Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bird Flu Cull Underway In Hong Kong

June 11 2008 - Bird flu has been reported in Hong Kong, resulting in an order being given to cull all chickens being sold across city markets.
The H5N1 strain of the virus was found during the examination of chicken waste, resulting in a ban of poultry sales and thus the order to begin culling foul.
According to governmental officials, since the first cases of Bird flu were reported last week, additional cases have been reported.
"We have not found any dead chickens with the virus -- not yet. We have not had any human cases," said Cheng Siu-hing, director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation.
"Of course, we cannot be complacent. That is why we're now taking decisive measures to close all remaining outlets and to cull all remaining live poultry."
It is not known the exact number of chickens that will be culled.
Since 2003, more than 240 human lives have been lost thanks to the virus.

Oregon Court of Appeals protects medical marijuana
The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that an employer must make a reasonable accommodation for medical marijuana use for a disability.
In an opinion issued Wednesday, the appeals court upheld a ruling by the state Bureau of Labor and Industries.
The agency said that Emerald Steel Fabricators in Eugene violated state laws barring discrimination against the disabled by discharging an employee who used medical marijuana.
A key issue was the fact the employee never used marijuana in the workplace — an issue the Oregon Supreme Court avoided in 2006 when it ruled against a registered medical marijuana user fired from his job at a Columbia Forest Products plant after urine tests detected traces of the drug.
Employers do not have to let patients smoke medical marijuana in the workplace. But the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act approved by voters in 1998 was unclear about whether employers must accommodate workers who smoke medical marijuana off the job.
In the opinion by Judge Timothy Sercombe, the Oregon Court of Appeals went back over the 2006 Oregon Supreme Court ruling to emphasize the Emerald Steel employee never used the marijuana at work — just like the worker in the Columbia Forest case.
The appeals court also noted the Oregon Supreme Court did not address some of the defenses raised in the earlier case, including the argument an employee could be affected by medical marijuana use while on duty or in "safety-sensitive positions."
It also rejected an attempt by Emerald Steel to raise new issues on appeal, including the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law despite state law allowing its use for medical purposes.
"Accordingly, we will not consider those issues for the first time on review," Sercombe wrote.
Medical marijuana has been opposed by the construction industry, which wants laws to prohibit medical marijuana users from potentially hazardous jobs such as operating heavy machinery.
Associated General Contractors has lobbied for laws defining safety-sensitive jobs, including driving large trucks, handling explosives, working at construction sites and other jobs listed as hazardous under state work safety laws.
Supporters of restrictions on medical marijuana use, including state Rep. Mike Schaufler, D-Happy Valley, have said they are trying to ensure public safety.
But medical marijuana activist John Sajo says that during legislative hearings last year, nobody was able to identify a single case where a medical marijuana patient had caused a workplace accident or problem.
He also said the vast majority of medical marijuana patients are too ill to work.
Eleven other states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state — have medical marijuana laws.

Common Sleep Problem Linked With Memory Loss
The part of the brain that stores memory appears to shrink in people with sleep apnea, adding further evidence that the sleep and breathing disorder is a serious health threat.
The findings, from brain scan studies conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, show for the first time that sleep apnea is associated with tissue loss in brain regions that store memory. And while the thinking and focus problems of sleep apnea patients often are attributed to sleep deprivation, the scans show something far more insidious is occurring.
“Our findings demonstrate that impaired breathing during sleep can lead to a serious brain injury that disrupts memory and thinking,” said principal investigator Ronald Harper, professor of neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at U.C.L.A. The data appear in the June 27 issue of the journal Neuroscience Letters.
Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the throat, soft palate and tongue relax during sleep. They sag and narrow the airway and the tongue slides to the back of the mouth, blocking the windpipe and cutting off oxygen to the lungs. The sleeper gasps for air, wakes up briefly and falls back to sleep in a cycle that repeats itself hundreds of times per night. The result is loud snoring and chronic daytime fatigue. The disorder also is linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. An estimated 20 million Americans have sleep apnea.
The study focused on structures on the underside of the brain called mammillary bodies, so named because they resemble small breasts. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 43 sleep apnea patients. Compared to images of 66 control subjects, the brains of the sleep apnea patients had mammillary bodies that were nearly 20 percent smaller, particularly on the left side.
The structures also are known to shrink in patients who have other forms of memory loss related to alcoholism or Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers don’t know why the sleep disorder affects brain tissue but theorize that it’s related to repeated drops in oxygen. During an apnea episode, the brain’s blood vessels constrict, starving its tissue of oxygen and causing cells to die. The inflammatory process, also linked with heart disease and stroke, further damages the tissue.
“The reduced size of the mammillary bodies suggests that they’ve suffered a harmful event resulting in sizable cell loss,” Dr. Harper said. “The fact that patients’ memory problems continue despite treatment for their sleep disorder implies a long-lasting brain injury.”
The data show the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. Unfortunately, the most effective treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine that many patients find unwieldy and uncomfortable. In a future study, the U.C.L.A. researchers will explore whether vitamin B1 supplements might help restore memory in sleep apnea patients by moving glucose into cells and preventing cell death.

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