact, us starting Thursday and roll all the way through Friday. I'm going to, so what's the humidity level right now? So the humidity right now is in the 20s. It's been dropping down into the low teens. To put that in perspective, that's just very dry. Um, and on Thursday and Friday we think it's going to get even dryer, single digit humidity. So that's where you know, your, your hands feel it, your face feels it, your body feels that maybe if you have respiratory, how long until we can say the Santa Ana is over, it looks like a, we'll start losing the wind on Saturday, but it still will be very dry Saturday. So the first day for most of us to feel more normal conditions will be Sunday. Okay. So between now and then, fire risk pretty high. Yeah. And especially a Friday,
Speaker 1: 01:39 you know, are the frequency and links of Santa Ana is increasing?
Speaker 2: 01:44 Well, um, certainly some years, like this year, so far and a couple of years ago in 2017 [inaudible] we see a frequency, but we also see the lack of rainfall. And so the key is these Santa Ana's are very significant and more impactful when it hasn't rained, especially in the fall. So it's more the fact that we're going longer into the fall without seeing significant rainfall. And are there certain areas of San Diego County that are seeing the worst of Santa Ana winds right now? Well, um, as we get into Thursday, yeah, it'll be places like Valley center, Alpine, uh, all the way up to Julian and Ramona. It's our Foothill areas. But we think the Santa Ana will be strong enough on Friday that even locations along I 15 corridor will feel some of that easterly wind.
Speaker 1: 02:35 So El Nino's seem to be the opposite of Santa Ana's. Remind us what they are and where they come from.
Speaker 2: 02:42 Yeah, it could not be more opposite. And it's okay to talk about El Ninos now I think because this is actually California flood preparedness week and historically we've associated El Ninos with flooding or heavy rain. So just a quick recap of El Nino. So way up by the equator, South a Hawaii, it's a episode of very warm or unusually warm waters that develop in that area. It's not necessarily climate change. They occur every three to five years where we see the water naturally warming, naturally going away. So El Nino is the warm phase of that episode and historically that has correlated to some of our wet years here in Southern California.
Speaker 1: 03:25 And tell us about the recent study of El Nino's by the national Academy of scientists. What did they say about what we can expect in the future?
Speaker 2: 03:32 So that particular study and a few others that have occurred really since the 2015 16 El Nino, if we flashed back, that was the strongest El Nino in terms of ocean temperatures being warmer than usual, the strongest one on record. Um, and so a lot of research including that a paper has come out since 2015 16 episode, but we are seeing stronger El Ninos related to the overall Pacific ocean being warmer than usual. So in other words, the Pacific ocean starting off a little bit warmer, especially in the central Pacific and El Nino on top of that may have resulted in that
Speaker 1: 04:13 record breaking 2015 16 episode. Now let's talk about that more because you know, if we get stronger and what are El Ninos, which areas of San Diego will be affected most? I imagine Imperial beach for instance, a lot of our coastal communities
Speaker 2: 04:27 combined with a little bit of sea level rise, uh, erosion on the coast. Our community's most susceptible. Yeah, we'll be places like Imperial beach, LA Jolla shores, ocean side locations that already are impacted and were impacted in 2015 16 from the big waves. So the one thing with El Nino that's important to remember is it does enhance our JetStream. It does bring storm systems further South often and sometimes even more powerful storm systems. But the other thing is you don't necessarily need to have rain to have impacts. So what we found out in 2015 16 is a lot of our coastal communities had high impact from coastal flooding and erosion from these big storms out in the Pacific that were generating massive swells. Even though some of that rainfall never made it down. Here in Southern California, we still saw a lot of impact with erosion and high waves along our beaches.
Speaker 1: 05:26 You know, I'm curious to know because I think many people would expect that these two weather extremes would balance each other out, right? But that's not necessarily the case. If you are in a really dry, arid situation, for example, and then you get a ton of rain dumped down on you, the ground can be too dry to absorb it and you have flooding in places that you wouldn't even typically have flooding in. How do these two extremes, um, how could they impact our area? So in these El Nino situations, it gets really complicated because a lot
Speaker 2: 05:58 of times the storms come in and we see a break. So it's all about the timing. If we see repeated storms or consecutive storms that results in the, obviously the most devastating flooding that we see now in terms of the dry conditions. Um, California's done research on drought followed by deluge and, and some of the impacts are significant. So [inaudible] we can have significant flooding even with conditions being very dry initially or when we have repeated storms and the ground is just too saturated. The new problem in California, not necessarily new, but is the wildfire then followed by the flood because the wildfire opens up a whole new threat, which we call a debris flow or mud flow threat. And then maybe even with, with an a significant amount of rain, we then have more brush going into fire season. That's what we're seeing this year. So all the benefits of all the rain last year, uh, it was a very wet year.
Speaker 2: 06:59 Most of our mountains and communities on the foothills saw one and a half times more rainfall than an average year. That's resulted in a lot of vegetation and we haven't seen rain really since may of last year. So yes, it's, it's a balancing act. Um, but we're, in reality what we get is not a balance, um, in some of these episodes of either El Nino or episodes of atmospheric rivers, which is often separate. We're seeing more extremes rather than any type of balance. We're not seeing a lot of balance in it. We're seeing more of the extreme, and do we know yet if we are likely to have an El Nino this year, and if so about when can we expect it? So this year we're not expecting an El Nino of any significance. Now, overall, and that study that we talked about, overall, the Pacific is much warmer than it should be. So this year though, it doesn't look like El Nino's in the cards, but that doesn't mean we could not receive a big rainfall event like such as a individual atmospheric river event that may only last for four days. I've been speaking with Alex tardy from the national weather service. Alex, thank you so much. Thanks for having us on again.
Speaker 3: 08:16 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 They say the promises made to Imperial County have not been kept. So County supervisors voted Tuesday to declare a local state of emergency over the environmental crisis at the salt and see the action is aimed at forcing state and federal officials to take action to decrease the dust around the Lake. The shoreline of California's largest Lake is receding and creating more dry Lake bed in part because of a water transfer between Imperial Valley and San Diego. Joining me to explain yesterday's unanimous vote by the supervisors is Imperial County board of supervisors. Chair Ryan Kelly and Ryan, welcome to the program.
Speaker 2: 00:41 Thank you for having me worried
Speaker 1: 00:43 this situation about the health hazards and dust pollution surrounding the salt and sea has been going on for years. So why declare an emergency now
Speaker 2: 00:52 over the last 18 years? Discussions over the QSA, the transfer of water that a lot of promises have been made. And uh, I guess, you know, you could, you could say that Imperial County has always been self-sufficient. We've been patient. We tried to raise the alarm in the past through the courts and through, um, validation of the QSA and working within the structure of the QSA. But still at this day, we don't have any action on the ground. So how this came about was I attended a solvency stakeholder meeting and um, as I was driving home, I came across an emergency that required highway one 11 to be rerouted around a natural Geyser that was encroaching on the highway. And the foreman took me and walked me through the project that they were doing on an emergency basis. And in that walk he told me that the only reason that they were able to do that work was because the County had declared an emergency and then made it available for Caltrans to expedite permitting and to make funds available to do the work. So I'm driving home from that site and I looking at the salt and see at the same time. And that's where I came to the idea that we should declare the assault and see a emergency and get the focus for permitting and procurement fast tracked.
Speaker 1: 02:23 Now, just just for clarification, you mentioned a QSA, what is that?
Speaker 2: 02:27 The quantification settlement agreement, which created the transfer of rural water to urban, uh, San Diego and Coachella. Both were beneficiaries of that transfer. It meant less water going into the salt and sea and it continued to grow when the QSA was agreed, the state water board made a minute order requiring mitigation waters for 15 years for the state of California to come up with a plan for restoration of the salt and sea. In that 15 years, they failed to make any headway or produce a plan until almost towards the end of the mitigation waters.
Speaker 1: 03:11 Your board heard a presentation last week on the impacts of the increasingly exposed shoreline of the sea. What did they tell you about that?
Speaker 2: 03:21 So the um, exposed Playa has grown significantly. I remember in 2012 we still had water in the keys and at red Hill Bay, uh, today you would have to drag a boat from red Hill Bay Marina over four football fields to be able to find water. The shore is receding fast and that particularly it is not just drainage from agricultural, but it's also um, pollutants coming from Mexicali, Mexico, that's in the soil. So right now we are bringing focus onto the particulate, the PM 10, uh, that is going to become airborne and is already reported and it will only grow. So our air pollution control, um, shared with us that 7% increase of Playa and the 41% increase of emissivity from that 7%.
Speaker 1: 04:21 And what time of health impact is this dust having on residents who live near the Salton sea who live in the whole County?
Speaker 2: 04:28 So Imperial County has the highest rate of pediatric asthma hospitalization in the state of California. We also have people that live close to the salt and sea in Bombay beach and the West shores area. And they've been living with that all these years. And as the sea recedes, we get more reports of asthma, chronic respiratory illness and nosebleeds, dry, nonproductive, coughs. So we're trying to raise the issue here. We've seen that a bird and fish habitat has been reduced and we've had a collar outbreak for the waterfowl this past winter. Um, we're seeing the impacts of inaction and we just can't be quiet any longer. We're not going to be patient and optimistic. We're going to be active and optimistic.
Speaker 1: 05:31 Um, I wonder, what do you hope the emergency declaration will do to speed up the process?
Speaker 2: 05:37 This declaration is meant to bring the attention of the governor directly into this conversation to recognize that this cannot be pushed off any farther. Direct action needs to happen. If you can build a stadium in Los Angeles and bypass some of the permitting issues for that, you should be able to do that for the salt and sea. In fact, even more so because of the environmental consequences of not taking action. If you're going to do an environmental review over something that is already an environmental hazard, then you're wasting time. I've been speaking with Imperial County supervisor, Ryan Kelly and Ryan. Thank you very much. Thank you, Maureen, for the opportunity.
Speaker 3: 06:26 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 06:27 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 [inaudible] communities throughout the American West have spent decades cleaning up what the mining industry leaves behind in Moab, Utah. Those leftovers are uranium tailings left on the banks of arguably the region's most important water source. The Colorado river cleanup efforts there hit a new milestone recently from KZ M U in Moab. Molly Marcello has more.
Speaker 2: 00:25 There's a crowd gathered at a local park nestled in a red rock Canyon or the state highway into Moab crosses. The Colorado river. Elected officials and community members are here to celebrate a recent milestone, the removal of 10 million tons of toxic uranium tailings from the banks of the Colorado river. They're mingling, enjoying refreshments and eating yellow cake. A facetious nod to the party is purpose. You've never would have thought you would have all these people congratulating themselves in the community of moving 10 million tons. Sarah Fields is executive director of the nonprofit uranium watch and they seem to be really dedicated to getting this done. Fields as group advocates for the protection of public health and the environment from the impacts of uranium mining. She and many others gathered here have a long history with this project. The Moab uranium mill tailings remedial action site, better known to locals simply as the Moab pile is a leftover from the town's cold war.
Speaker 2: 01:29 Uranium days when the towns uranium boom went bust in the early 1980s a 16 million ton scar of toxic tailings was left sitting next to the river just downstream from arches national park. It makes a difference to the community whether you have very hazardous waste sitting on the flood plain of a major river makes big difference because it's not going to be there. Before cleanup efforts began. Elevated levels of uranium and ammonia were showing up in the rivers water near Moab. The contamination was alarming to officials downstream in Nevada and California and they called for the department of energy to step in. Field says getting the pile out of the flood plain became a community rallying cry as well. The DOE pretty much from the beginning realize that if they decided to leave it in place, they would be standing alone because the town, the city, most of the members of the community, the state, the EPA all said move.
Speaker 2: 02:32 The pile. Workers began moving that pile 10 years ago. The tailings are carefully loaded into train cars and sent 30 miles North where they're stored away from the river in the middle of the desert. With the 10 million ton moved over, 62% of the pile is gone, which means many Moabites could see completion in their lifetimes. We have a huge flood that's not good. Mary McGann is on the grand County. It's an environmental hazard and we need to remove it from the bank to the Colorado river. Since cleanup began, the site has partially flooded a couple times with no documented contamination. Still McGann and other local elected officials have year after year lobbied the DOE to allocate more funding to the project. Unlike some cleanup sites under the office of environmental management official save, the completion of the Mohad project is within reach, perhaps just over a decade away. Thank you, Sarah.
Speaker 2: 03:29 Thank you. During her remarks at the celebration, McGann described growing up in Moab in the 1950s and sixties when grand County fully embraced the uranium industry. Every summer we celebrated you, rang him. Danny began his own father, was the superintendent of the uranium mill responsible for creating the Moab pile. Began says at the time most people in Moab were largely unaware of the health and environmental hazards of the uranium industry, and it was not long before my dad passed away. He was getting word that this was not safe. McGann even recalls her dad coming home with a Geiger counter and weaving it through the rooms of their house, feeling remorse that he'd exposed the whole family. So I think he realizes that without malice, they had made a mistake. When you make a mistake, you fix it. And that's what we're doing. Although her father helped build the pile, McGann told attendees that she, along with the help of many others, will continue tearing it down. I'm Molly Marcello in Moab, Utah.
Speaker 1: 04:32 This story is part of ongoing coverage of the Colorado river produced in partnership with KCM U and K U N C and is supported by the Walton family foundation.
Speaker 3: 04:46 Uh.
Speaker 1: 00:00 All this week, DARPA, the defense advanced research projects agency with the support of local government leaders is testing a system designed to detect small drones over cities. Current technology has trouble detecting the drones in cities with tall buildings. And the concern is that the drones could be equipped with weapons that could be used to attack cities. KPBS military reporters. Steve Walsh is covering the story and he joins us now. Welcome Steve. Hi Jade. How big of a concern is this for people in law enforcement?
Speaker 2: 00:30 Well, it is a concern. We're not so much worried in San Diego whether or not we're, we'll come under attack. Keep in mind, DARPA is the military research hub. So they're doing this as military research. They want to deploy this with troops overseas. They want to find something that's quick and easy and cheap that they can get out to cities around the country, around the world. So, uh, what the city is concerned about though is unauthorized drones getting into the commercial and civilian airspace. And, um, there are a lot of rules, rules for flying drones and uh, but they are very hard to track. So we talked with Katelyn McCauley, she's with the San Diego regional economic development corporation, which is coordinating with DARPA this week
Speaker 3: 01:10 because drones are becoming ever increasingly popular. We really do have to think about them coming into our airspace is a fairly regular occurrence. And that being the case, having proving ground here in San Diego actually offers us an advantage.
Speaker 1: 01:24 And can you tell us how the military would use this technology?
Speaker 2: 01:27 Well, they would be deployed overseas here in many ways. The military is kind of playing catch up. These, this kind of technology is widely available, not just to us but to um, even in surgeons around the globe. I know Navy seals, they have something called a switchblade, which uh, which was used in Syria. It's essentially a commercial drone which can be flown into a building and detonated. There's a lot of concern that they need something that can be moved, uh, into an area very quickly set up very quickly so they can monitor an area. We're very good at places like deserts and oceans. We're not so good in urban areas.
Speaker 1: 02:05 And you mentioned the military is playing catch up with this project. Tell us a bit more about that.
Speaker 2: 02:10 Well, yeah, this technology is cheap and it's readily available to just about everybody and I was at an expo at camp Pendleton just a couple of years ago where the Marines were admitting that they're playing ketchup for years. The bulk of their research budget was going into keeping troops safe in the desert here and they had gotten behind on things like advanced drones and they were deciding at that point how much of this technology do we want to actually develop ourselves and how much can we just go ahead and buy it and then adapted to what we already need. So a lot of these plans, these sorts of ideas involving drones, how to use them and how to track them. This is becoming more and more the focus of the military
Speaker 1: 02:49 now among all the cities where this could actually be done. Why was San Diego chosen?
Speaker 2: 02:53 Well because we have a large military base here that makes it easier for DARPA to run its tests. And the San Diego is also, still is already working with the FAA with its integration pilot program, which is basically a program, uh, that is testing drones for applications like unmanned traffic management and flying at night and flying over people and flying beyond the visual line of sight. All the things that are right now banned in or restricted when it comes to commercial drones.
Speaker 1: 03:21 As I understand it, this testing involves a couple of tethered balloons equipped with the new technology. Can you tell us how it works?
Speaker 2: 03:28 Well, keep in mind that a lot of this is classified because this is advanced research by the department of defense. But what we know is those drones carry a radar and that the balloon also carries a certain amount of sensors and radar itself. The idea that you want to create a picture where you can track these drones when they go around the building or underneath something so you can see like a full complete picture of all this like civilian radar where the plane, they compared it to the flight tracker for four planes.
Speaker 1: 03:57 Yeah, because like this T this detection technology was not originally developed for domestic urban settings. Right,
Speaker 2: 04:04 right. Well this, this is what they're trying to do. This is what DARPA is trying to do with aerial Dragnet. They're trying to come up with a system that is going to work in those areas and you know, ultimately the idea is that maybe this can be rolled out commercially, but right now this is an experiment being conducted by the military.
Speaker 1: 04:21 Okay. And I know the testing last through Friday, did anyone involved give you an any indication of how well it's performing so far?
Speaker 2: 04:28 So we were in Logan Heights for the original test flights there and everything was up and running there. W what they're trying to do essentially is that the aerial Dragnet will try to find commercial drones. They'll have about a dozen of them flying around and they'll see how many of them they can actually attract with this equipment.
Speaker 1: 04:46 So when might we expect to see systems like these deployed in San Diego and other large cities?
Speaker 2: 04:51 Well, that is the question. And DARPA really doesn't know. When I asked that question, some of the folks, the technicians that were working there, they, they mentioned the internet, that a DARPA was involved with the creation of the original internet. That was in the 1960s and people didn't start having an email address until somewhere in the 1990s so this, they could have a very long window for this. And the thing is that they not only need a system that works, but it has to be cheap. Something that they can deploy quickly, that those are going to be the keys to whether or not this works. So it could be a very long time before we see this in and around a place like San Diego.
Speaker 1: 05:26 All right. I've been speaking with KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh. Steve. Thank you.
Speaker 2: 05:30 Thanks Jane.
Speaker 4: 05:34 [inaudible].
A scientists racing against time to save her husband he's dying from an antibiotic resistant superbug. The answer lies in a long forgotten therapy not used in modern American hospitals. It sounds like the plot to a fictional medical thriller but it happens to be the life experience of my next two guests Thomas Patterson's life was saved not by antibiotics but by the use of phage therapy. His partner in world travel and life Stephanie's stressed dee An epidemiologist turned to a Hail Mary experimental treatment and it worked.
They are both here to talk about their new memoir the perfect predator. As scientists race to save her husband from a deadly superbug Thomas Patterson and Stephanie's strategy welcome to you both. Thank you. Thanks for having us here. Tom where do you think you've picked up this antibiotic resistant infection.
Well I certainly picked it up in Egypt exactly where is unclear because it's everywhere these these particular bacteria so we'll never know exactly where I was in a clinic. Most of these kind of resistant bacteria are picked up in clinics or hospitals.
Now Stephanie the perfect predator in the book's title is not the superbug but a bacterial phage you describe as a virus that eats bacteria. How did you come to the idea that a bacterial phage could help cure your husband.
Well the doctors that were treating Tom at Thornton I see you here in San Diego had given up hope and they had said really you know there's nothing else that modern medicine can do. So when I asked him if he wanted to live and he squeezed my hand I took it upon myself to look into the literature and hit the Internet and put in words that anybody would put in that we're looking for alternative treatments. And I found a hundred year old forgotten cure phage therapy that vaguely rang a bell from my undergraduate days in microbiology back in the 1980s.
So let me just make it clear every kind of antibiotic that you tried to kill this particular infection was not working and you were really struggling to find something else that might work.
You write also that there is worse a sort of cosmic coincidences to tell us a little bit about that well and an amazing array of researchers and doctors and nurses and total strangers you know stepped up to the plate to save Tom's life. First there was the doctors at what is now the Jacob's Medical Center at UC San Diego just world class infectious disease doctors and they allowed us to try something that no other university hospital probably would have let us try. Which are viruses that would attack his bacteria. We also had the help from Texas say an M University researchers that didn't know me.
I didn't know them but I emailed them and sent them a picture of Tom lying in a coma and I said please help me. And even the Navy Medical Research Center in Frederick Maryland stepped up to the plate as well. And so we had two teams that were independently working on phage cocktails matched specifically to Tom's superbug.
Now this phage therapy is not exactly cutting edge I mean you found articles about it from the 1930s and 40s. How does it work.
Well bacteria phage are viruses that have naturally evolved to attack bacteria. So you can kind of think of them as nature's own alternative to antibiotics and they exist everywhere they're in soil and water they're in our guts. And so the best place to find them is actually in sewage and barn yards any place where you're going to find a lot of bacteria. And that sounds a little crazy but it worked.
And what I understand is that there are phage therapy centers in other parts of the world.
Why didn't it catch on as a treatment for infection here in the U.S. in the 1920s and 30s phage therapy was actually quite popular in the Western world but it fell out of favor for a number of reasons first that penicillin came on the scene and it was thought to be a wonder drug. Indeed it was for a while and then also the discover a bacteria phage. Dr. Felix Darrel he was kind of a gnarly guy to work with and so he was ostracized from the scientific community. Finally phage therapy was taken up very vigorously in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union and at the time World War 2 was on.
And if you were embracing phage therapy you were seen as a pinko commie sympathizer. And so some of these geopolitical reasons were just as important for the forgotten ness of phage therapy for decades.
Now Tom Stephanie tried to get a sign from you. She asked you to squeeze her hand if it was okay to try this therapy because you are at this point unconscious. You actually write in the book about the state of awareness. You were in. Will you read that section for us please.
Sure. Steph had asked me in a point where I was in a coma and I was hallucinating that I was a snake. And so here's a segment of the experience that I was having. The man and woman circle the snake on the bed. The man inserts a bronchial scope it's silvery segments slither into the snake's throat and within seconds it sucks out a glistening plug of mucus oxygen restored the cobwebs clear briefly from my eyes and I'm back in my body. A group of three doctors walk toward my terrarium their white coats flapping.
I pointed them vigorously. Steph laughs She knows I am urging her to join rounds where they will discuss my case like the specimen that I am part of going in and out of consciousness.
Tom reads from the book that Thomas Patterson and Stephanie's draftees have written called the perfect predator. Stephanie how did you find exactly the right phage that would attack Tom's infection.
Well I certainly can't take credit for that researchers that have been studying bacteria phage for most of their careers actually looked at environmental samples and samples they had in their phage libraries and used Tom's bacteria isolate that we shipped to them and looked for perfect matches. And the researcher at Texas S.M. said it's worse than looking for a needle in a haystack but we're going to try it and his lab found for bacteria phage that match times Islip within a matter of weeks. So from the moment that I emailed everybody for help. February 22nd to the day that we administered phage therapy for the first time.
It was March 15th of 2016. It was only three weeks that when you compare that to an antibiotic that takes 10 to 15 years to develop and 80 million dollars or more you can see why people are revisiting phage therapy as a potential answer to the superbug crisis and how quickly did it work. Well from the moment that we injected phage into his bloodstream on March 17th he woke up on the 20th lifted his head off the pillow and kissed his daughter's hand.
It was shocking to everybody in ICU and how has your road to recovery evolved you and Stephanie over the course of the nine months that I was in the hospital the rule of thumb is it's five times as long to recover as you were in the hospital so for me I'm three years out of the hospital and it's about four years to get completely over it. So there is the physical side where I'm now much much stronger and able. We just came back from Costa Rica and birdwatching and walking and having a great time.
So I can't complain there. It's better than being below ground but that's for darn sure the psychological side you know we both went through some therapy for PTSD. That's a really necessary part. And we continue to process the experience.
And Stephanie this experience marked a new beginning for you and phage therapy. Tell us about that at UC San Diego.
We have opened the first dedicated phage therapy center in North America called the Center for Innovative phage applications and therapeutics are eye path. We've treated six patients including Tom. We're actually going to be treating another patient today and the doctors that are involved have consulted on numerous cases internationally and it's really wakened up the infectious disease community of doctors to consider phage therapy as a potential alternative to antibiotics.
Now I've been speaking with Thomas Patterson and Stephanie's draftee co-authors of the memoir the perfect predator as scientists race to save her husband from a deadly superbug. They will both be speaking about the book tomorrow night at war Rick's in La Hoya and more information is on our website. K PBS dot org I want to thank you both so much. Thank you and congratulations. Thank you for having us.
Thanks. It's been a pleasure.