Aug 26, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Reports today said three rare palm civets that recently died in captivity in Vietnam were infected with an H5N1 avian influenza virus, adding another species to the list of those susceptible to the pathogen.The three Owston’s palm civets died in June, and tests of samples in a Hong Kong laboratory detected the H5N1 virus, according to Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports. The animals died in the same cage in Cuc Phuong National Park, about 55 miles south of Hanoi.Staff members at the park said no other animals or people had fallen ill.In addition to birds and humans, H5N1 viruses have been known to infect pigs, housecats, tigers, and leopards. The virus has killed millions of poultry and at least 57 people in outbreaks in Asia since late 2003.Civets figured in another relatively new infectious disease: SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Chinese scientists concluded that masked palm civets—a different species from Owston’s—were the main animal source of the SARS virus, which infected about 8,000 people around the world in 2003. Civets are used for food in southern China.The civets that died of avian flu were a female and two offspring, all of which had been born in captivity, reports said. It was not clear how they became infected.Reuters quoted Do Van Lap, a manager at the park, as saying, “How they were infected remains unknown as they were raised together with 20 other civets, their cages close to each other, but the remaining civets are strong.”Lap said initial suspicion fell on park staff members who lived in a village where some chickens had died, but tests did not find the virus. He said the civets were not fed chicken.The story said Cuc Phuong National Park has a wildlife protection project that involves raising peacocks, pheasants, freshwater turtles, and deer in captivity, as well as civets. “All the remaining animals are safe, so we reckon the three civets are isolated cases,” Lap told Reuters.In an Associated Press (AP) report, Scott Robertson, technical adviser for the civet conservation program at the park, commented, “It’s another good example of how dangerous this thing [the H5N1 virus] is.” He said the WHO and Vietnamese health officials were expected to test park employees.Peter Horby, a WHO epidemiologist in Hanoi, said the finding does not signal an increased risk of avian flu in humans, since people have less contact with civets than with poultry, according to the AP. Poultry have been the source of nearly all human cases so far.Owston’s palm civet is an endangered species that is confined to parts of northern Vietnam, northern Laos, and neighboring areas of China, according to a report from Vietnam’s National Center for Scientific Research.Also in Vietnam, a pilot program to vaccinate poultry against avian flu in two provinces is running behind schedule, according to a report today from the Vietnam News Agency. About 72% of targeted birds in the northern province of Nam Dinh have been vaccinated, but only 38% have been vaccinated in Tien Giang province in the south, where flooding has caused problems, the story said.In other developments, officials in Finland reported a possible avian flu outbreak in seagulls, but it was probably not a highly pathogenic strain, according to a Reuters report today.A flu virus was found in sick and dead seagulls in the northern town of Oulou, the report said, but the strain was not identified. Finland shares a border with Russia, where H5N1 avian flu has surfaced in poultry in recent weeks, but not in areas near Finland.See also:CIDRAP Overview: Avian influenza: agricultural and wildlife considerations
NBA FREE AGENCY: Latest news, rumors on Kyrie IrvingIrving is widely considered a lock to leave the Celtics, as is veteran center Al Horford. Boston is already preparing to chase Kemba Walker once free agency begins, so Irving will be joining the third team of his career this summer.But where exactly will he land? Based on all the reporting to this point, Irving should be wearing a Nets jersey when the 2019-20 season kicks off, though there’s always a chance he changes his mind. For now, let’s start with the favorite.Kyrie Irving signs with the NetsHello, Brooklyn. Here’s your new point guard.The Nets have been consistently connected to Irving, who could replace fellow All-Star D’Angelo Russell in the starting lineup. Brooklyn is already a playoff team with a terrific coach in Kenny Atkinson and intriguing youngsters at multiple positions, including Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen. After the disastrous Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade, the Nets’ front office, led by general manager Sean Marks, has done an incredible job of recovering and rebuilding year by year.Brooklyn makes sense as a free agency destination. This may even be a done deal in Irving’s head. However, the move doesn’t come without some apprehension.Irving is a better player than Russell, but is the talent and production gap enough to outweigh fears of Irving’s impact in the locker room? And if the Nets’ plan is to sign both Irving and Kevin Durant, how will they handle a scenario in which Irving is on board but Durant stays with the Warriors or shifts elsewhere?To be clear, Irving wasn’t the only problem in Boston. It’s impossible to know how the Celtics would have fared with a healthy Gordon Hayward. Maybe Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier could have handled their roles better. Brad Stevens put plenty of the blame on himself for not fitting the puzzle pieces together.But Irving was certainly a significant part of the problem. Giving him the keys and sliding him into a leadership position might not be the wisest decision, especially considering the Nets had excellent chemistry last season. The bet here is that the Nets will offer Irving a max deal (four years, approximately $140 million), with or without a guarantee from Durant. Perhaps Irving will recognize this is his last chance to positively alter his reputation.MORE: Kevin Durant free agency fitsKyrie Irving signs with the LakersThis situation just got more interesting.The Lakers recently sent three players to the Wizards as part of the Anthony Davis trade, and Davis waived his $4 million trade bonus. That pushed Los Angeles to max cap space ahead of free agency, allowing general manager Rob Pelinka to target the likes of Irving and Kawhi Leonard. Marc Stein of The New York Times says the Lakers are “swinging for the fences.”Irving knows as well as anyone the highs and lows of playing next to LeBron James. There was plenty of drama in Cleveland, but the Cavs also reached multiple NBA Finals and famously overcame a 3-1 lead against the mighty Warriors in 2016 to win the title. Irving’s shot over Stephen Curry late in Game 7 remains the signature moment of his career.A trio of James, Davis and Irving? To use a basketball term, that would be really freaking good. It wouldn’t work immediately — it’s always a process, except when sliding Durant into Harrison Barnes’ spot — but the potential would be off the charts.Bigger question: What does Irving want? He won a championship. He is one of the most recognizable faces in the league. He’s got a signature shoe and starred in a feature film. The money is the same everywhere outside of Boston.Does it matter if he’s not “The Man” in Los Angeles? Maybe that’s the difference. That option is simply not available to him here with LeBron running the show. If Irving didn’t enjoy that failed experiment with the Celtics, though, the Lakers are suddenly a lot more attractive.MORE: Kawhi Leonard free agency fitsKyrie Irving signs with the KnicksIt wasn’t all that long ago the Knicks essentially had Irving and Durant on direct flights to Madison Square Garden.Unfortunately for Spike Lee and the rest of the fan base, the NBA landscape can change quickly.It’s possible the Knicks could sell Irving on being the face of franchise. He would be the No. 1 option, even if Durant joined him, because Durant’s recovery from a ruptured Achilles could take a full year. But there are concerns about leadership at the top of the organizational chart.From The Athletic’s Frank Isola:Irving is intent on living in the New York area and a person close to the All-Star point guard says he prefers the Brooklyn Nets over the Knicks because he has concerns about Knicks’ management, including ownership.Yes, as long as James Dolan is around, the Knicks will always be a step behind in attempting to sign marquee free agents. Players are too smart not to notice the influence of owners and the huge impact it can have throughout the franchise. Ownership is one of the biggest competitive advantages — and in this case, a major disadvantage — in the NBA. Living in New York City and getting the opportunity to create a winning atmosphere is appealing. There are a few fun prospects on the Knicks roster, too, including No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett.Still, it’s difficult to envision how the Knicks can surpass the Nets on Irving’s list. Compare the stability in the front offices and current rosters. It shouldn’t be hard to follow Irving’s thought process. (Following his thought process on anything else is more of a challenge).New York could be looking at second-tier free agents and another lottery season. Kyrie Irving is entering free agency after a season in which he averaged 23.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from 3-point range. He made an All-NBA team, further solidifying himself as one of the league’s top guards.And yet, the Celtics’ 2018-19 campaign was a complete disappointment. Once considered the Eastern Conference favorite to reach the NBA Finals, Boston flamed out in the second round against a superior Bucks squad in a series filled with poor shooting and lackluster defense from Irving.