Thursday, September 30, 2010

For dogs, flu season is all the time

(ARA) - As you schedule flu shots for yourself and your children, you may want to consider doing the same for the canine members of the family.

If you haven't heard of the canine influenza virus (CIV), or the dog flu, you are probably not alone - the disease was first identified in 2004. While humans typically line up for vaccinations in the fall to protect them during the colder months, dogs can get the disease at any time.

Dogs affected by a CIV infection experience a respiratory infection. For most dogs, it is a mild illness, but some get very sick and the disease can cause lingering health issues. Here are some things you should know about canine influenza:

* It's highly contagious. Most dogs have not built up immunity to the disease because it's relatively new. Dogs can get the disease by being exposed to dogs that have it, as well as playing with toys or drinking from bowls used by other dogs.

* Humans cannot contract the disease. But they can spread it through their clothing or other items that have come in contact with infected dogs.

* The virus has been detected in 34 states so far. Since it was first identified in Florida racing greyhounds in 2004, the disease has spread rapidly. Most states report some incidence of the disease, but it can be difficult to track because it's hard to diagnose. To view where the dog flu has been found, visit www.doginfluenza.com.

* Dog flu is difficult to detect. Dogs become sick before they start showing symptoms, like coughing. Because it's a relatively new disease, many veterinarians are not yet experienced in identifying it.

* The disease can be really serious. Most dogs recover from the dog flu, but some suffer secondary infections like pneumonia, which can be fatal. Many dogs suffer lung damage that may not be detectable in clinical examinations.

* Treating a dog for CIV is costly. Treatment costs can be significant, especially if your dog has to be hospitalized. For the owner of a boarding kennel, an outbreak is even more costly both in terms of money and reputation.

Fortunately, the discomforts and potential danger of dog flu can be mitigated, because there is a vaccine. The Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8 Vaccine was launched under a conditional license in 2009 and fully licensed by the USDA in 2010. Like human flu vaccine, it does not guarantee your dog won't be infected, but it can significantly decrease the severity and spread of the dog flu.

By getting your dog vaccinated you can save on the potential costs of treating the disease, as well as promote canine health by helping prevent its spread. Clinics and boarders are also beginning to require the vaccine - 20 percent currently do, according to the 2010 Veterinary Economics "State of the Industry Study."

Because the vaccine requires two doses the first year, given two to four weeks apart, it's important to plan ahead if you are boarding or traveling with your dog. Starting the process six weeks ahead of when your dog may be exposed will allow the vaccine enough time to protect your dog.

The more social your dog, the more likely it will be exposed to the disease. By thinking about pet health this flu season, you can help ensure a longer and healthier life for your dog. So ask your veterinarian whether the canine flu vaccination is right for your dog.



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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Researchers to study anthropogenic drivers of rabies in vampire bats

Throughout Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, Common vampire bats transmit infectious diseases such as rabies to animals and humans. Factors that influence the spread of disease within bat populations and transmission to other species are not well understood, making it difficult to predict rabies outbreaks in humans and livestock. Now, a team of researchers, led by associate professor Sonia Altizer of the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, hopes to close these knowledge gaps with a $580,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a three-year study of rabies in vampire bats in Peru.

Altizer and Ph.D. student Daniel G. Streicker, in collaboration with investigators at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Michigan, the National University of San Marcos and the Peruvian Ministries of Health and Agriculture, will explore how human activities affect rabies virus transmission in vampire bats and how those changes might alter the risk of rabies infection for humans, domesticated animals and wildlife.

Streicker, who co-authored a recent paper on cross-species transmission of rabies that was published in the journal Science, said that Peru is currently experiencing a great deal of environmental change, with deforestation and the introduction of livestock occurring in many areas. “Most wildlife doesn’t benefit from this kind of change,” he said, “but vampire bats do.”

Vampire bats are responsible for a disproportionate share of human and livestock rabies cases because the bites that occur when they feed on other animals provide an ideal mechanism for the transmission of rabies.

“Introducing a herd of cattle is like putting out a huge platter of food for the bats,” said Altizer.“We’re looking at how this affects the population size of bats, and how it affects the transmission of rabies. We predict that more bats will make it easier for rabies to persist in an area year-round.”

With a better understanding of how bat densities are changing and the effect that has on rabies transmission, Altizer, Streicker and their colleagues hope that more effective rabies control strategies can be developed.Current control efforts consist of killing bats, either by destroying the caves where they roost or by poisoning them.

Altizer explained that no one knows if killing bats actually helps reduce rabies transmission. “It might be counterproductive,” she said.“If you kill the bats that are exposed to the virus and therefore immune, you’re taking away the protected population and clearing the path for an influx of susceptible animals, and that could potentially cause a rabies outbreak.”

Altizer and Streicker are enthusiastic about the scope of the project, in terms of both its multi-faceted research methodology and the international collaboration it has engendered. They will be working with Peruvian college students in the field to monitor rabies transmission across a network of 18 sites and will analyze samples of the virus from humans, bats and livestock using genetic sequencing.They will also work with scientists at the CDC to determine how long infected vampire bats are capable of transmitting rabies virus, whether infected bats ever survive, and, if so, whether they then become immune. Finally, they will create a mathematical model to test whether their understanding of the way the virus behaves corresponds with what they see in the field.

The importance of this study goes beyond its implications for controlling the spread of rabies. “The case of vampire bat rabies in Peru provides a microcosm to understand unintended feedbacks of human subsidization of wildlife through infectious diseases,” said Streicker. “Outbreaks of Nipah virus in humans and house finch conjunctivitis in birds have been attributed to ecological and behavioral changes that occur when wildlife adapt to novel food sources. As agricultural intensification and urbanization are increasing threats to natural systems worldwide, a mechanistic understanding of the links between ecosystem health, animal health and human health will be critical for both human health and wildlife conservation.”

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rural Women in Nicaragua Lead Effort to Protect Endangered Sea Turtles

/PRNewswire/ -- Sea turtles throughout the world are increasingly threatened with extinction, yet the people who can help address this crisis are often ignored. Last year, Dr. Sarah Otterstrom of the non-profit organization Paso Pacifico made a commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to empower women and girls as environmental leaders in Central America. As a result, women in a small fishing village in Nicaragua are now the lead protectors of nesting sea turtles. They earn money for every baby sea turtle they help to hatch which successfully enters the sea.

"Women possess unique knowledge about the value of wildlife, water, and trees to society, yet they have been overlooked as guardians of nature," Dr. Otterstrom said. "Through our effort, Nicaraguan women are now the lead protagonists in protecting sea turtles from extinction. They carefully monitor incubating eggs and assist the hatchlings as they walk to the sea."

In rural Nicaragua, women have few avenues to earn income and rely on informal employment to obtain cash. In this fishing village, women bring in an average of $30 per month through activities such as selling bread and sewing clothes. The ten women participating in Paso Pacifico's program can now earn the same amount of money for protecting a single nest. The women protectors receive 35 cents per hatchling and each turtle nest has over ten dozen eggs. There are hundreds of turtles nesting on the beach each year. The women involved in this project have shown intense collaboration. Rather than individually receiving funds for each protected sea turtle, they opted to pool the money they earn and equally distribute it across their group of sea turtle protectors.

"Nurturing baby sea turtles is very rewarding," sea turtle protector Carolina Coronado explains. "After a sea turtle nests at night, we carefully move the nests to a hatchery we have built and where we protect the nests from poachers and livestock. When the baby turtles hatch, we count them and feel fulfilled as we watch them crawl to the ocean."

Paso Pacifico's CGI Commitment to empower women includes an environmental education program reaching over 400 children and providing experiential outdoor education to early adolescent girls. Additionally, the program advances women by helping them establish native tree nursery businesses and reforest their watersheds.

"Women in Nicaragua are proving that they can become leaders in providing solutions in the face of climate change and other environmental threats," Otterstrom said. "The sea turtles being protected by these women are on the critically endangered list. We should not underestimate the transformative effect they are having on saving this ancient species."

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Clayton State Director of Recreation & Wellness Supports Newnan-Coweta Humane Society

The Newnan-Coweta Humane Society (NCHS) has made good on their promise of a year ago.

At last year’s “Furr Ball” Dinner Dance/Silent Auction, LouAnn Jones, president of NCHS announced the kick-off of their fundraising efforts and pledged to open a low-cost spay neuter clinic by the end of 2010. As a result, the H.E.L.P. Spay Neuter Clinic will open for business at 12 The Crescent, Newnan, Ga. 30263 on Sept. 27, 2010.

Cindy Lauer, director of Recreation & Wellness at Clayton State University, and a resident of Sharpsburg, Ga., is a volunteer for the Coweta County Humane Society. She applauds the coming opening of the NCHS Clinic.

“I am very happy to hear about the opening of the H.E.L.P. Spay Neuter Clinic in Newnan,” she says. “It is great to know that the various rescue groups in the region, including Clayton and Fayette Counties, and individual pet owners, will have access to high-quality, low-cost spay neuter surgeries.

“Sadly, many thousands of cats and dogs are euthanized annually in the State of Georgia and having access to a clinic such as this can assist us in making strides against pet overpopulation.”

Efforts to create the clinic actually began about two years ago when the Board of Directors of NCHS voted to pursue acceptance into the Humane Alliance’s National Spay Neuter Response Team mentoring program.

The new clinic will offer low cost, high quality, spay neuter surgeries for cats and dogs, employing the clinic model developed by the Humane Alliance of Asheville, N.C. Julie Morris, senior VP of ASPCA Community Outreach says Humane Alliance is the model to follow in terms of high-quality spay/neuter that is cheap in terms of price, not quality, yet seamlessly performed with perfection and ease.

To help start the clinic, NCHS was awarded an $85,000 equipment grant from PetSmart Charities. Additionally, they have received generous grants from the Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation and The Marianne Halle Animal Foundation.

“We are grateful to not only these wonderful foundations who support our vision and pursuit of ending euthanasia of homeless pets, but also to the Coweta County community for their incredible support of our group” says Jones. “We look forward to serving the community in this new capacity.”

The clinic will operate Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The clinic’s telephone number is (770) 304-7911 and their website is www.helpspayneuter.org.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Celebrate Lun Lun, Yang Yang and Xi Lan!

PANDAMONIUM! Birthday Celebration
Celebrate Lun Lun, Yang Yang and Xi Lan this Saturday

Panda fans from across the U.S. are preparing to get their black-and-white on, as Zoo Atlanta hosts a birthday tribute to three world-famous animal superstars: Lun Lun, 13 on August 25; Yang Yang, 13 on September 9; and Xi Lan, 2 on August 30. Festivities are scheduled for Saturday, September 18, from 10 a.m. to Noon.

Provided through partnership with Peachtree TV, new for PANDAMONIUM! 2010 is a green screen enabling fans to pose for free souvenir photos “with” Xi Lan. Additional highlights will include special keeper talks; appearances by Zoo mascot Zhu Zhu; and presentation of birthday surprises to the guests of honor.

The celebration is free for Zoo Atlanta Members and children under 3; free with general admission.

Saturday, September 18, 2010
10 a.m. to Noon; giant pandas receive birthday gifts at 11 a.m.
Zoo Atlanta, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Music Inspired by the Masses-- Masses of Ocean Life

Editor's Note:  Such beautiful images of marine life.  Such great music. Enjoy.

Sea-Creature Discoveries Spawn Music Video




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Monday, September 13, 2010

Archery Deer Hunting Season Opened Sept. 11th

Deer season is the most popular time of the year for Georgia hunters, and this year archers get first draw beginning Sat., Sept. 11.  Last year, 107,792 archery hunters harvested more than 54,000 deer.

Statewide archery season runs through Oct. 8, but special regulations apply to archery-only counties and extended archery season areas.  Hunters should refer to the 2010-2011 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide available online, at retail license agents or any Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division office.

Georgia is considered a top destination in the country for non-resident hunters and continues to draw tens of thousands of hunters from across the country each year. The state’s quality deer herd and the close to one million available acres of public hunting land serve as the main appeal.

Georgia offers more than 90 state-operated wildlife management areas.  Many of these public lands offer specialty hunts, including primitive weapons hunts, adult/child hunts and ladies-only hunts. Dates and locations for these hunts are available in the 2010-2011 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide, and WMA maps are available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com .

Hunters are allowed a season bag limit of ten antlerless deer and two antlered deer (one of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers).

To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, big game license and a current deer harvest record. If hunting on a WMA, a WMA license also is required.

For more information on deer hunting seasons and regulations, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com .

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Study may help predict extinction tipping point for species

What if there were a way to predict when a species was about to become extinct—in time to do something about it?

Findings from a study by John M. Drake, associate professor in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology, and Blaine D. Griffen, assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, may eventually lead to such an outcome—and that is only the start. Their study also has implications for understanding drastic, even catastrophic, changes in many other kinds of complex systems, from the human brain to entire ecosystems.

The paper, “Early warning signals of extinction in deteriorating environments,” published in the early online edition of the journal Nature, describes a study of the fluctuations in experimental populations of water fleas (Daphnia magna) undergoing environmental stress until they reach a tipping point beyond which they do not remain viable. The study is unique in its careful comparison of these stressed populations with other, healthy populations in the context of new theories about dynamic systems undergoing transitions at a tipping point, particularly a phenomenon known as “critical slowing down.”

“This is the first experimental demonstration of critical slowing down in a biological system,” said Drake. He explained that critical slowing downis a term used to describe a pattern in data that has previously been observed in physics and the Earth sciences, but until now has been only a theoretical possibility in biology. It describes the decreasing rate of recovery from small disturbances to a system as it approaches a tipping point. When a system is close to a tipping point, it can take a long time to recover from even a very small disturbance. “The theory was originally used to describe drastic changes in other kinds of systems—everything from epileptic seizures to regime shifts in the earth’s climate system,” Drake said. “But these attributions of CSD primarily have been after-the-fact explanations of anomalous observations without clear controls.”

This also is the first time the theory has been applied to extinction.

The experiment featured populations of water fleas that were assigned to either deteriorating environments (in this case, declining levels of food) or stable environments (the control group). The experiment lasted for 416 days, when the last population in the deteriorating environment group became extinct. Depending upon the amount of food they received, populations in the deteriorating environment group reached the population viability tipping point after approximately 300 days. Populations in the control group never reached it; those populations persisted.

The researchers next looked at a variety of statistical indicators, early warning signals that could detect the onset of CSD and thereby predict the approach to a tipping point. They compared the indicators with the timing of the decrease in food and with the achievement of the tipping point, mathematically referred to as a “transcritical bifurcation.” They found that each of the indicators—some more strongly than others—showed evidence of the approaching tipping point well before it was reached.

According to Drake, what is even more important is the generality such statistical indicators are expected to exhibit. That is, although precise quantitative models are required to predict most natural phenomena—in any domain of science—with any degree of accuracy, the theory of critical slowing down applies qualitatively anytime a bifurcation is in the vicinity. “You don’t have to know the underlying equations to use the theory,” Drake said, “and this is important in biology, where the dynamics are typically sufficiently complex that we often do not know which equations to use. In fact, we may never come to such a complete understanding, given the range of biodiversity out there and the fact that species are evolving all the time.”

Drake pointed out that potential applications, such as predicting extinctions based on evidence of CSD, are still in the future. “This is the first step in the fundamental research that would underlie such an application,” he said. “We have shown that CSD can happen in populations—that is all. The real world is a lot ‘noisier’ than the lab. Using early warning signals to predict approaching tipping points could eventually be a powerful tool for conservation planning, though, and for better understanding a host of other kinds of systems as well.”

John Gittleman, dean of the Odum School of Ecology, agreed. “This study fits into one of the core missions of the Odum School by developing a predictive science of ecology,” he said. “We now have clear, predictive research programs dealing with extinction, conservation, and disease, all critically important areas for a more robust science of ecology.”

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh Georgia! What Great Wildlife You Have

Editor's Note:  After our staff saw this video, it was hard to keep them from running out the door and heading down to Saint Catherine's Island.  It's been many years since we've been there and now the wanderlust to go is in our offices.  

We thought you'd enjoy seeing some of Georgia's wildlife in their habitats.

Insiders' Guide to Georgia Barrier Islands
by Emory University




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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Doggie Exercises...



Having a hard time getting motivated to do your exercises? Involve your dog .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sept. 1st Deadline for Quota Deer Hunt Applications

The window of opportunity is closing for those interested in applying for a quota deer hunt on select public land and at select State Parks.  If you want a chance to hunt, you need to be sure to get your online quota application in before midnight September 1.    A total of 35 quota deer hunts on public land and six State Park quota deer hunts are scheduled.

“The Wildlife Resources Division offers hunters of all ages the opportunity to experience deer hunting in every region of the state, including unique opportunities on Sapelo and Ossawbaw Island,” says Division Assistant Chief of Game Management John Bowers.  “Deer harvest during these public land quota hunts are tagged by the Division and do not count toward the hunters statewide season limit.”

Georgia’s online quota hunt application system provides hunters an expedient, easy and customer friendly means to apply for alligator, deer, state park, turkey and waterfowl quota hunts.  Additionally, the systems customer accounts afford applicants not selected for quota hunts a convenient method to accrue and maintain preference points that can be applied to future applications.

To learn more about quota hunts and the quota hunt application process, interested hunters should visit the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division website at www.gohuntgeorgia.com . Select “Hunting” and then “Quota Hunts” for more information.  How do you know if you are selected? Applicants can check their application status through their customer account after the deadline.  

For more information on 2010 quota deer hunts, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com , contact a WRD Game Management Office or call (770) 760-3045.

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