mosquitoes

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 ...

Many natural remedies do not work. Despite those who swear by herbal medicines and other traditions that stretch back, in some cases, thousands of years, modern science often cannot verify the claimed benefits. But that isn't always the case. Occasionally, scientists confirm that a traditional remedy indeed does work, and one such example has been reported recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Native Americans who burned sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) tended to do so for ceremonial purposes. However, some had a more practical use in mind. Two groups of Native Americans, the Flatheads of Montana and the Blackfoot of Alberta, used sweetgrass as an insect repellent. They did so by burning the grass and allowing the smoke to saturate their...

coveredf Used a Joe Mercola insect repellent? Photo: Reddit

Chemical/ideological crunch time is here.

It's time to see whether ideology and fear will trump science, now that we have a real threat. After months of speculation, it would seem that Zika has arrived, and panic has already set in in Florida. Since the infection is in Florida, it is a safe...

Slide1 photo credit - nyc.gov

Any public health initiative seeking to reduce the mosquito population is a welcome one -- and there's one taking place in New York City right now. It's called "Fight Back NYC," a three-year, $21 million citywide Zika virus awareness campaign.

No one likes mosquitoes, or the viruses they carry, but I think that Mayor Bill de Blasio, together with Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, really missed the mark with this plan. That's because their singular focus on mosquitoes has ignored an issue of even greater importance to reduce transmission: condom use.

In my view, our ...

shutterstock_134184434There has been a lot of talk about the Aedes mosquito since Zika first became widely known. Rarely does a day go by when something about Zika doesn't make the news. But the same mosquitoes also spread another infection, one that we hear almost nothing about, and it can be far worse than Zika.

The World Health Organization released a situation report last week regarding a yellow fever outbreak in West Africa. This has all of the markings of the next global...

Golfer Rory McIlroy via Shutterstock Golfer Rory McIlroy via Shutterstock

In many ways, the game of golf is based on managing risk. For the world's best golfers and weekend duffers alike, when standing over a shot the player holding the club often must choose between being aggressive and "going for it," or conversely, minimizing risk by "laying up" with an softer-targeted shot to set up a more conservative approach to the hole.

As this relates to Rory McIlroy's decision Wednesday to skip the Olympics in Brazil due to concerns over possibly contracting the Zika virus, that choice...

shutterstock_289454930 Mosquito via Shutterstock

If you couldn't tell from all of the joyous children running around, the summer has begun. Unfortunately, that also means that it's the start of West Nile Virus season.

In just the last week, reports of cases have started to crop up -- three in Mississippi, one in Nebraska, another in Oklahoma. And, many more states may not have human cases yet, but have reported the presence of mosquitoes with West Nile.

So, what does this mean for us? Is this cause for concern, or just a lot of...

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 ...

169550_3319In response to our recent Dispatch item about how genetically engineered mosquitoes could provide health benefits, Dispatch reader Dr. Tom Goerke said the following:

Regarding the release of the GM mosquitoes, it should be pointed out that a similar technique has been utilized in the US in the past. Many years ago it was very difficult to raise livestock in the southern US because of a problem with "screw worms", which are the larvae of a particular...

Sunset In The KeysLast month we wrote about British biotech firm, Oxitec, aiming to release their genetically engineered mosquitoes in Key Haven, Florida, this spring. The mosquitoes were developed to help fight dengue and chikungunya, which are two viruses spread by the dangerous and difficult-to-control Aedes aegypti mosquito. However, according to an article in...