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University of Florida reports 2012 U.S. shark attacks highest since 2000

February 12, 2013 Comments off

University of Florida reports 2012 U.S. shark attacks highest since 2000

Source: University of Florida

Shark attacks in the U.S. reached a decade high in 2012, while worldwide fatalities remained average, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File report released February 11.

The U.S. saw an upturn in attacks with 53, the most since 2000. There were seven fatalities worldwide, which is lower than 2011 but higher than the yearly average of 4.4 from 2001 to 2010. It is the second consecutive year for multiple shark attacks in Western Australia (5) and Reunion Island (3) in the southwest Indian Ocean, which indicates the localities have developed problematic situations, said George Burgess, director of the file housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.

“Those two areas are sort of hot spots in the world – Western Australia is a function of white shark incidents and Reunion is a function most likely of bull shark incidents,” Burgess said. “What I’ve seen in all situations when there’s been a sudden upswing in an area is that human-causative factors are involved, such as changes in our behavior, changes in our abundance, or an overt shark-attracting product of something that we’re doing.”

Eighty unprovoked attacks occurred worldwide, slightly more than 2011. Four attacks were recorded in South Africa, three of which resulted in death, which is higher than its recent average of one fatality per year. Australia had an average year with 14 attacks and two fatalities, despite the media attention regarding incidents in Western Australia that resulted in a government-sanctioned culling hunt for endangered white sharks.

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ISAF 2011 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary

February 9, 2012 Comments off

ISAF 2011 Worldwide Shark Attack Summary
Source: Florida Museum of Natural History (University of Florida)

The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) investigated 125 alleged incidents of shark-human interaction occurring worldwide in 2011. Upon review, 75 of these incidents represented confirmed cases of unprovoked shark attack on humans. “Unprovoked attacks” are defined as incidents where an attack on a live human by a shark occurs in its natural habitat without human provocation of the shark. Incidents involving sharks and divers in public aquaria or research holding-pens, shark-inflicted scavenge damage to already dead humans (most often drowning victims), attacks on boats, and provoked incidents occurring in or out of the water are not considered unprovoked attacks. “Provoked attacks” usually occur when a human initiates physical contact with a shark, e.g. a diver bit after grabbing a shark, a fisher bit while removing a shark from a net, attacks on spearfishers and those feeding sharks, etc.. The 50 incidents not accorded unprovoked status in 2011 included 29 provoked attacks, 13 cases of sharks biting marine vessels, one incident dismissed as not involving a shark, one air-sea disaster, three “scavenge” incidents involving post-mortem bites, and three cases in which available evidence was insufficient to determine if an unprovoked shark attack had occurred.

The 2011 yearly total of 75 unprovoked attacks was lower than the 81 unprovoked attacks recorded in 2010. However, the number of worldwide unprovoked shark attacks has grown at a steady pace since 1900 with each decade having more attacks than the previous. The numerical growth in shark interactions does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in the rate of shark attack; rather it most likely reflects the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the opportunities for interaction between the two affected parties.

See: UF report: 2011 shark attacks remain steady, deaths highest since 1993 (University of Florida)

Ranking the Risks: The 10 Pathogen-Food Combinations With The Greatest Burden on Public Health

May 9, 2011 Comments off

Ranking the Risks: The 10 Pathogen-Food Combinations With The Greatest Burden on Public Health (PDF)
Source: University of Florida, Emerging Pathogens Institute

The starting point for implementing risk-based food safety systems is being able to identify where the greatest food safety problems lie. For foodborne illness, the starting point is the question: which pathogens in which foods cause the greatest impact on public health?

The question is easy to ask. Getting a good answer isn’t. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in six Americans get sick each year from food contaminated by any one of dozens of bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoa (Scallan et al. 2011a, 2011b). Foodborne pathogens cause not only mild diarrhea, but organ failure, paralysis, neurological impairment, blindness, stillbirths and death. Risk-based prioritization requires having some way to summarize the burden of these diverse conditions into comparable measures of health impact. Furthermore, these illnesses are associated with myriad foods, from poultry to produce to peanut butter, but estimating the association between particular foods and these issues is not straightforward.

To provide a means of comparing the risks posed by different pathogen food combinations in the U.S., we developed a comparable set of estimates of disease burden for 14 leading pathogens across 12 food categories (168 pathogen-food combinations). These fourteen 14 pathogens represent over 95 percent of the annual illnesses and hospitalizations, and almost 98 percent of the deaths, estimated by CDC due to 31 foodborne pathogens (Scallan et al. 2011a). For each pathogen, we estimate health impacts in monetary cost of illness and loss of Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY s), a measure of health-related quality of life. Both cost of illness and QALY loss are integrated measures of disease burden that allow us to compare pathogens with very different rates of incidence, hospitalization and death, as well as different symptoms and long-term chronic conditions. We attribute these illnesses to foods based on an analysis of eleven years of foodborne outbreak data and a peer-reviewed expert elicitation (Hoffmann et al. 2007). We explain our method in Chapter 2. There are significant uncertainties in the data sources and model assumptions used to obtain our estimates, and therefore in the estimates themselves. Our analysis is constrained by these limitations. Our estimates should be regarded, therefore, as an important starting point in an ongoing process to improve our understanding of the very complex interactions among pathogens and foods in the U.S. food system.

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