New case of high risk bird flu found in France prompts 7000 duck cull

France has announced an outbreak of severe bird flu on a duck farm in the southwest of the country. The virus was spreading in the region. This is a major setback for French poultry and foie gras producers recovering from a bird flu epidemic a year ago.

The H5N8 avian influenza virus was confirmed at a farm in the Tarn administrative department days after the virus was detected among wild birds in northern France and following outbreaks in Europe linked to migrating birds.

The outbreak killed 2,000 out of a flock of 5,000 ducks on the Tarn farm and the remaining birds are to be culled. The outbreak has also been detected at another nearby farm where more ducks had to be culled.

Reports of Avian Influenza H5N8 outbreaks in wild birds and poultry in Germany, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland have resulted in the risk level for Avian Influenza reaching the UK via wild birds being raised from ‘Low’ to ‘Medium’’.


DATE : 3 December 2016

SOURCE : FarmingUK

NASA photo reveals a major 300-foot-wide rift in Antarctic Ice Shelf

New data from NASA is showing that the breakup of the massive Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica is getting closer and will eventually produce an iceberg a third of the size of Wales.

NASA has released a new image taken by researchers flying above the ice shelf on 10 November which shows the crack is getting longer, deeper and wider. The Larsen C fracture has been measured to be 70 miles long, more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep.

Scientists believe it will eventually cause a large section of the shelf to break off.

When this iceberg calving happens, likely within the next 10 years, it will be the largest calving event in Antarctica since 2000, the third biggest such event ever recorded and the largest from this particular ice shelf.

Ice shelves breaking off into icebergs do not directly increase sea levels, since their ice is already resting in the ocean. However, because they act like doorstops to the land-based ice behind them, when the shelves collapse, the glaciers begin moving into the sea. This adds new water to the ocean and therefore increases sea levels.

The nearby Larsen B Ice Shelf made worldwide headlines in 2002 when it broke up after a similar process of rift-induced iceberg calving. The Larsen B event was featured in the opening scenes of the climate change-related disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow.

SOURCE 1 : MashableUK –  NASA photo reveals a startling 300-foot-wide rift in Antarctic Ice Shelf [03 Dec ’16]

SOURCE 2 : LiveScience –  70-Mile-Long Crack Opens Up in Antarctica [06 Dec ’16]

Chairman Xi abandons banning the Bomb

On 27 October China faced another test of its willingness to lead on nuclear disarmament when The First Committee of the UN General Assembly voted on a resolution calling for negotiations toward a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. China abstained.

Just days after the vote, at an international arms control conference in Suzhou, Du Xiangwan (a former vice-director of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a founding father of the Chinese arms control community) opened his speech with a personal expression of disappointment in China’s decision at the UN vote. He argued that China should have joined the 123 nations that voted in favor of the UN resolution. He disagreed with the idea that Beijing should defer to Russia and the USA on the question of nuclear disarmament.


DATE : 29 November 2016

SOURCE : Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

MAD Concept of Deterrence Doesn’t Apply in World of Cyber War

The next world war may have already started, but the chances are that you may not have noticed it. That is because the new world of cyber warfare is taking place out of sight in places that only the initiated can see. Even then, it is not always clear who the participants are.

Nor is the damage that regularly occurs in the war clearly visible and the only way you would see it is when the war spills over into networks you use.

That was the conclusion by a panel of experts at the Carnegie Colloquium on 2 December at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA. The topic at the Future of the Internet : Governance and Conflict conference was “Cyber Deterrence : Deterrence by Denial and the Vulnerabilities Debate”.

The panelists included Ariel (Eli) Levite (Nonresident Senior Fellow, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), Robert Schmidle (Lieutenant General, United States Marine Corp, Retired) and Chris Valasek (Security Lead, Uber Advanced Technology Center).


DATE : 3 December 2016

SOURCE : eWeek

Russia says foreign spies plan cyber attack on banking system

Russia has announced that it has uncovered a plot by foreign intelligence agencies to create chaos in Russia’s banking system via a coordinated wave of cyber attacks and fake social media reports about banks going bust.

Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), said that the servers to be used in the alleged cyber attack were located in the Netherlands and registered to a Ukrainian web hosting company called BlazingFast.

The attack targetting major national and provincial banks across Russia was due to begin on 5 December.

Russia has been on high alert for foreign cyber attacks since the USA accused the Kremlin of being involved in hacks on Democratic Party emails during the US presidential election.

US Vice President Joe Biden said at the time that the United States would mount a “proportional” response to Russia.


DATE : 2 December 2016

SOURCE : Reuters

Germany detects H5N1 bird flu on poultry farm in Brandenburg

Germany has reported its first case of the contagious avian flu strain H5N1 on a small poultry farm in the northeastern state of Brandenburg.

The farm in the Oberhavel district was sealed off and some 500 chicks, ducks and geese were culled.

The H5N1 strain is regarded as highly pathogenic, but less dangerous than the even more contagious H5N8 strain found in several European countries in the past few weeks.


DATE : 2 December 2016

SOURCE : Reuters

Third bird flu outbreak in less than a week in Japan

Japan has started culling another 230,000 chickens after the discovery of a highly contagious form of avian influenza on a farm in the north of the country.

The latest bird flu outbreak in Joetsu City in Niigata prefecture marks the second instance in the prefecture and the third in Japan in less than a week.

The Niigata government have been culling more than 300,000 chickens at a poultry farm in Sekikawa (about 140 km from Joetsu) after tests had confirmed the presence of the highly virulent H5 strain of the bird flu virus.

In Aomori, around 18,000 ducks have been culled at a farm where ducks tested positive for the H5 bird flu strain.

These are the first cases of infection in domestic poultry in Japan since January 2015, when bird flu was detected in Okayama and Saga prefectures.


DATE : 1 December 2016

SOURCE : Japan Times

Last-line antibiotics are failing

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has released its latest EU-wide data on antibiotic resistance and antibiotic consumption.

In 2015, antibiotic resistance continued to increase for most bacteria and antibiotics under surveillance. In particular, the EU average percentage of carbapenem resistance in Klebsiella pneumoniae increased from 6.2% in 2012 to 8.1% in 2015, and combined resistance to carbapenems and polymyxins (eg colistin) was sometimes reported. These two groups of antibiotics are considered last-line antibiotics as they usually are the last treatment options for patients infected with bacteria resistant to other available antibiotics.

While antibiotic consumption in hospitals significantly increased in several EU Member States, antibiotic consumption in the community decreased in six EU Member States.

ECDC’s data also shows that antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli, one of the most frequent causes of bloodstream infections and urinary tract infections, requires close attention as the percentages of isolates resistant to commonly used antibiotics continues to increase throughout Europe.

In contrast, the percentage of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) showed a significantly decreasing trend at EU/EEA level between 2012 and 2015. Despite this positive development, MRSA remains a public health priority as eight out of thirty countries reported percentages above 25%.


DATE : 18 November 2016

SOURCE : European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

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