Orange County grasses are growing fast in the Orange County suburbs, but many of them are also killing people, according to a new study from the University of California, Davis.
Orange County’s grasslands are home to some of the country’s most intensively grazed and managed livestock grazing areas, which have led to a huge increase in the number of deaths and illnesses linked to those areas.
For example, in California, over 100 people died from grass-related illness in 2016.
It is estimated that about a third of those deaths were due to the grass-induced disease.
“Our research shows that the risk of death associated with grass is higher than in other livestock populations, such as dairy cows, sheep, goats, and cattle,” said lead researcher Kristin B. Johnson, an associate professor of animal and environmental sciences.
“This means that people in these areas have a higher risk of dying from the disease than those living in other areas of the U.S. That’s a real problem.”
Dr. Johnson and her team analyzed over 1,200 data sets across six years of research in the U, Davis, CA, area to determine the most common types of grass-associated diseases in Orange County.
“We were able to identify the most commonly-attributed pathogens in the OC grassland and how often they occurred in these locations,” she said.
“In general, the number one culprit is cattle.”
“Our findings indicate that the number-one cause of death in OC grasslands is cattle,” Dr. Driscoll added.
“Cattle are the largest livestock grazing population in the United States, and in the past 20 years, their presence has increased dramatically in OC.”
Cattle have been implicated in more than 50 of the 1,300 reported cases of coronavirus in Orange counties.
Johnson’s team also found that there were more than 100,000 cases of non-specific coronaviral illness in OC counties.
“These outbreaks were associated with different causes of death, such that they could be triggered by several different factors,” Driscol said.
Among the factors that may trigger these outbreaks, Driscolls team found that OC grasses were more prevalent than other grasses, especially in the north of Orange County, and were responsible for around half of all non-infectious cases.
“OC grasslands were found to be a primary contributor to the increase in non-viral coronaviruses in OC, with cattle leading the way,” she noted.
Drissoll said she and her colleagues are currently investigating the link between cattle and coronavirence.
“To date, we have found that cattle are the most frequently implicated source of coronovirus in OC,” Drissolls team concluded.
“What we’re learning is that OC cattle are more susceptible to the coronavires than OC grass, and that this could increase their risk of developing non-carcinogenic coronavirotis.”