December 11, 2007

Oil Threatens South Korean Seafood, Birds, Tourism
The Associated Press (Posted by
10 Dec 2007
H Kim
Area: South Korea

. . . The slick has affected at least 181 aquatic farms producing abalone, seaweed, littleneck clams, and sea cucumbers, according to Lee Seung-yop, a Taean County official. No detailed damage estimates for the area as a whole have been released, though Lee said officials feared it would be substantial. Ku Bon-chun, chief of a local fishermen's association at Mohang Port, close to Mallipo Beach, said oily waters submerged 32 acres of aquatic farms. "I feel like my heart is empty," he said. "These fishing farms are all finished."

Mallipo is considered one of South Korea's most scenic areas and serves as an important stopover for migrating mallards, great crested grebes, and others birds. More than 20 million tourists visit the area each year, providing an economic boost to nearly 64,000 nearby residents, who depend heavily on fishing and seafood farming. Raw-fish restaurant owner Kim Eung-ku, of Mallipo, was helping with the cleanup but said he feared the situation was hopeless. "We have no choice but to leave this place," he said. "This ocean is dead."

University of California, Davis Bird Flu Expert Calls for Changes in Early-Warning System [Press Release]
Ascribe -
06 Dec 2007
Area: United States

The international science community is not doing enough to track the many avian influenza viruses that might cause the next pandemic, a UC Davis researcher says in Thursday's issue (Dec. 6) of the journal Nature. Global surveillance is critical for identifying and tracking potential pandemic viruses such as highly pathogenic H5N1. But the current surveillance strategy in wild birds is piecemeal and risks missing important virus sources or subtypes, Walter Boyce writes in a commentary. Boyce, a UC Davis professor of veterinary medicine, is co-director of the $18.5 million Center for Rapid Influenza Surveillance and Research (CRISAR). The center, supported by the National Institutes of Health, is charged with tracking viruses in wild birds in the United States and Asia.

Addressing Nature's worldwide audience, Boyce says scientists must take several steps to catch avian influenza viruses before they catch us:

- Go where the H5N1 virus lives: Surveillance has focused too heavily on Europe and North America, where few wild birds are infected. To really understand the role of wild birds in spreading H5N1, more surveillance should be done in places where the virus is endemic, such as China, southeast Asia and Africa, Boyce says.

- Characterize all of the influenza viruses they collect: Currently, the narrow focus on H5N1 misses other viruses that also pose pandemic risks.

- Share samples and data more promptly: Whether caused by regulatory hurdles or researchers' concerns about intellectual property rights, a reluctance to share hampers health officials' ability to track and respond to potential pandemic viruses. Boyce recommends that the scientific community set a standard of releasing data no more than 45 days after it is generated.

Farmers will pay for any badger cull, Lord Rooker tells
Farmers Weekly Interactive -
11 Dec 2007
Area: England United Kingdom

DEFRA is committed to announcing a new policy to tackle the spread and escalating cost of bovine tuberculosis in the early part of 2008, but the industry will have to pay for a large part of it, according to junior minister Jeff Rooker. Giving evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee of MPs on Monday (10 December), the minister gave a hint as to what shape future policy might take although he repeated that no decision had yet been made. And he expects DEFRA's proposals to be controversial, and almost certainly result in a legal challenge, regardless of which side of the badger debate future policy pursues. Lord Rooker began by saying that current policy was not sustainable and that the Treasury was not prepared to assign additional funding to tackle the disease.

"The present situation is unsustainable and the cost is unsustainable. We can't tolerate the cost that we're paying from a taxpayer point of view. I have to make that abundantly clear to the committee and the industry, the taxpayer has come to the end of the line in funding to this scale. We have to find other directions." Any additional costs, he made clear, would be borne by the industry and from the re-allocation of existing funds.

How Chikungunya Virus Has Spread To New Vectors And Locations
Public Library of Science (Posted by
10 Dec 2007

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch have discovered how a key protein switch allows Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV) to spread to new vectors. The study explains how the virus has increased its ability to infect and be transmitted by the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. CHIKV is an emerging arbovirus associated with several recent large-scale epidemics of arthritic disease. The virus has formerly been known to be carried primarily by the mosquito Aedes aegypti.

However, a recent epidemic in the Indian Ocean islands suggested that something else was carrying the virus, as Ae. aegypti are not found there. In fact the relative Asian tiger mosquito, Ae. albopictus, was present. This prompted the team, led by Dr. Stephen Higgs, to look further into the virus. In an earlier study it had been found that the epidemics on islands in the Indian Ocean were associated with a strain of CHIKV with a mutation in the envelope protein gene (E1-A226V).

Bald Eagle Found Dead near Park
Keiser Times -
10 Dec 2007
J Cox
Area: Oregon United States

Federal wildlife officials are trying to determine what killed a bald eagle found dead near Keizer Rapids Park last week. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is awaiting autopsy results on the adult eagle to find out how it died. Special Agent Jim Stinebaugh declined to speculate on what he believed killed the bird. The bald eagle was considered endangered up until the mid-1990s, but has since been removed from the federal Threatened and Endangered Species list.

However, bald eagles are still protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Stinebaugh said. Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns said a KPD officer responded to an area near Keizer Rapids Park on Thursday, Dec. 6, around 7:50 a.m. A woman was walking in the area and found the eagle in the roadway. She said she heard approximately 10 gunshots in the area.



Risk-based surveillance for H5N1 avian influenza virus in wild birds in Great Britain [online abstract only]
Veterinary Record. 2007;161:775-781
LC Snow

A Dutch case of atypical pneumonia after culling of H5N1 positive ducks in Bavaria was found infected with Chlamydophila psittaci [full free-text available]
Euro Surveillance. 2007 Nov 29;12(11):E071129.3.
WH Haas et al.

Integrated Approaches and Empirical Models for Investigation of Parasitic Diseases in Northern Wildlife [free full-text available]
Emerging Infectious Diseseases. 2008 Jan; [Epub ahead of print]
EP Hoberg

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