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Archive for February 11th, 2016

Genocide in Syria: 11.5% of the Population Killed or Injured, 45% Displaced

Posted by feww on February 11, 2016

More than one in 9 Syrians killed or injured, nearly one in two displaced: Report

“The fragmentation in Syria has become a black hole that turns local and international human and material resources to sabotage and chaos engines,” says a new report published by the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR).

“Fragmentation, as the process of drastic shattering in the social, economic, political, and cultural structures within the society, is being ingrained by various internal and external subjugating powers disintegrating of country sovereignty and pushing the majority of people to act against their own good and against their future,” according to the report, titled “Confronting Fragmentation!”

“The loss of lives due to the conflict remains the most catastrophic visible and direct impact of the ongoing crisis in Syria, that 11.5 per cent of the population inside Syria were killed or injured due to the armed-conflict.”

The conflict has forced 3.11 million people to flee the country as war refugees, while 1.17 million others have left Syria as economic migrants.

“The country faces human catastrophe reflected in the dramatic drop in life expectancy at birth from 70.5 years in 2010 to an estimated 55.4 years in 2015.”

The overall poverty rate was forecast to reach 85.2 per cent by the end of 2015. “Moreover, 69.3 per cent are living in extreme poverty. About 35 per cent of the population fell into abject poverty being unable to meet the basic food needs of their households.”

The unemployment rate climbed to 52.9 per cent by the end of 2015, with the most dramatic rises occurring in conflict zones and besieged areas, said the report. “An estimated 2.91 million unemployed persons; among which 2.7 million lost their jobs during the conflict, with the loss of income further impacting the welfare of 13.8 million dependents.”

The accumulated economic loss trough end of 2015 is estimated at USD 254.7 billion, or 468% of the GDP in 2010.

SCPR  independent, non-governmental non-profit think tank with a mission to engage in “open, respectful, and informed dialogue” on key public policy issues.

The Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) describes itself as an as “an independent, non-governmental, and non-profit think tank … [aiming] to promote sustainable inclusive development.” It has published its latest report “Confronting Fragmentation!” in cooperation with Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy, at the American University of Beirut.

Download report: In English:

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Crop Disasters Declared in the U.S. States of North Carolina and Virginia

Posted by feww on February 11, 2016

USDA Designates Multiple Counties in Two States as Crop Disaster Areas

Crop Disaster Designation #1

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated eight counties in North Carolina as crop disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain and flooding that occurred from Sept. 24, 2015, and continues.

Those counties are Granville, Halifax, Franklin, Johnston, Nash, Vance, Wake and Warren.

Crop Disaster Designation #2

In a second designation, USDA has declared the following counties as crop disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain that occurred from Sept. 7, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2015.

  • Virginia. Brunswick, Chesapeake, Dinwiddie, Emporia, Greensville, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Sussex, Newport News, Portsmouth and Southampton counties, as well as the City of Suffolk
  • North Carolina. Camden, Gates and Northampton counties.

All counties and city listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Feb. 10, 2016, USDA reported.

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‘Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Brain and Placental Tissues’

Posted by feww on February 11, 2016

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Brain and Placental Tissues from Two Congenitally Infected Newborns and Two Fetal Losses — Brazil, 2015

The following are field notes from Brazil on ZIKV infection posted in the latest issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is related to dengue virus and transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, with humans acting as the principal amplifying host during outbreaks. Zika virus was first reported in Brazil in May 2015 (1). By February 9, 2016, local transmission of infection had been reported in 26 countries or territories in the Americas.* Infection is usually asymptomatic, and, when symptoms are present, typically results in mild and self-limited illness with symptoms including fever, rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis. However, a surge in the number of children born with microcephaly was noted in regions of Brazil with a high prevalence of suspected Zika virus disease cases. More than 4,700 suspected cases of microcephaly were reported from mid-2015 through January 2016, although additional investigations might eventually result in a revised lower number (2). In response, the Brazil Ministry of Health established a task force to further investigate possible connections between the virus and brain anomalies in infants (3).

Since November 2015, CDC has been developing assays for Zika virus testing in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples. In December 2015, FFPE tissues samples from two newborns (born at 36 and 38 weeks gestation) with microcephaly who died within 20 hours of birth and two miscarriages (fetal losses at 11 and 13 weeks) were submitted to CDC, from the state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil, for histopathologic evaluation and laboratory testing for suspected Zika virus infection. All four mothers had clinical signs of Zika virus infection, including fever and rash, during the first trimester of pregnancy, but did not have clinical signs of active infection at the time of delivery or miscarriage. The mothers were not tested for antibodies to Zika virus. Samples included brain and other autopsy tissues from the two newborns, a placenta from one of the newborns, and products of conception from the two miscarriages.

FFPE tissues were tested by Zika virus reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) targeting the nonstructural protein 5 and envelope genes using general methods for RT-PCR (4), and by immunohistochemistry using a mouse polyclonal anti-Zika virus antibody, using methods previously described (5). Specific specimens from all four cases were positive by RT-PCR, and sequence analysis provided further evidence of Zika virus infection, revealing highest identities with Zika virus strains isolated from Brazil during 2015. In the newborns, only brain tissue was positive by RT-PCR assays. Specimens from two of the four cases were positive by immunohistochemistry: viral antigen was noted in mononuclear cells (presumed to be glial cells and neurons within the brain) of one newborn, and within the chorionic villi from one of the miscarriages. Testing for dengue virus was negative by RT-PCR in specimens from all cases.

For both newborns, significant histopathologic changes were limited to the brain, and included parenchymal calcification, microglial nodules, gliosis, and cell degeneration and necrosis. Other autopsy tissues and placenta had no significant findings. Tests for toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and HIV were negative in the two mothers who experienced miscarriages. Placental tissue from one miscarriage showed heterogeneous chorionic villi with calcification, fibrosis, perivillous fibrin deposition, and patchy intervillositis and focal villitis, while tissue from the other miscarriage had sparsely sampled normal-appearing chorionic villi.

This report describes evidence of a link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly and fetal demise through detection of viral RNA and antigens in brain tissues from infants with microcephaly and placental tissues from early miscarriages. Histopathologic findings indicate the presence of Zika virus in fetal tissues. These findings also suggest brain and early gestational placental tissue might be the preferred tissues for postmortem viral diagnosis. Nonfrozen, formalin-fixed specimens or FFPE blocks are the preferred sample type for histopathologic evaluation and immunohistochemistry, and RT-PCR can be performed on either fresh frozen or formalin-fixed specimens. To better understand the pathogenesis of Zika virus infection and associated congenital anomalies and fetal death, it is necessary to evaluate autopsy and placental tissues from additional cases, and to determine the effect of gestational age during maternal illness on fetal outcomes.

Suggested citation for this article: Martines RB, Bhatnagar J, Keating MK, et al. Notes from the Field: Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Brain and Placental Tissues from Two Congenitally Infected Newborns and Two Fetal Losses — Brazil, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65(Early Release):1–2. DOI:

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