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Zika Virus - WHO Declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

                                               

WHO Director-General summarizes the outcome of the Emergency Committee on Zika

who.int - February 1, 2016

WHO statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations 

I 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. The Committee met today by teleconference.

In assessing the level of threat, the 18 experts and advisers looked in particular at 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.

The experts agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. All agreed on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.

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Is the world ready for the Zika virus?

In the US, only five laboratories can diagnose the Zika virus — and a vaccine has not been developed

america.aljazeera.com - February 1, 2016

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus and the suspected associated birth defects an international public health emergency. Experts say the numbers are a sign that global surveillance systems — important for medical response — are working. But with no vaccine available and only five laboratories that can diagnose the virus in the U.S., there is a long road ahead. In this America Tonight excerpt, Lisa Fletcher talks to public health experts [Gavin Macgregor-Skinner and Anthony Fauci] about the global health disaster we're now facing.

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/2016/2/is-the-world-ready-for-the-zika-virus.html

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Obama Calls for Rapid Zika Research as Virus Seen Spreading

           

A public health technician inspects an Aedes aegyti mosquito in a research lab to help prevent the spread of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the entomology department of the Ministry of Public Health, in Guatemala City, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/JOSUE DECAVELE

uk.reuters.com - by Julie Steenhuysen and Roberta Rampton - January 27, 2016

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the rapid development of tests, vaccines and treatments to fight the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects and could spread to the United States in warmer months. . . .

. . . "The president emphasized the need to accelerate research efforts to make available better diagnostic tests, to develop vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that all Americans have information about the Zika virus and steps they can take to better protect themselves from infection," the White House said in a statement. . . .

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WHO to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations

                              

who.int - January 28, 2016

WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, will convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.

The Committee will meet on Monday 1 February in Geneva to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Decisions concerning the Committee’s membership and advice will be made public on WHO’s website.

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ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLES WITHIN THE LINKS BELOW:

CLICK HERE -Reuters - WHO says Zika virus spreads explosively, 4 million cases forecast

CLICK HERE - The Washington Post - WHO: Zika virus ‘spreading explosively,’ level of alarm ‘extremely high’

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Did Brazil, Global Health Agencies Fumble Zika Response?

           

reuters.com - by Paulo Prada - January 30, 2016

. . . "We knew this was something else," says Carlos Brito, a doctor from Recife who told state and federal health authorities in January-February last year that they were wrong to classify all the cases as dengue. "But the authorities were slow to believe,” he said.

Kleber Luz, a physician in Natal, a city 300 km up the Atlantic coast, says he gave similar feedback but got the same response.

. . . "You have to gather the data," says Marcos Espinal, director of the department of communicable diseases at PAHO, dismissing criticism that the regional body or headquarters could have moved any sooner.

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Zika Virus Threatens U.S. from Abroad

          

ZIKA, THE MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASE LINKED TO A WORRISOME BIRTH DEFECT CALLED MICROCEPHALY AND ANOTHER AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO THE U.S. IN THE BLOODSTREAMS OF SOME 20-PLUS TRAVELERS SINCE 2007. THEY PICKED IT UP IN MORE THAN A DOZEN COUNTRIES, MOSTLY ACROSS SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA. ALTHOUGH THE TWO TYPES OF MOSQUITOES CAPABLE OF TRANSMITTING THE VIRUS ARE ALREADY IN THE U.S., SO FAR, THE VIRUS HAS NOT YET BEEN LOCALLY SPREAD HERE.  GRAPHIC BY AMANDA MONTAÑEZ

scientificamerican.com - by Dina Fine Maron - January 26, 2016

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The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics

submitted by Albert Gomez

ellenmacarthurfoundation.org - January 19, 2016

Applying circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows could transform the plastics economy and drastically reduce negative externalities such as leakage into oceans, according to this new report.

The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics provides, for the first time, a vision of a global economy in which plastics never become waste, and outlines concrete steps towards achieving the systemic shift needed.

The report was produced by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with analytical support from McKinsey & Company, as part of Project MainStream, a global, multi-industry initiative that aims to accelerate business-driven innovations to help scale the circular economy. It was financially supported by the MAVA Foundation.

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Why Solar and Wind Are Thriving Despite Cheap Fossil Fuels

          

Wind turbines provide energy for the residents of Samso Island, a Danish island that gets all its power from renewable sources. PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW HENDERSON, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Low oil prices are rattling stock markets, but investors remain bullish on solar, wind, and other clean energy. Here are three reasons why.

nationalgeographic.com - by Wendy Koch - January 22, 2016

The prolonged plunge in fossil fuel prices is rippling across the globe. Yet it’s barely put a dent in the booming market for clean energy, heralding perhaps a new era for wind and solar.

Oil prices of less than $30 a barrel—the lowest in 12 years—have shaken stock markets and ravaged the budgets of major producers such as Russia and Saudi Arabia. Along with falling gas prices, they’ve slashed the profits of fossil fuel companies, which are delaying dozens of billion-dollar projects and laying off thousands of workers. . . .

. . . But solar, wind, and other clean energy? They’re expanding.

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WHO Unveils Alarming Data on Air Pollution

submitted by George Hurlburt

          

Smog in central London in 2011. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

care2.com - by Lizabeth Paulat - January 24, 2016

New figures to be released from the World Health Organization show some incredibly alarming statistics on global pollution. The impact it has on health cannot be understated. According to the data it kills more people annually than HIV and Malaria combined. Yet the misery doesn’t stop at death. It also causes millions to suffer from chronic illnesses such as asthma and lung inflammation.

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ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLES AND RESEARCH WITHIN THE LINKS BELOW:

CLICK HERE - The Guardian - Shock figures to reveal deadly toll of global air pollution

CLICK HERE - Nature - The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale

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NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015

2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to a new analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The record-breaking year continues a long-term warming trend — 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have now occurred since 2001. Credits: Scientific Visualization Studio/Goddard Space Flight Center

nasa.gov - January 20, 2016

Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.

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