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Avian Flu Poses An Ongoing Threat To Human Health.
The recent spillover of bird flu to mammals has led the World Health Organization to warn that while the risk to humans currently remains low, it cannot be assumed that this will remain the case.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that cases of avian influenza in minks, otters, foxes and sea lions reported in recent weeks need to be monitored closely.
In October 2022, the H5N1 virus was detected in a mink farm outbreak in Spain’s Galicia region.
While investigations found mink-to-mink transmission may have taken place at the farm, all staff there tested negative for the virus.
Worldwide, four people were infected by the avian flu virus (H5N1) in 2022, one of whom died.
Avian flu poses an ongoing threat to human health due to its potential to cause a future pandemic and therefore strong disease surveillance remains critical.
( Ashleigh Furlong and Sarah-Taissir Bencharif, 08.02.2023 ) ..

Consumers Aren’t Getting The Message.
It’s no longer news that eating meat is bad for the planet.
Study after study after study confirms how much pollution comes from the food system: the meat industry emits at least 14.5% of global emissions.
That’s more than road, rail and plane transport combined.
Not only that, it’s impossible to reach the climate goals of the Paris Agreement — staying under 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming — without tackling the problem of how much beef we as a planet consume.
It cannot be done.
Yet somehow consumers aren’t getting the message.
A January 2023 survey from Purdue researchers found the belief that eating less meat is good for the environment is now at an “all-time low,” with only 46% of respondents in agreement.
Perhaps what’s needed is a clear explanation of why beef is bad for the environment.
( Björn Ólafsson, 13.02.2023 )  ..

Chemical Additives In Bacon And Sausages Are Linked To Bowel Cancer.
Should nitrites — chemical additives in most cured meats such as ham, bacon and sausages — be banned because of links to type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer?
That’s the suggestion from leading scientists, MPs and peers who are urging ministers to halt its use on the back of worrying, mounting research.
Used as a preservative — you may see names such as E249, E250 and E251 on ingredients lists, for example — the chemicals also give meats a distinctive pink colour and are thought to increase their shelf life.
Manufacturers even claim that nitrites keep meats free from bacteria that cause food poisoning.
And yet evidence being uncovered by leading scientists suggests they significantly raise rates of serious disease — and also may not help to prevent food poisoning, as the manufacturers suggest.
A new study by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) concluded that two-thirds of Britons regularly consume processed meats containing nitrites daily — yet around 60% are unaware that they may significantly increase their risk of bowel cancer.
The WCRF says that its analysis of scientific research indicates that regularly consuming processed meats containing nitrites is linked to up to one in six bowel cancer cases in men, and one in ten cases in women.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Britain, with more than 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year – 40% of patients die within five years of being diagnosed.
The WCRF claims that a new survey it carried out points to bacon as the chief dietary culprit for causing bowel cancer because it is our most popular processed meat, with two thirds of British meat-eaters consuming it regularly.
An estimated 90% of bacon sold in UK supermarkets contains nitrites.
( John Nash, 07.03.2023 )  ..

“Forever Chemicals” Linked To Serious Health Problems In Both Humans And Animals.
Hundreds of animal species across the globe from ticks to whales have blood contaminated with toxic PFAS, a new analysis of previous peer-reviewed research shows.
Though the analysis does not aim to reveal how the exposure to PFAS affects wildlife, anecdotal evidence in some of the previous studies show the chemicals are likely sickening animals.
Researchers have found the chemicals in a range of species such as scorpions, pandas, Siberian tigers, turtles, horses, dogs, plankton, sea lions, wild boar, otters and oysters.
PFAS are a class of about 12,000 chemicals often used to make thousands of consumer products resistant to water, stains and heat.
They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and they are linked to cancer, liver disease, kidney stress, fetal complications and other serious health problems.
Federal data shows that nearly all Americans’ blood is contaminated with the compounds, but research on wildlife has been scattered until the EWG analysis aggregated it.
The highly mobile chemicals accumulate and continuously cycle through the environment because they do not break down, and they can be carried long distances through the atmosphere.
That means even animals in remote parts of the world that are far from industrial sources, such as penguins in Antarctica or polar bears in the Arctic, can be contaminated with high levels of PFAS.
Researchers have found about 120 kinds of PFAS compounds in animals’ blood, though that figure is likely higher because limits on testing capabilities make it difficult to identify many of the chemicals.
The impact on animals’ health remains unclear, but last year researchers in North Carolina found autoimmune disorders similar to lupus in alligators living in water contaminated by a nearby PFAS plant owned by chemical manufacturer Chemours.
Researchers also found evidence of immune system issues in north Pacific sea turtles.
( Tom Perkins, 22.02.2023 )  ..

The U.S. Is The Largest Importer Of Wild Live Animals In The World And Most Undergo No Health And Safety Checks When They Arrive.
In October 2022, the Biden administration released its National Bio-defence Strategy (NBS-22), the first update since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Although the document notes that one of the lessons of the pandemic is that threats originating anywhere are threats everywhere, it frames threats as largely external to the United States.
NBS-22 focuses primarily on bio-terrorism and laboratory accidents, neglecting threats posed by routine practices of animal use and production inside the United States.
NBS-22 references zoonotic disease but assures readers that no new legal authorities or institutional innovations are needed.
Although the U.S. is not alone in failing to confront these risks, its failure to comprehensively address them echoes across the globe.
More zoonotic diseases originated in the United States than in any other country during the second half of the 20th century.
In 2022, the U.S. processed more than 10 billion livestock, the largest number ever recorded and an increase of 204 million over 2021. Risks occur across the supply chain, from facilities where animals are born to homes where they are consumed.
The ongoing H5N1 avian influenza outbreak has left 58 million animals dead in backyard chicken coops and industrial farms.
It has infected animals in one of the dozens of live poultry markets in New York City (elsewhere called “wet markets”).
Of the many agencies that govern food animal production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is the most important, but even it has no authority to regulate on-farm animal production.
Since 2011, the U.S. has recorded more swine-origin influenza infections than any other country.
Most occurred at state and county fairs, where an estimated 18% of swine have tested positive.
These fairs attract 150 million visitors each year.
In 2012, H3N2v influenza jumped from pigs to humans at livestock exhibitions and infected 306 people across 10 states, with suspected human-to-human transmission.
Still, animal fairs remain largely unregulated and exempt from federal oversight.
Zoonotic risks also arise from interactions with free and captive wildlife.
Each year, the U.S. consumes an estimated 1 billion pounds of “game” (elsewhere called “bushmeat”).
Yet, most hunter-harvested meat is not inspected, and no sanitary measures are required.
Avian influenza has spread from wild birds to hunters and also appeared in captive game farms, where 40 million birds are raised annually.
Three million mink live on U.S. fur farms in long rows of wire cages where their waste falls onto the floor or onto other animals below.
Though mink are slaughtered on-site, no federal laws govern them, and few states even require licenses.
In some states, regulators were unaware that fur farms existed within their borders until animals in them began contracting COVID-19.
In Michigan, mink generated a new strain of the virus, transmitting it to workers.
In Utah, health department officials were denied access to an infected farm, unable to carry out containment efforts or even testing.
The U.S. is the largest importer of wildlife in the world.
More than 200 million live wild animals enter the U.S. each year, most undergoing no health and safety checks when they arrive.
Live animal imports are governed by a range of agencies, many with ill-defined jurisdictions.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees most of these imports, has stated that it does not have independent authority to detain shipments of sick animals.
( Ann Linder and Dale Jamieson, 16.02.2023 )  ..

The Mass Slaughter Of Birds On U.S. Commercial Farms Due To Avian Flu.
The avian flu outbreak in the U.S. is already more widespread than the last major bird flu outbreak in 2015, but it hasn’t proven as costly yet partly because the government and industry applied lessons learned eight years ago.
Unlike past years, the virus that causes highly pathogenic avian influenza found a way to survive through the heat of last summer, leading to a rise in cases reported in the fall.
In the current outbreak, 58.4 million birds have been slaughtered on more than 300 commercial farms in 47 U.S. states.
That is because any time the virus is detected, the entire flock on that farm — which can number in the millions — must be killed to limit the spread of the disease.
Only Hawaii, Louisiana and West Virginia have yet to report a case of bird flu.
Iowa — the nation’s biggest egg producer — leads the nation with nearly 16 million birds slaughtered.
In 2015, about 50 million chickens and turkeys were slaughtered on more than 200 farms in 15 states.
( Josh Funk, 18.02.2023 )  ..

Meat Bacteria Are The Likely Cause Of Over Half A Million Urinary Tract Infections In The U.S. Every Year.
Meat bacteria are the likely cause of over half a million urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the U.S. every year, a new study has found, with one of its authors warning that deaths from UTI-driven bloodstream infections could be on the rise.
The study found that of the 6-8 million UTIs caused by E coli bacteria in the U.S. every year, between 480,000 and 640,000 could be linked to strains known as FZECs, or food-borne zoonotic E coli.
Women are far more likely than men to suffer from UTIs.
The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) estimates that about half of all women in the UK will have at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime.
While UTIs are often considered no more than a painful annoyance, the bladder can act as a gateway to the bloodstream for E coli, via the kidneys, causing much greater risks.
In the U.S., E coli bloodstream infections kill between 36,000 and 40,000 people every year.
Lance Price, one of the study’s authors and a professor specialising in antibiotic resistance at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington DC warned that as E coli, already resistant to some antibiotic treatments, became resistant to more antibiotics, the number of people dying from bloodstream infections could rise.
( Sophie Kevany, 23.03.2023 )  ..

Avian Flu Spreads From Birds To Humans Through Direct Contact.
An 11-year-old girl in Cambodia has died from bird flu.
The girl fell ill on February 16, 2023, with a fever, cough and sore throat.
She was sent to be treated at a hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh.
She was diagnosed and died shortly afterwards.
Cambodia’s Communicable Disease Control Department said the test results confirmed that the girl was “positive for H5N1,” referring to the bird flu virus.
The disease typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact.
Health officials have taken samples from a dead wild bird at a conservation area near the girl’s home.
Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng urged parents to keep their children away from poultry as well as sick or dead birds.
Cambodia had 56 human cases of H5N1 from 2003 through 2014 and 37 of them were fatal, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Most human cases worldwide have involved direct contact with infected poultry, but concerns have arisen recently about infections in a variety of mammals and the possibility the virus could evolve to spread more easily between people.
Globally, there have been more than 450 fatal bird flu cases since 2003, according to the WHO.
Link:   ..  23.02.2023

Sewage Microbes In Ocean Spray Can Be Blown For Miles Inland.
After a rainstorm passes, the air coming off the ocean just feels different – cleaner and fresher.
But a first of its kind study shows how bacteria from sewage in the ocean can get whipped up in salt spray and blow into coastal communities miles away.
While the degree of risks remain unknown, the study is significant because it is the first time scientists have linked such pollution to coastal sea spray.
It’s also the first time scientists have been able to quantify how much of the microbes in the air are traceable back to microbes in the sewage contaminated water.
The study found the pathogens present a mile or two inland – and there is evidence that coastal salt spray can be blown hundreds of miles inland, but particles get more dispersed as they move away from the coast.
Kim Prather, an atmospheric chemist who led the work, said: “We don’t know what the effect is yet of inhaling this cocktail that comes out of the ocean – it’s something we are trying to understand.”
( Katharine Gammon, 02.03.2023 )  ..

Tory MPs And Lords Have Accepted Money From Private Healthcare Firms.
Tory MPs, lords and even Downing Street advisers have been shamelessly accepting money from private healthcare firms as the NHS is on its knees.
The troubling links come as the Government dishes out contracts to the private sector to tackle long NHS waiting lists.
And they emerge as private health providers cash in through growing numbers of desperate NHS patients digging into savings for treatment.
At least 28 Tory MPs and Lords have had ties to private health and medical groups, publicly accessible records reveal.
They include: Suffolk MP Dan Poulter, an NHS doctor paid £30,000 a year by medical cannabis firm Kanabo Group PLC.
Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond who earns £25,000 a year as a non-executive director at Optibiotix Health that sells products to manage chronic lifestyle diseases.
Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly, the £30,000-a-year chairman of Pembroke VCT, which has invested in healthcare software companies.
Ex-health minister Steve Brine made £200 an hour giving “strategic advice” to drug firm Sigma before resigning in 2021.
He earned £1,600 for eight hours a month as adviser to healthcare recruitment service Remedium.
Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt, who made a bid for the Tory party leadership, took a £10,000 donation from care home firm Renaissance Care UK.
She was also paid £6,900 for speaking to the Boston Consulting Group, which made millions from Covid testing.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat has shares in Accurx Ltd – a software firm “improving communication in healthcare”.
Wokingham MP John Redwood has a £5,000-a-year deal advising EPIC Private Equity, which invests in private prescriptions delivery firm Pharmacy2U.
Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid had share options in a California tech firm behind health sector software.
He sold his stake after Labour accused him of a conflict of interest.
Tory MP for Don Valley, Nick Fletcher, has an £800-a-month perks package as a director of Analogue Electrics, which includes private health insurance.
Snouts in the trough are not confined to the Commons.
At least 16 Tory peers have interests in private healthcare and biomedical firms, including:
Lord Michael Farmer, who has donated millions to the party since 2010.
He has shares in Centene, a US healthcare firm.
Its subsidiary Operose Health has taken over dozens of London medical practices.
He is also a shareholder in the US-based healthcare insurance company eHealth.
Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford is an equity partner for venture capital firm Recode Health Ventures and chair of the advisory board of private blood tester Thriva.
Lord Howard of Rising is a shareholder in medical diagnostics firms EKF, renalytics and kidney transplant tests company Verici Dx.
Lord Nash – who has donated more than £237,000 to the Tories since 2010 – has shares in private care homes provider Care UK.
Staff who work for a government bent on privatising the NHS have also had links with health firms.
Boris Johnson made ex-private health executive Samantha Jones No 10’s Head of People.
She had been chief of Operose.
Rishi Sunak gave Bill Morgan – a founder of lobbying firm Evoke Incisive Health – a job as health policy adviser, where he is believed to be helping drive through NHS “efficiencies”.
Evoke Incisive Health says it aims to solve “the most complex of challenges in today’s healthcare market”.
( Nicola Small and John Siddle, 21.01.2023 )  ..

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