Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bovine TB moving between humans and animals

A veterinary nurse and her dog in the U.K. have contracted bovine tuberculosis.

While the investigation is ongoing, there is a belief that infected badgers have spread the TB to beef and dairy cattle herds, which have served as a conduit transmission to pets and humans.

It is unusual for people to contract Bovine TB, but farmers and vets who work with infected animals can run the risk.

For more reading:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

FILL-IN-THE-BLANK : Disease management

Help us fill in the blank:

"The best strategy for managing disease outbreaks on a local level is _____________"

1918 Flu Pandemic deaths not just due to influenza

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic is often spotlighted as an example of the rapidity with which outbreaks, even those occuring under past conditions very different from today, can move from one place to another.

New research published by NIH proposes that many who died during the epidemic, were sickened not just by the influenza virus but also succumbed bacterial pneumonia. A conclusion is that a similar type of scenario could unfold during a future influenza pandemic.


WHO and World Bank team up to better health

As delegates gather at the International AIDS Conference (3-8 August), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank today address the pressing global debate around health systems and initiatives in specific aspects of health, nutrition and population. Critics claim that disease-specific initiatives are eroding already weak health systems, while others assert that weak health systems are holding back progress in disease-specific initiatives. In an effort to gather evidence and provide technical guidance in this area, WHO and the World Bank have agreed to join forces in collaboration with a wide range of interested stakeholders including country officials, academic and research institutions, Global Health Initiatives and civil society organizations.

Read more:

Natural disasters and disease risk

Natural disasters and an increased risk of disease go hand-in-hand, say those at the World Health Organization. Of particular note, are areas in West Africa beset with flooding and impacted through health risks as well as food insecurity.

Full story, from WHO:

Villages in Ghana being washed away

A report from Ghana on the eastern coast of Africa of beach front being reduced by several yards every year. The consequence is the disappearance of villages, animal species, and potential impact upon disease vectors.

"...unless global warming is reined in, millions of seaside dwellers will experience flooding, up to one-third of coastal wetlands will be lost, and increasingly ferocious storms will batter the shores."

What role should other countries / governments / agencies / the public be expected to play?

Full story:,1,7438106.story

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bed bugs on the move - The invasion is underway!

Appears that new freshman aren't the only thing invading college campuses!

Aided by our typical convergence vectors (transportation, humans, etc.), bed bugs are on the move.

What to do? Any strategies?

Read more:

MSNBC: Bedbugs biting their way across country:
USA Today: Bed bugs move into dorms:

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's your USP?...What's a USP?

A USP is your “unique selling proposition.” It is what separates you from all the rest. Know yours - and be able to give yours in 8 seconds or less.

A “I do a really cool show about everything” is not a USP. Here are some USPs to model from:

I develop and disemminate strategies for managing global disease dilemmas.

I help people leverage New Media to get their message out to more people with less effort and for greater profits.

We enable Podcast personalization, secure delivery, tracking and the sales of RSS delivered media. Everyone doesn’t have to get the same Podcast.

ABC company is a free service that provides a single point for detecting and diagnosing pathogens, uploading that data to global databases, and powerful analytics on who, what, and how that information is being used.

ABC company is an accelerator for training and education, using Podcasting, and social networks to deliver the next generation large animal management experience to veterinarians.

Post your USP below!

(Source for content above from

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New strain of bird flu in Nigeria

The migration of birds are suspected in the appearance of a strain of bird flu new to Nigeria.

What are your local strategies?

Local Action Global Health has been in action for a little more than 1 1/2 years now.

A lot of effort has been put toward developing strategies for local action to manage disease dilemmas.

Some of our lessons learned are:

- Science and society are increasingly bedfellows -- We must recognize how these two can fit together to overcome disease-promoting conditions

- Individual action & collective action – We need to reframe key issues as collective challenges requiring shared action by many

- Creativity at the edges – We have to recognize that not all of the answers will come from people in positions of leadership...How can the rest of us work collectively and upstream to provoke change

What are your lessons learned?
What would you add to this list?

Caught in the grasp of food production superpowers

Anticipating the increasing need globally for more food for more mouths, private industry is snapping up farmland, production systems, fertilizer and shipping companies at a higher rate than ever before.

In his book, "The End of Food," Paul Roberts ("The End of Oil") recognizes the growing potential for the domination of a world food trade axis. Imagine Brazil and Argentina and one end and India and China at the other. The U.S.'s best efforts are maintained through Cargill, Monsanto, Tyson, and Mosaic.

As we start to look at food as the new oil and the geo-political power that is at the disposal of those in power, what will happen to the less powerful -- the poor, hungry, the 1 percent upon whom the rest of rely for food, and those striving to be 'localvores.'

The consequences aren't pretty, says Roberts.

Who are our heroes?

As the Beijing Olympic rolls on and we celebrate the human will and spirit of competition, much is being made of athletes as spokespersons.

For example:
- U.S. basketball star LeBron James is linked with Spongebob Squarepants to teach kids what they can do to protect the earth.
- Olympic swimmer and fashion model Amanda Beard is a spokesperson for WildAid, communicating the plight of sharks
- Cyclist Adam Craig and many other Olympians have signed on with Green Laces, pledging to use recyclable shopping bags and other things to protect the environment

It has me thinking...Who are the heroes for the convergence issue? And, what should they be saying?


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What will happen when the food supply runs out?

A review of Raj Patel's book "Stuffed and Starved."

Patel predicted the current global food crisis - spiralling food prices, starvation and obesity.

Patel talks about agro-economics and what will happen when all the food finally runs out

Full article:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

HIV / AIDS in African American pop rivaling Africa

"U.S. leads global efforts against AIDS, but neglects epidemic in Black America."

Levels of African Americans with HIV / AIDS rivaling some African nations.

Read report:

Environmental movement a model for One Health movement?

An oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, in 1969 helped launch the environmental movement.

Could this serve as a model for a "One Health" / Convergence of human, animal and environmental movement?

And, will it take a "oil spill" in the convergence context to create such a movement?

Report on 1969 oil spill from National Public Radio:

Sunblock for fruit? Farm producers using SPF on plant

Sunscreen for fruits and vegetables is being tested in Australia, Chile and California .

Just like people can get sunburns, produce can also get nasty burns. That's why farmers are applying sunscreen to their crops to prevent skin blistering, heat stress and blemishes.

Climate change and drought have meant challenging growing conditions affecting the quality, yields and price of produce. Farmers lose money with each fruit or vegetable that develops sun damage.

Full article:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HIV - AIDS on rise among Latinos - The nexus of disease and migration

"So far, the toll of AIDS in the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority population has mostly been overshadowed by the epidemic among African Americans and gay white men. Yet in major U.S. cities, as many as 1 in 4 gay Hispanic men has HIV, a rate on par with sub-Saharan Africa."

"The nexus of AIDS and migration -- the reality that viruses know no borders -- will gain fresh prominence at the International AIDS Conference next month in Mexico City. It is a nexus that plays out in dramatic fashion in San Ysidro and other communities along the U.S.-Mexican border, where the tensions associated with immigration tend to exacerbate an already stigmatized illness."

Full article:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Interview - Dr. Lonnie King - Zoonotic disease explained

Interview with CDC's Dr. Lonnie King from the American Public Health Association:

"...first major group of zoonotic diseases probably occurred between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago..."

"...approximately 75 percent of the new human diseases that have emerged are zoonotic..."

" the summer or warm months when there are mosquitoes, you need to worry about West Nile virus or other mosquito-transmitted diseases..."


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vaccine to limit E.Coli 0157:H7 spread

Today, Bioniche Life Sciences presented data on an E.coli 0157:H7 vaccine that is the world's first to be used on-farm to reduce the amount of E.coli O157:H7 in cattle. The vaccine efficacy test rate in calves was 98.3%.

E.coli O157:H7 is most recognized due to food contamination recalls and of concern in beef, produce and prepared food. A result of improved interventions could be a reduction in the potential for human illnesses and death.

In the U.S. alone, approximately 100,000 E.coli O157:H7 cases are reported each year.


Can Cell Phones Help End Poverty

Cell phones are everywhere and the hands of more than 3 billion users worldwide. With 1.6 million new cell phones added everyday, how can they go from a communication tool to contact mom or the spouse for that frequent stop at the store for more milk?

The article below describes Nokia's efforts to link phone design and technology to end user needs, and examines cell phones as a tool for managing poverty, among other global crises.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Poorer countries' health threatened by acceptance of toxic imports

UN says toxic waste exports on the rise

BALI, Indonesia -- Many poor countries accept toxic waste from abroad, such as old computers, rusted ships and pesticides, in a shortsighted bid to lift themselves out of poverty, despite the dangers to human health and the environment, a U.N. rights official said Thursday.

Okechukwu Ibeanu, a special rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, also told delegates discussing a convention on moving hazardous waste that rich nations must do their part to help developing countries build sustainable and environmentally sound economies.

"Many developing countries, despite sometimes knowing the dangers of the waste, continue to accept hazardous products and toxic waste due to poverty and the quest for development," Ibeanu said.

Full article:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More vegans to feed the world

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is using the food security crisis as a platform for preventing the processing of animals for food...Does more vegans equal more food for those in need?

Read below:

June 20, 2008
Meat habit is fueling world famine
Chris Holbein
Approximately 854 million people do not have enough to eat. Thirty-three countries are facing food crises, according to the World Bank, and food riots have recently erupted in Egypt, Haiti, Yemen, Malaysia and other poor nations. This is hard for most Americans to comprehend. The closest many of us will ever come to a food riot is when someone cuts in line for more nachos and hot dogs at the baseball-stadium concession stand.
But we need look no further than our own shores to figure out what's causing food crises overseas: While millions of people are starving, a billion more _ many of them Americans _ are overweight. Our addiction to meat is largely to blame for both problems.
When world leaders met at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization summit in Rome earlier this month, they vowed to halve global hunger by 2015 and discussed strategies to boost agricultural production, which must be doubled by 2030 to meet rising demands. But no one proposed a convincing way to alleviate world hunger.
Dr. Walt Willett, professor of medicine at Harvard University and author of Eat, Drink and Weigh Less, offers this simple solution: "If we changed the way we ate, modifying what we eat, we could practically end the global food crisis, since eating more crops and much less red meat ... would free up resources to feed the world."
It would take just 40 million tons of food to eliminate the most extreme cases of world hunger. Yet a staggering 760 million tons of grain will be used to feed farmed animals this year (compared to 100 million tons used to produce fuel). Around 1.4 billion people could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone.
In the midst of a global food shortage, it is wasteful to feed perfectly edible food to farmed animals rather than feed it directly to malnourished people_especially when you consider that it takes 4.5 pounds of grain to make a pound of chicken meat and 7.3 pounds of grain to produce a pound of pork. Even fish on fish farms must be fed 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce 1 pound of farmed-fish flesh. This is inefficiency at its worst.
It's not a new problem either. In 1947, President Truman asked Americans to stop eating beef on Tuesdays and chicken and eggs on Thursdays to help stockpile grain for starving people in Europe. According to the Worldwatch Institute, the number of farmed animals has increased 60 percent since 1961, and the number of birds being raised for food has nearly quadrupled in the same time period.
Says Worldwatch, "(M)eat consumption is an inefficient use of grain _ the grain is used more efficiently when consumed by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world's poor." Simply put, we could produce more food for more people if we stopped squandering our resources to raise animals.
It takes 3 acres of land to produce food for a meat-eater; food for a vegan _ someone who eats no animal products, including dairy and eggs _ can be produced on just 1/6 acre of land. Vegfam, a U.K.-based charity that funds sustainable plant-food projects, estimates that a 10-acre farm can support 60 people by growing soy, 24 people by growing wheat or 10 people by growing corn _ but only two by raising cattle. While some are blaming developing nations like China and India for creating food shortages, Americans should look in the mirror before pointing fingers. According to The New York Times, Americans eat twice as much meat as the average person worldwide.
Parents have long cajoled American children to finish their fish sticks or pork chops because "people are starving in China." Now we need to encourage people of all nationalities to eat their veggies_as well as beans, grains and fruit_instead of animal flesh if we are to alleviate hunger. As George Monbiot of The Guardian wrote, "(I)t now seems plain that (a vegan diet) is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue."
Chris Holbein is a senior projects coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' vegan campaign, 501 Front St., Norfolk, Va. 23510; Information about PETA's funding may be found at

Friday, June 20, 2008

Animal conservation - One man's commitment

Zoologist Alan Rabinowitz's commitment to saving big cats...Tigers, lions, cheetahs...

His book is entitled, "Life in the Valley of Death: The Fight to Save Tigers in the Land of Guns, Gold and Greed."

Interviewed on the Stephen Colbert show:

Soil-less vertical farming to aid food security

Columbia University's Dickson Despommier interviewed on the Stephen Colbert Show discussing vertical farming...."Put your food where you live."

Warning: A little racy, made for nighttime TV and entertainment, but an interesting concept.


Thursday, May 22, 2008


The first of SEVEN videos describing the convergence issue are complete.

Get a sneak preview at:

The video will be posted at when that site goes active in the next week.

Council on Foreign Relations: Global food crisis

Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers her assessment of the global food crisis.

Garrett says nothing is more basic to human survival than food and water. In this detailed analysis Garrett warns that the soaring cost of food stocks threaten many poor countries with

Link to article:

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Washington Post series on Global Food Crisis

The Washington Post has published a multi-day series on the Global Food Crisis.

Today's focus is:
Siphoning Off Corn for Our CarsDrive for ethanol links food and fuel prices just as oil is rising to new records, pulling up the price of anything that can be poured into a gasoline tank.

Some fascinating data, and eye-opening visuals.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Must see TV - Illegal trade and Water quality

Public television has premiered two new series:

1. "Illicit" - Investigates illegal trade in humans and products...Fascinating look at $500 billion market that is growing dramatically. Includes look at consequences of mislabeled medication and mislabeled ingredients.

2. "Strange Days on Planet Earth - WATER" - Episode 5 of this series, "Deadly Catch," looks at over-fishing and the dramatic impacts on human and animal health, and contributing to environmental damage...There's a connection between overfishing and greenhouse gas production.

Silent Tsunami - Global food shortages

Global food shortages triggering riots, widespread misery and malnutrition.
World Food Programme now facing shortages and budget shortfall.
1 billion people live on $1 a day.

Read more:

Mutating adenovirus suspected in deaths in Peru

Deadly virus
Medical examinations have determined that 8 other Chinese sailors have the deadly virus, but have not developed any illness. The cook, aged 40, and a crewmember of the vessel, aged 38, died on 9 Apr 2008,after suffering high fevers for hours. No medication was able to stop the progression of the disease.

Experts of the Forensic Medicine Institute of Public Prosecutions[IML] have determined that the cause of death was an adenovirus that has become extremely deadly.

Adenoviruses are spread by physical contact or through the air andare one of the causes of the common flu, but were not considered fatal. At least, not so far.

The virus that causes severe acute respiratory [syndrome], anatypical pneumonia that first appeared in November 2002 in Guangdong Province, China, has been ruled out.

The head of the IML, Luis Bromley Coloma, indicated that "we are facing an adenovirus that has mutated and become deadly, but it is still unknown what caused the mutation and how fast it can spread",which is why an Epidemiological Alert has been declared.

The autopsy performed on the 2 victims showed multiorgan edema in the brain, lungs, heart, liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and microhemorrhages in all organs. Toxicological, biological, and pathological tests performed revealed the presence of the mutated adenovirus.

Now, health authorities are working to establish where and what generated the mutation to find a cure or a way to contain it.

"Chan An 168" is a squid and shrimp fishing vessel that sailed from the port of Yautay, China, on 19 Aug 2007 with 23 people on board. Since then they have not had contact with dry land. On 13 Dec 2007 it delivered its catch to another boat and received 2 other crewmembers. The same happened on 15 Mar 2008.

On 9 Apr 2008, the port captaincy of Callao received a distress call from the captain of the "Chan An". That morning 2 Chinese crewmembers-- the cook and a fisherman -- had died. The only symptom was a high fever lasting from 2-5 hours; none of the medicines on board helped.

Unfortunately, the Navy and International Maritime Health personnel boarded the Chinese ship to provide the care they needed, without taking the precautions needed to avoid contagion, hence it has been decided to quarantine them. The disease can manifest itself in 14 days to 3 months.

Specialists from the IML, and epidemiologists from the Ministry of Defense, the Navy, and the Ministry of Health, met yesterday 19 April, to assess the results of the biological and pathological examinations in order to take the necessary preventive measures toavoid spread of the virus.

"The autopsies carried out indicate that the 2 Chinese crewmembersdied from pneumonia resulting from an adenovirus, a cause of the fluthat is not usually fatal. What happened in this case is that thevirus has mutated and become deadly, and we are on an epidemiological alert,'' the head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, LuisBromley, said yesterday [19 Apr 2008]. The specialist added that this outbreak has 2 characteristics: the victims are people with weakened immune systems, having been almost a year at sea, isolated and living in subhuman conditions. The other factor is still being studied -- still unknown are the cause that led to the mutation and how to fight it.

"The entire crew has been evaluated and it has been found that 8 crewmembers are infected with the mutated adenovirus and are underobservation; they can not be treated, because we do not know how to fight this virus," stressed Bromley.

It has been arranged for 30 Peruvian people who have been to the ship to provide help and have come into contact with patients remain under epidemiological surveillance, isolated, and without contact withtheir families until the deadly disease has been ruled out. In these cases ''security measures may sound extreme, but prevention is betterthan later to have to bear the consequences if nothing was done,"asserted emphatically the head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine.

The identification of a 'mutated' adenovirus as the suspected causeof the deaths of members of the crew of a Chinese fishing vessel anchored off Callao is surprising. Adenoviruses are ubiquitous viruses that can be isolated from both sick and healthy individuals. Antibodies can be detected in virtually all humans, indicative ofinfection early in childhood and possible life-long persistence in adenoid and lung tissue. Morbidity and mortality associated with adenovirus infection are low, but adenovirus-associated respiratory and gastrointestinal disease can be serious especially in immunologically compromised patients. There are at least 170 serotypes of adenoviruses, about 50 of which have been isolated from human sources. The designation 'mutant' or'mutated' adenovirus is meaningful only in the sense that the adenovirus recovered from the affected individuals is associated with signs and symptoms not usually encountered in adenovirus infections.An adenovirus, however, cannot be excluded as the potential etiologicagent, particularly as the description of living conditions on board the fishing vessel suggest that the resistance of the crew to any infectious agent may have been very low. Information of the condition of the other crewmembers and those in quarantine will be relevant in confirming the diagnosis.

New food safety regulatory agency to protect India

All food sold in India, at restaurants, retail chains, even roadside outlets, will come under the scanner of new regulatory body.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India will start functioning in June.

Questions remain, however, about how a sector as wide and diverse as food will be regulated.

Read more:

US Gov't looking at food safety reform / FDA

From Center for Science in the Public Interest:

Package introduced on April 17 urging reform of how U.S. addresses food safety.

Includes proposed FDA reforms in an effort to restore consumer confidence in the safety of the food supply.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fellowship offer from American Public Health

For American Public Health Association members:
1-year Fellowship opportunities in Washington D.C. are now available.
Visit for full details.

What's your carbon footprint? What about a cheeseburger?

The average American eats 3 cheeseburgers per week.

How much is consumed to make billions of cheeseburgers per year?

How much greenhouse gas emission is produced?

Watch this intriguing video:

A continent in crisis - Malaria blankets

Article from the United Methodist Church on the blankets for malaria campaign.
Includes startling data on Zimbabwe, specifically:
  • 1/3 of the population depends on imported food handouts
  • 1/3 has fled the country
  • 80 percent is jobless
  • Inflation is the highest in the world at more than 100,000 percent
  • People suffer crippling shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel and medicine
  • Life expectancy has fallen from 60 to 35 years

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Real food? Interview with Michael Pollan

Interview with Michael Pollan ("Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food") discusses organic food choices, the power of the consumer, the interaction / relationship between culture and food, and food companies.

What's your relationship with food?
What of the status of our traditional supply chain?

Full article:

CDC announces 1st hepatitis A case of 2008

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday announced this year's first fatal case of hepatitis A. The victim was a 30-year-old man who died four days after he was hospitalized.

So far this year, 82 new cases of hepatitis A have been reported, 47 affecting people under the age of 30.

Lin said the man was sent to a hospital in southern Taiwan on March 11. He was reportedly unconscious by the time he was brought in. The local CDC was notified the next day of his case. The man died of liver and kidney failure on March 14.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Food prices up; Ethanol to blame?

Why your food is costing more money
Wheat, corn, and soybean prices are surging; is ethanol to blame?
By Tom Curry - MSNBC
updated 3:47 p.m. ET, Fri., March. 14, 2008

WASHINGTON - If you’re fuming about how high gasoline prices have gotten, why not relax with a nice meal?
Perhaps a few beers and a turkey sandwich? Maybe a chicken Caesar salad?
Well, it's not just the price of gasoline that's going up. That beer, turkey and chicken are also costing more too.
As President Bush noted in his comments on the economy Friday, “Prices are up at the gas pump and in the supermarket.”
Full story:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Family pets host for MRSA


When MRSA won't wane, check the family pet.
As if all the angst about drug-resistant staph bacteria wasn’t worrisome enough, now it turns out you might get the deadly germ from your cat.
Suspicions about that calico on the couch are being raised this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. German scientists reported that a woman endured a series of nasty abscesses caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, until a veterinarian screened — and treated — the family cat.

Full story:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Deforestation driving snakes to cities


As forest falls, snakes take to city
10-foot anaconda is among the migrants leaving destroyed habitat

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Snakes — including one 10-foot anaconda — are increasingly invading the eastern Amazon's largest city, driven from the rain forest by destruction of their natural habitat, the government's environmental protection agency said Tuesday.

The agency, known as Ibama, has been called out to capture 21 snakes this year in Belem, a sprawling metropolis of 1.5 million people at the mouth of the Amazon River, Ibama press officer Luciana Almeida said by telephone.

In normal years, Ibama gets no more than one or two calls a month, she said.

Full story:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

U.S. Hispanics get worse medical care


Elderly Hispanics in the U.S. tend to get inferior care, according to a Harvard study being released Tuesday. The study reveals that hospitals with high percentages of Hispanic patients tend to have slightly lower quality indicators in three crucial areas -- for heart attacks, congestive heart failure and pneumonia.

Full story:

Images of monarch butterflies' habitat loss


This is just interesting...and sad:

Satellite images show illegal loggers have clear-cut large swathes of trees in the heart of a monarch butterfly reserve in Mexico, threatening the entire population with extinction, according to a leading researcher.

Full story:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Could we really run out of food?

U.S.-centric article ponders a world in famine.

"Biofuel production, poor harvests and emerging nations' growing appetites are emptying the world's pantry, sending prices soaring. It's a good time to invest in agricultural stocks."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Yellow fever epidemic in U.S. - The 1878 outbreak

Retelling of 1878 outbreak in Memphis, Tennessee.

Warmer temperatures thought to have fueled the epidemic.

Emerging Disease on the Rise

National Public Radio report on increase in emerging diseases - Feb. 21, 2008

"In the next decade, we can expect more diseases...."

"Wild animals pose the biggest risk in emerging diseases..."

"Human populations are encroaching more and more on wild habitat..."

"There is a cost to development..."

"More attention should be given to hot spots..."

"Zones of increasing population growth..."

"Starting points are hot spots...That's where scientists should focus their attention..."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Top U.S. science advisors answer bird flu questions

HHS advisor fields online pandemic preparedness queries
Lisa Schnirring Staff Writer

Feb 19, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – FluWiki, an online resource and community forum, has its finger on the pulse of pandemic influenza planning issues and avian flu news, but today it featured something unusual: a dialogue with a top federal science advisor who's directly involved in the government's pandemic preparations.

William Raub, PhD, science advisor to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt, fielded six multipart questions from the FluWiki community, covering issues such as vaccine prioritization, food and medication stockpiling, the federal government's role in pandemic planning, and how HHS plans to publicize the role of community mitigation measures.


Local to global...Database of countries' food safety requirements

Jan / Feb 08 FAO newsletter links to WHO database...Info on other countries' food safety requirements & standards.

Newsletter also includes list of upcoming food safety / risk assessment conferences & meetings.


Center for Science in the Public Interest's
Food Safety Solutions

This latest recall represents a fundamental failure in USDA's mission to keep sick animals out of the human food supply. On-site USDA inspectors apparently failed to stop these practices for two years, resulting in the biggest recall in our nation's history. Following 18 months of food scares, ranging from tainted spinach to poisoned pet food, this massive meat recall is proof positive that Congress must fully fund and remake our food safety agencies. Here are five steps necessary to improve food safety:

1. Modernize the food inspection program to make it comprehensive and effective, from farm to table. It should include product sampling and a risk-based schedule for inspections with clear authority for inspectors to travel from the farms to foreign countries to ensure the safety of the US food supply.

2. Require all food growers and processors to implement mandatory process controls to prevent food contamination. Any one who wants to produce food for sale in the U.S. should have a food safety management plan, written and subject to auditing by its customers, and state and federal regulators.

3. Give USDA and FDA (or a new agency) mandatory recall and tracking authority over the food supply. Ensure that both agenices can track tainted products to their source and also require companies to recall product with full information going to the public on where recalled products were sold.

4. Toughen the penalties for violating food safety laws and for producing, processing or knowingly selling tainted products. Existing statutes have only a patchwork of fines and penalties -- decades old, andclearly not effective.

5. Put all these elements in a modern food safety law passed by Congress, creating strong federal oversight by a single federal agency with an increased budget that coordinates with state and foreign governments to ensure safe food in this country, whether the food is domestically produced or imported.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bangladesh - Study on the impact of bird flu

In case you missed it, the impact of bird flu in Bangladesh is described in this link:

Beef recall -- Who made the decision? Who's to blame?

The recall this week of 143 million pounds of beef produced in California is an interesting study in decision-making and response.

Specifically, was the decision to recall the beef made by the Federal gov't in Washington D.C. or by the individuals on the ground who recorded the video of animal mistreatment and saw fit to let others know? Local actions, global implications?

Response has been a proposal to strip the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture of its responsibilities.
Is this placing blame solely where it needs to be placed?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pandemic Flu Preparedness Guide

Produced by the Michigan (USA) Department of Community Health...Written in very clear language with good advice...Could be adapted to audiences in other locations.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Global warming to equal more insects?

History shows insect boom during past warming period.

Chikungunya outbreak likely, say Aussie scientists

Half of mosquito species in Australia deemed efficient carriers of the disease,23739,23204552-5003426,00.html

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Amer Public Health blog addressing flu

Our partners at the American Public Health Association host a very useful blog on the potential for influenza outbreaks and suggested preparedness and prevention methods.
Learn how to GET READY at:

Measles on the rise in England, Wales

Case number grows from 56 in '97 to more than 700 in '07...many children unvaccinated.

Positive TB test found in Minnesota cattle

Bovine TB has been found in another herd of cattle in Minnesota...Brings the total to 10 herds.

Vietnam on high alert for bird flu

More about preparedness plans leading up to Feb. 6th New Year's celebration:

Friday, January 25, 2008

EU presents '07 - '13 framework for animal health

Given the devastating impact that serious disease outbreaks can have on farmers, society and the economy, this strategy is based on the principle that “prevention is better than cure”. The aim is to put greater focus on precautionary measures, disease surveillance, controls and research, in order to reduce the incidence of animal disease and minimise the impact of outbreaks when they do occur.
Read more:

Nat'l Geographic: Animals & Human Exchange Disease

In September 1994, a violent disease erupted among racehorses in a suburb of Brisbane, Australia. The place, called Hendra, was a quiet old neighborhood filled with racecourses, stables, newsstands that sell tip sheets, corner caf├ęs with names like The Feed Bin, and racing people. The first victim was a pregnant mare named Drama Series, who started showing symptoms in an outlying pasture and was brought back to her trainer's stable for doctoring, where she only got worse.
Read more:

African germ, Aisian mosquito demonstrate disease spread

A virus from Africa, a mosquito from Asia and a tourist from India met one day this summer on the Italian seaside, showing how globalization hastens the spread of disease from one continent to another.
Read more:

Scientific American Podcast: Fighting global disease

Oct '07 Podcast from colleague Philip Yam

Go-Global Network addresses emerging food & feed chain risks

The overall objective of GO-GLOBAL is to tackle food safety problems effectively at an early stage and on a worldwide scale. By creating a comprehensive network of expertise on emerging risks in the food and feed chain, the GO-GLOBAL project aims to promote international cooperation and communication on food safety issues between authorities, researchers and industry.

Book: Elephant & the Dragon - Robyn Meredith

Describes the economic rise of both India and China. The descriptions of the impact of development on the people in these countries is quite fascinating. Understanding the motivations behind people's willingness to take action or not to act is useful to our discussion (whether in the developed or developing world).

Book: Banker to the Poor - Mohammad Yunus

Describes the founding and operation of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
It discusses the founding of a movement (to provide credit to poor women and men living in rural areas).
It describes a movement founded on the principles of self determination.

60 Minutes report: Superbug: MRSA infection

Segment focused on form of staph: MRSA

Mutated and resistant to most antibiotics


U.N.'s Nabarro: Governments need to do more to prepare for economic hit of pandemics

David Nabarro said his team had recently collected information from nearly 150 countries to see how prepared they were for a pandemic and the picture was mixed.

"Most countries have now focused on pandemic as a potential cause of catastrophe and have done some planning. But the quality of the plans is patchy and too few of them pay attention to economic and social consequences," he told BBC radio.

"The economic consequences could be up to $2 trillion -- up to 5 percent of global GDP removed," he said, reiterating previous World Bank and UN estimates.

Full article:

Book: Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken

All about 'working at the commons'. Subtitle is "How theLargest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming." It describes the organic development of local initiatives on the environment, social justice & indigenous rights & how they've collectively made an impact even though they are unconnected & not part of a centrally motivated or charismatically led international 'movement'. Fascinating thesis that local initiatives can collectively make a global difference.

Feb. 10-15 - Intergov't Engagement in Europe

From Will Hueston:
"Engaging Intergovermental Organizations for Food Safety, Animal Health andPublic Health" will take participants to the OIE in Paris, WHO inGeneva & FAO in Rome plus interactions with international NGOs such as theInternational Federation for Animal Health. Using case studies, such as thepending revision of international guidelines on control of avian influenza,participants will consider how international public policy is shaped & what role individuals, organizations & government can play.

Feb 6 - 9 - farm-to-table study tour in Netherlands

From Will Hueston:
From February 6-9 we'll lead a study tour from farm-to-table in theNetherlands. Senior animal health and public health officials will join thegroup for visits to farms, inspection stations, ports and processing plantsas we explore the food safety public health system and its animal healthcounterparts in a country that depends heavily on global trade to exportfood.