Prophecy In The News Reporter Deb Lesar Bird Flu Update And More

H5N2 avian influenza virus

AMES, Iowa —Researchers have developed a vaccine that could possibly protect poultry from the H5N2 avian influenza virus that has already affected millions of chickens in Iowa.

The Des Moines Register reports that Ames-based Harrisvaccines is expected to start testing the vaccine as early as next week. Trials could last between four and eight weeks.

The biotech firm has developed vaccines for the H1N1 human flu and the swine virus in 2013 and 2014.

Harrisvaccines requested permission from the government to evaluate the vaccine in the field, but the company is unsure when or if it will get the go-ahead.

The Register reports that the company is confident the vaccine will be successful.

Iowa has counted 52 bird flu cases in 14 counties. Nearly 25 million chickens and 970 thousand turkeys are being destroyed.

U.S. Bird Flu Outbreak: worst on record as AZ farmers take precautions

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Egg farmers across the country are dealing with the worst bird flu outbreak on record.

Governors in four mid-western states have declared emergencies. 33 million birds have been euthanized so far.

The outbreak so far has not been a problem in Arizona; the worst hit states are Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

It's been detected out west, but not in the southwest.

The state's largest egg producer is making sure it stays that way.

Hickman's Family Farms is Arizona's largest only egg producer. The company has a total of about 8 million hens. Right now, their focus is on preventing the extremely deadly strain of bird flu that has crippled egg farms in the Midwest from becoming a problem here.

"We say prayers at night, and we're extremely concerned for our family and our company, our employees, and definitely our birds," said Clint Hickman.

Hickman said employees are practicing strict bio-security measures, to keep the virus out.

"They change their clothes before they go in, we keep production staff away from processing staff. Shoes that are on the facility, stay on the facility," he said.

"We're washing every truck that comes in and out of our facility," said Hickman.

So far, 33 million birds in 16 different states have been euthanized. Once the virus is detected on a farm, the entire flock must be eradicated to stop it from spreading. The farm is then disinfected twice and tested before egg production can begin again.

In the last couple of months, Hickman's Family Farms has seen their demand shoot up.

"We have calls in from several different huge and large companies that make those products and fulfill purchase orders, so if they're calling our farm all the way in Arizona that means there is absolutely a shortage of supply," he said.

And although they're enjoying the recent rains, the Hickman's can't wait for the warmer weather.

"We want it to start getting hot, and hope for that because the virus if it's on a contact surface of a truck from the midwest it's going to die as it hits our border," said Hickman.

The current outbreak involves strains of bird flu that post a low risk to human health. No human infections have been reported so far.

The main effect on humans is the soaring prices of poultry and eggs the outbreak has caused.

Prices for a carton of eggs have gone up about 36% so far. Liquid egg prices have shot up 90%.

Geologists: Hidden Cascades volcano may pose a threat

SEATTLE — Monday marks the 35th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens that killed 57 people.

Mount Rainier is considered the world's most dangerous volcano because of its size and how close it is to the population centers of Tacoma and Seattle.

But there's another mountain you've probably never seen that's getting attention for the risks it poses to the Seattle area.

Unlike most of the volcanoes in the Cascade Mountains that are viewable from Interstate 5 or even Seattle, few people notice Glacier Peak. It lurks within in the northern Cascades in Snohomish County and has a record of violent, even extreme eruptions.

Jim Vallance a geologist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory, was a young field assistant on Mount St. Helens in the wake of the 1980 eruption. He remembers doing field work on St. Helens in 1979.


Mount St. Helens: Facts about deadliest U.S. volcanic event 35 years later

"It was quiet. You may remember if you were an old timer in the Northwest, that Spirit Lake was a blue body of water with cabins all around," said Vallance. "That all changed dramatically in 1980."

"As impressive as it was, Mount St. Helens was actually hundreds of feet shorter than Glacier Peak," Vallance points out. "The summit is right here."

Now his role at the observatory is dedicated to understanding Glacier Peak.

Every year's brief field season is on foot or with the help of pack mules to bring out more samples that lead to more understanding.

"I'm working on a giant four-dimensional puzzle. I'm trying to work out what happened in the past, when did it happen and how often," said Vallance.

When a volcano's glaciers melt during an eruption, it picks up massive amounts of fine dirt and debris. It becomes what's called a lahar.

In the case of Glacier Peak, the geological record shows lahars reaching as far away as Mount Vernon, Burlington, Stanwood and Puget Sound by following the Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers.

But while some mountains, including St. Helens and Rainier, are heavily wired with sensors, there is but one lone seismometer on the west flank of Glacier Peak. That's about to change.

Next year, four boxes, each packed with a sensitive seismometer, global positioning antennas and other sensors, will be installed on Glacier Peak. The seismometers can tip off scientists to the first faint signals that magma is on the move.

"Most typical quakes around volcanoes are very small, very low magnitude," said Ben Pauk, a geophysicist who works with sensing technologies.

Then, as seen in the buildup to a 2004 eruption on Mount St. Helens, the quakes are constant.

"It's going to generate what's called volcanic tremor. So the ground is just constantly shaking," said Pauk. "And that gives us a really good indication of what type of eruption is going to occur."

Global positioning antennas measure when the mountain is actually starting to swell.

When could an eruption on Glacier Peak occur? There's no telling, said Vance, remembering that summer of 1979, when Mount St. Helens seemed so quiet.

"It could be this year or a thousand years," he said.

Earthquakes on Hawaii Volcano Could Signal New Eruption

 A series of earthquakes and shifting ground on the slopes of Kilauea have scientists wondering what will happen next at one of the world's most active volcanos.

A lake of lava near the summit of Kilauea on Hawaii's Big Island had risen to a record-high level after a recent explosion. But in the past few days, the pool of molten rock began sinking, and the surface of the lava lake fell nearly 500 feet.

Meanwhile, a rash of earthquakes rattled the volcano with as many as 20 to 25 quakes per hour, and scientists' tilt meters detected that the ground was deforming.

"Clearly the lava, by dropping out of sight, it has to be going somewhere," said Steven Brantley, deputy scientist in charge of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of the U.S. Geological Survey.

One possibility is that a new lava eruption could break through the surface of the mountain, Brantley said.

Right now, there are two active eruptions on Kilauea. One is the eruption spewing into the lava lake in the Halemaumau Crater, which is visible in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The other is Puu Oo vent, in Kilauea's east rift zone, which sent fingers of lava toward the town of Pahoa before stopping outside a shopping center last year.

The flurry of earthquakes that peaked in intensity Friday have been rattling Kilauea's southwest rift zone, so it's possible that a new eruption could occur southwest of the Halemaumau Crater, or even in the crater itself, Brentley said. Or, the tilting, shifting ground could lead to nothing.

"We don't know what the outcome of this activity might be," Brantley said. "That is the challenge, is trying to interpret what this activity really means in terms of the next step for Kilauea."

An eruption on the southwest side wouldn't pose a threat to the population, because the area is generally closed to the public and there aren't any structures.

The earthquake activity had slowed Saturday morning, and scientists were continuing to watch the volcano closely, Brantley said.