Graziano da Silva: 20 Million People Could Starve to Death in Next Six Months

The 156th session of the FAO Council runs from 24-28 April 2017.

Famine in the spotlight at FAO Council

fao.org - April 24, 2017

Urgent action is needed to save the lives of people facing famine in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, FAO Directory-General José Graziano da Silva said today at the opening of the UN agency's Council. 

"If nothing is done, some 20 million people could starve to death in the next six months," the Director-General said in his opening address. "Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades."  

Council members will be briefed on the extent of the hunger crises, and the steps required to prevent catastrophe, during the week-long session.

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China's H7N9 Cases Spike, Led by Infections in Beijing

josephbergen / Flickr cc

cidrap.umn.edu - by Lisa Schnirring - April 21, 2017

After several weeks of declining H7N9 avian influenza activity, China's cases are rising again, partly related to a recent spurt of local infections in Beijing, an area that usually doesn't see many cases and is located north of the main hot spots.

Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP), citing mainland health officials, said today that 27 more cases, 7 of them fatal, were reported from Apr 14 to Apr 20. Seven of them are in Beijing. Cases peaked in January and February, but over the past few weeks, new infections had declined to about 15 a week.

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CLICK HERE - PRESS RELEASE - Hong Kong - Centre for Health Protection

Updates will be posted within the links below . . . 

Hong Kong - Centre for Health Protection - Avian Influenza Report
http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/guideline1_year/29/134/332.html

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High Level of Heart Defects Found in Zika-Affected Babies

kontiki / iStock

CLICK HERE - PLOS - Echocardiographic findings in infants with presumed congenital Zika syndrome: Retrospective case series study

cidrap.umn.edu - by Lisa Schnirring - April 21, 2017

Echocardiography evaluation of a group of Brazilian babies with Zika-related birth defects found three times the expected rate of congenital heart disease (CHD), but only one infant had symptoms and most had minor septal defects that weren't hemodynamically significant.

The study is the first time CHD has been assessed in infants with congenital Zika infections, and so far there haven't been any reports of autopsy findings suggesting a connection, but other flaviviruses such as dengue have been associated with myocarditis and pericarditis.

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Why the Menace of Mosquitoes Will Only Get Worse

Aedes aegypti. Credit Andrew Bettles for The New York Times

Climate change is altering the environment in ways that increase the potential for viruses like Zika.

nytimes.com - by Maryn McKenna - April 20, 2017

 . . . Climate change is turning abnormal weather into a common occurrence: Last year was the warmest year on record, the third in a row, and there were more heat waves, freezes and storms in the United States that caused $1 billion or more in damage just in 2016 than in the years 1980 to 1984 combined. Anything that improves conditions for mosquitoes tips the scales for the diseases they carry as well: the West Nile virus that flattened Dallas, the dengue that returned to Florida in 2009 after 63 years and the newest arrival, Zika, which gained a toehold in the United States last year and is expected to surge this summer . . .

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How a Warming Planet Drives Human Migration

           

           

Climate displacement is becoming one of the world’s most powerful — and destabilizing — geopolitical forces.

CLICK HERE - NASA - Common Sense Climate Index

CLICK HERE - UNHCR - Global Forced Displacement

CLICK HERE - REPORT - UNHCR - Global Trends - Forced Displacement in 2015 (68 page .PDF report)

nytimes.com - by Jessica Benko - April 19, 2017

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‘They’re Just Hiding’: Experts Say Puerto Rico May Be Underreporting Zika-Affected Births

submitted by Alicia Juarrero

           

A mother caresses her 2-month-old son, who has been diagnosed with microcephaly.  CARLOS GIUSTI/AP

statnews.com - by Helen Branswell - April 8, 2017

The number of babies born in Puerto Rico with microcephaly and other birth defects caused by the Zika virus appears to be unexpectedly low — so low that experts are beginning to question whether the actual count is being significantly underreported by authorities on the island.

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Stunning Drops in Solar and Wind Costs Turn Global Power Market Upside Down

           

CREDIT: U.N. and BNEF

CLICK HERE - REPORT - United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) - GLOBAL TRENDS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENT 2017 (90 page .PDF report)

The world built more renewables for far less money last year, report UN and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

thinkprogress.org - by Joe Romm - April 6, 2017

Stunning drops in the cost of wind and solar energy have turned the global power market upside down . . .

 . . . Unsubsidized renewables have become the cheapest source of new power — by far — in more and more countries, according to a new report from the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

In just one year, the cost of solar generation worldwide dropped on average 17 percent, the report found. The average costs for onshore wind dropped 18 percent last year, while those for offshore wind fell a whopping 28 percent.

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Thousands Of Bacteria-Infected Mosquitoes Released To Fight Zika & Other Viruses

           

miami.cbslocal.com - April 18, 2017

On Tuesday, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate with naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria.

The offspring produced when the lab-bred mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes won’t survive to adulthood. Male mosquitoes don’t bite, and Wolbachia is not harmful to humans.

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Receding Glacier Causes Immense Canadian River to Vanish in Four Days

       

A view of the ice canyon that now carries meltwater from the Kaskawulsh glacier, seen here on the right, away from the Slims river and toward the Kaskawulsh river. Photograph: Dan Shugar/University of Washington Tacoma

First ever observed case of ‘river piracy’ saw the Slims river disappear as intense glacier melt suddenly diverted its flow into another watercourse

theguardian.com - by Hannah Devlin - April 17, 2017

An immense river that flowed from one of Canada’s largest glaciers vanished over the course of four days last year, scientists have reported, in an unsettling illustration of how global warming dramatically changes the world’s geography.

The abrupt and unexpected disappearance of the Slims river, which spanned up to 150 metres at its widest points, is the first observed case of “river piracy”, in which the flow of one river is suddenly diverted into another.

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'It Scares Me': Permafrost Thaw in Canadian Arctic Sign of Global Trend

           

Jim McDonald, the mayor of Inuvik, stands in front of a warehouse that’s slated for demolition due to melting permafrost, which has shifted the building's foundation. (David Michael Lamb/CBC)

cbc.ca - by David Michael Lamb - April 17, 2017

Canada is melting.

Like a popsicle taken out of the freezer and left on the counter, the permanently frozen ground in the northern reaches of this country is thawing at an ever faster rate . . .

 . . . For years now, buildings in Inuvik have been gradually sinking into the ground as it softens. Others are so unstable, they are literally sliding off their foundations . . . 

 . . . This is where a local problem becomes a global concern.

Scientists in the Northwest Territories, Alaska and Siberia are now realizing that as the ground under them melts, it will not only make life harder for the people living in the Arctic, but will in fact speed up climate change around the globe.

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Why People Have to Learn to Live with Wildfires

           

REUTERS/Noah Berger

CLICK HERE - STUDY - PNAS - Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes

grist.org - by Bobby Magill - April 17, 2017

Communities across the Western U.S. and Canada may have to adapt to living with the ever-increasing threat of catastrophic wildfires as global warming heats up and dries out forests across the West, according to a University of Colorado study published Monday.

Residents living in neighborhoods adjacent to forests — known as “wildland-urban interface” zones — will have to accept that many wildfires may have to be allowed to burn and that building new homes in fire-prone forests should be discouraged, the study says.

Firefighters and policymakers will also have to adapt in new ways as catastrophic wildfires burn more land and destroy more homes than ever before.

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Huge Genome Study Dissects Ebola Outbreak's Spread

NSAID / Flickr

CLICK HERE - Nature - Virus genomes reveal factors that spread and sustained the Ebola epidemic

cidrap.umn.edu - Lisa Schnirring - April 14, 2017

The largest genome sample ever analyzed for a human epidemic reveals that the West Africa epidemic unfolded with small, overlapping outbreaks as the virus spread over short distances and that urban settings amplified the spread.

Meanwhile, another study harnessed different advanced scientific tools in the blood of a single sick patient to detail gene-level response during infection.

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CLICK HERE - Science Translational Medicine - Longitudinal peripheral blood transcriptional analysis of a patient with severe Ebola virus disease

 

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There’s Another Mosquito Carrying Zika Virus

submitted by Alicia Juarrero

           

CLICK HERE - Journal of Medical Entomology - Evidence of Zika Virus RNA Fragments in Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) Field-Collected Eggs From Camaçari, Bahia, Brazil

Zika Found in Common Backyard Asian Tiger Mosquito

nbcnews.com - by Maggie Fox - April 14, 2017

A common backyard mosquito can be infected with the Zika virus and it may pass the virus along in its eggs, researchers reported Friday.

The findings add to worries that the Asian tiger mosquito, scientifically known as Aedes albopictus, could help spread the virus as mosquito season hits temperate regions of the world.

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, doesn't prove that tiger mosquitoes can spread Zika, which causes severe birth defects. But it adds to evidence that they might.

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Texas Warns About Biggest Mumps Outbreak in 22 Years

                                        

CLICK HERE - Texas Department of State Health Services - Texas Alerts Providers, Public about Mumps as Cases Reach 20-year High

cnn.com - by Susan Scutti - April 14, 2017

The Texas Department of State Health Services warned this week of multiple ongoing mumps outbreaks. The surge, which includes 221 cases this year, constitutes the highest incidence of mumps in the state in 22 years.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person through saliva and mucus.

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New CRISPR Tool Can Detect Tiny Amounts of Viruses

The Cas13a enzyme causes collateral RNA damage that is the heart of a new diagnostic system, SHERLOCK, that can detect minute quantities of virus and much more.  Broad Institute

CLICK HERE - Nucleic acid detection with CRISPR-Cas13a/C2c2

sciencemag.org - by Jon Cohen - April 13, 2017

 . . . That’s the realm of SHERLOCK, a new diagnostic system that can detect attomolar levels of viruses in a sample and also distinguish Zika from its close relative, dengue. This exquisitely sensitive and specific tool promises to help detect diseases that other diagnostics miss, and it’s simple and cheap to use. Sexier still, it exploits a variation of CRISPR, the genome-editing method that has become the rage in biology.

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