Global Warming threat by livestock and its control

We live in a greenhouse

Life on Earth depends on energy coming from the sun. About half the light reaching Earth’s atmosphere passes through the air and clouds to the surface, where it is absorbed and then radiated upward in the form of infrared heat. About 90 percent of this heat is then absorbed by the greenhouse gases and radiated back toward the surface, which is warmed to a life-supporting average of 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).

Is the sun to blame?

How do we know that changes in the sun aren’t to blame for current global warming trends?

Since 1978, a series of satellite instruments have measured the energy output of the sun directly. The satellite data show a very slight drop in solar irradiance (which is a measure of the amount of energy the sun gives off) over this time period. So the sun doesn’t appear to be responsible for the warming trend observed over the past 30 years. Longer-term estimates of solar irradiance have been made using sunspot records and other so-called “proxy indicators,” such as the amount of carbon in tree rings. The most recent analyses of these proxies indicate that solar irradiance changes cannot plausibly account for more than 10 percent of the 20th century’s warming.

Global warming and livestock – An Introduction.

Methane (CH4) is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and contributes 16% of the total greenhouse gas emissions globally due to human activities. The global warming potential of methane is 21times more than carbon dioxide. Methane production from ruminants has been considered as the single largest source of anthropogenic CH4 behind the rice fields. Livestock release methane as part of their natural digestive processes. The rumen serves as the habitat of billions of microbes, including bacteria, methanogens, protozoa, and fungi which breakdown feed to produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs), carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane. The VFAs are utilized by animals as energy source whereas gases are emitted by eructation through the mouth and also from the rectum . Cattle can produce 250–500 liter of methane per day per animal and generally lose 2–15% of their ingested energy as eructated methane. When these methane emissions are applied to the number of cattle in the world the total emissions from cattle is equivalent to about 15% of global methane emissions and about 100 million tons of methane is produced in a year .so a good way to reduce the global methane emissions is to decrease the emissions from cattle and particularly from cows. Nevertheless, controlling methane losses from ruminants has environmental as well as economic benefits. Less methane means a lower concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Also, less methane means increased efficiency of livestock production and increased income for farmers. A greater amount of methane production can be controlled by modifying the composition of the animal feed. Changing the feed composition, either to reduce the protein percentage which is converted into methane or to enhance the meat and milk yield has been considered as the most efficient methane reduction strategy. Enhancement in the overall quality of animal feed may prove helpful in maintaining meat and dairy production at the same level with fewer animals and so less total methane emission.

Methane is released into the atmosphere both by natural (for example wetlands) and anthropogenic sources (rice fields, biomass, ruminants, etc). Mitigating methane (CH4) losses from ruminants is generally required to minimize global greenhouse gas emissions and to enhance animal performance by improving feed conversion efficiency. The contribution to the methane emission of monogastric animals such as pigs, poultry, rabbits, etc., is very low compared with the ruminant contribution. So it is important to study and try to decrease the emissions from cattle because ruminant livestock can produce between 250 and 500 L of methane per day.

Energy losses and methane production in the digestive tract of ruminants:

The synthesis of the methane in ruminants reflects energy lost and it is due to the reduction of the carbon dioxide by methanogenic bacteria. After the feed is digested in the rumen, some of the energy is lost in the form of heat or methane, giving a production of methane-utilizing between 11 and 13% of the digestible energy

Dietary manipulation

Roughages (Forage type and quality):

The composition and quality of forage along with the level of intake significantly influences the rumen fermentation. Ruminants fed low-quality roughages could release a large amount of methane. Feeding crop residues to ruminants is a common practice in many Asian countries due to which methane emission from ruminants especially cattle is significant. 15% reduction in methane production by increasing the digestibility of forages and 7% by increasing feed intake. Grinding and pelleting operations of roughages decrease methane production by improving passage rate and reducing the time of feed. The shifting of animals from low to high digestible pasture significantly reduced methane production per gram of live weight gain. The use of forages meant for improving animal performance can reduce methane emissions per unit of feed intake. Importantly, pasture improvement can be a good choice if fewer animals are used


The methane production differs depending on the different types of carbohydrates that are fermented. The fermentation of cell wall fiber will lead to the production of a higher proportion of acetic acid in the rumen. As a contrast, starch fermentation gives a higher proportion of propionic acid due to the lowered pH in the rumen which causes changes in the ruminal micro-flora by an increase of amylolytic microbes and decrease of cellulolytic microbes.

 The end products of the fermentation the Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA) are mainly acetate, propionate, and butyrate, we can also find valerate, isovalerate, isobutyrate, and caproate but in very low proportions.  They are also the main source of energy for the ruminants, and this energy is used by the lactating cow to produce milk and body fat, but not all VFA have the same degree of efficiency. The propionic acid fermentation is more efficient in the use of the energy than acetic and butyric acids that have a large loss of methane. The type of VFA produced by the animal influences the release of methane and hydrogen, increasing the release of methane when the relation of ruminal VFA [acetic acid+butyric acid]/propionic acid increases there is a negative correlation between the proportion of concentrate and methanogenesis. A significant reduction in methane production was reported in young bulls fed with the diet containing more than 40% starch. A diet comprising 45% starch decreased methane production by 56% compared to diets containing 30% starch without affecting animal health.

Inclusion of starch in the diet has a significant impact on changing ruminal pH and microbial populations.

As concentrate contains more soluble substances, the addition of concentrate in animal diet changes the composition of

partial short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) from higher to lower acetate production and more propionate. Similarly, milk quality is negatively affected if concentrates exceed 50% which limits the use of concentrates to lower methane emissions in the dairy sector.

Cereal grains with a high proportion of starchy endosperms like wheat, barley or oats have an easier and faster fermentation giving less methane than those that have a lower proportion like maize, and sorghum.


Lipids and lipid-rich feeds are among the most efficient and emerging options for methane mitigation. Lipid inclusion in the diet reduces methane emissions by decreasing fermentation. Saturated medium chain fatty acids, C10-C14, also lead to methane reduction. At ruminaL temperature, an increasing chain length of medium chain fatty acids seems to reduce their efficiency in inhibiting methanogens and methane formation due to lower solubility reviewed the practical application of lipids to reduce methanogenesis. Oil supplementation to diet decreased methane emission by up to 80% in vitro and about 25% in vivo. The toxic effects of certain oils on rumen protozoa contributed to reduced methane production. The addition of canola oil at 0%, 3.5% or 7% to the diets of sheep reduced the number of rumen protozoa by 88–97%. The detrimental impact of unsaturated fatty acids has also been reported. Coconut oil as a more effective inhibitor followed by rapeseed, sunflower seed, and linseed oil.

The inclusion of sunflower oil to the diet of cattle resulted in 22% decrease of methane

emission. However, fats and oils may pose numerous negative impacts to the animals. Dietary oil supplementation caused lower fiber digestibility. High cost and the negative impact on milk fat concentration are some of the limitations of oil supplementation.

Miscellaneous activities to reduce methane emission:

Increased milk yield:

The milk yield also influences the production of methane, when milk yield increases, the methane per kilo milk decreases. This is logical and can be explained by the fact that the energy needed for maintenance is considered approximately the same for the animal irrespective of production level. The methane production that originates from maintenance needs is therefore also estimated to be the same for an individual animal of a specific weight. When the milk yield increases, the DMI also increases but not in the same proportion. With the increased milk yield, there is more milk to carry the “burden” of maintenance needs and methane per kg milk will decrease. Thus, with increased milk yield the methane produced in absolute terms will increase somewhat but the methane per kg milk will decrease.

Using of feed additives:

 Some additives like ionophores and particularly monensin have been studied. Monensin is a broad spectrum antibiotic obtained from the actinomycete Streotomyces cinnamonensis used in some countries. It is not allowed in the European Union but it is used in the United States. Its main action is to change the fermentation from acetate to propionate which leads to the decrease of methane production. However, the widespread use of antibiotics can lead to future problems with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and the environmental and economic advantages of using antibiotics to decrease methane production must be weighed against the negative health effects of increased resistance.

Feed intake level:

The level of intake can also affect methane production when an animal increases its intake, the percentage of gross energy lost in the form of methane decreases

The role of human activity

In its Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded there’s a more than 90 percent probability that human activities over the past 250 years have warmed our planet.

The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 90 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.

They said the rate of increase in global warming due to these gases is very likely to be unprecedented within the past 10,000 years or more.

Authors: Naila Riaz, Maryam Saleem and Hafiz Hasnain Ayoub

DVM Scholars, The Islamia university of Bahawalpur, Pakistan.

Ebola Virus: A real threat

Ebola virus disease as “one of the world’s most virulent diseases” and it is also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the past. EVD outbreak has shown to have a very high-fat fatality rate ranging from 50-90%  with the reported occurrence primarily seen near the tropical rainforest of the remote village in Central & West Africa.


Group : Group V(-)ssRNA

Order : Mononegavirate

Family : Filoviridae

Genus : Ebolavirus

Species : Zaire ebolavirus

Ebola virus (EBOV formerly designed Zaire ebolavirus)  is one of five known viruses within the genus Ebolavirus. Ebola virus diseases  (EVD) first appeared in 1976. In 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan & the other in Yambukku, Democratic Republic Congo. There are five species that have been identified – Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston & Tai Forest. The five three Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, & Sudan ebolavirus have been associated with large in Africa. the virus causing the 2014 West African outbreaks belongs to the Zaire species VHF may be caused by five distinct families of RNA virus. The families Arenaviridae, Filoviridae,  Bunyaviridae, Flaviviridae & Rhabdoviridae, ranging from non-severe illnesses like Lassa fever, Rift valley fever. yellow & Dengue fever to more severe life fever threatening ones like Ebola virus diseases, Marburg hemorrhagic fever. Severe forms are often characterized b extreme systematic manifestations such as widespread vascular damage resulting in extensive hemorrhagic and multiple organ failure. The natural reservoir fruits bats & it is primarily transmitted between human & from animals to humans through body fluids.

The Ebola genome is a single-stranded RNA approximately 19000 nucleotides long. It encodes seven structural protein: nucleoprotein (NP), polymerase cofactor (VP35). (VP40), GP, transcription activator (VP30), (VP24) & RNA-dependent, RNA polymerase.


There’s no cure for Ebola, though.  There’s no cure for Ebola, though researchers are working on it. Treatment includes an experimental serum that destroys infected cells. Symptoms of Ebola and complications are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:

  1. Providing intravenous fluids (IV) and balancing electrolytes (body salts).
  2. Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure

Treating other infections if they occur. To date, there is no form of treatment, cure, or vaccine commercially available for Ebolavirus infection. Carette et al. 2011 proposed a means for the development of potential anti-filovirus pharmaceuticals by inhibiting the NPC1 cholesterol transporter. This has been demonstrated to inhibit EBOV infection in mice, but would block the cholesterol transport pathway; therefore, this form of treatment has not yet been found to be a cure. Patients with Ebola virus disease should receive care in designated treatment centers and by clinicians trained to care for such patients. Treating patients with Ebola requires a multidisciplinary approach. So, here is some medicine which helps to control pain:

  1. Antipyretic agents (eg, acetaminophen, paracetamol) to decrease fever associated with Ebola virus disease. A dose reduction of these agents may be needed for patients with progressive hepatic dysfunction. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents are generally avoided to help minimize the risk of renal failure, which can contribute to fatal disease.
  2. Analgesic agents to manage pain (eg, abdominal, joint, muscle).
  3. Antiemetic medications to control nausea and vomiting.

Anti-motility agents (eg, loperamide) to control diarrhea, and decrease fluid and electrolyte losses.


 The virus enters the body via cuts or the through exposed mucous membranes like the eyes. Symptoms usually occur 2-21 days later. The infectious period occurs with the symptoms, which are fever, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea, rash, kidney & liver problems. The final stages involve external bleeding such as from the gums & in the stools. The virus can also remain in semen for 7 weeks after recovery from infection, it can spread via breast milk & through contact with an infected decreased individual.

Ebola is a rare but deadly virus that causes bleeding inside and outside the body.

As the virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs. Ultimately, it causes levels of blood-clotting cells to drop. This leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding. The disease, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever or Ebola virus, kills up to 90% of people who are infected.

Virus transmission

It is not entirely known how Ebola spreads in humans, but contact with body fluids of infected humans or animals is primarily responsible for the virus outbreak. Fruit bats are the natural reservoirs of the virus.

Ebola virus transmission from fruit bats to humans. The virus is transmitted by contact with contaminated body fluids.


Avoid Ebola Virus

There’s no vaccine to prevent or avoid Ebola virus. To avoid the Ebola virus we have to take care of prevention. The things are:

  1. Avoid direct contact with blood, saliva, vomit, urine and other bodily fluids of people with EVD or unknown illness.
  2. Avoid close contact with wild animals and avoid handling wild meat.
  3. Health care workers can prevent infection by wearing masks, gloves, and goggles whenever they come into contact with people who may have Ebola.


Pharmacists and microbiologist can play a large role in the management of the Ebola virus by educating and reassuring the public, particularly those traveling to endemic areas. As healthcare professionals, pharmacists are suitably placed to advise the general public on what measures can be taken to minimize the risk of infection, what symptoms to watch out for, and how to seek medical advice if contact is made with the Ebola virus.

Author: Terisa

I also belong to Middle East: But beware of me (MERS)

Despite huge progress and success in medical science, scientists are facing new health-related challenges every day. We have become successful to control many infectious problems but there are still many problems which urge scientist to focus their directions on them. Medical scientists are facing alarming situations due to sudden outbreaks of newly reported diseases including Ebola Virus infection and the Middle East respiratory syndrome with dangerous morbidity and mortality rates.


The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The first case of MERS was reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and there was a thought that this disease spread due to certain infection in camels and it was endemic in Saudi Arabia (so this name was given). The first death was also reported due to this illness in Saudi Arabia in July 2012. But after a short period of time it became Pandemic and cases were reported globally including London, France, Italy, and Abu Dhabi. First death due to MERS in Abu Dhabi was reported in July 2013 (one year after in Saudi Arabia). Till September 2013, total of 45 deaths have been reported from confirmed cases. Out of these 38 deaths have occurred in Saudi Arabia.

Mode of Transmission:

The virus can spread from one person to another through close contact and transmission of the pathogen to health care personnel has also been reported.

Recent Challenges:

In the last week of May and the first week of June 2015, a new pandemic of this disease is reported at a large scale. Twelve cases in Korea has been reported in those persons who have returned from Saudi Arabia and these patients are under observation. Another exposure to Chinese people has also been reported in those citizens who have currently returned from Korea. Since transmission of this sickness occurs due to close contact with an infected person, Chinese Govt. is in search of passengers who were in close proximity to the person having the disease to keep them under observation in order to control the widespread of the disease.


Matter of Concern for Government of Pakistan:

Due to large population working in the Middle East and No of Persons present for work and other activities in China, there may be an incidence for the virus to enter in Pakistan so we should take care of it.

We should have to make checkpoints at airports and seaports to identify any suspected case in the large scale of public interest. We should take steps for awareness of the public and stop MERS from entering in Pakistan. We should equip our health care personnel regarding the current epidemic of the problem and its precautionary measures as the pathogen has greater tendency to affect health care personnel having (having close contact with patients) less precautionary measures and carelessness.

Author: Hafiz Hasnain Ayoub

Science lab awareness classes in various schools by PSM team members

Some highlights from Science lab awareness classes from PSM Science lab awareness month. The ultimate aim of training students in a science lab is not merely to fill them with facts, but to help them learn how to approach and analyze a problem. How do we formulate questions and establish facts? How do we determine the meanings of observations? How do we reason? Teaching students to think critically can be approached by helping them develop an awareness of the steps one goes through in a scientific investigation. A difficult thing to convey to students is that everyone is capable of doing science. Students’ lack of confidence in their scientific abilities often results from high school science courses in which they were taught only to memorize facts and formulae. As a result, they never learned that science is as much a way of thinking as it is a body of knowledge. These students can often be helped by using examples of hypothesis formulation and testing that relate to non-laboratory situations.

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT): a cost-effective, sustainable method

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) was initiated by E.F. Knipling and R.C. Bushland (winners of world food prize 1992 for the development of SIT) in the 1930s, when they worked with the screwworm fly, a devastating pest of cattle in North America. The first successful use of SIT to control screwworm was on the island of Curaçao in 1953. Since then SIT has been further developed to suppress more than 20 insect pests, many of them fruit flies and other key agricultural pests.

Approach to Sterilizing Fruit Flies

The sterile insect technique, or SIT, has been used for decades to control insects such as the Mediterranean fruit fly. Basically, insects are exposed to radiation, which makes them sterile, and then they’re released into the wild to mate. However, since they’re sterile, no viable offspring are produced.

Low-oxygen Environment verses Sterile Insect Longevity

The sterile insect technique, or SIT, has been used for decades. Insects are irradiated so they become sterile, and then they’re released into the wild where they find mates. However, since they are sterile, there are no offspring, thus trimming the population and the threat to agricultural crops. The technique has been used effectively against the Mediterranean fruit fly, called the Medfly, and the cattle-infesting screw-worm fly, among others.

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a cost-effective, sustainable method

SIT involves releasing millions of sterile insects over a wide area to mate with the native insects present. Mating of released sterile males with native females leads to a decrease in the females’ reproductive potential because their offspring do not survive. Ultimately, if males are released in sufficient numbers over a sufficient period, this leads to the local elimination or suppression of the pest population. SIT is species-specific and has no effect on other ‘non-target’ species. This ‘birth control’ strategy is therefore environmentally clean and sustainable. SIT approaches are good at reducing low populations to very low levels in contrast to insecticides which are good at reducing high populations to low ones.