This blog is about an article I read in the New Scientist entitled ‘Europe may be blind to swine flu cases’. The article deals
with a point I raised in my previous blog posted on 1st May on H1N1 flu. Having flown back from a holiday in
Canada, I started suffering flu symptoms the week swine flu hit the news
headlines and I wasn’t tested for H1N1 because I didn’t fit the pattern of
suspect cases, which is having been to Mexico in the past 7 days, or being in
contact with a swine flu confirmed case. I mentioned then I thought this is a
simplistic way of deciding who is suitable for screening. As a scientist, I
would have included a control group, i.e. some of the people who don't fit the
pattern, so that we would have a better idea of the extent of the spreading of
the virus. My daughter who went to Canada with me also had flu a
couple of days after I had.
Apparently a large group of pigs in intensive housing can create noise levels of 100 decibels or above, especially just before they are fed. Farmers are advised to either wear hearing protection or avoid the animals until they are fed and contented. (This is less of an issue for farmers with automated feeding systems that can be switched on from the outside).
I recently went llama trekking and thoroughly enjoyed it. Up close, the llama (Lama glama) not only sports rather glamorous long eyelashes but
also has the most amazing fibrous coat. This reminded me that 2009 is the International Year of Natural Fibres
(IYNF) – a year of all things wild and woolly!
FAO have deemed 2009 as the International Year to highlight the importance
of natural fibres and their many uses, not only to producers and industry, but
also to consumers and the environment.
IYNF, or “Wild and Woolly 2009”, as it’s also known, has a great website
with profiles of natural fibres from abaca to alpaca to silk and sisal. Here
you can find out about events taking place throughout the year, and find out
why, in a world of synthetics, natural fibres should be the natural choice.
FAO (2009). Discover natural
fibres 2009. Common Fund for Commodities. Proceedings of the Symposium on
Natural Fibres. Rome,
20 October 2008. Technical Paper No. 56.
It is cheering to see that a growing list of publishers including CABI is making influenza related research papers and databases freely available to help the global anti-influenza effort. I'm gathering those I hear about on CABI's free H1N1 'dashboard'. Below is what I have found so far. The list will be growing I'm sure.....
Water is the driving force of all nature (Leonardo Da Vinci,
Whilst screening a pile of publications, I recently came
across a new book entitled Leonardo Da
Vinci’s Water Theory: on the origin and fate of water. As Da Vinci himself,
the book is fascinating, revealing and inspiring. Leonardo Da Vinci’s water
theory opens up a new history to the study of water. Over 200 years before Newton, Perrault and
Halley, Da Vinci was doing hypothesis-driven science and describing and
classifying hydrological processes. For example, he came close to the modern
definition of the hydrological cycle, recognising that water passes through the
major river systems countless times, summing up to volumes much greater than
those contained in the world’s oceans. I’m sure not many people are aware of
his astounding contribution to hydrological science, so I thought I’d blog
about it. Read on to see more highlights of the book.
Man flu is considered by large segments of society to be the psychological condition of men with colds. It is often said that when men have a cold they think it is a flu and as a consequence they moan more than women and stay longer in bed until they feel better.
Man flu is not to be confused with the current H1N1 pandemic flu which is affecting humans in some 40 countries. There has also been one swine case on a farm in Canada.
The threat of an influenza pandemic has disappeared from headlines again lately, at least in the UK where a political scandal around MPs expenses has driven everything else off the news. But that doesn't mean that the outbreak has died down yet. In fact, just over 1000 new cases have been confirmed worldwide in the last 24 hours. Similarly, although travel warnings that had been in place for Mexico have now been lifted by some countries (including the UK), and cruise lines are planning their return to Mexico's ports, the possible cost to the global travel economy of a full-blown pandemic has recently been released.
Arne Witt is the coordinator for Invasive Species at CABI
Africa based in Nairobi, Kenya. Arne is responsible for coordinating
all CABI activities associated with Invasive Alien Species (IAS) on the
African continent. He is also the current International Project
Coordinator for the UNEP-GEF project, “Removing Barriers to Invasive
Plant Management in Africa”.