Wildlife

Yellow Fever Taking Heavy Toll on Monkeys in Brazil’s Rainforest

The worst yellow fever outbreak in decades is not just killing Brazilians, it threatens to wipe out monkeys in the Atlantic rainforest that are already close to extinction, experts warned on Tuesday.

So far 400 monkeys have been found dead in the state of Espirito Santo where the fever outbreak has spread from neighbouring Minas Gerais.

At greatest risk is the muriqui monkey, Brazil’s largest primate and one of the planet’s 25 most-endangered species of primates, said biologist Roberto Cabral at the Brazilian environmental agency Ibama.

“The monkeys are vulnerable to yellow fever just like humans but we have vaccines to protect us, they don’t,” Cabral said. “They are being decimated.”

Farmers first alerted authorities about the dying animals when they realized that the forest had gone silent and the monkeys had disappeared.

Environment

Study finds Brazil isn’t counting all deforestation in official estimates

Brazil drew widespread praise for drastically lowering Amazon deforestation over the past decade and half. But as forest destruction in the country is on the rise once again, new research finds that Brazil’s official estimates are missing large swaths of deforestation.

News broke last November that deforestation had jumped 16 percent in the Brazilian Amazon for the year ending on July 31, 2015, with an estimated 5,831 square kilometres (about 2,250 square miles) of rainforest, an area half the size of Los Angeles, destroyed that year.

The Brazilian government revised that figure earlier this month, however, stating that some 6,207 square kilometres (about 2,397 square miles) of Amazon rainforest were actually destroyed in the year that ended on July 31, 2015. Though this represents a six percent increase over the previous estimate and the highest annual loss in the Brazilian Amazon since 2011, it is still well below historical levels of deforestation.

Now a new study published in the journal Conservation Letters finds that, between 2008 and 2012, close to 9,000 square kilometres (about 3,475 square miles) of the Brazilian Amazon were cleared without being detected by the government’s official monitoring system.

Brazil’s Monitoring Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by Satellite Project (known as PRODES) has played a key role in Brazil’s recent efforts to rein in deforestation. According to PRODES, 25,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest were lost to deforestation in 2003. That dropped to an average of just 5,300 square miles between 2009 to 2013.

But when researchers with Brown University compared data from PRODES with two independent satellite measures of forest loss — from the Global Forest Change project and the Fire Information for Resource Management Systems — they found that about 9,000 square kilometres of rainforest destruction, an area roughly the size of Puerto Rico, were not included in the PRODES monitoring.

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Wildfires

Wildfires Disrupt Olympic Games – Brazil

Wildfires near Deodoro, a suburb of Rio and a site for several events at the Games, caused the precautionary evacuation Monday of Olympic venues for mountain biking, canoe slalom and BMX racing, according to reports. In addition, high winds blew ash onto the field at the stadium where women’s field hockey quarterfinals were being played, although it did not disrupt any games.

Disease

Mumps in Brazil

The outbreak of mumps in Brazil’s Federal District, which includes the Brazilian capital city, Brasília, has grown to nearly 1000 cases and has residents concerned as more cases are reported weekly.

Chikungunya in Brazil

While so much attention has been placed the Zika virus epidemic and to a lesser extent dengue fever in Brazil this year, another virus transmitted by the Aedes mosquito is being reported at a nearly 10 times amount compared to the first five months of the year in 2015.

Through May, 122,762 chikungunya cases were reported across the country compared to 13,160 cases in 2015 and more than 23,000 cases reported for the entire year. In addition, the generally considered rarely fatal mosquito borne viral disease has resulted in 17 deaths to date, compared to six reported all of last year.

Disease

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China

On 19 April 2016, the Department of Health, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region notified WHO of a confirmed, imported case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 19 and 23 April 2016, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 3 additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

Zika Virus – Brazil

Brazil’s outbreak of Zika – which has been linked to the devastating microcephaly birth defect in newborns – has topped 91 000 cases, health officials said on Tuesday.

Between January 3 and April 2, 91 387 suspected cases of Zika were reported, with a disproportionate share (30 286) in the poorer northeast of the country, the Health Ministry said.

Three people have died of the mosquito-borne virus, it said.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

USA – Widespread flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi has damaged thousands of homes and the risk of more flooding played out Sunday as rain-filled rivers rose over banks. In northwest Tennessee, more than a dozen homes were evacuated late Saturday after heavy rains breached a levee, according to emergency officials. Flood warnings were in effect across the region as many rivers remained dangerously high. Also of concern was another line of thunderstorms that was expected to hit parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, northern Louisiana and northern Mississippi Sunday night. Hail and tornadoes were possible, forecasters said. In Louisiana, emergency officials said more than 4,958 homes were damaged. That number is expected to rise as more reports come in from areas still battling floodwaters. Mississippi reported that 185 homes were damaged by floodwaters and about 650 homes sustained minor damage.

Brazil – Parts of Brazil have gone from a state of drought to intense flooding after torrential downpours hit southeastern areas of the country. At least 20 people have died in the high waters and mudslides in and around Sao Paulo. Five are still missing. Sao Paulo’s fire department said 18 of the victims were killed in mudslides and the other two drowned in the floodwaters that hit more than 10 cities in the outskirts of the metropolitan area over recent days. Rio de Janeiro has also been badly hit. Authorities have declared a state of crisis after massive downpours flooded parts of the city late on Saturday. The deluge left cars, buses and local residents stranded, as streets turned into murky rivers. The rains are now easing, but further spells of wet weather are likely throughout the week, before it turns drier next weekend.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Brazil – Flooding and landslides triggered by torrential rainfall have claimed the lives of at least 19 people in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A landslide buried 11 people in Francisco de Morato city in Sao Paulo. Four people died in a mudslide in Mairipora with at least eight people having gone missing in the area. Similarly, two people drowned in floodwaters in Guarulhos and another two in Cajamar. The seevere weather also interrupted flights for six hours at the Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport.

Pakistan – Four children and a woman died after a roof caved in due to heavy rains in Sheerani district in Balochistan. Three people died in Mastung and Loralai districts. One person died due to lightning strike in Dalbandin district. The Meteorological office has forecast more rain across Balochistan over the weekend.

Louisiana, USA – Flooding in Monroe, Louisiana has claimed life of a 7-year-old child and flooded more than 1,000 homes. Over 23 inches of rain had fallen near Monroe, Louisiana, through Friday morning. Several evacuation shelters have been opened. The Ouachita River has risen to 39.5 feet prompting a flood warning at Monroe from Friday afternoon until further notice.

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Disease

Microcephaly – Brazil

On 4 January 2016, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Brazil provided PAHO/WHO with an epidemiological report regarding the increase of microcephaly cases in the country.

As of 2 January, 3,174 suspected cases of microcephaly, including 38 deaths, had been identified at the national level. The cases are distributed across 684 municipalities of 21 federal units. The Northeastern region continues to report the highest number of suspected cases.

Zika virus infection – United States of America – Puerto Rico

On 31 December 2015, the National IHR Focal Point (NFP) of the United States of America notified PAHO/WHO of the first laboratory-confirmed case of Zika virus infection in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. The patient is a resident of Puerto Rico and had no travel history outside the island in the three months prior to the onset of illness. A blood sample obtained from the patient tested positive for Zika viral RNA by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Disease

Microcephaly – Brazil

On 8 December 2015, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Brazil provided PAHO/WHO with an update regarding the unusual increase in the number of cases of microcephaly among newborns in the northeast of Brazil.

As of 5 December, 1,761 suspected cases of microcephaly, including 19 deaths, have been identified. The cases are distributed across 422 municipalities of 14 federal units. Pernambuco and Paraíba are the most affected states with 804 and 316 cases, respectively. Fatal cases were reported in Rio Grande do Norte (7), Sergipe (4), Bahia (2), Rio de Janeiro (2), Ceará (1), Maranhão (1), Paraíba (1) and Piauí (1).

Cholera – Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has notified WHO of ongoing outbreaks of cholera across the country. Although the overall trend is decreasing, there are still areas reporting a high number of cases.

Since the beginning of the year, 19,705 cases have been reported in DRC. As of 29 November, the following provinces had reported cases: South Kivu (4,906), ex-Katanga (4,565), Maniema (3,971), North Kivu (3,294) and ex-Oriental (2,969). A high number of cases are still reported in the province of South Kivu where the situation is particularly worrying because of the presence of camps hosting refugees from Burundi. Furthermore, there are concerns that the epidemic in Maniema could spread to other provinces of the country as observed during the 2011 cholera epidemic when areas of Kinshasa were also affected.

Foot-and-mouth outbreak hits Limpopo, South Africa

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has been confirmed in the Limpopo province.

The department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that laboratory tests had confirmed the outbreak and had also identified the virus as the SAT 3 strain. “The outbreak occurred in the Matiane community, in the Thulamela local municipality of the Vhembe District which is within the FMD protection zone of South Africa, where vaccination for FMD is routinely conducted,” the department said in a Times Live report.

The areas is reportedly close to the Kruger National Park where infected buffalo were a constant source of the infection. The department speculated that the drought in the area may be causing cattle and buffalo to come into increased contact due to limited grazing and water sources.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Brazil

Wildfires are raging through the Brazilian Amazon, destroying vast areas of forest on the eastern fringes of the “earth’s lungs”. The outbreak of the fire coincides with the start of the international COP21 climate summit in Paris and threatens one of the last un-contacted peoples on earth.

The fires are reportedly being started by illegal loggers, in retaliation for tribal people’s efforts to defend their territories and keep the invaders out. They threaten one of the few remaining areas of pre-Amazon forest in Brazil, the last environment of its type in the world.

This forest is home to the Awá tribe, one of the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. The Awá depend completely on the land for their survival.

In October, fires destroyed almost half of a nearby indigenous territory known as Arariboia, also home to uncontacted Awá. It is not known whether the two incidents are connected, or if they indicate that loggers are adopting a new strategy to claim land from tribal people.

Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, is calling on the Brazilian government to put out the fire, protect the Awá’s land and save them from extinction.

Disease

Hawaii reports more dengue

The Hawaii Department of Health continues to work with other state and county agencies on the issue of the Dengue Fever outbreak. As of Friday, the Department of Health had reported 107 confirmed cases originating on Hawaii Island. This is an increase of 6 cases from the previous update. These cases include 93 residents and 14 visitors.

Because dengue fever is only transmitted by mosquitoes, the Department of Health is spraying and treating areas with high mosquito presence and confirmed cases. The Department of Health plans to conduct spraying in various areas of South Kona, Hilo, Puna, and Kau.

Although spraying and treatment of areas is ongoing, the most effective method to reduce the spread and eliminate Dengue is to fight the bite. Minimize or prevent the possibility of being bitten by an infected mosquito by wearing clothing that minimizes exposed skin, use mosquito repellant and avoid activities in areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest.

Zika virus infection – Guatemala

PAHO/WHO has received notification of a laboratory-confirmed autochthonous case of Zika virus infection in Guatemala. The case, who is a resident of the Zacapa department, developed symptoms on 11 November. An investigation is being carried out to detect further cases.

Zika virus infection – El Salvador

On 24 November, the National IHR Focal Point of El Salvador notified PAHO/WHO of 3 laboratory-confirmed autochthonous cases of Zika virus infection. The preliminary confirmation was provided by the national reference laboratory and has since been confirmed by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Fort Collins. Salvadoran health authorities are implementing the corresponding prevention and control activities.

Microcephaly – Brazil

The Ministry of Health (MoH) of Brazil has provided PAHO/WHO with an update regarding the unusual increase in the number of cases of microcephaly among newborns in the northeast of Brazil.

As of 21 November, a total of 739 cases of microcephaly were being investigated in nine states in the northeast of Brazil. The distribution of the cases was as follows: Pernambuco (487 cases), Paraíba (96 cases), Sergipe (54 cases), Rio Grande do Norte (47 cases), Piauí (27 cases), Alagoas (10 cases), Ceará (9 cases), Bahia (8 cases) and Goiás (1 case). One fatal case was reported in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone 05a (Megh), located approximately 422 nm east of Socotra Island, Yemen, is tracking west-southwestward at 09 knots.

NewsBytes:

Jordan – Heavy rain in Jordan has flooded the streets of the capital Amman, causing road closures and power cuts. Two people died when a basement flooded.

Brazil – Bento Rodrigues, a town in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, was flooded after a dam holding waste water from an iron mine burst early Thursday. At least 15 people were reported to have died.

Disease

Exanthematous illness outbreak in Brazil

Health professionals recently announced that the outbreak of exanthematous illness in Salvador, Brazil, is connected to the Chikungunya, dengue and zika viruses that have grown to be significant public health threats around the world.

A zika infection typically has symptoms that resemble dengue fever and exanthema, including conjunctivitis, a low-grade fever, and arthralgia. Zika and exanthematous illness outbreaks have been linked to higher rates of cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The first warning of the outbreak was sent to the Salvador Epidemiologic Surveillance Office (ESO) this year. In March, confirmed exanthematous illness cases began to rise, and by April the ESO announced that there were 10 public emergency health centres within Salvador. The centres are used as systematic surveillance units for patients who have acute exanthematous illness. As of today, the health investigators have not yet determined the origin of the disease outbreak.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health confirmed in May this year that Zika is now spreading through Brazil. Health professionals have confirmed that Zika is an etiologic agent to the rise in acute exanthematous illness.

The current acute exanthematous illness outbreak is spreading throughout Salvador. This city is the third-largest in Brazil, posing a notable health threat to the wellness of the country.

Drought

Brazil’s drought deeper than thought

New satellite data shows Brazil’s drought is worse than previously thought, with the southeast losing 56 trillion liters of water in each of the past three years – more than enough to fill Lake Tahoe, a NASA scientist said on Friday.

The country’s most severe drought in 35 years has also caused the Brazil’s larger and less-populated northeast to lose 49 trillion liters of water each year over three years compared with normal levels, said NASA hydrologist Augusto Getirana.

Brazilians are well aware of the drought due to water rationing, power blackouts and empty reservoirs in parts of the country but this is the first study to document exactly how much water has disappeared from aquifers and reservoirs, Getirana said.

The Cantareira water reservoir system providing water for 8.8 million residents of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, for example, was filled to less than 11 percent of its capacity last year, local officials reported.

Home to the Amazon River, Brazil does not have an absolute shortage of water, he said. The problem is that heavily populated regions, particularly the country’s southeast, depend on local reservoirs and aquifers which are not being replenished due to the drought.

Water could theoretically be shipped into drought-affected cities from other parts of the country, he said, but the financial and logistical costs would be huge.

Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 10 and 13 October 2015, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 4 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. The four cases are from the same compound in Riyadh city.

Zika virus infection – Brazil and Colombia

Between 8 October and 16 October 2015, the National IHR Focal Points of Brazil and Colombia notified PAHO/WHO of cases of Zika virus infection.

In May 2015, the public health authorities of Brazil confirmed autochthonous transmission of Zika virus in the northeastern part of the country. As of 8 October, autochthonous cases of Zika virus had been detected in 14 states: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Paraná, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Roraima, and São Paulo.