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Fri, 21 Jan 2022
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Bizarro Earth

UK: Outbreak of Toxic Caterpillars in Pangbourne

Moth Caterpillar
The oak processionary moth caterpillar feeds on oak tree leaves.
Residents in Pangbourne and parts of west London have been warned to steer clear of a toxic caterpillar.

The Forestry Commission has issued a caution not to touch the caterpillars of the oak processionary moth.

Their hairs contain a toxin that can cause itchy skin rashes as well as eye and throat irritations.

The Forestry Commission's Stewart Snape said residents can report sightings but that the caterpillars should only be removed by pest control operators.

Officials are now dealing with outbreaks of the moth in Pangbourne in West Berkshire and the London boroughs of Ealing, Brent, Hounslow, Richmond upon Thames and Hammersmith & Fulham.

Health Protection Agency director Dr Brian McCloskey said: "We strongly advise people not to touch or approach the caterpillars or their nests because of the health risks caused by the toxin-containing hairs.


Caterpillars Swarm Indonesia's Bali

© Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP
A farmer shows caterpillars crawling over his hand in Denpasar, in Bali.
Swarms of caterpillars which can cause skin rashes have invaded the Indonesian holiday island of Bali, an official said Wednesday, but tourist areas have not been affected so far.

The dark, wriggly insects were first sighted in a village on Friday and the swarms have since spread to six districts, including the provincial capital of Denpasar, Bali agricultural chief Made Putra Suryawan told AFP.

"The situation is under control. Since Friday, workers have been spraying insecticide and burning garbage in affected areas to stop the spread," he said.

"Tourists need not be alarmed. The caterpillars have not spread to tourist areas yet. The threat to tourists is minimal," he added.

Thousands of caterpillars have reportedly descended on parts of neighbouring Java island in the last two weeks, attacking fruit farms and invading residential areas.

Alarm Clock

Pacific salmon may be dying from leukemia-type virus

Washington -- In Canada's Fraser River, a mysterious illness has killed millions of Pacific salmon, and scientists have a new hypothesis about why: The wild salmon are suffering from viral infections similar to those linked to some forms of leukemia and lymphoma.

For 60 years before the early 1990s, an average of nearly 8 million wild salmon returned from the Pacific Ocean to the Fraser River each year to spawn.

Now the salmon industry is in a state of collapse, with mortality rates ranging from 40 percent to 95 percent.

The salmon run has been highly variable: The worst year came in 2009, with 1.5 million salmon, followed by the best year in 2010, with 30 million salmon. But the overall trend is downward.


Mysterious equine illness spreads in Australia: Increasing numbers of horses displaying unusual neurological symptoms

© Unknown
Hold your horses. It hasn't arrived in the Clarence Valley - yet but increasing numbers of horses displaying unusual neurological symptoms across three states have prompted the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) to caution all owners.

In NSW alone there have been 87 confirmed cases of the unidentified illness.

While tests conducted by the NSW Department of Industry and Investment have ruled out Hendra virus, AVA president Dr Barry Smyth believes the illness may be the result of a mosquito-borne disease.

"Diseases associated with mosquitoes are very uncommon in normal years," he said.


Australia: Man injured as beetles swarm Gold Coast

© seablue5
Thousands of beetles invading the Gold Coast have claimed their first victim.

Ken Tomkins, 61, was hospitalized after skidding his bicycle into a mound of dead bugs and shattering his hip, collarbone and ribs, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports.

Tomkins said he noticed the slick as he rode along The Esplanade at Surfers Paradise, but initially thought it was water or leaves.

He will be bedridden for six weeks after hitting the bugs, which were piled to the edge of the road by a council street sweeper, at about 25kph.

The water beetle invasion is a never-before-seen phenomenon that has stumped local scientists.


Australia: Mystery horse disease in Victoria

© Jennifer Ingall
The Victorian Department of Primary Industries wants local vets to help identify a mystery horse disease.

Horses living along the Murray River and near Ballarat have become sick with a virus believed to be spread by mosquitoes.

Acting chief veterinary officer Andrew Cameron says he wants local vets to send samples from any sick horses to the DPI.

"I believe the most common symptom is sort of ataxia or wobbliness, more or less drunken horse like staggering about," he said.

Cow Skull

50 swans killed by mystery virus in Cork, Ireland

© Unknown
A mystery virus has killed around 50 swans in The Lough area of Cork City over the past few days.

Cork City Council has yet to say how long it has been aware of the problem, but it has been removing the dead swans for the past few days.

The virus is understood to have been introduced by migratory ducks that have settled in the area.

Officials say the illness only affects fowl species and poses no threat to humans.


Dublin, Ireland: Swans stricken with mystery illness

© Unknown
Sixteen swans have died in the last 10 days and up to 10 more are seriously ill after they contracted a mysterious infection on the Grand Canal in Dublin.

Tests are being carried out on the corpses of the birds by the Department of Agriculture at the State laboratory.

As of yesterday avian flu had been ruled out, but the cause of the bird deaths remained unknown last night.

A spokeswoman for the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is caring for the sick swans, said they appeared to have contracted a bacterial infection which was possibly botulism.

Bizarro Earth

S. Korea Confirms Additional Bird Flu Outbreak

South Korea confirmed an additional bird flu case at a duck farm in the central part of the country on Saturday.

Tests showed that the 12,400 birds at a poultry farm in Cheonan, 92 kilometers south of Seoul, were infected with the virulent H5N1 strain of the avian influenza (AI), the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS) said.

This is the second case of the highly pathogenic avian influenza reported in the country this month as the number of AI cases has started to fall off in recent weeks. It is also the first AI confirmation in Cheonan in 33 days.

All ducks on the farm will be culled with quarantine authorities asking nearby farms to be vigilant on protecting their birds.

Bizarro Earth

West Bank: 2,000 Turkeys Diagnosed with Bird Flu Near Jenin

Bird Flu
© Ma'an News Agency
A flock of 2,000 turkeys has been diagnosed with the H5N1 "bird flu" virus in the northern West Bank village of Silat Al-Harithiya near Jenin, government officials said.

The veterinary department of the Palestinian Authority Agriculture Ministry said it had managed to prevent an epidemic.

Director of the department in Jenin Jamil Makhamra told Ma'an that government and private vets examined the flock on Feb. 27 after many of the birds died.

Samples were examined at the veterinary medicine center in Ramallah, where it was confirmed that the birds had influenza A subtype of H5N1, also known as "bird flu."