The Daily Dose: African Swine Fever decimates hogs in Asia; the Ebola outbreak continues to worsen

Worsening situation: African Swine Fever continues to decimate Chinese hogs in unprecedented numbers. International experts believe that the veterinary infrastructure is simply overwhelmed by the crisis. Making matters worse, the virus has spread to neighboring countries like Vietnam and Cambodia and will most likely spread to the rest of Southeast Asia. “The world and Vietnam have never faced such an extremely dangerous, difficult, complicated and expensive [animal] epidemic as this,” agriculture minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said in a 13 May statement.

Doubts abound: Daiichi Sankyo received a dose of bad news in its attempt at winning approval for quizartinib in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The drug is currently in phase 3 trials that aimed to link the drug to an increase in chemotherapy effectiveness. Unfortunately, the U.S. FDA has thrown water on the company’s enthusiasm and have questioned the reliability of their results.

Growing crisis in the Congo: A STAT news article offers a thorough analysis of the current Ebola situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the politics that is hampering response efforts. At the top of the list is the wrangling regarding whether the outbreak, the second largest in history, should be declared a public health emergency of international concern. Close behind that is concern over the increasing attacks on Ebola response workers and conspiracy theories that the workers have brought the disease to the area.

Urgent road safety needs: An op-Ed in the Lancet highlights the global toll road accidents take on poor, developing countries: “Every day some 3700 people die on the world’s roads, equating to 1·35 million lives lost every year, according to WHO… Poorer countries bear the brunt of the burden, with 93% of deaths taking place in low-income or middle- income countries. Regionally, Africa and southeast Asia experience the highest number of fatalities. What is most shocking, however, is the fact that road traffic crashes are the number one cause of death for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 29 years globally.”

Air supply: The exact reasons behind the Cambrian explosion has baffled scientists for some time. A new paper in Nature Geoscience suggests that oxygen supplies may lie at the heart of the mystery. Specifically, the authors suggest a boom and bust cycle may be responsible for diversification and extinctions during the period.

Talk about unique indicators: A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documents how a team of researchers used Byzantine era trash heaps to date the beginning of the fall of the empire. It’s well worth the read.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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