Anaconda has tumour removed by Thai vets

BANGKOK (BBC): Thai veterinarians have operated on a 10-year-old anaconda to remove a large tumour from near its heart. The snake was anaesthetised for the seven-hour operation, Dr Taweesak Anansiriwattana told BBC Thai’s Issariya Praithongyaem. Doctors at Klongluang Animal Hospital had to cut through the skin and abdominal cavity wall in order to reach the tumour, which weighed 1kg (2lb). Tissue samples have been sent for tests to determine if the snake has cancer. The snake weighed about 52kg (114 lbs). Most of the tumour was removed but a small part remains as it was too close to arteries, vets say.

The snake was brought to the hospital by a private owner.



World’s biggest pearl found in Philippines

MANILA (BBC): Philippine officials believe they may have recovered biggest natural giant clam pearl in the world - weighing a whopping 34kg (5.2 stone). The pearl was found 10 years ago by a fisherman who was unaware of its value and kept it as a good luck charm, Palawan official Aileen Amurao said. “We were amazed when he brought it to us,” she told local media. Officials are awaiting confirmation from gemologists that the find is indeed the world’s largest pearl. The pearl is 61cm (2ft) wide and 30cm long and, if confirmed, will easily beat the current record holder, the Pearl of Lao Tzu, which weighs 6.4kg.



India cows get glow-in-the-dark horns to stop crashes

NEW DELHI (AFP): Police in central India are sticking glow-in-the-dark strips on the horns of stray cattle to prevent motorists from crashing into the animals as they wander across roads at night, an officer said Tuesday. Following a spate of road accidents, traffic police in one district of Madhya Pradesh state have stuck orange radium reflective bands on the horns of 300 cows and bulls to help drivers spot them. Stray cattle are a major traffic menace in India, with hundreds of bovines roaming freely on roads across the country. “Many drivers injured themselves or killed the cattle after running over them at night,” Kailash Chauhan, traffic police inspector for Balaghat district told AFP.

“There was an urgent need to prevent such accidents,” he said.

Because of the success of the scheme, officers say they now plan to buy permanent radium paint to cover cows’ horns, as the plastic bands only last for a few weeks.

Authorities have also asked farmers to fix glow-in-the-dark bands on their own cattle to help them be seen more easily.

In 2015 more than 550 people were killed in India in accidents involving stray animals, according to road ministry figures.

A World Health Organisation report in 2013 said more than 231,000 people die on India’s deadly roads each year.



‘Bagpipe lung’ death prompts warning for wind musicians

LONDON(AFP): Musicians were warned Tuesday to clean their wind instruments regularly after British doctors reported that “bagpipe lung” had killed a man who inhaled fungi growing inside his pipes. An article in the medical journal Thorax recorded the case of a 61-year-old man who played the bagpipes daily but had struggled with a dry cough and breathlessness for seven years. His condition improved rapidly when he went on a three-month trip to Australia, leaving his bagpipes at home. This prompted doctors treating him to take samples from inside the pipes.  These revealed a host of different fungi growing in the moist bag, neck and mouthpiece area of the instrument, which the man had been inhaling when he played.

Despite treatment, the man died in October 2014 and a post-mortem examination showed he had suffered extensive lung damage.

This is thought to be the first reported case of a bagpipe player being exposed to fungi which may have triggered hypersensitivity pneumonitis, the inflammatory lung disease which the man suffered from.

“Wind instrument players need to be aware of the importance of regularly cleaning their instruments and of potential risks,” the study said.

“Physicians should be aware of this potential risk factor and promote wind instrument hygiene.”

Andrew Bova of the National Piping Centre in the Scottish city of Glasgow told the BBC: “When it comes to cleaning a woodwind instrument, I would say give it a swab after every time you play.

“The moisture can sit in the nooks and crannies and you don’t want that.”



Tropical Storm Gaston could become Atlantic hurricane

MIAMI (AFP): Newly formed Tropical Storm Gaston could become a hurricane on Tuesday or Wednesday as it swirls in the Atlantic far from any coast, US forecasters said. Gaston, which became a tropical storm only Monday, is located 450 miles (725 kilometers) southwest of Cape Verde, and is not posing any costal watches or warnings, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center. Unlike former tropical storm Fiona, which was downgraded to a tropical depression on Sunday and continues to dissipate farther northwest in the Atlantic, Gaston is strengthening.

“Gaston is forecast to become a hurricane Tuesday night or Wednesday,” NHC said in its latest bulletin, posted late Monday.

The storm is traveling northwest at 18 miles (30 kilometers) per hour with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

Although the Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, this year’s first hurricane - Alex - formed in January during an unusual weather event.

The Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) initially estimated the Atlantic would see between 10 and 16 storms this year, but recently updated its prediction to 17.

Earl became this season’s second hurricane earlier this month, leaving 45 dead in Mexico.

Last year’s number of storms was below average, with 11 tropical storms in the Atlantic, six of which became hurricanes, including two major ones.