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Bird Flu Blamed for Seal Deaths August 7, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health, In The News.
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First there was swine flu. Now, while everyone’s attention is on anotherĀ  Ebola outbreak there may be seal flu.

In the wake of a pneumonia outbreak that killed 162 harbor seals in New England last year, researchers are blaming the deaths on an avian flu virus.

The virus is similar to one circulating in North American birds since 2002 but shows signs of having recently adapted to mammals, according to according to Ian Lipkin, MD, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and colleagues.

The outbreak is “particularly significant,” they wrote, because the virus has naturally acquired mutations that may make it a candidate to cause disease in humans.

via Medical News: Bird Flu Blamed for Seal Deaths – in Infectious Disease, Flu & URI from MedPage Today.

Mega-Slums Breed Global Pandemics August 16, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, health.
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The global pandemics we see today tend to originate and spread from impoverished slums that push humans into close proximity with animals and food sources, thus providing an incubator for viruses that would otherwise die out or go dormant. Pandemics are thus closely linked to the emergence of “hot zones” in what I call “the planet of slums.”

In Kinshasa, Congo, the only way people have been able to survive the collapse of the state and the economy is by bringing agriculture into the city. There are chickens and other animals roaming everywhere. These kinds of conditions transform the whole ecology of disease, speeding up transmission among animals and enabling the leap to humans. They create linkages and causal chains that weren’t there before.

One example: Urbanization in West Africa has increased demand for protein in diets. At the same time, European companies have driven West African fishermen out of their traditional fishing zones, which provided most of their protein. Without fish for protein, people turned to the bush meat trade in the big logging countries such as Gabon. That demand for bush meat, for example from monkeys or chimps, has broken down all the biological species barriers for disease. People are eating wild mammals that carry exotic diseases like the Ebola virus or HIV.

via NPQ.

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