The United States Department of Agriculture has approved the first-ever vaccine for honeybees to prevent American foulbrood disease, a fatal bacterial disease that can destroy honeybee colonies, officials say. The USDA told CNN that it issued a conditional vaccine license to Diamond Animal Health, the collaborating manufacturer for Dalan Animal Health, on December 29. The agency said that it was its “first licensure of a honeybee product.”
“We hope the availability of this product will aid in the prevention and/or treatment of the disease American Foulbrood in honeybees given their central role in American agriculture (e.g. pollination),” said the USDA in a statement shared over email.
The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service describes American foulbrood disease on its website as “one of the most widespread and the most destructive of the honey bee brood diseases.”
In a January 4 statement, Dalan Animal Health, which produced the vaccine, said that the primary treatment method for American foulbrood disease has been incinerating bees and infected hives, in addition to antibiotic treatment.
“This is an exciting step forward for beekeepers, as we rely on antibiotic treatment that has limited effectiveness and requires lots of time and energy to apply to our hives,” Trevor Tauzer, owner of Tauzer Apiaries and a board member of the California State Beekeepers Association, said in the release. “If we can prevent an infection in our hives, we can avoid costly treatments and focus our energy on other important elements of keeping our bees healthy.” Dalan’s CEO, Annette Kleiser, called the vaccine “a breakthrough in protecting honeybees” in the statement.
“Global population growth and changing climates will increase the importance of honeybee pollination to secure our food supply,” said Kleiser in the statement. “We are ready to change how we care for insects, impacting food production on a global scale.”
Unlike traditional vaccines, the honeybee vaccine isn’t injected with a syringe. Instead, it’s mixed into “queen feed,” which the worker bees consume, according to Dalan’s statement. The worker bees incorporate the vaccine into royal jelly, which they feed to the queen bee. Once the queen bee has consumed the vaccine-laden royal jelly, “fragments of the vaccine are deposited in her ovaries,” says Dalan. Then the queen’s larvae will be born with immunity to the disease.
Dalan says that the vaccine will be available for purchase in the United States in 2023.
The Earth's ozone layer is on its way to recovering within the next 40 years, thanks to decades of work to get rid of ozone-damaging chemicals, a panel of international experts backed by the United Nations has found.
The ozone layer serves an important function for living things on Earth. This shield in the stratosphere protects humans and the environment from harmful levels of the sun's ultraviolet radiation.
The international community was alarmed after experts discovered a hole in the ozone layer in May 1985. Scientists had previously discovered that chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons, used in manufacturing aerosol sprays and used as solvents and refrigerants, could destroy ozone.
Two years after the discovery of the dire state of the ozone layer, international bodies adopted a global agreement called the Montreal Protocol. This established the phaseout of almost 100 synthetic chemicals that were tied to the destruction of the all-important ozone.
In the latest report on the progress of the Montreal Protocol, the U.N.-backed panel confirmed that nearly 99% of banned ozone-depleting substances have been phased out. If current policies stay in place, the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 values by 2040, the U.N. announced. In some places, it may take longer. Experts said that 1980-level recovery over Antarctica is expected by around 2066 and by 2045 over the Arctic.
"The impact the Montreal Protocol has had on climate change mitigation cannot be overstressed," said Meg Seki, executive secretary of the U.N. Environment Programme's Ozone Secretariat, in a statement. "Over the last 35 years, the Protocol has become a true champion for the environment. The assessments and reviews undertaken by the Scientific Assessment Panel remain a vital component of the work of the Protocol that helps inform policy and decision-makers."
The depletion of the ozone layer is not a major cause of climate change. But research is showing that these efforts to save the ozone layer are proving beneficial in the fight against climate change. In 2016, an amendment to the Montreal Protocol required the phaseout of the production and consumption of some hydrofluorocarbons. These HFCs don't directly deplete the ozone layer, but they are powerful greenhouse gases — which contribute to accelerated climate change and global warming, the U.N. says.
The Kigali Amendment will "avoid 0.3–0.5 °C of warming by 2100," the report estimates. "Ozone action sets a precedent for climate action," said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "Our success in phasing out ozone-eating chemicals shows us what can and must be done – as a matter of urgency – to transition away from fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gases and so limit temperature increase."
We know this is the time of year that bears hibernate, but imagine finding one camping out right in your own backyard. A family in Plainville, Connecticut, discovered a black bear taking refuge under their deck.
The bear has been there for several weeks. The family is following guidance from state environmental officials, and he’s welcome to stay for a while. It was a walk outside that turned into a crazy encounter about two weeks ago.
“My dog started growling,” Vincent Dashukewich said. “That’s when my girlfriend got scared and ran to the house, and I turned my head and saw the bear, and we were staring right at each other. It’s pretty crazy.” Dashukewich said the bear hadn’t done much but lounge around so far.
“He’s massive, yeah, but he’s super chill,” he said.
His family contacted the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). “They said to just leave him alone, let him be as long as he’s not creating a disturbance or bothering anybody,” Dashukewich said.
Jason Hawley, a wildlife biologist with DEEP, said that finding a bear on your property is a common occurrence in Connecticut.
“We get about 15 to 20 calls a year about bears denning under decks and porches,” he said.
Hawley said there are measures you can take in this situation.
“The most important thing is to just leave it alone, so not go over and continuously be looking underneath, stay out of the area, and keep your dogs and kids away from the area,” Hawley said. “We encourage people to call us if they spot a bear underneath their deck. It could be a bear we’re looking for.”
Meanwhile, Dashukewich said it’s barely been an issue, and they’ve named the bear Marty. “The reach has been crazy,” Dashukewich said. “The first TikTok videos blew up. That’s when I created the socials for Marty.”
The family has made Marty his own account on TikTok and Instagram under the username “//firstname.lastname@example.org">marty.the.bear.” They want to make his stay as comfortable as possible.
“They’re essentially sleeping, so you can think of it as a five-month-long nap,” said Dashukewich. “My parents are a little worried. They don’t want any problems happening, especially with the dog, so we’re just going to let him be and keep to himself.”
DEEP officials said Marty could be there until early March or longer.
The rising cost of eggs in the U.S. is denting household budgets. Americans in recent years have increased the number of eggs they consume while reducing their intake of beef and venison, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Egg consumption has grown in part because more families are eating them as their main protein substitute, Los Angeles Times reporter Sonja Sharp told CBS News. "Each of us eats about as many eggs as one hen can lay a year," she said.
As demand for eggs has risen, production in the U.S. has slumped because of the ongoing bird, or "avian," flu epidemic. Nearly 58 million birds have been infected with avian flu as of January 6, the USDA said, making it the deadliest outbreak in U.S. history. Infected birds must be slaughtered, causing egg supplies to fall and prices to surge. Families and restaurants alike are now paying elevated prices for eggs as the outbreak impacts 47 states.
In California, for example, data shows the average price for a dozen eggs reached $7.37 last week, compared with $2.35 a year ago. The national average egg price per dozen wholesale is now $3.30, the USDA said last week. The average price for a dozen eggs by U.S. city grew to a record $3.58 in November, according to the most recent data available from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Sharp said prices will likely not fall again until after new chickens are born without the infection and grow to egg-laying age. More than 300 flocks of farm-raised poultry have been hit by the outbreak as of last Friday, according to USDA data.
In New York, grocery store owner Jose Filipe said that soaring egg costs have caused many customers to change their spending habits. "I've seen customers gravitate from buying organic eggs now to more conventional eggs, and specifically now, the half dozen. Prices have quadrupled in about six or seven months," he recently told CBS New York's Jenna DeAngelis.
Bird flu is carried by free-flying waterfowl, such as ducks, geese and shorebirds, and infects chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl. In another major recent epidemic of the disease, it killed more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in 2014 and 2015, while causing economic losses of $3.3 billion, the USDA estimates. The agency is now researching a potential vaccine against the bird flu.
Fortunately, the public health risk related to bird flu remains low, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, cooking all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F is advised as a general food safety rule.
The cost of processed eggs — used in liquid or powdered form in manufactured products including salad dressing, cake mix and chips — has also surged, adding to inflationary pressures. The Consumer Price Index — a closely watched inflation gauge — rose 7.1% in December from the previous year. Falling prices for energy, commodities and used cars offset increases in food and shelter.
Beavers are taking over the Alaskan tundra, completely transforming its waterways, and accelerating climate change in the Arctic. The changes are so sudden and drastic that they're clearly visible from space.
As the Arctic tundra warms, woody plants are growing along its rivers and streams, creating perfect habitats for beavers. As the furry rodents move into these waterways, they make themselves at home by doing what they do best: chewing and carrying wood to build dams, and clogging rapid rivers and streams to make lush ponds.
"There's not even a lot of other animals that leave a footprint you can see from space," Ken Tape, an ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told Insider. "There is one, and they're called humans. The funny thing is that humans could not get a permit to do what beavers are now doing in this state."
This swimming, furry rodent's invasion of the North American tundra is a mixed bag. The beaver ponds create lush oases that could increase biodiversity, but they also play a role in accelerating the climate crisis. All in all, satellites reveal more than 11,000 beaver ponds have appeared across the tundra.
"All of western Alaska is now really densely populated with beaver ponds," Tape said. That's consistent with what Indigenous people in the area have observed. It's especially obvious on the ground in towns like Kotzebue, where there were no beavers 20 years ago, and now they're everywhere, Tape said.
From fish and vegetation, to water flow and water quality, to all the downstream effects that might have, there's a lot left to study. Beaver ponds are warm oases in the tundra, since the still, deep water holds more heat than the rushing rivers that previously cut through.
Tape expects these pond areas will start to resemble boreal forest more than tundra. The still water will likely attract waterfowl and new species of fish. One thing that's clearly unlikeable about the new Arctic is the thawing of permafrost – layers of soil that normally stay frozen year-round. Permafrost covers about one-quarter of the northern hemisphere, including nearly 85 percent of Alaska.
As temperatures rise, the permafrost thaws and releases the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. That's the one beaver impact that Tape's team is sure of: Beaver ponds are thawing the surrounding permafrost, exacerbating the climate crisis. Just how much, is not yet clear.
More and more beavers will likely spread through the tundra in the future, continuing to move north as the Arctic warms. The northernmost strip of Alaska, north of the Brooks mountain range, is still virtually beaver-free, Tape said. But it may not stay that way for long. Dense populations of beavers are just on the other side of the mountains. "All they have to do is swim downstream," Tape said.
Scientists with NASA announced they have discovered an Earth-sized planet that is likely rocky – and could be habitable.
The planet, named TOI 700 e, is slightly smaller than Earth and orbits a red dwarf star called TOI 700 about 100 light-years away. It's one of four planets to orbit the star, alongside TOI 700 b, c and d.
TOI 700 d was already known to be in the habitable zone, a discovery made possible by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which monitors large portions of the sky for 27 days at a time to track changes in stellar brightness caused by planets.
But it took more than a year for scientists to discover TOI 700 e and learn that it was within the star's habitable zone. Its discovery was presented at the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, and a paper about the planet was accepted by The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Also known as the "Goldilocks zone," the habitable zone is the distance from a star where liquid water could exist on an orbiting planet, according to NASA. It gets its nickname because the conditions on the planet are not too cold or too hot to sustain life.
Morris Animal Foundation is now accepting proposals that will catalyze development of new tools to prevent, detect and treat canine hemangiosarcoma. Grant applications are due by April 5, 2023, 4:59 p.m. ET.
This request for proposals is part of the Foundation’s Hemangiosarcoma Initiative, a multiyear commitment to dedicate funding, people and resources to advance the prevention, detection and treatment of, and potentially cures for, this deadly cancer of dogs.
“Hemangiosarcoma is a devastating canine cancer, and the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study has seen an exceptionally high rate of this disease,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Morris Animal Foundation Vice President, Scientific Operations. “Historically, few advances have been made in treating hemangiosarcoma, and we want to accelerate development of diagnostic tools and therapies by using the samples and data collected from the Study. We hope this initiative will change the outcome for all dogs prone to this disease.”
Hemangiosarcoma is one of the deadliest forms of canine cancer. The cancer tends to favor areas of abundant blood supply such as the heart and spleen, making sudden rupture and severe hemorrhage a common, life-threatening complication. The average survival time for dogs diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, even with treatment, is four to six months. Few dogs survive longer than one year, and even fewer are cured.
Grant applications that propose using Golden Retriever Lifetime Study specimens and data are strongly encouraged, though proposals leveraging other samples and data may be submitted. Academic and industry collaborative projects are encouraged to accelerate translation of results to practice. Proposed use of laboratory animals in research studies will not be accepted under this RFP.
Applications will be reviewed and rated based on impact and scientific rigor by a scientific advisory board made up of subject matter experts. Interested researchers should download the proposal guidelines, and can apply for the award on the Foundation's Grants page.
Learn more at morrisanimalfoundation.org.
A new therapeutic trial hopes to change the outcomes for dogs suffering from osteosarcoma, a deadly form of bone cancer. The study, funded by Morris Animal Foundation, will be conducted by a veterinary research team at the University of Minnesota.
Led by Dr. Jessica Lawrence, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, the study team’s goal is to test a novel immunotherapy first in the laboratory, and then in a select group of dogs with osteosarcoma to assess efficacy. If successful, the new treatment could be a powerful tool to treat osteosarcoma in dogs.
“Immunotherapy, or treatment that boosts the body’s immune response against cancer, is one of the most exciting recent advances in the treatment of tumors,” said Dr. Lawrence. “There are few immunotherapy options specifically for dogs; for this reason, we are incredibly grateful for support from Morris Animal Foundation to develop a new immunotherapy approach for giant-breed dogs with osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is good at masking itself to the body’s immune system, so it can grow and spread. We hope this work will result in a new way to boost the immune system and provide hope for pet owners and oncologists faced with this terrible cancer.”
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor diagnosed in dogs. The cancer disproportionately affects the long bones of large- and giant-breed dogs. Current treatment regimens include limb amputation, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but some dogs are poor candidates for surgery. Effective immunotherapy would be a welcome therapeutic option for these patients.
“New treatments are desperately needed for canine osteosarcoma, and immunotherapy treatments often have the advantage of fewer side effects,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Morris Animal Foundation Vice President, Scientific Operations. “This study could help improve outcomes and quality of life for dogs with osteosarcoma, particularly those that are poor surgical candidates.”
Cancer impacts animals worldwide and is a leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 2. Since 1962, Morris Animal Foundation has funded more than 300 cancer studies, invested nearly $40 million, and continues to make strides against the disease.
Alongside runs on hot chocolate and churros, cold-stunned iguanas dropping from trees are one of South Florida’s most iconic winter traditions.
When it gets cold, videos of the reptiles sprawled on the ground pop up all over social media, including during the recent Christmas cold snap that plunged temperatures into the 40s near Miami.
But ongoing research suggests Florida’s falling iguana phenomenon could be rarer in the future — both due to climbing global temperatures from unchecked climate change and a shift in cold hardiness in the lizards themselves. That’s right, the big lizards appear to be adapting.
That’s a bummer for anyone hoping that the latest prolonged dip into colder temperatures could help knock back the rapidly growing population of exotic reptiles that rank among the state’s most damaging invasive creatures.
Iguanas are more than a garden and landscape-chomping nuisance in South Florida. They can carry infectious bacteria like Salmonella which can also be passed to pets, devour endangered plants and animals and undermine seawalls and canal banks. On at least one recent occasion, a rogue iguana in search of a snack also knocked out power to an entire city. It wasn’t the first time one had fried an electrical system.
When temperatures drop, cold-blooded reptiles like iguanas lose the ability to control their muscles, sending them raining down from the trees they call home or unable to respond to the pokes and prods from curious humans. Once they warm up, they typically snap out of their stupor. But prolonged exposure or freezing temperatures can be fatal and biologists have long pointed to frigid snap has the only realistic hope for curbing the population boom. Recent research suggests it may need to get a lot colder than it did last week. How much and how long is a still-unanswered question.
Iguanas are called cold-blooded for a reason. During a cold snap, Floridians were told to watch out for falling iguanas. Remember also that females can spawn up to 70 young per year.
James Stroud, a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University in St. Louis, found that most of South Florida’s most common lizard species are able to withstand slightly lower temperatures than they could even just four years earlier — a drop of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, according to their 2020 paper published in the journal Biology Letters.
"What we saw is every one of these different types of lizards, they could now move at much colder temperatures than they did before," he said.