EU wants other countries to set emissions targets

first_imgIn contrast, the ministers agreed that it was too soon for the EU to say how much money it will give to developing countries to help them adapt to unavoidable climate change. Their conclusions state that global spending will need to increase to €175 billion a year by 2020 if the EU is to meet its objective of restricting global warming to 2°C. They also take note of United Nations estimates that developing countries will need €23bn-€54bn per year by 2030 to adapt to climate change. Italy and France had argued that these figures should be deleted, because they could be seen as a tacit spending commitment, but in the end the figures stayed. The ministers agreed that any agreement at the UN’s climate change summit in Copenhagen later this year must be based on the most recent scientific evidence, which shows that climate change is happening faster than scientists had previously thought. The UN negotiations are based on the IPCC’s scientific reports, which are drawn up by thousands of scientists, but their latest report from 2007 has been overtaken by new data showing that the Arctic is melting and seas are rising faster than predicted. The European Union will call on other developed countries to set greenhouse-gas targets by the middle of this year, a meeting of the bloc’s environment ministers decided yesterday (2 March). The declaration is an attempt to step up pressure on other wealthy nations, as the world prepares to negotiate a global deal on climate change at the end of the year.The EU has pledged to cut its emissions by 20% by 2020 and promised to increase this target to 30% if other countries join in. At yesterday’s meeting in Brussels, the environment ministers of the 27 EU states re-confirmed their 30% target and called on other developed countries to come up with plans for emission limitations or reductions as soon as possible and no later than the middle of the year. According to evidence from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was cited by the ministers, developed countries must reduce their emissions by 25-40% by 2020 and by 80-95% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. The EU is anxious to ensure that other rich countries take on similar commitments for 2020 and beyond. The ministers also stated that they want other rich countries to pass measures that are similar to the EU’s climate and energy package that was agreed last year.But ministers were divided over how to calculate what a “similar” commitment would be. In the end they agreed that targets should be based on a country’s ability to pay, potential to make greenhouse-gas reductions, efforts made since 1990 and population trends. Some countries, notably France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Spain, had pressed to include emissions per person, but other countries thought this would cause problems at the UN negotiating table. The ministers compromised, by agreeing that all countries should work to limit their emissions to two tonnes per person by 2050. last_img read more

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ZZ Top and Jeff Beck Touring Together This Summer

first_imgZZ Top and Jeff Beck will partake in a five week long summer tour together. Each act will play a full set, and then close each show with a collaboration! This marks the first time that the acts have toured together, although they have performed at least two times together in the past. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top joined Jeff Beck at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2009 to play Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”. The next year, Beck joined the band during a show in Italy for an extended version of “La Grange”.Jeff Beck and ZZ Top Tour Dates:8/8 Missoula, MT – Ogren Park 8/9 Woodinville, WA – Chatea Ste. Michelle 8/10 Eugene, OR – Cuthbert Amphitheatre  8/12 Saratoga, CA – The Mountain Winery 8/13 Los Angeles, CA – Greek Amphitheatre  8/15 Murphys, CA – ironstone Amphitheatre  8/16 Las Vegas, NV – The Joing 8/20 Englewood, CO – Fiddlers Green Amphitheatre  8/22 Oklahoma City, OK – Zoo Amphitheatre  8/23 Kansas City, MO – Starlight Theater 8/24 Maryland Heights, MO – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater  8/27 Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre 8/28 Highland Park, IL – Ravina 8/31 Mashantucket, CT – MGM Grand Theater @ Foxwoods 9/2 Boston, MA – Blue Hills Bank Pavilion 9/3 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion 9/4 Wantagh, NY – Nikon @ Jones Beach Theater 9/6 Alpharetta, GA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater  9/7 St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheater  9/12 The Woodlands, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion-Brittney Borruso www.facebook.com/rockstella[via Rolling Stone]last_img read more

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Fentanyl-laced heroin causes fatalities nationwide

first_imgMinutes after New Jersey health officials posted the jump in overdose deaths in an Internet alert, an official from Maryland called: People were dying there, too. Valdez’s family left Mexico for San Diego when he was 7. When his father walked, Ricardo looked after his five brothers and sisters, as well as young nephews after his drug-addled sister stopped caring for them. The drug’s trail is easy to trace. A synthetic alternative to morphine, it was 100 times more powerful than its opiate cousin, 50 times stronger than heroin and highly addictive. But authorities found only residue inside the building. The fentanyl was gone. LOWELL, Mass. Mexican police call him “El Cerebro.” The Brain. Ricardo Valdez, rogue chemist, spent 11 years in a U.S. prison for making a synthetic drug called fentanyl, which is like heroin times 50. And when he got out, he quickly set up shop in Mexico. Valdez was sent to prison; he would be back on the streets in 2003. A few weeks later, in October 2005, Tiffany McKaye, a forensic chemist with the Detroit Police Department, was also running a packet of suspected heroin through her lab. Standing before the judge in the spring of 1993, prosecutor Laura Birkmeyer described a man his relatives said they scarcely recognized, a man who ruthlessly manufactured a lethal street drug known as fentanyl. A man the government had chased since agents discovered more than two pounds of homemade fentanyl in a California apartment in 1988. This is the tale of a killer no bigger than a few grains of salt, the swath it cut through the heart of America and the reality that it could happen again. But powdered fentanyl is so powerful, so toxic, an extra grain or two can render a dose lethal. Some people who shoot up can’t even slide the needle from their vein before they die. _____ It is still commonly prescribed as a skin patch, lozenge or intravenous drip for patients with cancer and other chronic pain. In Chicago, there was no shortage of dealers willing to sell it. Police say the Mickey Cobras street gang turned a south-side housing complex into a virtual fentanyl supermarket, peddling packets of fentanyl-laced heroin stamped with names like Reaper and Lethal Injection. Has the epidemic of fentanyl finally played out? He said he has cleaned up his life since his 2003 prison release and ran an honest company. Later, over the phone, he is reminded about that videotape, the one in which he confessed to Mexican authorities. He said the agents punched him in the kidneys to encourage his “confession,” a claim to which Mexican authorities did not respond. The agents’ video shows a bespectacled, middle-age man wearing a beige jacket, golf shirt and blue jeans. It was Ricardo Valdez, the company chemist. More than 1,000 dead nationwide. Suburban kids, city kids, folks like your neighbor or hard-luck cousin. But the raid proceeded peacefully. “Today, when we give people Narcan, they’re not coming out of it,” Philadelphia Fire Capt. Richard Bossert said. “We had no idea what we were getting into.” Police in Philadelphia say they still see fentanyl, often combined with cocaine. _____ In May 2006, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration caught a break — it received a tip about a drug smuggling operation in a small town near Mexico City. Sitting inside the Reclusorio Norte prison this February on the northern edge of Mexico City, where agents have held him since the raid on his lab last year, Valdez, 53, was polite but defiant. He settled into an apartment 40 miles southwest of Mexico City, in Toluca. Mexico was a strange new land for a man who had not lived there since he was a child. But he was free and, before long, back in business. He and an accountant friend formed a new company amid a cluster of factories in the industrial town of Lerma. _____ “I think it will reappear,” Schmidt said. “It has done so in the past.” Federal agents at first thought they were seeing the fallout from a major theft of pharmaceutical fentanyl. But no one knew for sure. American prosecutors want to extradite him to face charges in the United States, which could put him behind bars for life. Drug agents pored over coroner reports, trying to account for a rising number of heroin deaths. Ambulance workers reported that, after years of using one dose of Narcan, which reverses heroin’s suppression of the respiratory system, they now needed four doses to counteract the new dope. The labels didn’t lie. They put James DeFrancesco on the case. DeFrancesco, 44, a Chicago-based U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chemist, tended to find clues others missed. “Perhaps five kilos,” Valdez answered. In January 2006, the daughter of a 52-year-old overdose victim called the medical examiner’s office, alarmed, not just by her mother’s death, but that other heroin addicts in her neighborhood were dropping, too. Valdez and three others were taken to jail. Distribuidora Talios was out of business. “I call it heroin,” Valdez said softly. “Synthetic heroin. It’s formulated in the laboratory.” _____ _____ Paroled in May 2003, Valdez was deported to Mexico. By late summer 2005, clandestinely produced fentanyl was turning up in the Midwest. Meanwhile, heroin overdoses, or what was assumed to be heroin, kept the Wayne County, Mich., morgue busy through the end of 2005 and into the new year. They were quick deaths, investigators noted, almost instantaneous. A 30-year-old woman discovered in the fetal position, a needle still in her arm. A man, 44, facedown on the floor of his home. A 54-year-old with Love and Hate tattooed on his knuckles and a cocktail of drugs in his blood. Drug experts from Washington to Detroit say they simply don’t know. And if Ricardo Valdez really did create 10 kilos, where is the rest? Death moved east. “It didn’t seem any different than the heroin we were seeing. Nothing to set it apart,” Gayle O’Neal, McKaye’s supervisor, said. “We weren’t looking for fentanyl, but she recognized it right away.” How much have you made? In its legal form, fentanyl has been around nearly 50 years. Across the river, New Jersey was also counting dead bodies. Emergency responders were handling 60 overdoses a day, compared with the usual 10 cases. As in Chicago, Philadelphia emergency workers were going through an astonishing amount of Narcan. Valdez would be the director of operations for the new venture, which they named Distribuidora Talios. It was a chemical company. _____ In the late 1970s and early ’80s, outlaw chemists developed a new, more powerful twist on fentanyl in private labs. They called it China White, a name given high-grade heroin. This was no accident. It mimicked heroin’s high and satisfied the same cravings. Its staggering potency made it attractive for street sales. In Chicago, deaths are way down, but officials think fentanyl is still around. It’s just being used more cautiously. A massive police raid on a Chicago housing project last spring produced scores of arrests and major drug indictments. “This stuff, what do you call it, this final product?” a voice from behind the camera asked. _____ Or, as some experts surmise, have fentanyl dealers and users simply gotten better at using it? The outbreak that quietly began to percolate in northern U.S. cities in summer 2005 and would reach a crescendo in May 2006 was beyond anything law enforcement and health officials had seen. On May 21, 2006, 10 Mexican agents carrying guns, bolt cutters and a video camera, burst through the gate of Distribuidora Talios. The men wore gas masks and protective suits. Gun battles and lurid, drug-related killings are endemic in Mexico, so the agents came prepared for war. Sometime after the raid, U.S. authorities said, Valdez upped his estimate from 5 to 10 kilos, or 22 pounds. That’s enough for 80 million doses on the street. Every couple of years, street fentanyl kills a dozen or so addicts somewhere in the United States. _____ Within a week, two or three more samples came back as fentanyl. Clinical fentanyl has sometimes been abused by doctors or medical workers, and hospitals developed elaborate safeguards to monitor supplies and stem its release onto the black market. Someone, somewhere, was cooking the stuff up in a lab. Valdez and his codefendants await their fate in Mexico’s byzantine judicial system. He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. By April 2006, emergency workers in Philadelphia, Camden, N.J., and Delaware were swamped with overdoses. Heroin laced with fentanyl and sold as Al Capone, Flatline, Rest in Peace, Rolex and Exorcist was dropping addicts everywhere. The chemists warned the narcotics squad to be on the lookout — and use caution. He cooked another batch, 22 pounds, authorities claim — enough to get 80 million people high if it didn’t kill them and sent it across the border. “Quite honestly,” the prosecutor told the judge, “he has a very dangerous knowledge, and I think we should do everything we possibly can to keep him from ever manufacturing any synthetic or a natural drug again.” When DeFrancesco finished his tests, the results were unmistakable. And then there was the gravest mistake of his young American life, the contours of which are contained in Case No. 92-0015-G, U.S.A. v. Ricardo Valdez, a drug trial in federal court in San Diego. He knew that commercial fentanyl, the kind doctors prescribe, was readily identified by its purity. The kind made on the street, no matter how talented the chemist, invariably carries flaws or impurities or different ingredients altogether, altering the molecular structure of the drug. In metro Detroit, fentanyl’s presence is harder to gauge. Long after it vanished from other cities last year, it peaked again, killing another 29 drug users in Wayne County in November. Since then, fentanyl deaths have largely disappeared, said medical examiner Carl Schmidt. In October 2006 in Lowell, four people died after using heroin cut with fentanyl. Police said the overdoses likely occurred because the drug is exponentially more potent than the victims were used to injecting.last_img read more

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HLS students effect real change in law, policy clinic

first_imgIn October 2007, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment made the unprecedented decision to deny a permit application for three new coal-fired generating units that together would emit 11 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year, citing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as the reason for the denial.As expected, the power company and its supporters filed appeals in multiple forums, sending the state scrambling for legal allies. It found them among a group of Harvard law students involved in the Law School’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic.“We narrow our case selection to the most complex, precedent-setting cases. We don’t take on routine or easy cases,” said Clinical Professor of Law Wendy Jacobs, who heads the clinic.The clinic is an important part of the Law School’s Environmental Law Program, founded and directed by Law Professor Jody Freeman, who came to Harvard from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2005.The program consists of a series of courses that students interested in environmental law can progress through or pick individually to suit their interests. The clinic, started a year ago, gives students a taste of practicing environmental law in the real world.While Harvard Law School (HLS) has occasionally had faculty with interests in environmental law, it lacked a coherent program until the Environmental Law Program began, Freeman said. With the increasing prominence of environmental issues, Freeman said, that omission needed to be rectified.“Harvard Law School is a leading institution. People take notice of what we do,” Freeman said. “It is long overdue.”The program introduces students to a field that began in the late 1960s and has grown since the 1980s, Freeman said, when it was largely litigation-based and dominated by efforts to get parties to abide by environmental laws and regulations.Today, she said, though there remains the need to enforce laws through legal action, environmental law encompasses a host of other activities, including the regulatory design of whole new markets to limit carbon emissions as a response to climate change.“In the ’80s,” Freeman said, “it was important to enforce the first round of statutes. Now there’s the opportunity for creativity and designing markets. I really emphasize the idea of lawyers thinking like architects.”While scientists, economists, and policymakers will all play a role in new environmental regulatory markets, Freeman sees lawyers as an essential part of the mix. It is they who can design the legal language of rules and laws so it does what policymakers — informed by scientists, economists, businesspeople, and others — desire.“The truth is the devil is always in the details. Scientists, who are crucial, can produce climate modeling. Policy people debate policy, but somebody has to sit down and translate that into laws and regulations. Lawyers are trained to think about this, how to design laws and regulations,” Freeman said. “Without lawyers, it’s hard to imagine translating this from the imagination phase to the implementation phase.”Law students don’t have to use their imagination to understand what practicing environmental law would be like. At the clinic, they get to do the real thing.Though just a year old, the clinic is already larger than most others of its kind, Jacobs said, managing 10 diverse projects and cases and 25 students. Jacobs and Freeman have been ambitious about the clinic’s caseload and, though they now have just one staff attorney, want to bring on another as well as a policy analyst to support further expansion of both the clinic and the program. It’s a far cry from a year ago, Jacobs said, when she worked alone in a single office, managing externships in which students were placed in environmental jobs outside of the Law School.“The clinic is growing by leaps and bounds,” Jacobs said.The clinic’s work is very diverse, she added, spanning such precedent-setting legal action as the Kansas lawsuits and a variety of other legal activities, from public education about energy conservation to helping the California Attorney General’s Office draft comments on hundreds of pages of proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules to assisting a team of scientists and doctors to resolve thorny legal questions about the ramifications of collecting environmental samples from people’s homes to analyze the impact of chemicals on health and well-being.“The clinic is a really dynamic and challenging place to be,” Jacobs said. “Our students are excited and my sense is that they’re sometimes startled by how important yet difficult the work can be.”In the Kansas lawsuits, students have prepared and filed briefs on behalf of the state in the Kansas Supreme Court, in lower state courts, and in the Office of Administrative Hearings. They’ve also helped Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment Roderick Bremby draft Congressional testimony on the case.“It’s been a great experience, learning a lot about how to write briefs,” said Dan Silverman, a student at the clinic. “There’s not a lot of opportunity to do real legal work in law school.”Chris Looney, another student at the clinic, agreed, saying it is a thrill to work on a case that may set a key precedent in environmental law.“It’s exciting to be working on a case that’s high profile, really an important case. It’ll set an important precedent in what administrators can do about the regulation of greenhouse gases,” Looney said.Another student involved in the clinic, Kate Bowers, said she took Freeman’s environmental law class last spring and became “utterly hooked.” She worked last summer at a New York City law firm and wanted get more real world experience, so she joined the clinic.“I like the intersection of government and regulated entities,” Bowers said. “The positions parties take are always evolving. As an area of law practice, it’s always changing. As a subject matter, I like working in a field where I can make the world better.”Bowers was assigned to work on a project that is a partnership between the clinic and a boutique environmental law firm near Philadelphia, which has among its clients builders interested in green building techniques. Bowers and another clinic student have identified and analyzed the legal issues associated with green buildings, in which new technology and new building standards are creating potential pitfalls for builders. What happens, for example, if a building doesn’t turn out to be as energy-efficient as initially thought? What if it doesn’t earn the energy-efficient rating promised and that, in turn, affects financial matters like tax credits?“We’re working on the cutting edge of environmental law,” Bowers [email protected]last_img read more

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Neighborhood Surprises Widow With Holiday Light Decoration (WATCH)

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore Natalie Conkel had been having a blue Christmas ever since her husband died five years ago.This year was the first since he passed away that Natalie put up holiday decorations to light up her house, but they were stolen a week later.Her neighbors in San Lorenzo, California weren’t going to allow her holiday spirit to be taken away by a Grinch, so after sending out a call for aid on social media, all of Natalie’s friends and neighbors hatched a plan to redecorate her house while she was out to lunch with her son.FOR THANKSGIVING….GET OUR NEW GOOD NEWS APP—>  Download FREE for Android and iOSWhen the widow and son arrived home on Tuesday, they were welcomed by the sight of her house alit with color and the entire neighborhood singing Christmas carols, ready to present flowers and gifts.Conkel was shocked and awed by the wonder around her and said she once again believed in the holiday spirit. The neighbors even presented her with $300 for the electric bill.RELATED: One More Reason to Love Jennifer Lawrence – What She Did on Christmas Eve“Now I can celebrate Christmas,” said Natalie to KTVU. “Now it will be much better.”Light Up Your Friends Day… Click To ShareAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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Chad Pitre, Sr.

first_imgChad Pitre, Sr. of Port Arthur, Texas died Monday, June 20, 2016 at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, Texas. He was a native of Opelousas, Louisiana. Chad was a member of Christian Faith Baptist Church where he was a member of the Men of Valor and an assistant coach for the church’s basketball team. Next Up The funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 25, 2016 at Christian Faith Baptist Church with Rev. Albert Moses, Jr. officiating. The visitation will be from 9:00 AM until service time. Burial will follow in Live Oak Cemetery under the direction of Gabriel Funeral Home.Chad is survived by his devoted wife, Tenekwa Alexander Pitre; mother, Mary Pitre; five children, Chad Pitre, Jr., Omyrin Pitre, Chazlyn Pitre, Kevin Martin, Jr. and Keanah Martin and one grandson, Kaleb Pitre. He is also survived by three sisters, and six brothers along with other relatives, in-laws and friends.last_img read more

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Kloos Named Big Ten’s Second Star

first_imgKloos’ five goals put him tied for the Big Ten lead in goals. Kloos also leads the Gophers in goals after leading the team last year with 16.Goaltender Jake Hildebrand of Michigan State earned the Big Ten’s first star this week after saving 35 of 37 shots he faced in a weekend series against Ferris State. Goaltender Matt Tomkins of Ohio State earned the third star after 46 of 48 shots over the weekend against Canisius. Kloos Named Big Ten’s Second Star Ben GotzNovember 4, 2014Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintSaturday night, teammates mobbed Justin Kloos on the ice after he delivered a win for the Gophers with an overtime goal. Tuesday, that goal helped him earn the Big Ten’s Second Star of the Week.The goal was also Kloos’ third of the night, so hats began to hit the ice during the celebration. After the 4-3 victory, Kloos could not even remember the last time he scored a hat trick.”It wasn’t in juniors and it wasn’t last year, so I’m guessing high school,” Kloos said. “It was pretty fun to be able to get a chance.”last_img read more

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Fulton Homes unveils ‘Fly the Flag’ campaign

first_imgFor the third consecutive year Fulton Homes is showing its appreciation for America’s veterans by encouraging everyone in the Valley to display the American flag this Veteran’s Day, and at the same time benefit the Wounded Warriors Project.The Tempe-based homebuilder has again partnered with 100.7 KSLX for the “Fly the Flag for Veteran’s Day” campaign. Through Nov. 11 – Veteran’s Day – anyone who visits any Fulton Homes’ community and tours a new model home can purchase a full-size American flag kit for just $10. Fulton Homes will match any $10 donation offered, up to a maximum of $25,000. Only cash and checks will be accepted. One-hundred percent of donations will go to the Wounded Warriors Project (WWP). The flag offer continues through Veteran’s Day.“Fulton Homes honors all of our military personnel who defend our country and protect our freedoms,” Doug Fulton, Fulton Homes CEO, said. “Displaying our flag on Veteran’s Day is a way we can honor and support our troops and show our gratitude, and the donations collected will support those who have been wounded while in service. We are indebted to our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they make to keep us safer.”The Wounded Warrior Project honors and empowers Wounded Warriors. WWP raises awareness of the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide programs and services to meet their needs.last_img read more

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Littering and Following the Crowd

first_imgThe Atlantic: Loretta Brown walked along Bishop’s Beach near Homer, Alaska, looking for plastic bottles, Styrofoam cups, beer cans, cigarette butts, and old fishing nets.“You tend to find things among the driftwood, since the same tide that washes up the driftwood washes up the trash,” she said, stooping to pick up a plastic water bottle. “It’s kind of like an Easter egg hunt.”Brown is a marine debris education and outreach specialist with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, a nonprofit organization based in Homer that educates the public about coastal issues and offers eco-tours of the region. She also has a keen, experienced eye for litter.“We’re likely to find some up here among the grasses,” she said, homing in on small pieces of Styrofoam nestled in clumps of grass among the basalt rocks and clam shells along the beach. “The birds will eat these.”With all of the work she does picking up litter and educating people about the long-term environmental damage it does, Brown has developed some theories about what makes people throw out their trash, and how to get them to stop.…Brown’s and Decker’s hunches about why people litter and what it will take to change their behavior have a basis in social science research, such as that done by Robert Cialdini, emeritus professor of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.“One of the things that’s fundamental to human nature is that we imitate the actions of those around us,” said Cialdini, who has conducted a number of landmark studies in littering and litter prevention—all of them pointing to the fact that people are likely to do what they think is expected of them. It’s about norms and expectations, he says: Change these, and you’ll change people’s behavior.Read the whole story: The Atlantic More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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Study describes Zika birth defects as case appears in Texas

first_imgA new study describing 87 cases of congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) from Brazil’s epicenter found a high rate of microcephaly, while McAllen, Texas, announced a new case of locally acquired Zika, the first case in that state since December.Microcephaly, calcification, ocular problemsRecife, Brazil, has been the epicenter of the current Zika outbreak and the site of the most cases of Zika’s most devastating outcome: microcephaly, a smaller-than-normal brain and head that can occur when a developing fetus is exposed to Zika virus. On Feb 24, a group of Brazilian researchers presented their findings of CZS and microcephaly in a prospective observational study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.The researchers examined 176 infants whose head circumferences were less than 32 centimeters at birth, 87 of whom were confirmed to have lab-confirmed CZS. They were born from October 2015 to March 2016 at the Professor Fernando Figueira Integral Medicine Institute (IMIP), a reference maternity hospital in Recife. CZS cases were confirmed via neuroimaging and cerebrospinal fluid testing. Eighty-one of the infants had CT scans (the others had cranial ultrasounds), and all were tested for possible co-infections with other flaviviruses, including dengue.Of the babies born with CZS, 71 (82%) had severe microcephaly. More than three quarters of mothers (66) reported Zika symptoms in pregnancy, including fever and rash. All 87 infants had brain calcification seen on CT or ultrasound (99%), and 44% had findings of ventriculomegaly, a condition in which cerebrospinal fluid structures in the brain are larger than normal. These are the highest numbers reported so far for brain calcifications and ventriculomegaly.Most of the infants were born to term, with a mean delivery age of 38.5 weeks, and only 25 (29%) were considered small for gestational age. Interestingly, the authors found that the babies born at full term and at normal gestational size had more severe microcephaly than their smaller peers.A total of 40.3% of the infants had vision problems, and the authors said the babies whose mothers reported infection in the first trimester were more likely to suffer ocular disorders.Case in Hidalgo County, TexasOn Feb 24, Hidalgo County, Texas, announced a new case of Zika likely transmitted locally in McAllen.  On Feb 22, the patient’s case was confirmed by the Hidalgo County Health Department, and by Feb 24 it was established the patient had no travel history outside of the county.According to a press release from the city, “Various locations throughout McAllen have been equipped with mosquito traps, and the city’s normal mosquito spraying routine has been increased.”Texas reported its first cases of locally transmitted Zika in November in the Rio Grande Valley, and the new case is the seventh local infection confirmed in the state. Texas and Florida are the only US states to have non-travel–related cases.D.C. lab diluted Zika testsFinally today, The Washington Post published an in-depth story explaining how a simple mistake led to hundreds of samples from pregnant women at a D.C. public health lab to be labeled as negative for Zika virus.The 300 samples were treated with the wrong solution, marked “D” for diluted, effectively watering them down and making even a positive test appear negative. At least nine false-negatives have been identified during the retesting processThe Post reports the wrong solution was used for at least 6 months, adding that an inexperienced staff and lack of leadership led to the public health “debacle.”See also:Feb 24 Clin Inf Dis studyFeb 24 City of McAllen press releaseFeb 27 Washington Post storylast_img read more

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