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Concept: Pakistan


The lost Saraswati River mentioned in the ancient Indian tradition is postulated to have flown independently of the Indus River into the Arabian Sea, perhaps along courses of now defunct rivers such as Ghaggar, Hakra and Nara. The persistence of such a river during the Harappan Bronze Age and the Iron Age Vedic period is strongly debated. We drilled in the Great Rann of Kachchh (Kutch), an infilled gulf of the Arabian Sea, which must have received input from the Saraswati, if active. Nd and Sr isotopic measurements suggest that a distinct source may have been present before 10 ka. Later in Holocene, under a drying climate, sediments from the Thar Desert probably choked the signature of an independent Saraswati-like river. Alternatively, without excluding a Saraswati-like secondary source, the Indus and the Thar were the dominant sources throughout the post-glacial history of the GRK. Indus-derived sediment accelerated the infilling of GRK after ~6 ka when the Indus delta started to grow. Until its complete infilling few centuries ago, freshwater input from the Indus, and perhaps from the Ghaggar-Hakra-Nara, probably sustained a productive marine environment as well as navigability toward old coastal Harappan and historic towns in the region.

Concepts: River, India, Pakistan, Indus River, Indus Valley Civilization, Harappa, Rigveda, Kutch District


Candida auris, an emerging fungus that can cause invasive infections, is associated with high mortality and is often resistant to multiple antifungal drugs. C. auris was first described in 2009 after being isolated from external ear canal discharge of a patient in Japan (1). Since then, reports of C. auris infections, including bloodstream infections, have been published from several countries, including Colombia, India, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Pakistan, South Africa, South Korea, Venezuela, and the United Kingdom (2-7). To determine whether C. auris is present in the United States and to prepare for the possibility of transmission, CDC issued a clinical alert in June 2016 informing clinicians, laboratorians, infection control practitioners, and public health authorities about C. auris and requesting that C. auris cases be reported to state and local health departments and CDC (8). This report describes the first seven U.S. cases of C. auris infection reported to CDC as of August 31, 2016. Data from these cases suggest that transmission of C. auris might have occurred in U.S. health care facilities and demonstrate the need for attention to infection control measures to control the spread of this pathogen.

Concepts: United States, Developed country, United Kingdom, Olympic Games, Ear, Pakistan, Liberal democracies, G20 nations


In the third millennium B.C., the Indus Civilization flourished in northwest India and Pakistan. The late mature phase (2200-1900 B.C.) was characterized by long-distance exchange networks, planned urban settlements, sanitation facilities, standardized weights and measures, and a sphere of influence over 1,000,000 square kilometers of territory. Recent paleoclimate reconstructions from the Beas River Valley demonstrate hydro-climatic stress due to a weakened monsoon system may have impacted urban centers like Harappa by the end of the third millennium B.C. the impact of environmental change was compounded by concurrent disruptions to the regional interaction sphere. Climate, economic, and social changes contributed to the disintegration of this civilization after 1900 B.C. We assess evidence for paleopathology to infer the biological consequences of climate change and socio-economic disruption in the post-urban period at Harappa, one of the largest urban centers in the Indus Civilization. Bioarchaeological evidence demonstrates the prevalence of infection and infectious disease increased through time. Furthermore, the risk for infection and disease was uneven among burial communities. Corresponding mortuary differences suggest that socially and economically marginalized communities were most vulnerable in the context of climate uncertainty at Harappa. Combined with prior evidence for increasing levels of interpersonal violence, our data support a growing pathology of power at Harappa after 2000 B.C. Observations of the intersection between climate change and social processes in proto-historic cities offer valuable lessons about vulnerability, insecurity, and the long-term consequences of short-term strategies for coping with climate change.

Concepts: Disease, Infectious disease, Infection, India, Pakistan, Indus River, Punjab, Indus Valley Civilization


Arsenic-contaminated aquifers are currently estimated to affect ~150 million people around the world. However, the full extent of the problem remains elusive. This is also the case in Pakistan, where previous studies focused on isolated areas. Using a new data set of nearly 1200 groundwater quality samples throughout Pakistan, we have created state-of-the-art hazard and risk maps of arsenic-contaminated groundwater for thresholds of 10 and 50 μg/liter. Logistic regression analysis was used with 1000 iterations, where surface slope, geology, and soil parameters were major predictor variables. The hazard model indicates that much of the Indus Plain is likely to have elevated arsenic concentrations, although the rest of the country is mostly safe. Unlike other arsenic-contaminated areas of Asia, the arsenic release process in the arid Indus Plain appears to be dominated by elevated-pH dissolution, resulting from alkaline topsoil and extensive irrigation of unconfined aquifers, although pockets of reductive dissolution are also present. We estimate that approximately 50 million to 60 million people use groundwater within the area at risk, with hot spots around Lahore and Hyderabad. This number is alarmingly high and demonstrates the urgent need for verification and testing of all drinking water wells in the Indus Plain, followed by appropriate mitigation measures.

Concepts: Statistics, Water, Aquifer, Groundwater, Water well, Pakistan, Arsenic contamination of groundwater, Sindh


Early or timely initiation of breastfeeding is crucial in preventing newborn deaths and influences childhood nutrition however remains low in South Asia and the factors and barriers warrant greater consideration for improved action. This review synthesises the evidence on factors and barriers to initiation of breastfeeding within 1 h of birth in South Asia encompassing Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Concepts: India, Sri Lanka, Buddhism, South Asia, Pakistan, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation


In recent years, the Northern Hemisphere has suffered several devastating regional summer weather extremes, such as the European heat wave in 2003, the Russian heat wave and the Indus river flood in Pakistan in 2010, and the heat wave in the United States in 2011. Here, we propose a common mechanism for the generation of persistent longitudinal planetary-scale high-amplitude patterns of the atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. Those patterns-with zonal wave numbers m = 6, 7, or 8-are characteristic of the above extremes. We show that these patterns might result from trapping within midlatitude waveguides of free synoptic waves with zonal wave numbers k ≈ m. Usually, the quasistationary dynamical response with the above wave numbers m to climatological mean thermal and orographic forcing is weak. Such midlatitude waveguides, however, may favor a strong magnification of that response through quasiresonance.

Concepts: United States, Climate, Weather, Season, Pacific Ocean, Tropical cyclone, Waves, Pakistan


Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is endemic in Eurasian countries such as, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. CCHF virus is spread by the Hyalomma tick, which is found mainly on cattle and sheep. Muslim countries, in which these animals are sacrificed during Eid-Al-Adha, are among the countries where CCHF is endemic, and it has been observed that CCHF is associated with practices surrounding the Eid-ad-Adha festival. The dates for Eid-Al-Adha drift 10 days earlier in each year according to Georgian calendar. In previous years Eid-al-Adha occurred in autumn-winter months however in the next 10-15 years it will be take place in the summer months when CCHF is more prevalent. This may lead to a rise in the number of cases due to increased dissemination of CCHF virus with uncontrolled animal movements in and between countries. This consensus report focuses on the variable practices regarding animal handling in different regions and possible preventative measures to reduce the incidence of CCHF. Environmental hygiene and personal protection are essential parts of prevention. There is a need for international collaborative preparedness and response plans for prevention and management of CCHF during Eid-Al-Adha in countries where the disease is prevalent.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Prevalence, Islam, Iran, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Pakistan, Preventive medicine


In December of 2015, the international community pledged to limit global warming to below 2 °C above preindustrial (PI) to prevent dangerous climate change. However, to what extent, and for whom, is danger avoided if this ambitious target is realized? We address these questions by scrutinizing heat stress, because the frequency of extremely hot weather is expected to continue to rise in the approach to the 2 °C limit. We use analogs and the extreme South Asian heat of 2015 as a focusing event to help interpret the increasing frequency of deadly heat under specified amounts of global warming. Using a large ensemble of climate models, our results confirm that global mean air temperature is nonlinearly related to heat stress, meaning that the same future warming as realized to date could trigger larger increases in societal impacts than historically experienced. This nonlinearity is higher for heat stress metrics that integrate the effect of rising humidity. We show that, even in a climate held to 2 °C above PI, Karachi (Pakistan) and Kolkata (India) could expect conditions equivalent to their deadly 2015 heatwaves every year. With only 1.5 °C of global warming, twice as many megacities (such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Shanghai, China) could become heat stressed, exposing more than 350 million more people to deadly heat by 2050 under a midrange population growth scenario. The results underscore that, even if the Paris targets are realized, there could still be a significant adaptation imperative for vulnerable urban populations.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Population, Climate, Weather, Temperature, Climate change, Global warming, Pakistan


We sequenced Early Neolithic genomes from the Zagros region of Iran (eastern Fertile Crescent), where some of the earliest evidence for farming is found, and identify a previously uncharacterized population that is neither ancestral to the first European farmers nor has contributed significantly to the ancestry of modern Europeans. These people are estimated to have separated from Early Neolithic farmers in Anatolia some 46-77,000 years ago and show affinities to modern day Pakistani and Afghan populations, but particularly to Iranian Zoroastrians. We conclude that multiple, genetically differentiated hunter-gatherer populations adopted farming in SW-Asia, that components of pre-Neolithic population structure were preserved as farming spread into neighboring regions, and that the Zagros region was the cradle of eastward expansion.

Concepts: Europe, Iran, Turkey, Neolithic, Fertile Crescent, Pakistan, Iranian peoples, Mesopotamia


We describe a new species of gundi (Rodentia: Ctenodactylidae: Ctenodactylinae), Sayimys negevensis, on the basis of cheek teeth from the Early Miocene of the Rotem Basin, southern Israel. The Rotem ctenodactylid differs from all known ctenodactylid species, including Sayimys intermedius, which was first described from the Middle Miocene of Saudi Arabia. Instead, it most resembles Sayimys baskini from the Early Miocene of Pakistan in characters of the m1-2 (e.g., the mesoflexid shorter than the metaflexid, the obliquely orientated hypolophid, and the presence of a strong posterolabial ledge) and the upper molars (e.g., the paraflexus that is longer than the metaflexus). However, morphological (e.g., presence of a well-developed paraflexus on unworn upper molars) and dimensional (regarding, in particular, the DP4 and M1 or M2) differences between the Rotem gundi and Sayimys baskini distinguish them and testify to the novelty and endemicity of the former. In its dental morphology, Sayimys negevensis sp. nov. shows a combination of both the ultimate apparition of key-characters and incipient features that would be maintained and strengthened in latter ctenodactylines. Thus, it is a pivotal species that bridges the gap between an array of primitive ctenodactylines and the most derived, Early Miocene and later, gundis.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Middle East, Teeth, Gulf War, Pakistan, Hystricomorpha, Gundi, Gundis