Egypt Independent: Science-Main news en Why the Zika virus is causing alarm <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Global health officials are racing to better understand the Zika virus behind a major outbreak that began in Brazil last year and has spread to almost 60 countries.<br /><br />The following are some questions and answers about the virus and current outbreak:<br /><br /><strong>How do people become infected?</strong><br /><br />Zika is transmitted to people through the bite of infected female mosquitoes, primarily the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same type that spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are found in all countries in the Americas except Canada and continental Chile, and the virus will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found. The virus can also be transmitted through sex, from either a male or female partner who has been infected, and a few cases of apparent infection via blood transfusion have been reported.<br /><br /><strong>How do you treat Zika?</strong><br /><br />There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika infection. Companies and scientists are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine for Zika, but a preventative shot is not expected to be ready for widespread use for at least two or three years.<br /><br /><strong>How dangerous is it?</strong><br /><br />The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that infection with the Zika virus in pregnant women is a cause of the birth defect microcephaly, a condition defined by unusually small heads that can result in developmental problems, and other severe brain abnormalities in babies. The CDC said that since the causal relationship had been established, several important questions must still be answered with studies that could take years.<br /><br />The World Health Organization in an updated assessment said the &quot;most likely explanation&quot; is that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities including microcephaly. In addition, the agency said infection is a trigger of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis.<br /><br />The update from the WHO came after considering months of research. Its previous statement, based on a rapid assessment of evidence, said there was strong scientific consensus that Zika virus caused GBS, microcephaly and other neurological disorders.<br /><br />Brazil recently reported 1,949 confirmed cases of microcephaly believed to be linked to Zika infections in pregnant women. It is investigating more than 3,030 suspected cases of microcephaly.<br /><br />Current research indicates the greatest microcephaly risk is associated with infection during the first trimester of pregnancy, but health officials have warned an impact could be seen in later weeks. Recent studies have shown evidence of Zika in amniotic fluid, placenta and fetal brain tissue.<br /><br /><strong>What are the symptoms of Zika infection?</strong><br /><br />People infected with Zika may have a mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and fatigue that can last for two to seven days. But as many as 80 percent of people infected never develop symptoms.<br /><br /><strong>How can Zika be contained?</strong><br /><br />Efforts to control the spread of the virus focus on eliminating mosquito breeding sites and taking precautions against mosquito bites such as using insect repellent and mosquito nets. U.S. and international health officials have advised pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin American and Caribbean countries, sections of Miami, Florida in the United States and Singapore where they may be exposed to Zika. They are also advising that men and women who have traveled to Zika outbreak areas use condoms or abstain from sex for six months to prevent sexual transmission of the virus.<br /><br /><strong>How widespread is the outbreak?</strong><br /><br />Active Zika outbreaks have been reported in at least 59 countries or territories, most of them in the Americas, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Brazil has been the country most affected.<br /><br /><strong>Africa (1): Cape Verde</strong><br /><br />Americas (49): Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bonaire, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, CuraƧao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saba, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelmy, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, United States, U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.<br /><br /><strong>Asia (1): Singapore</strong><br /><br />Oceania/Pacific Islands (8): American Samoa, Fiji, Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga.<br /><br /><strong>What is the history of the Zika virus?</strong><br /><br />The Zika virus is found in tropical locales with large mosquito populations. Outbreaks of Zika have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Southern Asia and the Western Pacific. The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys and was first identified in people in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania, according to the WHO.<br /><br /><strong>What other complications are associated with Zika?</strong><br /><br />Zika has also been associated with other neurological disorders, including serious brain and spinal cord infections. The long-term health consequences of Zika infection are unclear. Other uncertainties surround the incubation period of the virus and how Zika interacts with other viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes, such as dengue.</p> Sat, 01 Oct 2016 11:52:00 +0000 Reuters 2473147 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/02/15/504802/zika_mosquito.jpg Second oil spill appears in Ras Ghareb in under a month <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>An oil spill has polluted the coast around the Red Sea city of Ras Ghareb, the second such spill in the area in the past month.<br /><br />Informed sources from the Red Sea governorate say the oil spill was noticed several days ago by Environment Ministry authorities, with an environmental emergency declared while officials sought to identify the source.<br /><br />A clean-up operation started on Friday, with workers from the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and the oil pollution control center deployed to the site.<br /><br />A committee from the regional branch of Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) in Hurghada and Red Sea protectorates said that the pollution is in the form of a long crude oil slick that had washed ashore from the Red Sea. They said the slick is 900 meters long four meters wide and that it might still spread along the coast.<br /><br />The EEAA officials took a sample of the oil and send it the Suez branch or analysis. If they can identify its source, they will take legal measures.<br /><br />Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy instructed urgent measures to prevent further instances of pollution along coastlines.<br /><br /><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em><br />&nbsp;</p> Sat, 01 Oct 2016 10:52:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2473141 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/06/28/16030/hurghada_2.jpg Over 90% of world breathing poor quality air: WHO <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Nine out of 10 people globally are breathing poor quality air, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, calling for dramatic action against pollution that is blamed for more than six million deaths a year.</p><div>New data in a report from the UN&#39;s global health body &quot;is enough to make all of us extremely concerned,&quot; Maria Neira, the head of the WHO&#39;s department of public health and environment, told reporters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The problem is most acute in cities, but air in rural areas is worse than many think, WHO experts said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Poorer countries have much dirtier air than the developed world, according to the report, but pollution &quot;affects practically all countries in the world and all parts of society&quot;, Neira said in a statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It is a public health emergency,&quot; she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Fast action to tackle air pollution can&#39;t come soon enough,&quot; she added, urging governments to cut the number of vehicles on the road, improve waste management and promote clean cooking fuel.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tuesday&#39;s report was based on data collected from more than 3,000 sites across the globe.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It found that &quot;92 percent of the world&#39;s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The data focuses on dangerous particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, or PM2.5.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>PM2.5 includes toxins like sulfate and black carbon, which can penetrate deep into the lungs or cardiovascular system.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Air with more than 10 microgrammes per cubic metre of PM2.5 on an annual average basis is considered substandard.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In some regions satellite data has been complemented by ground-level PM2.5 measurements, but in much of the developing world ground readings remain unavailable, forcing the WHO to rely on cruder estimates.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite these data gaps, Neira said the UN agency now had more information than ever about pollutants in the planet&#39;s air.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Using both satellite and ground measurements &quot;is a big step forward towards even more confident estimates of the huge global burden&quot;, of dirty air, she added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The WHO has estimated that more than six million deaths per year are linked to exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Data is more solid for outdoor pollution, which is blamed for more than three million fatalities annually.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But indoor pollution can be equally as harmful, especially in poorer developing world homes where cooking often involves burning charcoal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nearly 90-percent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, the WHO said.</div><div>Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region -- including China, Malaysia and Vietnam -- are the hardest hit, the data showed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Carlos Dora, coordinator at the WHO&#39;s public health and environment department, said that some of the strategies adopted to safeguard against polluted air have limited effectiveness.</div><div>For example, daily air quality warnings -- like those sometimes issued in Beijing -- likely do little to help the average person, since the real threat is exposure to sub-par air over extended periods.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Staying indoors on a day when the air is particularly bad accomplishes little, Dora said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Additionally, the WHO has seen no conclusive evidence that face masks do much to filter dirty air, Dora added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Using a different data set, the WHO reported in May that 80 percent of the world&#39;s city dwellers breathe poor quality air, a figure that rose to 98 percent in poorer countries.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 09:21:00 +0000 AFP 2473109 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/04/21/54605/air-pollution.jpg Company provides bikes for employees for environmental protection <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p dir="ltr">In the midst of Cairo&rsquo;s unbearable traffic and heat, a young man with KarmSolar, a solar technology and integration company, rides around on a bike, a mode of transportation that is both fast and environmentally friendly. The bikes are provided by KarmSolar to all their employees and are part of their efforts to provide renewable energy discourse in Egypt.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 1em;">Planet Earth has been around for 5 billion years, and before civilization the planet enjoyed a natural balance that was then overthrown by human&rsquo;s compulsive need to build and consume. So says Karim El Bana, an employee of KarimSolar, specializing in business development.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 1em;">People became addicted to travelling long distances and burning fuel to do so, which has resulted in a phenomenon that everyone in the world is familiar with: global warming.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Bicycles are not only great for exercise, they also help decrease carbon emissions from cars, emissions that cause a great deal of pollution,&rdquo; says El Bana.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What we want to do at KarmSolar is send people a message: you need to use bikes more often,&rdquo; he says.<br /><br />KarmSolar offers bikes to all their employees to run work related errands. The company&rsquo;s efforts to save the environment are not limited to offering bikes to their employees. Their main line of work is in solar energy.</p><p>&ldquo;At KarmSolar, we work towards providing solar power to people who desperately need it, especially in the desert areas. One of the things that promotes sustainable energy is bikes. That&rsquo;s why we promote it as an activity.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>El-Bana continues, &ldquo;People think that Egypt is a very polluted country generally, but that&rsquo;s not necessarily true. Egypt does not house a great deal of industry, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we are not as developed as countries in Europe, for example, who are more industrialized. But our natural spaces are still preserved to a large extent.&rdquo; &nbsp;<br /><br />Cairo&rsquo;s pollution is really what people think about when they say Egypt is polluted. And in this regard, bicycles are the answer, he argues, as most of Cairo&rsquo;s pollution comes from the overwhelming number of cars that it contains.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(91, 91, 91); font-family: &quot;open sans&quot;, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; text-align: justify;">KarmSolar has been Egypt&rsquo;s largest private off-grid solar energy integrator for a while now, with a lot of experience in developing its award-winning high-capacity solar pumping stations, including the region&rsquo;s largest off-grid Hybrid Pumping &amp; Irrigation System.</span></p> Thu, 29 Sep 2016 12:25:00 +0000 Egypt Independent,Al-Masry Al-Youm 2473080 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/09/29/43/unnamed-18-850x478.png