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Isolated Amazonian Tribe Contracts the Flu From Outsiders

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There are an estimated 77 Indian tribes living in isolation in the Amazon rainforest. These groups choose to steer clear of outsiders, but thanks to illegal loggers, drug traffickers, and oil workers, they are being pushed out of their land and threatened with disease. Recently, one such group emerged from the rainforest near the Brazil-Peruvian border and made contact with another indigenous community, marking the first time in recent history that such an isolated tribe set out to visit a settled population. But as a result of their expedition, at least seven of the tribe members have contacted influenza, according to Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, FUNAI. This could spell disaster for a group that lacks immunity to the bug.

“This news could hardly be more worrying—not only have these people confirmed they suffered violent attacks from outsiders in Peru, but they have apparently already caught flu,” says Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, which fights to protect groups of indigenous people.

It’s not clear who gave these tribespeople the flu—the other tribe they encountered, aid workers, or the people invading their land. FUNAI tried to clean up the mess as swiftly as possible by treating the infected and giving them flu shots. Unfortunately, they returned to the forest abruptly, presumably to join the rest of their village. Now researchers are worried the illness will spread, and for good reason. Between 1983 and 1985, nearly half of another population was eliminated due to illnesses passed from loggers.

"The uncontacted Indians now face the same genocidal risk from disease and violence which has characterized the invasion and occupation of the Americas over the last five centuries,” Corry says.

Anthropologists can only hope the sick members were treated fast enough to prevent the sickness from spreading, but as long as loggers and other outsiders continue their invasion of the rainforest, these uncontacted tribes will face huge risks. As anthropologist Robert Walker of the University of Missouri, Columbia told IBTimes, “If you think of how many loggers and narcotraffickers there are in this region, and that there could be as many as 3000 to 4000 uncontacted people there, the potential for contact is huge."

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This Organization Wants Your Old Eclipse Glasses
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Johan Ordonez, Getty Images

On Monday, August 21, America hosted what may have been the most-viewed solar eclipse in history. While those of us in the United States are still processing the awesome sight, residents of South America and Asia are just starting to look forward to the next total eclipse in 2019—and anyone who still has their protective glasses on hand can help them prepare.

According to Gizmodo, Astronomers Without Borders is accepting donations of used eyewear following Monday’s event. Any glasses they collect will be redistributed to schools across Asia and South America where children can use them to view the world’s next total eclipse in safety.

Astronomers Without Borders is dedicated to making astronomy accessible to people around the world. For this most recent eclipse, they provided 100,000 free glasses to schools, youth community centers, and children's hospitals in the U.S. If you’re willing to contribute to their next effort, hold on to your specs for now—the group plans to the announce the address where you can send them in the near future. Donors who don't have the patience to wait for updates on the group's Facebook page can send glasses immediately to its corporate sponsor, Explore Scientific, at 1010 S. 48th Street, Springdale, Arizona 72762.

Not sure if your glasses are suitable for reuse? Here’s the criteria they should meet for sun-gazing.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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Here's How to Tell If You Damaged Your Eyes Watching the Eclipse
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Amid the total solar eclipse craze, experts repeatedly warned spectators not to watch the rare phenomenon on August 21 with their naked eyes. But if you caught a peek sans glasses, pinhole projector, or protective filter, you may be wondering if your peepers were damaged. (After the sky show, "my eyes hurt" spiked as a Google search, so you’re not alone.)

While the sun doesn’t technically harm your eyes any more than usual during a solar eclipse, it can be easier to gaze at the glowing orb when the moon covers it. And looking directly at the sun—even briefly—can damage a spot in the retina called the fovea, which ensures clear central vision. This leads to a condition called solar retinopathy.

You won’t initially feel any pain if your eyes were damaged, as our retinas don’t have  pain receptors. But according to Live Science, symptoms of solar retinopathy can arise within hours (typically around 12 hours after sun exposure), and can include blurred or distorted vision, light sensitivity, a blind spot in one or both eyes, or changes in the way you see color (a condition called chromatopsia).

These symptoms can improve over several months to a year, but some people may experience lingering problems, like a small blind spot in their field of vision. Others may suffer permanent damage.

That said, if you only looked at the sun for a moment, you’re probably fine. “If you look at it for a second or two, nothing will happen," Jacob Chung, chief of ophthalmology at New Jersey's Englewood Hospital, told USA TODAY. "Five seconds, I'm not sure, but 10 seconds is probably too long, and 20 seconds is definitely too long."

However, if you did gaze at the sun for too long and you believe you may have damaged your eyes, get a professional opinion, stat. “Seeing an optometrist is faster than getting to see an ophthalmologist,” Ralph Chou, a professor emeritus of optometry and vision science at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, told NPR. “If there is damage, the optometrist would refer the individual to the ophthalmologist for further assessment and management in any case.”

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