Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2017 05:11:20 +0200
By Alastair HIMMER

Tetiaroa, France, Sept 20, 2017 (AFP) - An exotic island paradise in French Polynesia bought by Marlon Brando in the sixties is using its Hollywood image to tackle environmental issues -- with a little help from its jet-set visitors.   The tiny, palm-fringed atoll of Tetiaroa was once a favourite holiday spot for Tahitian royalty before the late American movie star fell in love with it while filming "Mutiny on the Bounty" in 1961 on islands close by.   Brando married co-star Tarita Teriipaia and the couple raised a family on Tetiaroa, now home to a luxury eco-resort that bears the reclusive actor's name and regularly pampers A-list clientele such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp and Barack Obama.

Guests at "The Brando" help fund research projects by paying up to $10,000 a night to stay in the elegant thatched villas overlooking a turquoise lagoon.   As Pippa Middleton soaks up the rays on honeymoon or Obama seeks inspiration to write his memoirs, scientists quietly go about their work testing ocean acidification to study the effects on coral bleaching.   Behind the butler service and Michelin-star cuisine, the resort has built on Brando's own vision for a sustainable environment, to become one of the most eco-friendly hotels in the world, running on solar power and coconut oil.   Luxury eco-tourism is a growing sector of the travel industry with big name hotel brands such as Alila and Aman investing heavily in ensuring their green

Boutique resorts that pride themselves on sustainability and giving back to the local community, such as Song Saa private island in Cambodia, Nihiwatu in Indonesia, and the Soneva hotels in Thailand and the Maldives, are also increasingly in demand.    But Tetiaroa, where legend has it British sailors who seized control of the Bounty in 1789 found vestiges of a pagan sex cult, has the added bonus of old Hollywood glamour.   Brando's granddaughter Tumi grew up on the island, fishing for snapper and grouper in the lagoon, home to juvenile lemon and black tip sharks which glide lazily among the corals as guests snorkel.   The 29-year-old works as the chief communications officer for the non-profit Tetiaroa Society, a scientific organisation devoted to marine wildlife founded by the Brando estate, which owns the atoll.

- Coconut power -
"Our aim is to raise awareness," she told AFP as marine biologists studied shark populations inside the three-mile (4.8 kilometre) wide lagoon, which contains at least 167 species of fish, including parrotfish and spotted eagle rays.   "First among local people, because we want to protect our environment. Maybe America or China -- they come to my mind first because they're the biggest polluters -- can emulate us."   Opened in 2014, the hotel's electricity comes from more than 2,000 solar panels which line the island's tiny runway and generators fuelled by coconut oil. Its air-conditioning is powered by deep seawater -- a brainwave of Marlon Brando's.   Mosquitoes are dying out at the resort where researchers have found a way to sterilise an invasive species capable of carrying dengue and Zika virus.

Brando previously ran a modest eco-lodge after buying Tetiaroa where celebrity buddy Robert De Niro, a guest in the late 1980s, once amused himself by waiting on tables.   Brando died in 2004, but Tetiaroa, located some 2,700 miles south of Hawaii, has been preserved in line with his ecological vision -- resort staff even keep a pet cat called Marlon in homage.   "He was passionate," said Tumi. "He was dragged here by Hollywood, then grandma made him come back."   Following Brando's blueprint, naturalists at the island's research centre monitor its countless tropical birds and turtle sanctuary, ready to rescue clumsy hatchlings before they can become a meal for predators.

- 'Canary in the coal mine' -
Luxury eco-resorts offer high-rollers a chance to offset any guilt they might feel over their carbon-heavy lifestyles.   "You need to look at the full picture of sustainability," said Rochelle Turner, research director at the World Travel and Tourism Council.   "Often these upscale resorts lead the way. They have a much higher profit margin so they're able to do things that make their destinations more protected."    "But they pass on knowledge to the mass market too," she added. "Even backpackers are learning from what is happening at the high end."   Tetiaroa is ideal for ecological research, according to Frank Murphy, executive director of the Tetiaroa Society, to which DiCaprio and Depp donate.   "We're perched here on one the most vulnerable spots on earth. It's kind of the canary in the coal mine for climate change so we better be doing our damnedest to figure out what's going on," he said.   "The El Nino years we've had over the past 20 years gives us a glimpse into what will happen with global warming."
Date: Sat 5 Sep 2015
Source: TNTV (Tahiti Nui Television) [edited]

Since the beginning of the year [2015], 4 people, including 3 babies younger than 3-month-old, have contracted pertussis in French Polynesia. All 4 patients were admitted to the Taaone hospital. 2 are from Bora Bora and 2 from Moorea. According to the health authorities, an active search for secondary cases was carried out for each of them and an antibiotic chemoprophylaxis was offered to the people who had been in contact with the 4 patients.

Pertussis is a highly contagious infectious disease. Pertussis is caused by the bacterium _Bordetella_. It is an airborne disease. Symptoms include runny nose, fever, and cough.
[For a discussion of pertussis, see moderator comments in prior ProMED-mail posts.

French Polynesia is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic. It is composed of 118 dispersed islands and atolls, 67 of which are inhabited, stretching over an expanse of more than 2000 kilometres (1200 mi) in the South Pacific Ocean. It is divided into 5 groups of islands: The Society Islands archipelago composed of the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, and the Austral Islands (<>). Tahiti, which is located within the Society Islands, is the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the collectivity, Pape'ete, with a population of 133 627 inhabitants in 2012 (<>).

Taaone Hospital is in Pirae, a commune in the suburbs of Papeete (<>). Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group and Moorea is one of the Windward Islands, both parts of the Society Islands, (<> and <>).

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map showing the location of the islands in French Polynesia can be accessed at
<>. - ProMED Mod.ML]
Date: February 2015
Source: Emerging Infectious Diseases 21 (2) [summ., edited]

Musso D, Roche C, Robin E, Nhan T, Teissier A, Cao-Lormeau VM. Potential sexual transmission of Zika virus.

In December 2013, during a Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in French Polynesia, a patient in Tahiti sought treatment for haematospermia, and ZIKV was isolated from his semen. ZIKV transmission by sexual intercourse has been previously suspected. This observation supports the possibility that ZIKV could be transmitted sexually.

The largest known ZIKV outbreak reported started in October 2013 in French Polynesia, South Pacific, a territory of France comprising 67 inhabited islands; an estimated 28,000 persons (11 per cent of the population) sought medical care for the illness. The most common symptoms of Zika fever are rash, fever, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis. Most of the patients had mild disease, but severe neurologic complications have been described in other patients in French Polynesia.

We detected a high ZIKV RNA load and replicative ZIKV in semen samples, but ZIKV remained undetectable by rRT-PCR in the blood sample collected at the same time. These results suggest that viral replication may have occurred in the genital tract, but we do not know when this replication started and how long it lasted. The fact that the patient had no common symptoms of ZIKV acute infection concomitantly to haematospermia suggests that the viraemic phase occurred upstream, probably during the 1st or 2nd episode of mild fever, headache, and arthralgia.

Our findings support the hypothesis that ZIKV can be transmitted by sexual intercourse. Furthermore, the observation that ZIKV RNA was detectable in urine after viraemia clearance in blood suggests that, as found for DENV and WNV infections, urine samples can yield evidence of ZIKV for late diagnosis, but more investigation is needed.
Date: Tue, 31 Mar 2015 09:58:26 +0200 (METDST)

Hagatna, Guam, March 31, 2015 (AFP) - Meteorologists warned Tuesday that a storm reported to have left several casualties and severe damage in Micronesia was building into a super-typhoon as it swept across the central Pacific towards the Yap group of islands.   The island of Chuuk, part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), received a direct hit late on Sunday from Typhoon Maysak and the Yap group was next in its path.   "Chuuk was devastated," lawyer Kembo Mida said in an email to the Ayuda Foundation relief organisation which is based in Guam about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away.   "Houses were blown away and trees snapped in half. It was very dangerous and scary... a ship sank too."   The Pacific News Center in Guam said FSM public information officer Marz Akapito "is reporting that five people have died in Chuuk state due to typhoon Maysak".   The consul-general for FSM based in Guam, Robert Ruecho, told AFP he had heard various casualty counts of one and later five, but "cannot confirm anything right now".   Maysak was expected to have intensified to a maximum category five storm by the time it hit Yap early Wednesday.

Neville Koop, a meteorologist with Fiji's Na Draki weather service, said at its peak it would have winds of 270 kilometres per hour (168 miles per hour) with gusts up to 340kph.   "This typhoon will be very destructive," Koop told AFP. "At its peak Typhoon Maysak will be as strong as Cyclone Pam."   Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu over two weeks ago, causing widespread damage and leaving 11 people dead in the South Pacific nation.   The director of the FSM National Emergency Management Office, Andrew Yatilman, told Radio New Zealand that Typhoon Maysak scored a direct hit on the most populated area of Chuuk, which is home to nearly 50,000 people.   "Residences (had) their roofs completely torn off, and so whoever was staying in those will have to be accommodated either by relatives or in public shelters that have been set up by the government," he said.   "Most people are all right, we understand that there may have been a few casualties; between four and five that we know so far."

Ruecho, the consul-general, told the Marianas Variety newspaper in Guam he had not been able to make contact with people in Chuuk.   "I haven't been able to speak with the governor," Ruecho said. "The phone lines have been difficult today, power is down and so my information is second hand from the (FSM) capital in Pohnpei.   "Lots of flooding and many of the roofs... we heard they were torn off many of the residences and buildings -- maybe 80 to 90 percent of homes."   In 2002 heavy rain from Tropical Storm Chataan triggered several landslides that killed 47 people in Chuuk's deadliest weather disaster.   The Philippine state weather forecaster said it was too early to say if the latest typhoon would affect the country, but it would reassess the situation when the storm entered its area of responsibility on Wednesday or Thursday.   The Philippines is still recovering from Super Typhoon Haiyan which struck in November 2013, leaving more than 7,350 people dead or missing.
Date: Fri 16 Jan 2015
Source: La Depeche de Tahiti [in French, trans. ProMED CopyEd.LMI, edited]

The authorities are calling for vigilance regarding leptospirosis, as the risk of an outbreak is significant because of the rainy season. 6 cases have been reported since early January [2015]. 2 teenagers are currently hospitalized at Taaone [Tahiti].

Last year [2014], leptospirosis killed 2 and affected 129 people (read our article in La Depeche de Tahiti, Saturday 17th of January [2014?]).
[Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial infection that is distributed widely throughout the world in warm climates and is transmitted to humans by direct contact of abraded skin or mucous membranes with the urine of infected animals or by contact with wet soil, vegetation, or water that has been contaminated with infected animal urine. _Leptospira_ bacteria shed in urine may survive in fresh water or moist soil for weeks to months. Many species of wild and domestic animals (including dogs, cattle, swine, and especially rats) are susceptible to chronic kidney infection with pathogenic _Leptospira_. Different leptospiral serovars are prevalent in particular geographical regions. Inadequate disposal of trash and debris provides a suitable habitat for rat infestation in urban settings. Outbreaks of leptospirosis frequently follow heavy rainfall, flooding with fresh water, and increasing rodent numbers.

Tahiti, which is located within the Society Islands in the South Pacific Ocean, is the largest and most populous (population 183,645 inhabitants in 2012) island of French Polynesia, where its capital, Papeete, is located (<>). Tahiti is the economic, cultural, and political center of French Polynesia. The urban area of Papeete had a total population of 133,627 inhabitants in 2012 (<>).

Tahiti is referred to as a "high island", that is, an island of volcanic origin with high mountains, valleys, and rivers

November to April is the wet season, the wettest month of which is January with 13.2 in (340 mm) of rain in Papeete

Heavy rains in January in Tahiti have caused flooding
(<>). - ProMED Mod.ML]

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