Researchers have discovered that 22 species of passerines – perching and songbirds – located in the contiguous United States are carriers of low-pathogenicity avian influenza. Pathogenicity is the ability of a germ to cause disease.
Passerines, including the golden-crowned kinglet, fox sparrow and northern waterthrushes, are found throughout the U.S. The concern is that passerines can transmit the disease to poultry, which can transmit the disease to humans.
Since passerines share the same habitat as poultry, they may be more effective transmitters of this disease than aquatic birds to humans, said Trevon Fuller, lead author of the paper, published this week in BMC Infectious Diseases.
“Avian influenza virus [AIV] is an important public health issue because pandemic influenza viruses in people have contained genes from viruses that infect birds,” Fuller said. “Some AIV subtypes have periodically mutated from low pathogenicity to high pathogenicity forms that are lethal, for example, to poultry.”
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Continue reading National Science Foundation: U.S. songbirds found to be carriers of bird flu virus
The House of Representatives agreed to fund Obama’s Afghanistan troop “surge” last Thursday, despite intensified Democratic calls for a withdrawal. The Afghan war funding gives Obama the flexibility in the withdrawal of troops, and allows him to increase military spending in Afghanistan. Democrats accounted for the majority of the yes votes.
However, the fate of the bill was still clouded after Democrats attached more than 15 billion dollars in jobs and education that defied a presidential veto threat over cuts designed to pay for the measure. The Senate would have to take up the measure the week of July 12, signaling increasing US public pessimism about the war.
The increase in war spending comes on top of the three billion dollars aid for Haiti, 701 million dollars for increased US-Mexico border security, and 304 million dollars for the oil spill response. These are vast expenditures detrimental to the US economic recovery.
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U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who on Sunday formally took command of Western forces in Afghanistan, must decide in the coming weeks or months whether to recalibrate the stringent rules of engagement laid down last summer by his predecessor, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.
Continue reading LA Times: Afghans see change in U.S. command as a threat to safety