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Texans refuse to leave pets behind as they flee Harvey

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Many Texans grabbed not only their valuables but also the dogs, cats, birds and other pets as they fled the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Harvey.

“It seems like everyone coming off a boat is carrying a dog or cat,” said Monica Schmidt, a manager for the Houston Humane Society.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, rescue officials have stressed the importance of evacuees bringing their pets because in New Orleans some people refused to leave for fear of abandoning their animals. Authorities had to include pets in federal guidelines for disaster planning, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

But on Sunday night that caused confusion and anger outside Houston’s convention center, which has become a large shelter.

Dozens of people with dogs arrived only to be told they could not bring them inside or that animal services were not available to care for their pets. That included Rosana Nagera, 27, who took shifts with her husband in the rain with their shivering dog.

On Monday morning pets were welcomed in a designated area at the facility, where dogs nestled next to owners on cots. Red Cross officials said evacuees with pets are welcome at its shelters, and animals are typically housed in cages on site or accommodated by partner organizations.

Antivenoms ineffective for common fatal snakebite


Image: Tom Charlton

University of Queensland researchers have found that antivenoms produced using snakes from one region may perform poorly or fail completely against the same species of snakes from other regions.

Saw-scaled vipers – found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia – kill more people globally each year than almost any other kind of snake, and are treated with antivenoms produced using snakes from different regions.

University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences expert Associate Professor Bryan Fry said antivenoms were being sold and used interchangeably to treat saw-scaled vipers’ bites, and that lives might be lost.

“In African regions where Indian antivenoms had been used, the death rate increased 20-fold,” Dr Fry said.

“Researchers tested the effectiveness of two African and two Indian saw-scaled viper antivenoms against saw-scaled vipers from 10 regions.

“The results showed that the two African antivenoms were only effective against snakes from restricted ranges.

“One antivenom performed well against West African saw-scaled vipers and the other one was best against the East African saw-scaled vipers.

“The Indian antivenoms failed against the Indian saw-scaled viper from a range different to the one used for the antivenom production, and failed completely against African saw-scaled vipers.

Envenoming and deaths resulting from snakebite represent an important public health concern. It is estimated that snakebite affects around five million people globally and accounts for more than 100,000 deaths annually.

“This is likely to be a dramatic underestimation due to poor or entirely absent data in many regions,” Dr Fry said.

“Most severe cases of snakebites are attributed to two snake families, elapids and vipers, and among them, saw-scaled or carpet vipers are thought to be responsible for more deaths annually than any other genus.

“Snakebites are the most neglected tropical disease in the world, yet antivenom production is decreasing in favour of more profitable projects. 

“Antivenom is expensive to produce, has a short shelf life and is needed most by those who can afford it the least.”

Dr Fry said the situation was particularly dire in Africa as it was the snakebite epicentre of the globe and home to some of the most toxic snakes that thrived in disturbed rural environments.

“Saw-scaled vipers’ density in farming regions far exceeds their numbers in natural habitat,” he said.

“Their venom is fast-acting on humans, causing potentially fatal excessive bleeding.”

Dr Fry hoped that this research would raise awareness of the urgent need for international efforts to address the global crisis.

“Snake bite is an incredibly socially destabilising force, not only directly due to deaths of primary bread-winners in farming communities, but also the severe permanent injuries to survivors,” he said.

“Entire family groups may be plunged into poverty. Other medically important destabilising factors are targeted by foreign aid from wealthy countries since destabilised communities are more prone to violence and extremism.

“However snakebite is hugely neglected by such foreign aid despite it being the more readily treatable, relative to diseases such as HIV-AIDS.

“For value for money, no other foreign aid measure could have such immediate medical implications while also helping to promote stable, peaceful communities.”

Vet TV - a first for the veterinary profession in Australia
 
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and Association Media (Assoc. Media) are excited to launch Vet TV, a first for the veterinary industry in Australia.

The program provides a unique look into the veterinary industry through a series of interviews with leading veterinary professionals and industry experts. With a mix of news reports and sponsored editorial profiles, the program explores a range of topics from veterinary business to pet ownership. It also delves into key issues affecting the equine industry and the changing veterinary landscape.

Graham Catt, CEO of the AVA, said that Vet TV is something the industry needs to help the wider community understand how the veterinary industry has changed so rapidly over the past 10 years.
Medical advancements, new business models and changes in pet ownership are just some of the issues that have dramatically changed the nature of the veterinary profession and these are issues that Vet TV looks to shed some light on.

“Vet TV allows the AVA to highlight the amazing and often life-saving work that vets do on a day-to-day basis. By taking a closer look at the profession, it gives people a complete picture of the many important roles that vets play. Vets are involved in a range of areas including research, public health, pet medicine, protecting our borders and disease surveillance, just to name a few. Thanks to Association Media who teamed up with us to produce Vet TV, we can now give people some insight into the profession and the role of veterinarians, which is first and foremost to support and enhance animal welfare in every aspect of their professional lives,” Mr Catt said.

Jonathan Love, Managing Director of Assoc. Media said, “It’s been an exciting process to see Vet TV come together. I’m extremely pleased with the final program and look forward to seeing how it is received by those involved in Australia’s animal industries and the public. We hope to be able to expand the program in the near future, adding even more value to Vet TV.”

The program will now form part of an extensive communications campaign to reach and engage with the broader community, industry leaders, organisations, writers, bloggers and journalists. It is available online at www.ava.com.au/vettv.

The program is also designed to be a valuable resource for AVA members.
 
The secret life of whale sharks no longer a mystery
 
 
Whale shark researchers have marked International Whale Shark Day by solving a long-standing mystery about where the world’s largest fish go during the Australian spring and summer.
 
In a world-first, researchers from The University of Queensland and the non-profit ECOCEAN have tracked and recorded a full return migration of whale sharks to and from Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.
 
UQ graduate and ECOCEAN marine biologist Samantha Reynolds said the study revealed surprising insights into the importance of the Ningaloo Reef area.
 
“Our tagged whale sharks were tracked returning to Ningaloo Reef throughout the year, and our modelling suggests that it provides suitable habitat for them year-round,” Ms Reynolds said.
 
“The eco-tourism industry takes visitors swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef in autumn and winter, but until now the creatures’ whereabouts at other times of the year has remained a mystery.
 
“Whale shark season at Ningaloo could last all year,” Ms Reynolds said.
 
“This is valuable information for the eco-tourism industry and could provide a boon for the local Ningaloo economy.
 
“It’s also vital information for the long-term management and conservation of whale sharks.
 
“They are an endangered species. We need to know which areas are critical habitat for them, so we can protect them into the future.”
 
Ms Reynolds said the work had been part of the most extensive satellite tracking study of whale sharks in Australia.
 
It identified areas along the WA coast, in the Timor Sea and in Indonesian and international waters that could be important whale shark habitat.
 
“Our study highlights the need for international co-operation for the protection of whale sharks,” Ms Reynolds said.
 
“Many of these areas are not designated as Marine Protected Areas and some of the tagged sharks we studied travelled to areas where they could be under threat from ship strike, pollution or targeted fishing.
 
”The conservation status of whale sharks was changed from vulnerable to endangered last year, because of these threats.”
 
Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are slow-moving filter-feeding carpet sharks, living to 80 years, with the largest confirmed individual weighing about 21.5t with a length of 12.65m.
 
The research, published in Diversity and Distributions, continues this month with more satellite tagging.
 
ECOCEAN is a finalist in the Innovation in Citizen Science Eureka Prize category announced tonight.

Business Confidence down in August to 114.4 as high energy prices a threat to economic growth


Business Confidence fell 2.6pts (-2.2%) to 114.4 in August, following extensive discussions about the high cost of energy in Australia. However, businesses remain largely positive with a majority of businesses expecting to be ‘better off’ financially this time next year (51.7%) and most businesses say now is a good time to invest in growing the business (54.9%). The fall in Business Confidence was driven by large falls in confidence in several industries including Manufacturing, Electricity, Gas, Water and Personal, repair and other services.

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