Posts Tagged ‘SARS’

Microchips Could Speed Up Detection Of Livestock Viruses

March 31, 2008

Some of the worst threats to farm workers and farm animals such as bird flu, foot-and-mouth disease and other emerging viruses could soon be quickly identified by using a simple screening chip developed by scientists from the Institute for Animal Health, scientists will hear March 31, 2008 at the Society for General Microbiology’s 162nd meeting.

“The last major SARS outbreak — severe acute respiratory syndrome — which started on the border of China and Hong Kong was identified using a microarray chip. Fortunately, because of the rapid identification of the virus it was brought under control, and in spite of its seriousness caused relatively few deaths,” says Dr Paul Britton of the Institute for Animal Health in Compton, near Newbury, Berkshire. “We need a similar way of quickly identifying viruses that attack chickens, cattle, pigs, sheep and other farm animals.”

The scientists have developed a microarray, called a chip, which contains specific small regions of virus genes that react with any viruses in the samples being tested, showing up as coloured spots on glass slides. The method can also be used to see if a sample contains two or more viruses.

“At the moment the common methods for detecting viruses rely on some previous knowledge, such as recognising the clinical signs of a disease,” says Dr Paul Britton. “A system that can be used by almost anyone, and that can quickly and accurately be used to identify the particular virus early on is vital to control these diseases before they spread, and will have much wider applications.”

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Olympics clean-up Chinese style: Inside Beijing’s shocking death camp for cats

March 9, 2008

Thousands of pet cats in Beijing are being abandoned by their owners and sent to die in secretive government pounds as China mounts an aggressive drive to clean up the capital in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Hundreds of cats a day are being rounded and crammed into cages so small they cannot even turn around.

Then they are trucked to what animal welfare groups describe as death camps on the edges of the city.

The cull comes in the wake of a government campaign warning of the diseases cats carry and ordering residents to help clear the streets of them.

Cat owners, terrified by the disease warning, are dumping their pets in the streets to be picked up by special collection teams.

Paranoia is so intense that six stray cats -including two pregnant females – were beaten to death with sticks by teachers at a Beijing kindergarten, who feared they might pass illnesses to the children.

China’s leaders are convinced that animals pose a serious urban health risk and may have contributed to the outbreak of SARS – a deadly respiratory virus – in 2003.

But the crackdown on cats is seen by animal campaigners as just one of a number of extreme measures being taken by communist leaders to ensure that its capital appears clean, green and welcoming during the Olympics.

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Study: More Deadly Diseases Crossing Barrier From Animals to Humans

February 21, 2008

Scores of deadly infectious diseases are crossing the species barrier from animals to humans, scientists have reported.

A three-year investigation has shown that since 1940 around 250 viruses such as HIV, Ebola Virus, Sars and H5N1 bird flu have jumped from wild animals to people.

Presenting the first-ever map of “hotspots” of new infectious diseases in the British journal Nature, researchers predicted the next pandemic is most likely to come out of poor tropical countries.

It is here where burgeoning human populations most frequently come into contact with wildlife.

The report said that if a monitoring system is not put in place “then human populations will continue to be at risk from pandemic diseases”.

HIV/Aids, which has killed or infected as many as 65 million people worldwide, is believed to have jumped from chimpanzees to humans, possibly through hunters who killed and butchered apes.

Most new diseases come from wild animals, especially mammals, which are the most closely related species to humans.

Pathogens that adapt to humans can be extremely lethal, as we have no resistance to them.

“We are crowding wildlife into ever-smaller areas, and human population is increasing,” said the report’s co-author Marc Levy.

“Where those two things meet, that is a recipe for something crossing over.”

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