Drastic decline of the bat population in the US
According to a new study, a deadly fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome has killed over 90% of northern long-eared, little brown, and tri-colored bat populations in fewer than 10 years. The disease was first documented in New York in 2006 and spread to 35 states and seven Canadian provinces and has been confirmed in 12 North American bat species. Nine out of 10 bats of the most vulnerable species are now gone, Winifred Frick, a chief scientist of Bat Conservation International, said.
The disease seriously affects hibernating bats. The fungus grows in cold, damp, and dark places frequented by hibernating bats in the winter. It grows on the skin of bats, causing them to wake up in the winter and resulting in dehydration, starvation, and often death. The loss of the bats will affect the ecosystem as they eat lots of bugs. A single bat consumes 900,000 to 1 million insects a year, Turner, a biologist working on the deadly bat disease, said. Some bats serve as pollinators and seed dispersers of many plants that are important to humans. They are also one of the best natural sentinels (indicators) of the health of our environment.
Jeremy Coleman, national white-nose syndrome coordinator said that through strong collaborative efforts that include coordination among state, federal, tribal, and non-governmental partners, we continue to learn more about the dynamics of this disease and we will build the infrastructure we need to conserve native bats for future generations. Continuing declines of bats led the U.S. Wildlife and Fishery Service to protect some of those species under the Endangered Species Act.
Global COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy concern
In 79 out of 117 countries surveyed, the number of people who said they were willing to be vaccinated was below 70%. This is the minimum percentage to reach herd immunity, a state in which the spread of the disease slows dramatically. This worldwide vaccine hesitancy poses a risk to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey.
During the study period, the researcher contacted about 1,000 people in each of the 117 countries. Accordingly, in countries like Russia, for example, 61% of people said they would refuse a vaccine; in Kosovo, 56% would refuse; and in Senegal, 55%. The survey also revealed that more than 1 billion people of the 7.6 billion worldwide would not get vaccinated.
In some countries, people are hesitant because they do not trust the government and others are concerned about the safety, fear of unknown side effects, and misinformation about COVID-19.
The survey was carried out before vaccines began to roll out anywhere. Attitudes have probably shifted somewhat already, Julie Ray, managing editor for the world news at polling company Gallup said, as hundreds of millions of shots have been given and media coverage has been widespread. The United States is a good example of how opinions change once vaccination starts. Between August and October, about 46% of Americans said they would not be vaccinated, and the most recent (March) survey shows that figure has fallen to 26%.
Now, the concern is the longer time the virus circulates globally, the more opportunity it has to mutate into dangerous new variants that can undermine vaccines. Therefore, education, transparency, and promotion of vaccine acceptance by government bodies, healthcare workers, and community leaders is a timely call for ending the COVID-19 pandemic for good.
Homeland Security News Wire