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Mild El Nino Event May be Upcoming: Scientists

El Nino and La Nina are phases of what is known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation cycle, or ENSO.

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FILE - A farmer works in an irrigated field near the village of Botor, Somaliland, April 16, 2016. Across the Horn of Africa, millions have been hit by the severe El Nino-related drought.-VOA

There is a 75 to 80 percent probability of an El Nino weather phenomenon developing within the next three months, the World Meteorological Organization reports.

Global seasonal climate data show precipitation patterns predicted for December to February resemble those normally associated with El Nino, WMO said, adding that it is not expected to be as powerful as the deadly event in 2015 and 2016, which caused droughts, flooding and coral bleaching around the world.

While a weaker El Nino is expected to emerge, WMO scientists warn it still can have a significant impact on rainfall and temperature patterns. They say it could adversely affect agriculture and food security, the management of water resources, and public health.

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El Nino weather is sometimes referred to as the warm phase of ENSO. VOA

WMO spokeswoman Claire Nullis tells VOA neutral weather conditions have prevailed for the past few months, with neither El Nino nor its opposite La Nina present. While they are associated with extreme weather events, she says they are not the only factors.

“And we need to bear in mind, we have got climate change,” she said. “So, every El Nino, every La Nina, which takes place now is taking place against a background of the fact that we are living in a dramatically altered climate compared to even 50 years ago. So, the impacts, for instance, on heat waves are likely to be more pronounced than they were several decades ago.”

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An aerial view of a flooded village on the outskirts of Allahabad, India, August 24, 2016. REUTERS

El Nino and La Nina are phases of what is known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation cycle, or ENSO. This phenomenon involves fluctuations in temperatures between the ocean and atmosphere in the equatorial Pacific.

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El Nino is sometimes referred to as the warm phase of ENSO, with La Nina acting as its cold opposite. WMO says both events have a major influence on weather and climate patterns over many parts of the world. (VOA)

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World Health Organization Says First Local Case of Polio Found in Zambia Since 1995

The U.N. health agency said there is no established link between the Zambia case and the ongoing Congo outbreak

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FILE - A Congolese child is given a polio vaccination at a relief camp near Gisenyi, Rwanda, Jan. 25 , 2002. The WHO says Zambia has reported its first local case of polio since 1995 in a 2-year-old boy paralysed by a virus derived from the vaccine. VOA

The World Health Organization says Zambia has reported its first local case of polio since 1995, in a 2-year-old boy paralyzed by a virus derived from the vaccine.

In a report this week, WHO said the case was detected on the border with Congo, which has reported 37 cases of polio traced to the vaccine this year. The U.N. health agency said there is no established link between the Zambia case and the ongoing Congo outbreak but said increased surveillance and vaccination efforts are needed, warning that “there is a potential for international spread.”

In rare cases, the live virus in oral polio vaccine can mutate into a form capable of sparking new outbreaks.

Nine African countries are currently battling polio epidemics linked to the vaccine as WHO and partners struggle to keep their efforts to eradicate polio on track. Elsewhere, cases have been reported in China, Myanmar and the Philippines.

World, Health, Polio
In a report this week, WHO said the case was detected on the border with Congo, which has reported 37 cases of polio traced to the vaccine this year. Pixabay

On Thursday, WHO and partners are expected to announce they have rid the world of type 3 polio virus.

There are three types of polio viruses. Type 2 was eliminated years ago. That now leaves only type 1. But that refers only to polio viruses in the wild. Type 2 viruses continue to cause problems since they are still contained in the oral polio vaccine and occasionally evolve into new strains responsible for some vaccine-derived outbreaks.

The global effort to eradicate polio was launched in 1988 and originally aimed to wipe out the potentially fatal disease by 2000. While cases have dropped dramatically, the virus remains stubbornly entrenched in parts of Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. This year there have been 72 cases of polio in Pakistan after only eight in 2018.

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In meeting notes from an expert polio oversight board in September, WHO’s Michel Zaffran said the status of eradication was “of great concern,” noting the Taliban’s ban on house-to-house vaccination in Afghanistan. Officials described the program in Pakistan as a “failing trajectory.” (VOA)