One can scarcely turn on the news today without hearing the latest frightening statistics about the 2014 African Ebola epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that before Ebola is contained, some 20,000 people will have been infected, and it will cost $600 million to fight this outbreak. To date there is no cure, but promising new treatments and vaccines are being developed to battle the disease first identified in 1976.
What Is Ebola? According to comprehensive Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies, Ebola is a virus or group of viruses that originated in central Africa, possibly in birds. The main reservoir for the virus now is thought to be African fruit bats.
In people, the virus causes headaches, muscle and joint pain, fever, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, and then progresses to kidney failure and the hemorrhagic stage, when the victim begins bleeding internally and externally. Among primates, including humans, the disease is 50 percent to 90 percent fatal.
Which Creatures Are at Risk For Ebola Infection? Ebola is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be passed among species. The most adversely affected group is primates, including gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, and humans. Other animals known to have been naturally infected are African fruit bats, antelopes, porcupines, rodents, pigs, and dogs. No documented infections in felines have been reported at this time.
How Is Ebola Spread? Ebola is spread in several ways. An important study done by CDC infectious-disease experts and veterinarians following the 2001-2002 Ebola outbreak concluded that consumption of infected meat was one avenue. Gorillas and other primates kill and eat infected animals, African hunters trade in "bush meat," and people who consume that can become infected. An important way Ebola is spread among humans is by direct contact with body fluids such as urine, saliva, vomit, feces, semen, sweat, and blood from infected individuals. Objects such as needles may also be contaminated with infected fluids.
How Do Dogs Get Ebola? Dogs and other animals pick up Ebola from consuming infected meat, direct contact with infectious fluids such as urine, and feces. Dogs are kept as pets and for hunting in Africa but are not typically fed, therefore they scavenge and ingest infected meat or residue from infected people. The very detailed CDC study found evidence of infection in dogs by testing hundreds of blood samples for antibodies.
Can MY Dog Get Ebola? In the United States and areas of the world not contiguous to the affected countries in West Africa, the chances of contracting Ebola are extremely low. The virus is spread mainly in the current prevalent areas where the lifestyle is far different from ours. There is no known source of infection outside of affected areas in Africa. In our country, and most countries with more stringent rules concerning food production and sanitation, our pets should be protected as well as we are from this type of catastrophic disease.
What Are Symptoms of Ebola in Dogs? The CDC concluded that infected dogs are asymptomatic (do not develop symptoms) from Ebola. But during the initial time of their infection, they can spread the disease to humans and other animals through licking, biting, grooming, saliva, tears, urine, and feces. But once the virus is cleared from the dog, it is no longer contagious. Dogs do not die from Ebola infections. (Source: Pet Place)
Reindeer, sheep, and other animals in Norway are showing a fivefold increase in levels of radioactive isotope cesium-137 from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Scientists believe the cesium comes from this year's bumper crop of mushrooms that the animals graze on. (Earthweek)
By Carolyn Jones, SF Chronicle, SF Gate Blog An endangered Eastern Pacific green sea turtle, normally found in Mexico, the Galapagos and other warm climes, was recently snagged by salmon fishermen outside the Golden Gate. The turtle, about 2,000 miles off course, was either lost or just exploring new turf, scientists said.
The fishermen took a few pictures of the gentle, 150-pound beast, and — after removing the hook from its underbelly and determining that the turtle seemed unharmed — tossed it back in the ocean and it swam away.
“We see leatherback sea turtles all the time, but we knew this wasn’t a leatherback,” said Roger Thomas, skipper of the Salty Lady fishing boat. “We didn’t know what it was.”
Thomas sent the pictures to scientists at the Turtle Island Restoration Network in Marin, who determined that the visiting creature was a very rare, and very far-flung, green sea turtle.
It was the first they had seen around here, they said.
“That’s really an unusual sighting,” said Todd Steiner, director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network. “But with the warmer water, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing animals venture further north.”
The turtle, found on Sept. 6, looked to either be an adolescent male or a small female, although gauging the age, and sometimes gender, of sea turtles is an inexact science. They tend to live longer than the biologists studying them. The only thing scientists know for sure is that some sea turtles don’t reach sexual maturity until age 50.
Green sea turtles normally live in the Pacific’s warmer latitudes. Their numbers are dwindling because of development along the beaches they use to nest, and because they sometimes become snared in industrial fishing nets and drown.
Climate change has also affected the ancient reptiles. Because temperature determines their gender when they hatch, females vastly outnumber males these days. And the warmer ocean currents tend to take the turtles places they’re not accustomed to going, such as San FranciscoBay.
Water temperatures around the Golden Gate this month are about 65 degrees, about five degrees higher than normal and possibly harkening an El Nino, Steiner said.
The green sea turtle isn’t the only unusual visitor Thomas has seen lately. He’s spotted red-footed and brown boobies at the Farallones, plus some warm-weather albatross.
(left to right) Kate Symonds, Margaret Goodale, and Ranger Nelle Lyons on Linda Mar State Beach
By Ian Butler, Riptide Correspondent
In this slow news cycle, with PCT in disarray as it upgrades to the 21st century, here is a new Wavelength episode to hold you over. It documents the installation of the snowy plover fencing at Linda Mar State Beach, and shines a light on the 20-year struggle to protect these threatened shorebirds. Click for Video
Seasonal fencing to protect Western snowy plovers is now installed at Pacifica State Beach in Linda Mar. City of Pacifica teams from Public Works and Parks, Beaches, and Recreation, as well as volunteers from Pacifica Shorebird Alliance and Sequoia Audubon, worked together to install temporary symbolic fencing and signs.
Installed before the birds arrive in early fall and removed after they leave in late spring, this visual barrier makes it easy for people to walk around roosting snowy plovers, which are difficult to see. It is a standard tool for protection of shorebirds and has public acceptance at other Bay Area beaches and throughout California.
Protection of the Western snowy plover at Pacifica State Beach (Linda Mar) has been in process for several years. The symbolic fencing, educational materials, and some of the signage are made possible by a generous grant from the Audubon Society and administered by Sequoia Audubon and Pacifica Shorebird Alliance (PSA), a project of Pacfica's Environmental Family, a 501(c)(3) organization.
Video I was going to use the headline "Food Fight at Pelican Bay" with apologies to the hundreds of squawking and hooting pelicans and other seabirds feasting on seafood (anchovies?) today at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach. Sorry about the background noise from the radio, but I think you can still hear the birdsong.
Our 17-year-old indoor/outdoor cat Manny didn't come home Monday night. My husband went looking for him the following day on the hill behind our house, and he found his collar and a lot of fur. We immediately suspected a coyote or some other wildlife was to blame.
My husband set up a webcam last night and captured footage of a coyote trying to attack a skunk at the water and food dishes (normally left out for the cat—we wanted to see if whatever attacked Manny would come back). The skunk scared the coyote off!
I wanted to pass it on that coyotes are now in Park Pacifica on Everglades bordering Grand Teton. In my 40+ years in Pacifica, we have never had this problem, and our indoor/outdoor cats over those 40 years have lived long and happy lives. We're now kicking ourselves for being so naive as to think it couldn't happen here.
I hate to think of anyone else's pets meeting their untimely end this way. For our part, I'm going to ask my kids to make and post some warning signs for the neighborhood. Thanks for your help.
On May 20 around noon, I was salmon-fishing about 15 miles due west of Princeton Harbor, and very close to shipping lanes in an area where numerous whales and diving birds were feeding on krill.
A southbound container ship (APL New Jersey) plowed through the whales. I noticed spouts from the whales within 100 feet of the ship. I did not see a direct hit on a whale but did find a dead whale floating close to the harbor mouth. Something must be done about these ships traveling so close to whale migration routes and feeding areas.
I contacted several environmental groups and the US Coast Guard to report my sighting. And I called the Marine Mammal Center at Marin Headlands and sent a picture of the dead whale. I hope someone will examine the dead whale for the cause of death.
I photographed these surfbirds at the north end of Linda Mar Beach. The top two photos show the birds foraging, uncharacteristically, on the sandy beach. The third photo shows one in its more typical rocky shore habitat. All of these birds are about two-thirds through their molt into breeding plumage. The one on the rocks is almost perfectly camouflaged against the backdrop of aggregating anemones.
Gary Hanauer says this one (above) is a "male Anna's hummingbird—a common, year-round resident in California, and the only type of Western hummer with a song (squeaky, metallic-sounding). The females don't sing."