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North Korea

Democratic People's Republic of Korea US Consular Information Sheet
April 29, 2008
Prior to departing the United States, U.S. citizens planning to transit China on their visit to North Korea are encouraged to register on line with the U.S. Emba
sy in Beijing; U. S. citizens transiting South Korea to take the Mount Kumgang or Kaesong City tours should register with the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.
U. S. citizens visiting North Korea should also register with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang (U.S. Protective Power).
Please see the Registration/Embassy Location section below.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea or the DPRK) is a highly militaristic Communist state located on the Korean Peninsula between northeast China and the Republic of Korea (South Korea or ROK), with land borders with China, Russia and South Korea.
The DPRK is one of the world’s most isolated countries.
The continuing dispute over North Korea’s development of nuclear programs and nuclear weapons has resulted in tensions in the region and between the United States and the DPRK.
North Korea limits trade and transportation links with other countries and tightly restricts the circumstances under which foreigners may enter the country and interact with local citizens.
Telephone and fax communications are unavailable in many areas of the country and foreigners can expect their communications to be monitored by DPRK officials.
In the past few years, North Korea has experienced famine, flooding, fuel and electricity shortages, and outbreaks of disease.
Many countries, including the United States, have contributed to international relief efforts to assist the people of North Korea.

Foreign tourists are a means for North Korea to earn much needed foreign currency, but an underdeveloped service sector, inadequate infrastructure, and political tensions with surrounding countries have stymied any significant tourist flow.
North Korean efforts to expand tourism have focused primarily on group tours from China, as well as from South Korea primarily to the Mount Kumgang tourist area and the city of Kaesong.

The United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with the DPRK.
The Swedish Embassy located in Pyongyang acts as the United States’ interim consular protective power and provides basic consular services to U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea.
Please refer to Special Circumstances for additional information.

Read the Department of State Background Notes on North Korea for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: North Korean visas are required for entry.
The U.S. Government does not issue letters to private Americans seeking North Korean visas, even though in the past such letters have sometimes been requested by DPRK embassies.
Prospective travelers entering and departing North Korea through China must also obtain a two-entry visa for China, as a valid Chinese visa is essential for departing North Korea at the conclusion of a visit or in an emergency.
While the ROK government is attempting to open direct travel routes to the DPRK, routine travel from the ROK to the DPRK is currently prohibited.
Travel across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) is allowed only infrequently for official and government-authorized cultural and economic exchanges, or aid shipments, and for tours limited to Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong City.
There are no regularly operating direct commercial flights from South Korea to North Korea.
U.S. citizens who arrive in North Korea without a valid U.S. passport and North Korean visa may be detained, arrested, fined or denied entry.
Travelers to North Korea report that fees for local travel costs (taxi, tolls, permits and the cost for security personnel assigned to escort foreigner visitors) can be high and arbitrary.

Where to obtain a North Korean visa: There is no DPRK embassy in the United States.
U.S. citizens and residents planning travel to North Korea must obtain DPRK visas in third countries, for example in Beijing, China.
For information about entry requirements and restricted areas, contact the DPRK Mission to the United Nations in New York.
Address inquiries to:

The Permanent Representative of the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue
New York, NY
10017
Tel: (212) 972-3105
Fax: (212) 972-3154

Americans living abroad can contact the DPRK embassy, if any, in their country of residence.
U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea may obtain their visas at the DPRK Embassy in Beijing, China, which will issue visas only after receiving authorization from the DPRK Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang.
Prior to traveling to the region, travelers may wish to confirm that authorization to issue their visa has been received from Pyongyang.
Americans can call the North Korean Embassy in Beijing prior to their travel by telephone at (86-10) 6532-1186 or (86-10) 6532-1189 (fax: (86-10) 6532-6056).

Information on dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.
For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
Please see those sections below under Special Circumstances.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: DPRK government security personnel closely monitor the activities and conversations of foreigners in North Korea.
Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.
Photographing roads, bridges, airports, rail stations, or anything other than designated public tourist sites can be perceived as espionage and may result in confiscation of cameras and film or even detention.
DPRK border officials routinely confiscate visitors’ cell phones upon arrival, returning the phone only upon departure.
Foreign visitors to North Korea may be arrested, detained or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal outside the DPRK, including involvement in unsanctioned religious and political activities, engaging in unauthorized travel, or interaction with the local population.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site
at where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.
Up-to-date information on worldwide security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or for callers outside the United States 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 North Korean government does not release statistics on crime.
Violent crime is rare and street crime is uncommon in Pyongyang.
Petty thefts have been reported, especially at the airport in Pyongyang.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the Swedish Embassy.
If you are a victim of any crime while in North Korea, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the Swedish Embassy for assistance (address and phone number below).

See our information on Victims of Crime.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Persons with medical problems should not travel to North Korea.
For decades, medical facilities in the DPRK have suffered from a lack of resources and electricity, as well as inadequate and often outdated skills among the medical staff.
Hospitals in Pyongyang can perform basic examinations and lifesaving measures but functioning x-ray facilities are not generally available.
Surgery should be avoided.
For accidents outside Pyongyang, transport back to the capital can be a lengthy trip without medical assistance.
Persons requiring regular medication are encouraged to bring sufficient stocks of drugs for personal use since most drugs are impossible to obtain locally.
Hospitals will expect immediate U.S. dollar cash payment for medical treatment.
Credit cards and checks have not been honored in the past, according to diplomatic personnel stationed in the DPRK.
Local DPRK hosts are often not aware of available evacuation options and might claim that no such options exist.
In case of serious medical problems, it is important to insist on immediate contact with the Swedish Embassy.
The Swedish Embassy can arrange a medical evacuation to Beijing within approximately 5-10 hours.

Vaccinations.
All necessary vaccinations should be received prior to traveling to North Korea.
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 web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx.
For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en.
Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en.
Travelers with special dietary requirements are advised to bring food with them to North Korea, as the restaurants available to foreigners may have limited menus that lack variety and nutritional adequacy.

Medical Vaccinations. In the case of a critical illness or accident, the Swedish Embassy will attempt to arrange flight clearances for air ambulances performing emergency medical evacuations.
Medical air evacuation costs vary, but average approximately $40,000 to $50,000 for medical, personnel, aircraft and clearance costs.
Clearances can usually be arranged within one day.
Medical evacuation by regularly scheduled airlines can be arranged, but is limited to the very few flights that operate from Pyongyang to Beijing, Dalian, Shenyang and Macau.
Chinese visas for injured foreigners and any escorts must be obtained prior to the evacuation from North Korea in order to transit China.
Even in the case of a medical emergency, transit visas may take several days to arrange.
Evacuation across the DMZ to South Korea is not allowed.

If an American citizen falls ill or is injured while traveling in the DPRK, accompanying travelers or family members should immediately contact the Swedish Embassy using the phone numbers listed below.

The Embassy of Sweden,
Munsu-Dong District,
Pyongyang, DPRK

Telephone and fax numbers for the Swedish Embassy (U.S. Protective Power) are:
Tel:
(850-2) 3817 485 (Reception)


(850-2) 3817 904, 907(First Secretary)


(850-2) 3817 908, 905 (Ambassador)
Fax:
(850-2) 3817 663
Email:
ambassaden.pyongyang@foreign.ministry.se
Notification also should be made to the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit in Beijing, China, using the phone numbers listed below:

U.S. Embassy, Beijing
American Citizen Services
2 Xiushui Dong Jie
Beijing, China 100600
Telephone: (86-10) 6532-3431
Fax: (86-10) 6532-4153.

After hours, please call (86-10) 6532-3431 and ask for the Embassy duty officer.
Americans who wish to contact U.S. consular officials in China can e-mail amcitbeijing@state.gov
Companies that may be able to arrange evacuation services include, but are not limited to those listed below.
Travelers may wish to contact these or other emergency medical assistance providers for information about their ability to provide medical evacuation insurance and/or assistance for travelers to North Korea.

SOS International (www.intsos.com)
U.S. telephone:
(1-800) 468-5232
China telephone:
(86-10) 6462-9111/9118

Medex Assistance Corporation (www.medexassist.com)
U.S. telephone:
(410) 453-6300 / 6301
Toll free:
108888-800-527-0218 (call from China)
China telephone:
(86-10) 6595-8510)

Global Doctor (www.globaldoctor.com.au/default.php)
China telephone: (86-10) 83151914).









(86-24) 24330678 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad , available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

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 if it will cover emergency expenses such as 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 North Korea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or situation.

Foreigners not holding a valid DPRK driver’s license are not allowed to drive in North Korea.
Foreigners generally are not allowed to use public buses or the subway.
North Korea has a functioning rail transport system; however delays occur often, sometimes for days.
On occasion, service may cease altogether before a traveler reaches his/her final destination.
Bicycles are unavailable for rental or purchase.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:
As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and North Korea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed North Korea’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.
For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Interim Consular Protecting Power: The United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with the DPRK.
The U.S. Government therefore cannot provide normal consular protective services to U.S. citizens in North Korea.
On September 20, 1995, a consular protecting power arrangement was implemented, allowing the Swedish Embassy in the DPRK capital of Pyongyang to provide basic consular protective services to U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea who are ill, injured, arrested or who have died while there.

Consular Access:
There is no United States diplomatic or consular presence in the DPRK.
Americans traveling in the DPRK may receive limited consular services from the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang.
Please see section above on “Medical Insurance” for address and contact information for the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry photocopies of their passport data and photo pages with them at all times so that, if questioned by DPRK officials, evidence of their U.S. citizenship is readily available. The U.S.- DPRK Interim Consular Agreement provides that North Korea will notify the Swedish Embassy within four days of an arrest or detention of an American citizen and will allow consular visits within two days after a request is made by the Swedish Embassy.
However, consular access has not been readily granted in cases where American citizens have been reported as being detained or held against their will by DPRK officials.
Moreover, delegations with ethnic Korean individuals, or delegations representing Korean-affiliated organizations in the U.S., are handled by DPRK structures that are well beyond the reach of diplomatic missions in Pyongyang.
Hence, in case of a situation requiring consular assistance, the Embassy’s access is even more limited.

Customs Regulations:
DPRK authorities may seize documents, literature, audio and videotapes, compact discs and letters deemed by North Korean officials to be pornographic, political or intended for religious proselytizing.
Persons seeking to enter North Korea with religious materials in a quantity deemed to be greater than that needed for personal use can be detained, fined and expelled.
It is advisable to contact the DPRK Mission to the United Nations or a DPRK embassy or a DPRK consulate in a third country for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Please see our information on customs regulations.

Dual Nationality:
The DPRK does not recognize dual nationality.
U.S. citizens of Korean heritage may be subject to military obligations and taxes on foreign source income.
For further information see our dual nationality flyer.
Additional questions on dual nationality may be directed to Overseas Citizens Services, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC
20520 or by telephone at 1-888-407-4747.

U.S. Government Economic Sanctions Against North Korea:
At this time, goods of North Korean origin may not be imported into the United States either directly or indirectly without prior notification to and approval of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Exports to North Korea may be subject to licensing requirements.
Check with the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.
Most financial transactions between U.S. and North Korean citizens are authorized, provided they meet the criteria outlined in the June 19, 2000, and subsequent amendments to OFAC regulations.
All transactions ordinarily incident to travel to, from and within North Korea and to maintenance within North Korea are authorized, and U.S. travel service providers are allowed to organize group travel to North Korea.
Commercial U.S. ships and aircraft carrying U.S. goods are allowed to call at North Korean ports with prior clearance.
In May 2006, OFAC began prohibiting U.S. persons from “owning, leasing, operating or insuring any vessel flagged by North Korea.”
Full text of the regulation can be found in the Federal Register at http://www.fas.usda.gov/info/fr/2000/061900-a.txt.

The U.S. maintains various export controls and other sanctions on North Korea for counter- terrorism, nonproliferation and other reasons.
Exports of military and sensitive dual-use items are prohibited, as are most types of U.S. economic assistance.
The U.S. also abides by multilateral restrictions and sanctions with respect to North Korea, including those contained in recent United Nations Security Council Resolutions in response to the North Korean missile launches and nuclear test in July and October 2006.

For additional information, consult the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) home page on the Internet at http://www.treasury.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/.

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.
Local laws also may not afford the protections available to U.S. citizens under U.S. law.
Penalties for breaking local laws can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses.
Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders often face long jail sentences and heavy fines.
North Korean security personnel may view unescorted travel inside North Korea by Americans who do not have explicit official authorization as espionage, especially when the U.S. citizens are originally from South Korea or are thought to understand the Korean language.
Security personnel may also view any attempt to engage in unauthorized conversations with a North Korean citizen as espionage.
Foreigners are subject to fines or arrest for unauthorized currency transactions or for shopping at stores not designated for foreigners.
It is a criminal act in North Korea to show disrespect to the country's current and former leaders, Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung, respectively.
Foreign journalists have been threatened when questioning the policies or public statements of the DPRK or the actions of the current leadership.

Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.
Please see additional information on Criminal Penalties.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:
For information see our Office of Children's Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in North Korea.

U.S. citizens planning to visit North Korea are encouraged to register prior to departing the United States with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing if entering North Korea from China.
U.S. citizens planning to visit the Mount Kumgang tourism area or Kaesong from South Korea should register with the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.
Registration can be done on line through the State Department's travel registration web site
or in person, by telephone or fax, at the U.S. Embassy.

The Embassy of Sweden (U.S. Protective Power).
Americans who have a medical or consular emergency and who wish to contact the Swedish Embassy are reminded first to communicate this need to their North Korean escorts or guides.
Do not attempt to travel to the Swedish Embassy unescorted.
The Swedish Embassy (U.S. Protective Power) is located at Munsu-Dong District, Pyongyang.
The telephone and fax numbers for the Swedish Embassy (U.S. Protective Power) are:

Tel:
(850-2) 3817 485 (reception)
Tel:
(850-2) 3817 904, (850-2) 3817 907 (First Secretary)
Tel:
(850-2) 3817 908, (850-2) 3817 905 (Ambassador)
Fax:
(850-2) 3817 663

U.S. Embassy Beijing.
The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, is located at:
2 Xiushui Dong Jie, Beijing.
The Embassy is located near Ritan Park.
Telephone: (86-10) 6532-3431.
Fax: (86-10) 6532-4153.
Email: amcitbeijing@state.gov.
The Embassy Beijing web site is http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/.

For after-hours emergencies please call (86-10)6532-3431 and ask for the Embassy duty officer.
U.S. Embassy Seoul.
The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, is located at:
32 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
The Embassy is located across the street from Sejong Cultural Center and next to the Ministry of Information and Communication/KT Building.

Telephone: (82-2) 397-4114.
Fax: (82-2) 2-397-4101.
E-mail: seoul_acs@state.gov.
The Embassy Seoul web site is http://seoul.usembassy.gov/.

For after-hours emergencies please call (82-2) 721-4114 and ask for the Embassy duty officer.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 15, 2007, to update the sections on Country Description, Medical Insurance, Special Circumstances, and Registration/Embassy Location.

Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS

Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2018 14:08:01 +0200

Pyongyang, Sept 6, 2018 (AFP) - Severe flooding in North Korea has killed at least 76 people with another 75 missing, many of them children, the Red Cross said Thursday.   Thousands of people have been left homeless after heavy rains triggered floods and landslides, toppling more than 800 buildings including houses, clinics and schools in North and South Hwanghae provinces, leaving Red Cross volunteers scrambling to find survivors.   "Thousands have lost their homes and are in urgent need of health services, shelter, food, safe drinking water and sanitation," said John Fleming of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) North Korea country office.   "With the cold season around the corner, we are also concerned this disaster will increase the risk of health problems and food insecurity for some communities."

Impoverished North Korea is vulnerable to natural disasters. More than 130 people died after floods struck North Hamgyong province in 2016, bringing down buildings and leaving hundreds of thousands in urgent need of food and shelter.   The country's territory is largely composed of mountains and hills that have long been stripped bare for fuel or turned into terraced rice fields, allowing rainwater to flow downhill unchecked.   A series of floods and droughts was partially responsible for a famine that killed hundreds of thousands between 1994-98, with economic mismanagement and the loss of Soviet support exacerbating the situation.
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2018 07:21:10 +0200

Seoul, Aug 21, 2018 (AFP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has denounced his own country's health services, state media reported Tuesday, criticising officials for being "very idle and irresponsible".   Impoverished and isolated North Korea, which is subject to multiple sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its pursuit of nuclear weapons, suffers from chronic food shortages and inadequate health services according to international aid agencies. 

Hospitals lack medicines, equipment, and trained staff.   While Pyongyang regularly proclaims its desire to provide its people with a better life, Kim roundly condemned its health system on a visit to a medical devices factory.   Some sectors "have made remarkable leaps forward in recent years" Kim said according to the official Korean Central News Agency, "but the public health sector has never done so and become more and more passive".   "There is no unit keeping its environment well in the public health sector, to say nothing of equipment modernisation," he added at the Myohyangsan Medical Appliances Factory.

Such "field guidance" visits by the leader are the mainstay of the North's state media output, and a key part of the authorities' domestic messaging, sometimes lauding the quality of projects and sometimes criticising officials.   The ruling Workers' Party had stressed the need to improve health services, but "officials are very idle and irresponsible in doing so", Kim said according to KCNA.

In the Korean-language version, he berated them for "hibernating for a long time", adding: "Animals only hibernate once a year but the health sector has been holed up and hibernating for years and shouting empty slogans."   Since his summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, Kim has stressed a focus on economic development, visiting industrial sites and factories across the nation.

In this year's "needs and priorities" assessment of North Korea, the UN Development Programme described its healthcare services as "inadequate", with a "lack of essential medical equipment, pharmaceutical remedies, appropriate referral systems, therapeutic equipment and assistive devices, as well as limited professional capacity".   "Furthermore, health infrastructure is poor with many [facilities] having inconsistent water, electricity and heating," it added.

North Korea has called for an end to sanctions against it, while the US has urged the international community to maintain a tough approach until its complete denuclearisation.   Following several ballistic missile launches and by far the North's most powerful nuclear test last year, Kim declared the development of its atomic capabilities complete and said economic development was the new priority.
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2018 07:41:24 +0200

Seoul, Aug 14, 2018 (AFP) - North Korea has stopped processing tourist visas for foreigners ahead of a high profile anniversary next month, according to a China-based tour operator.   The measure follows reports that Pyongyang had suspended visits by Chinese tour groups as it prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the country is officially known.

Koryo Tours, a popular agency among Western tourists seeking to visit the North, said on its website it had been "informed on 13 August by our partners in Pyongyang that they had been instructed from above that all tourist visa applications currently underway are to be frozen".   It was not given a reason for the freeze, the company said, but was told it would apply until the anniversary on September 9.   "This suggests to us that... a higher power in the country is simply pressing pause on tourism until it is clear to them who is coming in such delegations and how many people," it added.   Pyongyang has previously lavishly celebrated the date with military parades or mass games involving thousands of people performing acrobatic choreography in unison, and is expected this time to hold its first mass games for five years.

Speculation has also mounted that the nuclear-armed North could be preparing to mount a parade -- at which it normally shows off some of the weapons that have earned it multiple sets of UN Security Council sanctions.   Chinese President Xi Jinping is speculated to be on the guest list, as officials in the North told South Korean journalists that he was invited to the event.   In his New Year speech in January, leader Kim Jong Un said North Korean people would "greet the 70th founding anniversary of their Republic as a great, auspicious event".

The occasion comes during a rare diplomatic detente on the Korean peninsula which has seen the South's president Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un meet twice, with a third summit planned for September.   The rapprochement also led to a landmark summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, where the two leaders signed a vague agreement on denuclearisation.   Although Trump touted his summit with Kim as a historic breakthrough, the North has since criticised Washington for its "gangster-like" demands of complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament.   The US has urged the international community to maintain tough sanctions on the isolated regime.
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2018 10:27:07 +0200

Seoul, Aug 2, 2018 (AFP) - North Korea on Thursday warned that an "unprecedented" heatwave has caused heavy damage to crops as it urged citizens to "join the struggle" to prevent drought-like conditions from worsening and hampering food production in the impoverished country.   The Korean peninsula has been gripped by a scorching heatwave in recent weeks, with dozens of deaths in the South blamed on soaring temperatures that have hit all-time highs.    The temperature in North Korea's capital Pyongyang climbed to a record high of 37.8 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, with state TV warning that it was "taking a toll on the economy".   It did not elaborate on the scale of the damage.

But the rising temperatures have already inflicted heavy losses on the richer South, which has reported more than three million deaths of livestock and a fivefold increase in deaths from heat-related illnesses, while vegetable prices have doubled due to supplies being affected.   The North's state-run Rodong newspaper on Thursday said that curbing further damage to the agriculture sector was an "extremely important and urgent task".   "Rural areas across the country... are reporting damages to crops including rice and corn due to extremely high temperatures and drought," it said in an editorial.   "Today's reality is calling for every single individual across the country to join the struggle to contain the damages stemming from high temperature and drought," it said, urging citizens to "display their patriotic zeal" and "save every single dollop of water".   "This year's high temperature is an unprecedented natural disaster but it is not an insurmountable difficulty," it added.

The North has a fragile economy and has been frequently condemned by the international community for decades of prioritising its military and banned nuclear weapons programme over adequately providing for its people.  It has also been slapped with UN sanctions over its nuclear and missile tests, with the restrictions remaining in place despite an ongoing diplomatic rapprochement that has seen the North's leader Kim Jong Un hold a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump.   The country has periodically been hit by famine, and hundreds of thousands of people died -- estimates range into millions -- in the mid-1990s.   The food situation has improved in recent years however, partly due to reforms in agriculture and increasing trade at state-sanctioned private markets that have cropped up nationwide.    But the nation remains vulnerable to natural disasters including flood and drought due to chronic lack of infrastructure, deforestation and decades of state mismanagement. 
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:04:19 +0200
By Poornima WEERASEKARA, Ryan MCMORROW

Beijing, April 23, 2018 (AFP) - Thirty-two Chinese tourists and four North Koreans were killed when a bus plunged from a bridge in North Korea, Chinese officials and state media said Monday.   Two other Chinese nationals were injured in Sunday's accident south of the capital Pyongyang, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.   Lu said China was investigating the cause of the accident and had deployed a team, including medical experts, to North Korea "to assist with the emergency rescue and treatment operations".

The ministry provided few details but China's official Xinhua news agency reported later that the bus had fallen from a bridge in North Hwanghae Province on Sunday night.   China's state broadcaster showed images of a large overturned vehicle, with light rain falling on rescue vehicles at night and doctors attending to a patient.   China was informed about the accident on Sunday night and its embassy personnel in Pyongyang rushed to the scene, the foreign ministry said in a statement.   The vast majority of foreign tourists to North Korea are Chinese, with the Cold War-era allies sharing a long land border and operating flights between the two countries.

Western visitors to the North once averaged around 5,000 a year, but numbers have been hit recently by a US travel ban -- Americans accounted for around 20 percent of the market -- and official warnings from other countries.   Tens of thousands of Chinese tourists are believed to visit the North every year, with many crossing via train through the Chinese border city of Dandong. For some, North Korea provides a window into what Communist China may have looked like decades ago.   Chinese tourism to the North has continued even though Beijing has enforced a slew of United Nations sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

- 'All necessary means' -
President Xi Jinping urged China's foreign ministry and embassy in North Korea to take "all necessary means" to handle the accident, and called for an "all-out" effort to help the injured and deal with the deceased, according to Xinhua.

China's state broadcaster CGTN had tweeted that the tour bus had plunged from a bridge prior to official confirmation of the accident. The post was later deleted without explanation.   North Hwanghae province lies south of the capital Pyongyang and stretches to the border with South Korea. It includes the city of Kaesong, an ancient Korean capital with historical sites.

More recently, the area hosted a manufacturing complex operated with the South.   The tour group was travelling by bus from Kaesong to Pyongyang when the accident happened, according to the independent Seoul-based website NK News, which cited an unnamed source.   North Korean roads are largely poor and potholed, and in many areas they are dirt rather than tarmac. Vehicles are sometimes forced to ford rivers or take detours when bridges are unpassable.

But the route from Pyongyang to Kaesong, where the accident reportedly happened, is one of the best in the country.   It runs north-south from the Chinese border to the Demilitarized Zone on the border with South Korea but has little traffic, like all North Korean highways.   Tank traps have been installed along the road in many locations -- sets of high concrete columns on either side of the road that can easily be blown up to create an obstruction for invading armoured vehicles.
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.