Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2016 18:37:39 +0200

Tegucigalpa, Aug 3, 2016 (AFP) - Honduras on Wednesday issued a red alert for its Bay Islands, popular with tourists in the Caribbean, as Tropical Storm Earl bore down on Central America.   A fishing vessel with 82 crew members capsized because of the storm, but they were all rescued, an official with Honduras' Copeco emergency services agency told the HCH television channel.   The red alert for the Bay Islands, an archipelago of eight main islands and smaller cays, was to last two days.

The islands' main airport in Roatan was closed, as were two others near the Caribbean coast on the mainland.    Schools were also shut in the north of the country.   Copeco said it had plans ready to evacuate residents at high risk from the storm.   Tropical Storm Earl, packing winds of up to 118 kilometres per hour, was expected to drive into northern Honduras, a coastal part of neighbouring Guatemala, and the small country of Belize.   Authorities have warned of high winds, heavy rain and flooding.
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 2016 20:00:20 +0200

Tegucigalpa, Aug 2, 2016 (AFP) - Six people have died and 10 babies have been born with defects in Honduras in cases feared to have been caused by Zika, the health minister said Tuesday.   Tests were being carried out to confirm whether the cases were the result of the virus, which is most commonly transmitted by mosquitos and, more rarely, through sexual contact.

The fatalities were due to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder brought on by the immune system attacking the nerves, which can cause paralysis, according to the minister, Mireya Batres.   The latest death was a 15-year-old boy, she told local broadcaster HRN and other media.

The number of babies born with microcephaly, or abnormally small skulls and underdeveloped brains, has risen from six to 10, Batres said.   The tallies were higher than the minister's last count given June 26, when she spoke of three Guillain-Barre deaths and eight microcephaly cases.   Authorities in the tropical Central American country were conducting campaigns to try to reduce populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito known to transmit Zika.    So far this year they have counted nearly 30,000 cases of Zika infection.
Date: Sat, 30 Jul 2016 17:00:54 +0200

Choluteca, Honduras, July 30, 2016 (AFP) - Six Honduran women have delivered babies with the birth defect microcephaly in just three days, raising fresh concerns about the spread of the Zika virus, doctors said on Saturday.   All six cases of the Zika-linked birth defect were registered at the same hospital in Choluteca, a city just south of the capital Tegucigalpa that has been particularly hard-hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which can also spread through sexual contact.

"These six cases have alarmed us and we think they are connected to Zika," epidemiologist Gustavo Avila said. "Every year a child is born with microcephaly, but six over the course of three days is alarming."   Zika infections -- which cause flu-like symptoms and a rash -- have been reported in dozens of countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

However, the virus poses a particular danger to pregnant women, who if infected face a higher risk of bearing infants with microcephaly.   The birth defect causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.

Honduras has detected 27,869 cases of Zika this year, according to Health Minister Yolani Batres.   The rise in infants born with microcephaly, which causes irreversible malformations, has been most acute in Brazil.   Honduran health officials have mobilized to destroy mosquito breeding sites with the support of some 2,000 military troops and local institutions.
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2016 20:50:19 +0100

Tegucigalpa, March 11, 2016 (AFP) - Honduras on Friday reported its first death from a paralyzing illness linked to the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne epidemic that is spreading through Latin America and also suspected of causing birth defects.   The person died from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder that results from the body's immune system attacking part of the nervous system, leading to muscle weakness which can be severe or fatal.   Honduras' deputy health minister, Francis Contreras, did not identify the victim, but said he or she was among 57 patients diagnosed with Guillain-Barre.   He said the person had been in the north of Honduras, but did not say where exactly so as not to cause panic or stigmatize the area.

Although Zika has not been definitively proved to cause Guillain-Barre or microcephaly, a severe deformation of baby's brains, the World Health Organization strongly suspects it does.   Contreras said Honduras has diagnosed 185 pregnant women with Zika.   He said more than 27,000 people in the country were affected by the illness and dengue and chikungunya, two other diseases transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

There is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus, and affected countries are focusing on wiping out mosquito populations in an effort to curb its spread.   According to the World Health Organization, 41 countries or territories have reported transmission of Zika within their borders since last year, and nine have reported an increase in Guillain-Barre cases.
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2016 11:15:26 +0100

Tegucigalpa, Feb 7, 2016 (AFP) - Armed with brooms, spades and hoes, Hondurans by the thousands took part in a day of national mobilization to try and eradicate mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, the government said.   Some 200,000 residents of this Central American nation spent Saturday ridding homes and gardens of standing water and fumigating areas suspected of harbouring larvae from the virus-carrying mosquito.   Although the symptoms associated with Zika virus are relatively mild, the scourge currently sweeping Latin America and the Caribbean is suspected of causing severe birth defects in newborns and has been linked to neurological ailments affecting adults.

Honduras, which earlier this week declared a state of emergency because of the rapidly spreading virus, now has some 4,400 confirmed cases of Zika since mid-December.   President Juan Orlando Hernandez has allocated an initial tranche of $10 million in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.   "The data is clear: each day, the number of cases of this terrible illness increases," Hernandez said Saturday as the massive eradication effort got underway.

Hernandez urged his countrymen to be fully "conscious of the problem that we're confronting."   Hondurans are called upon "to unite against Zika, our common enemy," he added.   Zika causes flu-like symptoms and a rash, and is so mild that it goes undetected in 70 to 80 percent of cases.   There is currently no specific treatment for Zika and no way to prevent it other than avoiding mosquito bites.

The Honduran government said that among the 200,000 people enlisted to take part in the mosquito eradication effort were students, civil servants, soldiers and police, among other workers.   "My house is now clean," said Maria Martinez, a resident of the Hato de Enmedio neighborhood of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa.    "I'm afraid of Zika, and that's whey I've gotten rid of all receptacles containing water," she said.

The nation's health minister Yolani Batres said that despite the high number of Zika infections, there are so far no confirmed cases of Zika-linked microcephaly, or abnormally small heads and brains, which have been widely diagnosed in Brazil, the country hardest hit by the outbreak.   Colombia, the country with the second-worst outbreak, has announced three deaths blamed on Zika.   Colombia also has seen a sharp increase in a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can cause paralysis and even death.

The World Health Organization, which has declared an international emergency because of outbreak, warns that Zika could infect up to four million people in the Americas and spread worldwide.   Health officials in Honduras said 16 pregnant women are believed to have contracted the virus, and that officials are awaiting the results of testing on samples sent to the United States for confirmation.
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