The confirmation of 29 cases of Zika fever in Rajasthan marks the first large outbreak in India, with only four cases having been documented in the country previously. In July, the Health Ministry had informed Parliament that three of these cases (including that of a pregnant woman) were reported from Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad district in Gujarat, and the fourth from Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu.
Spread by mosquitoes, Zika symptoms are generally mild — fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache — and usually last for 2-7 days. Infection can harm the foetus of a pregnant woman, and can also cause various complications in others infected. It was discovered in 1947 in Uganda. From the 1960s to 1980s, human infections were found across Africa and Asia. The first large outbreak was reported from Micronesia in 2007. In 2015, it reached the Americas, with an outbreak in Brazil. A timeline:
1947-48: Scientists recover the Zika virus from a monkey, then a mosquito, in the Zika forest of Uganda
1950s-60s: First human cases in Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria
1960s-1980s: Virus distribution expands to equatorial Asia including India
2007: First large outbreak in humans (185 cases) on the Pacific island of Yap (Micronesia) — prior to this, only 14 cases of human Zika virus disease
2008: First documented case of sexual transmission — a US scientist returns from Africa and infects his wife
2015: Outbreak in Brazil, followed by cases in other countries in the Americas, including Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Paraguay, and the United States
2016-18: France reports case
2017-18: Cases in India
Telling Numbers | Casualties in Afghan air strikes: more in 2018 than in any full year
Air strikes killed or wounded more Afghans in the first nine months of 2018 than in any full-year period since the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began keeping records in 2009, the UN said Wednesday.
Number of Afghans killed or wounded by air-strikes in 2018 so far; up 39% since last year
The proportion of airstrike causes that international forces accounted for
2,798 dead and 5,252 injured, the total civilian casualties (of air strikes and other causes) for Jan-Sept. The 649 air-strike casualties represent 8% of this. The 8,050 casualties are in line with the 8,084 during the same period last year.
Tip for Reading List | In Memoir of a Prominent Politician, a Snapshot of an American Life
As President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, a Democratic politician who put in decades in the Senate, and as his party’s nominee for President in 2004 against incumbent President George W Bush, John Kerry has been in position to observe American politics closely from the inside over the last many years. Given this background, his memoir (and his fifth book), out early last month, has only “a few mini-revelations” about the world he inhabited as an important member for so long.
Every Day is Extra draws on Kerry’s experience as a soldier in Vietnam and is, in his words, not just the title of his book, but “an attitude about life” — one that “summarises how a bunch of the guys I served with… felt about coming home alive”. Among many things, “‘every day is extra’ means living with the liberating truth of knowing there are worse things than losing an argument or even an election”, says Kerry — “the worst thing of all would be to waste the gift of an extra day by sitting on the sidelines indifferent to a problem”.
The book, says a review in The New York Times, “offers a detailed record of an important life, a dutiful recounting of long-forgotten triumphs and setbacks, and a high-minded coda about the virtues of public service”. It is long and slow (a dense 640-pages), the review cautions, “but it is frank, thoughtful and clearly written”. It has career advice for aspiring candidates and officials, and the minutae of international negotiations on geopolitics and climate change for the wonks, but it is likely to come across to cynics “as a trial balloon for one last run (at the Presidency)”, says The NYT review.
Kerry talks scathingly about his defeat in the 2004 election, which happened in part due to falsehoods spread about his military record — “I couldn’t rationalise how good men could make things up about another veteran when they knew the truth.” He records details about the Obama administration’s dealings with Iran and Russia, among other policy initiatives. He believes he was in politics for the right reasons — a conviction that has been reflected in recent times in his criticism of President Donald Trump, and now, in his memoir.