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EPIDEMICS
Latvia extends emergency zone for African swine fever
by Staff Writers
Riga (AFP) July 22, 2014


New report shows MERS virus may be airborne
Washington (UPI) Jul 22, 2013 - MERS, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, may be transmitted by air, a paper published Tuesday in the scientific journal mBio suggests.

The infection has resulted in 836 laboratory-confirmed cases and at least 288 related deaths, the World Health organization said, and scientists remain unsure of how the virus is transmitted.

According to the paper in mBio, published by the Washington-based American Society of Microbiology, an air sample from a camel barn -- collected by researchers from King Fahd Medical Research Center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia -- tested positive for a a strain of MERS RNA, the viral genome. It happened the same day nine camels in the barn tested positive for the same strain.

"These data show evidence for the presence of the airborne MERS in the same barn that was owned by the patient and sheltered the infected camels," the authors wrote.

Analysts say it is premature to conclude the MERS virus is exclusively transferred by airborne means, although there is suspicion it can move between infected animals and humans. Previous reports have demonstrated a person in close contact with a MERS patient can be infected, but the pathways for the virus remain unclear.

Latvia on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in a second area of this Baltic EU state as efforts continued to contain an outbreak of deadly African swine fever in its pig population.

The extension of the emergency quarantine zone means large swathes of Latvia's borders with Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia now fall within it.

Inside the zone, animals cannot be moved between farms, access is restricted to infected farms and inspectors can order culls on the spot.

The government also approved measures Tuesday including compensation for small farmers who have had to slaughter diseased pigs and broader rights for veterinary inspectors in accessing private property.

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma warned Tuesday of "major losses" to the farming sector unless the disease is contained, with Russia and Belarus already slapping blanket bans on Latvian pork products.

Straujuma blamed wild boar crossing in from Russia for Latvia's first-ever outbreak of the disease, detected on June 26.

Since then, a total of 26 wild boar and 19 pigs on 11 farms have tested positive for it, and 185 pigs have been put down.

Experts believe it first emanated from Belarus, and was also confirmed earlier this year in wild boar in fellow European Union members Poland and Lithuania.

The disease is harmless to humans but lethal to pigs and has no known cure.

Posing a lethal threat to commercial pig farms, African swine fever has spread throughout the Balkans, the Caucasus and Russia since 2007, and is endemic to areas of Africa, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The FAO warns of "vast losses" if it migrates from Russia to China, which is home to half of the world's pigs.

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Town 'sealed off' after man dies of plague in China
Beijing (AFP) July 22, 2014
A Chinese town has been sealed off and 151 people placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said Tuesday. The 30,000 people living in Yumen in the northwestern province of Gansu are not being allowed to leave, and police at roadblocks on its perimeter are telling motorists to find alternative routes, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) ... read more


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