Posts Tagged ‘Mosquito Control’

A Zika Vaccine Is On The Horizon

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Normally vaccines take years to produce, and then a particular vaccine must be properly tested and licensed. However, researchers attempting to develop a vaccine for Zika say that a vaccine could be on the market sooner than normal.

A mere ten months after US government politicians convened to discuss how Zika should be funded, researchers have already started testing three different experimental Zika vaccines. The vaccines are being tested on human subjects infected with Zika. Another four of five trials to test vaccines for Zika will likely occur between the start of 2017 and the following fall. The current best-case scenario is to have an emergency vaccine available within a couple of years from now. The goal of the US government is to have a fully licensed and effective Zika vaccine by 2020. The only worry researchers and lawmakers have regarding the quick production of a vaccine is that by 2020 people will not buy it, as it is possible that people will not longer be worried about contracting the virus. However, this would not necessarily be a negative outcome for consumers.

Do you think the Zika virus will become another major pathogen that will infect mass amounts of people, like Rubella, or will Zika die out and meet a fate similar to that of the west nile virus?

Mosquito Borne Diseases – The Greater the Itch, The More Likely You’ll Catch Them

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

The current Zika virus epidemic has shone a bright light upon the problem of mosquito-borne diseases in the past year. Scientists are looking more and more into how to deal with the problem of mosquitos spreading these diseases as a whole, and have found that some rules apply to all of them. One thing they’ve discovered is that the immune response that our bodies have in reaction to mosquito bites actually helps the virus to spread. The secret is in the mosquito’s spit.

Mosquito saliva is injected into your body whenever a mosquito bites you, and within their saliva is a mixture of chemicals that help get your blood flowing, making it easier for the mosquito to suck that precious blood out. Their saliva doesn’t just give the mosquitos a smoother drink, however. Mosquito saliva causes the site of the bite to become inflamed. As part of the inflammation response our body sends immune cells to the area. These immune cells actually help the virus spread and replicate. This means that the more severe of a reaction you have to the bites the higher chance you have of actually catching the virus and getting sick. Our own body’s reaction to the bite plays a very important role in the virus’ ability to infect the person bitten.

This new discovery has led scientists to the idea that there may be other ways to help prevent us humans from getting sick than just wearing insect repellent. Using anti-inflammatory creams may also help reduce the chances of people getting infected.

What kind of new treatment or preventative medications could this discovery lead to being developed? Do you know of any other ways our own immune response works to our disadvantage?

Mass Anti-Mosquito Insecticide Is Finally Sprayed Over Miami

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Now that the Zika carrying mosquito has been located on Miami Beach, drastic measures must be taken to contain the virus. So far there have been fifty six transmissions of Zika in Florida, and the state has also seen five hundred and ninety six travel related cases of Zika. In response to the gradual worsening of the Zika situation, a plane carrying insecticides has showered Miami Beach with the hopes that all remaining Zika carrying mosquitoes have died.

Zika carrying mosquitoes are most active at dawn and sunset, which is when the aerial insecticide release took place. This is also and idea time to spray the beaches since very few people still congregate at the beaches during those hours. Despite some local protest over the safety of the insecticides, experts dismiss any concern since the insecticide is not harmful to humans or the environment. The experts also stressed that very little insecticide was used. In fact only two tablespoons per acre covered. Many residents of the Miami area feel safer now that the area has been sprayed.

Do you think spraying insecticide to protect people from the Zika virus should be practiced all over the United States?

 

 

 

Florida Locals Oppose Plan To Release Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Residents of The Florida Keys are protesting an experiment that they think makes them into guinea pigs. The residents are afraid that the special mosquitoes will harm indigenous wildlife. Another worry is that the released mosquitoes may become too big of a problem for the residents, and bug sprays may not be enough to stop such a large amount of them.

The Food and Drug Administration has concluded that the mutant mosquitoes to be released in South Florida do not pose a risk to the environment. A non-binding referendum is scheduled for November 8th, which is an opportunity for residents to voice their discontent. However, the decision ultimately comes down to a five member panel that is responsible for mosquito control. Three of the five members have said that they will follow whatever the public decides. According to a panel member two other members are up for reelection while another is retiring. Although releasing the mosquitoes may, in the long run, help against the spread of Zika, it is highly possible that the residents of Southern Florida will prevent the release of the mosquitoes.

Do you think that the scientists releasing the mutant mosquitoes need to obtain consent from the residents who live in the area where the mosquitoes are to be released?

Disney is Joining in the Fight Against the Zika Virus

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

It looks like even Disney is going to do its part to fight the Zika virus now that it has entered U.S. soil. They started giving away free bottles of Cutter insect spray last week. However, those tiny little bottles must have been breaking the bank since they now just changed from giving out those bottles to simply placing a giant industrial size container of insect repellent lotion on top of tables throughout the park. Just in case anyone doesn’t know how to apply the lotion, there are cast members standing by each table, ready to help answer any questions or concerns.

This seems a little cheap to me. I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone knows that if given a choice, people would much prefer spray over sticky lotion. And, in my opinion, changing the insect repellent you’re giving out to guests just a week after you start is just plain bad form. It’s pretty obvious that we’re just not worth the spray bottles – that’s how much Disney loves you…think about that.

If you had to choose between insect repellent lotion or spray, which would you choose? Does this make you lose just a little bit of respect for Disney?

A New Approach to Beating the Zika Virus

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

When you’re trying to find the answer to a problem it makes sense to explore every avenue possible. The more directions you come from and the more exploration into different answers you employ, the faster you’re likely to discover the answer. So, it makes sense for our scientists to approach beating the Zika virus from every angle. Thankfully, some scientists at Penn Vet are studying the Zika virus from a whole new direction, looking at how the mosquitos are infected with the virus in the first place.

Since we catch the Zika virus from mosquitos doesn’t it make sense to look at how they are infected with it? According to experts, the mosquito’s immune system is incredibly strong. Within minutes of being exposed to a threatening pathogen the mosquito’s immune response goes on red alert. This makes sense, as their anti-viral defenses are heavily influenced by the many many bacteria that regulate their stomachs and ability to digest food. Experts argue that we need to understand the immune response of the mosquito before we can explore how we can escape the clutches of the Zika virus. Since their immune response is already so strong, it’s possible that creating a genetically altered mosquito that is completely immune to the disease could be achieved in the near future. If mosquitos can’t catch it, then neither can we.

What other possible approached to solving this Zika virus epidemic do you think could prove beneficial?

New Mosquito Traps Laced with Eau de Human

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Malaria mosquitos on an island in Kenya have been cut down a whopping 70% all thanks to a new solar-powered trap that lures the buggers in with human body odor. The traps, which have been tested on Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria, haven’t just cut the mosquito population down either. The rate of malaria infections has been reduced by 30% also. This is a major victory when it comes to this devastating disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people in Africa and costs the country $12 billion every year.

This new trap uses five different chemicals that the human body produces as well as carbon dioxide to lure unsuspecting mosquitos into its clever clutches. With the insect’s inherent need to smell humans in order to survive, scientists believe that it is unlikely the insects will develop a resistance to the bait, one of the main problems faced in creating these traps. The ability to recharge with solar power also helps negate the issue of finding a power source for the traps as well, a common problem in most of Africa. During the three year trial scientists found that the cases of malaria dropped by 30% for people that lived in houses with one of these traps. I’d say this is a pretty exciting advance in the world’s never-ending war against mosquitos.

With all of the advances being made in mosquito control methods do you think we may just get a handle on the mosquito-borne illnesses in the near future?

First Zika Virus Death

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

The first Zika-related death occurred in Harris County Hospital in Texas. A woman that had traveled to El Salvador while pregnant recently gave birth to a baby diagnosed with microcephaly caused by the Zika virus a few weeks ago. She never experienced any symptoms and didn’t realize she had contracted the virus until her child was born with the birth defect, demonstrating how this virus that can go unnoticed until it affects a newborn can be. This is the first infant to die from the virus-induced birth defects.

Officials warn that we can expect to see many more Zika-related infant deaths as well as stillbirths in the near future. Efforts to combat the spread of the disease have been stepped up in response to the recent death. Seven women have already lost pregnancies due to the Zika virus in the United States, and you can bet that number is also going to go up. With local transmission finally occurring in Florida, things aren’t looking too good for Americans at the moment. It seems we won’t get off too lightly when it comes to this virus after all.

What are your predictions for the spread of the Zika virus in the U.S.?

Another Common Species of Mosquito is Found to Spread the Zika Virus

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Since the ZIka virus began rapidly spreading last year scientists have only cited the mosquito species Aedes aegypti as the culprit behind the transmission of the virus to humans. However, a recent study found that another common species has also been doing its part to spread this nasty virus. Brazilian scientists collected hundreds of Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitos and found that a large number of them were carrying the Zika virus. However, other studies performed on the species suggest that while these mosquitos can carry the virus, they are probably not as likely to spread the disease. Something in their biology makes them less effective at transmitting the virus to humans through their bite. They also exhibit more normal mosquito behavior such as feeding outside in the evening as opposed to during the day like the Aedes aegypti, making it easier for us to avoid them. This new finding does complicate their efforts to control this epidemic, as most of the work done to find ways to fight this disease have focused solely on the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It looks like there’s a new wrench in this already complicated situation.

Why do you think scientists haven’t found out about this other mosquito species until now?

Bad Guy Bugs – The Northern House Mosquito

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

When you are covered in mosquito bites after a long day outside under the hot summer sun do you ever wonder which species of mosquito bit you? Was your answer no? Well, don’t worry. You’re among the majority. Most people tend to lump all mosquitos together into one group when they’re thinking about avoiding their bite while outside. But, if you catch one of the diseases they carry, you might then want to know which species bit you. Specific mosquito species carry different illnesses. Not all mosquitos are created equal.

The Northern house mosquito has a rounded abdomen and is a dull brown color. These guys are pretty flexible when it comes to what they’ll eat. They don’t generally discriminate, happy to munch on humans, mammals, and birds. It’s the birds that they catch West Nile virus from before they pass it on to us. They tend to lay their eggs in small ditches and shallow ruts containing dirty water.

West Nile virus is now endemic throughout the lower 48 states, and has caused the deaths of over 1,700 people in the U.S. Most people that catch the virus don’t experience any symptoms at all, but it can cause flu-like symptoms.

DO you know anyone that has caught West Nile virus? What are you doing to protect yourself from mosquitos this summer?