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Mapping disease risk at human-wildlife ‘hotspots’

New research has mapped how infectious diseases spread among wildlife populations in areas where humans and wildlife live in close proximity. The study…

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New research has mapped how infectious diseases spread among wildlife populations in areas where humans and wildlife live in close proximity. The study has identified the animals, specifically wild monkeys that live in large groups alongside human settlements, that may act as “superspreaders”. 

Credit: Photo by Dr Krishna Balasubramaniam

New research has mapped how infectious diseases spread among wildlife populations in areas where humans and wildlife live in close proximity. The study has identified the animals, specifically wild monkeys that live in large groups alongside human settlements, that may act as “superspreaders”. 

It found that monkeys with the most human interactions are responsible for the largest outbreaks. This is because these locations where monkeys and humans come into close contact, typically around sources of food, can attract monkeys from different groups and sub-groups. It is at these human-wildlife hotspots that monkeys closely interact with monkeys they wouldn’t regularly mix with, leading to larger outbreaks.

With a rising global population meaning that human settlements increasingly encroach on the natural ranges of wild animals, there is a growing risk from both zoonotic diseases that “spillover” from wildlife to humans and zooanthroponotic diseases that “spillback” from humans and cause outbreaks among wildlife.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports and led by Dr Krishna Balasubramaniam of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), the research used epidemiological computer models to simulate how infectious diseases may spread among monkeys living in urban and peri-urban areas of South and South-East Asia. It is the first study to use simulations to compare disease spread through animals’ social behaviour, to disease spread through animals’ tendencies to congregate around and interact with humans.   

The team of researchers, including academics from University of California, Davis, monitored the behaviour of rhesus macaques, long-tailed macaques, and bonnet macaques in northern India, Malaysia, and southern India respectively. In these locations, wild macaques frequently share space with humans, and their interactions with people often focus around accessing food.

The researchers gathered detailed behavioural data on interactions between humans and individual monkeys as well as interactions between monkeys within the same group, within which individuals have strong social connections. This information was collected from 10 separate groups of macaques across the three Indian and Malaysian locations. 

This behavioural data was fed into mathematical Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) epidemiological models to simulate the impact of outbreaks of human diseases of varying transmissibility such as the influenza virus, Coronaviruses, and the measles virus. Computer simulations were run 100,000 times in total across the 10 groups and across the different human diseases, and the vulnerability of these macaque populations to human-induced disease outbreaks was evaluated. 

The study found that the size of the outbreak was positively predicted by the centrality within the group of the first-infected macaque – if that individual is better connected within its social network, it would lead to a larger outbreak. 

The second key finding is that the centrality of the first-infected individual, based on both its congregations with other monkeys around humans and its interactions with humans, plays a greater role in predicting the scale of outbreak than how central it is within its own group. 

This is because macaques may congregate around human-provisioned food alongside other macaques with whom they would otherwise not interact that often. The study revealed that these situations seem to create additional pathways for disease transmission and therefore lead to larger outbreaks.

The researchers believe this work could be vital for helping to identify individual monkeys that are the most sociable, and tend to congregate around and interact with humans the most. Targeting these with vaccinations or other forms of medical treatment could potentially protect both macaque populations and humans in areas where they live in close proximity. 

Dr Krishna Balasubramaniam, Lecturer in Conservation & Animal Behaviour at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of understanding infectious disease transmission among wildlife populations in urban and peri-urban areas. Population expansion has increased the contact between humans and wildlife, and these human-wildlife interfaces are widely recognised as ‘hotspots’ for the transmission of diseases across a variety of species.

“Our research focused on the potential impact of a human-borne disease spreading through wild macaque populations. Being so closely related to humans, macaques are highly vulnerable to the same diseases that infect people. Indeed, previous work by other researchers established that macaques may be infected by human gastrointestinal and respiratory pathogens. Here we showed how respiratory pathogens in particular might spread through macaque populations, and specifically how their behaviour might influence such spreading. 

“Through fieldwork and modelling, our research identified which individuals are most likely to act as ‘superspreaders’ of disease, leading to larger outbreaks. How central the individual was within its own group had an effect on the size of outbreak, but interestingly the stronger predictor of whether a macaque would go on to cause a large outbreak was its tendency to congregate around humans with macaques from other sub-groups. 

“Sources of human-provided food can act as a ‘honeypot’ and lead to macaques coming into very close contact with individuals with whom they may otherwise have less contact, for instance monkeys from other families or sub-groups.

“As well as being ‘superspreaders’ within their species, these individuals with the most human contact also pose the highest risk for interspecies disease transmission events, either from humans into wildlife, or vice-versa.  These would be the most effective targets for disease control strategies such as vaccination or antimicrobial treatment.” 
 


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Decrease in Japanese children’s ability to balance during movement related to COVID-19 activity restrictions

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected…

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A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

Credit: Credit must be given when image is used

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in Japan, as in other countries, schools and sports clubs tried to prevent the spread of infection by reducing physical education and restricting outdoor physical activities, club activities, and sports. However, children who are denied opportunities for physical activity with social elements may develop bad habits. During the pandemic, children, like adults, increased the time they spent looking at television, smartphone, and computer screens, exercised less, and slept less. Such changes in lifestyle can harm adolescent bodies, leading to weight gain and health problems. 

Visiting Researcher Tadashi Ito and Professor Hideshi Sugiura from the Department of Biological Functional Science at the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, together with Dr. Yuji Ito from the Department of Pediatrics at Nagoya University Hospital, and  Dr. Nobuhiko Ochi and Dr. Koji Noritake from Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Developmental Disabilities, conducted a study of Japanese children and students in elementary and junior high schools, aged 9-15, by analyzing data from physical examinations before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. They evaluated the children’s muscle strength, dynamic balance functions, walking speed, body fat percentage, screen time, sleep time, quality of life, and physical activity time.  

The researchers found that after the onset of the pandemic, children were more likely to have decreased balance ability when moving, larger body fat percentage, report spending more time looking at TV, computers or smartphones, and sleep less. Since there were no changes in the time spent on physical activity or the number of meals eaten, Sugiura and his colleagues suggest that the worsening of physical functions was related to the quality of exercise of the children. The researchers reported their findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  

“Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Japan after April 2020, children have not been able to engage in sufficient physical education, sports activities, and outdoor play at school. It became clear that balance ability during movement was easily affected, lifestyle habits were disrupted, and the percentage of body fat was likely to increase,” explained Ito. “This may have been because of shorter outdoor playtime and club activities, which impeded children’s ability to learn the motor skills necessary to balance during movement.” 

“Limitations on children’s opportunities for physical activity because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus have had a significant impact on the development of physical function and lifestyle and may cause physical deterioration and health problems in the future,” warned Ito. “Especially, the risk of injury to children may increase because of a reduced dynamic balance function.” 

The results suggest that even after the novel coronavirus becomes endemic, it is important to consider the effects of social restrictions on the body composition of adolescents. Since physical activities with a social element may be important for health, authorities should prioritize preventing the reduction of children’s physical inactivity and actively encourage them to play outdoors and exercise. The group has some recommendations for families worried about the effects of school closings and other coronavirus measures on their children. “It is important for children to practice dynamic balance ability, maintaining balance to avoid falling over while performing movements,” Ito advised. “To improve balance function in children, it is important to incorporate enhanced content, such as short-term exercise programs specifically designed to improve balance functions.” 


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Contradictions, Lies, And “I Don’t Recalls”: The Fauci Deposition

Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don’t Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General…

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Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don't Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General Eric Schmitt released the transcript of the testimony of Dr. Anthony Fauci. As you might recall, Fauci was deposed as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s violations of the First Amendment in targeting and suppressing the speech of Americans who challenged the government’s narrative on COVID-19.

Here is the Fauci deposition transcript.

And here are the highlights…

EcoHealth Alliance - the Peter Daszak group - is knee-deep in the Wuhan controversy, having been funded by the Fauci’s NIH for coronavirus and gain of function research in China (and having worked with the Chinese team in Wuhan). What does Fauci say about EcoHealth Alliance? Over two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and after millions dead worldwide, he’s “vaguely familiar” with their work.

In early 2020, Fauci was put on notice that his group - NIAID - had funded EcoHealth alliance on bat coronavirus research for the past five years.

This coincided with early reports - directly to Fauci, from Jeremy Ferrar and Christian Anderson - “of the possibility of there being a manipulation of the virus” based on the fact that “it was an unusual virus.”

Fauci conceded that he was specifically made aware by Anderson that “the unusual features of the virus” make it look “potentially engineered.”

Fauci couldn’t recall why he sent an article discussing gain of function research in China to his deputy, Hugh Auchincloss, telling him it was essential that they speak on the phone. He couldn’t recall speaking with Auchincloss via phone that day. But remarkably, Fauci did remember assigning research tasks to Auchincloss

Fauci was evasive on conversations with Francis Collins about whether NIAID may have funded coronavirus-related research in China, eventually stating “I don’t recall.”

The phrase “I don’t recall” was prominent in Fauci’s deposition. He said it a total of 174 times:

For example, Fauci couldn’t remember what anyone said on a call discussing whether the virus originated in a lab:

During that same call, Fauci couldn’t recall whether anyone expressed concern that the lab leak “might discredit scientific funding projects.” He also couldn’t recall whether there was a discussion about a lab leak distracting from the virus response. Fauci did remember, however, that they agreed there needed to be more time to investigate the virus origins - including the lab leak theory.

What else couldn’t Fauci remember? Whether, early into the pandemic, his confidants raised concerns about social media posts about the origins of COVID-19.

Yet Fauci did admit he was concerned about social media posts blaming China for the pandemic. He even admitted the accidental lab leak “certainly is a possibility,” contradicting his prior claims to National Geographic where he said the virus “could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”

Fauci also couldn’t recall whether he had any conversations with Daszak about the origins of COVID-19 in February 2020, but admitted those conversations might have happened: “I told you before that I did not remember any direct conversations with him about the origin, and I said I very well might have had conversations but I don't specifically remember conversations.” And he couldn’t recall telling the media early on during the pandemic that the virus was consistent with a jump “from an animal to a human.”

Fauci said he was in the dark on social media actions to curb speech and suspend accounts that posted COVID-19 information that didn’t fit the mainstream narrative: “I’m not aware of suppression of speech on social media.” Yet it was Fauci’s proclamations of the truth, whether about the origins of COVID-19 to the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, that led to social media companies banning discussions of contrary information.

Regarding those removals of content, Fauci had no personal knowledge of a US Government/Social Media effort to curb “misinformation.” But he conceded the possibility numerous times.

Then there’s the issue of masks. In February 2020, Fauci informed an acquaintance that was traveling: “I do not recommend that you wear a mask.” Fauci would later become a vocal proponent of masks only two months later.

I’m near my Substack length limit - posting the excerpts does that - but you can see from Fauci’s testimony that his public statements about COVID-19 origins and the necessity to wear a mask didn’t match his private conversations. This has been known for some time, but it’s finally nice to get him on record.

Again, read it all and subscribe here.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 21:40

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Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

The global inflation crisis paired with lackluster economic growth and an outlook…

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Global Wages Take A Hit As Inflation Eats Into Paychecks

The global inflation crisis paired with lackluster economic growth and an outlook clouded by uncertainties have led to a decline in real wages around the world, a new report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found.

As Statista's Felix Richter reports, according to the 2022-23 Global Wage Report, global real monthly wages fell 0.9 percent this year on average, marking the first decline in real earnings at a global scale in the 21st century.

You will find more infographics at Statista

The multiple global crises we are facing have led to a decline in real wages.

"It has placed tens of millions of workers in a dire situation as they face increasing uncertainties,” ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo said in a statement, adding that “income inequality and poverty will rise if the purchasing power of the lowest paid is not maintained.”

While inflation rose faster in high-income countries, leading to above-average real wage declines in North America (minus 3.2 percent) and the European Union (minus 2.4 percent), the ILO finds that low-income earners are disproportionately affected by rising inflation. As lower-wage earners spend a larger share of their disposable income on essential goods and services, which generally see greater price increases than non-essential items, those who can least afford it suffer the biggest cost-of-living impact of rising prices.

“We must place particular attention to workers at the middle and lower end of the pay scale,” Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, one of the report’s authors said.

“Fighting against the deterioration of real wages can help maintain economic growth, which in turn can help to recover the employment levels observed before the pandemic. This can be an effective way to lessen the probability or depth of recessions in all countries and regions,” she said.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 20:00

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