Education: States’ standardized tests have a negative impact on parents’ civic engagement

New research from a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found that parents of public school students in states with more extensive and stringent student assessment systems express lower trust in government, less confidence in government efficacy, and more negative views of their children’s schools, thereby threatening civic engagement and the potential for future education reform.In a study published by the journal Political Behavior, associate professor Jesse Rhodes merged data from an original survey of public school parents with quantitative measures of the scope and alignment of state standards, testing, and accountability policies, to determine whether and how education reforms influence the parents’ political attitudes and behaviors.He found that highly developed assessment policies alienate parents from government and discourage parental involvement in education, an effect he terms “demobilization.” Parental trust in government was 11 percent lower in states with the most extensive assessment policies, and parental assessments of government effectiveness were 15 percent lower, compared to states with less developed testing polices.Over the past decade, federal education policies such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have led states to develop and adopt education reforms, including content standards specifying what children should know and be able to do, assessments measuring student progress toward those standards and systems of policies holding schools accountable for performance. As years have passed these policies have extended to a greater number of subjects and a wider range of education levels, but there is considerable state-by-state variation in the policies.While previous studies have examined how these policies affect student achievement, Rhodes’ research is the first to assess how they affect the citizenship practices of public school parents — a key education stakeholder.”Today, with trust in government near an all-time low, government’s authority to accomplish collective objectives is arguably at low ebb,” Rhodes writes in the study. “My findings indicate that standards-based reform policies may be further threatening the foundation of public support that government needs to function effectively.”In addition to their negative views of government, Rhodes also found that parents in states with more developed assessment systems were less likely to become engaged in some parental involvement behaviors, especially contacting teachers and participating in school fundraisers. The likelihood that parents would contact their children’s teachers was 17 percent lower in states with the most stringent testing policies, and the chance they would participate in school fundraisers was 28 percent lower. Parents residing in states with more developed assessment systems were more likely to attend their local school board meetings, but Rhodes argues that this involvement is stimulated by anger and dissatisfaction with the perceived negative consequences of state assessments.He argues that these policies tend to depress civic engagement among parents because they provide few opportunities for parental input and can introduce undesirable changes into schools.”My findings suggest that a major reassessment of standards, testing, and accountability policies is necessary,” Rhodes concludes. “At a minimum, standards-based reforms must be redesigned so that they engage parents more directly in the process of policy design and administration and allay parental concerns about counter-productive consequences. However, given the seriousness of the problems identified here, it is possible that an even more searching reevaluation of the standards-based agenda is necessary. Today, the question for policymakers and citizens is how to design education policies that advance the objective of high achievement for all students while strengthening the practice of citizenship for all adults.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Incentives needed to improve grain markets in India

Even after the agricultural reforms of 2002-03, for wheat, rice, and pearl millet farmers in India, grain markets are still pretty sticky. Two University of Illinois economists analyzed infrastructure of interstate trade for food-grain crops in three Indian states and found that grain farmers are unable to cash in on India’s market reforms and take advantage of a price difference between two or more markets.”We wanted to see if there was more integration in the markets since the 2002 reforms,” said Kathy Baylis. “We were surprised at how little integration we saw. Apparently there are still a lot of regulations in place. A lot of the wholesale markets are not open other than right around harvest. There is a strong incentive to sell at harvest because if you don’t you’d have to travel to Delhi or another major city. The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss that provided the funding for this research is interested in storage, and what we found in India is that there was a huge disincentive to invest in on-farm storage because even if farmers could store their grain for six months or so, they wouldn’t be able to sell it then.”Baylis explained that, prior to the reforms of the early 2000s it was difficult in India to transport grain across state lines. The reforms made that easier and also expanded the number of people who could purchase and trade grain. Farmers used to have to go through a long, arduous process to become certified. The reforms eliminated some of those issues, but other problems still plague the system.”Some people may think of this as only an engineering problem,” Baylis said, “where we just need to develop a really good place for them to store the grain. …

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Madagascar sells first forest carbon credits to Microsoft

The Government of Madagascar has approved carbon sales with Microsoft and its carbon offset partner, The CarbonNeutral Company, and Zoo Zurich. The carbon credit sales will support the Government of Madagascar’s REDD+ Project (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation “plus” conservation) in the Makira Natural Park and mark the first sale of government-owned REDD+ credits in Africa.Through carbon credit sales from avoided deforestation, the Makira REDD+ Project will finance the long-term conservation of one of Madagascar’s most pristine remaining rainforest ecosystems harboring rare and threatened plants and animals while improving community land stewardship and supporting the livelihoods of the local people.Through a unique funding distribution mechanism designed by WCS and the Government of Madagascar, the funds from carbon sales will be used by the Government of Madagascar for conservation, capacity building, and enforcement activities, and by WCS to manage the Makira Natural Park. The largest share of the sale — half of the proceeds — will go to supporting local communities in the areas surrounding Makira for education, human health and other beneficial projects.”The Government of Madagascar is thrilled to have played the role of pioneer in carbon sales in Africa. Makira is a highly valued part of our natural heritage and the revenues from this sale will not only protect this oustanding area, but represent an important step in our plan to develop sustainable sources of financing for the whole protected area network. We hope that other organizations will follow the lead of Microsoft, The CarbonNeutral Company, and Zoo Zurich and join us in this effort to conserve Madagascar’s unique biodiversity through the sale of future carbon credits,” said Pierre Manganirina Randrianarisoa the Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.Said WCS President and CEO Cristin Samper “These sales represent a first for WCS, a first for Africa, and a first for Madagascar in advancing the use of carbon credits to fight climate change while protecting biodiversity and human livelihoods. We are thankful to Microsoft, The CarbonNeutral Company and Zoo Zurich, and we look forward to future purchases by other forward-thinking organizations.”Said Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft: “Supporting forest conservation and community building projects like Makira is an important part of Microsoft’s strategy to reduce its environmental impact, support sustainable economic growth, improve health and education, and address societal challenges. The project’s important role in protecting a crucial area of biodiversity value also aligns with Microsoft’s own focus on using technology, information and research to develop new approaches and solutions to sustainability.”Said Jonathan Shopley, Managing Director of The CarbonNeutral Company: “Increasingly our clients are looking for opportunities to manage the entire environmental impact of their organisation, driven by the need to build resilience in their supply chains. The Makira project enables clients to do this by selling carbon credits while also delivering biodiversity value and community support.”Makira contains an estimated one percent of the world’s biodiversity including 20 lemur species, hundreds of species of birds, and thousands of plant varieties, including many found nowhere else on earth. The Makira forest spans nearly 400,000 hectares (more than 1,500 square miles), making it one of the largest remaining intact blocks of rainforest in Madagascar. In addition, Makira’s forests serve as a zone of watershed protection, providing clean water to over 250,000 people in the surrounding landscape.WCS, which has worked in Makira since 2003, is the delegated manager of the park and is responsible for implementing the REDD+ project that aims to safeguard the Makira Natural Park, one of Madagascar’s largest protected areas.Last September the Government of Madagascar and WCS announced that 710,588 carbon credits had been certified for sale from the Makira Forest REDD+ Project. …

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Scientists shine spotlight on Herdwick sheep origins

A new study highlights surprising differences between Herdwick sheep and their closest neighbouring UK upland breeds. The research, led by The Sheep Trust, a national charity based at the University of York, is the first of its kind to compare the genetics of three commercially farmed breeds all concentrated in the same geographical region of the UK.Scientists worked with hill farmers to explore the genetic structures of Herdwicks, Rough Fells and Dalesbred, breeds locally adapted to the harsh conditions of mountains and moorlands.The study, published in PLOS ONE, discovered that Herdwicks contained features of a ‘primitive genome’, found previously in very few breeds worldwide and none that have been studied in the UK mainland. The data suggest that Herdwicks may originate from a common ancestral founder flock to breeds currently living in Sweden and Finland, and the northern islands of Orkney and Iceland.Herdwicks and Rough Fell sheep both showed rare genetic evidence of a historical link to the ancestral population of sheep on Texel, one of the islands in the Wadden Sea Region of northern Europe and Scandinavia.Local Cumbrian folklore speaks of connections between the Herdwicks and Viking settlers. The coming together of the genetic evidence with historical evidence of Viking raiders and traders in the Wadden islands and adjacent coastal regions, suggests the folklore is right but extends the connection to Rough Fells.One outcome of the scientific study united the three hill breeds. The Herdwick, Rough Fell and Dalesbred each showed a lower than average risk of infection to Maidi Visna, a virus causing a slow-acting disease affecting millions of sheep worldwide with massive welfare and economic impacts. These new data provide evidence to support suggestions that the native hill breeds are less susceptible to the virus.Mainstream agriculture is looking to locally adapted breeds of livestock to increase resilience to new pressures from climate change and the need to protect food security but at lower cost. The study demonstrates the potential these breeds offer in providing novel genetic traits that may help sheep farming in the future.Professor Dianna Bowles, an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Biology at York and Chair of The Sheep Trust, led the study.She said: “This is an important start to show policy makers just how important the genetics of these breeds may be. Currently the sheep are farmed in large numbers and it is essential we take steps to ensure a commercial future for them, since they have the traits and adaptations to harsh conditions that agriculture might well need in years to come. If the breeds are lost we lose forever the opportunities offered by this crucial biodiversity.”Amanda Carson, a vet and Secretary of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association, added: “We all hope the results will help to convince Government of the importance of the genetic distinctiveness of these breeds. They enable low input farming and food production on land unsuitable for other forms of agriculture. …

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Effective arts integration improves test scores

Oct. 22, 2013 — Effective classroom arts integration can reduce or eliminate educational achievement gaps for economically disadvantaged students, according to a Mississippi State University research report.In other words, when teachers reinforce academic concepts with the arts, students learn more and score higher on standardized tests.MSU’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development generated the report, which evaluated the impacts of the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative. The program supports teachers’ efforts to use the arts–composing, painting, drawing or sculpting; playing, singing or listening to music; and dancing and dramatic performance–to foster retention and learning.Judith Philips, Stennis research associate, headed the development of “Arts Integration and the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Whole Schools Initiative: A Stennis Institute Study for Decision-Makers.” The report initially was presented at the Mississippi Arts Commission’s 2013 Whole Schools Initiative Summer Institute.Philips said the research verifies that effective arts integration reinforces classroom learning.”Schools that effectively implement arts integration have either significantly reduced or completely eliminated the educational achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students,” she said. “This research indicates that arts integration can achieve that objective in Mississippi public schools.”Currently, almost 5,500 Mississippi students in eight public and four private elementary schools are participating in WSI. The study compared results on language arts and mathematics Mississippi Curriculum Tests, fourth-grade writing assessments and fifth-grade science tests to scores of students not enrolled in arts integrated classrooms.”The percentage of students scoring ‘proficient or above’ on standardized tests was significantly higher at schools participating in the Whole Schools Initiative that had effectively implemented the WSI arts integration model, when compared to student performance statewide and when compared to student performance for the school district within which the WSI school was located,” Phillips told arts commission participants during her presentation.Karen Brown, MSU instructor in curriculum, instruction and workforce development, teaches an arts integration course in MSU’s College of Education. She said she’s not surprised at the Stennis report’s findings because students, especially young children, gravitate to learning that way.”Not only is it repetition, but it’s time spent whenever a child is learning something in a different way, that means they’re learning it again,” Brown said. “They’re repeating it, and so the immersion in their learning is a different form–through the arts–but it’s also more time spent on the content, so they start thinking critically and creatively.”Brown said all MSU elementary education majors are required to take the arts integration course. She also takes a student group to WSI’s annual summer institute.”Arts integration, from the perspective of a classroom teacher, is teaching both the content area and the arts together, and that takes some special training and special knowledge, but when you do that, it immerses the child in the content,” Brown said. Phillips said arts integration requires quality professional development and mentorships for teachers. …

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Archaeologists rediscover the lost home of the last Neanderthals

Oct. 17, 2013 — A record of Neanderthal archaeology, thought to be long lost, has been re-discovered by NERC-funded scientists working in the Channel island of Jersey.The study, published today in the Journal of Quaternary Science, reveals that a key archaeological site has preserved geological deposits which were thought to have been lost through excavation 100 years ago.The discovery was made when the team undertook fieldwork to stabilise and investigate a portion of the La Cotte de St Brelade cave, on Jersey’s south eastern coastline.A large portion of the site contains sediments dating to the last Ice Age, preserving 250,000 years of climate change and archaeological evidence.The site, which has produced more Neanderthal stone tools than the rest of the British Isles put together, contains the only known late Neanderthal remains from North West Europe. These offer archaeologists one of the most important records of Neanderthal behaviour available.”In terms of the volume of sediment, archaeological richness and depth of time, there is nothing else like it known in the British Isles. Given that we thought these deposits had been removed entirely by previous researchers, finding that so much still remains is as exciting as discovering a new site,” says Dr Matt Pope of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, who helped lead the research.The team dated sediments at the site using a technique called Optically Stimulated Luminesce, which measures the last time sand grains were exposed to sunlight. This was carried out at the Luminescence Dating Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art at Oxford University.The results showed that part of the sequence of sediments dates between 100,000 and 47,000 years old, indicating that Neanderthal teeth which were discovered at the site in 1910 were younger than previously thought, and probably belonged to one of the last Neanderthals to live in the region.”The discovery that these deposits still exist and can be related to previously excavated deposits opens up a range of exciting possibilities,” says Dr Martin Bates, University of Trinity St Davids, who is leading current fieldwork at the site.The findings bring the large collections of stone tools, animal bone and the Neanderthal remains from the area under renewed study.”Excavation in the future will provide us with the opportunity to subject the site to the wide range of approaches we use today in Palaeolithic archaeology and Quaternary science. For example we are hoping to be able to link our site with the broader Neanderthal landscapes through study of similarly aged deposits around the island and, through bathymetric survey, on the seabed,” says Bates.”We were sure from the outset that the deposits held some archaeological potential, but these dates indicate we have uncovered something exceptional,” explains Pope. “We have a sequence of deposits which span the last 120,000 years still preserved at the site. Crucially, this covers the period in which Neanderthal populations apparently went ‘extinct’.”It was during this period that Neanderthals appear to have been replaced by our own species — Homo sapiens.The NERC-funded work represented the first formal programme of scientific research to be focused on the site since the early 1980s. The site has since then been managed and preserved by the Société Jerisaise, the Jersey-based academic society involved in early investigation of the site and which continues to manage and protect the site through to the present day.”For over a hundred years the Societe has tried to maintain the interest of the wider academic world in La Cotte, having realised its international importance from the beginning. We are delighted, therefore, that such a prestigious team is now studying the site, and, in addition, the wider Palaeolithic landscape of Jersey,” says Neil Molyneux, president of the Société JersiaiseThe wider project, supported also by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Jersey Government will now continue to investigate the site and material excavated from it over the past 110 years.”Working with our partners to bring these rediscovered sediments under new analysis will allow us to bring the lives of the last Neanderthal groups to live in North West Europe into clearer focus,” says Pope.”We may be able to use this evidence to better understand when Neanderthal populations disappeared form the region and whether they ever shared the landscape with the species which ultimately replaced them, us,” he concludes.

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Resources for Mesothelioma

When facing a diagnosis of mesothelioma, knowing where to turn for information and support can make an enormous difference. While there may be local agencies in your area that provide support related to asbestos exposure or mesothelioma, it is important to understand the role and resources provided by the following agencies.The EPAFounded in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exists to safeguard our nation’s water, air and land. The EPA website contains a wealth of information about the uses of asbestos, laws and regulations regarding asbestos, and guidelines for asbestos disposal.OSHAThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government agency responsible for promoting workplace safety in order to prevent work-related illness and injury. This branch of the Department of Labor creates regulations and standards …

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Genetically modified tobacco plants are viable for producing biofuels

Oct. 14, 2013 — In her PhD thesis Ruth Sanz-Barrio, an agricultural engineer of the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre and researcher at the Institute of Biotechnology (mixed centre of the CSIC-Spanish National Research Council, Public University of Navarre and the Government of Navarre), has demonstrated, for the first time, the viability of using specific tobacco proteins (known as thioredoxins) as biotechnological tools in plants. Specifically, she has managed to increase the amount of starch produced in the tobacco leaves by 700% and fermentable sugars by 500%. “We believe that these genetically modified plants,” she explained, “could be a good alternative to food crops for producing biofuels, and could provide an outlet for the tobacco-producing areas in our country that see their future in jeopardy owing to the discontinuing of European grants for this crop.”Thioredoxins (Trxs) are small proteins present in most living organisms. In the course of her research Ruth Sanz demonstrated the capacity of the thioredoxins f and m in tobacco as biotechnological tools not only to increase the starch content in the plant but also to increase the production of proteins like human albumin. “For some time Trxs have been known to have a regulating function in living organisms, but in the thesis we have shown that they can also act by helping other proteins to fold and structure themselves so that they become functional.”Human albumin is the most widely used intravenous protein in the world for therapeutic purposes. It is used to stabilize blood volume and prevent the risk of infarction, and its application in operating theatres is almost a daily occurrence. It is also used in burns, surgical operations, haemorrhages, or when the patient is undernourished or dehydrated, and in the case of chronic infections and renal or hepatic diseases.Although commercial albumin is extracted from blood, the lack of a sufficient volume in reserve has prompted many researchers to seek new formulas for obtaining this protein on a large scale economically and safely. “We have come up with an easier, cheaper procedure for producing it in the tobacco plant and extracting it. By fusing the genes encoding the Trxs f or m, we increased the amount of recombinant protein (the albumin, in this case). …

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Cell death protein could offer new anti-inflammatory drug target

Sep. 5, 2013 — Scientists in Melbourne, Australia, have revealed the structure of a protein that is essential for triggering a form of programmed cell death called necroptosis, making possible the development of new drugs to treat chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.Dr James Murphy, Associate Professor John Silke, Dr Joanne Hildebrand, Dr Peter Czabotar, Professor Warren Alexander and colleagues from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have shown that the protein MLKL plays a crucial role in the signalling pathways that trigger a recently discovered cell death pathway called necroptosis. The results were published today in the journal Immunity.Usually, when a cell detects that it is infected by a virus or bacteria or has other irreparable damage it self-destructs through a process called apoptosis. But Associate Professor Silke said some bacteria and viruses had developed ways of preventing this cell suicide, also allowing the invaders to survive. It is at this point that the ‘back up’ necroptosis pathway might be activated.”During necroptosis the cell still self-destructs but in doing so it also sends an ‘SOS’ to the immune system to tell it that something has gone wrong with the cell’s normal cell death process of apoptosis. So internally, the cell is still doing its best to self-destruct in an orderly and programmed way, but it is simultaneously sending signals to the immune system to mount a response to the invaders.”However there are times when the necroptosis pathway may be inappropriately activated, sending messages to the immune system that promote inflammation and the development of inflammatory diseases.Dr Murphy said the discovery of MLKL’s role in activating the necroptosis pathway was an important step in understanding this cell death pathway and its role in disease. “Necroptosis has only been defined in the past 10 years and the role MLKL plays was only discovered in 2012,” Dr Murphy said. “This study provides the first genetic proof that MLKL is required for necroptosis as well as the first full-length, atomic level, three-dimensional structure of a protein that regulates necroptosis. These discoveries are really exciting because they give us a new target to look at for developing treatments for people who suffer from an inflammatory disease.”The three-dimensional images of MLKL, which were obtained using the Australian Synchrotron, revealed an interesting detail about the protein, Dr Murphy said. “The structure revealed that MLKL is a ‘dead enzyme’, making it different from the other proteins in the signalling pathway,” Dr Murphy said. …

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Cocktail of multiple pressures combine to threaten the world’s pollinating insects

Apr. 22, 2013 — A new review of insect pollinators of crops and wild plants has concluded they are under threat globally from a cocktail of multiple pressures, and their decline or loss could have profound environmental, human health and economic consequences.

Globally, insects provide pollination services to about 75% of crop species and enable reproduction in up to 94% of wild flowering plants. Pollination services provided by insects each year worldwide are valued at over US$200 billion.

The review, published April 22, 2013 in the scientific journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, was carried out by an international team of 40 scientists from 27 institutions involved in the UK’s Insect Pollinators Initiative (IPI), a £10M research programme investigating the causes and consequences of pollinator decline.

Dr Adam Vanbergen from the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and science coordinator of the IPI led the review. He said, “There is no single smoking gun behind pollinator declines, instead there is a cocktail of multiple pressures that can combine to threaten these insects. For example, the loss of food resources in intensively-farmed landscapes, pesticides and diseases are individually important threats, but are also likely to combine and exacerbate the negative impacts on pollinators.”

The review concluded that:

Pollinator populations are declining in many regions, threatening human food supplies and ecosystem functions
A suite of interacting pressures are having an impact on pollinator health, abundance, and diversity. These include land-use intensification, climate change, and the spread of alien species and diseases
A complex interplay between pressures (e.g. lack of food sources, diseases, and pesticides) and biological processes (e.g. species dispersal and interactions) at a range of scales (from genes to ecosystems) underpins the general decline in insect-pollinator populations
Interdisciplinary research and stakeholder collaboration are needed to help unravel how these multiple pressures affect different pollinators and will provide evidence-based solutions
Current options to alleviate the pressure on pollinators include establishment of effective habitat networks, broadening of pesticide risk assessments, and the development and introduction of innovative disease therapies

Co-author Professor Simon Potts from the University of Reading said, “Pollinators are the unsung heroes of the insect world and ensure our crops are properly pollinated so we have a secure supply of nutritious food in our shops. The costs of taking action now to tackle the multiple threats to pollinators is much smaller than the long-term costs to our food security and ecosystem stability. Failure by governments to take decisive steps now only sets us up for bigger problems in the future.”

Co-author Professor Graham Stone at Edinburgh University’s Institute of Evolutionary Biology said, “a major challenge is going to be understanding the whole ecosystem effects of the specific threats faced by specific pollinators. Complicated as this is, this is nevertheless what we need to do if we want to predict overall impacts on pollination services.”

The Insect Pollinators Initiative (IPI) is funded jointly by the BBSRC, Defra, NERC, the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the Living with Environmental Change programme.

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Vets and medical doctors should team up to tackle diseases transmitted from animals to humans

Apr. 23, 2013 — A new study at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp analyses the impact of animal brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis (BTB) on animals and people in urban, peri-urban and rural Niger. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks them as major zoonoses, infectious diseases transmitted between species. The research maps risk factors for transmission of these diseases from animals to humans, indicating that closer collaboration between medical doctors and veterinarians is required.

Interviews with the local population identified the main risk factors for transmission; consumption of unpasteurised milk, lack of hygiene in households, presence of coughing animals in the herd, and absence of quarantine.

“Milk is an important source of protein in Niger. Animals graze in rural areas, but are brought to the city when lactating in order to be as close as possible to the consumer. Mapping these kind of dynamics provides vital information about the diseases and how they are transmitted,” said Abdou Razac Boukary about his doctoral research at ITM and the University of Liège (Ulg).

The study concludes that it is crucial to address the interlinks between humans, animals and the environment to control animal brucellosis and BTB. They are both an economic and a public health threat. While contagion is extremely unlikely in industrialised countries, the largest part of the world’s population lives in areas where animal brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis are not under control. Hence, ITM calls for increased collaboration between animal and human health specialists in a so called “One Health” approach.

“We should not forget that more than 60% of human pathogens originate from animals. But raising awareness about these relatively unknown diseases is also crucial from an economic perspective. According to an African saying, if livestock die so does the village,” said ITM scientist Eric Thys, co-promoter of the thesis.

Research results

Abdou Razac Boukary, an agronomist and advisor to the government of Niger, brought together a group of human and animal health specialists for his PhD research. Boukary studied brucellosis and BTB in over 1100 households keeping livestock. He collected nearly 5000 blood samples for brucellosis and tested almost 400 cattle for BTB. Such a large scale approach involving animal and human health specialists is still a rarity.

Results show that around 13% of herds included animals infected with brucellosis. It was found that animals below the age of one were more likely to fall ill than animals aged 1-4 years.

Around one in hundred cows were found to be infected with BTB. Analysis of samples taken at the abattoir of Niamey showed that cows were significantly more affected by BTB than other categories of cattle. The research also characterised a new profile of Mycobacterium bovis bacterium (SB1982) which has never been reported before.

Human brucellosis and tuberculosis from animal origin

In humans, brucellosis induces undulating fever, sweating, weakness, anemia, headaches, depression, as well as muscular and bodily pain, testicular inflammations in men and spontaneous abortion in pregnant women. Human tuberculosis from animal origin can affect the lungs but is often located in others part of the body. While contagion is extremely unlikely in industrialised countries, the largest part of the world’s population lives in areas where animal brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis are not under control.

Future studies at ITM will analyse the impacts of these diseases in humans in more detail.

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