July 23, 2007

Rats on Menus or a Bagful of Lies from the Media
China Daily - chinadaily.com.cn
20 Jul 2007
Z Lisheng and W Jiao
Area: Guangzhou, China

The South China city of Guangzhou has begun special investigation into wildlife trade to ensure restaurants are not buying State-protected animals to serve them as delicacies. "The campaign, which began on Wednesday, is focusing on wildlife trade and restaurants in every corner of the city," says Wang Fan, an official of the Guangzhou Food Safety Office. "Not only disease carriers such as field mice and gem-face civets, but also State-protected wild animals like pangolins, popular as delicacies among some people, are the targets of the investigation." "The probe is aimed at finding out whether newspaper reports on field mice are being supplied from the neighboring province of Hunan and served by restaurants in Guangzhou.

The city government's move is also aimed at minimizing the risk just in case the reports are true," he says. Information Times, a local newspaper, reported last Saturday that truckloads of field mice from Hunan were seen heading toward a market in the suburban district of Baiyun late at night. About 2 billion field mice have invaded 22 counties around Dongting Lake in Hunan Province after floods devastated the area earlier this month. About 2.3 million of the pests have been killed.

Bushmeat Trade on the Rise in Kenya as Beef Demand Grows
The East African - nationmedia.com
23 Jul 2007
D Kamani
Area: Kenya, Africa

A surging demand for meat in Kenya in the wake of the Rift Valley Fever (RVF) crisis early in the year combined with rising retail prices is leading to an increased trade in illegal bushmeat. Livestock experts also link the trade in bushmeat to the inability of the country’s livestock sector to meet current market demand, a situation worsened by the RVF outbreak that decimated thousands of head of cattle and goats, especially in North-Eastern Province. Two weeks ago, Kenyan police impounded 450 kg of bushmeat destined for Nairobi, where it was to be passed off as beef. Preliminary investigations established that the meat was probably obtained from poached zebra.

Currently, a kilogramme of beef is retailing at between Ksh180 ($2.7) and Ksh200 ($3) at most of Nairobi’s low-end and middle-class butcheries, up from about Ksh140 ($2) six months ago. According to Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Gichuki Kabukuru, apart from zebra, meat from dik dik, giraffe and various species of antelopes is ending on Kenya’s dinner tables. Many of these animals are natural reservoirs of such tropical diseases as anthrax and RVF, and their consumption could lead to outbreaks in humans. The situation is largely linked to the country’s growing population and the dynamics of poverty, which often mean that bushmeat is cheaper than that from domestic animals, Mr Kabukuru told The EastAfrican. “In this sense, we view the fight against the trade as a continuous challenge,” he said.

Emerging Diseases Drive Human, Animal Health Alliance
USINFO - usinfo.state.gov
20 Jul 2007
C Pellerin
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press
Area: United States

The spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza across 60 countries since 2003 has done more than kill millions of birds and 192 of 318 infected people. It has spurred many veterinary and medical professionals to join forces against emerging diseases, most of which originate in animals. In the United States, for example, in June, the 244,000-member American Medical Association adopted a "one health" policy, calling for closer ties and more educational and research collaborations between the human and veterinary medicine professions.

In July, during the 144th annual American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention in Washington, officials from the U.S. State Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Defense Department, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and others detailed causes and effects of zoonotic diseases -- those that can pass from animals to people. (See related article.) "An animal virus has spread across three continents, has become endemic in parts of Asia and Africa and now poses a worldwide epizootic [affecting many animals at the same time] threat," said Ambassador John Lange, the State Department's special representative on avian and pandemic influenza, during a July 16 AVMA session. "Worse," he added, "the world is facing the risk that the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus could mutate and result in sustained and efficient human-to-human transmission - in other words, a pandemic." (See related article.)

Panel Rejects Brucellosis Plan
The Associated Press (Posted by casperstartribune.net)
20 Jul 2007
M Jalonick
Area: Montana USA

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., fought back an effort by a New York congressman to address the brucellosis problem around Yellowstone National Park with a buffer zone advocated by Montana's governor. Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey on Thursday offered an amendment to an agriculture spending bill based on a plan from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. The buffer zones would attempt to better separate livestock from bison that carry the disease, which infected a Montana cattle herd northeast of the park in May. Hinchey's amendment would also have encouraged the Agriculture Department to spend $1.5 million to help finance an agreement with the Royal Teton Ranch, owned by the Church Universal and Triumphant, to allow diseased bison to graze on that property.

Hinchey mentioned Schweitzer's support for the plan in his amendment and in his remarks at the committee meeting. But Rehberg objected, saying Schweitzer, a Democrat, is "really the only policymaker advocating this plan." The committee defeated the amendment. Rehberg has advocated the current bison management plan, which was designed by the state of Montana, the National Park Service and the Department of Agriculture. It is designed to reduce the risk of brucellosis and allows the slaughter of bison, along with hunting of some animals outside the park. He has opposed the buffer zone idea, saying the problem should be dealt with inside the park.

Newcastle Disease Found in Birds in Chile
Xinhua (Posted by english.people.com.cn)
17 Jul 2007
Area: Chile

Newcastle disease has been found in dead birds in southern Chile, an Agriculture Ministry's veterinarian official said on Monday. The government will strengthen surveillance of wild birds near the city of Constitucion and take measures to prevent domestic birds from being infected with the virus, the official said.

Precautionary Behavior in Response to Perceived Threat of Pandemic Influenza [PDF]
Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Sep; [Epub ahead of print]
MZ Sadique et al.

Detection of Group 1 Coronaviruses in Bats in North America [PDF]
Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Sep; [Epub ahead of print]
SR Dominguez et al.

Virus Subtype-Specific Features of Natural Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIV Infection in Sooty Mangabeys [online abstract only]
J. Virol. 2007 Aug; 81(15): 7913-7923
C Apetrei et al.

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