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World Travel News Headlines

Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 18:56:32 +0200

Rome, Aug 20, 2018 (AFP) - Five hikers have died after a mountain stream suddenly flooded in Italy's Calabria region, local emergency services said Monday.   "We can confirm five deaths, according to the police on the scene," the local civil protection unit told AFP.   According to local media reports the five dead were part of a group of approximately 15 people walking along the Raganello stream in the Pollino national park, around a dozen of whom were rescued.

A search and rescue operation is ongoing, including with the help of a helicopter, to establish whether there are any more people missing. It is not clear how many people were in the park when the stream flooded.   Earlier on Monday this part of Calabria, near the town of Cosenza, experienced several hours of heavy rain and strong winds although conditions have now eased.
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 18:03:11 +0200

Los Angeles, Aug 20, 2018 (AFP) - Hurricane Lane was circling Hawaii Monday, with US forecasters warning the storm could cause "large and dangerous surf" and strong currents along shorelines in the US archipelago.   Packing maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (205 kilometres per hour), the Category Three storm was swirling some 615 miles (990 kilometres) southeast of Hilo, a town on Hawaii's Big Island.   Lane was likely to continue its westward march and could start losing wind power late Tuesday, the Honolulu-based Central Pacific Hurricane Center said, but the threat of treacherous sea swells remained.
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 15:00:58 +0200
By Jérémy MICHAUDET with Olivier DEVOS in Lyon

Gap, France, Aug 20, 2018 (AFP) - More than 50 cows, sheep and horses have died in France's most serious outbreak of anthrax in two decades, according to officials who have warned of a vaccine shortage.   Authorities in the mountainous Hautes-Alpes region of southeastern France said the infection, which can spread to humans and is deadly in its rarest forms, had spread to 28 farms since June.   Anthrax is transmitted by spores that can stay inactive in the ground for decades, including in the bodies of dead animals.

French vets have been battling to contain the outbreak because the Spanish laboratory which produces the vaccines has been closed throughout August for the summer vacation.   "The state is in talks with its European partners to discuss the availability and purchase of vaccines" which other countries may have stockpiled, said senior regional official Agnes Chavanon Sunday.   Cases of anthrax being passed on to humans are "extremely rare", said Christine Ortmans, a doctor with regional health agency ARS.   No one has been reported ill during the current outbreak, she stressed.   Cutaneous anthrax -- which appears on the skin and is by far the most common form of the infection -- is rarely deadly when treated with antibiotics.   But the bacteria which causes it, bacillus anthracis, produces a powerful toxin and has been used as a biological weapon.

Most notoriously a series of attacks using anthrax, delivered through the mail, terrorised the United States in 2001 a week after the carnage of September 11.   A bioweapons expert killed himself after being charged over the attacks, in which five people were killed and 17 others made ill.   Senior Hautes-Alpes official Serge Cavalli said animals were being vaccinated at affected farms in the region.   Those hit have been banned from production for at least 21 days while the farms are disinfected and to provide time for the vaccinated animals to become immune.   Any milk on site is pasteurised and then destroyed.   The last serious French outbreak was in 2008 when anthrax spread to 23 farms, most of them in the eastern Doubs area.

The first case in the current outbreak was detected in the village of Montgardin on June 28, killing six cows, and has since spread to 12 others.   Cows struck by anthrax swell in the abdomen and bleed from their orifices, and often die in less than 24 hours.   The disease is fairly rare, although more than 100 cases have been registered at French farms since 1999 -- often during hot summers after periods of heavy rain.    The ARS said 103 people in the Hautes-Alpes region had been flagged as having potentially come into contact with infected animals, most of them farmers, vets or slaughterhouse workers.   Half have been given preventative antibiotics, according to officials.
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 13:39:55 +0200
By Aman Alief

Mataram, Indonesia, Aug 20, 2018 (AFP) - At least 10 people are dead after a string of powerful quakes rocked the Indonesian holiday island of Lombok, authorities said Monday, in a fresh blow just weeks after earlier tremors left hundreds dead and thousands more homeless.   The latest quakes struck Sunday, with the first measuring 6.3 shortly before midday. It triggered landslides and sent people fleeing for cover as parts of Lombok suffered blackouts.   It was followed nearly 12 hours later by a 6.9-magnitude quake and a string of powerful aftershocks.   The picturesque island next to holiday hotspot Bali was already reeling from two deadly quakes on July 29 and August 5 that killed nearly 500 people.

Ten people were killed in the strong quake Sunday evening, mostly by falling debris, including six people on the neighbouring island of Sumbawa, according to the national disaster agency.   Some two dozen people were injured in Lombok and more than 150 homes and places of worship damaged, the agency said.   Tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok had already been destroyed by the quake earlier this month.   Most people caught in the latest tremor had been outside their homes or at shelters when it struck which kept casualties low, said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.   "The trauma because of the earlier quake on Sunday (morning) made people prefer to stay outside," he added.   Aid agencies vowed to boost humanitarian assistance on the island as devastated residents struggle in makeshift displacement camps.   Indonesia's disaster agency said it was accelerating efforts to rebuild destroyed homes, hospitals and schools, while Save the Children pledged to escalate its humanitarian response.    "We are gravely concerned about the repeated distress caused to children by the multiple shocks," the relief agency said.

- 'Too scared at home' -
Video images from an evacuation camp in Lombok showed children and adults taking cover inside makeshift tents.   "I'm too scared to stay at my house because it's damaged," said resident Saruniwati, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.   "I've been here since the quake (earlier this month). I went home two days ago and now I'm back here again."

Local Agus Salim said the powerful tremor jolted him awake Sunday evening.   "The earthquake was incredibly strong. Everything was shaking," he told AFP.   "Everyone ran into the street screaming and crying."   There were landslides in a national park on Mount Rinjani where hundreds of hikers had been briefly trapped after the quake in late July. The park has been closed since then.   Sunday's tremors were also felt on Bali but there were no reports of damage there.

- 'Ring of Fire' -
The latest tremor follows the a shallow 6.9-magnitude quake on August 5 that killed at least 481 people and left thousands more injured.   The hardest-hit region was in the north of the island, which has suffered hundreds of aftershocks.   A week before that quake, a tremor surged through the island and killed 17.   The disasters have raised fears that Lombok's key tourism industry would take a beating, but the international airport was operating normally Monday with no exodus of frightened tourists.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.   The Australian and Eurasian plates, which sit under the archipelago, have been colliding and putting stress on key area fault lines, according to a geologist.   "Clearly there are different parts of the fault that are moving at the moment releasing those stressors," said Chris Elders, an expert in plate tectonics and structural geology at Curtin University in West Australia.   In 2004 a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 13:04:55 +0200

Cairo, Aug 20, 2018 (AFP) - An Egyptian army captain has been killed by an improvised explosive device blast in North Sinai during a campaign to eliminate jihadists, medics said on Monday.   The officer died Sunday evening after an explosion hit his vehicle west of the coastal city of El-Arish, a local medical source said.   The Egyptian army has since February been conducting a major operation focused on the Sinai Peninsula to wipe out jihadists from the Islamic State group.

The military says that over 250 suspected jihadists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed in its "Sinai 2018" operation.   Jihadists launched an insurgency in Sinai after the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was forced out by the military in the face of mass protests against his rule.
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 16:36:42 +0200

Kinshasa, Aug 19, 2018 (AFP) - The deadly Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo has now claimed 49 lives since the start of the month, the government has said, and the World Health Organization expects more cases.   The gradually increasing death toll, with a further 2,000 people feared to have come into contact with the virus, adds to the woes of a country already facing violence, displacement and political uncertainty.

First reported on August 1 in the North Kivu province, the current outbreak has killed 49 of the 90 cases reported, according to the latest health ministry bulletin on Saturday.   It said of the 49 deaths from the haemorrhagic fever, 63 were confirmed and 27 were probable. Confirmed cases are verified through laboratory tests on samples taken from patients. The cases treated as "probable" often concern sick people with a close epidemiological link to confirmed cases, but who have not been tested. 

Most deaths -- 39 -- were recorded in the agricultural village of Mangina 30 kilometres (some 20 miles) southwest of  the city of Beni. Three deaths occurred in the neighbouring province of Ituri.   Field teams also identified 2,157 "contacts" -- people who may have been in contact with the virus -- according to the health ministry.   WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters on Friday from the UN agency's Geneva headquarters that it "expects more cases".   "We do not know if all the chains of transmission have been identified," he added.

The outbreak is the 10th to strike the DRC since 1976, when Ebola was first identified and named after a river in the north of the country.   Ebola has long been considered incurable, though swift isolation and the rapid treatment of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration has helped some patients to survive.   The quest for a vaccine grew increasingly urgent during an Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people in the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15.
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2018 07:10:12 +0200

Sydney, Aug 19, 2018 (AFP) - A strong 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off Fiji Sunday, the US Geological Survey said, but it was too deep to generate a tsunami and there were no reports of damage.   The tremor hit at 12:19 pm (0019 GMT) local time 361 kilometres (224 miles) east of the Pacific nation's capital Suva, at a depth of 563 kilometres, the US seismologists said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was "no tsunami threat because the earthquake is located too deep inside the Earth".   The quake, and several aftershocks ranging up to magnitude 6.8, were felt as a rippling effect in the outer Lau islands group but residents in Suva, on the main island of Viti Levu, said they did not feel a thing.   The government's Seismology Unit issued a statement saying the earthquake "does not pose any immediate threat to the Fiji region due to its deep depth".   The quake occurred in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a region of frequent seismic activity due to collisions between continental plates.
Date: Fri 17 Aug 2018
Source: Outbreak News Today [edited]

The Ugandan government says effort to eliminate river blindness (onchocerciasis) have suffered setbacks from recurrent cross-border transmissions from neighbouring South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Addressing a meeting held to evaluate progress towards the elimination of river blindness in Kampala recently, Uganda Onchocerciasis Elimination Expert Advisory Committee head Dr Edridah Muheki said long-running conflicts in her neighbours have complicated Uganda's disease control efforts.

"The Uganda (river blindness control) programme has been active for a long time and we are headed for elimination of the disease.

"However, South Sudan and DR Congo have not had stable disease control programmes for years. There have been cross-border transmissions and that affects progress in Uganda. We are strengthening cross-border collaborations to enhance disease control," Dr Muheki said.

Civil wars, banditry and militia activity in the DR Congo and South Sudan have stalled government epidemiological studies to establish the prevalence of river blindness.

Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceh said it is critical for Uganda to work with her conflict-ridden neighbours to control river blindness, which remains prevalent along the common borders.

To fill up the epidemiological data gaps, the World Health Organization (WHO), Uganda, DR Congo and South Sudan are undertaking a mapping exercise to establish disease prevalence.

Among other uses, the findings will help inform a government mass drug administration program that is due to be rolled out in endemic areas.

River blindness is spread by the black fly which inhabits and reproduces in fast-flowing water bodies and humid forests. An estimated 90 percent of the annual cases occur in Africa.  [Byline: Oscar Nkala]
[Onchocerciasis -- African river blindness -- is caused by infection with the nematode _Onchocerca volvulus_, transmitted by black flies, _Simulium_ spp. Control programs have used insecticide spraying and mass treatment with ivermectin every 6 months. Ivermectin reduces the microfilaria load in the skin and treatment of all refugees arriving into Uganda would probably be the best method to handle an influx of cases.

Information on onchocerciasis can be found at

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Uganda:
Date: Tue 16 Aug 2018 9:56 am IDT
Source: Hamodia [edited]

The Environment Ministry has issued orders to local authorities around the country to act to reduce the mosquito population in their jurisdictions, after mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus were discovered at a number of locations in Israel. The infected mosquitoes were discovered in areas that included Pardes Chana, Caesarea, Binyamina, and the Menashe [Haifa district], Mateh Yehudah [Jerusalem district] and Gezer [Central district] regional councils.

The infected mosquitoes were discovered over the past 2 weeks in routine inspections by the ministry. However, officials said, because the infected mosquitoes were found in distinct geographic regions, it is likely that they are present in other areas. The ministry ordered that pesticides and other materials be sprayed in rural and suburban areas around the country to prevent further spread of the disease.

Dr Uri Shalom of the ministry said that residents should avoid collected water sources in backyards and on the sides of roads, as well as in parks and bomb shelters -- anywhere standing water could harbor mosquito nests. The use of anti mosquito creams and formulas is also encouraged, as is wearing long-sleeved clothing and avoiding shorts. The virus is spread by mosquitoes that have fed on birds and animals infected with West Nile virus, and it is then transmitted to humans when mosquitoes bite them.  [Byline: Dror Halavy]
[West Nile virus (WNV) is endemic in Israel, with 40-160 cases reported annually. One of the primary routes of WNV transmission is via migrating birds and Israel is located on a central migratory path between Africa and Eurasia (Leshem Y, Yom-Tov Y. Routes of migrating soaring birds in Israel. International J Avian Sci. 1998; 140: 41-52). Most West Nile fever (WNF) cases reported in recent years were among residents of the coastal plain (Bassal R, Shohat T, Kaufman Z, et al. The seroprevalence of West Nile Virus in Israel: A nationwide cross sectional study. PLoS One. 2017; 12(6): e0179774. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179774; <>)

Diverse WNV lineages clades and clusters has been isolated from mosquitoes in Israel during the past 15 years and the Mediterranean subtype of WNV lineage 1 has been found to permanently circulate in the region (Lustig Y, Hindiyeh M, Orshan L, et al. Mosquito surveillance for 15 years reveals high genetic diversity among West Nile Viruses in Israel. J Infect Dis. 2016; 213: 1107-14. pmid:26597260; <>).

A nationwide cross sectional study by Bassal et al, reported high (11.1 percent) seroprevalence of WNV in Israel in 2017 (<>).

As no WNV vaccine is currently available for humans, the most effective way to avoid WNV infections is to raise the awareness of the population on reducing the risk of mosquito bites by using insect repellents, wearing protective clothing, and reducing mosquito breeding sites. At the national level, the mosquito surveillance program can help minimize the transmission of the virus all over Israel, but should focus especially at high risk areas. - ProMed Mod.UBA]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Israel:
Date: Thu 16 Aug 2018
Source: iNews [edited]

A dog walker developed life-threatening meningitis after he was bitten by a tick which he believes happened in the UK.

[TV], from the Lake District, was rushed to hospital with an extreme headache and near paralysis of his limbs. Doctors diagnosed him with tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), a potentially fatal infection spread by tick bites found in woodland habitats.

Officials say the disease is not found in the UK, but there's risk of getting it in other parts of Europe -- where it is endemic in 27 countries -- and Asia.

The 33-year-old had travelled to Sardinia before he got ill -- however, doctors were left baffled because TBE typically emerges 1 to 2 weeks after a bite and [the man] only became symptomatic 6 weeks after his trip, raising the possibility he caught the disease after a bite in the UK. If so, this would make him the 1st such case in the UK.

There have been fears TBE could become a problem here after vets previously warned British pets are catching deadly diseases from foreign ticks after travelling to Europe on pet passports.

The sous-chef, who lives in Ambleside, said: "In Sardinia we were on the coast. I was never in an environment where I would come into contact with ticks. In England, I've been exposed to them almost daily by taking my dog out. "I can't say with 100 per cent certainty, but I'd be amazed if the TBE hasn't been contracted here in the UK."

An expert has told iNews that one possible diagnosis for [the patient] could be louping ill, a tick-borne TBE-like illness that is found in the UK. The viral infection of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) affects sheep and grouse in the UK and has been found in humans, although this is very rare. A 2014 research paper reports there have been 45 people who've had it and Public Health England confirmed it has seen just 2 laboratory-confirmed human cases in the UK since 2010.

[The man] visited Sardinia in the 2nd week of May [2018], and became suddenly ill in the middle of June. "I started experiencing extreme lethargy and headaches," he said. "The pain felt like my eyes were on fire, as if they'd been replaced by 2 pieces of red-hot charcoal, melting my sockets."

He also suffered a stiff neck and extreme light sensitivity. After being sent away by his GP with paracetamol and ibuprofen, he was taken to A&E when his symptoms deteriorated. "At this point I couldn't move my eyes and it felt like my body was paralysing," he explained.

[TV] who originally hails from Hungary, was treated with antibiotics. Because he'd returned from a holiday to Africa (where TBE is not reported) in February this year [2018], he was kept in isolation for 6 days, with hospital medics fearing he had a contagious tropical disease.

Doctors also considered and tested him for HIV. But following a battery of tests -- including lumbar puncture, CT scan, X-ray and blood tests -- he was diagnosed with TBE, which often manifests as meningitis (inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord) or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain itself), or both.

The initial symptoms of TBE usually occur 1-2 weeks after a tick bite and include fever, headache, and general flu-like illness followed by 2-10 days of no symptoms, before inflammation of the central nervous system occurs with fever, headache, and signs of meningitis and/or brain inflammation. An incubation of up to 28 days has been described, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

TBE is endemic in many parts of Europe, as well as Russia, northern China, and Japan.

The number of human cases in Europe has increased by almost 400 percent in the last 30 years, according to ECDC. It is predicted that the areas affected will grow due to global warming.

But so far, "TBE virus has never been present in the UK; the cases of TBE in the UK are those who travelled in the endemic areas," said Professor Tom Solomon, chair of neurological science from the University of Liverpool.

But veterinary surgeon Iain Booth, from, is warning pet owners in particular to be vigilant. He said: "More and more vets are reporting increased numbers of parasites in the UK, including ticks and tick-borne diseases. "One possible reason for the rise is the fact more dogs have pet passports to travel in Europe, as well as an increase in dogs being imported to the UK from rescue centres abroad. "We already know that new pathogens, such as _Babesia canis_, have manifested in existing UK tick populations.

Meanwhile infestations of brand new ticks - such as _Rhipicephalus sanguineus_ - have also been reported in the UK. "It was always the fear that tick-borne encephalitis could enter the UK and infect ticks here."

He urged people to avoid being bitten by wearing trousers and long sleeves and get into the habit of checking yourself and pets for ticks.

[Mr TV] says he he's been bitten by a tick in the Lakes last year [2017] and his exposure to them here is high. He said: "I've recently been spending a prolonged period of time on the fells as I've been attempting to 'bag' all 214 of the Lakeland fells documented by famous fell walker Alfred Wainwright. "My girlfriend also goes fell running with the dog and we often find them crawling on the dog. "We have a lot of ticks here in the Lake district. They're a common sight for me, so much so that I end up picking them off the dog once a week. The dog often sleeps in our bed, too. "I'm 95 percent recovered now, I get the odd shock-like sensation in my head but it's been a scary experience."

Dr Nick Beeching, senior lecturer in clinical infectious diseases at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said TBE and louping ill virus (LIV) are 2 closely related tick-borne viruses. He said: "There are rare cases of louping ill in the UK, which is the UK variant of TBE.

TBE is common in central Europe and is an underestimated risk for those going into forest areas. It is transmitted by tick bites and/or drinking unpasteurised milk. "Cases have been rising in these countries so much that Switzerland, for example, is considering introduction of universal immunisation for the whole population, similar to Austria.

"A few cases are imported to the UK each year by returning visitors and tourists. It is often a severe illness which can cause long-term brain damage and people visiting these areas, especially if hiking and similar activities, should consider being vaccinated against it and taking measures to reduce risk of tick bites. Louping ill is generally regarded as a much milder version of TBE."
[Louping ill (LIV) virus seems the most likely aetiological agent involved in this encephalitis case. LIV is present in the UK and can cause encephalitis in humans. Tick-borne encephalitis virus, although a frequent cause of encephalitis in humans in Europe, has never been detected in the UK.

Louping ill virus (LIV) is a tick-borne flavivirus that is part of the tick-borne encephalitis complex of viruses (TBEV). LIV has economic importance by causing illness and death in livestock, especially sheep (_Ovis aries_), and red grouse (_Lagopus lagopus scoticus_) an economically valuable gamebird. The virus occurs predominantly in upland areas of the UK and Ireland. This distribution is closely associated with the presence of its arthropod vector, the hard tick _Ixodes ricinus_.

Louping ill references
1. Jeffries CL, Mansfield KL, Phipps LP, et al. Louping ill virus: an endemic tick-borne disease of Great Britain. J Gen Virol. 2014; 95(Pt 5): 1005-14. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.062356-0. Epub 2014 Feb 19; available at <>.
2. Gilbert L. Louping ill virus in the UK: a review of the hosts, transmission and ecological consequences of control. Exp Appl Acarol. 2016; 68(3): 363-74. doi: 10.1007/s10493-015-9952-x. Epub 2015 Jul 24; abstract available at <>.

The advice to wear light-coloured clothing to more easily see ticks, use repellants, tuck pantlegs into socks, and carefully inspect oneself and one's dogs for ticks after being outdoors is prudent to avoid bites of ticks and the pathogens that they can transmit. - ProMED Mod.TY]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Lake District, England, UK: