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Brazil declares emergency after 2400 babies born with brain damage

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Women with their newborns in a Brazilian maternity hospital image www.newcures.info

Women with their newborns in a Brazilian maternity hospital. Photo: Getty Images

Brazilian health authorities are sounding the alarm about a mosquito-borne virus that they believe may be the cause of thousands of infants being born with damaged brains.

The pathogen, known as Zika and first discovered in forest monkeys in Africa over 70 years ago, is the new West Nile – a virus that causes mild symptoms in most but can lead to serious neurological complications or even death in others. Brazil’s health ministry said on November 28 that it had found the Zika virus in a baby with microcephaly – a rare condition in which infants are born with shrunken skulls – during an autopsy after the child died. The virus was also found in the amniotic fluid of two mothers whose babies had the condition.

“This is an unprecedented situation, unprecedented in world scientific research,” the ministry said in a statement on its website, according to CNN.

Brazil is investigating more than more than 2400 suspected cases of microcephaly and 29 deaths of infants that occurred this year. Last year the country saw only 147 cases of microcephaly.

The situation in Brazil is so overwhelming that Angela Rocha, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist, said that women may want to hold off on getting pregnant.

“These are newborns who will require special attention their entire lives. It’s an emotional stress that just can’t be imagined,” Rocha said. “We’re talking about a generation of babies that’s going to be affected.”

Until a few years ago, human infections with the virus were almost unheard of. Then, for reasons scientists can’t explain but think may have to do with the complicated effects of climate change, it began to pop up in far-flung parts of the world. In 2007, it infected nearly three-quarters of Yap Island’s 11,000 residents. In 2013, Zika showed up in Tahiti and other parts of French Polynesia and was responsible for making an estimated 28,000 people so ill they sought medical care. It arrived in Brazil in May, where tens of thousands have fallen ill.

The World Health Organization, which has been monitoring the spread of the virus closely and issued an alert about the situation in Brazil, reported this month that it had popped up for the first time in the West African nation of Cape Verde and that it had led to additional illnesses in Panama and Honduras.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found the virus in a few travellers returning from overseas, but says there have not come across any cases of people being infected by mosquitoes in the country.

Brazil has been struggling to contain the virus for months through both public education campaigns – which urge residents to use insect repellant and limit their time outdoors – as well as by sending mosquito eradication teams house to house to treat places where mosquitoes that carry the virus might breed.

The health ministry said it was sending truckloads of larvicide – enough to treat 3560 Olympic-sized swimming pools – to northeastern and southeastern states that have been most affected, and that it would add 266,000 new community health agents to make the house calls.

Washington Post

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Henry Sapiecha

Jimmy Carter says his brain cancer is gone

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Jimmy Carter revealed his illness in August image www.newcures.info

Former US President Jimmy Carter has said that his brain cancer is gone.

“My most recent MRI brain scan did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones,” Mr Carter said in a statement.

The 91-year-old first announced the news during a Sunday school class in Plains, Georgia.

Mr Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981 and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, revealed his illness in August.

Doctors have been treating four small melanoma lesions on his brain.

Last month, Mr Carter said he was responding well to treatment and there were no signs of further cancer growth.

Jill Stuckey, a member of the congregation at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper that Mr Carter had been teaching the class of about 350 people when he made the announcement.

“He said he got a scan this week and the cancer was gone,” she said.

“The church, everybody here, just erupted in applause.”

Human rights advocate

Mr Carter revealed in August that cancer initially found in his liver had spread to four spots on his brain. The lesion on his liver was removed on 12 August.

After leaving the White House, Mr Carter founded the Carter Center, which focuses on human-rights efforts and political mediation.

He has remained active with the centre ever since.

Mr Carter – a Georgia Democrat – won the Nobel Peace prize for his commitment to finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts and his work with human rights and democracy initiatives.

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Henry Sapiecha