Archive for February 15, 2008

Migratory Birds Not Main Source of Bird Flu: WWF.

Staff Report

LAHORE: Wild migratory birds may suffer from Avian Influenza (commonly known as bird flu), but they are not the main source of the disease’s outbreak in Pakistan, according to a study statement issued by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Lahore chapter on Friday.

The statement said that the statements about migratory birds being the main reason for the latest outbreak of bird flu in Pakistani poultry farms might have serious repercussions against the birds and their habitats. It said since the recent outbreak of bird flu in Sindh, WWF Pakistan had been in contact with BirdLife International, which carried out research on the role of wild birds, including migratory species, in the spread of HPAI H5N1.

The WWF said there were no sound grounds to support the allegations that migratory birds were solely responsible for the spread of H5N1. It said the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) collected samples from between 300,000 to 350,000 wild-birds across the world. None of these were found H5N1 positive. Likewise, sampling of 5000 water birds after the outbreak in Nigeria during 2006 found no traces of the virus (according to the Wildlife and the Environment Web). Despite increased sampling around the world, no fully documented migratory wild birds have tested positive for H5N1.

The WWF said the mapping of bird flu outbreaks across the world had shown that they followed poultry trade routes rather than the migratory birds’ flyways. Therefore, after a comprehensive critical review of recent scientific literature, it was concluded that poultry trade, rather than bird migration, was the main mechanism of the global dispersal of the H5N1 virus.

The organisation said the illegal trade of caged birds had transported the H5N1 virus the world over. It said, “Bird flu virus is transmitted farm to farm by the movement of live birds, people (especially with contaminated clothes), and contaminated vehicles, equipment, feed, and cages. Highly pathogenic viruses can survive for long periods in the environment, especially when temperatures are low. For example, the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus can survive in bird faeces for at least 35 days at a low temperature (4 degree Celsius). At a much higher temperature (37 degree Celsius), H5N1 viruses have been shown to survive, in faecal samples, for six days (WHO).”

The WWF called for the media to educate the people about the bird flu virus and how it was being spread. It also called for the authorities to monitor any suspicious mortality of birds in the wild. It asked the zoos to vaccinate all birds against the virus. The organisation said poultry farms should have tracking numbers because once their birds got out in the market they could not be tracked back to the farms. The WWF said strict hygiene and bio-security measures should be taken at poultry farms and zoos – People and vehicles going to the farms should be disinfected, the birds’ caretakers should meticulously clean utensils, their hands and feet.

The statement said the organisation did not support mass culling of wild birds or the destruction of their habitats. It said the birds’ habitats should be left undisturbed so that they do not seek refuge near human settlements.

Source: Daily Times

I’ve read other accounts that come to the same conclusion.

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No Sunspots Today.

nosunspot.gif The sun is blank today.  No sunspots.

For daily sunspot activity, see SpaceWeather.com.  Then place your bets as to which causes global warming and cooling, CO2 or the sun, and grab the popcorn cuz’ we’re gonna have a front row seat.

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Total Lunar Eclipse

Feb. 13, 2008: On Wednesday evening, February 20th, the full Moon over the Americas will turn a delightful shade of red and possibly turquoise, too. It’s a total lunar eclipse—the last one until Dec. 2010.

The Sun goes down. The Moon comes up. You go out and look at the sky. Observing the eclipse is that easy. Maximum eclipse, and maximum beauty, occurs at 10:26 pm EST (7:26 pm PST).

A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the shadow of Earth. You might expect the Moon to grow even more ashen than usual, but in fact it transforms into an orb of vivid red.

Why red? That is the color of Earth’s shadow.
Consider the following: Most shadows we’re familiar with are black or gray; step outside on a sunny day and look at your own. Earth’s shadow is different because, unlike you, Earth has an atmosphere. The delicate layer of dusty air surrounding our planet reddens and redirects the light of the sun, filling the dark behind Earth with a sunset-red glow. The exact tint–anything from bright orange to blood red is possible–depends on the unpredictable state of the atmosphere at the time of the eclipse. “Only the shadow knows,” says astronomer Jack Horkheimer of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium.

Transiting the shadow’s core takes about an hour. The first hints of red appear around 10 pm EST (7 pm PST), heralding a profusion of coppery hues that roll across the Moon’s surface enveloping every crater, mountain and moon rock, only to fade away again after 11 pm EST (8 pm PST). No special filter or telescope is required to see this spectacular event. It is a bright and leisurely display visible from cities and countryside alike.

While you’re watching, be alert for another color: turquoise. Observers of several recent lunar eclipses have reported a flash of turquoise bracketing the red of totality.

“The blue and turquoise shades at the edge of Earth’s shadow were incredible,” recalls amateur astronomer Eva Seidenfaden of Trier, Germany, who took the picture at right during the European lunar eclipse of March 3-4, 2007. Dozens of other photographers have documented the same phenomenon.

The source of the turquoise is ozone. Eclipse researcher Dr. Richard Keen of the University of Colorado explains: “During a lunar eclipse, most of the light illuminating the moon passes through the stratosphere where it is reddened by scattering. However, light passing through the upper stratosphere penetrates the ozone layer, which absorbs red light and actually makes the passing light ray bluer.” This can be seen, he says, as a soft blue fringe around the red core of Earth’s shadow.

To catch the turquoise on Feb. 20th, he advises, “look during the first and last minutes of totality.” That would be around 10:01 pm EST and 10:51 pm EST (7:01 and 7:51 pm PST).

Blood red, bright orange, gentle turquoise: it’s all good. Mark your calendar in vivid color for the Feb. 20th lunar eclipse.

Source: NASA.

I can hardly wait! Hopefully it will be a clear night.

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Paraguayan President Escapes Poisoning

ASUNCION, Paraguay — (AP) — President Nicanor Duarte narrowly escaped being poisoned by an acid-laced bottle of water plucked from the refrigerator of his armed forces chief, officials said Friday.There was no immediate indication that somebody tried to kill the president on Thursday, but an investigation was under way, said Gen. Mario Soto, in whose office the incident occurred.

One of the president’s doctors, Carmelo González, told a news conference that the president suffered only minor irritations of his mouth and tonsils after quickly spitting out the water tainted with hydrochloric acid.

Defense Minister Nelson Mora said he saw a waiter take the bottle of mineral water from the refrigerator in Soto’s office, where Duarte was meeting military chiefs.

”He opened it and gave the glass of water to the president, who when he tasted it, sensed a strange flavor and spit it all out,” Mora said. “The president immediately felt burning in the mouth.”

Mora and González said laboratory tests confirmed that the water contained hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive product that is often used as an industrial cleaner.

Swallowing the acid can burn the mouth, throat and intestinal tract, while causing nausea, diarrhea and in severe cases, death.

”It was a very strange inconvenience which we are starting to investigate, but personally I don’t believe anybody wanted to harm the president,” Soto said.

Duarte made light of the incident during a news conference Friday on efforts to attack yellow fever.

”I don’t know why they did that if I’m immortal,” he said.

Source:  Miami Herald

Seems to be that it would be more likely to be aimed at General Soto.

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