malaria

Malaria is a notoriously tricky infectious disease. Because of a unique genetic flexibility, it is able to change surface proteins, avoiding the immune response and greatly complicating vaccine development. Furthermore, the parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes, which are difficult to control. Insecticides work, but mosquitoes can develop resistance to them.

One method widely used to control malaria is for governments or charities to provide families with insecticide-treated bed nets. Overall, this strategy is very successful, and it has been credited with preventing some 451 million cases of malaria in the past 15 years. But bed nets are not successful everywhere. In some parts of the world, mosquitoes develop "behavioral resistance"; i.e., they learn to avoid bed nets by ...

Dr. Henry Heimlich, thoracic surgeon and creator of the famed maneuver that saves people from choking to death, died at the age of 96.  

In his own words, he best elucidates the profound nature of this triumph: 

“What makes the Heimlich Maneuver particularly special is this: it is accessible to everyone.  Because of its simplicity—and the fact that it works when performed correctly—just about anyone can save a life.  Each of us can save the life of a stranger, a neighbor, a spouse, or a child.  And it can happen anywhere—in restaurants, homes, ballparks—you name it.  You see, you don’t have to be a doctor to save a life.  You just have to have knowledge and the instinct to respond in a  crisis.”

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shutterstock_262785137A study by Jaleta et al. in the Malaria Journal suggests that chickens may be helpful in the fight against malaria. Unlike humans who in the United States last year consumed 90 pounds of chicken each, mosquitos are a bit fussier. Who knew?

When dining indoors, the Anopheles species tested preferred humans, while for...

courtesy of shutterstock courtesy of shutterstock

The success of battling mosquito-borne viral invaders such as Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya may rest in the hands of two American researchers.

According to a paper published in the journal Trends in Parasitology, Zach Adelman and Zhijan Tu, from the Departments of Entymology and Biochemistry at Virginia Tech, have devised a technique to increase female-to-male conversion of ...

mosquitoes attackWe knew that the World Health Organization would finally get in on the "Zika Crisis," and now Dr. Margaret Chan, the U.N.'s health organization's Director-General, has ruled Zika a "global public health emergency."

What she did not say is how to effectively fight it. I have an idea: use DDT.

Zika is a viral infection, which is rarely a significant illness in anyone who is not pregnant. Among pregnant women, there are some data suggesting an increased risk of delivering a baby with a severe neurodevelopmental anomaly, aka microcephaly.

The virus is transmitted by the bite of Aedes...

Anopheles_albimanus_mosquitoMosquitos have always been a critical vector in the spread of multiple infectious diseases to humans. Perhaps the two most historically important examples are yellow fever and malaria. Now, a new viral scourge has reared its ugly head, in Brazil, where babies are plagued with shrinking brains and undersized skulls.

The virus that causes yellow fever is in the same family as hepatitis C. The disease was so prevalent and dangerous that it derailed the construction of the...

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via shutterstock

Malaria is still a major problem in many regions of the world. According to the World Health Organization, around 200 million people annually contract the malarial parasite. In 2013, it was responsible for 500,000 deaths, mostly children in Africa and babies under five. These numbers are trending downward, but we need something strong...

Anopheles mosquite, femaleA new report in the current New England Journal of Medicine is the latest in a series of articles shedding light on the efficacy of RTS,S/AS01, GlaxoSmithKline's experimental malaria vaccine.

In July, the European Medicines Agency s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopted a positive position regarding RTS,S/AS01, the first candidate vaccine for...

Dr. Paul Mueller--DDT NobelA recent essay ("The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research") by Hugues Honoré, Agence France-Presse, is a scurrilous attack on several extraordinary, admirable scientists whose labors, aside from earning them the Nobel Prize, are responsible for saving hundreds of millions of lives.

The author made some misleading, defamatory and/or outright false statements, and they need to be countered.

Let's begin:

"Some of...

blood transfusionIn a lengthy column this week in the Wall Street Journal, Laura Landro discusses "The Rising Risk of a Contaminated Blood Supply." Since Ms. Landro is an established health and science writer and author of the "Informed Patient" column, I was sufficiently alarmed at the prospect referred to in her headline.

Imagine, then, my surprise to find the dearth of actual data supporting the bold type. Here's...