WORLD NEWS

Getting countries ...
Select countries and read reports below or

Guatemala

Guatemala - US Consular Information Sheet
October 13, 2006
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:
Guatemala has a developing economy, characterized by wide income disparities.
Hotels and other tourist facilities in the principal tourist sites most freq
ented by visitors from the United States are generally good to excellent.
A peace accord, signed in 1996, ended a 36-year armed conflict.
Violent crime, however, is a serious concern due to endemic poverty, an abundance of weapons, a legacy of societal violence, and dysfunctional law enforcement and judicial systems.
Read the Department of State Background Notes on Guatemala for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:
A valid U.S. passport is required for all U.S. citizens, regardless of age, to enter Guatemala and to depart Guatemala for return to the U.S.
Even if dual nationals are permitted to enter Guatemala on a second nationality passport, U.S. citizens returning to the United States from Guatemala are not allowed to board their flights without a valid U.S. passport.
Guatemalan authorities do not accept Certificates of Naturalization, birth certificates, driver's licenses, and photocopies as alternative travel documents.
While in Guatemala, U.S. citizens should carry their passports, or a photocopy of their passports, with them at all times.

An exit tax must be paid when departing Guatemala by air.
The exit tax (currently $30) is generally included in an airline ticket price, but may be charged separately.
There is an additional airport security fee (20 Quetzales, approximately $2.50) that all travelers must pay at the airport.

Minors under 18 traveling with a valid U.S. passport need no special permission from their parents to enter or leave Guatemala.
U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a stay of 90 days or less (that period can be extended for an additional 180 days upon application to Guatemalan immigration).

A U.S. citizen whose passport is lost or stolen in Guatemala must obtain a new passport at the U.S. Embassy as soon as possible and present it, together with a police report of the loss or theft, to the Dirección de Migración (Guatemalan immigration agency), Sub-director de Control Migratorio (Sub-director for Migratory Control), to obtain permission to depart Guatemala.
The agency is located in Guatemala City at 6 Avenida 3-11, Zone 4, Guatemala City.
Office hours are weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; telephone 2411-2411.
No fee is charged by Guatemalan immigration for this service.

In June 2006, Guatemala entered a "Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement" with El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Under the terms of the agreement, citizens of the four countries may travel freely across land borders from one of the countries to any of the others without completing entry and exit formalities at Immigration checkpoints.
U.S. citizens and other eligible foreign nationals, who legally enter any of the four countries, may similarly travel among the four without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three countries.
Immigration officials at the first port of entry determine the length of stay, up to a maximum period of 90 days.
Foreign tourists who wish to remain in the four country region beyond the period initially granted for their visit are required to request a one-time extension of stay from local Immigration authorities in the country where the traveler is physically present, or travel outside the CA-4 countries and reapply for admission to the region.
Foreigners "expelled" from any of the four countries are excluded from the entire "CA-4" region.
In isolated cases, the lack of clarity in the implementing details of the CA-4 Border Control Agreement has caused temporary inconvenience to some travelers and has resulted in others being fined more than one hundred dollars or detained in custody for 72 hours or longer.

See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Guatemala and other countries.

For further information regarding entry, exit and customs requirements, travelers should contact the Guatemalan Embassy at 2220 R Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 745-4952, extension 102; fax (202) 745-1908; e-mail at info@guatemala-embassy.org; Internet web site - http://www.guatemala-embassy.org or contact the nearest Guatemalan consulate (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or San Francisco).

See Entry and Exit Requirements for more information pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction.
Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:
Violent criminal activity has been a problem in all parts of Guatemala for years, including murder, rape, and armed assaults against foreigners.
The police force is inexperienced and under-funded, and the judicial system is weak, overworked, and inefficient.
Well-armed criminals know that there is little chance they will be caught and punished.
Traditionally, Guatemala experiences increases in crime before and during the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons.
Large demonstrations occur throughout Guatemala, often with little or no notice, and they can cause serious traffic disruptions.
Although most demonstrations are peaceful, they can turn violent, and travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place.
The use of roadblocks and/or blocking of public facilities, including the international airport, has increased and demonstrators may prevent tourists caught behind the blockades from leaving.

Due to uncontrolled drug and alien smuggling, the Guatemalan border with Mexico is a relatively high-risk area, in particular in the northern most Peten Department.
The most dangerous area in that region is on the northwestern border of the Peten, in the area including the Sierra de Lacandon and Laguna del Tigre National Parks.
Extra precautions are required when travel by U.S. Government personnel to the region is required.

In October 2005 Hurricane Stan caused widespread flooding and landslides on Guatemala's Pacific coast and in many parts of the Highlands, affecting a number of tourist destinations frequented by foreign travelers.
All major highways and tourist destinations reopened by the end of the month, and most secondary routes are also fully open.
Temporary repairs are still in place; some have already been washed out and others will likely fail during the current rainy season (May through October).
The following recommendations will help residents and visitors alike to increase their safety:

Avoid gatherings of agitated people.
Guatemalan citizen frustration with crime and a lack of appropriate judicial remedies has led to violent incidents of vigilantism, including lynching, especially in more isolated, rural areas.
Attempting to intervene may put you at risk of attacks from mobs.

Avoid close contact with children, including taking photographs, especially in rural areas.
Such contact can be viewed with deep alarm and may provoke panic and violence.
Rumors of foreigners stealing children surface periodically and can provoke a violent response towards strangers.
Foreign tourists have been attacked by mobs and some years ago one was killed while photographing children.

Keep informed of possible demonstrations by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides.
Avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring.

Strong currents, riptides, and undertow along Guatemala's Pacific Coast beaches pose a serious threat to even the strongest swimmers.
Signs warning of treacherous surf are rare and confined mostly to private beaches owned by hotels.
Lifeguards are rarely present on beaches.

Tourists planning to climb Pacaya and Agua volcanoes during Guatemala's rainy season (May through October) should plan their climb for the morning hours, when it is less likely that thunderstorms will occur.
Climbers should monitor the weather situation and return to the base of the volcano as quickly as safely possible if thunderstorms gather.
In 2003, a Canadian tourist was killed by lightning while climbing Pacaya.
INGUAT, the Guatemalan Tourist Institute, has organized an active community-based tourism program in San Vicente Pacaya to minimize the risk of armed robbery on Pacaya.
Climbing in groups is still highly advisable for any volcano climb to reduce the risk of assault.

Security escorts for tourist groups and security information are available from the Tourist Assistance Office of INGUAT (the Guatemalan Tourist Institute) at 7a Avenida 1-17, Zona 4 Centro Cívico, Ciudad de Guatemala.
INGUAT's 24 hour/seven days per week direct telephone numbers for tourist assistance and emergencies are (502) 2421-2810 and (502) 5578-9836 and the fax is (502) 2421-2891.
INGUAT may be reached by its toll free number within the United States at 1-888- 464-8281.
You may also simply dial 1500 in Guatemala to reach INGUAT Tourist Assistance.
The e-mail address is asistur@inguat.gob.gt.
Travelers may also wish to visit INGUAT's website, http://visitguatemala.com.
Tourist groups are advised to request security escorts from INGUAT, Attention: Coordinator of the National Tourist Assistance Program.
There have been no incidents of armed robbery of groups escorted through the Tourist Protection Program.
The request should be submitted by mail, fax or e-mail and should arrive at INGUAT at least three business days in advance of the proposed travel, giving the itinerary, names of travelers, and model and color of vehicle in which they will be traveling.
Travelers should be aware that INGUAT might not be able to accommodate all requests.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.
These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.
For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
CRIME:
The number of violent crimes reported by U.S. citizens and other foreigners has remained high in recent years.
Incidents include, but are not limited to, assault, theft, armed robbery, carjacking, rape, kidnapping, and murder.
Criminals often operate in groups of four or more and are confrontational and violent.
Gangs are a growing concern in Guatemala City and rural Guatemala.
Gang members are often well armed with sophisticated weaponry and they sometimes use massive amounts of force.
Emboldened armed robbers have attacked vehicles on main roads in broad daylight.
Travel on rural roads always increases the risk of a criminal roadblock or ambush.
Widespread narcotics and alien smuggling activities can make remote areas especially dangerous.
Though there is no evidence that Americans are particularly targeted, criminals look for every opportunity to attack, so all travelers should remain constantly vigilant.

Most tourists and visitors travel throughout Guatemala without mishap.
However, violent criminal activity on the highways continues, and tourists, among others, have been targeted.
Many of the robbery attempts have occurred in daylight hours on main highways.
Carjacking incidents and highway robberies are often violent.
Four Americans were killed in highway robbery attempts in 2002 and three killed and one wounded in 2003.
In 2004 one American tourist was murdered, and women and children were raped in highway assaults.
Several highway assaults of American citizens also took place in 2005, but without serious injury to the victims.
In some cases, assailants have been wearing full or partial police uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles, indicating that some elements of the police might be involved.
Armed robberies have occurred within minutes of the tourist's vehicle being stopped by the police.
U.S. Embassy personnel continue to observe heightened security precautions in Guatemala City and on the roads outside the capital city.
U.S. tourists are urged to be especially aware of safety and security concerns when traveling on the roads in Guatemala.
Rather than traveling alone, use a reputable tour organization.
Stay in groups; travel in a caravan consisting of two or more vehicles; and, stay on the main roads.
Ensure that someone not traveling with you is aware of your itinerary.
Resist the temptation to stay in hotels that do not have adequate security.
Travel after dark anywhere in Guatemala is extremely dangerous.
It is preferable to stay in the main tourist destinations.
Do not explore back roads or isolated paths near tourist sites.
Pay close attention to your surroundings, especially when walking or when driving in Guatemala City.
Refrain from displaying expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items.
Finally, if confronted by criminals, be aware that resistance may provoke a more violent response.

Additional information:
In recent months there has been an increasing number of carjacking incidents and armed robberies near the airport, most frequently between 6:00 and 10:00 am (see list of Recent Crime Incidents Involving Foreigners on the Embassy website for more specifics).
In the most common scenario tourists or business travelers who land at the airport around 7:00 am are held up by armed men as their vehicle departs the airport.
Private vehicles, taxis and shuttle buses have been attacked.
Typically, the assailants steal money, passports, and luggage, and in some but not all cases, the assailants steal the vehicle as well.
Victims who did not resist the attackers were not physically injured.
The Embassy advises its own employees to seek alternative routes for exiting the airport.

Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are active in all major cities and tourist sites, especially the central market and other parts of Zone 1 in Guatemala City and the city of Antigua.
In a common scenario, an accomplice distracts the victim, while an assailant slashes or simply steals a bag or backpack while the victim's attention is diverted.

As in other countries, criminals also use a number of scams to steal money and possessions from tourists in Guatemala.
In one popular scam, robbers place a nail in a parked vehicle's tire.
The vehicle is then followed by the robbers who pose as "good Samaritans" when the tire becomes flat and the victims pull to the side of the road.
While "help" is being rendered, the contents of the car are stolen, often without the knowledge of the victims.
However, in some cases, the robbers have threatened the tourists with weapons.
Parking areas in and around the Guatemala City International Airport are particularly prone to this crime.
In another scam, victims are approached in a hotel, restaurant or other public place by an individual claiming there is some sort of problem with his or the would-be victim's automobile in the parking lot.
On the way to investigate the "problem," usually in a remote or concealed area near the parking lot, the robber pulls a gun on the victim demanding cash, credit cards and other valuables.
A third popular scam involves various attempts to acquire a victim's ATM card and PIN number.
Some sophisticated criminals have even placed boxes outside ATM kiosks that record PIN numbers when unsuspecting victims believe they must enter their PIN number to gain entry to the ATM foyer.
After recording PIN numbers, robbers then steal the owner's ATM card to complete their crime.
There are dozens of techniques scammers can use to rob victims of money and possessions.
While most people mean no harm, always be cautious when strangers approach you for any reason or make unusual requests.

Parents adopting children in Guatemala have also been victimized in public places and at their hotels by police (or individuals dressed as police) who have threatened to arrest foster mothers and turn adoptive children over to orphanages, but released them in exchange for significant payments, often approaching $1000.
Such threats have no basis in Guatemalan law, and should be immediately reported to the Embassy.

For security reasons, the Embassy does not allow U.S. government employees to stay in hotels in Zone 1 in Guatemala City and urges private travelers to avoid staying in this area.

Avoid low-priced intra- and inter-city buses (recycled U.S. school buses); they are often attacked by armed robbers and are poorly maintained and dangerously driven.
The use of modern inter-city buses somewhat improves security and safety.
There have been, however, several attacks on travelers on first-class buses on highway CA-2 near the border areas with both Mexico and El Salvador and on highways CA-1 and CA-9 near the El Salvador border and in the highlands between Quetzaltenango and Solola.
Be cautious with personal items such as backpacks and fanny packs while riding buses, because tourists' possessions are a favorite target of thieves.

Do not hail taxis on the street in Guatemala City.
Use radio-dispatched taxis or taxis from major hotels instead.
The main road to Lake Atitlan via the Inter-American Highway (CA-1) and Solola is safer than the alternatives, though attacks in recent years have made traveling in a caravan highly recommended, even on the Inter-American Highway.
Robbery and assault have been frequently reported on secondary roads near the lake with the highest number of incidents occurring on the RN-11 (Las Trampas road) parallel to the east side of the lake.
Robbers have used mountain roads advantageously to stop buses, vans and cars in a variety of ways.

Armed attacks have occurred on roads from Guatemala City to the Peten.
Visitors to the Mayan ruins at Tikal are urged to fly to nearby Flores and then travel by bus or tour van to the site.

Violent attacks have occurred in the Mayan ruins in the Peten, including in the Cerro Cahui Conservation Park, Yaxha, the road to and inside Tikal Park, and in the Tikal ruins.
Tourist police (POLITUR) patrols inside the park have significantly reduced the violent crime incidents inside the park, but travelers should nevertheless remain in groups and on the principal trails leading to the Central Plaza and the Temple IV complex, and avoid remote areas of the park.

POLITUR (a joint police/Guatemalan Tourism Institute initiative) is present in all major tourist destinations.
They should be contacted in case of any criminal incident in such areas, even if minor.

Foreign residents of Guatemala have special concerns.
Twenty American citizen residents and five American citizen tourists have been murdered since December 1999, and suspects have been convicted in only two cases.
There have been "express" kidnappings in recent years, primarily in Guatemala City, in which a relatively small ransom that can be quickly gathered is demanded.
U.S. citizens have been kidnapped in recent years.
At least one incident of a random kidnapping, in which the victim was grabbed off the street in an affluent neighborhood of the city, occurred in December 2003 and resulted in a physical and sexual assault.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.
The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.
Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

See our information on Victims of Crime.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: A full range of medical care is available in Guatemala City, but medical care outside the city is limited.
Guatemala's public hospitals frequently experience serious shortages of basic medicines and equipment.
Care in private hospitals is generally adequate for most common illnesses and injuries, and many of the medical specialists working in them are U.S. trained and certified.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.
For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en.
Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
The information below concerning Guatemala is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Guatemala requires one's full attention, and safe drivers must take extraordinary efforts to drive defensively to avoid dangerous situations.

Traffic rules are only casually observed.
Many drivers do not use their turn signals to alert other drivers.
Instead, a common custom is for a driver or passenger to stick a hand out the window and wave it to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action.
Speed limits, lane markings and stop signs are frequently ignored.
Passing blindly on winding and/or steep mountain roads, poorly designed surfaces, and unmarked hazards, including frequent landslides and precarious temporary highway repairs, present additional risks to motorists.

Common public transportation is by local recycled school busses, which serve every town in the country.
Criminal activity and frequent fatal accidents, however, make the low-priced inter-city buses particularly dangerous.
Modern inter-city buses offer some security from highway violence, but armed attacks are increasing, showing that all buses are vulnerable.
(See additional information in the CRIME section.)

Although city streets are lit, secondary and rural roads have little to no illumination.
Driving outside of urban areas at night is dangerous and not recommended.
The Inter-American Highway (CA-1) and the road from Guatemala City to the Caribbean coast (CA-9) are especially dangerous due to heavy traffic, including large trucks and trailers.
There are no roadside assistance clubs, however a roadside assistance force (PROVIAL) patrols most of the major highways in the country.
PROVIAL can be contacted by calling 2422-7878.
Their vehicles are equipped with basic tools and first aid supplies, and their services are free.
Police patrol the major roadways and may assist travelers, but the patrols are sporadic and may be suspended due to budget restraints.
For roadside assistance, travelers may call the police by dialing 120 or the fire department by dialing 122 or 123.
Cellular telephone service covers most areas frequented by tourists.

Valid U.S. driver's licenses are accepted for the first 30 days of a visit, and international driving permits are accepted in Guatemala for extended stays.
Guatemala's road safety authorities are the Department of Transit and the Joint Operations Center of the National Police.
Drivers use the right-hand side of the road in Guatemala, and speed limits are posted (in kilometers) depending on the condition of the road.
Speed limits are different in rural and urban areas, but are rarely enforced.
Drivers often drive at the absolute maximum speed possible for the particular vehicle at the time.
These drivers share the road with slow vehicles, some barely able to manage 20 miles per hour, creating a hazardous mix of velocities.
Turning right on red is not permitted unless otherwise posted, and drivers must yield when entering a traffic circle.
Seat belts must be worn in Guatemala, but there are no laws regarding the use of child safety seats.
It is against the law for drivers to operate cellular phones while driving.

People found driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs are arrested and may serve jail time.
In an accident resulting in injury or death, every driver involved is taken into custody and the vehicle(s) impounded until a judge determines responsibility in a re-enactment of the accident.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
Visit the website of Guatemala's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.inguat.gob.gt or via e-mail at asistur@inguat.gob.gt or info@inguat.gob.gt.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Guatemala's Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Guatemala's air carrier operations.
For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:
A major renovation of the international terminal at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City is currently under way.
Until completion in late 2006 or early 2007, there is a temporary reconfiguration of arrival and departure vehicle traffic and major construction works inside the terminal.

Guatemalan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Guatemala of items such as antiquities and other cultural property.
It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Guatemala in Washington or one of Guatemala's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.
Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Please see our Customs Information.

Non-Guatemalan citizens who wish to marry in Guatemala are required to provide proof of identity and civil status (indicating whether they are single or divorced).
Prior notice of the marriage must be given in the Diario de Centro America (Guatemala's Official Record) and any large circulation daily newspaper for fifteen days.
The marriage must take place within six months of the publication of the notice.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS:
Guatemala is a geologically active country.
Visitors should be aware of the possibility of earthquakes at any time and the need for contingency plans.
There are also four active volcanoes.
Volcanic activity, such as that of Fuego Volcano near Antigua in January 2003, and again in January 2006, has on occasion forced evacuations of nearby villages; the January-February 2000 activity of Pacaya Volcano near Guatemala City also briefly closed Guatemala City's international airport.
Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Guatemala are also vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms from June through November.
Mudslides and flooding during the May to November rainy season often kill dozens of people and close roads.
In October 2005 Hurricane Stan caused widespread flooding and landslides on Guatemala's Pacific coast and in many parts of the Highlands.
Over 1000 Guatemalans died, and many highways across the affected regions were closed for days.
All highways have now reopened.
Temporary repairs are still in place; some have already been washed out and others will likely fail during the current rainy season.
General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.
Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences.
Persons violating Guatemalan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guatemala are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.
Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:
For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:
Americans living or traveling in Guatemala are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Guatemala.
Americans withoutInternet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The latest security information is available from the Embassy, including its website, http://guatemala.usembassy.gov
The Consular Section is open for citizen services, including registration, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursdays and 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Fridays, excluding U.S. and Guatemalan holidays.
The second and last Friday of each month are reserved for administrative matters; therefore, routine citizen services are not provided.
Emergency services are available at all times.
The U.S. Embassy is located in Guatemala City at Avenida La Reforma 7-01, Zone 10; telephone (502) 2-326-4000 during Embassy business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), or (502) 2-331-2354 for emergencies during non-business hours; fax (502) 2-332-4353; Internet web site - http://guatemala.usembassy.gov.
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated June 13, 2006 to update the Entry and Exit requirements section.

Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS

Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2018 18:54:16 +0200

Guatemala City, Oct 12, 2018 (AFP) - Guatemala's deadly Fuego volcano erupted anew early Friday, unleashing a 600-meter flow of lava and sending clouds of ash spiralling into the sky.   Increased volcanic activity over the last 24 hours could release tons of fiery volcanic material and force evacuations of mountain villages, warned Guatemala's disaster management agency CONRED.

A powerful June 3 eruption of the Fuego volcano -- located 35 kilometres (22 miles) southwest of the capital -- rained rocks, ash and toxic gases on several villages and left 190 people dead and 235 missing.   CONRED had yet to issue evacuation orders for mountain communities early Friday, but spokesman David de Leon said: "Considering how the volcano is behaving some communities could make decisions to evacuate to safe areas."

Authorities shut down a nearby highway as a precaution and vulcanologists warned the civil aviation agency of an ash cloud to the west and southwest of the volcano.   Scientists monitoring the 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) volcano reported increased activity from late Thursday. However, activity intensified on Friday with loud booms and lava flows, the Institute of Vulcanology said.   Some 2,900 displaced victims of the earlier disaster remain in temporary shelters as government promises to build a 1,000 permanent homes on a state farm have been held up by irregularities.
Date: Tue 6 Feb 2018
Source: Cooperativa.cl [in Spanish, machine trans., edited]

The Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare of Guatemala reported [Tue 6 Feb 2018], that the number of people intoxicated by an outbreak of salmonellosis detected in a bakery in the country's capital has risen to 115. A source from the portfolio confirmed that, although initially reported of 54 affected, the number has risen to 115 and added that no further details of this case can be given as it is under investigation.

Health Minister Carlos Soto had previously indicated that the 1st 54 people infected after eating at this establishment, located in zone one of the capital, had already received medical discharge. In addition to _Salmonella_, the authorities detected in the establishment the bacterium _E. coli_ and during the investigations they verified that the workers did not have sanitary cards.

The bakery had until last [Fri 2 Feb 2018], to present the proof of release in this case, but asked for an extension at which time theHealth portfolio will make the decision to close or sanction the establishment.
====================
[The source of the salmonellosis outbreak linked to the bakery is not clear.

A map of (Guatemala): <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/13>. - ProMED Mod.LL]
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2018 02:54:30 +0100

Guatemala City, Feb 2, 2018 (AFP) - The eruption of a volcano near the Guatemalan capital subsided Thursday after 20 hours of activity that rained ash on nearby communities and prompted an orange alert, a spokesman said.   The eruption of the Volcan de Fuego ("Fire Volcano") sent ash towering 1.7 kilometres (one mile) into the sky and raining down on at least eight communities, said David de Leon, an emergency services spokesman.

Authorities announced an orange alert earlier on Thursday, and schools near the volcano, which is 35 kilometres southwest of Guatemala City, were shut.   The Volcan de Fuego, one of three active volcanos in Guatemala, triggered alarm in September 2012 when it erupted, causing the evacuation of 10,000 residents living nearby.   It is located very close to Antigua Guatemala, a colonial-era town very popular with tourists in the Central American country.
Date: Mon 29 Jan 2018
Source: Breaking Belize news [edited]

The Ministry of Health reported today [29 Jan 2018] that it was recently alerted to a positive case of measles in Guatemala, imported from Germany.

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease but is also a vaccine-preventable disease that has not been reported in Belize since 1991.

The number of cases of measles in the region of the Americas has increased from 92 to 271 in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and the Caribbean is reporting highly suspicious cases imported from the United Kingdom (UK).

The public is hereby advised to urgently report to your nearest health facility if you show signs or observe someone with the following symptoms:

- Any person with history of fever of 4 days, rash that started on the neck and face and scattered on the body thereafter, and any one of the 3 C's (Cough, Coryza or a runny nose, or Conjunctivitis) OR

- Any person with fever and any one of the 3 C's (Cough, Coryza or a runny nose, or Conjunctivitis), even before the onset of rash, with history of travel to and from the UK in the previous 30 days.

Suspicious cases need to be isolated and investigated to avoid spread to susceptible individuals.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that every eligible child receive 2 doses of the measles-containing vaccine.

WHO also encourages adults who are not fully immunized, or who are not sure of their immunity status, to get vaccinated.

In response to this alert, the Ministry convened a meeting with all its public health nurses last week to share the information and activate an immediate heightened surveillance to follow up on any presentation of symptoms that can possibly lead to a positive Measles case.
=====================
[This post and the following one are reminders that even countries where measles has been eliminated are at risk of having travel-related cases of this vaccine-preventable disease. Immunization of the population must still be maintained even following elimination.

A HealthMap of Guatemala can be found at
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2018 17:29:34 +0100

San José, Jan 5, 2018 (AFP) - Tropical Central America was on Friday feeling the chilly outer rim of the weather phenomenon that has plunged the eastern United States and Canada into a deep freeze.   Unusually low temperatures were being recorded in the region -- though nowhere near as low as in North America.    Costa Rica's capital San Jose saw the mercury plunge as low as 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts, far lower than the usual 25 degrees, according to the state meteorological service.   Two homeless men reportedly died from hypothermia in San Jose.

The cold front was a dampener for foreigners who were visiting Central America in its peak tourist period to escape the northern hemisphere's icy winter, leaving beaches lashed by windy gusts, overcast and rainy.   The airline Avianca cancelled several flights leaving Central America for snowed-in New York.

"The cold snap we are feeling from Guatemala to Costa Rica is a polar mass that is affecting the northeast coast of the United States. We are feeling the tail-end of it," Costa Rican state meteorologist Luis Diego Naranjo told AFP.   He said the weather pattern would continue through Sunday, after which temperatures would climb back up toward normal.
More ...

World Travel News Headlines

Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2018 04:25:14 +0100
By Javier TOVAR

Paradise, United States, Nov 15, 2018 (AFP) - The toll in the deadliest wildfires in recent California history climbed to 59 on Wednesday as authorities released a list of 130 people still missing.   Most of those unaccounted for are from the Butte County town of Paradise, in northern California, which was virtually erased from the map by the so-called "Camp Fire" blaze that erupted last week.   Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told journalists Wednesday evening that 461 search and rescue personnel and 22 cadaver dogs were involved in the effort to locate those missing and DNA testing was being expedited to identify the victims.

"Beginning Thursday, anyone who believes a family member perished can provide a DNA sample" to the sheriff's office, Honea said.    Paradise, a town of around 26,000 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, was popular with retirees and many of those reported missing by the sheriff's office are elderly -- in their 70s, 80s and 90s.

Virtually every home in Paradise, located 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of the state capital Sacramento, was destroyed by the fast-moving fire fueled by high winds.   At least 59 deaths have been reported so far from the devastating wildfires and body recovery teams were going house-to-house with cadaver dogs in Paradise on Wednesday.   "We are in the midst of a catastrophe," Governor Jerry Brown told a press conference. "The fire was unprecedented, overwhelming, so a lot of people got caught."

Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said Paradise was looking at a "total rebuild" with many homes, businesses and infrastructure destroyed.   "This is going to be a very long and frustrating event for the citizens of Paradise," Long said. "We're going to have to find a new normal."   "You're not going to be able to rebuild Paradise the way it was."   An AFP reporter in Paradise on Wednesday saw crews removing trees, repairing fences along roads and towing away cars.    Authorities said livestock owners were being allowed in to restricted areas for brief periods to feed the animals but it was unclear when residents would be allowed back in.

- Tales of courage, survival -
Fifty-six deaths have been reported from the "Camp Fire," mostly in Paradise, while three people have died in the "Woolsey Fire."   Honea said that of the 56 human remains found in his county, 47 had been identified.   While the cause of the "Camp Fire" is still under investigation, a lawsuit has been filed against the local power company, PG&E, by fire victims claiming negligence by the utility.

The complaint alleged that the fire began on November 8 when a high voltage transmission line failed, igniting a vegetation fire.   As thousands of firefighters fought the fires, incredible tales have emerged of courage and survival.   A man who asked to be identified by only his first name, Scott, told the San Francisco Chronicle that when the "Camp Fire" surrounded his home in Concow in Butte County he and his family plunged into a reservoir along with a 90-year-old neighbor, Bruno.   "Bruno was saying, 'Just leave me. I can't do this,'" Scott, 51, told the newspaper. "I said, 'Bruno, we're not going to leave you. And I'm not going to burn, so you better hurry.'"   They remained in the cold water as flames licked the shore and made their way to a small island in the reservoir after finding a pair of rowboats.

- 'I was terrified' -
Allyn Pierce, a nurse in Paradise, told The New York Times and CNN how his life was saved by a bulldozer driver as he fled the town in his pickup truck along with other residents on Thursday.   Pierce said cars were catching fire around him and he dictated a goodbye message to his family, expecting his vehicle to catch fire next.   "I stayed calm but I was terrified," Pierce said.   "Then all of a sudden this bulldozer comes out of nowhere and knocks this burning truck out of the way," he said.   Instead of fleeing to safety, however, Pierce turned around and went back to the Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, where he works as an intensive care nurse, and helped evacuate patients to the hospital's helipad.   Pierce displayed pictures of his Toyota pickup truck which he said was still working despite lights which had melted and a rear passenger door which had been welded shut by the heat from the fire.

The "Camp Fire" has ravaged 135,000 acres (54,632 hectares) of land and is 35 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.   It has destroyed some 7,600 homes and 260 commercial properties. Battling the blaze are more than 5,600 fire personnel, some from as far away as Washington state and Texas.   The "Woolsey Fire" has razed 97,620 acres (39,505 hectares) and has been 47 percent contained.    Cal Fire said more than 3,500 fire personnel were battling the "Woolsey Fire," which has destroyed the Malibu homes of several celebrities including Miley Cyrus, Neil Young, Robin Thicke, Shannen Doherty and Gerard Butler.
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2018 18:14:50 +0100

Kinshasa, Nov 14, 2018 (AFP) - A cholera epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed 857 lives since the start of the year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday.   Health authorities have so far recorded 25,170 cases, occurring in 21 out of the country's 26 provinces, the WHO's office in the DRC said.

The provinces of East Kasai and Lomami, in the centre of the country, and South Kivu, Tanganyika and Upper Katanga in the east, are those most affected.   Last year, the country had 55,000 cases of cholera, resulting in 1,190 fatalities.   Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection, which can kill within hours if left untreated. It thrives in conditions of poor sanitation and contaminated water or food.    The DRC is also battling an outbreak of Ebola in two eastern provinces, North Kivu and Ituri, that has killed 212 people since August.
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2018 18:00:49 +0100

Madrid, Nov 14, 2018 (AFP) - The Spanish government declared war on alternative medicine like acupuncture or homeopathy Wednesday, announcing it plans to eliminate from health centres what it considers a health risk.   The plan, unveiled by the science and health ministers, aims to avoid the "potential harmful effects" of these practices "when they are used as an alternative or a complement to treatment" which itself is based on "proof and scientific rigour," the government said in a statement.   It did not detail what it included as alternative medicine, but gave the examples of acupuncture and homeopathy.   "Many people still believe that some treatments work despite there being no scientific proof available," it read.   According to a 2016 poll, "59.8 percent believe that acupuncture is of therapeutic use and 52.7 percent think that homeopathic products work," the plan read.

The government said it wants to "eliminate" alternative medicine from health centres where all treatment must be given by "recognised" professionals.   The plan also wants to avoid alternative medicine being taught in Spanish universities by developing alliances with deans, chancellors or Spanish regional authorities to not give out diplomas linked to these practices.   Madrid also wants to modify legislation to fight "false advertising" with regard to alternative medicine online.   The issue has taken centre stage in Spain recently, with health and science professionals pressuring the health ministry to take action after several high-profile deaths.

One such case, as reported by Spain's Association to Protect Patients against Pseudo-scientific Therapies, involved 21-year-old Mario Rodriguez who died after dropping his hospital treatment for leukemia in favour of a supposed naturopath who said he could cure cancer with vitamins.   "Dad, I made a mistake," his father Julian Rodriguez quoted him as saying on his deathbed.   The association has a long list of treatment it considers alternative medicine, which includes aromatherapy, acupuncture -- in use in China for centuries -- and even psychoanalysis as created by Sigmund Freud.
Date: Mon 12 Nov 2018, 9.54 AM EST
Source: The Guardian [edited]

A Briton has died after contracting rabies while visiting Morocco, public health officials have said. The UK resident was infected with the disease after being bitten by a cat, Public Health England (PHE) said on [Mon 12 Nov 2018]. PHE did not release any further details but reassured the public there was no wider risk. It said health workers and close contacts of the deceased were being assessed and offered vaccination where necessary.

Jimmy Whitworth, the professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Press Association: "My understanding is that this is somebody who had contact with a cat that was behaving abnormally and sought care, I believe in Morocco and in the UK, but unfortunately didn't receive vaccination until it was too late. I believe that the cat bit this person a few weeks ago."

He said that symptoms typically took 2 to 3 months to appear but could materialise in as little as a week. "That's why seeking prompt care and getting vaccination is so important," he said. "In this tragic case the person didn't get the vaccine in time." Given the lack of information, Whitworth said it was impossible to know whether the delay was in the UK or Morocco but it illustrated the importance of health workers being aware of the possibility of the disease.

There are no documented instances of direct human to human transmission of rabies. The disease does not circulate in either wild or domestic animals in the UK, although some species of bats can carry a rabies-like virus.

[Rabies] is common elsewhere, including in parts of Asia and Africa. PHE said the case was a reminder to travellers to rabies-affected countries to avoid contact with dogs, cats and other animals wherever possible, and seek advice about the need for a rabies vaccine prior to travel.

Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisations at PHE, said: "This is an important reminder of the precautions people should take when travelling to countries where rabies is present. If you are bitten, scratched or licked by an animal you must wash the wound or site of exposure with plenty of soap and water and seek medical advice without delay."

It is only the 6th case of human rabies in the UK since 2000, all but one caused by animal exposure overseas. The last was in 2012, when a woman in her 50s died in London after being bitten by a dog in South Asia. She was reportedly turned away twice by doctors at a hospital in Kent before she was finally diagnosed.  [byline: Haroon Siddique]
======================
[According to another media source, the victim, a 58 year old man from Aylesbury Bucks, was staying 30 miles away from the Moroccan capital Rabat, visiting family, when he was infected with the disease. He did receive treatment but allegedly was not given anti-rabies serum in time;  <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6382379/PICTURED-British-father-two-died-rabies-UK.html>.

The following statistics on rabies in animals were submitted by
Morocco for 2016 (last available annual report):
Official vaccinations in dogs: 71 759
Rabies outbreaks: 76

species / cases / deaths / killed
dogs / 41 / 28 / 13
cats / 12 / 11 / 1
bovine / 71/ 62 / 9
equine / 44/ 38/ 6
ovine / 6 / 5 / 1

The numbers of human cases, as reported to the OIE for the years 2010-2015, were 19, 18, 19, 24, 20, and 19, respectively. The number of human cases during 2016 (the most recent available data) was 17.

The tourism industry is well developed in Morocco; in 2017, Morocco was Africa's top tourist destination, with 10.3 million tourist arrivals, most of them from Europe, predominantly France and Spain. In the past, cases of rabies in animals illegally introduced from Morocco with returning visitors were recorded in France

The event is being investigated. - ProMED Mod.AS]

[HealthMap/ProMED maps available at:
England, United Kingdom: <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/279>
Date: Tue 13 Nov 2018
Source: BC Centre for Disease Control [edited]

The BC [British Columbia] Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is alerting British Columbians to discard or return to the place of purchase any Little Qualicum Cheeseworks' Qualicum Spice cheese that they currently have at home. Products in the marketplace have a best before date up to and including 24 Apr 2019.

A total of 5 people in BC have been affected by an _Escherichia coli_ outbreak between August and October 2018. Qualicum Spice cheese samples were tested and found to be contaminated with _E. coli_. The investigation is ongoing to determine the source and extent of contamination.

Qualicum Spice is an unpasteurized cheese. It is distributed throughout BC and sold in grocery stores, farmers' markets, wineries, restaurants, and at the Little Qualicum Cheeseworks farmgate store. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks has voluntarily recalled the affected product. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks produces several other types of dairy products. No other products are being recalled at this time and consumers do not need to discard them.

People who become ill from _E. coli_ can have a wide range of symptoms. Some may have no symptoms and some may become seriously ill and be hospitalized. The following symptoms can appear within 1 to 10 days after infection:
- severe stomach cramps;
- diarrhea or bloody diarrhoea;
- vomiting;
- headache; and
- little or no fever

If you have eaten this product but have no symptoms, there is no need to do anything. If you become ill after consuming this cheese:
- practice good hand washing with warm water and soap to prevent the spread of illness;
- drink lots of clear fluids to stay hydrated;
- anyone who has bloody diarrhea or is concerned about their symptoms should see a health care provider or call HealthLinkBC at 811;
- antibiotics and anti-diarrhoea medications should not be used to treat this infection unless prescribed by your health care provider.
====================
[Although not specifically stated, the link to unpasteurized cheese and the description of the symptoms make it clear that the pathogen here is a member of the enterohemorrhagic _E coli_ pathotype.

Unpasteurized dairy products remain a potential risk for a variety of pathogens including enterohemorrhagic _E. coli_, either the prototypic serotype or one of the other serotypes. In analyzing the genetic and phenotypic profiles of non-O157 groups of EHEC [enterohemorrhagic _E. coli_], it has been found that they belong to their own lineages and have unique profiles of virulence traits different from the prototypic O157 strain (1). The serogroups appearing to be most prominent are O26, O111, O128, and O103 (2). As noted in the post, suspected cases of EHEC should not be treated with antimicrobials.

The following was extracted from Lutwick LI. Enterohemorrhagic _E. coli_ infections. In: Confronting emerging zoonoses: the One Health paradigm. Yamada A, Kahn LH, Kaplan B, Monath TP, Woodall J, Conti LA (editors). Tokyo, Japan: Springer, 2014, 77-112:

Risk factors for the subsequent development of HUS after EHEC include children less than 10 years of age, elevated white blood cell counts, persistent low platelet counts without reversal and the use of either antimicrobial agents or antimotility agents during the diarrhea stage before or after bloody diarrhea develops. Since fever is generally not part of the presentation but significant abdominal pain is, patients with diarrhea, significant abdominal pain and no fever should be considered to have EHEC infection, and antimicrobial or antimotility agents should be avoided. Additionally, certain strains -- for example, the so-called clade 8 and the chimeric organism _E. coli_ O104:H4 -- can be associated with a higher risk of HUS.

HUS itself is a thrombotic illness primarily caused by the effects of the EHEC produced Shiga toxin acting on the vascular endometrium of organs where the toxin's receptors are expressed, particularly the kidney and brain. The syndrome consists of the combination of prominent low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia), intravascular red blood cell destruction (hemolysis) and diminished kidney function that can require hemodialysis. Neurological involvement occurs mostly in those who develop renal failure and the central nervous system involvement portends much higher mortality. Indeed, most of the acute mortality relates to neurological disease. Most patients will recover, but some, perhaps 10 percent, remain with renal failure and require chronic hemodialysis.

References
----------
1. Schmidt H, Geitz C, Tarr PI, et al. Non-O157:H7 pathogenic Shiga-toxin producing _Escherichia coli_: phenotypic and genetic profiling of virulence traits and evidence for clonality. J Infect Dis. 1999; 179(1): 115-23; available at <https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/179/1/115/877122>.
2. Bettelheim KA. Role of non-O157 VTEC. Symp Ser Soc Appl Microbiol. 2000; (29): 38S-50S; abstract available at <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10880178>. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
British Columbia Province, Canada:
Date: Sun 4 Nov 2018
Source: Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) [edited]

Highlights
===========================
- In the reporting week 44 (29 Oct-4 Nov 2018) 5 new confirmed cases were reported from Edo (3), Ondo (1) and Ebonyi (1) state with 2 new deaths in Edo (1) and Ebonyi (1).
- From 1 Jan-4 Nov 2018, a total of 2950 suspected cases have been reported from 22 states. Of these, 553 were confirmed positive, 17 probable, 2380 negative (not a case).
- Since the onset of the 2018 outbreak, there have been 143 deaths in confirmed cases and 17 in probable cases. Case fatality rate (CFR) in confirmed cases is 25.9%.
- 22 states have recorded at least one confirmed case across 90 Local Government Areas (Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Kogi, Imo, Plateau, Lagos, Taraba, Delta, Osun, Rivers, FCT, Gombe, Ekiti, Kaduna, Abia, Adamawa and Enugu); 18 states have exited the active phase of the outbreak while 4; Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi and Delta states, remain active - figure 1 [see source URL above].
- In the reporting week 44 (29 Oct-4 Nov 2018), one new health care worker was affected; 42 health care workers have been affected since the onset of the outbreak in 7 states - Ebonyi (16), Edo (15), Ondo (6), Kogi (2), Nasarawa (1), Taraba (1) and Abia (1) with 10 deaths in Ebonyi (5), Kogi (1), Abia (1), Ondo (2) and Edo (1).
- 82% of all confirmed cases are from Edo (46%), Ondo (23%) and Ebonyi (13%) states.
- 10 patients are currently being managed at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) treatment Centre (4), Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owo (4), and Federal Teaching Hospital Abakiliki (2).
- A total of 8587 contacts have been identified from 22 states. Of these 512 (6%) are currently being followed up, 7946 (92.5%) have completed 21 days follow up while 15 (0.2%) were lost to follow up. 114 (1.3%) symptomatic contacts have been identified, of which 36 (0.4%) have tested positive from 5 states (Edo - 20, Ondo - 8, Ebonyi - 3, Kogi - 3, Bauchi - 1 and Adamawa - 1).
- National RRT team (NCDC staff and NFELTP [Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program] residents) deployed Ondo state to support response.
- Lassa fever international Conference registration, abstract submission and travel scholarship now open to the public on the conference website <www.lic.ncdc.gov.ng> with the date for abstract submission extended to the 14 Nov 2018.
- Lassa fever national multi-partner, multi-agency Technical Working Group (TWG) continues to coordinate response activities at all levels

Figure 1 [map]: Distribution of confirmed Lassa fever cases in Nigeria as at 4 Nov 2018.
Figure 2 [map]: Distribution of suspected and confirmed Lassa fever cases in Nigeria by LGA.
Figure 3 [graph]: Epicurve of Lassa fever confirmed (548) and probable (17) cases in Nigeria week 1-44, 2018.
Figure 4 [graph]: Weekly trends of Lassa fever confirmed cases in Nigeria, 2016-2018, week 44.
Figure 5 [graph]: Confirmed Lassa fever cases in Nigeria with state-specific case fatality rates (CFR) as at 4 Oct 2018.
=======================
[Although the graphs in the above report clearly show that the Lassa fever virus transmission peak has passed, the 5 new confirmed cases and 2 new deaths indicate that Lassa fever virus transmission continues, and a few more cases might occur. Unfortunately, one health care worker was infected during this reporting period. This outbreak has been widespread, occurring in 22 states and 90 local government areas. It would be interesting to know whether the prevalence of Lassa fever virus has been increasing in populations of rodent hosts in this area.

Images of the rodent reservoirs of Lassa fever virus can be seen as follows:
For _Mastomys natalensis_, see
For _M. erythroleucus_ and _Hylomycus pamfi_, see

The maps and graphs in the report above are interesting and provide a good picture of how the outbreak has progressed over time. They can be accessed at the source URL above.

Maps of Nigeria:
Date: Mon 12 Nov 2018
Source: OIE, WAHIS (World Animal Health Information System), weekly
disease information 2018; 31(46) [edited]

Anthrax, Namibia
----------------
Information received on [and dated] 12 Nov 2018 from Dr Adrianatus Florentius Maseke, chief veterinary officer, Veterinary Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Windhoek, Namibia

Summary
Report type: immediate notification
Date of start of the event: 25 Oct 2018
Date of confirmation of the event: 1 Nov 2018
Reason for notification: recurrence of a listed disease
Date of previous occurrence: 13 Feb 2018
Manifestation of disease: clinical disease
Causal agent: _Bacillus anthracis_
Nature of diagnosis: clinical, laboratory (basic)
This event pertains to a defined zone within the country

New outbreaks (3)
Outbreak 1: Omiriu, Opuwo, Sesfontein, Kunene
Date of start of the outbreak: 25 Oct 2018
Outbreak status: continuing (or date resolved not provided)
Epidemiological unit: village
Affected animals
Species / Susceptible / Cases / Deaths / Killed and disposed of / Slaughtered
Goats / 537 / 25 / 23 / 2 / -
===================
[The location of the outbreaks can be seen on the interactive map included in the OIE report at the source URL above. Kunene is in north west Namibia, and Kavango East is between Angola & Botswana in the north east.
========================
[Remember it is summer in the southern hemisphere, which means that it is now their anthrax season. Livestock anthrax is sporadic in Namibia but a constant concern in their national parks. - ProMED Mod.MHJ]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Namibia:
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2018 20:01:56 +0100

Tampa, Nov 13, 2018 (AFP) - Puzzled by a rise in US children with sudden paralysis in their arms or legs, health officials said Tuesday they are probing whether a virus or auto-immune disorder may be to blame.   A total of 252 cases of the disorder known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) are currently under investigation nationwide, an increase of 33 since last week, said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With 80 confirmed cases so far this year, 2018 looks to be on pace with prior peak years like 2014 (120 cases) and 2016 (149 cases), Messonnier said.    More than 400 cases have been confirmed through lab tests since 2014, the first year the syndrome emerged.   A couple dozen cases were confirmed in 2015 and 2017.   Messonnier said she understands parents' alarm but stressed that the disorder remains "rare."   Most cases involve children aged two to eight. Almost all complained of fever and respiratory illness three to 10 days before suddenly experiencing paralysis in their arms or legs.   For some, the paralysis went away, but at least half have not recovered, said Messonnier.

The CDC has tested 125 spinal cord fluid samples, and half were positive for rhinovirus or enterovirus, which commonly cause symptoms like fever, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches.    Yet scientists are still stumped about the precise cause of the sudden paralysis, since these viruses are common but AFM is not.   "We are trying to figure out what the triggers are that would cause someone to develop AFM," Messonnier told reporters.   "It may be one of the viruses we have already detected. It may be a virus that we haven't yet detected. Or it could be that the virus is kicking off another process that is actually triggering -- through an auto immune process -- AFM," she said.    "CDC is a science-driven agency. Right now, the science doesn't give us an answer."

Perhaps most frustrating for parents, there is no way to prevent it, and no targeted therapies or interventions.   "Parents and caregivers are urged to seek immediate medical care for a child who develops sudden weakness of the arms or legs," said the CDC latest report on AFM, released Tuesday.    Messonnier said the CDC has not been tracking every case of AFM since 2014, leading to gaps in the federal agency's knowledge of the illness, which experts are now trying to fill.   One child with AFM is reported to have died in 2017.
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2018 15:54:12 +0100

London, United Kingdom, Nov 12, 2018 (AFP) - A Briton has died after being bitten by a cat with rabies in Morocco, officials said Monday, only the seventh known case in the United Kingdom since 2000.   England's health service issued a reminder Monday for travellers to avoid coming into contact with animals when travelling to rabies affected countries, particularly those in Asia and Africa.

Rabies has been effectively eradicated in Britain, although they do still spread among some bats.   "There is no risk to the wider public in relation to this case but, as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts are being assessed and offered vaccination when necessary," said Mary Ramsay, the health service's chief of immunisation.   The Press Association news agency said the person was bitten a few weeks ago and not given potentially life-saving treatment early enough.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes an inflammation of the brain. It is usually fatal by the time the first symptoms emerge.   England's health service said that no cases of humans acquiring the disease from any animal other than a bat have been recorded within the country since 1902.   One person acquired it from a bat in Scotland in 2002, and five people contacted while travelling between 2002 and 2017, the health service said.
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2018 07:02:37 +0100

Hanoi, Nov 13, 2018 (AFP) - Vietnam's newest carrier Bamboo Airways has been granted a licence to fly, officials and the airline said, paving the way for its inaugural flight in a region crowded with competitors.    Run by one of the country's richest men, Bamboo will compete with well-established heavy hitters such as national carrier Vietnam Airlines and budget carrier Vietjet to serve a mushrooming middle class with growing appetites, and budgets, for travel.    Vietnam's Transport Ministry said Bamboo's official aviation license had been approved and that it would aim to operate 100 routes, including to lesser-travelled destinations in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia, with plans to eventually fly to North America.   "The first domestic flights... are aimed at reducing pressure on aviation infrastructure in major cities, strengthening regional links (and) promoting tourism to Vietnam," the Transport Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The airline is owned by Trinh Van Quyet, who heads the FLC property empire that includes lush beachside resorts, golf clubs and luxury condos across Vietnam, a country still under one-party communist rule.   Bamboo has already signed up to buy 20 of Boeing's 787 Dreamliners worth $5.6 billion and committed a further $3.2 billion to buy 24 Airbus A321neo planes.    The airline said its inaugural flight, originally scheduled for last month, should take place before the end of the year.    "We have conducted a flight test, the results show that the aircraft fully meets technical specifications (and is) ready to go into operation," CEO Dang Tat Thang said in a statement.

Bamboo is hoping to steal customers from competitors by luring them to off-the-beaten-path destinations in Vietnam such as Quy Nhon and Thanh Hoa and by offering bundled travel packages to FLC resorts.   But analysts say the outdated model may not work in an era where most travellers can easily tailor holidays online, and wonder whether Bamboo's big bet will pay off in Southeast Asia's busy aviation market.    Quyet told AFP in an interview earlier this year that he is certain the airline "will be huge" and expects to make a profit soon after launch.   Born to a poor rural family near Hanoi where life among bamboo trees inspired the airline's name, he now runs FLC Group with a market capitalisation of around $200 million.

Vietnam's aviation sector has soared in recent years, with passenger numbers jumping to 62 million last year from 25 million in 2012.   There are already six commercial aviation licenses granted in Vietnam, including for a chartered helicopter service and a seaplane carrier.   Faced with increasingly squeezed airport capacity and tough competition across the region, in particular from budget airlines like AirAsia and TigerAir, the market has shown signs of cooling.    In 2009, Vietnam's first operational private airline Indochina Airlines ceased operation after just one year in the market due to financial troubles.