U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

May 22, 2020 by  
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Wildlife  officials recently announced outbreaks of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) ravaging Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California. The  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  deems RHDV2 as seriously contagious and nearly always fatal amongst domestic and wild rabbit species and their close relatives, hares and pikas. RHDV2 is not zoonotic, so it won’t infect livestock, pets or humans, asserts the  California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) . Still,  Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW)  advise against pets consuming rabbit carcasses. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is the viral agent causing rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD).  Science Direct  says RHDV belongs in the calicivirus family, which infects many  animals  including pigs, cattle, cats and even humans. Norovirus, for example, is a human calicivirus. But humans seem unaffected by RHDV.  Related:  What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? There are two worrisome strains of RHDV — RHDV1 and RHDV2.  House Rabbit Society ,  Veterinary Practice , as well as both the Vaccine and Veterinary Research  journals document RHDV1 as first emerging in China back in 1984, when, in just one year, 140 million rabbits were decimated. China claims that the outbreak started in Angora rabbits imported from Europe. Eventually, RHDV1 spread to over 40 countries and hit the U.S. in 2000. Given its estimated 95% mortality rate, Australia and New Zealand notoriously introduced RHDV1 into their wild rabbit populations as pest biocontrol. RHDV1 mutated, begetting RHDV2, which was first identified in 2010 when domesticated rabbits in France showed clinical signs of RHD despite being already vaccinated against RHDV1. By September 2018, RHDV2 reached the U.S., manifesting among domestic rabbits in a rural Ohio farm, documents the  Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service . The USDA considers both RHDV1 and RHDV2 invasive pathogens, as they are not native to North America. A  joint paper  put forth by the Center for Food Security & Public Health , Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics, Iowa State University, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the USDA revealed RHD can be difficult to eradicate. Not only can the virus strains survive over seven months on rabbit carcasses, but they also withstand temperatures below freezing and above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  House Rabbit Society  cites several differences between RHDV1 and RHDV2. Incubation is two to 10 days for RHDV1, but three to nine days for RHDV2. Rabbits with RHDV2 can be asymptomatic yet spread the virus for up to two months. There is no known cure for either strain. While a vaccine exists for RHDV1, there are currently no USDA -licensed vaccines for RHDV2. That RHDV2 can “potentially surviv[e] more than 3 months without a host” has prompted some U.S. veterinarians to import RHDV2 vaccines despite a convoluted process. The  USDA  and  VIN News Service  warn RHD is highly contagious, spreading easily by direct contact with rabbit excretions and secretions — saliva, sweat and biowaste. Sharing food, water, bedding, fomites and vehicles spreads RHD. Other vectors are infected rabbit meat, pelts, even insects. Besides farmers and pet owners, biologists and  conservationists  are worried about this virus. As declining rabbit populations have repercussions in  habitat  food chains, RHDV2 could cause severe consequences down the line. + Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service Via USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and House Rabbit Society Images via Pexels

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U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

Ancient Mayan-inspired Casa Merida operates off the grid in Mexico

May 22, 2020 by  
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In the hot and humid Yucatán capital of Mérida, blasting air conditioning all day is commonly regarded as a necessity of life. But Mexico City-based Ludwig Godefroy Architecture has rebelled against this belief with its design of Casa Merida, a self-sufficient dwelling that uses passive solar principles to stay naturally cool. Sustainable in both energy use and design, the contemporary, solar-powered home draws references from traditional Mayan architecture and uses locally produced materials wherever possible. Built primarily of board-formed concrete, Casa Merida is organized as a series of “broken” volumes that reads as an 80-meter-long rectangle with 8-meter-wide sections. This lane-like form was created to follow traditional airflow cooling concepts and to evoke the ancient Mayan sacbé , a term that translates to “white path” and describes stone walkways covered in white limestone. All parts of the home open up to the outdoors via large wooden louver doors that let in cooling breezes, natural light and views of green courtyards interspersed throughout the property. Related: This modular, off-grid design can adapt to any landscape The indoor-outdoor connection is key in the design of the home, which was crafted to feel completely disconnected from the city. This is achieved by placing the communal areas — including the living room, kitchen and swimming pool — at the far end and quietest part of the property instead of placing them near the backyard. The backyard is used as a buffer zone from the urban environment. To help the home meet goals of self sufficiency, the architects installed rainwater collection systems with sculptural water collectors that add to the beauty of the residence. A biodigester is used to treat blackwater, which is then used to irrigate the garden. Heating and all of the home’s electricity needs are provided for via solar hot water heaters and solar panels. “The construction is reaching a 90% made on-site, with local materials and built exclusively by Yucatec masons and carpenters, a sort of modern reinterpretation of what could mean vernacular architecture,” the architects said. “Made of massive materials that do not require special treatments or maintenance, accepting aging and time as part of the architecture process, the house has been conceptualized to end up one day covered by a new coat of materiality: a layer of patina.” + Ludwig Godefroy Architecture Photography by Rory Gardiner via Ludwig Godefroy Architecture

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Ancient Mayan-inspired Casa Merida operates off the grid in Mexico

Crowds fill national park for Yellowstone reopening

May 21, 2020 by  
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As some of the biggest national parks start to reopen, visitors reassure themselves that it is safe to be outdoors. But unfortunately in places like the ever-popular Yellowstone National Park, everybody is crowding in to see Old Faithful. On May 18, cars with license plates from all over the country filled Yellowstone’s parking lots and hardly a mask was in sight as people crowded together to watch the park’s famous geysers. Locals worry this could spread the virus to their communities. For now, only Yellowstone’s Wyoming gates are open. The Montana entrances remain closed. Tour buses, overnight camping and park lodging aren’t allowed. The park’s official stance is to encourage the use of masks in high-density areas. Related: Best practices for outdoor exercise during COVID-19 “We checked the webcam at Old Faithful at about 3:30 p.m. yesterday,” Kristin Brengel, senior vice-president of government affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association, told The Guardian . “Not much physical distancing happening and not a single mask in sight.” Cars from all over began lining up at 5:30 a.m. for Yellowstone’s noon reopening. Local Mark Segal said his was the only car he saw from Teton County. He worried about out-of-state visitors spreading the coronavirus to the local community. “What if everyone that leaves here goes and gets a bite in Jackson?” he asked. “This is exactly what we’re afraid of.” Montana and Wyoming have had fewer COVID-19 cases than surrounding states. Locals are divided on the issue, with some local business owners pressing the park to reopen and bring much needed tourism dollars, while others are more concerned about public health. Melissa Alder, co-owner of a coffee and outdoor store called Freeheel and Wheel in West Yellowstone, told NPR she’s feeling nervous. “We are fearful of the congregation of people that will come, and I don’t think we’re ready,” Alder said. “I mean, we don’t have a hospital. We don’t have a bed. We don’t even have a doctor full-time here in West Yellowstone.” Via The Guardian and NPR Image via NPS / Jacob W. Frank

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Crowds fill national park for Yellowstone reopening

US renewables hit milestone in surpassing coal output

May 21, 2020 by  
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The  COVID-19  pandemic has disrupted nationwide  energy  supply-and-demand patterns. Stay-at-home social distancing measures have altered U.S. electricity consumption. Bulk electricity usage by commercial businesses and industrial manufacturing has given way to increased household electricity consumption as the general population isolates at home. In turn, this economic slowdown has shifted electricity generation to rely more on the renewable energy sector. Both the  US Energy Information Administration (EIA)  and the  Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysts (IEEFA)  have revealed that, from March 25th through May 3rd, utility-scale solar, wind and hydropower collectively generated more electricity than coal! This record 40-day timespan has edged over 2019’s run of 38 days when U.S.  renewables  first beat coal last year. Last year marked the first time renewables outpaced coal-fired electricity generation. This led to  IEEFA forecasts  of renewables eclipsing coal by 2021. Unexpectedly, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated  renewable energy ‘s first-quarter performance in producing electricity. Hence,  EIA forecasts  expect electric power generated by coal “will fall by 25% in 2020.” Related:  COVID-19 and its effects on the environment Interestingly,  Forbes  notes that “The electric power sector consistently sees its lowest  coal  demand in April,” owing to seasonal temperature adjustments when winter transitions into springtime. Because of the change in season,  natural gas  and coal generators often “schedule routine maintenance for the spring…and many coal plants spen[d] part of April offline for planned, temporary outages.” This illustrates why wind generation is typically relied upon most in springtime. As for  hydropower , snowmelt often feeds rivers, thus accounting for increased electricity generation downstream each spring as well, Forbes explains. Last year’s forecasts showed trends at play within the energy industry. Not only have upgrades expanded  solar , wind and hydro infrastructure capacities, but coal plant closures have likewise been commonplace, hinting at the changing energy landscape. Several factors have quickened the demise of coal reliance. As the  EIA  has shared, both investor-owned and publicly-owned municipal electric utilities began decommissioning coal-fired power plants a decade ago at the behest of local and state government public utilities commissions. Secondly, costs to construct  wind farms  have slid over 40%, whereas solar costs have sunk by over 80%, making both more appealing. Naturally, the decline of coal-fired power plants has positive implications for the environment and  climate , since coal produces excess  greenhouse gas emissions .  But another concern is alleviated, too. Back in 2008, a joint Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP) and University of Minnesota  research report  raised alarms on critical infrastructure planning. This report warned that pandemics could adversely affect coal supply chains and thereby prompt shortages in generating electricity to the Midwest, a region that relied on coal for 75% of its power generation, as opposed to only 5% on the West Coast. Transitioning away from coal-generated electricity these past 12 years following this report has mitigated the risk of wide swathes of Middle America losing electricity during the 2020 pandemic. + US Energy Information Administration (EIA) + Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysts (IEEFA) Images via Pexels

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US renewables hit milestone in surpassing coal output

US renewables hit milestone in surpassing coal output

May 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The  COVID-19  pandemic has disrupted nationwide  energy  supply-and-demand patterns. Stay-at-home social distancing measures have altered U.S. electricity consumption. Bulk electricity usage by commercial businesses and industrial manufacturing has given way to increased household electricity consumption as the general population isolates at home. In turn, this economic slowdown has shifted electricity generation to rely more on the renewable energy sector. Both the  US Energy Information Administration (EIA)  and the  Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysts (IEEFA)  have revealed that, from March 25th through May 3rd, utility-scale solar, wind and hydropower collectively generated more electricity than coal! This record 40-day timespan has edged over 2019’s run of 38 days when U.S.  renewables  first beat coal last year. Last year marked the first time renewables outpaced coal-fired electricity generation. This led to  IEEFA forecasts  of renewables eclipsing coal by 2021. Unexpectedly, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated  renewable energy ‘s first-quarter performance in producing electricity. Hence,  EIA forecasts  expect electric power generated by coal “will fall by 25% in 2020.” Related:  COVID-19 and its effects on the environment Interestingly,  Forbes  notes that “The electric power sector consistently sees its lowest  coal  demand in April,” owing to seasonal temperature adjustments when winter transitions into springtime. Because of the change in season,  natural gas  and coal generators often “schedule routine maintenance for the spring…and many coal plants spen[d] part of April offline for planned, temporary outages.” This illustrates why wind generation is typically relied upon most in springtime. As for  hydropower , snowmelt often feeds rivers, thus accounting for increased electricity generation downstream each spring as well, Forbes explains. Last year’s forecasts showed trends at play within the energy industry. Not only have upgrades expanded  solar , wind and hydro infrastructure capacities, but coal plant closures have likewise been commonplace, hinting at the changing energy landscape. Several factors have quickened the demise of coal reliance. As the  EIA  has shared, both investor-owned and publicly-owned municipal electric utilities began decommissioning coal-fired power plants a decade ago at the behest of local and state government public utilities commissions. Secondly, costs to construct  wind farms  have slid over 40%, whereas solar costs have sunk by over 80%, making both more appealing. Naturally, the decline of coal-fired power plants has positive implications for the environment and  climate , since coal produces excess  greenhouse gas emissions .  But another concern is alleviated, too. Back in 2008, a joint Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP) and University of Minnesota  research report  raised alarms on critical infrastructure planning. This report warned that pandemics could adversely affect coal supply chains and thereby prompt shortages in generating electricity to the Midwest, a region that relied on coal for 75% of its power generation, as opposed to only 5% on the West Coast. Transitioning away from coal-generated electricity these past 12 years following this report has mitigated the risk of wide swathes of Middle America losing electricity during the 2020 pandemic. + US Energy Information Administration (EIA) + Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysts (IEEFA) Images via Pexels

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How to make a mask with fabric to wear or donate

April 20, 2020 by  
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Crafters began making fabric masks when the public learned that COVID-19 was causing a major shortage of personal protective equipment. But since the CDC changed its recommendation on April 3 to urge that everyone wears a mask when leaving the house, sewing machines around the world have been working harder than ever. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to make fabric masks to wear or to donate. “The efforts of home sewers are a beautiful expression of the desire to help our community and contribute their special skills,” said Erum Ilyas , board-certified dermatologist and founder of Montgomery Dermatology, LLC in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. However, textiles are not tightly woven enough to fully protect against the virus. “They are primarily designed to block bacterial spread given the risks these present in wounds during surgical procedures. Viral particles are much smaller than bacteria and simply escape through these textiles quite easily.” So while masks are a useful additional precaution against coronavirus , crafters should know upfront that cloth masks are insufficient for first responders, who need N-95 masks. Still, many medical professionals are wearing cloth masks over the N-95 masks. Everybody else should wear cloth masks in combination with social distancing and frequent hand-washing. Masks for donation Before you rev up your sewing machine and start stitching masks, figure out where you’re going to donate your finished products. Organizations of all sizes have popped up around the country to give home sewers guidance on materials, designs and delivery. Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 “I got involved with Mask Match after my classmate heard about it on a podcast,” said Briana Corkill, a medical student in Phoenix. “It seemed like a great way to be helpful from home, especially since all of my clinical volunteer work has been put on hold.” Mask Match is a volunteer-run organization that accepts donations of high-filtration masks (N95, P95, R95 and KN95), surgical masks and fabric masks and delivers them wherever they are needed in the U.S. and Canada. If you want to donate homemade fabric masks, you must follow Mask Match’s guidance on materials and design. Other efforts are more localized. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is accepting hand-sewn masks, but only if people can deliver them in person in Nashville. However, its guidelines for making masks for children and adults are useful to people everywhere. Heide Davis, an Oregon-based artist, joined a Facebook group called Crafters Against Covid-19 PDX, which collects masks from home sewers. The group donates the masks to the Multnomah County Health Department, which distributes the non-medical grade masks to nursing homes, care homes and hospitals (for patient use). Davis, who collects secondhand and vintage fabric, pondered her choices. “I was a little unsure about what fabric I had that would be suitable,” she said. Fortunately, she heard that local couture designer Sloane White had started a mask production line. “She’d already cut out the masks and needed help sewing them together,” Davis said. “She gave me a bag of fabric that was already precut, washed, everything. And some elastic. And it was very lovely and generous and saved me from having to find the fabric.” Davis donated nearly 50 masks to the Multnomah County Health Department, plus another 15 for friends and family. Working with precut, partly sewn fabric, it still took about 8 hours for Davis to sew her donated masks. “You should know how to use your machine,” she said. “But it doesn’t take any more than basic sewing skills.” Making a simple mask Choosing the right fabric is an important decision. Ilyas referred to a 2013 Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness study that evaluated different household materials to determine how much each could filter particles and block the spread of influenza. “This study showed that cotton /polyester blends tend to be the most effective out of household materials while still maintaining breathability,” Ilyas explained. “This type of textile can be found in most T-shirts or pillowcases around the house. Despite rating the best in terms of blocking viruses and still maintaining comfort, these materials still only block about 70% of viruses. This makes them ideally suited for community and low-risk settings while still maintaining social distancing. It’s an added level of security to help minimize the risk of viral spread.” What if you lack a sewing machine but you want a mask for your own use? “Simple is best here,” Ilyas said. “This does not have to be complicated and should not be a reason to go to the store while we are urging everyone to stay home. I tend to recommend taking an old T-shirt or pillowcase and cutting a strip of fabric about 3-4 inches wide. Take two rubber bands and pull one along each side. Fold the fabric in and pull the rubber bands over your ears to hold in place.” Rubber bands are probably not the most comfortable thing to hold your mask in place, but they will do in a pinch for short jaunts to the store. You can also use yarn for a more comfortable fit if you have it on hand. The CDC posted several options on its site, including one for people who sew, a no-sew mask made from a T-shirt and a simple bandana mask. If possible, Davis recommends machine-sewing over hand-sewing . “ Machine stitches probably would hold up in the wash a little bit better than hand-done stitches. Because you want to be able to wash this thing a lot when you’re using it.” Wearing and caring for your mask Wearing a mask takes some getting used to and may feel uncomfortable or irritating. “Remember that when you use a mask, every time you manipulate it, touch it, move it around, your hands come close to your face and mouth,” Ilyas said. “Sometimes when people wear a mask, they find themselves touching their face far more frequently than normal. If you wear glasses, there is a lot of getting used to when it comes to wearing a mask as your glasses are sure to get foggy. Practice wearing your mask around the house first to get a sense of how you feel in it.” Ilyas suggested a gentle skin cleanser and nightly moisturizer to offset the effects of wearing a face mask for long periods of time. Related: How to properly dispose contaminated gloves, masks, wipes and more Whenever you go outside your house, your mask is accumulating additional germs. Frequent washing is important. “If you are using a fabric with a cotton/polyester blend, it should not be a problem to machine wash and tumble dry,” Ilyas said. “The key is to use the hot water setting on your washing machine, as viruses do require high temperatures to be killed in the water environment.” Ilyas mentioned the creepy fact that some viruses can live on the walls of your washing machine. To be extra careful, she recommends running an extra rinse cycle with just bleach to clean the washing machine walls after washing any clothes that are high risk for viral particles. Despite expert opinions that masks provide only a little extra protection from the virus, they still serve as an excellent visual reminder to stay a safe distance from others, leave the house only as necessary and stop touching your face. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat, Pixabay and Unsplash

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Architects propose produce markets designed for social distancing

April 9, 2020 by  
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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, making a trip to the grocery store has become a stressful experience for many people around the world. To help minimize risk, Rotterdam-based design studio Shift architecture urbanism has developed self-initiated designs for hyper-local micro markets to make shopping for food faster, safer and more accessible. Designed with a 16-square grid and three market stalls, the open-air proposal emphasizes flexibility and mobility as well as social distancing. The traditional open-air fresh produce markets have long been an important part of the Netherlands. However, their existence and the livelihoods of some fresh produce vendors have been threatened during the coronavirus outbreak; while some of the large weekly or semi-weekly street markets have stayed open in some parts of the country, the city of Rotterdam has closed all such markets. Related: Pop-up prefab hospitals proposed as healthcare centers during pandemics While Shift architecture urbanism acknowledges that supermarkets have not been closed and that some people have access to online shopping, it believes that the shutdown of street markets harms vulnerable, lower income groups by forcing them to congregate and shop at more expensive supermarkets. The architects’ hyper-local micro market proposal would preserve access to open-air markets for basic food needs while maintaining social distancing with a one-person-per-cell policy in the market’s 16-square grid setup. Constructed from flexible and mobile units, each market would have one entrance and two exits. To further limit time customers spend in the grid, the three market stalls — each selling a different kind of food, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products or meat — would offer a pre-packaged bundle of goods instead of separate products. “Shift’s proposal is to keep the vital function of the fresh produce markets fully intact, even strengthening it, while at the same time minimizing its potential role in spreading the virus,” the architects explained. “Its former model of concentration has to be replaced by a model of dispersion, both in space and time. This is done by breaking down the large markets into so-called micro markets that are spread over the city and opening them up for a longer time. Instead of you going to the market, the market is coming to your neighborhood. These hyper-local markets are open at least 5 days a week instead of twice a week to further reduce the concentration of people.” + Shift architecture urbanism Images via Shift architecture urbanism

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Architects propose produce markets designed for social distancing

Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

October 3, 2018 by  
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Ben Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean back in 1998, is now attempting to be the first swimmer to traverse the Pacific Ocean . The record-setter is taking on the challenge not only for himself, but also to raise awareness about ocean pollution, health and conservation. Lecomte has now passed the 1,000 nautical mile marker from his starting point in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. “My eyes are not too much on the milestones,” Lecomte said of his headline distance. “But it’s important to have milestones to celebrate any progress.” The swimmer is nearly a fifth of the way through his 5,500-mile expedition. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution Despite six years of preparation, Lecomte and his crew aboard the research vessel dubbed ‘Seeker’ have had to overcome many obstacles since leaving Yokohama in June. The team has been forced back to port by typhoons , suffered sea sickness aboard the 65-foot (20-meter) sailboat and rerouted several times to avoid cargo ships. Aside from this, Lecomte attempts to swim an average of 30 miles a day, aided by North Pacific currents and a protein-based diet of approximately 8,000 calories. Throughout the roughly eight hours it takes him to swim this distance, he is also collecting ocean debris and plastic that his expedition team geotags for research. “Every single day we collect trash,” Lecomte said. “I’m truly shocked by the amount of plastic I find on my way every single day.” The team has collected more than 1,300 pieces of floating trash along its journey, scooping up to four samples each minute with a specially designed net. Related: Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change Even among the heart-rending stages of Lecomte’s journey, there have still been touching moments. “I am very surprised by the amount of amazing encounters I made in the middle of nowhere — birds, jellyfish, swordfishes, turtles , dolphins, whales and even a shark who followed me for two days,” he said. “As I swim everyday, I see this wild and beautiful environment being affected by the virus of plastic. Every stroke is dedicated to inspire people and find ways to rethink their plastic consumption on land.” Viewers can tune-in to top science publisher Seeker.com and its social channels to watch daily videos and live moments from the expedition, with weekly updates also airing on Discovery. Follow Ben’s journey at Seeker.com/TheSwim . Via Seeker Images via Seeker

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Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

Viruses and bacteria are falling from Earth’s atmosphere

February 27, 2018 by  
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It’s something you might expect Chicken Little to say: bacteria and viruses are falling from the atmosphere. But five scientists in Spain, the United States, and Canada found viruses are circulating in the atmosphere of our planet – and falling down on Earth . University of British Columbia (UBC) virologist Curtis Suttle said in a statement , “Every day, more than 800 million viruses are deposited per square meter above the planetary boundary layer – that’s 25 viruses for each person in Canada.” This is the first time researchers have measured how many viruses are carried from the planet’s surface into the free troposphere, where they can be transported for thousands of miles before being deposited down on the surface. The scientists discovered “billions of viruses and tens of millions of bacteria are being deposited per square meter per day” up into the atmosphere, according to UBC’s press release. “The deposition rates for viruses were nine to 461 times greater than the rates for bacteria.” Related: Scientists warn thawing soil could suddenly unleash deadly pathogens unseen in centuries Sea spray or dust particles sweep the bacteria and viruses up into the sky – then they tend to be deposited down to Earth with the help of rain or Saharan dust intrusions, according to Universidad de Granada microbial ecologist Isabel Reche. Suttle said, “Roughly 20 years ago we began finding genetically similar viruses occurring in very different environments around the globe. This preponderance of long-residence viruses travelling the atmosphere likely explains why – it’s quite conceivable to have a virus swept up into the atmosphere on one continent and deposited on another.” The journal International Society for Microbial Ecology published the research, led by the Universidad de Granada, online late January. + University of British Columbia + International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal Images via NASA Visible Earth, provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE and Good Free Photos

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Viruses and bacteria are falling from Earth’s atmosphere

Fatal cat plague is back after 40 years of remission

February 6, 2018 by  
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Decades ago, feline parvovirus (also known as cat plague and panleukopenia) ravaged cat populations, causing awful symptoms and killing at least half of those it infected, even with the best treatment. Then along came a vaccine, and the disease largely disappeared in pet populations. Now it is cropping up again in Australia. Here’s what you need to know. Feline Parvo is nasty stuff. It wipes out bone marrow and causes bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lethargy, and death in at least half of all cases. Treatment is expensive and intense and involves fluids, medication, anti-virals, opioids and antibiotics. It can even require blood transfusions. Still, many animals die despite treatment. Related: Architects create extraordinary homes for Los Angeles’ feral cats Cats can catch the virus from fecal contact – in litter boxes, from cat-to-cat contact and even on a human’s shoes after being outside. Animal shelters in Melbourne and Sydney recently reported an outbreak of the cat plague in unvaccinated animals. Researchers suspect that wild cats have spread the disease to pet animals. The best way to keep the disease at bay is widespread vaccination – current vaccines have an effective rate of 99%. In Australia, non-profit groups work to help low-income individuals vaccinate their pets and to catch and vaccinate wild felines. Even still, it is important that as many pets as possible are vaccinated to protect herd immunity. When herd immunity falls below 70%, diseases like feline parvo can gain a foothold. Via phys.org Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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