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Major Drought Disaster Areas Named in 17 More Counties in Nebraska, USA

Drought Emergency Alert_2

More than a dozen Nebraska counties have been designated as disaster areas because of drought.

Over the past week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued disaster declarations for 17 counties, mostly in northeast and western Nebraska, the two areas where drought conditions have been the worst.

The counties designated as primary natural disaster areas were: Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Deuel, Dundy, Garden, Hitchcock, Keith, Kimball, Madison, Morrill, Pierce, Perkins, Platte, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Wayne.

Lincoln saw one of its coldest Octobers ever

They join Colfax, Cuming, Dawes, Dodge, Stanton and Thurston counties, which were declared as disaster areas last month.

Counties with a disaster declaration are eligible for emergency loans for losses caused by drought, which can be used for purposes such as paying to replace equipment or livestock or refinancing debts.

That eligibility also extends to more than two dozen counties that are contiguous to the counties with disaster declarations.

6 Nebraska counties named disaster areas because of drought

Nebraska is seeing its worst drought conditions since 2013. As of Thursday, nearly 86% of the state was in some level of drought, with 12% — all in the Panhandle — in extreme drought.

Both severe and extreme drought can lead to lowered crop yields, scarce hay supplies and serious declines in groundwater levels.

The one thing the dry weather has helped with is harvest. As of Monday, the soybean harvest was essentially done in the state, while about 86% of corn had been harvested. That’s well ahead of the five-year average.

Drought tightens grip on Nebraska as hot, dry spell looms.

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Second strain of coronavirus causing pigs to vomit in China ‘could spread to humans’

Coronavirus Alert

Humans could catch another coronavirus strain that has been causing pigs to have severe diarrhoea and vomiting in China.

Swine acute diarrhoea syndrome coronavirus – known as SADS-CoV – is thought to have come from bats and has been threatening the livestock industry since 2016.

A widespread outbreak of the virus, which poses greatest risk to piglets, could have a devastating effect on economies that rely on pork production and sales.

In 2019, America was the world’s third largest producer of pork and a spread of SADS-CoV would be the biggest to hit the industry since 2012’s swine flu.

Researchers from North Carolina have now shown that SADS-CoV can infect and replicate itself within the human airway, liver and intestinal cells.

SADS-CoV belongs to the same family of viruses as SARS-CoV-2 – the agent behind the COVID-19 pandemic.

SADS-CoV which has so far only spread between pigs, is an “alphacoronavirus” compared to SARS-CoV-2 which is a “betacoronavirus”.

Paper author and epidemiologist Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said: “Many investigators focus on the emergent potential of the betacoronaviruses like SARS and MERS.

“Actually the alphacoronaviruses may prove equally prominent – if not greater – concerns to human health, given their potential to rapidly jump between species.’

The researchers also explained that SADS-CoV is distinct from two common cold alphacoronaviruses in humans, HCoV-229E and HCoV-NL63.

In their study, Professor Baric and colleagues investigated the risk of so-called ‘spillover’ — that SADS-CoV could jump from pigs and infect human population, reports MailOnline.

To do this, they infected various types of synthetic cell with the swine coronavirus and monitored how the virus replicated and spread.

The researchers found that a wide range of mammalian cells — including primary human lung and intestinal cells — are susceptible to SADS-CoV infection.

The team discovered that unlike SARS-CoV-2, swine coronavirus is capable of replicating faster in intestinal cells, rather than in the lungs.

So as far as SADS-CoV is concerned, humans do not have the cross-protective herd immunity that can prevent us from contracting coronaviruses from animal populations.

Paper author and public health expert Caitlin Edwards, also of the University of North Carolina, said: “SADS-CoV is derived from bat coronaviruses called HKU2, which is a heterogenous group of viruses with a worldwide distribution.

“It is impossible to predict if this virus, or a closely related HKU2 bat strain, could emerge and infect human populations.

“However, the broad host range of SADS-CoV, coupled with an ability to replicate in primary human lung and enteric cells, demonstrates potential risk for future emergence events in human and animal populations.”

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Coronavirus: Pet cat becomes first animal to test positive for COVID-19 in UK #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #pandemic #Cat


A pet cat has become the first animal to test positive for coronavirus in the UK.

The only details known about the feline are that it lives in England and was tested at a laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey, last week, on 22 July.

Evidence suggests it contracted the virus from its owners, who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 – but both the animal and family have since made a “full recovery”, the government said.

It added there is “no evidence” the cat transmitted coronavirus to its owners or that any other domestic pets are able to either.

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss explained it was a “very rare event” and infected animals detected so far only show “mild clinical signs” and recover “within a few days”.

Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, said the finding “should not be a cause for alarm”.

“In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals,” she added.

The cat was initially diagnosed with feline herpes – a common respiratory infection – by a private vet, the environment department said on Monday.

A sample was then tested for coronavirus as part of a research programme by the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the feline was also found to have SARS-CoV2 – the virus known to cause COVID-19 in humans.

The case has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health in line with international commitments, the government confirmed.

It added there have been “a very small number of confirmed cases in pets in other countries” in Europe, North America and Asia.

Professor Margaret Hosie from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research was part of the team that led research into the cat.

She said there have been “sporadic reports” of felines having coronavirus in households that also tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the USA.

“All available evidence suggests that the cat was infected from its owners, who had previously tested positive,” she said.

“The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission of the virus to other animals or people in the household.”

Courtesy of Sky News

Squirrel tests positive for the bubonic plague in Colorado, USA #BubonicPlague #Squirrel #Colorado #USA

Bubonic Plague Alert

Public health officials have announced that a squirrel in Colorado has tested positive for the bubonic plague.

The town of Morrison, Colorado, in Jefferson County, which is just west of Denver, made the announcement saying that the squirrel is the first case of plague in the county this year.

“Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, and can be contracted by humans and household animals if proper precautions are not taken,” officials from Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) said in a statement released to the public.

MORE: Police look for woman who deliberately coughed on a 1-year-old baby after argument with mother
It is possible for humans to be infected with the bubonic plague through bites from infected fleas and by direct contact with blood or tissues of infected animals such as a cough or a bite.

Jefferson County Public Health said that cats are highly susceptible to the plague from things like flea bites, a rodent scratch or bite, and ingesting an infected rodent. Cats can die if not treated quickly with antibiotics after contact with the plague.

Officials also said that dogs are not as susceptible to the plague as cats are but still may pick up and carry plague-infected rodent fleas. Any pet owner who suspects that their pet is ill should contact a veterinarian immediately.

“Symptoms of plague may include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, nausea and extreme pain and swelling of lymph nodes, occurring within two to seven days after exposure. Plague can be effectively treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should consult a physician,” said JCPH.

Risk for contracting the bubonic plague is extremely low as long as the proper precautions are taken and JCPH published a list of them including eliminating all sources of food, shelter and access for wild animals around the home, not feeding wild animals, maintaining a litter and trash-free yard to reduce wild animal habitats, having people and pets should avoid all contact with sick or dead wild animals and rodents, using precaution when handling sick pets and having them examined by a veterinarian, consulting with a veterinarian about flea and tick control for pets and keeping pets from roaming freely outside the home where they may prey on wild animals and bring the disease home with them.

“All pet owners who live close to wild animal populations, such as prairie dog colonies or other known wildlife habitats, should consult their veterinarian about flea control for their pets to help prevent the transfer of fleas to humans,” JCPH said.

According to the CDC, even though there is no vaccine for the plague, it can be treated successfully with antibiotics if caught within 24 hours of exhibiting symptoms.

“Arguably the most infamous plague outbreak was the so-called Black Death, a multi-century pandemic that swept through Asia and Europe,” according to National Geographic. “It was believed to start in China in 1334, spreading along trade routes and reaching Europe via Sicilian ports in the late 1340s. The plague killed an estimated 25 million people, almost a third of the continent’s population. The Black Death lingered on for centuries, particularly in cities. Outbreaks included the Great Plague of London (1665-66), in which 70,000 residents died.”

However, the CDC says that there is now only an average of seven human plague cases per year and the WHO says the mortality rate is estimated to be between 8-10%.

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Coronavirus infects four MORE tigers and three lions at Bronx Zoo #COVID19 #coronavirus #BronxZoo #NewYork #USA #tigers #lions

Coronavirus Alert

ANOTHER seven big cats have tested positive for coronavirus at Bronx Zoo after apparently being infected by a zookeeper.

The Wildlife Conservation Society – which runs the New York attraction – revealed four more tigers and three lions have been diagnosed with the virus.

The animals were tested after a four-year-old Malayan tiger called Nadia started coughing last month and was later confirmed to have been struck down.

Vets took samples from Nadia’s nose, throat and respiratory tract while she was under anesthetic while the other animals were later tested using fecal samples.

The zoo said despite contracting the virus all the animals are behaving normally, eating well and their coughs are improving.

It added: “We tested the tigers and lions out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus.

“The testing of these cats was done in veterinary laboratories and resources used did not take from those being used for human testing.

“None of the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma or serval are showing any signs of illness.”

It is believed the animals were infected by one of the zookeepers who was showing no virus symptoms at the time.

Measures have now been put in place to prevent further exposure and the spread of the disease, the zoo revealed.

Nadia tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the month with experts saying it was the “first case of its kind”.

The positive COVID-19 test was confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory, based in Ames, Iowa.

“Our cats were infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms,” zoo officials said at the time.

Nadia first began showing signs of sickness on March 27 and tested positive just over a week later.

The Bronx Zoo has been closed to the public since March 16, but converted its empty parking lots into coronavirus testing centers.

It set up white tents to test workers from the nearby Montefiore Medical Center.

Meanwhile, two domestic cats became the first pets in New York to test positive for the virus.

The cats, from different parts of the state, have mild respiratory illness and were expected to fully recover.

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