Brazil’s Newly Contacted Tribe Already Has the Flu, and It Could Wipe Them Out

July 25, 2014

Jason Koebler – Motherboard, 7/22/2014

It has happened many times before, and it’s happening again: Members of apreviously uncontacted tribe that recently made contact with the outside world have gotten sick. Now, they’ve retreated back into the Amazon Rainforest, which is very bad news, as it puts the entire tribe at risk of infection—and possibly death.

Last month, seven members of an unnamed, uncontacted tribe in northwestern Brazil became the first of its kind to interact with the Brazilian government in nearly 20 years after reportedly being driven out of the forest by a traumatic event—perhaps the invasion of their land by illegal loggers in Peru. The tribe had been living in the forest completely uninterrupted and without communication with the world outside of the Amazon Rainforest, which is one of the reasons they’re often referred to as “isolated” tribes.

In any case, each of the seven tribe members got the flu, according to FUNAI, the Brazilian agency that deals with indigenous populations. That’s what happens when uncontacted tribes are contacted, because its members haven’t spent hundreds of years being exposed to the diseases that most people’s bodies have become accustomed to.

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Japan to help Brazil accelerate drug safety assessment

July 24, 2014

The Japan Times, 7/24/2014

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to tell Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil on Aug. 1 that Japan will provide expertise to speed up its ability to assess the safety of new drugs, a government source said Wednesday.

Japan plans to offer data accumulated by its drug examination agency and send experts on pharmaceutical administration to Brazil, the source said.

It will be the first time Japan has provide such know-how to any other country, and Tokyo hopes shorter screening periods will help it boost sales of pharmaceuticals there.

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In Brazil, government, health groups work to shield isolated Indian tribes from disease

July 23, 2014

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 7/23/2014

Despite working for seven years with indigenous tribes in Brazil that have had no contact with the outside world, the closest Carlos Travassos had ever been to any was earlier this month, when he and his team treated seven Indians for the flu.

Travassos, who is the general coordinator of isolated and recently contacted Indians for the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs department, FUNAI, had one word for the encounter: “tense.”

Late last month, the group of seven Indians first walked into a village called Simpatia — or ‘Niceness’ — deep in the Brazilian Amazon, near the Peruvian border, in the Kampa Indian reserve in Acre state. The Ashaninka — a so-called contacted tribe because its members have had encounters with outsiders — live there.

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Brazil to unleash GM-mosquito swarms to fight dengue

July 23, 2014

Sue Branford – New Scientist, 7/23/2014

Time to unleash the mozzies? Genetically modified mosquitoes will be raised on a commercial scale for the first time, in a bid to stem outbreaks of dengue fever in Brazil. But it is unclear how well it will work.

Next week biotech company Oxitec of Abingdon, UK, will open a factory in Campinas, Brazil, to raise millions of modified mosquitoes. Once released, they will mate with wild females, whose offspring then die before adulthood. That should cut the number of dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. In April, Brazil’s National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) approved their commercial use.

The mosquitoes could be an important step forward in controlling dengue, which affects more than 50 million people every year, with a 30-fold increase in the last 50 years. There is no vaccine or preventive drug, so all anyone can do is to spray insecticide on a large scale in a bid to kill dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

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The story behind Cuba’s deal to send doctors to Brazil

July 17, 2014

Daniel A. Medina – Quartz, 7/16/2014

Last summer, long before before Brazil was demolished 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup, the country faced a crisis of another sort. Millions of citizens marched in cities across the country to demand wholesale reforms to the country’s crippled public health care system, which faced huge shortages of doctors and a failing infrastructure.

That’s when the tiny island nation of Cuba stepped in to this neglected area of the world’s seventh-largest economy.

Under Brazil’s Mais Médicos (“More Doctors”) program, which pays foreign physicians to work in underserved areas of the country, Cuba sent 4,500 doctors to rural areas in the Amazon and to the underserved slums known as favelas in its booming cities. The move angered Brazil’s doctors’ unions, who protested outside hospitals, and the Brazilian Medical Association filed a lawsuit in the country’s Supreme Court questioning its existence. Protestors denounced the program as only a temporary solution to a systemic problem, saying the changes should come internally, not by importing doctors.

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Self-Destructing Mosquitoes to Help Brazil Fight Deadly Dengue

July 1, 2014

Makiko Kitamura and Natasha Khan – Bloomberg, 7/1/2014

When he announced he was going to Brazil for the World Cup, Andy Quinn was warned by friends and a travel agent to lather on mosquito repellent to avoid potentially fatal dengue fever.

Some of the mosquitoes he saw “were like aliens — I’ve never seen them that big before,” said the 32-year-old Londoner, who attended three games in Brazil before his England team was sent packing. Brazil’s stepped up spraying of insecticides didn’t seem to help matters.

The country may soon have a more powerful weapon to use before it hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics: genetically modified mosquitoes that self-destruct before doing any damage.

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A World Cup Visitor: Polio from Africa in Brazil

June 25, 2014

Maryn McKenna – Wired, 6/25/2014

Unnerving news from Brazil, now hosting travelers from all over the world because of the World Cup: The virus that causes polio has been found in sewage in one of the cities where matches are being played.

The World Health Organization, which announced the finding on Monday, says the virus was discovered last week in a sample collected in March at Viracopos International Airport in Campinas, which is about 60 miles outside Sao Paulo, and is where many of the World Cup teams have been landing. The agency said no cases of polio have been identified and there is no evidence the disease has been transmitted.

Genetic sequencing of the virus — the WHO didn’t say, but probably done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta  — revealed that it was closely related to a poliovirus that recently caused a case of the disease in Equatorial Guinea in West Africa. Humans are polio’s only host; so that probably means the virus was carried into Brazil by a traveler, likely someone who never knew he was harboring it.

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Health screenings, blood drives prove popular at Brazil’s World Cup

June 24, 2014

Amanda Woerner – Fox News, 6/24/2014

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil progresses towards the round of 16, it’s not only the health of the players that is getting attention. The health of tournament volunteers – and the surrounding community in Brazil – is also getting special treatment.

Notably, more than 14,000 volunteers at the tournament – those in charge of directing fans within the stadiums – are being treated to free health screenings, courtesy of the official health care sponsor of the World Cup, Johnson & Johnson.

“For this group, it’s a relatively younger group, so we’re focusing on healthy engagement, health and wellness at an early age,” Dr. Joseph Ferro, worldwide corporate medical director at Johnson & Johnson, told FoxNews.com. “So they’re less likely to have illness later on, it’s [focused on] preventative behaviors, healthy behavior and lifestyle.”

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The political tide turns

May 27, 2014

The Economist, 5/24/2014

BRAZIL likes to think of itself as o país do futebol—the football country. So it is extraordinary that just three weeks before the World Cup kicks off in São Paulo, a recent poll found less than half of Brazilians saying they were happy to host it. True, this may change once the tournament gets going, especially if fears of transport chaos prove misplaced. Yet that poll result betrays not just public anger at the inflated cost of the tournament, but also wider grumpiness.

Although the cup will doubtless see a few protests—some have already begun—the public mood will be tested more clearly in the presidential election on October 5th. Many pundits, especially outsiders, take it for granted that Dilma Rousseff, the president, will win a second term. That is what the polls have long suggested.

Although the cup will doubtless see a few protests—some have already begun—the public mood will be tested more clearly in the presidential election on October 5th. Many pundits, especially outsiders, take it for granted that Dilma Rousseff, the president, will win a second term. That is what the polls have long suggested.

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