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Posts Tagged ‘Latin America’

WHO Declares Microcephaly Cluster a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’

Posted by feww on February 2, 2016

Experts ‘strongly suspect’ causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly

WHO convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Some 18 experts and advisers assessed “the strong association, in time and place, between infection with the Zika virus and a rise in detected cases of congenital malformations and neurological complications,” and agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven, said WHO in a statement posted online.

After a review of the evidence, the Committee advised that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes an “extraordinary event” and a public health threat to other parts of the world.

Members of the Committee agreed that “a coordinated international response was needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread,” and that the “situation meets the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” said WHO.

“I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014, constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” said WHO Director-General.

WHO did not elaborate as to why the Committee had “found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus.”

Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission

AFRICA: Angola*, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt*, Ethiopia*, Gabon, Gambia*, Kenya*, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone*, Somalia*, Tanzania*, Uganda and Zambia*.

AMERICAS: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

OCEANIA/PACIFIC ISLANDS: Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

ASIA: Cambodia, India*, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan*, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam*.

[*For these countries, the only evidence of Zika virus transmission is from studies that detected Zika virus antibodies in healthy people.  These studies cannot determine where the people were infected or if they were infected with Zika virus because the antibodies may have resulted from infections with other closely related viruses, such as dengue virus.]

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ZIKV Found in Australian Travelers Returning from S. America

Posted by feww on January 26, 2016

Submitted by a reader – Edited by FEWW

Australians authorities echo warning to travelers planing to visit 22 countries affected by ZIKV

Australian health experts report mosquito-borne Zika virus (ZIKV), linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil, has already been discovered in Australia in travelers returning from South America, said a report.

For the virus to spread, however, it would require specific species of mosquitoes to act as a vector. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, one such vector, is currently found only in far north Queensland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued new advice warning Australians, particularly pregnant women, to reconsider plans to travel to 22 countries affected by the virus, including many in South and Central America, and the Pacific island nation Samoa.

[FIRE-EARTH Models show more than one million incidences of ZIKV infections may have occurred worldwide since October 2015. —Editor]

The new travel advice comes in response to a warning by the World Health Organisation that Zika virus is now likely to spread to all countries in South, Central and North America except Canada and Chile. [Blog Moderators have not found any evidence to confirm either PAHO or WHO has issued a warning to this effect. This appears to be media sensationalism at best, or a desperate ruse designed for phishing more information from independent sources. —Editor]

At least 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly had occurred in Brazil as of January 22, 2016, or over 30 times more than in any year since 2010 and equivalent to 1 to 2 per cent of all newborns in the state of Pernambuco, one of the worst-hit areas, said WHO.

ZIKV was first detected in a monkey in Zika forest near Lake Victoria, Uganda, in 1947.

Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly. Microcephaly is not a common condition. State birth defects tracking systems have estimated that microcephaly ranges from 2 babies per 10,000 live births to about 12 babies per 10,000 live births in the Unites States.

Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission

AFRICA: Angola*, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt*, Ethiopia*, Gabon, Gambia*, Kenya*, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone*, Somalia*, Tanzania*, Uganda and Zambia*.

AMERICAS: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

OCEANIA/PACIFIC ISLANDS: Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

ASIA: Cambodia, India*, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan*, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam*.

[*For these countries, the only evidence of Zika virus transmission is from studies that detected Zika virus antibodies in healthy people.  These studies cannot determine where the people were infected or if they were infected with Zika virus because the antibodies may have resulted from infections with other closely related viruses, such as dengue virus.]

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ZIKV Emergency: New Warnings Issued by Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador & Jamaica

Posted by feww on January 23, 2016

One million cases of ZIKV infections worldwide: FIRE-EARTH Models

FIRE-EARTH Models show more than one million incidences of ZIKV infections may have occurred worldwide since October 2015.

Link to Microcephaly

Researchers suspect a possible link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly, a severe birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

Microcephaly can occur as a result of changes in babies genes, as well as other causes that can include the following exposures during pregnancy:

Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly. Microcephaly is not a common condition. State birth defects tracking systems have estimated that microcephaly ranges from 2 babies per 10,000 live births to about 12 babies per 10,000 live births in the Unites States.

Latest Health Warnings

Authorities in four countries—Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica—have warned women to avoid pregnancy as cases of microcephaly, believed to be caused by Zika virus (ZIKV), continue to multiply.

Brazil. Authorities say the number of babies born with suspected microcephaly has now reached about 4,000 since October, 2015.

Colombia. Health Minister has urged women to delay pregnancies for about eight months.

Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica. Authorities have told women to delay pregnancies by up to two years.

U.S. Last week, explosive outbreaks of ZIKV, a dangerous tropical disease linked to birth defects, prompted the  U.S. health officials to issue a travel alert for people traveling to regions and countries where the virus transmission is spreading: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission

AFRICA: Angola*, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt*, Ethiopia*, Gabon, Gambia*, Kenya*, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone*, Somalia*, Tanzania*, Uganda and Zambia*.

AMERICAS: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

OCEANIA/PACIFIC ISLANDS: Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

ASIA: Cambodia, India*, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan*, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam*.

[*For these countries, the only evidence of Zika virus transmission is from studies that detected Zika virus antibodies in healthy people.  These studies cannot determine where the people were infected or if they were infected with Zika virus because the antibodies may have resulted from infections with other closely related viruses, such a; s dengue virus.]

Ae. aegypti Mosquitoes: The Principal Vectors of ZIKV

Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus are the principal vectors of dengue (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, DENV-4), chikungunya (CHIKV), yellow fever (YFV), and Zika (ZIKV) viruses. Of these seven arboviruses, DENV, YFV and CHIKV have caused outbreaks within the United States and its territories in the past 110 years.

With a newly-obtained fiery red blood meal visible through her transparent abdomen, the now heavy female Aedes aegypti mosquito took flight as she left her host’s skin surface. Photo Credit: James Gathany/ CDC

Approximate distribution of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus mosquitoes in the United States. -CDC-

ZIKV in Brief [CDC]

Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries. In December 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first confirmed Zika virus case. Locally transmitted Zika has not been reported elsewhere in the United States, but cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers.

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves from this disease by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. When traveling to countries where Zika virus (see map) or other viruses spread by mosquitoes have been reported, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

Zika and pregnancy

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CDC Issues Travel Warning as Zika Virus Epidemic Continues to Spread

Posted by feww on January 16, 2016

U.S. health officials warn pregnant women against traveling to Latin America, Caribbean countries

Explosive outbreaks of Zika, a dangerous tropical disease linked to birth defects, have prompted the  U.S. health officials to issue a travel alert for people traveling to regions and countries where Zika virus (ZIKV) transmission is ongoing: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

CDC has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for the above-listed areas.

This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

CDC recommends special precautions, out of an abundance of caution, for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Women trying to become pregnant who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are difficult to determine and likely to change over time, CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available. Check the CDC travel website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Four in five people who acquire Zika infection may have no symptoms. Illness from Zika is usually mild and does not require hospitalization. Travelers are strongly urged to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
    • Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than 2 months when used according to the product label. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

In addition to the steps announced today, CDC is working with public health experts across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take additional steps related to Zika. CDC is developing interim guidance for pregnant women as well as sharing additional information about Zika with public health officials, clinicians and the public.  In addition, efforts are underway across HHS to develop vaccines, improved diagnostics and other countermeasures for Zika.

Countries with past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission


Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission (See below for list)

Background:

CDC scientists tested samples provided by Brazilian health authorities from two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage and from two infants with diagnosed microcephaly who died shortly after birth. For the two full-term infants, tests showed that Zika virus was present in the brain. Genetic sequence analysis showed that the virus in the four cases was the same as the Zika virus strain currently circulating in Brazil.  All four mothers reported having experienced a fever and rash illness consistent with Zika virus disease (Zika) during their pregnancies.

Locally acquired Zika was reported for the first time in Brazil in May 2015, and the virus has since been reported in 14 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean:  Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

According to Brazilian health authorities, more than 3,500 microcephaly cases were reported in Brazil between October 2015 and January 2016.  Some of the affected infants have had a severe type of microcephaly and some have died.  The full spectrum of outcomes that might be associated with infection during pregnancy and the factors that might increase risk to the fetus are not yet fully understood. Health authorities in Brazil, with assistance from the Pan American Health Organization, CDC, and other agencies, have been investigating the possible association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in infants. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

In the past, outbreaks of Zika virus infection have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.  Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.  About one in five people infected with Zika virus will develop symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Other commonly reported symptoms include myalgia, headache, and pain behind the eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and case fatality is low. Guillain-Barré syndrome has been reported in patients with probable Zika virus infection in French Polynesia and Brazil . Research efforts will also examine the link between Zika and GBS.

Countries that have past or current evidence of Zika virus transmission

AFRICA: Angola*, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt*, Ethiopia*, Gabon, Gambia*, Kenya*, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone*, Somalia*, Tanzania*, Uganda and Zambia*.

AMERICAS: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela.

OCEANIA/PACIFIC ISLANDS: Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

ASIA: Cambodia, India*, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan*, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam*.

[*For these countries, the only evidence of Zika virus transmission is from studies that detected Zika virus antibodies in healthy people.  These studies cannot determine where the people were infected or if they were infected with Zika virus because the antibodies may have resulted from infections with other closely related viruses, such as dengue virus.]

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What Happened in Latin America Last May?

Posted by feww on January 15, 2016

“Unusual phenomenon” produces destructive waves, storm surge

An unusual phenomenon between 2 and 4 May 2015 produced two-meter-high waves on the Pacific Ocean side of Latin America, killing a number of people, forcing scores of people to flee their homes and destroying or damaging buildings,  roads and infrastructure.

The El Salvadoran coast was among the hardest hit, with damage across the entire coastal line in the departments of Ahuachapán, Sonsonate, La Libertad, La Paz, San Vicente, Usulután and La Union. More than 1,300 people were evacuated: 514 were in shelters and 1,270 were providing their own shelter. Another segment of the population had migrated to areas where they had access to family shelters and to the Chapina Garita area. (IFRC, 16 May 2015).

Strong winds generated high waves and swells in coastal areas of several countries in the region, affecting the populations and infrastructure.

Several people were killed or reported as missing in coastal areas of Chile, Panama and El Salvador. hundreds of others were forced to evacuate house and hotels on the Pacific coast.

In Guatemala, about 500 people were evacuated due to the damage caused by the storm surge that traveled more than one kilometer inland.

The phenomenon also affected other countries including Mexico, Peru, Ecuador and Honduras, among others, causing damage to houses, hotels and roads. (OCHA, 4 May 2015).

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