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For the first time, a new strain of bird flu was transmitted human-to-human. This is highly unusual–and could be the first sign of new global pandemic.

           

Avian flu surveillance efforts. Credit: Province of British Columbia

CLICK HERE - A suspected person‑to‑person transmission of avian influenza A (H7N9)

undispatch.com - Alanna Shaikh, MPH  - May 26, 2017

 . . . a Chinese medical journal reported a human-to-human transmission of H7N9. H7N9, as mentioned, has a mortality rate of about 40%. Its impact on humans has been mitigated by the fact that it only spreads from birds. Family members can care for each other without fear.

Last week, though, China reported a case of H7N9 that appears to have spread person to person, not bird to person. The infected patient had no contact with birds or live bird markets, and he had no underlying medical condition. He was a healthy 62-year-old man, who helped a family member hospitalized with H7N9 to use the bathroom. Genetic analysis of the infecting virus indicates that he was infected with the same strain of virus that infected his family member.

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Zimbabwe - Mystery Disease Puzzles Doctors - Close to 50 People Admitted, 15 Cattle Dead

thezimbabwedaily.com - by Fairness Moyana - 21 May 2017

CLOSE to 50 people from Change, Dinde and Nekabandama in Hwange District, Matabeleland North have since the beginning of the month been hospitalised at Lukosi Hospital and surrounding health institutions complaining of severe pain which causes paralysis of the backbone, lower and upper body rendering patients immobile.

However, although no deaths have been reported in the area, health officials said they are failing to detect what the disease was or its causes after all patients tested negative for malaria which they were initially suspecting. Apart from the mystery of the disease, local people are now suspecting that there could be some poisonous plant or water source, as during the same time at least 15 cattle died under mysterious circumstances.

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Hard to Detect, China Bird Flu Virus May Be More Widespread

           

A quarantine researcher checks on a chicken at a poultry farm in Xiangyang, Hubei province, China, February 3, 2017. Picture taken February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

reuters.com - by Dominique Patton - February 17, 2017

Bird flu infection rates on Chinese poultry farms may be far higher than previously thought, because the strain of the deadly virus that has killed more than 100 people this winter is hard to detect in chickens and geese, animal health experts say.

Poultry that have contracted the H7N9 strain of the avian flu virus show little or no sign of symptoms. That means any infection is only likely to be detected if farmers or health authorities carry out random tests on a flock, the experts said.

But in humans, it can be deadly.

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Why Killer Viruses Are On The Rise

       

Once called the "Dutchmen" because of their large noses and large bellies, proboscis monkeys live only in Borneo. Ecosystems that have a lot of diverse animals, like this monkey, also tend to have a lot of diverse viruses.  Charles Ryan

npr.org - by Michaeleen Doucleff and Jane Greenhalgh - February 14, 2017

The next troubling outbreak could come from a rain forest . . . And a big reason why: all the crazy animals that live here.

. . . Wild animals are now refugees. They have no home. So they come live in our backyards. They pee on our crops. Share our parks and playgrounds. Giving their viruses a chance to jump into us and make us sick.

"So it's really the human impact on the environment that's causing these viruses to jump into people," Olival says.

And cause an outbreak? I ask. Or a pandemic, says Olival.

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Turning the Tide Against Cholera

Map of the Sundarbans, part of the Ganges River Delta, where Cholera first emerged. Source: World Wildlife Fund

Image: Map of the Sundarbans, part of the Ganges River Delta, where Cholera first emerged. Source: World Wildlife Fund

nytimes.com - February 6th 2017 - Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Two hundred years ago, the first cholera pandemic emerged from these tiger-infested mangrove swamps.

It began in 1817, after the British East India Company sent thousands of workers deep into the remote Sundarbans, part of the Ganges River Delta, to log the jungles and plant rice. These brackish waters are the cradle of Vibrio cholerae, a bacterium that clings to human intestines and emits a toxin so virulent that the body will pour all of its fluids into the gut to flush it out.

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Superbug Gene Found on Pig Farm

           

FLICKR, RIKKISREFUGE

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae recovered from the environment of a swine farrow-to-finish operation in the United States

Evidence of resistance to a “last-resort” drug for antibiotic-resistant bacteria is discovered among farm animals for the first time.

the-scientist.com - by Ben Andrew Henry - December 7, 2016

Modern agriculture relies on antibiotics to shield livestock from disease, but widespread over-use of antibiotics has raised concerns over creating highly resistant “superbugs.” Researchers announced this week (December 5) that bacteria carrying a rare, dangerous gene for antibiotic resistance have been found in agricultural animals for the first time.

In a study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, researchers took swabs and fecal samples from a pig farm and discovered bacteria resistant to carbapenems, an important class of antibiotics.

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Climate Changing 'Too Fast' for Species

           

Tropical species are thought to be particularly vulnerable.  Thinkstock

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Rates of change in climatic niches in plant and animal populations are much slower than projected climate change

bbc.com - by Helen Briggs - November 23, 2016

Many species will not be able to adapt fast enough to survive climate change, say scientists.

A study of more than 50 plants and animals suggests their ability to adapt to changes in rainfall and temperature will be vastly outpaced by future climate change.

Amphibians, reptiles and plants are particularly vulnerable, according to US researchers.

And tropical species are at higher risk than those in temperate zones.

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World on Track to Lose Two-Thirds of Wild Animals by 2020, Major Report Warns

Living Planet Index shows vertebrate populations are set to decline by 67% on 1970 levels unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact

       

A victim of poachers in Kenya: elephants are among the species most impacted by humans, the WWF report found. Photograph: imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

CLICK HERE - Living Planet Report 2016

theguardian.com - by Damian Carrington - October 26, 2016

The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends.

The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame.

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Post-Ebola, West Africans Flock Back to Bushmeat, With Risk

submitted by Jeff Williams

            

FILE-In this file photo taken on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, Yaa Kyarewaa, await clients as she stands next to her makeshift bush meat shop at one of the largest local markets in Accra, Ghana. As the deadly outbreak of Ebola has subsided, people in several West African countries are flocking to eat bush meat again after restrictions were lifted on the consumption of wild animals like hedgehogs and cane rats. But some health experts call it a risky move. (AP Photo/Christian Thompson, File) 

Associated Press - by HILAIRE ZON and CARLEY PETESCH - September 21, 2016

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — As the deadly outbreak of Ebola has subsided, people in several West African countries are flocking to eat bushmeat again after restrictions were lifted on the consumption of wild animals like hedgehogs and cane rats. But some health experts call it a risky move.

Ivory Coast, which neighbors two of the three countries where Ebola killed more than 11,300 people since December 2013, lifted its ban on wild animal meat this month.

The meat of squirrel, deer, fruit bats and rats has long been a key source of protein for many in the region, but it is also a potential source of the Ebola virus.

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Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web

A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

Image:  A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

nytimes.com - July 18th 2016 - Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Of the hundreds of monkeys in the University of Wisconsin’s primate center, a few — including rhesus macaque 827577 — are now famous, at least among scientists tracking the Zika virus.

Since February, a team led by David H. O’Connor, the chairman of the center’s global infectious diseases department, has been conducting a unique experiment in scientific transparency. The tactic may presage the evolution of new ways to respond to fast-moving epidemics.

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