Category Archives: Natural Events

Zoonosis: Giardiasis – the facts of infectious disease

I’m trying to find out if birds can spread Giardia (aka Beaver Fever) and after reading multiple websites it does. Most state that birds more likely get the bacteria from humans which is why most state the bacteria is found in pet birds but there are some websites stating it is also found in wild animals. So far this is all I’ve been able to find. So until I find an actual study that provides me with more information I’m going to assume that all birds have the ability to spread this disease. Click here for the full article or read an excerpt below.


What is Giardiasis?

Giardiasis is a type of gastroenteritis (gastro) caused by a tiny parasite, Giardia lambia which lives in the bowel.

Giardiasis can affect anyone, however, it is more common in infants, young children and adults aged from 20 to 40 years.

What are the symptoms of Giardiasis?

The most common symptoms of giardiasis are diarrhoea, nausea and stomach cramps. However, in some cases there may be no symptoms at all. After infection, it usually takes between seven and ten days before you become ill. To trace the cause of the illness, it is necessary to know where you were and what you ate and drank in the fortnight before you became ill.

Illness may last from a few days to weeks.

Where are Giardia found?

Giardia lambia parasites are found in humans and in wild, farm and pet animals.

How does Giardiasis spread?

Giardiasis occurs when Giardia parasites are taken in by mouth and the most common way this happens is by person-to-person spread.

People with giardiasis have Giardia lambia parasites in their faeces. If these people do not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, then contaminated hands can spread the parasites to surfaces and objects which will be touched by other people. Contaminated hands can also spread the parasites to food which may be eaten by other people.

Hands can also become contaminated with parasites when a person changes the nappy of an infant with giardiasis.

People and animals can carry Giardia in the faeces without having any symptoms. These people or animals can still pass the disease on to others.

Pets, farm animals and contaminated drinking water can also spread Giardia parasites.

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I think I may have Giardiasis – what should I do?

If you have symptoms of giardiasis, report them to your doctor immediately. This will ensure that you receive proper treatment and advice and that steps are taken to reduce the spread of the disease.

Can I still work?

Food handlers, child care workers and health care workers with giardiasis must not work until symptoms have stopped.

Children must not attend child care centres, kindergartens or school until symptoms have stopped.

How can I stop spreading it to my family?

In your household the risk of spreading giardiasis can be reduced. It is very important that people with giardiasis or gastroenteritis do not prepare or handle food which will be eaten by other people and that no one shares their towel or face washer.

How can I avoid getting Giardiasis?

By following the guidelines below, everyone can do something to avoid getting giardiasis.

Careful hand washing

Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and hot running water for at least ten seconds:

  • before preparing food
  • before eating
  • after going to the toilet or changing nappies
  • after smoking
  • after using a tissue or handkerchief
  • after working in the garden
  • after playing with pets

Food handlers should use disposable paper towels or an air dryer to dry their hands. Cloth towels are not recommended as they get dirty quickly and can spread germs from one person to another.

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Safe food storage and handling

  • Thoroughly cook all raw foods.
  • Thoroughly wash raw vegetables before eating.
  • Reheat food until the internal temperature of the food reaches at least 75 degrees C.

Note for microwave oven users

Remember that part of the microwave cooking process, includes standing time. If a microwave oven is used, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and observe these standing times to ensure the food is completely cooked before it is eaten.

Household cleaning

Bathrooms and toilets must be cleaned often to avoid the spread of infections. Pay particular attention to toilet seats and handles, taps and nappy change tables.

Sandpits can become contaminated with animal faeces and urine. Rake the sand frequently and remove any animal faeces. Cover the area when not in use.

Water from untreated sources

Untreated water that comes directly from lakes or rivers may be contaminated with faeces from people or animals. Boil water from these sources before drinking it.

Child care centres

Children are particularly susceptible to giardiasis. Nappy changing and children’s lack of proper hygiene makes the transmission of this disease in child care settings particularly high. It is important that thorough hand washing and cleaning procedures are being followed in the child care centre to control the spread of these parasites.




Bug’s “To-do”: Lose a few genes; Cause the Black Death

Hopefully a bit of good news regarding the plague. The ability for the disease to spread might be getting less strong. I won’t put all my faith in this news as any claims by scientists seem to take about about 12 years for the scientists to all agree but it does give me hope. Click below to read the entire article.


Bug’s “To-do”: Lose a few genes; Cause the Black Death.

Insects as Indicators

Brilliant technique on how to use insects to determine how healthy a watershed or community is. Click here to read the full article.


This was interesting to listen to. I guess the tropical rainfalls are causing more fertilizer to runoff into the lakes and cause cyanobacteria blooms which kill our lakes and severely impact our drinking water. I can’t imagine where rainfall is going to end up (monsoons?) if the scientists are correct about temperature warming. Click here to hear the entire interview and the full transcription or read an excerpt below.


Jim Bruce – Well what we’re finding is that both for water quantities and water quality the changing climate which IPCC says is going to continue and get worse is having pretty serious effects, particularly as the atmosphere warms. We get more water vapour or what engineers like to call precipitable water in the atmosphere by 7% per every degree Celsius of warming and this means not that were getting more rainfall but that whenever the atmosphere gets organized to rain it rains more heavily so it doesn’t just rain, It pours and this means we’re getting more surface runoff events in the summer and in the off snow melt season. 

Bob Brouse – When you talk about the hard precipitation these are what we all see on the lead on the news. These are these fierce storms that we’re speaking of. Is that the case? 

Jim Bruce – Yes indeed and it is resulting in things like the big Toronto flood last year and the big flood in Calgary in June of last year. 

Bob Brouse – And according to you this is because there is more water vapour in the air that wasn’t there before? What was the case before? I don’t even know how to put this. What was the case before? 

Jim Bruce – Well, as I say, as the atmosphere warms it is able to hold more water vapour. It holds more water vapour to the tune of 7% for every 1 degree Celsius of warming. 

Bob Brouse – Wow. So if the atmosphere gets 1 degree warmer globally it could hold 7% more water than it used to. That is what you are saying? 

Jim Bruce – Yes. 

Bob Brouse – That is amazing Jim. So the practical reality of this to cities around the world, I guess, is they have to deal and cope with more extreme weather. Besides that, is this more or less predictable? Like for instance, I know Milwaukee has been doing tremendous rainwater mitigation, trying to trap it and get it off the wastewater systems. Is this what you’re seeing around the world? 

Jim Bruce – We’re not seeing as much good work as we are seeing in Milwaukee and a few other places but there needs to be a great deal of effort. I should say when we get those runoff events with the heavy rains, the runoff picks up lots of phosphorous and other contaminants from agricultural areas and also from cities and urban areas so when we look at the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is seriously back-sliding back in its eutrophic state and that’s because it’s getting more polluted runoff in these heavy rain events and there is apparently more phosphorous on the land and on the urban areas that gets into the runoff and into the lakes and is destroying the improvement that was made in Lake Erie back in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Pneumonia Bacteria May Lurk in Windshield Washer Fluid

This is indeed interesting. Who would have thought about this. Click here for the full article or read an excerpt below.


“While potential transmission of a deadly respiratory disease from a source as common as automobile windshield washing systems is significant, the study also points to the fact people can be exposed to pathogens — particularly those occurring naturally in the environment — in previously unknown and unusual ways,” Schwake said.

Plague taking toll on Great Plains prairie dogs

I’m more worried about individuals who have head lice which can also spread the plague bacteriums. Click here and here to read some recent articles regarding the plague or an excerpt below. School district policies have become lax over the years and tell parents that head lice don’t spread disease which is an inaccurate statement because lice are an arthropod and all arthropods have the ability to spread disease. These same school district policies allow students to be sent home, treated for lice and return to school the next day without any interaction with the health authorities. Individuals infected with lice should have to consult with their family doctor before being allowed to return to school.


“Plague is a dangerous disease,” said Keim. “But there are lots of drugs that can work on plague. It’s very treatable.”

Fewer people realize the same bacteria live on, even today.

The Southwest grew into a hot spot for the plague in this country, Keim said, because the pathogen became endemic among prairie dogs, the native rodents whose colonies dot the high plateaus.

That’s where NAU researchers find the plague today.

When the researchers and students plan field trips to a potentially infected prairie-dog colony, they undergo training about how to protect themselves from flea bites or dead rodents. They are examined before the trip and their health monitored after.

“We’ve never had a single person come down with the plague,” Keim said.

Cyanobacteria & Algae description and types

Cyanobacteria is a bacteria; it is not algae. It was once considered algae but it has been reclassified based on recent research. This is why it is also called Blue Green Algae. I found some information that explains the differences between dinoflagellates, cyanobacteria, and algae. I was getting confused so this should help clarify things. Click here for the source or read an excerpt below.



The word algae represents a large group of different organisms from different phylogenetic groups, representing many taxonomic divisions. In general algae can be referred to as plant-like organisms that are usually photosynthetic and aguatic, but do not have true roots, stems, leaves, vascular tissue and have simple reproductive structures. They are distributed worldwide in the sea, in freshwater and in moist situations on land. Most are microscopic, but some are quite large, e.g. some marine seaweeds that can exceed 50 m in length.
The algae have chlorophyll and can manufacture their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Recently they are classified in the kingdom of protiste, which comprise a variety of unicellular and some simple multinuclear and multicellular eukaryotic organisms that have cells with a membrane-bound nucleus.
Almost all the algae are eukaryotes and conduct photosynthesis within membrane bound structure called chloroplasts, which contain DNA. The exact nature of the chloroplasts is different among the different lines of algae.
Cyanobacteria are organisms traditionally included among the algae, but they have a prokaryotic cell structure typical of bacteria and conduct photosynthesis directly within the cytoplasm, rather than in specialized organelles.


Types of algae

The main phylogenetic groups of algae are [1][2]:

  • Diatoms: unicellular organisms of the kingdom protista, characterized by a silica shell of often intricate and beautiful sculpturing. Most diatoms exist singly, although some join to form colonies. They are usually yellowish or brownish, and are found in fresh- and saltwater, in moist soil, and on the moist surface of plants. Fresh-water and marine diatoms appear in greatest abundance early in the year as part of the phenomenon known as the spring bloom, which occurs as a result of the availablity of both light and (winter-regenerated) nutrients. They reproduce asexually by cell division. When aguatic diatoms die they drop to the bottom, and the shells, not being subject to decay, collect in the ooze and eventually form the material known as diatomaceous earth. Diatoms can occur in a more compact form as a soft, chalky, lightweight rock, called diatomite. Diatomite is used as an insulating material against both heat and sound, in making dynamite and other explosives, and for filters, abrasives, and similar products. Diatoms have deposited most of the earth’s limestone, and much petroleum is of diatom origin. The surface mud of a pond, ditch, or lagoon will almost always yield some diatoms.
  • Chlorophyta: division of the kingdom of protista consisting of the photosyntetic organism commonly known as green algae. The various species can be unicellular, multi-cellular, coenocytic (having more than one nucleus in a cell), or colonial. Chlorophyta are largely aguatic or marine, a few types are terrestrial, occurring on moist soil, on the trunks of trees, on moist rocks and in snow banks. Various species are highly specialized.
  • Euglenophyta: small phylum of the kingdom protista, consisting of mostly unicellular aguatic algae. Some euglenoids contain chloroplasts with the photosynthetic pigments; others are heterotrophic and can ingest or absorb their food. Reproduction occurs by longitudinal cell division. Most live in freshwater. The most characteristic genus is Euglena, common in ponds and pools, especially when the water has been polluted by runoff from fields or lawns on which fertilizers have been used. There are approximately 1000 species of euglenoids.
  • Dinoflagellata: large group of flagellate protistis. Some species are heterotrophic, but many are photosynthetic organisms containing chlorophyll. Various other pigments may mask the green of these chlorophylls. Other species are endosymbionts of marine animals and protozoa, and play an important part in the biology of coral reefs. Other dinoflagellates are colorless predators on other protozoa, and a few forms are parasitic. Reproduction for most dinoflagellates is asexual, through simple division of cells following mitosis. The dinoflagellates are important constituents of plankton, and as such are primary food sources in warmer oceans. Many forms are phosphorescent; they are largely responsible for the phosphorescence visible at night in tropical seas. There are approximately 2000 species of dinoflagellates.
  • Chrysophyta: large group of eukariotyes algae commonly called golden algae, found mostly in freshwater. Originally they were taken to include all such forms except the diatoms and multicellular brown algae, but since then they have been divided into several different groups based on pigmentation and cell structure. In many chrysophytes the cell walls are composed of cellulose with large quantities of silica. Formerly classified as plants, they contain the photosynthetic pigments chlorophyll a and c. Under some circumstances they will reproduce sexually, but the usual form of reproduction is cell division.
  • Phaeophyta: phylum of the kingdom protista consisting of those organisms commonly called brown algae. Many of the world’s familiar seaweeds are members of phaeophyta. Like the chrysophytes brown algae derive their color from the presence, in the cell chloroplasts, of several brownish carotenoid pigments, as fucoxathin. With only a few exceptions, brown algae are marine, growing in the colder oceans of the world, many in the tidal zone, where they are subjected to great stress from wave action; others grow in deep water. There are approximately 1500 species of phaeophyta.
  • Rhodophyta: phylum of the kingdom protista consisting of the photosynthetic organisms commonly known as red algae. Members of the division have a characteristic clear red or purplish color imparted by accessory pigments called phycobilins. The red algae are multicellular and are characterized by a great deal of branching, but without differentiation into complex tissues. Most of the world’s seaweeds belong to this group. Although red algae are found in all oceans, they are most common in warm-temperate and tropical climates, where they may occur at greater depths than any other photosynthetic organisms. Most of the coralline algae, which secrete calcium carbonate and play a major role in building reefs, belong here. Red algae are a traditional part of oriental cuisine. There are 4000 known marine species of red algae; a few species occur in freshwater.
  • Cyanobacteria: phylum of prokaryotic aguatic bacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis. They are often referred to as blue-green algae, even though it is now known that they are not related to any of the other algal groups, which are all eukaryotes. Cyanobacteria may be single-celled or colonial. Depending upon the species and environmental conditions, colonies may form filaments, sheets or even hollow balls. Some filamentous colonies show the ability to differentiate into three different cell types. Despite their name, different species can be red, brown, or yellow; blooms (dense masses on the surface of a body of water) of a red species are said to have given the Red Sea its name. There are two main sorts of pigmentation. Most cyanobacteria contain chlorophyll a, together with various proteins called phycobilins, which give the cells a typical blue-green to grayish-brown colour. A few genera, however, lack phycobilins and have chlorophyll b as well as a, giving them a bright green colour.
    Unlike bacteria, which are heterotrophic decomposers of the wastes and bodies of other organisms, cyanobacteria contain the green pigment chlorophyll (as well as other pigments), which traps the energy of sunlight and enables these organisms to carry on photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria are thus autotrophic producers of their own food from simple raw materials. Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria need only nitrogen and carbon dioxide to live: they are able to fix nitrogen gas, which cannot be absorbed by plants, into ammonia (NH3), nitrites (NO2) or nitrates (NO3), which can be absorbed by plants and converted to protein and nucleic acids.
    Cyanobacteria are found in almost every conceivable habitat, from oceans to fresh water to bare rock to soil. Cyanobacteria produce the compounds responsible for earthy odors we detect in soil and some bodies of water. The greenish slime on the side of your damp flowerpot, the wall of
    your house or the trunk of that big tree is more likely to be cyanobacteria than anything else. Cyanobacteria have even been found on the fur of polar bears, to which they impart a greenish tinge. In short, Cyanobacteria have no one habitat because you can find them almost anywhere in the world.

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