Tick-borne Heartland virus identified in 6 states, including Alabama – National & International News – THU 17Mar2022

Health officials are concerned about the spread of a disease carried by Lone Star ticks.

 

 

Tick-borne Heartland virus found in 6 states. TX prison conditions violate human rights, Scottish judge says. 2 Brits home after years in Iranian prison.

 

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Tick-borne Heartland virus identified in 6 states

The lone star tick is common in the eastern US and as far south as Mexico. In 2009, lone star ticks in Missouri were found to carry a disease since known as the Heartland virus. The symptoms of Heartland virus include fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle or joint pain. Most cases are mild but severe cases can require hospitalization. However, a few older patients with underlying health conditions have died.

While lone star ticks are common in Mississippi, no cases of Heartland virus have yet surfaced in the state. But ticks carrying the virus have been found in neighboring Alabama as well as Missouri, New York, Illinois, Kansas, and Georgia. Lone star ticks also carry the bacterial diseases ehrlichiosis and tularemia. Ehrlichiosis has similar symptoms to Heartland virus, though its treatment differs. Tularemia’s symptoms include fever, skin ulcers, and enlarged lymph nodes.

Experts say it’s unclear if other ticks can carry Heartland virus or if people can contract the disease in other ways.

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Texas prison conditions violate human rights, Scottish judge says 

A judge in Scotland ruled against extraditing a Scottish man to the US who is accused of shooting an unarmed security guard in Austin, TX, in 2016. Daniel Magee, who at the time was 18 and a UT student, allegedly shot the guard who had kicked him out of a frat party. The guard suffered an injury to his foot but survived. Magee was arrested but released on bail and fled back to Scotland before he could be tried.

The judge did not comment on the merits of the case against Magee in his decision. However, he agreed with Magee’s attorney’s assertion that Texas prison conditions are so bad that they violate international human rights. Specifically, the judge cited conditions like overcrowding, bad food, inadequate medical care, and sweltering temperatures as inhumane. The widespread practice of forced unpaid labor by inmates and an over-reliance on solitary confinement as a form of punishment could also constitute human rights violations.

Magee’s attorney Paul Dunne also stated that, “Every other country in the developed world and even some dictatorships allow international inspectors into their prison systems to monitor them for conditions. That is a completely alien concept in America.” 

It is unusual but not unheard of for international courts to extradite prisoners to the US solely on the basis of its poor prison conditions.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

British woman home after 6 years in Iranian prison

British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is home with her husband and young daughter in the UK after 6 years as an Iranian political prisoner. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was returned to the UK yesterday after Britain agreed to repay a £400 million debt owed to Iran since the 1970s. Prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution which brought the Ayatollah to power, the Western-backed Shah of Iran had ordered military vehicles from Britain. That order went unfulfilled after the Revolution, but Britain never repaid the money.

Another British-Iranian prisoner, Anoosheh Ashoori, was also returned after 5 years in prison. Both he and Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been charged with plotting against the Iranian government. Ashoori is a retired civil engineer while Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a journalist and women’s rights advocate.

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