Fragile mountain gorilla population rising

Press Conference with Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka

Aired on November 14, 2012

New censuses reveal that the number of endangered mountain gorillas living in Uganda has increased from 340 to 400 in the past five years.

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Heart of Borneo

The tropical rainforests of Borneo are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth.

By creating a network of protected areas and leveraging the support of businesses, WWF’s aim is that the island’s natural treasures are sustainably used, well into the future.

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Virus Hunters

October 01, 2012 11:48 AM: Beatrice Politi, Claude Adams 

Read it on Global News: Global News | Virus Hunters

Deep in the Amazon jungle, Virologist Simon Anthony is following a Brazilian team of scientists and researchers. Their mission is a life-saving one.

“We’re here in the Brazilian Amazon because we know that 75% of emerging infectious diseases in people come from wildlife and the Amazon is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet,” he says.

Anthony is a Columbia University Virologist, also known as a “Virus Hunter”. On this day, the team is out to trap bats that may be carrying some of the deadliest viruses – viruses that could be deadly and could be transmitted to humans.

“What we’re trying to do is discover the next global pandemic, the next HIV, but before it emerges in people,” he says. “What we are doing is studying wildlife during anthropogenic change.”

Anthony works with the New York based Centre for Infection and Immunity, which has already identified over 500 new viruses.

“Of those I would say probably 25 or 30 are extremely important vis a vis causing human disease,” says the CII director, Dr. Ian Lipkin.

But to date scientists have identified fewer than one percent of all viruses that exist.

“We receive about a hundred thousand samples a year. . . .we receive them from all over the world,” says Dr. Lipkin. “The challenge is to work them up efficiently.”

In his lab, Dr. Lipkin must determine if a particular microbe is a virus, if it causes disease and if it’s contagious.

“It’s like criminology,” he says. “You have to have opportunity, motive and so forth. So we then need to prove the link to disease.”

When the SARS outbreak struck a decade ago, it took weeks to identify the virus that caused it. Today, it would only take days, perhaps even hours, in Dr. Lipkin’s lab.

“I think scientists in general are silent superheroes,” he says.

Read it on Global News: Global News | Virus Hunters

See original article and video here: http://www.globalnews.ca/virus%20hunters/6442725482/story.html

Ebola virus found in Kalimantan’s orangutan (The Jakarta Post)

Ebola virus found in Kalimantan’s orangutan

Indra Harsaputra, The Jakarta Post, Surabaya | National | Fri, November 02 2012, 4:14 PM

Researchers from Airlangga University’s Avian Influenza-zoonosis Research Center in Surabaya, East Java, report that they have detected evidence of Ebola virus in several orangutans in Kalimantan.

Researcher Chairil Anwar Nidom told The Jakarta Post on Friday that 65 serum samples collected from 353 healthy orangutans between December 2005 and December 2006 tested positive for Ebola virus.

“The result should be an early warning for us,” he said.

“In 2006, we collected the samples and froze them because we didn’t have an appropriate laboratory to examine them. We examined them last year,” he added.

Chairil also said that six of 353 samples tested positive for Marburg virus, the similar virus to Ebola that causes Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever.

Further examination, Chairil said, showed that 60 of 65 Ebola-tested samples were similar to the virus found in Africa. “There were only five samples that had the similarity with Ebola virus found in Asia. The other 60 were similar to the Ebola virus found in Zaire, Sudan, Ivory Coast, and Bundibugyo district in Uganda,” he said.

According to Chairil, Ebola virus might still live in some of orangutans’ bodies.

“All I can say is that Ebola could be a threat to humans living in Indonesia,” he said.

The orangutan is only found in Kalimantan and Sumatra. The other great apes: gorilla, chimpanzee and bonobo live in Africa.

Chairil and his team said they would continue the research. “We are currently collecting samples from wild boars, which we suspect transmit the virus to orangutans,” he said.

Ebola virus was first detected in Congo in 1976. Sixteen people were killed in the last Ebola outbreak in Uganda this year.