W/Africa at Highest Risk of Bat-to-Human Virus Spread, Study Finds

first_imgSub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are most at risk from bat viruses jumping to humans and causing new diseases that could lead to deadly outbreaks, scientists warned Tuesday.Approximately 60 to 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are so-called “zoonotic events” — where animal diseases jump into people — and bats in particular are known to carry many zoonotic viruses.The tiny animals are the suspected origin of rabies, Ebola, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and possibly MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and could cause other as-yet-unknown epidemics in the future.Scientists at University College London (UCL), the Zoological Society of London and Edinburgh University looked to map out the highest-risk areas by using a variety of factors including large numbers of bat viruses found locally, increasing population pressure, and hunting bats for bushmeat.West Africa LeadsKate Jones, UCL’s chair of ecology and biodiversity, said her team first created risk maps for each variable and found, for example, that in mapping for potential human-bat contact, sub-Saharan Africa was a hotspot, while for diversity of bat viruses, South America was at most risk.“By combining the separate maps, we’ve created the first global picture of the overall risks of bat viruses infecting humans in different regions,” she said.The work was published in journal The American Naturalist.The research, using data published between 1900 and 2013, found that West Africa — the epicenter of the recent Ebola outbreak — is at highest risk for zoonotic bat viruses.The wider sub-Saharan Africa region, as well as South East Asia, was also found to be hotspots.Liam Brierley, a PhD student at Edinburgh University who worked with Jones, said the risk of bat-to-human virus transmission is being driven higher by large and increasing populations of people and livestock expanding into wild areas such as forests.“People in these areas may also hunt bats for bush meat, unaware of the risks of transmissible diseases which can occur through touching body fluids and raw meat of bats,” he said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Supreme Court to Hear LP Case Today

first_imgTemple of Justice, seat of the Liberian JudiciaryAfter placing a stay order on all activities leading to the holding of the runoff presidential election, the Supreme Court is today expected to begin hearing into the complaints of irregularities filed by the opposition Liberty Party (LP) against the conduct of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections by the National Elections Commission (NEC).The Supreme Court order is believed to have placed a serious temporary obstacle on preparations for next Tuesday’s runoff elections, as the NEC has to wait for the outcome of the hearing of the complaints, which the LP said is a “violation of the Constitution, election law, fraudulent acts and gross irregularities during the October 10 elections.”The runoff election is scheduled between the ruling Unity Party (UP) of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of Senator George Weah.Lawyers representing the NEC and the LP were expected to appear before the Supreme Court yesterday, but failed to do so without any legal reason.The matter has been rescheduled for today, Friday at 9 a.m.The UP has publicly announced that it is backing the LP, claiming that “President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was interfering with the electoral process to influence its outcome.”President Sirleaf’s office has denied the allegation, although the UP is yet to produce any evidence to support her claim against the party’s former standard bearer.The stay order on the electoral process resulted from the LP’s plea for a Writ of Prohibition claiming irregularities and fraud during the October 10 polls.The writ was issued on Tuesday by Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, the current Chamber Justice, who warned the NEC not to proceed with electoral activities leading to the run-off.In his order, Justice Ja’neh instructed: “NEC has to stay away from any and or all actions in respect of the November 7 runoff election, pending the deposition by the Supreme Court of the LP’s petition.”The order added: “the parties are informed that given the constitutional issues raised in the petition coupled with the fact that election matters are to be expeditiously heard and determined that upon serving the writ and the return, the case is hereby docketed for urgent deposition by the full bench.”In  respect to Justice Ja’neh’s order, the NEC has immediately halted all electoral activities to the runoff including training of election workers, which was scheduled for Thursday, and also the transportation of ballot materials to and in the all the 15 counties.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more