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DR Congo Scientists Control Avian Influenza Outbreak Using Nuclear Techniques

Scientists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) have identified a new outbreak of avian influenza using highly specific and sensitive nuclear-derived techniques. Thanks to a quick detection and characterization of the virus and subsequent local response, the outbreak is currently under control and limited to the Lake Albert region, near the border with Uganda, scientists have said.

“This is the first time we spot this strain of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain in DR Congo. We were surprised, but also lucky to detect it soon enough,” said Curé Georges Tshilenge Mbuyi, head of the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Kinshasa. Stopping the spread of the virus early is particularly important, he added: Not only does it have a devastating effect on poultry, but it can also be transmitted to humans.

Tshilenge Mbuyi and his team learned how to detect such viruses and interpret the results during recent training courses organized by the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

They first used a nuclear-derived technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to identify the genome of the virus. This technology allows for the identification of viruses — including Ebola — within a few hours and with a high degree of accuracy.

The team then submitted specially prepared samples to a laboratory in Germany, a subcontracting genetic sequencing service that the IAEA provides to its Member States. The DR Congo laboratory then had to interpret the sequencing results received from the German lab. It was thanks to the training he received that Tshilenge Mbuyi could interpret the sequence data, characterize the virus as H5N8 and find out crucial information such as the origin of the strain and the way the disease was developing.

Once the scientists confirmed the presence and strain of the virus, authorities immediately applied a series of sanitary measures to control the outbreak, including culling all domesticated and wild birds along the lake. Veterinarians are now beginning to take samples from villages in the wider region to ensure the virus has not spread, Tshilenge Mbuyi said.

The same virus strain has also been detected in Uganda, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and experts are concerned that it may spread further in the region. “They’re wild birds that migrate with the change of seasons, so they can carry the virus across long distances,” said Ivancho Nateloski, technical officer at the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.

The IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme, and in partnership with the FAO, has been supporting veterinary authorities in DR Congo since the early 1990s with training courses, scientific visits, expert visits and through the provision of relevant equipment, materials and guidance for the early diagnoses and control of transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases.

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DR Congo Scientists Prevent Avian Influenza Outbreak Using Nuclear Techniques

Scientists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) have identified a new outbreak of avian influenza using highly specific and sensitive nuclear-derived techniques. Thanks to a quick detection and characterization of the virus and subsequent local response, the outbreak is currently under control and limited to the Lake Albert region, near the border with Uganda, scientists have said.

“This is the first time we spot this strain of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain in DR Congo. We were surprised, but also lucky to detect it soon enough,” said Curé Georges Tshilenge Mbuyi, head of the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Kinshasa. Stopping the spread of the virus early is particularly important, he added: Not only does it have a devastating effect on poultry, but it can also be transmitted to humans.

Tshilenge Mbuyi and his team learned how to detect such viruses and interpret the results during recent training courses organized by the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

They first used a nuclear-derived technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to identify the genome of the virus. This technology allows for the identification of viruses — including Ebola — within a few hours and with a high degree of accuracy.

The team then submitted specially prepared samples to a laboratory in Germany, a subcontracting genetic sequencing service that the IAEA provides to its Member States. The DR Congo laboratory then had to interpret the sequencing results received from the German lab. It was thanks to the training he received that Tshilenge Mbuyi could interpret the sequence data, characterize the virus as H5N8 and find out crucial information such as the origin of the strain and the way the disease was developing.

Once the scientists confirmed the presence and strain of the virus, authorities immediately applied a series of sanitary measures to control the outbreak, including culling all domesticated and wild birds along the lake. Veterinarians are now beginning to take samples from villages in the wider region to ensure the virus has not spread, Tshilenge Mbuyi said.

The same virus strain has also been detected in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and experts are concerned that it may spread further in the region. “They’re wild birds that migrate with the change of seasons, so they can carry the virus across long distances,” said Ivancho Nateloski, technical officer at the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.

The IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme, and in partnership with the FAO, has been supporting veterinary authorities in DR Congo since the early 1990s with training courses, scientific visits, expert visits and through the provision of relevant equipment, materials and guidance for the early diagnoses and control of transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases.

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News in Brief 16 February 2016 (PM)

16 Feb 2017

Listen /

Fall army worm new pest affecting crops in Southern Africa. Photo © FAO/ Obert Maminimini

African countries unite to tackle crop pest infestation

Sixteen countries in east and southern Africa have agreed on taking action to boost their ability to manage emerging crop pests and livestock diseases.

That was the outcome of a three-day emergency meeting organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which wrapped up in Zimbabwe on Thursday.

It was held in response to a major infestation of fall armyworm, a type of caterpillar, that has affected at least seven countries.

FAO said the insect, mostly associated with the Americas, is a new threat in Southern Africa.

For example, nearly 90,000 hectares of maize in Zambia have been affected, forcing farmers to replant their crops.

Countries also stressed the need to deal with emerging transboundary livestock diseases such as bird flu, which could have a devastating impact on poultry production.

They have agreed to coordinate and manage preparedness and response activities, among other measures.

EU contribution supports WFP food and nutrition project in Tanzania

The European Union (EU) has contributed €9.5 million to support a food security and nutrition project in central Tanzania operated by the World Food Programme (WFP).

The project targets 40,000 people and also aims to reduce malnutrition rates.

WFP will use the funding for what it calls "an innovative programme" to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, especially young children during their key growth phase: that is, the period from conception to age two.

The project aims to improve knowledge on nutrition, dietary diversity and water, sanitation and hygiene practices.

Raising small-scale livestock will also be promoted, together with planting diverse crops and mobilizing villages to start small savings and loan groups.

Iraqi police complete mine action training

Fifteen Iraqi police officers have successfully completed a basic training course on mitigating the threat posed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The four-week course and follow-up mentoring supports efforts to tackle this problem in areas of the country that have been retaken from extremists.

It was organized by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and Iraq's Ministry of Interior and funded by a contribution from the Japanese government.

UNMAS has trained 45 people in Iraq since last year.

The head of the training department in the country's Interior Ministry, Major General Abdulkarim Hatim, said these courses "are contributing to the return of displaced families to their homes paving the way for necessary reconstruction and development projects."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2'49"

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South Sudan’s President is Poised to Make Matters Worse| Latest from Nice

The regional IGAD group and the Security Council have both suggested that more peacekeepers are needed to stabilize South Sudan. Kiir apparently disagrees. This is problematic because new peacekeepers can only be deployed with his consent. “South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir said his government ‘will not accept a single soldier’ to back peacekeepers as demanded by regional leaders and the United Nations.Addressing reporters on Thursday for the first time since violence engulfed the country’s capital, Juba last week, Kiir said his country already has thousands of foreign troops at UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as peacekeepers. ‘No. We will not accept even a single soldier,’ stressed the president.” (Sudan Tribune http://bit.ly/2adCN8p)

The Latest from Nice…At time of publication at least 77 people were confirmed killed in a Bastille Day attack. The reports are fast evolving and the Guardian (per usual) is doing an excellent job providing live and reliable updates. http://bit.ly/29Im3Hs

A New, New Plan for Syria? Secretary of State John Kerry held talks on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a controversial U.S. proposal to coordinate with Moscow on military operations in Syria, in exchange for grounding Syria’s air force. The U.S. is proposing closer military coordination involving airstrikes against militant groups Nusra Front and Islamic State in Syria and wants Moscow in turn to use its influence to ground Syria’s air force, which has defied a cease-fire agreement to continue pounding civilian population centers. Mr. Kerry hopes the deal will reduce violence in Syria after more than five years of war.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/2adDgar)

Humanity Affirming News of the Day… The WHO has certified that  India has eliminated both yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/29HUu15)

Explainer of the Day… A excellent overview of the Continental Free Trade  Area that is being discussed at the African Union summit this week. It would be the largest free trade agreement in the world. (WaPo http://wapo.st/29HVna9

A gunman who shot dead six Kenyan police officers inside a police station in western Kenya on Thursday is a police officer himself, witnesses said…”I knew the man. His name was Maslah. He was Somali Kenyan police officer at the station,” the anonymous officer said. “He had submitted a resignation letter to leave the police to his superiors. … So I think the attack resulted from the fact that he was disgruntled.” (VOA http://bit.ly/29HW6rx

The UN has been accused of failing to act quickly enough to save hundreds of thousands of lives in northern Nigeria where a food crisis already killing hundreds of people a day is poised to become the most devastating in decades. (Guardian http://bit.ly/29Snaa0)

After more than a year of turmoil, Burundi is suspended in a “fake calm” with risks of further instability exacerbated by an economic slowdown, regional tensions and destructive ethnic rhetoric, a British parliamentary committee has heard. (Guardian http://bit.ly/29G6bTx)

A bird flu warning from the UN FAO: “In Cameroon alone, losses have added up to an estimated $20 million, according to local media reports. The recent outbreak in Cameroon has brought the number of countries that have battled bird flu in West and Central Africa to six, also including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria.” (UN News Center http://bit.ly/29HUQ7K)

France will end a three-year military peacekeeping operation in Central African Republic in October, François Hollande has said, although security remains volatile. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6axR)

More than 1,000 people accused of supporting Boko Haram in Cameroon are being detained in military bases and prisons, often without any evidence, and dozens are dying from disease, malnutrition and torture, a rights group said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6KvN)

Two soldiers have been arrested in Ivory Coast accused of failing to denounce suspected members of an al Qaeda cell that killed 19 people in a March attack on a beach resort town, military officials said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29Sm6Dk)

Uganda’s army began evacuating citizens from inside neighboring South Sudan on Thursday where fighting between forces loyal to the president and his rival has plunged the nation into its worst crisis since the end of a two-year civil war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6vAX)

Many people in Zimbabwe can no longer afford hospital treatment and medication, and the number of those with medical aid has fallen by a third. (Bhekisisa http://bit.ly/29G7iT4)

Rising sea levels and coastal erosion are threatening the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people across West Africa. (VOA http://bit.ly/29SlSfb)

Eritrea allowed use of one of its ports for a food aid shipment to South Sudan, marking the first time the World Food Program has used food assistance operations in Eritrea since 2006. (VOA http://bit.ly/29JNoua)

Eighteen influential Liberian civil society organizations warned today that efforts to forge a lasting peace are in jeopardy, threatened by the failure of Liberia’s legislature to pass a long-promised law recognizing the rights of rural communities to their customary lands. (CSO Working Group http://bit.ly/29JNbHF)

The IMF has approved a three-year, $5.34 Billion loan for Iraq focused on implementing economic and financial policies to help the country cope with lower oil prices and ensure debt sustainability. (IMF http://bit.ly/2adCRFd)

Turkey’s prime minister says he is sure relations will normalize with Syria. Bilateral relations collapsed as a result of Ankara’s backing of the Syrian opposition, but a major change in Turkish foreign policy could be in the offing. (VOA http://bit.ly/29G5Pw3)

Asia

India’s ambitious plans to develop infrastructure, mining and renewable energy threaten to force more of the most marginalized groups from their homes, widening inequality and fanning tensions, a global research group warned on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29SlWfi)

Philippine soldiers on Thursday killed 11 members of a Muslim guerrilla faction, an army commander said, underscoring volatility in the resource-rich south of the country as a new government seeks ways to end decades of conflict. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S5VD7)

An international rights group says a quarter of all Afghan children work for a living yet the government fails to protect them from injury, death or exploitation. (AP http://yhoo.it/29G7cLn)

Ineffectual attacks by the Islamic State group’s followers in Southeast Asia have shown them to be fragmented and lacking in the expertise that has produced devastating death tolls elsewhere in the world. (AP http://yhoo.it/29JNvpO)

El Salvador’s Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional a 1993 law that prohibited the prosecution of crimes committed by the military and leftist guerillas during the Central American country’s bloody civil war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S5KI5)

The United Nations on Thursday said Ukraine’s forces had indiscriminately shelled residents while pro-Russian insurgents and Kiev battalions had summarily killed civilians in what may have constituted “war crimes”. (AFP http://yhoo.it/29JNbqT)

Congress actually did something good! Here’s what you need to know about the new Global Food Security Act. (Global Dispatches podcast http://bit.ly/1sETycl)

Desertification: an ecological reality or a dangerous myth? (Guardian http://bit.ly/29SlaPn)

The Global South’s Untold Human Rights Legacy (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/29G5x8t)

Making El Salvador’s abortion law more punitive would compound injustice (Guardian http://bit.ly/29S63Cv)

Discussion

comments...

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South Sudan’s President is Poised to Make Matters Worse

The regional IGAD group and the Security Council have both suggested that more peacekeepers are needed to stabilize South Sudan. Kiir apparently disagrees. This is problematic because new peacekeepers can only be deployed with his consent. “South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir said his government ‘will not accept a single soldier’ to back peacekeepers as demanded by regional leaders and the United Nations.Addressing reporters on Thursday for the first time since violence engulfed the country’s capital, Juba last week, Kiir said his country already has thousands of foreign troops at UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as peacekeepers. ‘No. We will not accept even a single soldier,’ stressed the president.” (Sudan Tribune http://bit.ly/2adCN8p)

A New, New Plan for Syria? Secretary of State John Kerry held talks on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a controversial U.S. proposal to coordinate with Moscow on military operations in Syria, in exchange for grounding Syria’s air force. The U.S. is proposing closer military coordination involving airstrikes against militant groups Nusra Front and Islamic State in Syria and wants Moscow in turn to use its influence to ground Syria’s air force, which has defied a cease-fire agreement to continue pounding civilian population centers. Mr. Kerry hopes the deal will reduce violence in Syria after more than five years of war.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/2adDgar)

Humanity Affirming News of the Day… The WHO has certified that  India has eliminated both yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus. (UN News Center http://bit.ly/29HUu15)

Explainer of the Day… A excellent overview of the Continental Free Trade  Area that is being discussed at the African Union summit this week. It would be the largest free trade agreement in the world. (WaPo http://wapo.st/29HVna9

A gunman who shot dead six Kenyan police officers inside a police station in western Kenya on Thursday is a police officer himself, witnesses said…”I knew the man. His name was Maslah. He was Somali Kenyan police officer at the station,” the anonymous officer said. “He had submitted a resignation letter to leave the police to his superiors. … So I think the attack resulted from the fact that he was disgruntled.” (VOA http://bit.ly/29HW6rx

The UN has been accused of failing to act quickly enough to save hundreds of thousands of lives in northern Nigeria where a food crisis already killing hundreds of people a day is poised to become the most devastating in decades. (Guardian http://bit.ly/29Snaa0)

After more than a year of turmoil, Burundi is suspended in a “fake calm” with risks of further instability exacerbated by an economic slowdown, regional tensions and destructive ethnic rhetoric, a British parliamentary committee has heard. (Guardian http://bit.ly/29G6bTx)

A bird flu warning from the UN FAO: “In Cameroon alone, losses have added up to an estimated $20 million, according to local media reports. The recent outbreak in Cameroon has brought the number of countries that have battled bird flu in West and Central Africa to six, also including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria.” (UN News Center http://bit.ly/29HUQ7K)

France will end a three-year military peacekeeping operation in Central African Republic in October, François Hollande has said, although security remains volatile. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6axR)

More than 1,000 people accused of supporting Boko Haram in Cameroon are being detained in military bases and prisons, often without any evidence, and dozens are dying from disease, malnutrition and torture, a rights group said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6KvN)

Two soldiers have been arrested in Ivory Coast accused of failing to denounce suspected members of an al Qaeda cell that killed 19 people in a March attack on a beach resort town, military officials said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29Sm6Dk)

Uganda’s army began evacuating citizens from inside neighboring South Sudan on Thursday where fighting between forces loyal to the president and his rival has plunged the nation into its worst crisis since the end of a two-year civil war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S6vAX)

Many people in Zimbabwe can no longer afford hospital treatment and medication, and the number of those with medical aid has fallen by a third. (Bhekisisa http://bit.ly/29G7iT4)

Rising sea levels and coastal erosion are threatening the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people across West Africa. (VOA http://bit.ly/29SlSfb)

Eritrea allowed use of one of its ports for a food aid shipment to South Sudan, marking the first time the World Food Program has used food assistance operations in Eritrea since 2006. (VOA http://bit.ly/29JNoua)

Eighteen influential Liberian civil society organizations warned today that efforts to forge a lasting peace are in jeopardy, threatened by the failure of Liberia’s legislature to pass a long-promised law recognizing the rights of rural communities to their customary lands. (CSO Working Group http://bit.ly/29JNbHF)

The IMF has approved a three-year, $5.34 Billion loan for Iraq focused on implementing economic and financial policies to help the country cope with lower oil prices and ensure debt sustainability. (IMF http://bit.ly/2adCRFd)

Turkey’s prime minister says he is sure relations will normalize with Syria. Bilateral relations collapsed as a result of Ankara’s backing of the Syrian opposition, but a major change in Turkish foreign policy could be in the offing. (VOA http://bit.ly/29G5Pw3)

Asia

India’s ambitious plans to develop infrastructure, mining and renewable energy threaten to force more of the most marginalized groups from their homes, widening inequality and fanning tensions, a global research group warned on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29SlWfi)

Philippine soldiers on Thursday killed 11 members of a Muslim guerrilla faction, an army commander said, underscoring volatility in the resource-rich south of the country as a new government seeks ways to end decades of conflict. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S5VD7)

An international rights group says a quarter of all Afghan children work for a living yet the government fails to protect them from injury, death or exploitation. (AP http://yhoo.it/29G7cLn)

Ineffectual attacks by the Islamic State group’s followers in Southeast Asia have shown them to be fragmented and lacking in the expertise that has produced devastating death tolls elsewhere in the world. (AP http://yhoo.it/29JNvpO)

El Salvador’s Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional a 1993 law that prohibited the prosecution of crimes committed by the military and leftist guerillas during the Central American country’s bloody civil war. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/29S5KI5)

The United Nations on Thursday said Ukraine’s forces had indiscriminately shelled residents while pro-Russian insurgents and Kiev battalions had summarily killed civilians in what may have constituted “war crimes”. (AFP http://yhoo.it/29JNbqT)

Congress actually did something good! Here’s what you need to know about the new Global Food Security Act. (Global Dispatches podcast http://bit.ly/1sETycl)

Desertification: an ecological reality or a dangerous myth? (Guardian http://bit.ly/29SlaPn)

The Global South’s Untold Human Rights Legacy (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/29G5x8t)

Making El Salvador’s abortion law more punitive would compound injustice (Guardian http://bit.ly/29S63Cv)

Discussion

comments...

Read More

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