Vermont designates first three Green Grocery Environmental Leaders

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Healthy Living Market – Burlington, Hunger Mountain Coop – Montpelier, and Commodities Natural Market – Stowe have been named as Vermont Green Grocery Environmental Leaders by the state of Vermont for their environmental stewardship and sustainability efforts. The standards to meet this designation were developed by multi-state environmental agency workgroup members of NEWMOA (Northeast Waste Management Officials Organization, as part of the Northeast Sustainable Grocery Environmental Leader program and include energy efficiency, water and waste reduction, recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, and facility operations. The State of Vermont’s Green Business Program is a joint effort between the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Small Business Development Center and is voluntary and free of cost to participating businesses. This program provides assistance to businesses desiring to “green up” their operations and recognizes businesses of all sizes for meeting a set of environmental best management standards, going beyond compliance with existing environmental regulations. These standards are posted on the program’s website (www.vbep.org(link is external)).last_img read more

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Study: H7N9 highly transmissible by airborne route

first_imgChinese researchers who did extensive work on H7N9 viruses from birds and humans found that one of the human strains was highly transmissible by aerosol droplets in ferrets, fueling more concerns that the new virus could spread between people.The potential for aerosol spread is one of the key factors health officials use in gauging a new virus’s pandemic potential, and the new study follows closely on the heels of two others that also found evidence of respiratory droplet transmission in ferrets.The newest findings were reported today in an early online edition of Science by a team based at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, a World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating center.Genetic comparisons produce new cluesScientists ran multiple tests on H7N9 viruses obtained during poultry surveillance and isolated from human cases to get a clearer picture of its pathogenicity, virulence, replication, and transmissibility.They sequenced the genomes of 37 representative H7N9 samples, most of which came from live-poultry markets, and compared them with five human isolates. The hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes were highly similar, but they found more diversity in the six internal genes. They also found that the viruses are still capable of frequent reassortment and rapid evolution.When they examined the basic polymerase 2 (PB2) gene for amino acids associated with flu virulence and transmission in mammals, they found that all of the bird and environment samples had the amino acid combination 627E/701D. The human isolates, in contrast, had either the 627K or 701N mutation, both of which are important for virulence and transmission.The group wrote that the findings suggest the mutations may have occurred during replication in humans.Experiments to explore receptor binding, another factor that plays a role in flu virus replication and transmission, identified a 1243V mutation that—similar to the Q226L mutation—may play a key role in exclusive binding to humanlike receptors for two of the avian isolates and two of the human samples.Tests track aerosol transmission, other factorsVirulence and infection tests in birds confirmed that the H7N9 virus was low pathogenic in poultry and that infected chickens shed the virus for up to 7 days.The researchers said this finding suggests that chickens “may be one of the major carriers and spreaders of H7N9 viruses in the live poultry markets.”In tests on mice that were given lethal doses of H7N9, no signs of disease or death were seen in the ones that received viruses isolated from birds, but the animals infected with human isolates lost weight, got very sick, or died. Similarly, the group’s replication tests on mice infected with human strains found higher viral titers in the nasal passages and lungs when compared with animals infected by the bird strains.Replication experiments in ferrets also showed differences between the bird and human H7N9 strains. The group’s pathology tests on ferret lung samples found severe bronchopneumonia and prominent viral antigen expression in the animals infected with three human strains and one of the bird strains. Ferret lungs, though, appeared normal after infection with a poultry H7N9 strain.Aerosol transmission studies involved placing uninfected ferrets in cages adjacent to those housing infected ferrets. The investigators found H7N9 in one ferret exposed to those infected with one of the bird strains and two human strains isolated from some of the first patients in Shanghai. However, the virus was detected in all three ferrets exposed to animals infected with a human H7N9 strain isolated form a patient in Anhui province (AH/1).To assess reproducibility, they repeated the aerosol transmission test with the AH/1 isolate and got the same result.Senior author Hualan Chen, PhD, told CIDRAP News that there was no significant difference in transmission among four of the five viruses they tested in aerosol transmission testing. “The transmission of AH/1 to all three ferrets suggests that the H7N9 virus has great pandemic potential,” she said.The team noted that it’s difficult to pinpoint which amino acid substitution alone makes the virus highly transmissible, but the amino acid differences between the avian viruses and the Anhui virus range from 1 to 27, suggests that only a few changes are needed to make the virus highly transmissible in mammals.”Moreover, these changes can occur easily during replication in humans,” they added.Overall, the team said their tests found that the H7N9 viruses from poultry and humans can bind to human airway receptors and can replicate efficiently in ferrets, and that one human isolate can transmit efficiently among ferrets by aerosol droplets.Chen said she was surprised that all of the viruses tested are able to bind to humanlike receptors and that the PB2 gene of the virus so easily gains mutations during replication in humans that boost its virulence and transmissibility.Experts weigh pandemic potentialShe said the group’s findings are useful for weighing the threat from the virus. “This study suggests that the H7N9 virus is likely to transmit in humans, and immediate action, not only in China, is needed to prevent a possible pandemic caused by such a virus,” Chen said.The ability of the virus to transmit easily in poultry across a large part of China over a brief period points to the importance of control measures in poultry markets, the group said. But stamping out H7N9 will be a big, long-term challenge, because the virus spreads silently in chickens and also spreads to humans.Ian Mackay, PhD, a virologist at the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre at the University of Queensland, told CIDRAP News that the study’s molecular epidemiology component is the largest of its kind to date and adds many more complete H7N9 genomes to the publicly accessible GenBank database.  Mackay also authors the Virology Down Under Web site.He noted that the group’s comparison between the human and avian strains found that they differed by less than 4% at the nucleotide level, “Sometimes there are no differences,” he said, noting that the most divergent strains came from the Shanghai region, where 20% of the samples originated.The team’s infection experiments on chickens confirm that H7N9 is a silent spreader and that the birds shed the virus for about a week before their illness resolves, Mackay said.Findings revealed that major differences between H7N9 viruses are at the amino acid level, with the most divergent segment at the PB1 gene. “But it is the PB2 and HA segment that harbors mutations of particular interest to document the journey from infrequent spillover events to sustained human-to-human pandemic-level transmission,” he said.Mackay added: “We know that pandemic potential does not rest solely on one or other amino acid change, but rather a collection of changes. We also don’t know what we don’t know yet.”The Harbin group showed the potential of H7N9 viruses to bind to both avian and human receptors and that human isolates replicated well in the upper airways, a site for efficient transmission, he noted.”The study reinforces that even ‘lowly’ or inefficient transmission—only 33% of ferrets, for example—is still transmission,” Mackay said. “That proportion would lead to a lot of human cases in densely populated or frequented areas.”Those factors might help explain the wide clinical spectrum that has been seen, as well as difficulties in tracking the source and the proportion of patients who get severely ill and die, he said.Zhang Q, Shi J, Deng G, et al. H7N9 influenza viruses are transmissible in ferrets by respiratory droplet. Science 2013 Jun 18 [Abstract]See also:Jul 10 CIDRAP News story “New studies on H7N9 raise pandemic concerns”Virology Down Under Web sitelast_img read more

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Partial shutdown at gas platform, storage site outage drive prices higher

first_img(Reuters) – British wholesale gas prices rose on Monday as a partial shutdown of the Elgin-Franklin platform in the North Sea and an extended outage at a gas storage facility tightened supplies, traders said.The day-ahead contract rose by 1.65 pence to 53.00 pence per therm by 1137 GMT, lifted by concerns over gas supplies filtering through into contracts across the near and forward curve.Gas for immediate delivery was up 0.75 pence to 53.50 pence per therm.Early on Monday, Total E&P reported that offshore reduction had tripped at its Elgin-Franklin gas platform in the North Sea.“Offshore production has tripped… On restart production will be limited to five million cubic metres/day for an unknown period,” Total UK Exploration and Production said in a market message.A company spokesman told Reuters that the Elgin B and West Franklin platforms had been shut down after difficulties drilling a well, but Elgin A and Franklin were unaffected.Further tightening supply was Centrica’s announcement that an outage reducing withdrawals from Britain’s largest gas storage site Rough would be extended by a month until March 1.An unplanned outage at SSE’s Hornsea gas storage site will also reduce withdrawal capacity until Feb. 3, the SSE said.Britain faced a gas shortfall of 26.1 million cubic metres (mcm) on Monday, with demand estimated at 316.1 mcm/day and supplies at 290.7 mcm/day, according to National Grid data.“Sentiment has fed through into the near curve which has seen prices further supported by the extension to the Rough outage,” said Nick Campbell, risk manager at Inspired Energy.Average temperatures in Britain are milder than expected on Monday but forecasts for Tuesday and next week indicate colder- than-anticipated weather, according to Thomson Reuters analysts.In the Netherlands, the day-ahead gas price at the TTF hub  was up 0.65 euro to 20.35 euros per megawatt hour.In the European carbon market, the benchmark Dec-17 contract  was 0.22 euro higher at 5.14 euros a tonne.(Reporting by 0leg Vukmanovic in Milan; editing by Nina Chestney)last_img read more

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Injury claims carry a ‘social stigma’

first_imgThe public’s ignorance of the law is one of the major obstacles that is preventing people from gaining access to justice through personal injury claims, and most believe that making a claim would be ‘working the system’, according to a report by National Accident Helpline based on a poll of 1,600 people. The report, The Scale of Injustice: How the British Public is paying the price for the compensation culture myth, found that only 6% of respondents were ‘confident’ of their legal rights. Four-fifths perceived there to be ‘significant obstacles’ to seeking redress for a personal injury, and 57% identified a social stigma in making a claim. Some 60% said they would feel ‘guilty’ for making a claim against their employer. The findings are published ahead of a government review of health and safety laws by former minister Lord Young. Samantha Porteous, CEO of National Accident Helpline, said: ‘NAH is injecting some balance in to what has so far been a very one-sided public debate fuelled by the insurance industry and some very inaccurate media reports.’ She added: ‘Our research shows that many consumers are reluctant to approach solicitors, and that barriers to justice are significant.’ When broken down by type of poll respondent, the research showed that these barriers were more prevalent among lower socio-economic groups. Porteous also pointed out that employer liability claims had fallen 69% in ten years – further evidence that the UK’s compensation culture is not on the rise, and does not represent an unacceptable burden on employers.last_img read more

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Plucky Avendale Athletico punch above their weight

first_imgMZOXOLO BUDAZAKewtown’s Avendale Athletico’s return to the Metropolitan Premier Cup, after an absence of more than five years, was a bittersweet one as they were able to go as far as the last 16 of this year’s competition before going down 4-0 to visiting English Premiership side Swansea City. As inexperienced as they were, Avendale produced some gutsy performances throughout the competition before Swansea proved to have too much firepower. In fact, they were able to punch well above their weight as they topped Group F ahead of big name PSL sides Bloemfontein Celtic and University of Pretoria, as well as newcomers Ikapa Sporting. Avendale collected six points after recording a win, a scoring draw and a non-scoring draw in their three group matches.Avendale had a decent start to the competition, drawing 1-all with newcomers Ikapa in their first match, with Darren Patrick Nelson finding the back of the net for them. They went on to draw 0-0 with Bloemfontein Celtic before stunning Tuks 2-0 in the dramatic final group match which saw one of their players, Reagen Kapp getting a red card. Tauriq Thorne and Wade van Wyk found the back of the net for the Kewtown side on the day That set up another difficult encounter with Swansea in the quarter finals. The nippy and skilful Avendale players could not handle their much bigger and more aggressive opponents. Swansea, in the end, won 1-0 to end Avendale’s run in this year’s competition.As much as they were aware they were up against some of the strongest teams around, Avendale fancied their chances at this year’s competition. Who could blame them? After all they had a good run in the qualifiers, catching many people by surprise.They booked their spot in this year’s competition after finishing second in Group G of the qualifiers behind Khayelitsha’s Might United. They were, in that process responsible for the downfall of favourites and 2014 quarter-finalists Santos whom they beat 1-0 in the last match of the qualifiers. They went to the tournament with that fear-no-one mentality. Coach Kevin Botto made it clear long before the tournament that the competition was an opportunity for his players, who he described as true soldiers, to show what they are capable of. This, he said was because they gave their all to make sure the side gets back to the Premier Cup after all those years. “I told the players that I am only a coach and could only do so much. It was up to them to go out there and take us to Belhar and that’s what they did,” said Botto.* Meanwhile, last year’s champions Glendene United lost 2-0 against Atlantic Nacional after getting their campaign to retain their title off to a good start in the group stage. The Lansdowne-based side topped Group A with eight points after beating Beaufort West’s Juventus 1-0, Gauteng’s Harmony Academy 2-1 and playing to a 1-all draw against Grassy Park’s Southampton FClast_img read more

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African countries secure 90 million coronavirus test kits for next six…

first_imgA health worker tests a woman for the coronavirus during a mass testing in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner A health worker tests a woman for the coronavirus during a mass testing in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Baz RatnerAfrican countries have secured 90 million test kits for the novel coronavirus for the next six months, a regional disease control body said on Thursday, urging states and donors to boost testing capabilities on the continent as quickly as possible.“We needed to increase our testing very quickly to about 10 to 20 million tests to move ahead of the curve. This is a call to action which means we have to rally everybody,” said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), a branch of the African Union bloc.Nkengasong presented a new initiative, the Partnership to Accelerate Testing in Africa (PACT), which aims to increase testing across the continent. He added that 3.4 million tests have been conducted in Africa so far, about 1,700 tests per 1 million people, compared to 37,000 tests per 1 million in Italy and 30,000 per 1 million in Britain.Last week South Africa said it had a backlog of more than 96,000 unprocessed specimens awaiting coronavirus tests, reflecting what the government called a global shortage of test kits.Even with the supplies from PACT and other sources, there is a supply gap of around 25 million tests needed to match the testing rate of Europe, according to the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.So far Africa has 161,793 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 4,592 deaths and 69,953 recoveries, according to a Reuters tally based on government statements and World Health Organization data.Related Man flees Zimbabwe hospital before coronavirus test Nine more test positive for coronavirus in Kenyacenter_img Kenyan billionaire donates USD 1 million to coronavirus fightlast_img read more

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