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  Things are getting worse by the minute! (Page 2)

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Topic:   Things are getting worse by the minute!

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-12-2002 03:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rare Brain Disease Found in Two U.S. Sheep

April 11 — By Randy Fabi
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two sheep, seized from a Vermont farm by U.S. government officials last year, tested positive for a family of rare brain-deforming animal diseases that include scrapie and mad cow disease, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday.

USDA said tissues from the infected sheep were found to have a foreign strain of a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy disease (TSE), but the type of TSE was not yet known.Scrapie and mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), are from the same family of diseases known as TSEs, which cause infected brains to become spongy and eventually wither. No cases of mad cow disease have ever been discovered in the United States.

The family of diseases also includes chronic wasting disease in deer and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans.The sheep were part of a Vermont flock of 125 sheep that were confiscated the by USDA in March 2001 after four animals from a nearby flock tested positive for TSE in July 2000.

USDA has since acquired, destroyed and tested 380 Vermont sheep for animal diseases. USDA said none of the animals entered the animal or human food supply.The sheep, imported by Vermont farmers from Belgium and the Netherlands, had been under quarantine since 1998, when USDA officials learned the animals may have been exposed in Europe to feed contaminated with mad cow disease.

"USDA's actions to confiscate, sample and destroy these sheep were on target," said Bobby Acord, administrator for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "As a result of our vigilance, none of these confiscated animals entered the animal or human food supply."

USDA said it could take up to three years for scientists to find out what type of TSE infected the two sheep.USDA said all sheep that have ever tested positive for TSE were found to have scrapie. But some scientists have started to theorize that sheep could also carry mad cow disease, which affects cattle.

Scrapie is believed to pose no threat to human health. However, the human equivalent of mad cow disease, thought to be transmitted via meat infected with BSE, has claimed around 100 lives.

Concerns that sheep and goats might be infected with mad cow disease have prompted European Union veterinarians to sharply increase testing of TSEs in sheep.The French government has drafted an ambitious plan to eradicate scrapie from its sheep because of mad cow concerns.

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-12-2002 09:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bacteria Strikes O.C. Surf Again

Environment: Unknown source closes half a mile of Huntington State Beach. Evidence points to a local origin.


April 10 2002

Orange County health officials indefinitely closed nearly half a mile of Huntington State Beach's shore Tuesday after finding frequent, puzzling spikes in bacteria levels.

The cause remains unknown, though state and county officials suspect beach bathrooms may be leaking human waste into the surf. Officials could not say how long the beach will be closed but warned it will be longer than the closures commonly caused by sewage spills.

Signs warning of the closure were posted on the beach early Tuesday. State park officials said the beach has few visitors now, between spring break and Memorial Day weekend. The closure--2,000 feet around Magnolia Street--is reminiscent of the summer of 1999, when health officials closed miles of Huntington Beach for two months. The origin of that bacterial contamination has never been determined, though many theories have been put forward and several agencies have spent millions of dollars studying it.

Last week, a study by UC Irvine and Scripps Institution of Oceanography showed that it is possible for a plume of partly treated sewage that is released more than four miles off Huntington Beach to be pushed back into the surf zone by underwater currents and the tide.

Tuesday's closure is the first time since 1999 that health authorities have closed a beach without knowing of an actual sewage spill. But the centralized location of the high bacteria counts and the ratio of the various types of bacteria indicate that it's probably a local source rather than something like the sewage plume, said Monica Mazur, spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency.

State and local officials met Monday and noticed that increasingly frequent bacteria spikes were occurring around Magnolia Street as more people were frequenting the beach, which would increase traffic at the two sets of bathrooms and the lifeguard headquarters there.

Don Ito, Orange County's state parks superintendent, said the restrooms have all been put out of service.

A contractor will arrive today to start testing the pipes, said Ito, who hopes to have the situation remedied before Memorial Day. But Ito conceded that there is some uncertainty.

"We don't know what's going on, actually," he said.

Mazur said she doesn't know when the beach will be reopened, but expects it to be longer than a couple of days, the typical length of time after a sewage spill.

Swimming in sewage-tainted water can cause such gastrointestinal problems as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; eye, ear, nose and throat infections; and viral diseases such as hepatitis.

Shirley S. Dettloff, a Huntington Beach city councilwoman and a state coastal commissioner, hoped for a quick resolution.

"I hope we can get to the source real fast," she said.

"Hopefully, this is something that is not a part of the great mystery" of 1999

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Never Surrender!

Greenwich, CT, USA
390 posts, Feb 2002

posted 04-14-2002 10:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KrissaTMC2   Email KrissaTMC2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More Than 1,720 Elk Killed in Colorado Effort to Stop Fatal Brain Disease
The Associated Press

DENVER (AP) - Colorado wildlife officials have killed more than 1,720 elk since last fall to stanch the spread of a fatal brain illness related to mad cow disease.

Known as chronic wasting disease, the illness has been found in 44 elk on nine ranches, state Agriculture Department spokeswoman Linh Truong said Wednesday.

State veterinarian Wayne Cunningham said one ranch may have been infected as early as 1992. The disease also has been found in Colorado deer.

Wildlife officials have killed both wild and domestic elk that were in contact with infected animals, or at ranches where the disease was found.

Chronic wasting causes animals to grow thin as it destroys their brains. It is related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. There is no test to determine if live elk are infected.

It is not known to spread from animals to people but scientists say that cannot be ruled out. AP-ES-04-11-02 2310EDT

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-16-2002 01:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Super Ant Colony Found in Europe
Mon Apr 15, 5:02 PM ET By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A supercolony of ants has been discovered stretching thousands of miles from the Italian Riviera along the coastline to northwest Spain.

It's the largest cooperative unit ever recorded, according to Swiss, French and Danish scientists, whose findings appear in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The colony consists of billions of Argentine ants living in millions of nests that cooperate with one another.

Normally, ants from different nests fight. But the researchers concluded that ants in the supercolony were all close enough genetically to recognize one another, despite being from different nests with different queens.

Cooperating allows the colonies to develop at much higher densities than normally would occur, eliminating some 90 percent of other types of ants that live near them, said Laurent Keller of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Argentine ants were accidentally introduced to Europe around 1920, probably in ships carrying plants, Keller said in an interview via electronic mail.

Richard D. Fell, an entomologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, said Argentine ants have been known to form large colonies — the size of several city blocks, for example — but he had not heard of any as large as that cited in the new report.

"It may be that certain ant colonies will bud off, form satellites and remain connected with one main colony," he suggested.

The European researchers said that in addition to the main supercolony of ants they found a second, smaller but also large colony of Argentine ants in Spain's Catalonia region.

When ants of the two supercolonies were placed together they invariably fought to the death, while ants from different nests of the same supercolony showed no aggression to one another.

"It is interesting to see that introduction in a new habitat can change social organization," Keller said of the behavior of Argentine ants that had been relocated to Europe. "In this case, this leads to the greatest cooperative unit ever discovered."

However, in the long run the very cooperation that seems to make them successful could lead to the supercolony's self-destruction, he suggested.

That's because in such a giant colony many workers are unrelated to the queens they help to raise. "Thus, in the long term, selection should decrease the altruistic behavior of workers," he said, because their efforts are not helping transmit copies of their genes via related queens.

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-16-2002 02:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Weedkiller Makes Male Frogs Into Females-Study

Mon Apr 15, 5:34 PM ET By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The most popular weedkiller in the United States can give male frogs female sex organs and other attributes, researchers said on Monday, in a study that could shed light on the global decline in amphibian populations.

Very low levels of the herbicide atrazine can cause male frogs to grow female sex organs and curtail their croaks -- key to attracting mates in the frog world -- a team at the University of California Berkeley found. The frogs appear normal on the outside, but often have both male and female sex organs, the researchers said, adding that the findings may help explain the amphibian population decline. The decline worries scientists because amphibians such as frogs respond to environmental dangers before other species.

"Atrazine is the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S. and probably the world," the researchers wrote in their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (news - web sites). "It can be present at several parts per million in agricultural runoff and can reach 40 parts per billion in precipitation."

Such a common pollutant would reach many animals as well as humans, so the team, led by Tyrone Hayes, tested its effects on the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. They put tadpoles into water laced with levels of atrazine much lower than allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites), and found that the weedkiller had serious effects on 16 percent of them.

These genetically male frogs had testicles and ovaries, and many had testicles that did not function properly and contained eggs and sperm. Their levels of testosterone were much lower than normal. The male frogs also had much smaller larynxes than normal, which could affect their ability to croak and attract mates, Hayes' team reported.

The researchers determined that atrazine is an endocrine disruptor -- a class of chemicals that disrupts the hormones in the body.

Many pesticides fall into this category and it is one of the qualities that can make them dangerous. "We hypothesize that atrazine ... promotes the conversion of testosterone to estrogen," they wrote. "This widespread compound and other environmental endocrine disruptors may be a factor in global amphibian declines."

Environmentalists responded with alarm.

"This research is further proof that this pesticide is a major threat to public health and the environment," the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement. "EPA's tap water standard for atrazine is 3 parts per billion -- 30 times higher than the level at which these dramatic sexual side effects occurred. At higher levels, the frogs developed additional health problems," it added. "This rigorous scientific study reinforces what we and other scientists have been saying for years -- atrazine is a dangerous pesticide," the council's Jennifer Sass said. "It's no surprise that it's been banned by many European countries." She said the study had implications for humans, especially children who have not reached puberty. =/nm/20020415/sc_nm/environment_frogs_dc_1

[Edited 1 times, lastly by Dan Rockwell on 04-16-2002]

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-17-2002 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Researcher says jellyfish species not seen before

A leading researcher says a jellyfish responsible for the death of an American tourist in northern Australia is a species he's never seen before.

44-year-old Robert King died on Friday in Townsville Hospital after being stung while swimming off Port Douglas last month.

It's the second stinger related death in Queensland this year.

Researcher Dr Jamie Seymour says tests have confirmed the latest fatality is the result of a new species.The types of stinging cells you get are pretty much unique to an individual jellyfish species. The problem we've got from this gentleman who got stung at opal reef was that we got some skin scrapings we got some stinging cells and they're stinging cells that I've never ever seen before. Given that i've got a pretty good handle on what box jellyfish were out there and we haven't seen those particular stinging cells befor5e leads me to believe that what stung this gentleman was something we haven't seen before.

Authorities estimate more than 10,000 gallons of oil spilled into Michigan river

DETROIT (AP) _ A mysterious spill has sent more than 10,000 gallons of oil into the Rouge River near Detroit in the last five days, baffling officials who have been unsuccessful in pinpointing its source.

The spill has gotten bigger each day since it was discovered last week. The oil is believed to be industrial-grade waste oil.

``From Wednesday until now, there's been more than 10,000 gallons spilled, and we expect that number to increase,'' said Adam Wine, chief petty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard.

The river, which flows eastward into the Detroit River, was closed for a second straight day on Sunday as cleanup work continued, creating potential problems for industries that rely on the waterway to transport goods.

``There will be a need to move ships up and down to Ford and Rouge Steel to provide raw materials _ iron ore, coal and limestone,'' said Rep. John Dingell.

The Coast Guard hoped the river would be reopened Monday.

The cleanup could last three to six weeks and cost more than $2 million, officials estimated.

The spill's environmental impact is unknown, although about 70 birds have been found with oil on their feathers, according to Dan Sheill, special agent with the U.S Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The spill is the largest on a Great Lakes waterway in more than a decade. Wine said the last major spill that affected Great Lakes waters was a 1991 gasoline spill in the Bay City area. The source of that spill was an explosion on the tanker Jupiter.

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-17-2002 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
4 rabid animals found in Yavapai County in 1 week

Associated Press
April 15, 2002 10:45:00

PRESCOTT - Yavapai County sheriff's officials say they have received an unusual number of reports about rabid animals in a short period.

In less than a week, four animals tested positive for the rabies virus. The list includes a rabid bat found in Prescott and infected foxes in Camp Verde, Rimrock and Lake Montezuma.

No humans came in contact with the infected animals, said Georgia Cadena, the department's community action coordinator.
Sheriff's Animal Control Unit Sgt. Deb Dean said it is unusual to find so many rabid animals in such a short time.

Mass sea snail death baffles Bangladesh
BANGLADESH: April 12, 2002

COX'S BAZAR - Sea snails are dying in their thousands along a beach in Bangladesh, creating a stomach-churning stench that is driving away tourists, officials say.

Tourism officials said the snails were washing up along a wide stretch of Cox's Bazar beach on the Bay of Bengal."We are baffled by the finding that only one out of more than 300 species of sea snails are dying off along a particular stretch of the natural beach," Mohammad Zaher, a scientist with Cox's Bazar Sea Fish Research Institute, told Reuters yesterday.

An investigation was underway and the cause of the deaths was not known, he added.

Cox's Bazar, 420 km (262 miles) southeast of the capital Dhaka, is Bangladesh's main tourist resort but attracts only a few thousand foreign tourists each year because it is poorly maintained.

But residents said the mass snail death could be a boon for businessmen who make dolls and other handicraft items with the shells and sell them at high prices to tourists.

[Edited 1 times, lastly by Dan Rockwell on 04-17-2002]

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New Member

18 posts, Mar 2002

posted 04-17-2002 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tower   Email Tower     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All is normal! Haha!

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-17-2002 11:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You got that right Tower. And here are a few more stories about how normal everything is in the world.

Commuter bitten by a tropical spider
by Dan Bridgett

A City worker was off work for a month after being bitten on the leg by a tropical spider - in the first-class carriage of a Eurostar train. Gillian Burgis, 33, was on a business trip to France when she felt a sudden pain on the side of her right leg. Within hours the wound swelled up, leaving her barely able to walk. In addition to the month she had off work Miss Burgis, from Brentwood, Essex, spent 10 days being treated in hospital. Doctors told her there was a 50 per cent chance that an area of infected flesh might have to be cut away, and warned they might have to amputate if the infection spread to her bones. Miss Burgis, a senior project architect, said: "It was the most frightening experience of my life. The swelling was the size of a tea saucer and was red and purple in the centre. It looked like I had been shot. I would have understood if I had got bitten by something nasty on a jungle trek - but all I was doing was sitting on a Eurostar train." Miss Burgis had been on a day trip to Lille. A chemist told her the sting looked like an allergic reaction to an insect bite and recommended cortisone cream. She also needed painkillers. She went on another business trip to Paris three days after the bite. But she was in such pain she returned to London and went straight to the Northwick Park Hospital, where the wound was lanced to drain the poison. Miss Burgis said: "The doctor there was certain that I had got an infection and a fever after being bitten by some sort of tropical spider or stung by a scorpion. He told me the wound was just like another confirmed spider bite he had treated. By then it had got to the point where I could virtually only crawl." Eurostar has offered Miss Burgis flowers and a ticket to France as compensation. Spokesman Roger Harrison said: "We are very sorry for this - but we are at a loss to see how it happened and we are not sure how responsible we are. Spiders or other creatures have never been an issue on our trains. There must be a one in an umpteen million chance of something like this happening." Miss Burgis recovered and returned to work today. The hospital confirmed her treatment for a suspected spider bite.

Tick-ravaged moose on the rampage in Northern Alberta
Jim Farrell
The Edmonton Journal

Ravaged by a heavy infestation of winter ticks, many northern Alberta moose are seeking the shelter of barns and sheds, attacking dogs and charging people. Moose encounters are particularly dangerous when property owners try to move tick-infested animals off their property, says a spokesman for Alberta Fish and Wildlife. "We've had 40 incidents to date this spring," said Lyle Fullerton of the service's Peace River office. "We responded to three incidents Monday. By noon (Tuesday), two new incidents had been reported to us."

Ivan Chelovsky, who lives on an acreage 60 kilometres south of Peace River, came face-to-face with a tick-infested moose Monday evening when he was about to let his dogs out. "In the last three weeks I've had two moose around my acreage, so I always check the yard before letting my dogs out," he said. "Sure enough, there was a moose sitting beside my house." The moose got to its feet, ambled down Chelovsky's driveway, then turned and charged the homeowner. He ran into his house.

A wildlife officer attempted to drive the moose off the Chelovsky acreage by shooting it with rubber bullets. Hit by four rounds, the moose barely flinched. The officer had to kill it. The moose was heavily infested with ticks and so weak it likely would not have survived. "It's a really tough call," said Fullerton. "Usually, we fire a few shots into the air to get them to move off private property. If they're acting aggressively toward us, we will shoot it with rubber bullets to convince it this is not the place to be."

The winter ticks, Dermacentor albipictus, can almost suck the life out of a moose. A single moose can play host to as many as 100,000 ticks, drawing blood from the animal and leaving it weakened, confused and irritable. To rid itself of the parasites, a moose will rub against trees and rocks until it's almost bald. Then, unable to keep warm, the moose will look for a barn, garage or the sunny side of a farmhouse for refuge. That's when the irritable animals come into conflict with humans.

A moose incident can turn potentially deadly when a property owner's dog takes after one of the animals. The moose begins pursuing the dog, which then runs back to its owner. "Usually, the charges are just bluffs," Fullerton said. "But we did have one situation where a woman was trying to get out of her van and the moose kicked the van."

Engorged with blood, winter ticks can grow to the size of a grape. When spring arrives, females drop off their host and lay eggs in the leaf litter. In the fall, tick larvae cluster on vegetation, waiting to hop onto passing moose, deer or elk.

This year's infestation is bad, but not as severe as in 1998 -- at least not yet, said Dr. Margo Pybus, provincial wildlife disease specialist for Alberta Fish and Wildlife. Until Friday the infestation seemed limited to the Peace River area. "On Friday, the floodgates opened and we started to get calls from all over northern Alberta regarding dead and sick animals," Pybus said.

Winter ticks nestle in the hair of virtually all Alberta moose, but they only become a problem when the number of ticks on one moose reaches the tens of thousands and low temperatures and deep snow lingers into the spring, as it did this year in northern Alberta. Hungry, irritable, cold and weak, moose wander into human areas looking for shelter and food. When humans come around, the moose are too weak to flee. They stand their ground or charge, Pybus said.

Last year's mild spring resulted in a high survival rate for newly hatched larvae and the winter tick population virtually exploded. Unlike deer ticks, winter ticks won't stick to humans, and deer and elk will react almost immediately to lick or scratch them off. Because of its thicker hide, by the time a moose notices a winter tick's presence, the parasite has embedded itself in the animal's skin.{824D16D6-4794-424F-9627-4F82C5B64F5E}

Mystery oak disease may threaten nation's forests
By John Ritter, USA TODAY
04/09/2002 - Updated 01:32 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO — On the rolling hills and low mountains of coastal Northern California, green and lush now after winter rains, live oaks, tan oaks, black oaks and madrones have been dying for more than two years. A mysterious microscopic organism that causes Sudden Oak Death has been found on a widening list of trees. Even the stately redwood, a California icon as well as a valuable timber product, may be vulnerable. But a far more troubling scenario is gaining currency among plant pathologists and federal regulators: that the disease will make its way out of California and infect the forests of the interior United States with potentially disastrous results.

That seemed unlikely until the organism suddenly appeared last fall on a maple tree in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada more than 100 miles away. If confirmed by tests on more samples, that would mean it had somehow moved east from the Pacific coast across the agricultural Central Valley — signaling a highly aggressive pathogen capable of adapting to new environments and different trees.

Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight, scourges that virtually wiped whole species from the American landscape in the last century, began as localized
infestations. "Something like this could be transported on a piece of luggage from one place to the next," says Jim Skiera, associate executive director of the International Society of Arboriculture in Champaign, Ill. "If it's as virulent as they say, it could be devastating. It could have a huge economic impact if it hit multiple species."

Lab tests already have confirmed that the Sudden Oak Death pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum, kills northern red oak, the dominant hardwood in the U.S. timber industry and a preferred species in furniture, flooring, cabinets and architectural interiors.

The disease is getting researchers' attention across the USA, particularly where other varieties of Phytophthora infect native plants. "It's certainly something that's not being ignored just because we're on the right coast," says Don Ham, professor of forest resources at Clemson University in South Carolina. "Our oak species can be susceptible, and we want to be prepared."

A federal quarantine ordered this month bans shipping soil and plants from more than a dozen host species outside 10 infected counties from Monterey to Mendocino and one Oregon county, Curry, that has a small infestation. Canada has gone further, prohibiting imports of soil and host plants — those infected by the pathogen — from anywhere in California. The state's $3 billion nursery industry complains that's overkill because the disease hasn't been found in most of the state, including Southern California.

But in Northern California, particularly hard-hit Marin, Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Monterey counties, it has spread unchecked. Sudden Oak Death — it got its name before many non-oak hosts were identified — first caused alarm on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County north of San Francisco. From a distance, dead and dying oaks look like random clumps of yellow and gray on the forested mountainside.

An evergreen hardwood species that lives up to 250 years, live oaks are indigenous to 10 million acres of the Pacific coast, prized flora that add value and aesthetic charm to property. They generally grow 20 to 40 feet tall at elevations between 3,000 and 5,000 feet. Though they are commercially worthless except as firewood because of their gnarled, crooked trunks and branches, those same features create beauty and endless variation on the coastal terrain.

Homeowners are appalled watching their precious oaks die by the thousands. Once they notice the spiky roundish leaves turning yellow, the rust-colored spots on the bark and a sticky black ooze bleeding from the trunk, it's too late — the tree's a goner.

So hard hit was China Camp State Park in Marin County that the state closed campgrounds for several weeks to cut and remove hundreds of dead trees. Santa Clara County will try to keep isolated disease pockets from spreading by posting signs in parks asking bikers, hikers and horseback riders to clean soil off their vehicles and possessions when they leave. Officials worry that dead trees piling up will heighten the fire hazard during California's long dry season. Hard-hit composting companies — a $200 million-a-year statewide industry — can't ship goods from quarantined counties.Disease's origin stumps expertsSudden Oak Death is considered a formidable pest even for California, which spends $27 million a year controlling the fruit- and vegetable-eating med fly and has raised $50 million to fight the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a leaf-hopping insect that preys on grape vines.

The federal government has allocated $85 million for Sudden Oak Death research, but scientists still don't know how or where the disease got started, precisely how it spreads or how to eradicate it. They do know that once Phytophthora ramorum spores penetrate bark in the trunk, the organism eats away the cambium, a layer of tissue that conducts nutrients through the tree, in a matter of months. By tree-disease standards, that is an unusually short time.Scientists are racing for answers on several fronts. They're trying to understand the biology and genetics of Phytophthora ramorum. They're studying whether pollution or short-term climate changes might have sparked the disease. They're looking at how the disease fits into the forest dynamic, whether animals and other plants play a role. Because oaks are popular trees in residential areas, humans may be a factor, through pruning and other tree-management techniques.

The disease has surprised researchers at every turn. At first they couldn't figure out how it spread from oak to oak. Other known Phytophthora species live in soil and attack trees at their roots. But trees suffering from Sudden Oak Death had no root damage. Eventually they discovered that other trees — bay laurels, maples, buckeyes — were infected and spreading Phytophthora spores through the air. Azaleas and rhododendrons are also hosts.

It was a brand new species of Phytophthora, never before identified, airborne and aggressive, with no known natural enemies. "For the first time we have an organism that can infect a broad host range of plants in this country, with a biology that's completely unknown," says Matteo Garbelotto, a forest pathologist at the University of California-Berkeley. "It's like all of a sudden finding a very poisonous snake that can fly."Garbelotto and another scientist, David Rizzo at the University of California-Davis, are the first to use DNA technology on a new forest disease. They isolated Phytophthora ramorum's DNA, tested hundreds of samples for its presence and identified 14 hosts in just 18 months, a process that would have taken years under conventional plant-pathology methods. More hosts are likely to be identified.They've probably slowed Sudden Oak Death's spread because their findings allow state and federal regulators to act quickly to ban movement of additional host plants from nurseries. The scientists have asked the U.S. Energy Department to fund gene mapping of the pathogen.

But what eludes them is a cure. In the lab they're studying organic chemicals, biological compounds that might prevent infection by Phytophthora spores. They're testing different types of protective trunk coatings that could be applied to a tree. They're also trying to develop ways to boost a tree's own defensive response. But nothing yet has proved a magic bullet. Another option is simply removing host species like bay laurel from the forests, but that could have unknown effects on an ecosystem.

Knowing where Phytophthora ramorum came from would help, but that, too, remains a mystery. It could be an exotic organism, accidentally introduced from a locale where native plants have resistance to it. Once here, it feasts on hosts that have no defense. It could be a new species produced by genetic change, a hybrid with a potent effect on oaks. Or it could have been present all along, benign until an unknown factor caused it to become destructive.Some speculate that several wetter-than-normal winters are linked to the emergence of Sudden Oak Death. The pathogen is a fungus-like organism similar to algae that thrives in moist conditions. Others think pollution is a culprit, but Garbelotto discounts that. He says environmental factors could have sparked change in the pathogen, but he sees little evidence that they weakened the oaks."I don't buy the direct relationship to pollution," he says. "We can infect very healthy trees and still kill them." The disease has not wiped out whole forests, and Garbelotto believes many coast live oaks may have enough tolerance to survive the pathogen.Redwoods may be endangeredUnknowns puzzle the scientists, chief among them how far the disease will spread and what other species might succumb to it. The discovery of spores on redwoods is particularly sensitive in California, where giant redwoods are a major tourist draw and redwood timber is a $500 million-a-year industry.

Spores could have been splashed on a few redwoods and they'll have no effect. Or redwoods may turn out to be hosts. In the worst-case scenario, the trees are susceptible to the disease. Garbelotto and Rizzo are trying to infect mature redwoods with Phytophthora ramorum to see if they're susceptible. Test results won't be known until later this year. "At this point we have no evidence to suggest the disease affects the big redwoods," Garbelotto says.If redwoods come under quarantine and lumber must be treated to get rid of the pathogen before it can be shipped, those pricey redwood decks will get even pricier, and small timber companies would suffer.

"It could be an economic disaster for a lot of people. It could potentially put us out of business," says Bud McCrary, co-owner of Big Creek Lumber Co. in Santa Cruz. "How would you show that that particular lumber doesn't have any of those spores?"An even more intriguing question is whether Phytophthora ramorum has migrated or been carried to the Sierra Nevada. Scientists need more than a positive DNA sample from a single tree to confirm that it has.
Garbelotto is eager to collect more samples when the snow melts in the mountains.

All bets would be off if the pathogen is confirmed there in a climate wholly different from the coast. One of the West's major ecosystems could be threatened. And the theory that the disease might be incapable of wreaking harm in a new environment would be open to doubt."We saw Dutch elm disease devastate America's elms. We saw the same thing with chestnut blight years ago," says John Rosenow, president of the National Arbor Day Foundation in Lincoln, Neb. "Oaks are such an important tree nationwide that we certainly hope scientists can isolate it to a small area."

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52 posts, Oct 2001

posted 04-18-2002 04:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rainheart     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Dan for posting the Alberta tick infestation.
And how 'bout those 'supercolonies' of ants eh!?

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Never Surrender!

Greenwich, CT, USA
390 posts, Feb 2002

posted 04-18-2002 07:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KrissaTMC2   Email KrissaTMC2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for posting the information about the super ant colony rainheart. - I'm definitely thinking that even the insect world is trying to tell us something. I thought that I had seen everything when yellow jackets began to interbreed with the common brown paper wasp a few years ago, but now it seems that the ants have done something that no one ever thought they could do, live in peace. - Kind of makes you wonder what their next move will be.

[Edited 2 times, lastly by KrissaTMC2 on 04-18-2002]

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307 posts, Jan 2002

posted 04-18-2002 09:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BOB B   Email BOB B     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
suckers!!!think about it, your being programed...the ant colonies are symbolic of countries,the supercolony the UN, same with the wasps, they want us to think races are outdated..iknow about intentional deception occuring in the world of "science"'which apparently means something diferent than it did in 79, when i graduated.dont believe this story, it doesnt hold up to scrutiny, and its a total fabrication.How did they determine the ants were actually cooperating, and not just tolerating each other in times of abundance?increased genetic code damaging radiation, thats the real problem in the animal a native american and one close to nature,I have an observation for you all, a real animal story, they don't like us anymore and their to the point where they may do something about it

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-18-2002 11:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think that's what Krissa was kind of hinting at BOB B, but wasn't sure how to put it. If these ants are working together, then there must be a good reason for it and one that might not be in man's best interest. I did find it rather strange that this supposed super colony became headline news though. - It could just be a fabrication, but it could also be a sign.

BTW BOB B, The whole wasp thing that Krissa mentioned was part of one of my research projects a few years ago and something that both Krissa and I saw with our own eyes. 2 very different species of wasp interbreeding to make a larger type of yellow jacket with an ability to build nests anywhere. - I was worried when that happened and now I am concerned with the ants if there is even the slightest bit of truth in it.

[Edited 1 times, lastly by Dan Rockwell on 04-18-2002]

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Dan Rockwell
Hoka hey! - heyokas!

Stamford, CT, USA
1319 posts, Dec 2001

posted 04-19-2002 12:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan Rockwell   Email Dan Rockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apr 18, 2002
Woman in Florida Thought to Have Disease Linked to Mad Cow

The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A 22-year-old British woman living in Florida is believed to have a brain illness linked to mad cow disease, the first known case in the United States, health officials said Thursday. The woman is believed to have caught the fatal disease by eating beef in Britain at the height of that country's cattle epidemic, said Dr. Steve Ostroff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "There's every reason to suspect that she acquired her illness there," he said.

Officials with the Florida Department of Health emphasized that there is no reason to suspect cattle in the United States have the cow version, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE. "All evidence indicates her illness poses no threat to anyone else or the agriculture industry," said state Health Department spokesman Bill Parizek. Ostroff agreed there was no risk to Americans from the case of "new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease" announced Thursday.

Mad cow disease is a brain-destroying illness that first surfaced in British cattle but now has spread to cattle in much of Europe. A human form, referred to as vCJD, apparently spread by eating infected beef, has claimed more than 90 lives in Britain and parts of Europe. Mad cow disease, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cows, has never been found in U.S. cattle. Nor had the new vCJD ever been diagnosed in anyone living here - although Americans can get a similar disease, regular CJD.

The woman was born and raised in Britain and lived there at the height of that country's BSE epidemic. She was diagnosed in Britain recently, but is living in Florida with her family now, the CDC said. British health officials informed their U.S. counterparts of her illness Thursday.

[Edited 1 times, lastly by Dan Rockwell on 04-19-2002]

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Never Surrender!

Greenwich, CT, USA
390 posts, Feb 2002

posted 04-19-2002 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KrissaTMC2   Email KrissaTMC2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't you worry about me BOB B. This half Tsalagi girl ain't gonna be programmed or brainwashed by no one. I didn't have a good feeling about the ant story and don't have a good feeling about this one either.

New Insect Order Found in Southern Africa
Bijal P. Trivedi
National Geographic Today
March 28, 2002

For the first time in 87 years, researchers have discovered an insect that constitutes a new order of insects. Dubbed "the gladiator" (for the recent movie), it lives in the Brandberg Mountains of Namibia, on the west coast of Southern Africa.

Entomologist Oliver Zompro of the Max Planck Institute of Limnology in Plön, Germany, who identified the creature as unique, said it resembles "a cross between a stick insect, a mantid, and a grasshopper."

It differs from a stick insect, Zompro noted, because its first body segment is the largest. Unlike a mantid, it uses both its fore and mid legs to catch prey, and unlike a grasshopper, it can't jump.

Growing up to four centimeters (1.6 inches) long, "the gladiator" is carnivorous and nocturnal. It lives at the base of clumps of grass that grow in rock crevices.

Zompro first suspected that he was seeing a new insect order while examining fossils of stick-like insects sent to him by amber collectors in Germany. After finding similar specimens in more recent collections at museums in London and Berlin, he set out to determine whether the insect—which had been presumed extinct—might still be found in the wild.

The existence of the insect was confirmed last month on a field trip to Namibia.

The discovery of the new insect order, which has been named Mantophasmatodea, increases the number of insect orders to 31.

"This discovery is comparable to finding a mastodon or saber-toothed tiger," said Piotr Naskrecki, director of Conservation International's new Invertebrate Diversity Initiative.

Diana Wall, an ecologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, called the discovery "tremendously exciting" and said it could give scientists "a new perspective on how life fits together."

"This new order could be a missing link to determining relationships between insects and other groups," she said, adding: "Every textbook discussing the orders of insects will now need to be rewritten."

Lucky Break

No new order of insects has been identified since 1915.

Zompro said he got lucky. "So many zoologists all over the world have combed the Earth for new specimens in so many locations that the chance of finding a new order is close to zero," he said.

Zompro, a specialist in stick insects, was studying a group of fossils sent to him by various collectors when he began to suspect he was seeing a new type of insect.

The oldest known specimen of the newly identified insect was encased in a 40-million-year-old chunk of golden amber.

Over a period of six months, Zompro received nearly two dozen specimens that led him to conclude he had discovered a new order, but one that he thought was now extinct. One amber nugget contained a perfectly preserved adult specimen. Another fossil had captured the insect in the cannibalistic act of eating another.

"It's a big insect and difficult to overlook. That's what is so amazing" about the finding, Zompro said.

Sifting through entomology collections at the British Museum of Natural History in London, he found an adult male insect from Tanzania that looked remarkably like the specimens entombed in amber. A few weeks later, he came upon a female specimen of the insect at Berlin's Museum of Natural History.

When Zompro dissected the specimen from the Berlin Museum, he found the remains of insects in its gut, indicating that the stick-like insect was a carnivore. All other known stick-like insects are plant eaters.

"At this point, I was sure that I had found an absolutely new order of insects," said Zompro.

Wilderness Search

Both of the insects Zompro observed in London and Berlin appeared related to the 40-million-year-old fossilized insect encased in amber. But the museum specimens had been collected during expeditions in the last century, suggesting that the insect was not extinct.

Zompro photographed the three specimens and sent the pictures to museums in Africa and South America, requesting information about any insects that appeared to be similar.

The National Museum of Namibia responded with a specimen that had been found in the Brandberg Mountains. It appeared to be from the same insect group.

Eugene Marais, the museum's curator of entomology, met with Zompro in Berlin and examined the original amber fossil. Based on their analysis, Zompro made plans to travel to Namibia to search for the insect.

Earlier this month, he joined an expedition to the Brandberg Mountains, jointly sponsored by Conservation International, the Max Planck Institute, and the National Museum of Namibia. The team consisted of 16 entomologists from Germany, England, South Africa, Namibia, and the United States.

The scientists were dropped onto a mountain peak in the remote area and began a painstaking search on the stony, arid summit. After a night of shaking grass bushes, a scientist looking for insects called silverfish found the first of the live insects that came to be known as "the gladiator."

During the trip, Zompro collected a dozen of the insects, which he carried back to his lab in Germany to study mating, feeding, and other forms of behavior in the insects. Aggressive tendencies became one area of interest—a couple of the insects apparently were eaten during the the trip back.

Zompro plans to return to Namibia to study the distribution of the insect in Namibia.

Naskrecki of Conservation International said Zompro's discovery is important because it "tells us that there are places on Earth that act as protective pockets, preserving tiny glimpses of what life was like millions of years ago."

The Namibian insects, he added, "are one of the last living witnesses of a time when America and Africa were still part of the same land mass. This order was thought to be extinct for 35 to 50 million years."

[Edited 2 times, lastly by KrissaTMC2 on 04-19-2002]

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The Void
1314 posts, Feb 2001

posted 04-20-2002 06:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RidesTheWind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey guys....Dan and Bob, I think we should look at the any story from this perspective. Perhaps they are giving us the ultimate message here! Its time we wake up and join our forces quickly. We all know power increases in numbers...The ants certainly have more power as a large mass. Are we ever going to join together in courage and say enough is enough? What the hell is everyone waiting for? The railroad cars? Too late then.........

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The Void
1314 posts, Feb 2001

posted 04-20-2002 07:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RidesTheWind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey guys....I live in this lovely Pfisteria area being talked about...I have had contact
with Ritchie Shoemaker...Great guy...He's been alerted to chemtrails...He's brilliant. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with....As for the angry animals and fish...I give my vote to radar both above ground and beneath the dark waters.Creatures are being zapped into confusion and growing angry, just as we are...We are all one!Don't forget that!

[Edited 1 times, lastly by RidesTheWind on 04-20-2002]

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52 posts, Oct 2001

posted 04-20-2002 11:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rainheart     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NEW ZEALAND: April 19, 2002

WELLINGTON - A toxic fungus blamed for decimating amphibian populations around the world has been found in New Zealand, prompting fears that the country's four unique frog species could be wiped out. ...

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52 posts, Oct 2001

posted 04-20-2002 11:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rainheart     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
KENYA: February 1, 2002

NAIROBI - Thousands of dead fish and marine animals have washed up onto the Kenyan and Somali coastlines in the past week, probably poisoned by an off-season bloom of toxic algae, wildlife experts said yesterday. ...

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Never Surrender!

Greenwich, CT, USA
390 posts, Feb 2002

posted 04-21-2002 07:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KrissaTMC2   Email KrissaTMC2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's really hard to tell what's going on with those ants RTW. I think you're right about it being a message for us to wake up and unite and to bring about a change for the better. People have long thought that if enough minds thought the same thought that things would definitely start to happen.

Thank's for the information rainheart.

Well, since Dan mentioned the yellow jackets I thought it appropriate to put this story here.

Yellow jackets swarm, kill man

The 83-year-old Hillsborough County man was doing yard work when he disturbed a nest of about 10,000 wasps.

By JOSH ZIMMER and TAMARA LUSH© St. Petersburg Times, published April 16, 2002

The 83-year-old Hillsborough County man was doing yard work when he disturbed a nest of about 10,000 wasps.KEYSTONE -- Working around his home off Lake Glass gave 83-year-old Albert Wellner a sense of independence. Just to be safe, his wife of 52 years would check on him frequently. Late Monday morning, Wellner was clearing woods near his dirt driveway when he disturbed a large nest of yellow jackets nestled amid pine needles. Wellner was swarmed. About 30 minutes later his wife, Eleanor, found his body near the riding mower, about 150 yards from their house, said their son, Tom Wellner.

Wellner was stung "hundreds" of times, Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies say. An autopsy will be conducted. Wellner probably was dead long before emergency personnel arrived, Tom Wellner said. "His pleasure was getting out on his tractors and tooling around the house," Tom Wellner said. "He would work an hour or two at a time." "He was a good man; I don't really know how else to put it," Wellner said.

After the attack, authorities immediately called Jonathan Simkins, an entymologist who owns Insect I.Q., a Tampa pest control company. He arrived at the house about 20 minutes after Wellner was found. What he saw was chilling. "They were still swarming in a tornado-like fashion around the lawnmower," said Simkins, who estimated that there might have been 10,000 wasps in the underground nest.

Yellow jackets make their nests out of wood fibers and saliva, said Simkins. Underground nests are often camouflaged by leaves, dirt and other natural matter. Pine needles covered the ground at the Wellner residence. Simkins thinks the noise and vibration of the lawnmower provoked the attack. "The nest was agitated," he said. "There were probably 2,000 on the outside of the nest, all over the palmetto fronds, just waiting to attack. It was unbelievable."

It took Simkins and his employees, using insecticides and other materials, about 15 minutes to remove the nest and kill the yellow jackets. They wore veils, leather gloves, protective flannel suits and respirators to prevent being stung. Simkins and his company also worked on another yellow jacket attack that proved fatal.

In September 1998, 2-year-old Harrison Johnson died after being stung hundreds of times by a swarm of the insects in the back yard of a friend's Tampa home. His parents said their son did not show overt signs of needing medical attention until seven hours after the attack. An autopsy determined Harrison's brain had swollen from an undetermined amount of venom caused by 432 stings. The couple ultimately were cleared of wrongdoing.

Most people who are stung by a yellow jacket have mild reactions -- redness, itching and pain. University of Florida researchers say that it takes about 1,500 stings to kill an adult man. Wasp venom is toxic. Some sting victims die from a allergic reaction to the venom.

In 2000, about 100 people died in the United States from bee stings. Getting rid of them is not easy. Eradicating a yellow jacket nest is not as simple as squirting the insects with Raid, Simkins said. "You don't want to try to handle it yourself," he said. People who think they have a nest on their property should call a professional, advises the University of Florida Entymology Department.

The Wellners bought the property in northwest Hillsborough County in the late 1940s, Tom Wellner said. Because they moved around a lot as kids, they wanted to give their three children a more stable upbringing, he said. His parents thought the homestead, called Leeward, was perfect.

Albert Wellner was a systems analyst who installed one of the St. Petersburg Times' first computer systems, his son said. Wellner finished only one year of college, the son said. "Basically he was self-taught," Tom Wellner said. "He was a very good problem solver and easy to work with." After leaving the Times in the late 1960s, he took a job at Lykes doing similar work, Tom Wellner said. He retired from Lykes in 1984, a year after having his pituitary gland removed during a brain tumor operation. Besides being a dedicated family man, the soft-spoken Wellner was active in the Keystone Presbyterian Church. His mother will likely stay on the family's 10-acre property, Tom Wellner said. "They sure loved being in the country," he said. "I don't believe I can stand to part with it."

[Edited 1 times, lastly by KrissaTMC2 on 04-21-2002]

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Never Surrender!

Greenwich, CT, USA
390 posts, Feb 2002

posted 04-21-2002 07:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KrissaTMC2   Email KrissaTMC2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Posted on Thu, Apr. 18, 2002

West Nile threat to increase

Ohio could see first human cases of disease as virus carried by mosquitoes spreads. Summit among areas most at risk
By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

Ohio could face its first human cases of West Nile virus this year, and Summit County is one of the areas most at risk.That is a possible scenario, after Ohio was invaded by the life-threatening virus for the first time last year, said Dr. Richard Berry of the Ohio Department of Health.``There is an increasing risk of human infection this year and there's likely to be more intense activity this year... and there's little that we can do about it,'' he said.

The virus was established in Ohio last year and it will likely start to spread this year, he said.

The outbreak won't likely be an epidemic, but there could be some scattered human cases, he said.

Six areas of Ohio -- including Summit County -- showed evidence last year that the virus was getting entrenched, and those are the areas most at risk, he said.

Cuyahoga County had more confirmed cases of West Nile virus than any other county: 185 in birds and mosquitoes.

Franklin County had 35 cases; Lake, 13; Lucas, 11; and Summit and Mahoning, each with 10.

It was confirmed last year in Stark and Wayne counties. The virus has not been reported in Medina or Portage counties.Last year, Ohio had 312 confirmed virus cases in 28 counties: 226 in crows, 54 in blue jays, six in other bird species and 26 in mosquito samples.

Crows and blue jays are the bird species most affected by the virus.

How great the West Nile threat will be in Ohio is weather dependent, Berry said.

Dry conditions help the virus spread, because it is passed along mainly by the Culex mosquito, which thrives in dry conditions.

The virus in 2002 will likely turn up in more birds and in more Ohio counties and will likely be confirmed in horses this year, Berry said.

The virus may have been in at-risk horses last year but that was never confirmed, he said.About 15 Ohio counties, mostly in western and southern Ohio, are starting mosquito surveillance programs for the first time, he said. Ohio is prepared to do more this year, Berry said.

It is standing by its plan -- with a few minor changes -- to reduce the threat from the virus by added mosquito surveillance and mosquito control in affected areas.

The best advice for avoiding the virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding around the home and try to keep from being bitten by mosquitoes.

The virus is becoming news again, after the threat diminished over the winter. That's because cold weather kills off the mosquitoes that spread the virus. It killed five people last year in Alabama, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut.

It arrived in the United States three years ago in New York City. In humans, the virus can cause a fever, headache and body aches, often with a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. In severe cases, it can cause a form of encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and there is no antibiotic or vaccine.People 50 and older and those with weak immune systems have the highest risk of infection.

The virus has been detected in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

West Nile, which was discovered in 1937 in Africa, is spread when infected mosquitoes bite birds, which in turn infect other mosquitoes that later bite other birds. People, horses and small mammals are infected when they are bitten by infected mosquitoes. People cannot spread the virus to other people. Fewer than 1 percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito become seriously ill.

The Ohio Department of Health has established a toll-free West Nile information line. It is staffed from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at 1-866-634-2968. More information on the virus can also be found at on the Web; do a search for West Nile. Questions on mosquito spraying, virus surveillance and dead crows and blue jays should be directed to the Summit Health Department at 330-923-8856 or to your local or county health department.*htt p://

[Edited 2 times, lastly by KrissaTMC2 on 04-21-2002]

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Never Surrender!

Greenwich, CT, USA
390 posts, Feb 2002

posted 04-21-2002 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KrissaTMC2   Email KrissaTMC2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Apr 18, 2002

Sick Sea Lions Swamp Los Angeles Recovery Center

The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) - More than 30 sick sea lions have swamped a marine mammal recovery center, where workers are struggling to care for the apparent victims of a naturally occurring neurotoxin. Recovery workers at the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur have treated at least 33 sea lions since March 17. The majority have responded to treatment, including medicine for seizures believed brought on by the toxin, called domoic acid. "I have been here nine years and I have never seen anything like this," said Jackie Jaakola, the center's director.

Scientists suspect the sea lions became ill after eating anchovies and sardines that have dined on blooms of algae that contain the toxin. Domoic acid is believed to have killed dozens of common dolphins in recent weeks and has led the state to warn against eating sport-caught fish and shellfish from the Monterey Bay and Morro Bay areas.

The sick sea lions have been found on beaches between Santa Barbara and San Diego counties. As many as 200,000 sea lions live in California waters.

[Edited 1 times, lastly by KrissaTMC2 on 04-21-2002]

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Never Surrender!

Greenwich, CT, USA
390 posts, Feb 2002

posted 04-21-2002 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KrissaTMC2   Email KrissaTMC2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hong Kong chicken flu slaughter "failed"
13:09 19 April 02 news service

Genetic tests on the latest strain of avian flu to hit Hong Kong show it is based on the strain that caused a devastating outbreak in 2001. This shows that last year's attempt to eradicate the virus by slaughtering the entire chicken population of over a million failed, say Chinese scientists.

In 1997, an influenza strain that infected Hong Kong chickens jumped the species barrier, killing six of the 18 people it infected. Scientists fear that the region's farms and live fowl markets could be the cauldron in which a virus mutates into a form capable of triggering the next flu pandemic.

Guan Yi, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong says all live chicken farms in the region should be closed and the importation of live chickens from mainland China banned, to try to ensure this does not happen.

"I believe we have to get rid of the farms, and the poultry markets, and the import of fresh chickens," he told China Daily.

"Ignorant act"

The genetic tests on the strains that hit in 2001 and in February 2002 were conducted at St Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a centre for research on animal influenza. They revealed that the 2002 H5N1 genotype was more complex than that of the 2001 strain, but it was "based on last year's virus", Guan said.

In 2001, a slaughter of the entire population of more than one million chickens was attempted, to try to wipe out the virus. In February 2002, almost 900,000 chickens were killed.

A new outbreak of avian flu is currently spreading in Hong Kong, but this strain has not yet been analysed. Officials have again begun killing chickens, and hundreds of thousands more are being inoculated.

There is strong local opposition to Guan's calls for a closure of all chicken farms and market, China Daily reports. "Avian influenza is just like any human flu - you just cannot get rid of it. However, it does not make sense to get rid of the poultry industry to get rid of the bird flu. That would be an ignorant act," said Peter Wong Chun-kow, Hong Kong president of the World's Poultry Science Association.

Emma Young

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Never Surrender!

Greenwich, CT, USA
390 posts, Feb 2002

posted 04-21-2002 10:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KrissaTMC2   Email KrissaTMC2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Public release date: 18-Apr-2002
Contact: Nadine Lymn
Ecological Society of America

Amphibians and crippling parasites

New study links parasite to amphibian malformations in western U.S.
In recent years, the frequency of malformed frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians found with missing limbs, extra limbs, and skin webbings has increased. The shrinking populations of many North American amphibian populations underscore the need to understand the causes and implications of this phenomenon. Now a new study suggests that a parasite may be to blame for many of the abnormalities found in amphibians of the western United States.

In the research article “Parasite (Ribeiroia Ondatrae) infection linked to amphibian malformations in the western United States,” appearing in the May issue of the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecological Monographs, Pieter Johnson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues describe the results of their broad-scale field survey. Covering parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, the team of researchers looked for malformations in over 12,000 amphibians representing 11 species of amphibians. The group looked at the relationships between the frequency and severity of abnormalities and a variety of factors in a particular aquatic site, including the abundance of a parasite (Ribeiroia) and pesticide contamination.

The collaborative and interdisciplinary effort, which included academic researchers, as well as federal scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey, found malformed amphibians at a wide variety of aquatic sites, ranging from montane lakes and ephemeral pools to irrigation canals and impoundments. While the researchers did not find a relationship between pesticides and the frequency of malformed amphibians, they did find a striking connection between malformed amphibians and the presence of Ribeiroia.

“The presence of this parasite was a powerful predictor of the presence and frequency of malformed amphibians in an aquatic system. The greater an amphibian population’s infection with Ribeiroia, the more frequent and severe the population’s limb malformations,” said Johnson.

Amphibians at sites supporting the parasite exhibited 6 times as many abnormalities as the average number of malformations recorded at sites without the parasite. The researchers found the parasite embedded around the base of amphibians’ limbs and tails, where they form cysts beneath the skin. The frequency of abnormalities varied substantially among sites and species, ranging from 0 to nearly 90 percent. Pacific treefrogs (Hyla regilla) exhibited the greatest number of abnormalities, with more than 1000 abnormal tadpoles and young frogs found at 55 sites. When they co-occurred at an aquatic site, Pacific treefrogs exhibited more abnormalities than did western toads, marginally more than bullfrogs, and less than California newts.

In order to understand if and why the parasite may have become more common in recent years, the research team also gathered information on the ecology and life history of Ribeiroia, which has a multi-host life cycle.

The paper notes that the final stage of the parasite’s life cycle is dependent upon predation; in order to complete its final developmental stage, the parasite depends upon a bird or mammal to eat an infected amphibian or fish. The parasite then sexually matures and releases eggs via bird or mammal feces. When the eggs hatch they invade the tissue of Planorbella, an aquatic snail.

The study revealed that this aquatic snail is a significant indicator of both the presence and abundance of the parasitic infection. The presence and abundance of this snail were the only two factors related to the presence or abundance of Ribeiroia.

The researchers note that both Planorbella and increased parasitic diseases are associated with artificially created wetlands, which have been on the increase, often replacing natural wetlands.

“People assume that parasites are “natural” and therefore of no conservation concern,” says Johnson. “However, we suspect that nutrient pollution from fertilizers and cattle may be increasing the numbers of snails, parasites, and therefore malformed amphibians.”

Johnson notes that the parasite may be of particular concern to declining amphibian populations, such as Western Toads and Columbia Spotted Frogs, which were often found infected and malformed.

**Photos are available for this story at: ndex.htm Contact Steve Holt at or 541.267.2803 for reprint permission.

[Edited 1 times, lastly by KrissaTMC2 on 04-21-2002]

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North Carolina
573 posts, Apr 2001

posted 04-22-2002 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for penumbra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
YIKES! This thread has realy gained momentum! Thanks to everyone for all of this information. (I think!) I am also in Pfisteria country, as well as West Nile, and fire ants.
I am very bee-phobic, and this year I have noticed that the usually docile bumble-bees and carpenter bees seem more aggressive. Don't worry about the wasps, I will kill every last one of them
Pestilence everywhere... Krissa, that info about the new insect freaks me out, hope they stay off of our continent.
Ants as a totalitarian archetype. LIke in Antz. Also in The Book of Merlin, which was a companion book to The Once and Future King.

[Edited 1 times, lastly by penumbra on 04-22-2002]

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