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Following Bird Flu Reports in state’s Alappuzha District, Kerala Minister K Raju announces Culling of One Lakh Ducks

Two years ago, more than two lakh poultry birds were culled in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts following an outbreak of avian flu

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Representational image. Flickr

Alappuzha, November 2, 2016: Kerala Animal Husbandry Minister K Raju on Wednesday said that one lakh ducks will be culled after avian flu (H5N1 virus) was reported in certain areas of the state’s Alappuzha district.

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“Earlier what used to be done was all the poultry birds within a one square kilometre radius, where such birds have been affected would be culled. But this time we have decided to only cull ducks in areas, where affected birds have been identified,” said Raju at a meeting with stake holders and officials.

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Last week, the presence of the virus was detected in four villages of the district, following which around 38,000 ducks have been culled and the remaining would be done in the coming days.

The Minister has already announced that adequate compensation would be provided for each bird and egg destroyed.

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Two years ago, more than two lakh poultry birds were culled in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts following an outbreak of avian flu. (IANS)

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Three Mutations if Occurred at Same Time Could Turn Bird Flu a Potential Pandemic: Experts

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Bird Flu
Health officers cull poultry at a wholesale market, as trade in live poultry is suspended after a spot check at a local street market revealed the presence of H7N9 bird flu virus, in Hong Kong June 7, 2016. VOA
  • The flu strain, known as H7N9 has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China
  • Mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells, making the virus more dangerous to people
  • Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist, said the study’s findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance

London, June 18, 2017: Scientists have identified three mutations that, if they occurred at the same time in nature, could turn a strain of bird flu now circulating in China into a potential pandemic virus that could spread among people.

The flu strain, known as H7N9, now mostly infects birds but it has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China, mainly related to poultry markets.

The World Health Organization said earlier this year that all bird flu viruses need constant monitoring, warning that their constantly changing nature makes them “a persistent and significant threat to public health.”

At the moment, the H7N9 virus does not have the capability to spread sustainably from person to person. But scientists are worried it could at any time mutate into a form that does.

To assess this risk, researchers led by James Paulson of the Scripps Research Institute in California looked at mutations that could potentially take place in the genome of the H7N9 virus.

They focused on the H7 hemagglutanin, a protein on the flu virus surface that allows it to latch onto host cells.

The team’s findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens on Thursday, showed that in laboratory tests, mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells — suggesting these changes are key to making the virus more dangerous to people.

Scientists not directly involved in this study said its findings were important, but should not cause immediate alarm.

“This study will help us to monitor the risk posed by bird flu in a more informed way, and increasing our knowledge of which changes in bird flu viruses could be potentially dangerous will be very useful in surveillance,” said Fiona Culley, an expert in respiratory immunology at Imperial College London.

She noted that while “some of the individual mutations have been seen naturally, … these combinations of mutations have not,” and added: “The chances of all three occurring together is relatively low.”

Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist also at Imperial, said the study’s findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance.

“These studies keep H7N9 virus high on the list of viruses we should be concerned about,” she said. “The more people infected, the higher the chance that the lethal combination of mutations could occur.” (VOA)

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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