Animals and COVID-19: What are the risks?

Animals and COVID-19: What are the risks?

We don't yet know all the animals that can get infected with COVID-19. Although SARS-CoV-2 originated in an animal - most likely a bat - it is not animals that drive the course of the pandemic. Rather, it is us, humans.  It appears the virus can spread from people to animals during close contact. Data from mink farms in Denmark has also shown that the virus can not only be passed between humans and animals, but it can  also mutate in the animal host and then "jump" back onto people, infecting them. While this is definitely a cause for concern, it must be noted that mink are particularly susceptible to coronaviruses and farms provide the ideal environment for them to spread. What about other species? Animals which have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 Cats, dogs and other mammals can get infected, mostly after a close contact with an infected person.  There have been reports of pet cats and dogs contracting the virus in several countries around...
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Is human contact with wildlife to blame for pandemics?

Is human contact with wildlife to blame for pandemics?

We should curb our contact with wildlife and livestock to prevent future pandemics, a new report says. Our relationship with the environment has been getting more and more complex. Wildfires, floods, extreme weather changes and now, a pandemic – the challenges are multiple and require immediate action. Now, a report by UN established organisation IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) says humankind needs a new approach to stop future outbreaks before they become global. Its authors call on people to stop encroaching on wild land and eat less meat. This is hardly surprising. If you trace back the origin of past pandemics, quite often you will get to an animal source. The virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic is likely to have sprung from North American domestic and wild birds. HIV jumped onto humans from chimpanzees, most likely when humans came into contact with the chimpanzees’ infected blood while hunting them. Even recent diseases like Ebola, zika and, of...
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The Quadruple Whammy For Christmas

The Quadruple Whammy For Christmas

The press are predicting a difficult winter period, the so called quadruple whammy of Covid-19, influenza, Brexit and climate change (flooding). We hope it will be much better than that. With good fortune and good behaviour the second spike of coronavirus can be avoided. Flu vaccines are already being shipped and in the Southern Hemisphere, now in winter, measures to prevent Covid-19 infection are reducing the number of flu infections.  The hit to the economy from Covid-19 is many fold greater than anything predicted for Brexit. In any event, the EU is in as much Covid-19 turmoil as we are. With international travel at its highest ever level pre-pandemic, this horrible virus spread around the world quickly and although we had some time to react, the ponderous response by Western Governments was fuelled by liberal economists and a series of experts (herd community?) relying on the precedents of other viruses. Always look outside the box my friends, always. The shutdown was late (but...
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Bioluminescent Plankton

Bioluminescent Plankton

According to the Oxford dictionary bioluminescence is the ‘biochemical emission of light by living organisms’. It is a clever mechanism used by organisms to attract mates, find food and to respond to attacks. About 80% of bioluminescent species live in the deep sea and it is estimated that most species that live 700 meters below sea level can produce their own light. To produce their own glow-in-the-dark magic trick they use variations of a chemical reaction using three ingredients: an enzyme called luciferase, oxygen and luciferin. This enzyme allows the oxygen to bond to the organic molecule luciferin. The high-energy molecule that is created releases the energy in the form of light. These light producing molecules are interestingly good antioxidants and so it was believed that once they were used as such until they were eventually adapted for signalling. This is because as the oxygen content of the sea increased organisms were forced to dive to deeper depths away from...
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Can Nature Improve Our Mood During Lockdown

Can Nature Improve Our Mood During Lockdown

‘A walk-in nature, walks the soul back home’ - Mary Davis The environments that we are confined to can impact our body, mind and spirit profoundly. What we hear, touch, smell and see can not only affect our mood but our nervous, endocrine and immune systems as well. Say you are in a stressful environment, your heart rate goes up, elevating your blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension, suppressing your body’s systems. You would find that the opposite happens in a relaxed and more pleasant environment like a spa or a walk in the woods listening to bird song. Being in nature or even just viewing nature from a window can reduce feelings of anger, pain and stress. We are literally genetically programmed to find elements of nature engrossing as we humans were not made to sit inside all day. Nature can lower the production of stress hormones and researchers have even stated that it could reduce mortality. Even a single potted...
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Coronavirus: Calls to shut down ‘dirty fur trade’

Coronavirus: Calls to shut down ‘dirty fur trade’

Around two weeks ago in the Netherlands, two fur farms reported Mink (Neovison vison) infected with Covid-19. Farmers at the facility caught the virus but are now safe in quarantine. This is now adding to the ever-expanding list of animals known to be able to contract the virus which even includes lions and tigers. In a new case, lions and tigers from the New York Zoo caught the disease from their keepers. This evidence shows that this deadly virus can spread between humans and animals, threatening endangered animals even more. To keep the virus from spreading, we need to keep the interactions between wild animals and humans to a minimum. Some animals that can catch the virus include horseshoe bats, red foxes, wild boar and possibly even domestic cats and dogs. This means that there needs to be tougher regulations surrounding the wildlife trade as well as regulations to keep our ecosystems safe where human interaction is necessary. The potential of this virus spreading is another...
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