The southern Brazilian city of Campo Grande has declared a state of emergency due to an outbreak of dengue fever, an infection caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes. More than 8,000 cases have been reported in the city of 1 million, with 700 cases per day, according to the city’s mayor. This outbreak follows Paraguay’s declaration of a countrywide state of emergency last week in response to the disease. The World Health Organization has said the disease represents a pandemic threat and is the world’s fastest-spreading tropical disease.
Big-net fishing is threatening dolphins along Brazil’s southern coast. A new study says 1,000 river dolphins die there each year, caught up in Brazilian fishing nets. The long-beaked La Plata river dolphin (Pontoporia blainvileli) is the only river dolphin known to swim in salt water and has been found off Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul just north of Uruguay’s coast. Emanuel Carvalho Ferreira, author of the study, suggests reducing the size of fishing nets and banning fishing up to a depth of 20 meters.
A coffee fungus known as leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix) is spreading through Central America, drying out the plant’s leaves and damaging the beans. Countries like Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica are reporting crop losses of 10-30%. A lack of prevention methods and high temperatures and drought have exacerbated the spread of the fungus, according to officials.
Archaeologists have discovered an Inca city below Chile’s capital Santiago. The city could have been an important urban center of the Inca empire, which stretched for thousands of miles from modern day Colombia to Chile and Argentina. Ruben Stehberg and Gonzalo Sotomayor of the National Museum of Natural History reported the discovery, stating that the settlement would have been vastly different from anything else in a 500 kilometer radius; the local cultures were farmers, hunter-gatherers and nomads. Stehberg and Sotomayor report that the exact age of the settlement has yet to be calculated.
New research suggests that Polynesians made landfall in Latin America before European settlers, taking back with them the sweet potato. There is also evidence that the Polynesians, who settled many islands in the South Pacific, introduced the chicken to South America. The research is published in the journal PNAS.
Mexico has set up an $11 million fund to help the country adapt to climate change. Mexico intends to work on regulating greenhouse gases, stimulate educational programs, and reduce the vulnerability of its population and its ecosystems to climate change. “Try as we may, we have a very limited impact on reducing global emissions, but regarding adaptation we are a country that is subject to natural phenomena now exacerbated by global warming,” says Carlos Gay Garcia, coordinator of the climate change research program at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Mexico is also developing a strain of oregano that is resistant to climatic swings which includes stronger root development and pathogen resistance.
Andean glaciers are relied upon by millions of people for drinking water and hydroelectric power, but researchers estimate these glaciers have receded by 30-50% since the 1970s. The loss of the continent’s glaciers is also affecting high altitude grasslands known as paramos, flooding regions of Peru and reducing the amount of fog enveloping high altitude cloud forests.