zika

Insect repellent, screens on windows, wearing long sleeves -- there is a limit to the precautions that we can take to protect ourselves from viruses that are spread by mosquitoes.

Even by taking all of the above steps, there is no way to have guaranteed protection from mosquito bites.

But, there is one idea that would put an end to all other methods of mosquito repellents.... what if there were no mosquitoes?

That is the idea behind the work of the company Oxitec. They have engineered a mosquito that leads to a decrease in the Aedes aegypti mosquito population. Here is how it works. The company has created a strain of mosquito that is "self limiting" meaning that they have a "death gene" added...

Kissing bug

Our public health system has a very bad habit of fighting the last war. This has resulted in a real-life version of American Horror Story. Like the plagues of Egypt, one exotic disease after another keeps washing ashore, catching scientists and public health officials flat-footed. 

First, it was Ebola. For decades, Ebola was a bizarre and terrifying disease associated with remote villages in Africa and a movie starring Dustin Hoffman. Out of sight, out of mind. Then, things "got real" when it killed a Liberian man in Texas in October 2014. Only after that public scare did Ebola research and prevention kick into high gear. Likewise, Zika was once an obscure virus, until...

Remember Amir Attaran? 

Of course you don't.

That said, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on the Canadian professor's dire, pre-Olympic predictions about worldwide Zika virus transmission, and compare them to what actually occurred in the aftermath of the Summer Games in Brazil.

Which, so far, is nothing. Zero. Not a single case.

But more importantly, it might also be wise to consider that while Dr. Attaran was completely wrong in his assessment -- which, in some circles, could possibly paint him as an academic hysteric -- there are reasons to believe that his clarion call turned out to be notably, if inadvertently, beneficial to global health.

Consider the possibility that his warning could have actually contributed to greater Zika awareness...

Alka Didn't work. Photo credit: Boomtrain

 

I really should have known better. The Twitter discussion that follows took place over the past three days. It was prompted by my article about Miami's use of toxic organophosphate insecticides to kill mosquitoes, and how they work biochemically. DDT was used in the title ("Organophosphates: Zika Caused Florida To Embrace Insecticides Way More Toxic Than DDT.") for perspective. It had nothing to do with the article. It wasn't even mentioned. Not everyone agreed with this. Especially Ed. He is quite obstinate. I now...

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...

shutterstock_95927614With Tuesday's news that Jason Day, the world's No. 1 golfer, will skip the Rio Olympics due to concerns over the Zika virus, given the overall exodus of golfers it seems like it's now an appropriate to ask this simple question:

Why are pro golfers the predominant group of athletes bailing from the Games?

While some speculation centers around the idea they aren't terribly excited about the return of the sport to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years, there's now word from the pro ranks that a major Zika concern may be based on perceived risk, or specifically, the amount of time...

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...

Olympic flag via Shutterstock Olympic flag via Shutterstock

While the ongoing issue for many world-class athletes -- specifically, whether to participate in the upcoming Olympics -- comes into sharper focus, we keep hearing more from those who are unsettled by the idea of heading into Brazil's Zika virus hot zone.

Considering what's still unknown about Zika, a virus that can arise from the bite of an infected mosquito, or by being sexually transmitted, and the recent disclosure by a Major League Baseball pitcher that he's contracted it...

Anopheles_albimanus_mosquito Mosquito via Shutterstock

As the world moves ever closer to the start of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with the specter of Zika ominously hanging over the Games, global anxiety continues to build since the news surrounding the virus isn't getting any better.

In Puerto Rico, the first case of Zika-related microcephaly in an unborn child is being reported, an unnerving development following...

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.51.36 PM Major League Clubhouse

Today's modern, professional baseball clubhouse is home to an interesting, and at times fascinating, subculture of elite, physical specimens. When a visitor is offered temporary access, with the chance to survey these plushly-carpeted confines, complete with wood-paneled locker stalls, leather couches and other comforting amenities, it's easy to see that it's an unique environment which caters to the needs of a very special clientele. Just by getting to the major-league level, these players are nearly always treated well by...