How realistic are the chances of the six Jamaica representatives participating in non-traditional events medalling at the World Championships?Men’s discus throwers Jason Morgan, Federick Dacres, and Chad Wright make up half the list, while respective men’s and women’s shot putters O’Dayne Richards and Danniel Thomas, along with female decathlete Salcia Slack, complete the roster.The best medal prospect is O’Dayne Richards in the men’s shot put. He is definitely the country’s best-ever athlete in the event as he has three major titles in his career – World University, Commonwealth, and Senior Pan Am Games champion.At the recent Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada, he had a career-best and national record 21.69 metres to win the gold medal. This mark by Richards has him at number three on the World list, with the United States’ Joe Kovacs being world leader with 22.56m and two-time World and defending champion David Storl of Germany second with 22.20m.Four years ago in Daegu, Dylan Armstrong of Canada threw 21.64m for silver, while two years ago in Moscow, Ron Whiting of the United States heaved the ball for 21.57m to mine silver.Assessing these results, Richards would be motivated as anything close to his personal best could lead to his greatest achievement ever in the event.Hoping to medalLooking at the leading performers in the men’s discus, Morgan, who ranks number two with 68.19m, just behind world leader Piotr Malachowski of Poland, with 68.29m, could also medal.However, as he has done over the past few years, after making a big throw before a major Championships, Morgan has failed to replicate. In fact, since making that throw, he has been to several meets and is yet to go close to his top throw.Dacres, who has shown in the past that when it comes to major championships he can compete with the best as he was World Youth and World Junior champion in 2011 and 2012, will be hoping to rise to the challenge. He is ranked at 11, with 66.30m.For the others, it will take a miracle for them to be on the podium as Wright, with 65.03m, is at number 24 in the men’s discus; Thomas is ranked 38th with 17.76m; while Slack, with 6141 points, is rated number 27 in the women’s heptathlon.
African swine fever virus, 3D illustration. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock Since 2014 there has been a steady rise in cases of swine fever across Europe. This however was limited to the Eastern nations, Baltic States and Poland and Germany remained the major pork producer without swine fever fears. Germany has helped the eastern European nations to keep the infection under control and prevent spread.Humans are not susceptible to this strain of swine fever say the Belgian health authorities. The AFSCA and the SPW on Thursday in a joint statement said, “The fight against the disease is not a public health issue but rather it is a challenge for animal health and economic sustainability.” They are thus trying to stop the spread of this infection across pig farms. African swine fever can lead to severe hemorrhagic or bleeding among the affected pigs that usually leads to death of the animals. All pigs affected need to be slaughtered and properly disposed since there is no known cure for this infection yet. Around 140,000 pigs had to be culled in Romania in late August when this infection was detected. Romania is Europe’s second-largest pig farm.Related StoriesThe return of the measles: are we going backward?Increasing awareness about visceral leishmaniasis could help reduce fatalities, disease transmissionEbola spread to Uganda could threaten international healthDenmark has planned to build fences along Germany borders to prevent entry of African swine fever. No cases have been detected there so far. Danish Environment and Food Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen has said in a statement earlier, “In case of an outbreak of African swine fever, the export to non-EU countries will shut down.”The French farm Ministry said in a statement, “The confirmation today of the presence of the virus in Belgium (in the west of the EU) represents a new progression of the disease, which requires an adequate response given the considerable economic interests at stake for the French agri-food chain.” Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert called for restrictions on hunting activities and also urged for increasing surveillance of livestock as well as wildlife. The surveillance is to be ramped up in four administrative counties bordering Belgium, Travert said.Meanwhile there have been 14 outbreaks of the African swine fever across China in the past month. The disease was first reported in Shenyang, the capital of Northeast China’s Liaoning province. This is close to the Russian border where the infection is spreading for some years now say authorities. At present there are no vaccines against the infection and awareness can prevention of spread are the only measures of control say experts. By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDSep 14 2018Belgium confirmed this Thursday (13th of September 2018) that they have a case of African swine fever. This confirms that the infection has spread to the west of the EU.For several weeks now it has been a concern that African swine fever may affect the pigs in Western Europe. This would not mean that there could be import-bans on pigs and pig produces from the non-EU markets. According to the food safety agency (AFSCA Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain) and the SPW (Public Service of Wallonia), from Belgium two boars with the disease around the southern village of Étalle were detected. France, the neighbour has also stepped up their preventive measures to stop the spread of the infection to their farms.