How Dogs are Detecting the Coronavirus
Across the globe researchers are racing to find a solution to the global pandemic inducing COVID-19 . From detection to treatment, there is still much to be learned about the virus and how to prevent a second wave of the fatal strain.
Like Timmy in the Well…
Help seems to be on the way in the form of “man’s best friend”. A study published by the University of Helsinki has added one more skill to dog’s already impressive resume. The study found that scent detection trained canines have the ability to smell the virus in urine samples obtained by both positive and negative tested individuals. Upon future test results, the study hopes this information will be able to assist in the prevention of mass or cluster infection by utilizing scent detection dogs in airports, hospitals, and other high-risk exposure environments.
Due to being equipped with approximately 100 million sensory receptors, dogs utilize both smell AND sight together to analyze things around them. While these canines can’t see the virus, the amount of space in their brain devoted to analyzing and interpreting smells is 40 times greater than their human counterpart. This kind of biology has made these animals historically supportive in almost every aspect of human life.
While all dogs have these receptors, there are breeds more frequently trained due to a particularly heightened sniffer. Breeds such as Labrador Retriever, German Shepard, and Belgian Malinois have a long history of scent detection for hunting, security, and military purposes.
Protecting the Pups
As for the protection of our furry forensic investigators, those undertaking the research have utilized a distance model to expose dogs to the scent without getting them close enough to risk of infection. The CDC has confirmed dogs can carry trace amounts of the virus on their bodies, and has confirmed a few cases of dogs contracting the virus similarly to human infection.
The hunt for a cure starts with detection. From researchers in universities across the world, to a seasoned trainer and former Air Force survival instructor in Florida, studies are proving over and over that dogs ability to detect the virus proves almost perfect. While still early, this type of discovery offers hope for an end of a global pandemic.
For more Good Boy Good News, check out how to video chat with a puppy during you summer social distancing.
Deep in the Missouri Ozarks is a man on a mission, which was seemingly impossible until the mid 2000’s. Steve Bost is a modern Indiana Jones who has spent countless hours searching for an extinct tree, the Ozark Chinquapin Tree.
The mysterious Chinquapin tree was thought to have died out due to a blight in the mid 1900’s, but rumors swirled that if you were willing to take on the task of trekking the mountainous regions of the Ozarks you would possibly discover a few surviving trees.
Discover he did, as Bost took on the task of searching for, and rescuing, a once extinct species of trees. The naturalist, and President of the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation, has been able to grow at least 117 trees in a handful of plots that are generally unmapped for the curious wanderer. But it is not just resuscitating the species that Bost is concentrating on, but changing the game of forestry all together.
By using the genetics of the few trees that managed to survive the species wiping blight, Bost and his team have been able to crossbreed strains of three different chestnut trees in an effort to create one completely blight resistant strain. In a study the organization conducted in 2019 they were able to utilize the fungus which caused the original blight in order to test the resistance of a few samples. Results of the testing show that their years of hard work have managed to produce an almost blight resistant screening.
Historically, the Ozark Chinquapin has nourished many of the wildlife lucky enough to come across the sweet chestnut. But it was not just the wildlife who benefited from this foliaged feeder. Native Americans indigenous to the Ozarks would grind the nut from the tree to create a flour for breads.
The genetics of the tree made it one of the most diverse strains of tree and when a blight moved down into the Ozarks it only took a decade to wipe most of the population.
While this may seem like just a tree, conservation efforts have brought this species back from the brink of extinction and have utilized science to crossbreed the genetics of the tree to create something truly remarkable. Mendel would surely be floored by Bost and his team’s aspirations to create the Superman of trees.
Learn more about about conservation of the Ozark Chinquapin Tree on The Ozark Chinquapin Foundation website.
With lock-downs in effect across the world, learning from home is now a necessity for many children. Some families are having trouble making the transition but one Wisconsin based organization is helping out in a major way.
Future Forward is a nonprofit focused on early childhood literacy with programs to help young readers. Some of their approaches include using one-on-one tutoring and family engagement to help young readers.
The organizations’ latest effort involves delivering all sorts of school supplies, door-to-door, in the Greater Milwaukee Area. According to TMJ4, Future Forward will hand-deliver books, academic worksheets, school supplies, and even snacks to about 100 families.
Global fears of the coronavirus pandemic have forced almost every learning institution to adopt digital learning solutions. However, some families do not have the resources to enable e-learning for their children.
The organization estimates that nearly half of the students it works with in the area do not have reliable access to WiFi and other digital tools necessary for online learning.via TMJ4
The assistance that Future Forward is providing will help these children make it through this strange time. Using pencil and paper is antiquated to some but it’s helping us now more than ever.
What are your ideas for supporting education during COVID-19 lock-down? Comment Below!
The program aims to brighten spirits amid the isolation and loneliness brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Video chats with puppies are just the beginning!
“We designed Pets Together to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances by tapping into the power of pets to spread joy and bring people together.”Stacey Coleman, AAF executive director, via T&L
Animal Farm Foundation is a New York based non-profit organization committed to helping people connect with animals. The Pets Together program does this with video conferencing software like Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts. You can book a virtual pet visit or donate at petstogether.org.
The virtual visit program is currently only open to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and certain other group settings. The program is also accepting requests for live pet visits to medical professionals and others on the front lines of the pandemic.
Solving Social Isolation
Social isolation and loneliness can have a serious negative influence on your health. The negative effects are even greater on the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Virtual visits from dogs, cats, cows, and horses can be uplifting and even therapeutic.
The Pets Together program is helping many people get social interactions that are hard to come by during the pandemic. A valuable mental health service provided free of cost is exactly the support people need right now. So, next time you are feeling lonely just remember there’s a puppy out there waiting to video chat with you!
For more information on the program, visit PetsTogether.org.
Just announced, two major Fortune 500 companies will team up to provide prescription delivery via drones to patients living in the USA’s largest retirement community.
Global leader in logistics and business technology, UPS, issued a statement saying they would be joining forces with healthcare giant, CVS, to facilitate drone delivery of prescription medicines.
UPS (NYSE:UPS) and CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS.N) today said UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) will use drones to deliver prescription medicines from a CVS pharmacy to The Villages, Florida for the largest U.S. retirement community, home to more than 135,000 residents. The service will use Matternet’s M2 drone system.UPS press release 4/27/2020
With the current global pandemic there is much more value in services that reduce human interaction. People now tend to prefer delivery options over in-store pick-up. Using drones could greatly reduce the risk of exposure of the coronavirus , especially for at-risk age groups like the elderly.
Past tests of the drone delivery system have proven it is a safe and efficient way to deliver goods. According to PCMag, UPS received approval from the FAA to operate a drone delivery system in 2019. The first prescription medicine delivery was completed in North Carolina a few months later.
The planned service could begin as soon as May, assuming FAA compliance. The success of this project could lead to a complete shift in medicine delivery and may prove the usefulness of drones in shipping.
“Now more than ever, it’s important that our customers have access to their prescriptions,” said Jon Roberts, executive vice president and chief operating officer of CVS Health. “In addition to our in-store pickup, free delivery services and drive through pickup, this drone delivery service provides an innovative method to reach some of our customers.”Jon Roberts, CVS
Do you think drones are the answer to our social distancing conundrum? Comment Below!
The Kroger Family of Companies recently announced an expansion to its Dairy Rescue Program aimed at supporting families during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a press release on April 30th, Kroger said they will process and donate about 200,000 gallons of milk to food banks and community organizations.
With the world experiencing an overall dairy surplus, demand has plummeted and some farmers are being forced to dump unsold milk. The Dairy Rescue Program started by Kroger could allow many dairy farmers to make it through the pandemic.
“This program will not only provide direct financial relief to our farmers and ranchers,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “It will allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance in this country to help our fellow Americans in need.”Sonny Perdue via ABC
Purchases of 200,000 gallons of milk could mean financial stability for Kroger’s farmers. However, donating the milk will have even more impact on society. Millions of Americans are facing hard times due to the coronavirus pandemic. The generosity of food banks and community organizations is a lifeline for many people fighting off poverty.
The expansion of Kroger’s Dair Rescue Program will enable the donation of about 60,000 gallons per month to Feeding America partners. A virtual tidal wave of milk that has an equally great impact on farmers and families.
“At a time when dairy farmers have surplus raw milk, we’re doubling down on our mission to reduce hunger and waste.”Kroger’s Vice President of Manufacturing Erin Sharp via ABC
Kudos to Kroger! It’s great to see organizations and governments doing their part to ensure we all make it through these tough times. Hopefully, this incredible brand of community leadership will catch on.
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Do you have ideas for supporting businesses and families through the coronavirus crisis? Comment below!
Oprah Winfrey is partnering with Tennessee State University and Mount Zion Baptist Church to provide grocery gift cards to families in need. The NashvilleNurtures program will support at least 5,000 families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It reminds me of all those years I was doing favorite things on the show, so I would have done you get a [gift] card, you get a [gift] card,”Oprah Winfrey via WKNR
Support for eligible families will come in the form of $200 Kroger grocery cards, 10,000 of them. The $2 million gift from Oprah is just a start though. NashvilleNurtures aims to further connect “angels” and organizations to rebuild the community torn by COVID-19. The NashvilleNurtures website has an application portal for families in need to apply for support. They have also set-up a hotline to help provide shelter, employment. health, and food resources.
Oprah donates to communities and organizations around the world, but as a former resident, she has a soft spot for Nashville, Tennessee. In this time of need she recognized certain communities are at high risk of food insecurity.
“It has impacted black and brown communities with a fierceness that others have not felt and so because of that I specifically wanted these funds to go specifically to the black and brown communities,” she explained.Oprah Winfrey via WKNR
In partnership with Mount Zion Baptist Church and Oprah’s alma-matter, Tennessee State University, the positive effects of the program are already being realized.
“The folks who have received have just been changed forever and you know as well as I know, Nashville needs hope and Mrs. Winfrey’s generous contribution has provided so much hope in our city at this time.”Bishop Walker with Mount Zion Baptist Church
The foundation for Oprah’s giving spirit is built on her own turbid upbringing and the belief that no one should have to suffer the way she has. By removing food insecurity from the equation, families and communities can begin to rebuild. NashvilleNurtures is exactly the type of program that can turn the tides on a world left wrecked by coronavirus. For info on finding support and to learn how you can help, visit NashvilleNurtures.
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Over the past 40 years, the most devastating pandemics have all come from animal origin but nobody seems to talk about reforming wildlife trade….until now.
The Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council released an action plan detailing steps to end wildlife trade in the US. The plan includes four categories of actions that they believe should be implemented by Congress and federal agencies.
- Lead a global crackdown on wildlife trade;
- Strengthen U.S. conservation laws to fight wildlife trade;
- Invest $10 billion in U.S. and global capacity to stop wildlife trade, while helping communities transition to alternative livelihoods; and
- Resume the U.S. position as a global leader in international wildlife conservation.
A Global Problem
According to WAN, worldwide there are 224 Million live animals traded each year. The United States is a major contributor to this and can even be a hotspot for illegal animal trade. When ending wildlife trade is made a priority in the US, many other countries will follow suit.
Conservation organizations have always opposed wildlife trade because it is a major threat to biodiversity, but now its also a health threat.
Approximately one-quarter of human deaths worldwide are caused by infectious diseases. Of those, 60% are considered zoonotic — meaning they jump from other animals to people — and more than 70% originate with wildlife.End Wildlife Trade Action Plan
Hope For The Future
As a global community, we can prevent future pandemics such as HIV, SARS, and COVID-19, but we have to act. Ending wildlife trade could be the best way to keep the public and our wildlife safe. Take action by contacting Congress to express your support for the action plan! The Center for Biological Diversity provides an online tool to help you contact Congress.
Click here to learn how robotic sea-life can end animal captivity in aquariums.
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Zoos and aquariums can be great educational resources and can help protect endangered species but many conservationists question the morality of captivity. Modern robotics may have the answer to our moral dilemma, life-like animatronic animals. This development could change how we view conservation and education for years to come.
A Need Rises
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries such as China have halted the trade of wildlife as an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Policies such as this have stopped zoos and aquariums from importing new animals. This is great for our wildlife but it leaves zoo and aquarium owners in a tough spot. Luckily, one New Zealand entrepreneur has been working to create robotic animals that could take the place of live animals in captivity.
Melanie Langlotz and her team of experts helped build a 600lb (270kg) animatronic dolphin that moves and reacts just like the real thing. Working as an augmented gaming professional in Auckland, New Zealand, Langlotz was approached to help design an aquarium for dolphins in China. She needed to find a way to create a beautiful attraction without subjecting wild animals to captivity.
“I started talking to anyone I could get my hands on who has ever had anything to do with animatronics. I was pretty much told that, ‘this is too hard’, ‘it’s really difficult’, ‘it’s a real piece of engineering artwork’ because they would be in salt water, there’s lots of electronics in there, let alone that they need to be on display for a long time. I couldn’t find anyone.”Melanie Langlotz via RNZ
Langlotz did find help for the project, super-star help. Roger Holzberg and Walt Conti are known in the entertainment business for their work on animatronics in movies, so they came well equipped. The team created a prototype robot dolphin and began testing, with great results.
Realizing The Future
Imagine visiting your local aquarium and seeing the rarest and most exotic sea-life from around the world, even extinct species. Now imagine jumping in the tank to take a swim with the sharks, without the fear of getting bit! The incredible potential of animatronics is changing how we see more than just aquariums.
“This type of technology doesn’t just have to live in a themed aquarium. If I were to imagine … a sequel to Whale Rider, where we could go into the ocean, this technology would serve that incredibly well. This technology could also serve television, other kinds of storytelling media very well, and other sort of educational means.”Roger Holtzberg via RNZ
Thanks to hard-working entrepreneurs like Melanie Langlotz the needs of business and conservation efforts are being met as one. Time will tell if regulation and technology can change the tides on animal captivity for future generations.
Forest and wildlife officials have announced a 9% increase in the tiger population of India’s Sunderbans Reserve. A survey conducted just months ago has determined there are 96 tigers on the reserve, up from 88 found in 2018.
The Royal Bengal tiger is one of India’s most feared predators but after years of overhunting and deforestation, there are now protected areas for the tiger.
The study was conducted in the protected Sunderbans forest reserve, located outside Kolkata, in West Bengal. On the reserve, the total area is about 4,200 sq km and there are 3,700 sq km (1430 sq mi) being used as big cat habitat. However, the increase in tigers means more habitat may be needed.
“We need to increase the mangrove cover in a bid to provide for more space to tigers in coming days,”Forest minister Rajib Bandyopadhyay , via PTI
The state took advantage of a new tool to help with data collection this year, cameras. According to the head of the Sunderbans Tiger Project, Sudhir Chandra Das, they used 768 cameras placed throughout the tiger habitat. The Wire reports this method can be more reliable than traditional methods and estimations.
The counting exercise, done in a lab in Dehradun, involves comparison of the images of tigers based on their stripes […] the big cats were identified through their stripe patterns.Sudhir Chandra Das via The Wire
A New Chapter
This is the greatest increase in tiger numbers in the history of the survey, according to officials. Protecting the apex predator can have positive effects throughout the animal kingdom and global ecosystems, but can we keep it up? The return of Bengal tigers is a great sign for the future of conservation in India. Hopefully, this trend will continue for years to come!