August 9, 2007

South China’s Taste for Wildlife
Ecologist Online -
02 Aug 2008 [sic]
W Parham
Photo courtesy of Animals Asia Foundation, Hong Kong
Area: China

Consuming endangered wildlife is illegal in China, but it continues on a large scale in the country’s south. Walter Parham reports on a habit that locals just cannot kick – even after the SARS crisis. The destruction of south China’s wildlife habitats started about 1,000 years ago, and still continues today. This led to many animal extinctions and severe reductions in wildlife populations, and has been compounded by the use of wildlife for food and for ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). One might imagine that the pressure on wildlife would have decreased as levels of education and urban incomes have risen in the region. But the greatest reduction in wildlife consumption was actually in 2003, and came as a result of public fears about the risks of catching Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from wild animals.

In late 2004, the demand for civet cats decreased so much due to the fear of SARS that 141 farms released 4,000 of the animals into the wild. Bird flu later added to this concern. Many Chinese people believe that eating wildlife is a bad habit, and some will even say it is barbaric, but the practice has persisted in China for around 2,000 years. A 2003 poll taken in Guangdong province found that half of the population had eaten wildlife, snake being named as the favourite of 45% of those surveyed.

Bleeding Disease Could Take Toll on Fishing: Fish Virus Brings Fear to Anglers
The Associated Press (Posted by The Capital Times)
06 Aug 2007
Area: Wisconsin USA

It's another gorgeous morning for fishing on Lake Winnebago. Clear skies. Sunshine. Fishing boats cruising across the horizon. But under these sparkling waters lurks an invader that anglers fear could devastate Wisconsin's billion-dollar-plus fishing industry and, if left unchecked, threaten waters to the west. Wildlife officials detected the viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus in the Lake Winnebago chain in May, alarming the state's fishing community. The virus poses no threat to humans, but can cause a wide range of trophy fish, including musky, trout and bass, to bleed to death.

It already has spread through much of the Great Lakes, causing massive fish kills. Ohio wildlife officials estimate the virus wiped out hundreds of thousands of freshwater drum in Lake Erie last year. The virus hasn't been detected in Lake Superior or the Mississippi River but it has appeared in inland waters in Michigan, New York and, now, Wisconsin. No one knows for sure how much damage the virus could cause in smaller, inland waters.

West Nile Virus MONITOR: 2007 Human Surveillance
Public Health Agency of Canada -
03 Aug 2007
Area: Canada

During the West Nile virus season, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) updates this web site every Monday to reflect information reported to the PHAC by the provinces and territories. These tables include human West Nile Virus (WNV) cases and asymptomatic infections reported to the PHAC. For information on cases and asymptomatic infections currently under investigation, please refer to the specific provinces'/territories' Ministry of Health website.

Coral Reefs Are Vanishing Faster than Rainforests
NewScientist Environment -
08 Aug 2007
C Brahic
Photo courtesy of Bruno/Selig

Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific are disappearing twice as fast as tropical rainforests, say researchers. They have completed the first comprehensive survey of coral reefs in this region, which is home to 75% of the world's reefs. John Bruno and Elizabeth Selig of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US compiled data from 6000 studies that between them tracked the fate of 2600 reefs in the Indo-Pacific between 1968 and 2004. They used the extent to which reefs were covered by live coral as an indication of their health.

"The corals themselves build their limestone foundation, so if the surface of the reef is not covered with live tissue that is continually secreting it, the reef can erode fairly quickly," explains Selig. She and Bruno found that coral cover declined by 1% per year on average between 1968 and 2004. For comparison, tropical rainforests declined by 0.4% per year between 1990 and 1997 (Science, vol 297 p 999). In the early 1980s about 40% of reefs were covered with live coral, but that number had halved by 2003.


Detecting Multiple Levels of Effect During Survey Sampling Using a Bayesian Approach: Point Prevalence Estimates of a Hantavirus in hispid Cotton Rats (Sigmodon hispidus) [free full-text available]
Ecological Modelling. 2007 Jul; 205 (1-2): 29-38
AS Walsh et al.

Chemical Contaminants, Health Indicators, and Reproductive Biomarker Responses in Fish from the Colorado River and its Tributaries [free full-text available]
Science of the Total Environment. 2007 Jun; 378 (3): 376-402
JE Hinck et al.

Pandemic Influenza Planning: Shouldn't Swine and Poultry Workers Be Included? [online abstract only]
Vaccine. 2007 May; 25 (22): 4376-4381
GC Gray et al.

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