Brazil is the largest country in South America and extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean to the depths of the Amazon basin. The climate varies throughout the country but generally it experiences a humid
Safety & Security
The level of crime in many of the main urban centres is certainly rising and tourists need to be aware of the risks involved in travelling particularly in the evening hours. It is wise to use an official taxi for any journeys after dark. It is sensible not to flaunt any personal wealth and to use the hotel safety boxes for any valuables and your travel documents. The amount of crime against tourists tends to be greater in areas surrounding hotels, discotheques, bars, nightclubs and other similar establishments that cater to visitors, especially at dusk and during the evening hours. There are frequent reports of theft on city buses and such transportation should be avoided. A number of the main cities have established specialised tourist police units to patrol areas frequented by tourists. Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia all continue to experience a high incidence of crime.
Throughout this huge country the state of the roads varies greatly. In many regions the roads are dirt tracks and assistance would be hard to obtain for those travelling off from the main tourists routes. Bag snatching from traffic lights occurs in the main cities. If considering hiring a car make certain that your travel insurance is sufficient.
After your flight you will experience a degree of jet lag. Travelling from Europe this will be less than when you travel home but nevertheless it will still cause your body to complain for 24 to 48 hours. Try to have a more relaxing time for the first few days (and also after returning home if possible!). Be careful not to fall asleep by the pool and then awaken with sunburn which could ruin your time abroad.
In any country of this size the level of medical care will vary greatly. This is particular true out side the main tourist resorts. English speaking doctors should be available but the level of hospital care can be worrisome. Make certain you carry sufficient supplies of any medication you may require for your entire holiday. Essential drugs (asthma, diabetes, epilepsy etc) should be divided for security.
Sun Exposure and Dehydration
The hot humid tropical climate often leads to quite significant problems for the Irish traveller. Make sure you cover your head when out in the sunlight and drink plenty of fluids to replenish that lost through perspiration. Replace the salt you loose by eating crisps etc orby putting salt on your meal (providing there is no contraindication).
Visiting the Iguassu Falls
These huge waterfalls border Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. There is only minimal risk of malaria and so malaria prophylaxis is not generally recommended. Also, Yellow fever is not transmitted in this area but mosquitoes can abound. Sensible insect bite precautions should be followed at all times.
Food & Water
Many tourists who visit Brazil stay in the main resorts along the southern coast. The food and water preparation in the hotels is normally excellent but eating food from street vendors is generally unwise. Shell fish (bivalve oysters, mussels, clams etc) are unwise even in a five star hotel. Check the water from the cold water tap in your room. If you can’t easily smell chlorine (swimming pool style) don’t use it even for brushing your teeth. If travelling around the country (Caribbean coast or into the Amazon regions) take significantly more care.
This viral disease occurs throughout Brazil and it is usually transmitted through the bite from an infected warm-blooded animal (eg dogs, cats & monkeys). Any contact should be avoided but if it occurs treat it very seriously and seek competent medical attention immediately after you wash out the area and apply an antiseptic.
The risk of malaria is significant all year throughout the Amazon regions. There is insignificant risk for those staying along the coast up as far as Fortaleza and for those remaining in this region prophylaxis is not usually recommended. The risk in the region of Brasilia is also thought to be minimal though this is an area which has unusually experience an outbreak of Yellow Fever recently, and so the situation will require review.
Mosquito Borne Diseases Apart from malaria the other two main diseases transmitted by mosquitoes which cause problems in Brazil are Dengue Fever (mainly along Caribbean Coast but has been reported much further south) and Yellow Fever (mainly in the Amazon Basin but thought to be spreading to other regions). Avoidance techniques are important at all times throughout the day. Swimming **************************************** Most of the main tourist swimming pools will be well maintained and the smell of chlorine will be evident. If sea swimming is on your agenda make sure you go where there are plenty of others and never swim alone. Look for warning signs and pay attention to local advice. Be very careful of local currents which can be dangerous. Vaccinations **************************************** The Brazilian Embassy is advising all travellers to Brazil to have vaccination cover against Yellow Fever. Also for your personal protection it is wise to consider some further vaccines. Generally we would recommend the following vaccination cover; * Yellow Fever (mosquito borne) * Tetanus (childhood booster) * Typhoid (food & water borne) * Hepatitis A (food & water borne) For those travelling more extensively or staying in the country for longer periods we would usually suggest that further vaccines are considered including Hepatitis B, Meningitis and Rabies. Summary **************************************** Many travellers to Brazil will remain perfectly healthy and well providing they follow some sensible precautions. Further information is available from either of our centres regarding any recent disease outbreaks.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Alert: The symptoms are fever with sudden onset in people who have never been vaccinated against yellow fever or with vaccination of less than 10 days and who have been in forested areas where circulation of the virus has been documented during the 15 previous days.
There were 26,549, 13,662, and 35,905 notified cases of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, respectively. The 17 dengue clusters and 15 Zika clusters were spread all over the city, while the 14 chikungunya clusters were more concentrated in the north and downtown areas. Zika clusters persisted over a longer period of time. The multivariate scan statistic -- used to analyse the 3 diseases simultaneously -- detected 17 clusters, 9 of which included all 3 diseases.
This is the 1st study exploring space-time clustering of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika in an intra-urban area. In general, the clusters did not coincide in time and space. This is probably the result of the competition between viruses for host resources and of vector-control attitudes promoted by previous arbovirus outbreaks. The main affected area -- the north region -- is characterised by a combination of high population density and low human-development index, highlighting the importance of targeting interventions in this area. Spatio-temporal scan statistics have the potential to direct interventions to high-risk locations in a timely manner and should be considered as part of the municipal surveillance routine as a tool to optimize prevention strategies.
World Travel News Headlines
By Amelie BARON
Port-au-Prince, Feb 21, 2019 (AFP) - With flaming barricades and widespread looting, 10 days of street violence in Haiti have all but buried a tourism industry that managed to resurrect itself after a devastating earthquake in 2010. Ugly, violent footage beamed around the world has again sent the message that this impoverished Caribbean country is politically unstable and no place to go on vacation.
The final straw was the helicopter evacuation last week of 100-odd Canadian tourists trapped as angry protesters demanded the resignation of the president, whom they accuse of corruption. "We have been through 12 days of hell. We managed the crisis but today we are suffering from the aftershocks," said Tourism Minister Marie-Christine Stephenson.
- Blacklist -
Beside the direct effects of the demonstrations, the United States delivered another crushing blow on February 14 when it urged its citizens not to travel to Haiti, which thus joined a no-go list with war-torn countries like Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The minister said the US travel alert for Haiti was too harsh, calling the riots something that flared up unexpectedly and are now over. "OK, they lasted 12 days but I am not sure that other Caribbean countries, which have had riots of their own, have been punished as severely and quickly as we have," said Stephenson. Overnight, the decision by the US State Department hit the tourism industry hard. Travel web sites simply stopped offering flights to Haiti's two international airports. Hotels are reporting cancellation of reservations and many empty rooms.
Officials in the industry have yet to tally up the damage but say that for the second time in less than a year, they will have to lay off workers. In July of last year, three days of riots over a government attempt to raise fuel prices ruined the summer vacation season for Haiti's tourism industry. It is not just hotels that will suffer again, said Beatrice Nadal-Mevs, president of the Haitian Tourism Association. "This is going to affect everyday people because these are direct jobs that are going to be lost and supply chains will be threatened: farming, fishing, crafts, transport," Nadal-Mevs said.
- Mardi Gras cancelled -
With the opposition planning more demonstrations to seek the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, the sector got yet more bad news with word that Carnival celebrations have been called off in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. City Hall said it could not guarantee revelers' safety. The festivities, which this year were planned for March 3-5, usually draw many Haitians living abroad and fleeing the winter cold in Canada and the eastern US.
Another major Carnival celebration is scheduled to take place in the city of Gonaives, but the government has not said if it will go ahead. As grim as things are, some foreign tourists have gone ahead with visits to Haiti. On Wednesday, a group of Australians under police escort visited a square featuring statues of heros of Haiti's independence from France. Days ago, demonstrators at the same plaza were throwing rocks at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas grenades.
A woman named Carole, who did not want to give her last name, said, "I trust the company we're traveling with. They not only want to take us but they want to bring us back." Kevin McCue, another of the people in the group of 20, said he was glad that their tour operator had not opted for Plan B, which would have meant skipping Haiti and spending the whole week in the neighboring Dominican Republic. "Tourism is alive and well here. People should come. The more they come, the better they spread some money among people who need it and the better for Haiti," said McCue.
By Shafiqul ALAM
Dhaka, Feb 21, 2019 (AFP) - At least 70 people were killed when fire tore through crumbling apartment blocks in a historic part of Dhaka, setting off a chain of explosions and a wall of flames down nearby streets, officials said Thursday. It started in one building where chemicals for deodorants and other household uses were illegally stored and spread at lightning speed to four nearby buildings, the fire service said. People became trapped by the flames at a nearby bridal party and a restaurant. TV images showed the gates to one building were chained up so residents were unable to escape.
Traffic jams in the clogged narrow streets held up the rescue operation. Bangladesh fire chief Ali Ahmed said at least 70 people were killed but that the toll would likely rise. "The number of bodies may increase. The search is still going on," he told AFP. Doctors said at least 10 of the scores of injured were in critical condition. Firefighters who took almost 12 hours to bring the fire under control, went through the blackened floors of the building, littered with spray cans, looking for bodies.
The fire started at about 10.40pm (1640 GMT) on Wednesday at Chawkbazar in the old Mughal part of the capital. Ahmed said it may have been started by a gas cylinder and quickly spread through the building where chemicals were stored in rooms alongside the apartments. Chemicals used for household products were also stored in the nearby buildings. They exploded as the fire spread, witnesses said. "There was a traffic jam when the fire broke out. It spread so quickly that people could not escape," the fire chief said. Another fire official told reporters the blaze was under control but was not extinguished despite the efforts of more than 200 firefighters. "It will take time. This is not like any other fire," he said, adding that the inferno had been made more devastating by the "highly combustible" chemicals. Fire trucks had struggled in the narrow streets to reach the scene and there was also a lack of water for the battle, officials said. The main gate of one five storey building was chained up, trapping residents inside, according to images shown on Bangladesh television.
- 'Flames were everywhere' -
Members of a bridal party in a nearby community centre were also caught in the fire and many were injured. Others were caught in small restaurants. Dhaka deputy police commissioner Ibrahim Khan said at least two cars and 10 cycle rickshaws were burned in the fire. "The victims included passersby, some people who were eating food at a restaurants and some members of the bridal party," he told AFP. "I saw the charred body of a woman who was holding her daughter in her lap as their rickshaw was caught in the fire," said one witness.
Haji Abdul Kader, whose shop was destroyed, said he only survived the blaze as as he had left to go to a pharmacy. "When I was at the pharmacy, I heard a big bang. I turned back and saw the whole street, which was jam packed with cars and rickshaws, in flames. Flames were everywhere," he told AFP. "I got burned and rushed to hospital," he said.
Doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital said at least 55 people were injured, including 10 in a critical condition. Hundreds of people rushed to the hospital looking for missing relatives. However, most of the bodies of the dead were charred beyond recognition. Sohag Hossain, one of the injured, told the Daily Star that he and two friends were working at a plastic factory in one of the buildings at the time of the fire. They heard an explosion and could not escape the flames.
A similar blaze in 2010 in an old Dhaka building, which was also used as a chemical warehouse, killed more than 120 people in one of the worst fire disasters in the city of 20 million people. Dhaka authorities launched a crackdown on chemical warehouses in residential areas following the blaze, but efforts to rein in the practice have waned. Many buildings in Bangladesh lack adequate fire safety measures and the enforcement of fire regulations in factories and apartment buildings is lax.
Source: El Pais in English [edited]
An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of death of a 46-year-old woman, who became ill after eating at a one-star Michelin restaurant called RiFF in Valencia. A total of 23 other patrons, including the victim's husband and 12-year-old son, also fell sick after the meal but their symptoms were mild and they have reportedly all recovered. The case was confirmed by regional health chief Ana Barcela, who expressed her condolences to the family and said that an investigation was already underway. "We've conducted a primary inspection of the establishment and everything appears to be normal," she said. "Analytical tests will now be carried out on the food products."
Barcela explained that the regional public health department will be in charge of the investigation and for determining the causes behind the woman's death. According to sources from the regional health department, the food poisoning outbreak was reported on [Sun 17 Feb 2019], after the 3 family members fell ill. They began to show symptoms of food poisoning - vomiting and diarrhoea - on [Sat 16 Feb 2019]. According to Europa Press, the father and son recovered but the woman's symptoms were more severe, and she died in her home early on the following morning. The investigation into the death revealed that a total of 9 patrons had experienced illness, mainly vomiting, after eating at the same restaurant.
Subsequently, it emerged that a further 14 people had also suffered light symptoms. "17 people have been interviewed, of whom 14 stated that they had some kind of mild symptoms," explained regional health chief Ana BarcelÃ³ today, [Wed 20 Feb 2019]. "The samples that have been collected over the last few days have been sent to the National Toxicology Institute to be analyzed." Public health officials inspected the restaurant on [Mon 18 Feb 2019], but did not find any problems that could have contributed to the food poisoning. Investigators also collected samples of ingredients and raw food products that were part of the menu, and are currently analyzing them.
Barcela added that at this point she could not confirm whether the sickness had been caused by morel mushrooms that were on the restaurant's menu. "We will have to wait for the autopsy to be carried out on the woman before we can determine whether it was the ingestion of a food that directly caused her death, or whether it prompted a state that led to this fatal outcome, or if she had an existing condition," she explained on [Wed 20 Feb 2019].
Forensic teams are working to determine whether she could have been poisoned by something she ate, or whether she may have choked on her own vomit. In a statement, the owner of RiFF, Bernd H. Knaller, announced that the restaurant will remain closed until the cause of the food poisoning outbreak is determined and "activities can resume with full assurances for the staff and the patrons." The owner said he has been cooperating with the regional health department on the investigation and pointed out that the inspection "showed that the restaurant complies with all sanitary regulations." He added: "Regardless of what caused the situation, I want to convey my deep regret for what happened, and I hope all of the facts will be clarified shortly." [Byline: Cristina Vazquez]
- Report all cases of confirmed typhoid fever to the appropriate local or state health departments." - ProMED Mod.LL]
Geneva, Feb 19, 2019 (AFP) - An avalanche left four skiers injured Tuesday at a resort in the Swiss Alps where rescue operations went on after dark with police fearing people could still be trapped under the snow. The authorities held a press conference to announce the injuries, including one person seriously hurt, after local reports said up to a dozen people were engulfed by the avalanche. Police officers said that based on witness reports other skiers could still be buried and the search would continue into the night.
Swiss RTS television said the army had set up lighting to aid the 240 rescue workers at the site. The police had earlier tweeted that several people were under the avalanche that hit early afternoon on a slope 2,600 metres (8,600 feet) up at Crans-Montana, which was busy with skiers during school holidays. A local newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, had quoted the head of Crans-Montana's municipal government, Nicolas Feraud, as estimating that "between 10 and 12 people" were buried under the snow. "We are shocked and hope for good news about these people," Feraud was quoted as saying.
A first attempt at locating victims using sniffer dogs was unsuccessful, a rescue worker told Le Nouvelliste, with four helicopters joining the search from the air. Pierre Huguenin, of the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, described the snow in the area as damp and dense. According to statistics from his institute, after 15 minutes under an avalanche, the chances of survival are no more than 50 percent. Le Nouvelliste said the avalanche swept over 300 to 400 metres (yards) of the lower section of the Kandahar piste. It quoted rescue workers as saying the snow was compacted and more than two metres (seven feet) thick.
Crans-Montana's website had listed the risk of an avalanche at two on a scale that runs from one (lowest risk) to five. As the victims were on a designated ski slope, they were unlikely to have detector equipment to help rescue workers locate them. The vast majority of deadly avalanches in the Alpine nation hit people skiing off-piste. "We don't know yet whether the avalanche detached by itself or was set off by skiers, or a rockfall," Swiss avalanche expert Robert Bolognesi told the daily 20 Minutes.
Prague, Feb 20, 2019 (AFP) - Czech authorities said Wednesday they would slap checks on beef imported from Poland after veterinarians found the dangerous Salmonella bacteria in a 700-kilogramme batch of Polish beef. "Tests have shown the presence of Salmonella enteritidis, which can cause serious diarrhoea and affect human health, in beef imported from Poland on February 13," Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman told reporters.
Czech veterinary authorities have warned the European Commission and Polish authorities through a rapid warning system, he said, adding that they are also checking whether any of the meat has been consumed. "The State Veterinary Administration (SVS) will immediately adopt an extraordinary measure -- all beef imported from Poland must be tested in a lab before hitting the market," Toman added.
SVS head Zbynek Semerad said meat from the 700-kilo (1,500-pound) batch had been distributed to five "places" in the Czech Republic and one in Slovakia. "I will inform my Slovak counterpart. As far as we know, not all of the meat has been distributed to the end customer," Semerad said. The case comes on the heels of a scandal which saw Poland export a total of 2.7 tonnes of suspect beef to around a dozen fellow EU members, triggering an EU probe.
The scandal erupted in January when the TVN24 commercial news channel aired footage of apparently sick or lame cows being butchered at a small slaughterhouse in northeast Poland in secret late at night when veterinary authorities were unlikely to visit. Poland is a leading producer and exporter of meat in Europe, turning out around 600,000 tonnes of beef per year and exporting most of it mainly to the EU, according to meat producer associations.
Kuala Lumpur, Feb 20, 2019 (AFP) - Six people, including three foreigners, were killed when a fire broke out Wednesday in a Malaysian karaoke centre, with rescuers describing scenes of chaos as the blaze engulfed the building. The fire erupted before dawn on the fourth floor of an eight-storey building in the city of Ipoh, northern Perak state.
Firefighters rushed to the scene and found the bodies of six people who had died of smoke inhalation, Perak fire department acting director Sayani Saidon told AFP. "We came across two locals, two Vietnamese women and a Bangladeshi man. We are still determining the identity of the sixth person," she said.
Firefighters rescued eight people alive, including two in critical condition, she added. People inside were unable to find the way out after the fire erupted as exit lights did not come on, she said. Those that survived had run to an upper level to escape the flames. "When the fire happened, all the electricity went out, and it was dark, so the exit signs weren't clear," she said. The building was originally an office block, and had 30 karaoke rooms on the fourth and fifth floors.