Category: Biological Hazard


Land contaminated by waste from factories in Lanzhou, Gansu province. (File photo/Xinhua)

Land contaminated by waste from factories in Lanzhou, Gansu province. (File photo/Xinhua)

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  • China Begins Soil Pollution Clean-up amid Doubt over Funding

    BEIJING (Reuters) – China has announced its first pilot projects to treat metal pollution in soil and prevent farmland from further contamination, but critics say the government’s overall efforts are underfunded and inefficient.

    The Ministry of Finance will subsidize soil pollution prevention and treatment in three cities in the central province of Hunan, state media reported, as pilot efforts to halt developments that have rendered 3.33 million hectares (8 million acres) of Chinese farmland too polluted to grow crops on.

    Hunan was the source of rice containing dangerous levels of toxic cadmium sold in the southern city of Guangzhou last year.

    Under the plan, the Ministry of Agriculture will monitor and control metal residues to prevent them from leaking into the soil, while the rice crop will be replaced with cotton and other non-edible products.

    But government efforts to protect agricultural and urban soil fall massively short of what is needed, said Lan Hong, a professor at Renmin University’s School of Environmental and Natural Resources.

    In the current five-year plan, the Ministry of Finance has budgeted 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) in spending on soil pollution prevention efforts, but Lan said it would cost at least 140 billion yuan, nearly five times above the budget, to solve the problem.

    “The funding is based on data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, but it is at the lower end of estimates. Some of the environmental damage will only be exposed after many years,” Lan told Reuters.

     

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    Plants used to weed out soil pollution

    Chinese scientists have developed soil remediation technologies to prepare for large-scale applications.

    The technologies focus on using plants to absorb heavy metal contaminants in soil.

    The technologies were developed by the Center for Environmental Remediation of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Resources Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which began research 10 years ago.

    Soil contamination is serious in China, with large areas of cropland polluted, said Lei Mei, a professor at the center.

    Soil remediation technologies have been applied on 133 hectares of land in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Henan, Yunnan and Hunan provinces and Beijing on a trial basis, and Lei said she believes the technologies will have “good application prospects”.

    A report from the Ministry of Environmental Protection on Thursday showed that about 19.4 per cent of farmland in China was polluted, according to Xinhua News Agency.

    “The publication of the survey result is a milestone for soil remediation in China,” Lei said.

    Read More Here

     

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    Beijing still not releasing soil pollution data: Xinhua

    • Xinhua
    Technical staff examine soil contaminated by heavy metal pollution. (File photo/Huang Chih-liang)

    Technical staff examine soil contaminated by heavy metal pollution. (File photo/Huang Chih-liang)

    China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection will not issue data related to soil pollution for the time being but will discuss the situation after an in-depth investigation, the ministry confirmed on Thursday. The ministry said it will be difficult to investigate soil pollution nationwide, adding that it will conduct further investigations in heavily polluted areas.

    In January, Beijing lawyer Dong Zhengwei sent an application to the ministry asking it to issue soil pollution data, as well as create detailed measures to handle it.

    The ministry said in February that the data is a state secret and refused to issue it. Dong was not satisfied and sent a second request. In response the ministry said soil pollution is still being investigated and related data remains a state secret, adding that data will be released after further evaluation. After news of Dong’s requests spread online, many people began to wonder just how polluted the country’s soil is.

    Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said in an interview with the Legal Daily that polluted soil may affect public health via food, crops and underground water.

    “Soil pollution is related to public health. Therefore, the public should have the right to be informed about the situation,” Ma said.

     

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    FARM NEWS

    China says massive area of its soil polluted


    by Staff Writers
    Beijing (AFP) April 17, 2014


    More dead pigs found in China river: report
    Beijing (AFP) April 17, 2014 – At least 170 dead pigs have been found in a Chinese river, state media reported Thursday — the latest in a string of similar incidents that have raised fears over food safety.
    The animals were found floating in a tributary of China’s second-longest waterway, the Yellow River, in northwestern Qinghai province, the official Xinhua news agency said.The grim discovery follows a series of scandals involving dead pigs in Chinese rivers. Last year 16,000 carcasses were found drifting through the main waterway of the commercial hub of Shanghai.In Qinghai — the furthest west such an incident has been reported — “the source of the dead pigs is still under investigation,” Xinhua said, citing local authorities.Industry analysts say sick pigs are sometimes dumped in rivers by farmers hoping to avoid paying the costs of disposing of the animals by other means.Around 500 dead pigs are recovered every month from a Chinese reservoir in the southwestern province of Sichuan, state-run media reported in March.

    Authorities also found 157 dead pigs last month in a river in central Jiangxi province.

    China is a major producer of pork, which surveys have found to be the country’s most popular meat.

     

    A huge area of China’s soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

    Of about 6.3 million square kilometres (2.4 million square miles) of soil surveyed — roughly two thirds of China’s total area — 16.1 percent is thought to be polluted, the environmental protection ministry said in a report.

    The study, which appeared on its website, blamed mining and farming practices among other causes.

    “The national soil pollution situation is not positive,” the ministry said, adding that more than 19 percent of the farmland which was surveyed is polluted.

    The ministry last year described the results of its soil pollution survey as a state secret and refused to release the results, a move which incensed environmental campaigners.

    The government has come under increasing pressure in recent years to take action to improve the environment, with large parts of the country repeatedly blanketed in thick smog and waterways and land polluted.

     

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    The American Interest

    Filth to Table

    Relentless Pollution is Poisoning China’s Food, Soil

    © Getty Images

    In many parts of China, officials are caught between two competing priorities: industrial development and food production. Most often, officials’ prime concern is industrial development—characterized by factories and mining, usually—since it is the bigger driver of economic growth. But, predictably, unfettered industrial development results in extremely poor conditions for food production. And it’s getting worse. Much worse. An article in yesterday’s New York Times has some sobering statistics.

    An alarming glimpse of official findings came on Monday, when a vice minister of land and resources, Wang Shiyuan, said at a news conference in Beijing that eight million acres of China’s farmland, equal to the size of Maryland, had become so polluted that planting crops on it “should not be allowed.” [...]

    One-sixth of China’s arable land — nearly 50 million acres — suffers from soil pollution, according to a book published this year by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The book, “Soil Pollution and Physical Health,” said that more than 13 million tons of crops harvested each year were contaminated with heavy metals, and that 22 million acres of farmland were affected by pesticides.

    The result of farming on polluted land is unsurprising: poisoned food. 155 batches of rice collected from markets and restaurants in Guangdong Province in May were found to have excess levels of cadmium.

     

    Read More Here

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    Daily International News

    Rose Komono poses for a picture at a health clinic after overcoming the Ebola virus, in Gueckedou, Guinea, April 3, 2014.

    Rose Komono poses for a picture at a health clinic after overcoming the Ebola virus, in Gueckedou, Guinea, April 3, 2014.

    VOA News
    The World Health Organization says the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to at least 135.In a Thursday statement the WHO says Guinea’s health ministry had reported a total of 122 deaths, while 13 deaths had been reported by Liberian health officials.The WHO says officials are investigating more than 200 suspected or confirmed cases of the virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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    Earth Watch Report  -  Biological Hazards

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    Biological Hazard USA State of Texas, [Swisher County] Damage level Details

     

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    Biological Hazard in USA on Monday, 14 April, 2014 at 03:03 (03:03 AM) UTC.

    Description
    A Swisher County resident, in Texas’ Panhandle, is the Lone Star State’s first case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) this year, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced Thursday. Health officials believe exposure occurred in a rodent-infested barn when dust was stirred up. They report has recovered from the viral infection. Hantavirus is a life-threatening disease spread to humans by rodents that has symptoms similar to influenza. Hantavirus is carried by rodents, especially deer mice. The virus is found in their urine and feces, but it does not make the animal sick. It is believed that humans can get sick with this virus if they come in contact with contaminated dust from mice nests or droppings. You may come in contact with the dust when cleaning homes, sheds, or other enclosed areas that have been empty for a long time. Hantavirus does not spread between humans. HPS has a mortality rate of 38% according to the agency.
    Biohazard name: Hantavirus
    Biohazard level: 4/4 Hazardous
    Biohazard desc.: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, H5N1(bird flu), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantaviruses, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic or unidentified diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Biosafety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.
    Symptoms:
    Status: confirmed

     

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    Hantavirus Case Prompts Precaution Reminder

    News Release
    April 10, 2014

    The Texas Department of State Health Services offers precaution information after a Texas Panhandle resident recently developed hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS.

    The person is a resident of Swisher County and has recovered from the infection. Exposure most likely occurred in a rodent-infested barn when dust was stirred up. This is the first confirmed case of HPS in Texas this year. One case was reported in the state last year.

    Hantavirus is carried by certain species of rats and mice. The illness is rare. Infected rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings and saliva. The virus can be transmitted to people when infected rat or mouse urine, saliva, droppings or nesting materials are stirred up, temporarily aerosolizing the virus, which can be breathed in by humans. HPS cases are frequently associated with spring cleaning.

    DSHS recommends the following precautions.

    • Seal openings that may allow rats and mice to enter homes and workplaces.
    • Remove brush, woodpiles, trash and other items that may attract rats and mice.
    • Tightly close garbage cans, pet food containers and other food sources.
    • Wear protective gloves to handle dead mice and rats or to clean up nesting areas, urine or droppings.
    • Before cleaning up nests or droppings found inside, open windows and doors to ventilate the area for at least 30 minutes.
    • Do not stir up nests by sweeping or vacuuming. Dampen areas before cleanup.
    • Use a disinfectant or 1-to-10 bleach-water mixture to clean up dead rodents, nests, urine and droppings.

    Early symptoms of hantavirus infection include fatigue, fever and muscle aches. These symptoms may be accompanied by headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. If hantavirus is suspected, people should contact their health care provider immediately.

    A total of 39 HPS cases have been confirmed in Texas since 1993, the first year it was reported, and 14 of those cases resulted in death.

    -30-

    (News Media Contact: Christine Mann, DSHS Press Officer, 512-776-7511)

    DSHS Press Office on Twitter

    Last updated April 10, 2014

     

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    Earth Watch  Report  -  Biological Hazards

    H7N9 Virus Origin Diagram expanded

    "This

    This diagram depicts the origins of the H7N9 virus from China and shows how the virus’s genes came from other influenza viruses in birds.

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    Biological Hazard China Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong Damage level Details

     

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    RSOE EDIS

    Biological Hazard in China on Monday, 14 April, 2014 at 02:59 (02:59 AM) UTC.

    Description
    The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is   investigating an imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) affecting a woman aged 85. The patient, with underlying medical conditions, traveled to Dongguan from April 4 to 5 with her husband and younger brother. They lived at their relatives’ home where their relatives have reared chickens. The patient also visited a wet market near their home there and helped in slaughtering chickens at home on April 4. She returned to Hong Kong on April 5, and developed fever, cough with blood-stained sputum and shortness of breath since April 11. She was sent to the Accident and Emergency Department of Tseung Kwan O Hospital (TKOH) by ambulance today and was subsequently admitted. She is currently managed under isolation and her condition is critical. Her respiratory specimen was positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the CHP’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch today. This is the 10th imported human H7N9 avian flu case to date. Initial investigation revealed that the patient had visited her husband at Haven of Hope Hospital (HHH) on April 10 who was admitted due to other illness. Her husband has remained asymptomatic so far and is currently under observation at HHH. Apart from her husband, seven other family members of the patient are also considered as close contacts. One of them had sore throat since April 12 and his condition is stable. The other close contacts have remained asymptomatic so far. These close contacts will be admitted to hospital for observation and their respiratory specimens will be taken for preliminary laboratory testing. The CHP’s investigations and tracing of other contacts are ongoing. The patient’s brother who traveled to Dongguan with the patient, relevant healthcare workers, ambulance staff and patients who had stayed in the same cubicle with the patient’s husband at HHH are being traced for exposure assessment and medical surveillance.
    Biohazard name: H7N9 – Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus
    Biohazard level: 4/4 Hazardous
    Biohazard desc.: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, H5N1(bird flu), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantaviruses, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic or unidentified diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Biosafety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.
    Symptoms:
    Status: confirmed

     

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    Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article news.gov.hk
    Imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) under CHP investigation
    *********************************************************     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (April 9) investigating an imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) affecting a woman aged 82.The patient, with underlying medical conditions, lives in Liwan, Guangzhou with her family. She has presented with cough with blood-stained sputum since April 7 but had no fever.

    She came to Hong Kong with her two family members by car via Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point yesterday (April 8). Upon arrival, she was directly transferred to the Accident and Emergency Department of North District Hospital by ambulance and was admitted for further management under isolation on the same day. Her current condition is stable.

    Her sputum specimen was tested positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the CHP’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch tonight.

    The patient has been transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital for isolation and treatment.

    Her exposure history to poultry is under investigation.

    The CHP’s investigations and contact tracing are ongoing. The patient’s family members in Hong Kong, relevant healthcare workers, ambulance staff and immigration officer at Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point are being traced for exposure assessment and medical surveillance.

    “The Serious Response Level under the Government’s Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic remains activated and the CHP’s follow-up actions are in full swing,” a spokesman for the CHP remarked.

    This is the ninth confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong. The CHP will notify the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Health and Family Planning Commission as well as health and quarantine authorities of Guangdong and Macau.

    Locally, enhanced surveillance of suspected cases in public and private hospitals is underway. The CHP will continue to maintain liaison with the WHO, the Mainland and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments. Local surveillance activities will be modified upon the WHO’s recommendations.

    “In view of human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) confirmed locally and in the Mainland, further cases are expected in affected and possibly neighbouring areas. Those planning to travel outside Hong Kong should maintain good personal, environmental and food hygiene at all times,” the spokesman urged.

    “All boundary control points have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. Random temperature checks by handheld devices have also been arranged. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation,” the spokesman added.

    Regarding health education for travellers, display of posters in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are proceeding.

    The spokesman advised travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas and provinces with fever or respiratory symptoms, to immediately wear masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors. Healthcare professionals should pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with poultry, birds or their droppings in affected areas and provinces.

    “We have enhanced publicity and health education to reinforce health advice on the prevention of avian influenza,” the spokesman said.

    As of 4pm today, the CHP’s hotline (2125 1111) for public enquiries has received 217 calls since the first confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong.

    Members of the public should remain vigilant and take heed of the preventive advice against avian influenza below:

    * Do not visit live poultry markets and farms. Avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, thoroughly wash hands with soap;
    * Avoid entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered and contact with surfaces which might be contaminated by droppings of poultry or other animals;
    * Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating;
    * Wash hands frequently with soap, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, handling food or eating; after going to the toilet or touching public installations or equipment (including escalator handrails, elevator control panels and door knobs); or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
    * Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
    * Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
    * Wear masks when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.

    The public may visit the CHP’s avian influenza page (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/24244.html) and website (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/global_statistics_avian_influenza_e.pdf) for more information on avian influenza-affected areas and provinces.

    Ends/Wednesday, April 9, 2014
    Issued at HKT 22:18

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    Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article news.gov.hk
    Imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) under CHP investigation
    *********************************************************     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) is today (April 13) investigating an imported human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) affecting a woman aged 85.The patient, with underlying medical conditions, travelled to Dongguan from April 4 to 5 with her husband and younger brother. They lived at their relatives’ home where their relatives have reared chickens. The patient also visited a wet market near their home there and helped in slaughtering chickens at home on April 4. She returned to Hong Kong on April 5, and developed fever, cough with blood-stained sputum and shortness of breath since April 11. She was sent to the Accident and Emergency Department of Tseung Kwan O Hospital (TKOH) by ambulance today and was subsequently admitted. She is currently managed under isolation and her condition is critical.

    Her respiratory specimen was positive for avian influenza A(H7N9) virus upon preliminary laboratory testing by the CHP’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch today.

    Initial investigation revealed that the patient had visited her husband at Haven of Hope Hospital (HHH) on April 10 who was admitted due to other illness. Her husband has remained asymptomatic so far and is currently under observation at HHH.

    Apart from her husband, seven other family members of the patient are also considered as close contacts. One of them had sore throat since April 12 and his condition is stable. The other close contacts have remained asymptomatic so far.  These close contacts will be admitted to hospital for observation and their respiratory specimens will be taken for preliminary laboratory testing.

    The CHP’s investigations and tracing of other contacts are ongoing. The patient’s brother who travelled to Dongguan with the patient, relevant healthcare workers, ambulance staff and patients who had stayed in the same cubicle with the patient’s husband at HHH are being traced for exposure assessment and medical surveillance.

    The CHP will liaise with the relevant Mainland health authority to follow up on the patient’s contacts during her stay in the Mainland.

    “The Serious Response Level under the Government’s Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic remains activated and the CHP’s follow-up actions are in full swing,” a spokesman for the CHP remarked.

    This is the tenth confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong. The CHP will notify the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Health and Family Planning Commission as well as health and quarantine authorities of Guangdong and Macau.

    Locally, enhanced surveillance of suspected cases in public and private hospitals is underway. The CHP will continue to maintain liaison with the WHO, the Mainland and overseas health authorities to monitor the latest developments. Local surveillance activities will be modified upon the WHO’s recommendations.

    “In view of human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) confirmed locally and in the Mainland, further cases are expected in affected and possibly neighbouring areas. Those planning to travel outside Hong Kong should maintain good personal, environmental and food hygiene at all times,” the spokesman urged.

    “All boundary control points have implemented disease prevention and control measures. Thermal imaging systems are in place for body temperature checks of inbound travellers. Random temperature checks by handheld devices have also been arranged. Suspected cases will be immediately referred to public hospitals for follow-up investigation,” the spokesman added.

    Regarding health education for travellers, display of posters in departure and arrival halls, in-flight public announcements, environmental health inspection and provision of regular updates to the travel industry via meetings and correspondence are proceeding.

    The spokesman advised travellers, especially those returning from avian influenza-affected areas and provinces with fever or respiratory symptoms, to immediately wear masks, seek medical attention and reveal their travel history to doctors. Healthcare professionals should pay special attention to patients who might have had contact with poultry, birds or their droppings in affected areas and provinces.

    “We have enhanced publicity and health education to reinforce health advice on the prevention of avian influenza,” the spokesman said.

    As of 4pm on April 11, the CHP’s hotline (2125 1111) for public enquiries has received 217 calls since the first confirmed human case of avian influenza A(H7N9) in Hong Kong.

    Members of the public should remain vigilant and take heed of the preventive advice against avian influenza below:

    * Do not visit live poultry markets and farms. Avoid contact with poultry, birds and their droppings. If contact has been made, thoroughly wash hands with soap;
    * Avoid entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered and contact with surfaces which might be contaminated by droppings of poultry or other animals;
    * Poultry and eggs should be thoroughly cooked before eating;
    * Wash hands frequently with soap, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes, handling food or eating; after going to the toilet or touching public installations or equipment (including escalator handrails, elevator control panels and door knobs); or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing;
    * Cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with a tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;
    * Avoid crowded places and contact with fever patients; and
    * Wear masks when respiratory symptoms develop or when taking care of fever patients.

    The public may visit the CHP’s avian influenza page (www.chp.gov.hk/en/view_content/24244.html) and website (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/global_statistics_avian_influenza_e.pdf) for more information on avian influenza-affected areas and provinces.

    Ends/Sunday, April 13, 2014
    Issued at HKT 22:39

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    Daily International News

    WHO: Ebola Death Toll Tops 120

    Health workers walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry, April 14, 2014.

    Health workers walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry, April 14, 2014.

    VOA News

    WHO says health ministries in Guinea, Liberia and other affected countries have reported about 200 confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.

    The vast majority of victims are in Guinea, where officials have reported 168 cases, including 108 deaths. Liberia reports 13 deaths from the disease.

    News reports Tuesday said Gambian authorities have ordered airlines not to pick up passengers from affected countries.

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    The New Zealand Herald

    The Gambia bans flights from ebola-hit countries

    Health workers wearing protective suits walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea. Photo / AFP

    Health workers wearing protective suits walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea. Photo / AFP

    The Gambia has banned flights from Ebola-hit west African countries from landing in its territory, airport officials said.

    Staff at Banjul International Airport said on condition of anonymity that President Yahya Jammeh had ordered airlines to cancel all flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

    “This decision by the Gambian authorities has left prospective passengers travelling to Banjul … stranded in these west African countries,” said an airport official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    “Brussels Airlines, which transits in Freetown from Europe, is only allowed to drop passengers there, but not pick anyone up.”

    The outbreak in Guinea is one of the deadliest in history, with 168 cases “clinically compatible” with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, since the start of the year, according to the World Health Organisation.

    The outbreak began in the impoverished country’s southern forests, but has spread to Conakry, a sprawling port city on the Atlantic coast and home to two million people

    Neighbouring Liberia has reported 20 probable or suspected cases, six lab-confirmed cases and 13 deaths.

    Mali also had suspected cases but was given the all-clear on Tuesday after samples taken from patients tested negative for Ebola in laboratories, the health ministry told reporters in Bamako.

    There was no official confirmation of the ban from the Gambia but AFP has seen a letter dated April 10 from the transport ministry notifying airlines of the measures while Sierra Leone’s government said it was in talks with Banjul over the issue.

    It was not immediately clear if sanctions were being threatened against airlines or airport authorities for ignoring the ban.

    “I went to the Gambia Bird (airlines) office in the Greater Banjul area to purchase an air ticket for my elder brother currently in Monrovia but was informed by the travel agent that they are not selling tickets to passengers travelling from Monrovia and Freetown,” Banjul resident Nyima Sanneh told AFP.

     

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    SARS: French scientists lose 2,300 samples of potentially deadly virus

    Institut Pasteur realised tubes were missing during a routine inventory check. Pictured posed.

    Institut Pasteur realized tubes were missing during a routine inventory check. Pictured posed.

     

    The renowned Institut Pasteur in France has admitted that it has misplaced 2,349 vials containing samples of the potentially deadly SARS virus and, despite enlisting help from France’s drug and health safety agency, have been unable to find them.

     

    The investigation by the ANSM at the unnamed laboratory failed to locate the samples, which have been missing since January. It has now filed a case to the prosecutor of Paris to investigate the disappearance.

    The Institut Pasteur has been quick to reassure the public that the vials do not pose any risk, according to The Local.

    “The tubes concerned have no infectious potential,” a statement said. “Independent experts referred by health authorities have qualified the risk as ‘nil’ in regards to available evidence and literature on the survival of the SAS virus.”

     

    Read More Here

     

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    Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    ©

    Text by FRANCE 24

    Latest update : 2014-04-16

    The Pasteur Institute in Paris has asked the authorities to investigate the disappearance of more than 2,000 vials containing fragments of the SARS virus, while insisting that missing samples represent no danger to the public.

    The institute said it discovered the loss of 29 boxes containing 2,349 tiny vials during a routine inventory check.

    Professor Christian Bréchot, the head of the Pasteur Institute, said “human error” was the most likely explanation, but that they “did not want to rule anything out.”
    “From the start, we’ve known that the samples are harmless,’’ he said.
    Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an airborne virus.  In a 2003 outbreak, it  spread to 30 countries infecting  8,273 people and causing a reported 775 deaths, the majority in Hong Kong, for a mortality rate of almost 10 per cent.
    An outbreak of a SARS-like illness in 2013 caused a reported  40 cases worldwide, two of them in France, where a 65-year old man died from the illness.

    Read More Here

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    Earth Watch Report  -  Biological Hazards

    Chicken Pox - Typical Early Lesion

    These chicken pox lesions are also in the early stage – around day three or four. Treatment options for chicken pox are limited. Unfortunately, it often just needs to run it’s course. Since wide-spread vaccination began in the mid-1990s the incidence of chicken pox and its complications have decreased dramatically.

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    Biological Hazard USA State of Florida, Jacksonville [University of North Florida] Damage level Details

     

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    Biological Hazard in USA on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 at 03:26 (03:26 AM) UTC.

    Description
    The University of North Florida Student Health Services has reported two cases of chickenpox on campus this week. Officials said one student lives on campus in Building 55, Osprey Fountains, and the other student lives off campus. Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. According to health officials, the virus spreads easily from people with chickenpox to others who have never had the disease or received the chickenpox vaccine. The virus spreads in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Officials said it can also be spread by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters. A person with chickenpox can spread the disease from one to two days before they get the rash until all their chickenpox blisters have formed scabs. Authorities said it takes from 10 to 21 days after exposure to a person with chickenpox or shingles for someone to develop chickenpox. If a person vaccinated for chickenpox gets the disease, they can still spread it to others. Health officials said for most people getting chickenpox once provides immunity for life. However, for a few people, they can get chickenpox more than once, although this is not common. The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Children, adolescents and adults should have two doses of chickenpox vaccine. Health officials said the chickenpox vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing the disease. Most people who get the vaccine won’t get chickenpox. Officials said if a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it’s usually mild — with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. The chickenpox vaccine prevents almost all cases of severe disease.
    Biohazard name: Chickenpox
    Biohazard level: 2/4 Medium
    Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV. “Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Biosafety Level 2, using Biosafety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures. Virus production activities, including virus concentrations, require a BSL-3 (P3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures”, see Recommended Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents.
    Symptoms:
    Status: confirmed

     

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    Local doctor: Chickenpox at UNF could affect rest of city

    By Gene Wexler

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —

    A local doctor says a possible outbreak of chickenpox at the University of North Florida could potentially affect the rest of Jacksonville.

    On Tuesday, UNF issued a health advisory informing students of two reported cases of chickenpox on campus this week.  One student lives in Building 55, Osprey Fountains, and the other off-campus.

    “It certainly could spread out,” says Dr. Sunil Joshi with the Duval Medical Society.  “If the students were exposed to young children – pre-school or elementary school children who may have never had the chicken pox – the risk of it spreading quickly would be much higher.”

    Dr. Joshi says he thinks the risk of the Jacksonville community getting exposed is “a little bit higher” with a campus like UNF, as opposed to the University of Florida.

    “This is a university where a lot of the kids that go there live in Jacksonville and they’re from Jacksonville,” he says.  “So they live at home with their parents, and they go to the same grocery stores as we go to.”

     

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    Earth Watch Report  -  Biological Hazards

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    Biological Hazard USA State of Virginia, [The area was not defined.] Damage level Details

     

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    RSOE EDIS

    Biological Hazard in USA on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 at 03:23 (03:23 AM) UTC.

    Description
    Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), announced Tuesday that Virginia has just received laboratory confirmation of its first case of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED). In light of this case, which coincides with the beginning of the exhibit season for 4-H members, ffa students and other livestock exhibitors, Dr. Wilkes says strict biosecurity is the most effective and most practical way to prevent the spread of PED and many other livestock and poultry diseases. Wilkes encourages every person involved in showing livestock to enhance their biosecurity efforts. “We always urge livestock owners who show animals and managers of show and exhibition facilities to keep biosecurity uppermost in their minds,” Wilkes said, “but with swine, it is even more important now that Virginia has experienced its first case of PED. Good biosecurity can help keep the disease from spreading.” Anytime animals are co-mingled at events, there is a risk they may be exposed to an infectious disease agent. Some states have cancelled pre-show weigh-ins or other animal commingling events to try to prevent PED infection of swine. Virginia show managers may want to consider voluntarily cancelling some of the higher risk activities. The PED virus is highly contagious, and commonly spreads through pig manure. Consuming pork continues to be safe and the disease does not affect humans, but is often deadly to piglets. Practicing and implementing sound biosecurity measures is critical in keeping the state’s animals disease free and marketable. Equine Herpes Virus is another highly contagious disease that has caused disease and death at multiple equine events across the country recently. Wilkes says that good biosecurity and advance planning will reduce the chances of spreading an infectious disease by people, animals, shoes and clothing or equipment. Show managers should have a proper biosecurity plan ready to execute in the event that an animal disease is introduced at a major stock show or event.
    Biohazard name: Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED)
    Biohazard level: 3/4 Hight
    Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.
    Symptoms:
    Status: confirmed

     

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    National Hog Farmer

     

    Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) Virus: FAQ and Survival Tips

     Iowa State University swine veterinarians provide answers to some of the most-asked questions about Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus.

    By now, swine producers should be well aware of the emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus in the United States.  Do not underestimate the likelihood of transmission to your herd; this is a sneaky virus.

    Some answers to common questions asked at the diagnostic laboratory follow, as well as tidbits on how to understand disease impact and decreases losses of suckling pigs.

    What is PED Virus?

    Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus is a disease occurring only in pigs, caused by a coronavirus that does exactly what the disease name implies: produces acute and severe outbreaks of diarrhea that rapidly transmits among all ages of pigs (epidemic).

    Where did PED virus come from?  Sequence data from U.S. strains thus far suggests all to be very similar to a strain deposited in GenBank from China in 2012. PED virus is present in many countries in Asia and has been present in Europe since the 1970s.

    How common is PED Virus in the United States?

    Data provided by veterinary diagnostic laboratories to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) suggests that there are 40-50 new cases of PED virus diagnosed each week, with the disease now reported in 14 states. The epidemic form of the disease is easy to recognize clinically so samples may not always be submitted to a laboratory, hence currently reported data likely underestimates true prevalence. An accurate estimate of U.S. prevalence is difficult to achieve and will eventually need to rely on serologic surveys, particularly if the disease becomes endemic.

    How did PED virus get into the United States?

    There is no confirmation of particular source or location of entry of the virus. Speculation abounds, but it is unlikely that we will ever know how PED virus entered the United States with certainty. However, this does provide the opportunity to scrutinize the possibilities to prevent future events.

    How is PED virus spread?

    Huge numbers of virus particles are shed in feces. One thimble-full of feces could contain enough virus to infect all the pigs in the United States. The PED virus is being detected in samples collected from pig collection points, slaughter facilities, transportation vehicles and innumerable fomites illustrating the vast potential for transmission. It is expected that survivability and transmission of virus will be enhanced in cold weather. Farm biosecurity efficacy is likely to be tested aggressively in the coming months.

    How do I get an accurate diagnosis of PED virus?

    If PED virus is suspected, consult your veterinarian. Sometimes, 10 ml of feces from acutely affected pigs tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is sufficient to confirm the presence of virus. However, submission of tissues from acutely affected pig(s) for complete diagnostic testing (bacteria, viruses, parasites) will allow for diagnosis of PED virus as well as other diseases. The value of histopathology and immunohistochemistry (IHC) testing is illustrated in Figures 1-4 below. Sampling tips are found at http://vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/disease-topics/porcine-epidemic-diarrhea-ped-diagnostic-testing as well as the addendum below.

    What is the impact of PED virus in weaned pigs?

    Once pigs are weaned, the mortality rate from PED virus plummets. When not complicated by other diseases, pigs in nursery-finisher stages generally recover in about a week. The rumors of severe disease or high mortality in weaned pigs usually involve co-infections with salmonella or hemolytic E. coli or other risk factors associated with the environment or feeding practices.

     

     

    Read More here

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    National Hog Farmer

     

    Virginia Confirms PEDV Outbreak, Focuses on Biosecurity

    Richard Wilkes, DVM, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), recently announced that Virginia has just received laboratory confirmation of its first case of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) in the state. In light of this case, which coincides with the beginning of the exhibit season for 4-H members, FFA students and other livestock exhibitors, Wilkes says strict biosecurity is the most effective, as well as the most practical way to prevent the spread of PEDV and many other livestock and poultry diseases.

    Wilkes encourages every person involved in showing livestock to enhance their biosecurity efforts. He noted that the VDACS always urges livestock owners who show their animals, as well as those individuals who manage show and exhibition facilities to keep biosecurity uppermost in their minds.

    However, Wilkes said that with swine it is even more important now that Virginia has experienced its first case of PEDV, and that having good biosecurity measures in place can help reduce the spread of the disease.

    Anytime animals are co-mingled at events, there is a risk they may be exposed to an infectious disease agent. Some states have cancelled pre-show weigh-ins or other animal commingling events to try to prevent PEDV infection of swine.

     

    Read More here

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    Earth Watch Report  -  Biological  Hazards

    File:Coxiella burnetii, the bacteria that causes Q Fever.jpg

    A dry fracture of a Vero cell exposing the contents of a vacuole where Coxiella burnetii are busy growing. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

    Author  :  National Institutes of Health (NIH)

    Wikipedia.org

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    Biological Hazard Spain Basque Country, Bilbao Damage level Details

     

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    RSOE EDIS

    Biological Hazard in Spain on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 at 03:07 (03:07 AM) UTC.

    Description
    According to the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, 8 workers from the landfill of Monte Anaiz, in the municipal district of Bilbao, are suffering from Q fever related to the presence of remains of cattle in the waste. In addition to the 8 confirmed cases, 25 are pending study. An initial focus of the outbreak has been recently traced to the Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant at Monte Anaiz and a 2nd cluster is located in Berriatua, where up to 10 people may have been infected. The outbreak is due to the fact that animal remains not intended for human consumption (byproducts such as heads, or goat and sheep hides) repeatedly enter the processing plant mixed in with urban waste. The symptoms of Q fever are similar to those of a flu, although sometimes it also affects the liver. The Basque Government and the Provincial Government of Bizkaia, in a coordinated manner, have adopted measures to control the outbreak. Extreme precaution is being taken and diagnostic tests have been applied to all staff and subcontractors as a preventive measure. Authorities are trying to identify the origin of these products, a difficult task, because the animal remains have come in garbage bags from which the identification tags have been removed.
    Biohazard name: Q Fever
    Biohazard level: 3/4 Hight
    Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.
    Symptoms:
    Status: confirmed

     

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    File:Pneumonia x-ray.jpg

    Combination of two x-rays found on the two websites http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/ct/what.html FDA website with normal chest x-ray http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol6no1/scrimgeourG2.htm CDC website documenting Q fever pneumonia All editing performed by me and released into public domain

    Wikipedia.org

     

    Signs and symptoms

    Incubation period is usually two to three weeks.[8] The most common manifestation is mild flu-like symptoms with abrupt onset of fever, malaise, profuse perspiration, severe headache, myalgia (muscle pain), joint pain, loss of appetite, upper respiratory problems, dry cough, pleuritic pain, chills, confusion and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The fever lasts approximately seven to 14 days.[citation needed]

    Approximately half of infected individuals exhibit no symptoms.[8]

    During its course, the disease can progress to an atypical pneumonia, which can result in a life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), whereby such symptoms usually occur during the first four to five days of infection.[citation needed]

    Less often, Q fever causes (granulomatous) hepatitis, which may be asymptomatic or becomes symptomatic with malaise, fever, liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) and pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. Whereas transaminase values are often elevated, jaundice is uncommon. Retinal vasculitis is a rare manifestation of Q fever.[9]

    The chronic form of Q fever is virtually identical to inflammation of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis),[10] which can occur months or decades following the infection. It is usually fatal if untreated. However, with appropriate treatment, the mortality falls to around 10%.

    Clinical signs in animals

    Cattle, goats and sheep are most commonly infected, and can serve as a reservoir for the bacteria. Q fever is a well recognized cause of abortions in ruminants and in pets. C. burnetii infection in dairy cattle has been well documented and its association with reproductive problems in these animals has been reported in Canada, USA, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Japan, Switzerland and West Germany.[11] For instance, in a study published in 2008,[12]a significant association has been shown between the herds’ seropositivity and typical clinical signs of Q Fever observed such as abortion, stillbirth, weak calves and repeat breeding. Moreover, experimental inoculation of C. burnetii in cattle induced not only respiratory disorders and cardiac failures (myocarditis) but also frequent abortions and irregular repeat breedings.[13]

     

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