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Fri, 22 Feb 2019
The World for People who Think



Australia: Locust Bands Found in Northwest New South Wales

© The Daily Telegraph
Surveillance aircraft have captured images of "supersized" bands of locusts in northwestern NSW that are more than three kilometres in length.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan has released the footage of the locusts near Walgett, taken during the first aerial surveillance mission of the plague season.

Mr Whan said there were now 102 confirmed locust reports across NSW, with aircraft on Wednesday detecting the insects in 16 locations near Walgett.

"What we've seen from the footage is supersized bands of locusts, more than three kilometres long, eating fodder and crops in northern NSW," Mr Whan told reporters at NSW Parliament on Thursday.

"This has confirmed our prediction that the northwest will be the first front in the battle against the locust plague.


Canada: Blight wiping out Alberta's tomatoes

alberta tomatoes
© Edmonton Journal
A fast-spreading fungus that normally infects potatoes is wiping out tomato plants across Alberta this season, says a plant-disease expert
A fast-spreading fungus that normally infects potatoes is wiping out tomato plants across Alberta this season, says a plant-disease expert.

The airborne disease called late blight of potato -- the same organism that led to the Irish potato famine -- is rare in Alberta, said forensic plant pathologist Ieuan Evans. However, a "giant outbreak" of the potato disease is attacking tomato plants this season and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, Evans said Sunday.

"We've never had this strain in Alberta before -- it's a tomato strain of late blight and it's extremely virulent in tomatoes," he said. "On the prairies, the last time we had an outbreak of late blight of any consequence was 1993, when it went right through Edmonton, but that was a potato strain."

Gardener Katherine Shute spent Sunday afternoon clearing out the withered remains of her diseased fruit. She spent the summer caring for 36 tomato plants in the large garden behind her Riverdale home and they have all rotted.

"It's so heartbreaking," she said. "I always grow a lot of tomatoes. I either make spaghetti sauce, salsa or tomato sauce and freeze them or can them so they last me well into spring, and it's just really discouraging."

Shute first spotted brown blotches on her tomatoes in July. She thought the spots were caused by hail until a friend warned her about late blight and neighbours told her the disease is attacking Edmonton gardens this year.


Iran declares health alert on Pakistan border

© Unknown
Iranian officials have announced the country is to set a medical state of emergency on its borders with Pakistan, launching a vaccination and health check on immigrants.

Head of the Iranian Health Ministry's Center for Disease Control, Mohammad-Mehdi Gouya, told ISNA that it has been three weeks since the Iranian Health Ministry issued a health alert on its borders with Pakistan.

Last week, the United Nations confirmed the first death from cholera following the destructive floods in Pakistan that have devastated millions in the South Asian country.

"All travelers crossing the Iran-Pakistan border will receive a medical exam, especially a colon exam," Gouya said. "All children entering Iran from the Pakistani border will also receive a polio vaccine."

Gouya further stressed that cholera is certainly a concern and that is why Iran is stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of any contagious disease.

Bizarro Earth

More than 800 dead in Pakistani floods

© AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad
A woman sits outside her house flooded by heavy monsoon rains in Peshawar, Pakistan on Friday, July 30, 2010. Boats and helicopters struggled to reach hundreds of thousands of villagers cut off by floods in northwest Pakistan on Friday as the government said it was the deadliest such disaster to hit the region since 1929.
Flooding in Pakistan has killed more than 800 people in a week, a government official said Saturday as rescuers struggled to reach marooned victims and some evacuees showed signs of fever, diarrhea and other waterborne diseases.

The flooding caused by record-breaking rainfalls caused massive destruction in the past week, especially in the northwest province, where officials said it was the worst deluge since 1929. The U.N. estimated Saturday that some 1 million people nationwide were affected by the disaster, though it didn't specify exactly what that meant.

The information minister for the northwest province, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, said reports coming in from various districts across the northwest showed that more than 800 people had died due to the flooding. Many people remain missing.

Floodwaters were receding in the northwest, officials said, but fresh rains were expected to lash other parts of the country in the coming days.

Arrow Down

Mysterious Plague Killing Off Bats, Bugs Get Free Rein

© Marvin Moriarty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This little brown bat is seen hibernating in Greeley Mine, Vermont with the white fungus visible on its muzzle, wings, and ears.
Experts Don't Know How To Stop Spread of Deadly Fungus

A spreading plague has killed more than a million bats across the eastern U.S., and wildlife experts have no clue how to stop it.

As it rolls across the country and into Canada, the mysterious fungus threatens to disrupt the ecological balance, which could result in the spread of bugs that destroy crops and force swatting barbequers to flee indoors.

Called White-Nose Syndrome because of the white substance found on the noses of bats, it causes bats to move around and burn calories during the winter months when they should be hibernating and reserving energy. Scientists are not exactly sure why the fungus affects bats, where it came from originally, or how to stop its spread. One thing is for sure -- bat populations are being decimated by the fungus. Among some bat species, the mortality rate is 99 percent.

"There might be regional extinctions of particular bat species," said Noelle Rayman, assistant national White-Nose Syndrome coordinator at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told ABCNews.com.


Zambia: Investigation into mysterious disease launched

The Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Zambia have launched an investigation into the mysterious disease suspected to have broken out in Zambia.

The unknown disease, which is characterized by fever, coughs and bleeding from any part of the body, is reported to have so far claimed three lives.


India: Mysterious disease kills 10

Rourkela - At least 10 persons have died of a mysterious disease within a span of eight days near Bondamunda, about 10 km from here, triggering panic among local people.

Fifteen other patients from the area who complained of mild fever, severe headache and vomiting are being treated in several hospitals of the district, doctors said adding that efforts are on to identify the disease.


Nepal: Mysterious disease claims 4 lives

Four persons have died while hundreds have been affected by an unknown disease at Kolti VDC ward numbers 5, 6 and 7 of Bajura district within the past four days.

It has been learnt that all patients suffering from this disease have similar symptoms of fever and pain in the upper and lower limbs, causing the patients to be bedridden. However, due to lack of medical services in these villages, the disease is yet to be identified.

According to Kolti locals, Khante Rokaya, 40, Birjitey Rokaya, 35, Khanti Rokaya, 60, and Kala Rokaya, 45, have died due to the disease.