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Chronic wasting disease an incurable threat to deer

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A deadly disease with no known cure is killing deer in dozens of states and multiple provinces.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) affects the central nervous system of deer and related animals, such as moose and caribou. It is believed to be responsible for population declines among certain deer and elk.

Animals suffering from CWD may develop symptoms includinglack of co-ordination, unusual behaviour, excessive production of bodily fluids and severe weight loss. Their bodies continue to deteriorate, and the animals die within weeks or months.

The disease can spread between animals through saliva, feces or urine. In one case, hamsters became infected after consuming plants which grew in CWD-contaminated soil.

No evidence has been found to suggest that affected animals can pass the disease on to humans, although authorities do recommend that humans not consume affected animals as a precaution.

Because of its ability to put deer populations into decline, CWD has been called “one of the biggest issues deer hunters and managers are facing today” by the Quality Deer Management Association.

The magnitude of the threat it represents has led to conversation authorities spending significant time and resources to curtail CWD, despite its slow spread through North America.

The disease was first discovered in 1967 in Colorado. Its presence has grown significantly in the past 15 years. Wild animals have tested positive for the disease in 24 states, as have captive animals. Infection rates in some wild herds have been reported to be as high as one in four.

In Canada, six cases of CWD were found in 2018. Authorities found that the disease had infected three elk herds and one group of deer in Saskatchewan, as well as an elk herd in Alberta.

More concerning was the discovery last September of CWD on a red deer farm in western Quebec, suggesting for the first time that the disease had become a threat to animals in Eastern Canada.

Canadian authorities discover about five infected herds per year, with the vast majority of diagnoses being made in Saskatchewan, where the disease was first spotted in Canadian wildlife in 1996.

Deer populations are tested for the disease in provinces where CWD has yet to be discovered, and some provinces have rules banning the importation of deer carcasses from jurisdictions where CWD is known to occur.

The disease has also been found in Norway, Finland and South Korea.

With files from The Associated Press

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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