A new strain of a deadly bird flu, H7N9, could become Disease X, a “pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease” that leads to a “serious international epidemic,” according to the World Health Organization. (Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Chuwa)

By Jacob Williamson-Rea

Our weekly round-up compiles stories and news, both from here at Penn and around the world, that highlight the intersection of animal, environmental, and human health.

What is Disease X? Deadly bird flu virus could be next pandemic
Newsweek, June 15, 2018
A dangerous bird flu has killed more than one third of 1,600 affected patients in China. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the H7N9 strain has the potential to cause a worldwide pandemic.

Kenyan official says five dead in reemergence of Rift Valley Fever
Reuters, June 11, 2018
Highly contagious Rift Valley Fever has killed five people in Kenya this past week, and the zoonotic disease has hospitalized two more.

Ticks and mosquitoes are ready to deliver disease in a bite, but you can stop them
The Washington Post, June 18, 2018
Mosquitoes pass multiple diseases to humans, but it turns out that ticks spread more than 75 percent of vector-borne disease in the United States. Simple steps like removing standing water and conducting tick checks can help.

Sea rise will threaten thousands of California homes
Scientific American, June 18, 2018
By 2035, residents in cities near Los Angeles and San Francisco will face chronic flooding, and by 2045, flooding will affect about 13,000 homes, according to a report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

As carbon dioxide levels rise, major crops are losing nutrients
NPR, June 19, 2018
While plants rely on carbon dioxide, higher C02 levels could potentially make our food less nutritious. Scientists at the USDA’s Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory are working to get to the root of the issue.

Can China kick its animal antibiotic habit?
The Guardian, June 19, 2018
China uses more agricultural antibiotics than any other country, some 162,000 tons a year, with more than half going toward animal husbandry, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. For comparison, the U.S. uses 10,000 tons. Shifting the tide will mean convincing Chinese farmers to change their practices.

Williamson-Rea is a junior science writer in the University of Pennsylvania’s Office of Communications. He is also an MA candidate in Science/Medical Writing at Johns Hopkins University.