Birds of a feather don’t share a sick bed

Updated 08 November 2012
0

Birds of a feather don’t share a sick bed

PARIS: House finches avoid sick members of their own species, scientists said yesterday in a finding that could be useful for tracking the spread of diseases like bird flu that also affects humans.
Laboratory tests showed that the house finch, a particularly social North American species, was able to tell the difference between sick and healthy fellow birds and tended to avoid those that were unwell.
This was the first time that avoidance of sick individuals, already observed in lobsters and bullfrog tadpoles, has been shown in birds, according to a paper published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
“In addition, we found variation in the immune response of house finches, which means that they vary in their ability to fight off infections,” co-author Maxine Zylberberg of the California Academy of Sciences told AFP.
“As it turns out, individuals who have weaker immune responses and therefore are less able to fight off infections, are the ones who most avoid interacting with sick individuals.”
This all meant that there were differences between individual birds’ susceptibility to disease, the time it would take them to recuperate and their likeliness to pass on the disease.
“These are key factors that help to determine if and when an infectious disease will spread through a group of birds,” said Zylberg — and how quickly.
“This becomes particularly important for us in trying to figure out and predict when and how infectious diseases that affect both birds and ourselves ... will spread through wild bird populations and end up in areas where wild birds and humans interact extensively, creating the opportunity for these diseases to cross over from birds to humans.”
The H5N1 strain of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, spreads from live birds to humans through direct contact.
It causes fever and breathing problems and has claimed 359 human lives in 15 countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, from 2003 to August of this year, according to the World Health Organization.


Saudi food app is perfect recipe for people in need

Updated 19 May 2018
0

Saudi food app is perfect recipe for people in need

JEDDAH: A Saudi relationship manager has designed a mobile app that allows food to be delivered to people in need, including Syrian refugees living in camps in Lebanon and Turkey.
Western region manager Fahad bin Thabit, 34, described his YummCloud app as a “sharing economy” platform.
After working with app developers from India, Ukraine and the US, Thabit launched the platform in late April with help from the US digital agency Ingic.
YummCloud was featured in US company news, such as Cision PRWeb.
“The idea behind YummCloud was to provide home-cooked meals to the users in the most convenient way,” Cision PRWeb said.
“Developers were told to develop an open platform app that will let users buy, sell or send home-cooked meals around them. All a user has to do is to choose the food they would like to eat and get it delivered at their convenience.”
Thabit said that his brother, who lives in France, was the inadvertent inspiration behind the app.
“At that time I wanted to send him food and that was when I had the idea: Why can’t I send him local food?
“I could not find any of our local food there, and this was how the application came up. I said once I can do that, I can send food to anyone anywhere in the world — all I need to do is provide the supplier,” Thabit told Arab News.
Anyone can help communities in need via the application, he said.
Thabit said he was planning to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.
“We call these meals ‘humanitarian meals’ — all we need to do is reach them via a social network and get a supplier there. People who sympathize with the refugees — they could be 100 kilometers away or in different parts of the world — can pay online and buy meals for them.”
He said whole communities could take part in the “sharing economy.”
“For example, in Africa, there are areas that have people suffering from starvation, but there are other areas that have food supplies, so if you buy the supplies from those areas, they can import them to the starvation-stricken areas. This is what I call a sharing economy.”
The app’s international features are still under development, but are expected to launch in two years.
“We can create a market anywhere in the world. All we need to do is add a language, find a delivery company there, and if there isn’t one, people can deliver it themselves.
“We had 500 orders in the first 10 days of the launch in Saudi Arabia.”
Thabit said that transportation network company Careem was acting as a logistics partner.
“Careem have us covered everywhere — it is operating in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Egypt. Wherever Careem is present, we are there regarding delivery,” he said.
Thabit said he had agreements with delivery companies and charities in different parts of the world for YummCloud’s global transition.
The application is an efficient humanitarian platform.
“We provide a platform for everyone to help everyone,” he said.