Centre for Science and Environment demands ban on toxic pesticides following death of Yavatmal farmers

By: Firstpost

New Delhi: The death of farmers in Maharashtra allegedly due to pesticide poisoning highlights gross negligence, a green body said on Wednesday and demanded a ban on the use of toxic pesticides.

The body also pitched for a Pesticide Management Bill to stop the unsafe use of such pesticides.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the death of farmers could have been avoided and pointed towards “complete failure” of agriculture departments in managing pesticides.

According to the organisation, over 30 farmers have reportedly died and hundreds have become ill due to an infection caused by spraying of pesticides on the fields in several districts of Vidharba region in Maharashtra, since July this year.

Representational image. Reuters

“The death of farmers in Maharashtra due to pesticide poisoning is because of the gross negligence in pesticide management in the country.

“The incident highlights the urgent need to fix several long-standing gaps in pesticide management in the country. Most urgently, India needs to ban the use of class I pesticides which are very toxic. Many of these are banned in other countries,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of CSE.

Bhushan said pesticide poisoning had become a chronic problem in the country.

Every year, there are about 10,000 reported cases of pesticide poisoning in India. In 2015, about 7,000 people died because of accidental intake of insecticides and pesticides.

In Maharashtra, pesticides such as Monocrotophos, Oxydemeton-methyl, Acephate, and Profenophos are believed to be responsible for the deaths and illness, the CSE said.

Pesticides like Monocrotophos and Oxydemeton-methyl are considered class I pesticides by the World Health Organization (WHO), which are further categorised into extremely hazardous (class Ia) and highly hazardous (class Ib).

India still allows the use of these pesticides, many of which are banned in several countries.

“While India urgently needs to address pesticide mismanagement from several aspects, the most urgent step is to ban the use of class I pesticides,” said Amit Khurana, senior programme manager for food safety and toxins at CSE.

A total of 18 class I pesticides are allowed in the country. Such pesticides require personal protective equipment, but small-scale farmers and farm workers often find it difficult to access these, the body added.

Tags :#Centre for science and environment#Maharashtra#Monocrotophos#Newstracker#Pesticide#Pesticide management bill#Toxins

Dover: Problems with illegal ‘hotels’

As the voice of Florida’s hospitality industry, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has long championed a uniform, statewide system of compliance for all commercial lodging establishments. As they compete for tourism business, all FRLA lodging members must register with the State, collect taxes, and protect Florida consumers through adequate insurance — rules that prevent substandard operators from exposing travelers and residents to senseless risk and gaining unfair advantages in the marketplace. Unfortunately, the same does not necessarily ring true for short-term rentals here in the Sunshine State.

Recently, the Senate Community Affairs Committee convened a public hearing in Tallahassee to solicit feedback on the current state of short-term rentals and their impact on our communities. During these discussions, it was illuminated that — while Florida has long welcomed vacation rentals into the mix of accommodations options for tourists — there exists a divergent, growing problem involving bad actors exploiting online platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway to operate what amount to illegal hotels across the state.

Far from the concept of “home sharing,” where homeowners welcome a guest into their residence on an occasional basis, this new phenomenon involves commercial operators acquiring and listing multiple units in the same residential neighborhood and/or listing these units in a “revolving door” fashion. In other words, these real estate speculators are operating de facto hotels without adhering to the commonsense regulations and tax obligations every other hotel or inn in the state must follow. As a practical matter, this means that when a short-term rental goes awry — by becoming a year-round party house in a sleepy residential neighborhood, or the site of a bed bug outbreak — impacted consumers and neighbors have little recourse, and unscrupulous landlords can continue to operate their short-term rentals unchecked.

Our lawmakers must take this new and growing trend seriously, as they will ultimately make the tough decisions on how to respect the property rights of homeowners while reining in those commercial operators operating outside of current law. We thank legislators for starting this meaningful discussion so that well-informed solutions can be debated in the forthcoming legislative session.

Visitors are coming to Florida in record numbers, with or without short-term rentals, and it is our duty to ensure tourists have a safe and enjoyable experience while protecting the Florida brand. Florida’s hospitality industry brings in $108.8 billion and represents 1.4 million jobs — making tourism the Sunshine State’s top industry. No single commercial lodging establishment type or operator can claim 100 percent credit for being the driving force for this level of economic impact — it is a collective effort among all businesses within the hospitality industry.

But we can and must take a peek under the hood to make sure all parts of the lodging sector are functioning in a manner that will serve to forwardly propel Florida’s brand as a destination, while ridding the system of bad actors impacting tourists and residents alike. This can be done in such a way that permits true, reasonable home sharing while irrefutably subjecting commercial operators and their short-term rentals to the same commonsense rules other public lodging establishments must abide by. The time has come to address the rise of illegal hotels in our neighborhoods, operating without regard for Florida’s “public accommodations” laws. Our vacationers and our families deserve nothing less.

Carol Dover is president and chief executive officer of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Being a vampire can be brutal. Here’s how bloodsuckers get by.

What’s most remarkable about real-life bloodsuckers doesn’t show up in movies

Jennifer Zaspel can’t explain why she stuck her thumb in the vial with the moth. Just an after-dark, out-in-the-woods zing of curiosity.

She was catching moths on a July night in the Russian Far East and had just eased a Calyptra, with brownish forewings like a dried leaf, into a plastic collecting vial. Of the 17 or so largely tropical Calyptra species, eight were known vampires. Males will vary their fruit diet on occasion by driving their hardened, fruit-piercing mouthparts into mammals, such as cattle, tapirs and even elephants and humans, for a drink of fresh blood.

Zaspel, however, thought she was outside the territory where she might encounter a vampire species. She had caught C. thalictri, widely known from Switzerland and France eastward into Japan as a strict fruitarian.

Before capping the vial with the moth, “I just for no good reason stuck my thumb in there to see what it would do,” Zaspel says. “It pierced my thumb and started feeding on me.”

Make that eight-plus vampires. Zaspel, an entomologist now at the Milwaukee Public Museum, is still puzzling over the genetics of the moths at the two Russian field sites she visited in 2006. Males there will bite a researcher’s thumb if offered, yet genetic testing so far shows the moths are part of a vast, otherwise mild-mannered species.

The tubelike mouthpart of a Calyptra thalictri moth extracts blood from a researcher. Long thought to be a strict fruitarian, the moth is better adapted to pierce a plum than a thumb.

J. ZASPEL

Which is just as well. As vampires go, these moths are not stealth biters. “I would compare it to a bee sting,” Zaspel says. For the sake of moth science, one of Zaspel’s colleagues voluntarily documented the experience, noting that a moth will feed as long as 20 minutes. Such moth bites definitely get noticed. For these moths and other real-life vampires, being smacked to a smear is a bigger danger than getting staked through the heart.Nabbing the occasional red lunch, or managing to survive on nothing but blood, is far more difficult than it looks in the movies. The relatively few animals that manage the lifestyle are indeed remarkable: some insects and other arthropods, a few mollusks, some fishes, birds on occasion and, of course, three kinds of bats.

Blood is not an easy food. There are pressures to gorge as much as possible at each meal. At these heroic volumes, however, blood can be outright toxic. At the same time, a blood meal is insufficient, missing some basic nutrients. Surviving this way takes guts as well as other specialized physiology. Modern tools of genetics and molecular biology are revealing the hidden specializations required for blood feeding and helping make sense of lifestyles that go to different extremes, even mouth-to-mouth blood donation. Though many of these biological adaptations would never fit among the showy strengths of the immortals of Twilight or True Blood, they could certainly count as superpowers.

Big dinner

To grasp the risks real vampires take, imagine an animal 35 million times your weight. Now bite it hard enough to make it bleed.

And make it mad. “You can easily get killed by the host,” says insect molecular physiologist Pedro L. Oliveira of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The 35 million multiplier applies for a 2-milligram female mosquito attacking a 70-kilogram human, measurements from an article he coauthored on nutritional overload in bloodsuckers in the August Trends in Parasitology.

Finding that giant blood source isn’t easy. “If you go into a forest, you have hundreds of meters separating one vertebrate host from another, and hundreds of meters would be several kilometers for us,” Oliveira says. Then the tiny vampire has to find a capillary for biting within just a few millimeters of the skin surface. On a human victim, Oliveira estimates, only about 10 percent of the skin acreage will do.

A blood-sipping pro, the Rhodnius prolixus kissing bug (above) has enzymes in its gut that keep tyrosine in a meal from crystallizing and puncturing tissues. Arrows at bottom show white gut crystals that form when the enzymes are blocked.

RAY WILSON/ALAMY; M. STERKEL ET AL/CURRENT BIOLOGY 2016

Considering the dangers and difficulties that blood feeders face, “most of these guys try to minimize the number of visits,” Oliveira says. They drink fast, and they drink big. A young kissing bug, with its deceptively friendly nickname and the ability to spread debilitating and possibly fatal Chagas disease, needs only minutes to down about 10 times its weight in blood.To relate this to human physiology — forget it. There are people who intentionally drink blood, which is another story, but even small amounts in vampire terms, such as the amount of swallowed blood from a long nosebleed, can give a human diarrhea, says Tomas Ganz of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Fresh blood is difficult for the human gut to process, and too little of the water in blood gets extracted and routed to the kidneys. For its water-content challenges, Ganz compares fresh blood to the solutions people drink to clear their intestines, swiftly and unpleasantly, for a colonoscopy.

With such big blood meals, ingredients that would be harmless or healthful in small amounts can be toxic. “The dose makes the poison,” Oliveira says.

Remove the water in blood, and what’s left is almost 90 percent protein. Oliveira got an inkling of something perilous in that protein when his lab was exploring the genetics of one of the Americas’ kissing bugs, Rhodnius prolixus. With a rounded rear that stretches and narrows at the head like a railroad-track penny that almost escaped, the bug lurks in crevices indoors or out. At night both males and females search out humans, their pets or other vertebrates pulsing with a good blood dinner. The bug has vampire superstealth and outdoes the vampire moths by biting without waking a sleeping blood source. Unlike mosquitoes and ticks whose bites deliver pathogens in saliva, a kissing bug delivers the Chagas disease parasite through its excrement, which the bug leaves on the host.

Of all the amino acids detected in that huge drink, only tyrosine meets a massive special array of enzymes ready to break it down as it washes into the kissing bug gut, researchers showed in 2014. Finding tyrosine-busting enzymes in the gut is “kind of strange,” Oliveira says. In mammals, the liver and kidneys are the only organs with enzymes that break down tyrosine. Then again, most mammals don’t flood their guts with overwhelming protein.

When researchers messed with the kissing bug to sabotage tyrosine breakdown, either by disabling genes or chemically blocking the enzymes, the bugs died after dining, Oliveira and colleagues reported in Current Biology in 2016. Some of the dead bugs had crystals of tyrosine stabbing through the gut lining, and gut contents had leaked into the body cavity. This discovery, researchers propose, might someday give molecular biologists their own drug to serve as a vampire-killing stake.

Blood feeding in arthropods has evolved independently multiple times (some say 21), but often the vampires have solved the same challenges with different quirks of biochemistry. The challenge of detoxifying tyrosine, however, might be a problem that a lot of lineages have solved in unusually similar ways, Oliveira proposes.

First stabs at a weapon to disable the common chemistry are compounds that inhibit an enzyme called HPPD. The enzyme shuts down tyrosine breakdown, not just in the kissing bug but also in a kind of tick and in the female Zika-spreader Aedes aegypti mosquito. When tested, the treatment didn’t harm milkweed bugs or mealworms.

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The common vampire bat is a blood licker. Razor teeth nick flesh so the bat can lick up the gently welling blood.

© NICK GORDON/WWW.ARDEA.COM

Bad blood

Tyrosine is just one of the nutrients turned toxic by the massive size of blood binges. In the real world, a vampire’s ability to excrete wastes is much more important than some fictional power to hoist trucks.

Nephrologist Jonas Axelsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and colleagues are studying kidney function in vampire bats versus cousin species that live on fruit or nectar. Human diets typically feature some 50 to 120 grams of protein a day, but eating like a vampire bat would boost a 70-kilogram human’s intake to some 6,000 grams of protein a day. That protein overdose means these bats have blood concentrations of protein-metabolism waste products such as urea that would be a short route to kidney failure in humans.

Yet the vampire bats are fine. Their kidneys are about the same size as other bats’ kidneys, Axelsson says. Vampire bats devote more of their space to the long tubules that deal with reabsorbing useful substances from just-made urine, he notes.

Much of the protein in blood is hemoglobin, the iron-containing marvel molecule that ferries oxygen around the body and helps vertebrates live big and bold. Yet digesting so much hemoglobin in a hurry can free a massive, potentially poisonous dose of iron into the bloodstream. A healthy man makes his doctor happy with blood iron concentrations around 127 micrograms per 100 milliliters. Yet concentrations up to 200 times higher don’t seem to harm fishes called lampreys during their larval years, measurements from various species suggest. The larvae pick up iron while burrowing and eating anything that floats along. When sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) mature, growing their jawless toothy gapes and sucking blood of other fishes, iron concentrations in blood drop — to about 10 times healthy human levels.

Even scarier than the blood-sucking sea lamprey’s teeth are the secretions that keep a victim’s blood from clotting.

T. LAWRENCE, GLFC

At first, a lamprey sticking to skin feels like “a moistened suction cup on your face,” says lamprey biologist Margaret Docker of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. She has permitted one exploratory kiss on her cheekbone from a blood-feeding silver lamprey (Ichthyomyzon unicuspis) found in North American lakes and streams. Only half the world’s 38 lamprey species suck blood.Lampreys can generate a good grip; some even mouth-suck their way up vertical waterfalls or dams. In the very unlikely event of a fish on the face, “the key is to dislodge it … before it starts to rasp in with the teeth on its tongue or oral disk and before it secretes its anticoagulants,” Docker says. A little prying with a fingernail breaks the suction.

Lampreys may have gone parasitic early in the history of vertebrates and so have had a long time to evolve their vampiric specializations. A small fossil from Devonian times, some 360 million years ago and long before dinosaurs arose, shows an oral disk with 14 evenly spaced teeth, already looking very capable of draining blood.

Studies of the modern species’ blood-feeding physiology got a solid source of new data in 2013 when an international team decoded the genetic instruction book of the sea lamprey, a notorious invader of the Great Lakes. Docker hopes for more work on lamprey detox tricks, such as the liver enzyme superoxide dismutase, which increases as concentrations of iron in the liver rise in adult pouched lampreys. At this stage, liver cells are akin to those in people suffering from a potentially fatal iron-metabolism disorder called hemochromatosis. Another big reason for studying real vampires, as if scientists need another, is the possibility of finding new insights into human metabolic disorders.

Not enough

Blood may have lethally too much of some things, but lethally too little of others. “Vampires don’t really have it that easy,” muses ecological microbiologist Rita Rio of West Virginia University in Morgantown.

Blood lacks B vitamins, she explains. Animals need these as essential nutrients for a wide range of basic bodily chores, such as gene regulation, cell signaling and amino acid breakdown. Yet animals can’t make their own supplies. Rio’s favorite vampire flies get around this problem with tiny live-in help.

“I have loved tsetse flies ever since I first learned about them,” she says. She’s speaking of sub-Saharan Africa’s Glossina flies’ “really cool biology,” not their ability to spread the parasite that gives humans and some other vertebrates potentially fatal sleeping sickness.

Tsetse flies look like robust house flies but live very differently. Instead of the typical low-involvement insect motherhood of laying many little eggs and leaving them to their luck, a female tsetse fly has just one offspring at a time. A single egg hatches inside her, and as it grows, it draws sustenance from “milk” glands inside the mother fly. “You’ll see her getting chubbier and chubbier,” Rio says. A mother sometimes gives birth to a youngster bigger than she is. The youngster at that point has only its pupal stage to go before it reaches sexual maturity. “It would be like me giving birth to a 12-year-old,” Rio says.

Little helpers

GEOFFREY M. ATTARDO

Tsetse flies (pregnant female, above) can survive on an all-blood diet thanks to symbiotic bacteria. In an organ (blue, bottom) ringing the fly midgut, Wigglesworthia bacteria churn out B vitamins, including B1. Both the fly and resident Sodalisbacteria need this vitamin, also called thiamine.

R. RIO ET AL/TRENDS IN PARASITOL. 2016

As the mom fly gives her tween a pampered start in life, she also passes along an infection the youngster will need to reproduce on its nutritionally sketchy, all-blood diet. Each larva emerges with its own rod-shaped bacteria called Wigglesworthia, a bit on the chubby side themselves. The bacteria churn out B vitamins and flourish inside a special organ that grows inside the fly. The tsetse fly version of this organ, called a bacteriome, “looks like a little doughnut around the digestive tract,” Rio says.

The interplay between fly and microbes has come to fascinate evolutionary biologists, as genes in both bacterium and host change across generations, sometimes breaking down or taking on odd functions, depending on what the other partner is doing. In the September Genome Biology and Evolution, Rio and her colleagues published a study of the molecular activity of both tsetse flies and their Wigglesworthia in the wild.

Low-fat bats

Another downside of blood is its low fat content, at least from the vampire bat point of view. Extra cargo on a small flying mammal is limited to a mere 20 to 30 percent of the animal’s predinner weight, so a small, low-fat meal won’t fuel the bat for very long. A common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) can’t survive three days without drinking blood, says evolutionary biologist Gerald Wilkinson of the University of Maryland in College Park. That’s one of the forces pushing the bats to develop social networks of blood regurgitators.

Needing backup blood is no slur on this vampire’s superb adaptations to feeding on large vertebrates. The razor-toothed mammal is one of three blood-feeding bat specialists, all native to the warm latitudes of the Western Hemisphere. The first wild D. rotundus Wilkinson studied, on a ranch in Costa Rica, “would often just fly up and land on the back of a horse,” he says. The bat has a fleshy little nose, “like a pig,” with heat-sensing ability useful in finding where warm blood flows close to the body’s surface. Actually getting that blood “was a very non-trivial thing” for the bats, he says. A bat routinely spent half an hour selecting a spot, clipping down horse hair if necessary, nicking out a tiny divot of flesh and then licking the wound, often while urinating, all without waking the horse. Revisiting a wound on another night appeared to be faster than prepping a new site. Wilkinson realized one night that the bat he was watching was feasting on the same horse it had fed on the night before, even though the horse had been moved to a different pasture.

The bat’s saliva has impressive anticoagulant powers, Wilkinson reports. “I’ve been nipped a few times and the blood was hard to stop,” he says. “People who have been fed on will wake up and there’s a pool of blood — and the blood is often from after the bat left.”

Compared with bats of other species, the common vampire bat may even seem to have superpower moves: Instead of just flying, it easily runs on the ground.

When a hungry bat can’t find a meal for a night, the accomplished blood seeker may get a bit of blood from a luckier roost mate. Positioned facing each other mouth to mouth, “one animal is motionless and the other animal is licking,” Wilkinson says.

In his early experiments with captive bats, he found animals willing to regurgitate on occasion for a hungry bat with no kinship connection. For decades, researchers have debated whether it’s fair to consider vampire bats as examples of natural altruism. For the latest published experiments, Wilkinson’s student Gerald Carter, at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz, Germany, as of November, put together bats from unrelated zoo populations. He fed them blood (collected from a slaughterhouse, not anybody’s favorite part of doing science) and then created short artificial food crises, recording dozens of observations of blood sharing.

Looking at all these examples of sharing, kinship didn’t matter, Carter and Wilkinson concluded. In captivity at least, a vampire will help a starving roost mate who’s not a relative.

Carter even did an elaborate test of how a starving vampire reacts when its main go-to pal for emergency regurgitation “betrays” it by not helping. To simulate betrayal, Carter removed the potential helper from the group so it did not feed its starving roost mate. Then on another night, he flipped the roles. The bat that had not helped its pal was now the hungry one in need of that pal’s regurgitation.

In general, no hard feelings. The partner who was forced to defect often got fed regardless. The evidence so far looks as if vampires are hedging their bets in sharing blood, Carter, Wilkinson and Damien Farine of Max Planck proposed in the May Biology Letters. Bats that shared with many partners over the long run ended up receiving more blood when it was their turn for trouble. In an uncertain world, this advantage might favor helping non-kin. Vampirism may work as a force for generosity.

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Networking

Captive vampire bats that shared blood with non-kin reaped benefits. Hungry females that donated to more bats tended to receive more regurgitated blood from others later (left). The diagram at right shows one bat’s feeding network. Red circles are bats that a hungry bat (star) had donated to in the past. Two-way arrows show reciprocity.

G.G. CARTER AND G.S. WILKINSON/PROC. ROYAL SOC. B. 2015

Way beyond bats

Baby vampire bats go for blood right away, licking their mothers’ mouths for red regurgitation within minutes of birth. And there are many more vivid variations on vampirism (see sidebar).

There’s blood feeding as a mix of practicality and mate monopolization in a vast dark and dangerous ocean. In some deep-sea ceratioid anglerfishes, males stay miniature and upon finding a female meld tissue with her giant body and thereafter live off her circulatory system. The male essentially makes her a hermaphrodite with a sperm organ ready when she needs it.

There’s also blood feeding by proxy. The jumping spider Evarcha culicivora hunts mosquitoes, preferably those engorged with human blood. There’s even blood feeding as an impossible dream. Male mosquitoes sip flower nectar, but when scientists served the mosquitoes blood soaked cotton, they ate readily. Given nectar as an alternative, males still went for blood instead, even though they died early.

And there could be even more vampires out there that science hasn’t discovered yet. All it might take is someone sticking a thumb into a collecting vial.


Many shades of vampire

The real world of blood feeding is much more varied than fictional vampires’ all-or-nothing menus. Drinking blood can be a full-time or a sometimes urge.

Cast a spell

COURTESY OF M. OLIVERIO

Colubraria muricata snails are experts at sucking blood from fish. Found from South Africa to French Polynesia, the snail creeps toward a sleeping fish and extends a long feeding tube (shown), with fish blood pressure probably delivering the meal. The snail secretes a complex cocktail that may include an anesthetic to keep the donor passive for the duration of a drink, says Marco Oliverio of Sapienza University in Rome.

Furtive drinkers

ANDREANITA/ALAMY

Sometimes considered helpful partners, Africa’s oxpeckers (Buphagus) glean ticks and other arthropods from African grazing animals. Red-billed oxpeckers (B. erythrorhynchus, shown) also eat earwax, dung, urine — and blood. In food tests on donkeys, birds chose to feed on wounds even when the birds’ favorite ticks were offered, Tiffany Plantan of University of Miami in Florida and colleagues found.

Kids’ stuff

M.B. LABRUNA ET AL/J. PARASITOL. 2012

An adult Antricola marginatus tick probably feeds on bat guano, but youngsters riding on mom’s back (shown) readily leap off to drink blood if warm mammals are nearby. A mom may “feed” her young by climbing near bats, Marcelo Labruna of the University of São Paulo in Brazil and colleagues proposed after observing moms and young in a Yucatán bat cave in Mexico.


This article appears in the October 28, 2017 issue of Science News with the headline, “Real Vampires of Planet Earth: It’s not easy sucking blood.”

Bed bugs found at more SCSD schools; total now up to 13

by CNYCentral

File photo

 

Bed bugs have been found in Corcoran High School and Westside Academy at Blodgett, according to Syracuse City School District Administrator for Communications Michael Henesey.

The schools are the latest in a growing list of schools that have run into bed bug issues over the last several weeks.

Bed bugs were first found on at least two separate occasions at Henninger High School last month. Since then, bed bugs have been found at twelve other schools, including:

  • Huntington Pre-K-8
  • PSLA at Fowler
  • Porter Elementary
  • Clary Middle School
  • Grant Middle School
  • Webster Elementary
  • Expeditionary Learning Middle School
  • McKinley-Brighton Elementary
  • LeMoyne Elementary
  • WSA at Blodgett
  • Corcoran High School
  • Dr. King Elementary

The Syracuse City School District isn’t the only local district affected by bed bugs; a bed bug was found in Baldwinsville’s Ray Middle School last week and Canastota School officials said they had to handle a beg bug problem earlier this month as well.

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Bed bugs found at more SCSD schools; total now up to 13

Bed bugs found at more SCSD schools; total now up to 13

Tally of Syracuse city schools with bed bugs now at 12

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The number of Syracuse city schools where bed bugs have been found has increased to 12.

The latest schools added to the list include Corcoran High School, Westside Academy at Blodgett Middle School, Dr. King Elementary and McKinley-Brighton Elementary.

Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. They do not transmit disease.

Henninger High School was the first city school where the bugs surfaced last month.

Other schools in the district where bed bugs have been confirmed include Expeditionary Learning Middle School, Clary Middle School, Grant Middle School, LeMoyne Elementary School, Porter Elementary, Huntington pre-K-8 and Webster Elementary.

Bed bugs also were recently found at Ray Middle School in Baldwinsville.

Students can unknowingly bring them from home into school on clothes, shoes, backpacks and other items.

The district is working with an exterminator. It’s also asking families to thoroughly inspect their child’s personal belongings and backpacks to ensure they are not carrying the bugs.

The district has posted more information about how to stop bed bugs on its website.

Salvation Army closes donation bins due to bedbugs, garbage

By TOM GRASER
TGRASER@WDT.NET

OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Salvation Army has had to curtail donations to its after-hours bins at its State Street thrift store.

Lt. Stacy McNeil said the bins were closed because of the recent bedbug infestation in parts of the city and because people were using the bins to dispose of household garbage, including used baby diapers.

“When that happens,” Ms. McNeil said, “all the donations in the bin have been tainted.”

Closing off access to the bins has not stopped people from leaving bags of clothing around the bins after the thrift shop is closed for the day.

Several bags of donations were ruined Sunday night after being left out in the rain, Ms. McNeil said.

Donations and the thrift shop are important to the mission of the Salvation Army.

“Money from the thrift shop goes to our Community Center,” Ms. McNeil said. “We rely so much on community donations.”

“Until the bedbug infestation is under control, donations can be brought to the store from 9:30 to 5 p.m.,” Ms. McNeil said.

Donors should knock on the door labeled “Donations Accepted Here,” to get help from a volunteer.

For now, donations from people living in either of the downtown towers or in Belmont Courts will not be accepted.

Other donations will be inspected by volunteers before they are brought into the store.

The executive director of the Ogdensburg Housing Authority, William Seymour, told City Council last week that all is being done that can be done to knock down the outbreak of bedbugs at Centennial Terrace and Riverview Towers in the city.

Mr. Seymour told council that he had hired an additional exterminator who had been recommended by the Syracuse Housing Authority.

That exterminator had inspected each apartment in Riverview Towers and Centennial Terrace and found that about 15 percent of the apartments needed treatment.

Ms. McNeil said the Salvation Army has not brought any clothing infested with bedbugs into the store.

“We are asking people to be patient,” she said. “We have to be sure we are protecting our customers.”

Ms. McNeil said she hopes to have the bins back open by the end of the month.

“So many people can’t get here until after hours,” she said.

Processing donations is a big job without worrying about bedbugs. There are as many as 200 bags of clothing dropped off in a week.

“Our community is so generous,” Ms. McNeil said. “And we rely so much on the thrift store.”

Bed Bugs Return To NY’s Popular Times Square AMC Movie Theater

While enjoying a movie at New York’s most popular theaters, a couple got more than a few plot twists and popcorn.

Pix11 reports moviegoers Jessica Vidal and her husband went to the  AMC 25 Empire movie theater on West 42nd street earlier this month to ironically check out Jeepers Creepers 3: The Creeper Walks Among Us. During the film, Vidal’s husband felt bites on his neck only to discover he was the target of bed bugs.

A representative from the AMC theater says an inspection was done at the time of the complaint, but there wasn’t a sign of the parasitic crawlers. “We are aware that guests have reported this issue recently, but have found no evidence at the theatre to confirm those reports,” they said.

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Vidal’s claims weren’t backed by the theater, but they were supported by another customer who attended the theater the day before. NYU graduate Don Ho told The Gothamist Thursday (Oct. 12) while watching Never Say Die, he got “red itchy bumps” on his forearm. “I’m under the impression that this has been happening for awhile, and they’re not really doing anything about it,” he said.

Other reports of bed bugs in the theater date back to 2010 and 2015.

Speaking to The Gothamist, AMC Spokesperson Ryan Noonan said they plan to launch an investigation into the reports using an outside party. “We are aware that guests have reported this issue recently, but have found no evidence at the theatre to confirm those reports,” he said. “As we do anytime bed bugs are reported, we investigated immediately upon a receiving a guest report, using a third-party pest control company. Thorough examinations of auditoriums in question revealed no sign of any bed bug activity.”

He also hinted that , “Bed bugs are a widespread issue throughout New York City. Studies show that people are much more likely to encounter them in hotels and on their transportation to a movie theatre than in a movie theater itself. AMC is vigilant and aggressive about the inspection and treatment of this issue, both proactively and reactively. Every seat at AMC Empire 25 is proactively inspected every month and treated immediately if there is any sign of bed bugs.”

Change.org petition was launched, calling out the theater to fix the issue. “Bed bugs bite. And removing them from a home can cost thousands,” it reads. “Getting bed bugs into a house or apartment can literally ruin lives and cost people their life savings. Many patrons are not aware of that or their presence when they visit AMC Empire 25.”

Legal Aid Offices Temporarily Close Due To Bedbug ‘Hit’

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The Legal Aid offices in St. John’s were temporarily closed after a bedbug-sniffing dog made a “hit” in the building

Cabot Pest Control regularly brings in its specially-trained canine to check the premises in light of the presence of bedbugs from time to time in the provincial court.

A spokesperson says yesterday, the dog detected the presence of bedbugs in a single office, and the building was closed late yesterday afternoon to allow the company to do their work.

The building is now back open for regular operations.

Liberty Mutual hit with $546K bedbug bill

by Ryan Smith

Liberty Mutual hit with $546K bedbug bill

Liberty Mutual may have to cough up a sizable chunk of change over a bedbug infestation.

The company, which acts as the insurer for the Hilton Garden Inn Ontario/Cucamonga in California, was named along with the hotel as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by a family that lodged there in 2013. A jury just awarded the family $546,000 – the largest judgment ever for a bedbug-related case.

A California jury unanimously awarded the damages for medical bills and emotional distress the plaintiffs claimed they suffered after being bitten by bedbugs during their 2013 stay, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

“I’m hopeful this verdict will send a message throughout the industry to make sure adequate policies, procedures and protocol are in place so that other people are not needlessly endangered,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Brian Virag.

According to the lawsuit, Alex McKindra and his wife, Martha, checked into the hotel in March of 2013 with their son, Marcus. The lawsuit claimed that a few hours after going to bed, the family awoke with bites and rashes from bedbugs. They demanded another room, but the hotel was fully booked, so they were forced to change lodging, according to the Times report.

The McKindras claimed that the manager of the hotel knew there were bedbugs in the room but failed to disclose it.

 

46 dead in Vidarbha pesticide poisoning, 12 godowns raided

By: Pradip Maitra

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 A farmer sprays pesticide in the cotton field at Pandharkawada in Maharashtra. (HT File Photo)

Against the backdrop of deaths of over 45 farmer following pesticide poisoning in Vidarbha, the Quality Control of state Agriculture Department on Wednesday seized pesticides, worth of Rs 14.31-crore from Akola in western Vidarbha.

According to available information, the quality control sleuths of Akola, accompanied by a team of Agriculture commissionerate, Pune, raided 12 different godowns of pesticide companies and sealed those stocked and prevented their sales.

At least 45 farmers died from the suspected pesticide poisoning in Vidarbha since August this year and most of the deaths were reported from Yavatmal, a major cotton-growing district that has often been in the news for farmers’ suicides. They died after spraying pesticides on their Bt cotton plantations in the region.

Milind Janjal, the quality control chief of Akola Agriculture department admitted that they have raided at least 12 pesticide godowns in the district and sealed the stock to prevent further sale.

The Maharashtra State Agriculture Mission chairman Kishore Tiwari demanded a ban on chemical farming and encourage organic farming in the region. Tiwari, who is camping in Yavatmal after the incident, dubbed the entire episode as “genocide” and demanded to book the concerned multi-national manufacturers and concerned department, in this regard.

The agro-mission chairman claimed that 48 farmers died of poisonous pesticides, including 22 in Yavatmal district alone while over 100 farmers, who were affected due to the pesticides, are battling their lives in different hospitals in the region. As many as nine farmers died of lethal pesticides in Akola, where the Quality Control department raided in 12 different godowns of pesticides companies, this morning.

As the death toll continues to rise, the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered an inquiry under a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter.

Tiwari appealed the state government to stop the use of harmful products as an immediate solution to put an end to farmer fatalities. He alleged that the vested interests of the regulatory officials in the agriculture department and administration’s negligence in this matter are the reason behind these unfortunate deaths. The victims failed to take requisite precautions and used the toxic insecticide. Insufficient knowledge of how to use it has also resulted in their tragic death, he said and demanded that the government should give compensation of Rs 5-lakh to the victims’ families.