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Mysterious Lung Disease in China
By Gudrun Heise
With an unknown lung disease apparently spreading in China, could there be a new outbreak akin to SARS? Not necessarily. Authorities have yet to identify it. And many respiratory illnesses are caused by viruses.
SARS stands for "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome." It is one of the most dangerous, recent diseases, which is often fatal. The first cases were diagnosed in 2002 in China and it spread from there. Experts say that was due in part to the rate of modern tourism and travel in general. More than 8,000 people contracted SARS across 30 countries, and about 1,000 people died. But until that outbreak SARS was an unknown illness. Studies showed that it was a Coronavirus. Researchers think the virus spread from animals to humans.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was discovered in 2012. As with SARS, MERS is a type of Coronavirus. A Coronavirus can infect animals and humans. In humans, MERS mainly affects the respiratory system. The initial symptoms are similar to those of influenza — coughing, fever and shortness of breath. Later, patients can develop a lung infection and even kidney failure. But the illness can present itself and develop in different ways, depending on the patient, and can sometimes be fatal, as in 2015 in South Korea and China.
MERS is most common on the Arabian Peninsula, from where it gets its name. Studies suggest that it's often been spread from camels to humans. There is no vaccine against MERS or any other form of treatment.
Commonly called "bird flu," avian influenza is caused by the H5N2 virus, but there are variations of it. The "H" stands for hemagglutinin, a protein which helps the virus dock onto cells in a respiratory system. The "N" stands for neuraminidase. The virus needs a form of neuraminidase to reproduce itself and spread in an infected body. Bird flu often spreads in wild geese, but it can also spread on common poultry farms. In those cases, most of the affected birds die from the virus. The infection is caused by a range of viruses, including the influenza A virus.
Most types of bird flu do not affect humans. The only types that have so far been shown to spread from birds to humans are H5N1 and H7N9. Those two types can cause serious infections in humans and can be spread by infected birds. It has not been shown to spread from human to human. Humans can become infected through close contact with infected birds.
But all these viruses change and mutate constantly and that makes them even more dangerous.
Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of lung infection. Symptoms include coughing, shivering, headache and high fever. In very bad cases, it can cause a patient to become confused or disorientated.
It is said the disease is spread via air conditioning systems, which distribute the bacteria. It is not transmitted from human to human.
Legionellosis was first discovered at a meeting of war veterans, the "American Legion," hence its name. The meeting was held in Philadelphia, where a number of the attendees became sick with an unknown lung illness. Two weeks after the meeting, further cases were diagnosed. In total 221 men were infected and 34 of them died. It was later determined that a bacteria known as legionella pneumophila was found in the air conditioning of a hotel and is said to have caused the outbreak.
But unhygienic water systems, such as showers in bathrooms, can also transmit the disease. Legionnaires' disease is found around the world. It is especially dangerous for people with weak immune systems. It is treated with antibiotics.
Reposted with permission from DW.
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Coronavirus Shines Light on Zoos as Danger Zones for Deadly Disease Transmission Between Humans and Animals
By Marilyn Kroplick
The term "zoonotic disease" wasn't a hot topic of conversation before the novel coronavirus started spreading across the globe and upending lives. Now, people are discovering how devastating viruses that transfer from animals to humans can be. But the threat can go both ways — animals can also get sick from humans. There is no better time to reconsider the repercussions of keeping animals captive at zoos, for the sake of everyone's health.
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By Kate Whiting
Bernice Dapaah calls bamboo "a miracle plant," because it grows so fast and absorbs carbon. But it can also work wonders for children's education and women's employment – as she's discovered.
These are the world's most bicycle-friendly cities. Statista<p>"The reason we use bamboo to manufacture bicycles is because it's found abundantly in Ghana and this is not a material we're going to import," says Dapaah, one of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders.</p><p>"It's a new innovation. There were no existing bamboo bike builders in our country, so we were the first people trying to see how best we could utilize the abundant bamboo in Ghana."</p>
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Supporting Students<p>Besides encouraging Ghanaians to swap vehicles for affordable bikes, Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative is helping students save time on walking to school so they have more time to learn.</p><p>Each time they sell a bike, they donate a bike to a schoolchild in a rural community, who might otherwise have to walk for hours to get to school.</p><p>Dapaah knows how transformative a shorter journey to school can be to academic performance. She grew up living with her <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb3joGYmx9A&feature=emb_logo" target="_blank">grandpa, a forester in a rural part of the country</a>.</p><p>"We had to walk three and a half hours every day before I could go to school. He later bought me a bike, so I finished senior high and wanted to go to university."</p><p>The experience inspired her to launch Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative with two other students at college.</p><p>"When we started this initiative, I looked back and said, when I was young, I had to walk miles before I could get to school, and sometimes if I was late, I was punished.</p><p>"Why don't we donate bikes for students to encourage them to study and so they can have enough time to be on books."</p><p>To date, they have sold more than 3,000 road, mountain and children's bikes – and Dapaah says they plan to donate <a href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/video/350343" target="_blank">10,000 bikes to schoolchildren over five years</a>.</p>
Empowering Women<p>The enterprise is also providing local jobs. It teaches young people to build bikes, particularly women and those in rural communities, where jobs can be scarce. More than 50% of people they have trained are women.</p><p>Dapaah says they want to boost the number of people they employ to 250 over the next five years and they are looking to partner with NGOs to build a childcare facility so mothers can continue to work.</p>
Reducing Emissions<p>By promoting a cycling culture in Ghana, Dapaah says they're also committed to reducing emissions in the transport sector and contributing to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.</p><p>"I love the idea of reusing bamboo to promote sustainable cycling. People want to go green, low-carbon, lean-energy efficient," she says.</p>
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Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades, as VICE reported.
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