Can The ‘Murder Hornet’ Destroy Our Food And Honey Supply?
May 29, 2020
As if we don’t have enough to worry about, now there’s a “murder hornet.” It’s the nickname for an Asian giant hornet, and according to breathless reporting about the insect, which was discovered in December in Blaine, Washington, it can wipe out entire honeybee hives in hours. And it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.
That’s concerning to anyone who cares about our food supply, as honeybees are responsible for pollinating a long list of foods many of us take for granted at the grocery store.
But how much of the hype around the “murder hornet” is just that? We spoke to three bee experts about whether the insidious insect could kill enough honeybees to damage our food supply.
Zika infection soon after birth leads to long-term brain and behavior problems
From Medical Xpress
May 26, 2020
Researchers from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center have shown Zika virus infection soon after birth leads to long-term brain and behavior problems, including persistent socioemotional, cognitive and motor deficits, as well as abnormalities in brain structure and function. This study is one of the first to shed light on potential long-term effects of Zika infection after birth.
“Researchers have shown the devastating damage Zika virus causes to a fetus, but we had questions about what happens to the developing brain of a young child who gets infected by Zika,” says lead researcher Ann Chahroudi, MD, Ph.D., an affiliate scientist in the Division of Microbiology and Immunology at Yerkes, director of the Center for Childhood Infections and Vaccines (CCIV), Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Emory University, and an associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. “Our pilot study in nonhuman primates provides clues that Zika virus infection during the early postnatal period can have long-lasting impact on how the brain develops and works, and how this scenario has the potential to impact child behavior,” Chahroudi continues.
Asian giant hornets sighted in US for first time, UC Davis entomologists say media exaggerated severity of issue
From The Aggie
May 22, 2020
Despite sightings of giant hornet species, spread through North America highly unlikely, experts say
Giant, tiger-striped insects have been making quite the buzz lately. Vespa mandarinia, or the Asian giant hornet, typically lives in eastern and southeastern Asia, but two individuals of the species were sighted in the U.S. for the first time.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) verified two reports of the Asian giant hornets near Blaine, Washington in December of 2019. One report was of a dead hornet, while the other was of one spotted flying back into the forest. Additionally, a giant hornet nest was found and destroyed in a park south of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.
In Washington, neither the second hornet nor its nest were found, but researchers are fairly confident their removal efforts were successful. In April, Blaine local authorities alerted residents to the possible threat and asked them to stay vigilant, according to the WSDA.
“They found a dead individual and were able to confirm that, yes, this is Vespa mandarinia,” said Eleanor Field, a doctoral candidate in entomology from Iowa State. “Then the same resident also said, ‘Hey, I saw another one and it went off into the woods.’ That means we have one confirmed dead individual and another presumed confirmed sighting.”
New Mexico reports first human case of West Nile Virus infection this year
May 21, 2020
SANTA FE, NM — The New Mexico Department of Health is reporting the first human case of West Nile virus infection in New Mexico this year.
The patient is a San Juan County man in his 50s.
He was diagnosed with the neuroinvasive form of the disease, which has required hospitalization, and he is now recovering.
West Nile virus is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can sometimes be fatal.
New Mexico has had cases of West Nile virus infection every year since the virus was introduced to New Mexico in 2003.
What’s ‘bugging’ your dog? Let’s take a look
From the Chico Enterprise-Record
May 14, 2020
You’ve just returned home from a springtime walk through the woods with your furry pal, and you see something on her fur that looks like a piece of dirt. But then you see it’s moving. It’s not dirt, it’s a disgusting TICK!
I have no idea why we’re not equally repulsed by the blood-sucking mosquito … yet both of these pests can be equally dangerous to our canine companions.
The tick that carries the greatest danger to people and pups alike is the western black-legged tick or deer tick, the only one of California’s 48 tick species that transmits Lyme disease. Today, this tick can be found in 56 of California’s 58 counties.
While Lyme is far less serious in dogs than in humans, dogs with the disease can have a number of health issues, including lameness, swollen joints, fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph glands, and in rare cases, chronic kidney disease.
BUTTE COUNTY MOSQUITO AND VECTOR CONTROL DISTRICT WILL FLY HIGH TO FIGHT ‘BACKYARD BREEDERS’
From Action News Now
May 14, 2020
BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. – The Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District and the Butte County Sheriff’s Department are teaming up to conduct aerial surveillance of areas to locate and treat possible mosquito breeding sources.
Starting the week of May 18, the Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District will conduct aerial surveillance of un-maintained swimming pools and other “backyard breeders,” such as, boats holding water, ponds without circulation, unused tires, un-maintained hot tubs, and other man-made objects holding water.
“It is crucial for the District to locate and treat these suspected mosquito-breeding sources early in the mosquito season to prevent larger populations from hatching off in the summer, when virus is most active” said Matt Ball, District Manager of Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District.
Public health officials said they expect the mosquito-transmitted West Nile virus to be a serious public health concern in California this year.
In 2019, the West Nile virus was extremely active in Butte County, as well as the rest of the state, according to health officials.
Mosquitoes’ taste for human blood may grow as African cities expand
From Science Magazine
May 12, 2020
n most of the world, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is notorious for biting humans and spreading dengue, Zika, and other viruses. But in Africa, where the mosquito is native, most Aedes prefer to suck blood from other animals, such as monkeys and rodents. A new study suggests, though, that their taste for humans may rapidly expand—and with it their ability to spread disease.
By surveying the range of Aedes biting preferences across Africa, the study shows that dryness and dense populations favor strains that target people. Those conditions are likely to intensify in Africa with climate change and increasing urbanization, though not everywhere.
“The work is significant because the better we can understand where and why mosquitoes like humans, the better equipped we will be to predict and mitigate disease spread,” says Mara Lawniczak, an evolutionary geneticist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, who was not involved in the study.
Why Wasps, Ticks, and Mosquitoes Are More Dangerous Than Murder Hornets in Summer 2020
From Medicine Net
May 12, 2020
Huge, invasive “murder hornets” may be scary, but so are the typical native species of hornets, bees, mosquitoes, and ticks that cause disease and death in the US every year.
A warm, wet winter means all those pest populations are spiking early this spring and will likely thrive through the summer.
The National Pest Management Association publishes a “Bug Barometer” report every year in its Pestworld trade journal to give members an idea of what to expect in the coming season.
“(Winter weather) conditions allowed vector pests such as ticks, responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, and mosquitoes, common vectors of West Nile virus, Zika virus and Eastern equine encephalitis to get a jumpstart on activity,” said Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist for the NPMA, in a release. “With more warm and wet weather predicted for summer across most of the US, we’ll likely see these populations, and others, rapidly expand.”
Zika Virus Tied to Profound Developmental Delays
From U.S. News
May 11, 2020
Toddlers with congenital Zika syndrome have severe developmental delays, researchers report.
In a study that covered a five-year period, researchers found that children in Brazil with congenital Zika syndrome who had microcephaly at birth suffered severe mental delays.
Microcephaly is a condition in which the head is smaller than normal. Its severity was the only significant factor linked to developmental delays, according to the study authors.
The study included more than 120 children. At age 2.5 years, nearly all of these children were functioning like 2-month to 4-month-old babies.
“The research findings reinforce public health concerns during the Zika outbreaks in 2015 and 2016 regarding the severity of disability that children with [congenital Zika syndrome] and their caregivers will be experiencing in the years to come,” said public health analyst Anne Wheeler of RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Mosquitos Don’t Carry COVID-19, But They’re Still A Threat In California
From Cap Radio
May 11, 2020
It’s getting to be mosquito season in California, and public health officials say people need to be vigilant about avoiding bites.
Mosquitos don’t spread COVID-19, but they do carry West Nile Virus, which has sickened more than 6,000 Californians since 2003, according to state data. There’s no vaccine for it, and it can be fatal.
And this year some counties may not be taking their usual vector control measures. The National Association of County and City Health Officials says department budgets are strained due to coronavirus, and mosquito testing might go by the wayside.
Mosquitos Carrying Dengue, Zika, Yellow Fever Would Be More Prevalent by 2030, Study Warns
From The Science Times
May 9, 2020
A new study by the Imperial College London warns that mosquitos carrying diseases such as dengue, Zika, and yellow fever would likely colonize parts of southern Europe by 2030.
The changes in weather patterns and the rising temperatures will make many parts of the world viable homes for these insects. Scientifically known as Aedes aegypti, currently only thrives in the hottest regions of the world.
As global warming continues, the range of their habitat from Africa, the Amazon, and northern Australia could expand to other countries, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey in the next ten years. More so, the invasion in China and southern continental America will also be accelerated by around four miles every year by 2050.
A Kenyan-British team of scientists has discovered a microbe to stop malaria transmission
From Quartz Africa
May 7, 2020
Scientists in Kenya have discovered a novel method with significant potential to completely stop mosquitos from transmitting the parasites which cause malaria in humans.
The team of scientists, mostly from Kenya and the UK, plus one from South Africa, have been studying mosquitoes on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya. They discovered that Microsporidia MB, a microorganism that lives in a mosquito’s gut and reproductive tract, completely protects the mosquito from being infected with plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria.
Microsporidia are fungi, or at least closely related to them. Like plasmodium, which are protozoans, they are also known to live inside mosquitoes as parasites. Mosquitoes inject their saliva into the skin to facilitate blood-feeding. Their saliva sometimes contains plasmodium, which is usually injected together with their saliva resulting in malaria transmission. According to the study, the Microsporidia MB reduces the establishment of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite in the guts of the mosquitoes, and impairs the colonization of the salivary glands by the parasite.
Genetically Engineered Male Mosquitos to be Released in Florida and Other Parts of US to Curb Zika and Dengue Spread
From The Science Times
May 6, 2020
Mosquitos are best known as pests causing itch-inducing bites and spread harmful diseases such as dengue fever and Zika virus. But, they still are with purpose as many of them help pollinate plants and serve a vital role as a food source to fish, birds, and other animals in the food chain above them.
However, mosquitos, for the most part, are a huge problem for humans. So much that researches are conducted to ensure they can no longer harm any person. The Environmental Protection Agency has recently approved a new and controversial field test aimed at reducing their population.
The plan is to release genetically modified male mosquitos that over time will lead to lesser regular mosquitos in the population.
Brazilian Study Assesses Developmental Delays in Children with Congenital Zika Syndrome
From Contagion Live
May 5, 2020
As children born in 2015 and 2016 with congenital Zika syndrome age, investigators are gradually able to assess neurodevelopmental outcomes.
The team behind a recent study published in JAMA Network Open observed substantial developmental delays at ages 2-3 years across all areas evaluated. The investigators also found that severity of microcephaly at birth was significantly associated with the severity of these developmental delays.
The study was a case series of behavioral and medical needs of 121 young children with serologic confirmation of congenital Zika syndrome . Children were assessed at a rehabilitation center in the Brazilian city of Recife, starting in January of 2018 and intended to continue for a 5-year total longitudinal term.
The comprehensive assessment was based on the Brazilian edition of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, administered by trained specialists. Interviews with caregivers and reviews of medical records provided basic demographic information and comorbid medical conditions.
The median age of participants was 31.2 months. The gender distribution was 58 boys and 61 girls. Out of 121 children, 99 children had microcephaly at birth with 74 cases classified as severe. A majority of participants, between n106 to 118, scored at the floor of 1 or more scales. There was, however, variability on raw and age-equivalent scores. A standard score of 55 for the cognitive domain was assigned to children with raw scores between 1-42, for example.
Murder Hornets Invade Pacific Northwest, Threaten The Honeybee Population
May 4, 2020
NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with beekeeper Ruthie Danielsen about the race to prevent the Asian giant hornets from getting a foothold in the U.S. and threatening the honeybee population.
Woodland preps for mosquito virus
From the Daily Democrat
May 4, 2020
If it’s not one virus it’s another, the Sacramento Yolo-Mosquito & Vector Control District is warning area residents.
On Tuesday night, the Woodland City Council will receive a report from district staff about mosquito control measures to protect people from West Nile virus and other diseases.
In a typical year, the council would receive the report in person from District Manager Gary Goodman. However, this year Goodman presented his report in writing since council members will be holding their meeting via teleconference.
The council meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday night and can be accessed by going to the city of Woodland’s website and following the prompts.
‘Murder Hornets’ are in the United States. These other dangerous bugs are more common
From USA Today
May 4, 2020
An invasive hornet species that slaughters honeybees and can be deadly to humans is sparking concern in the United States.
A small number of “murder hornets,” an invasive species of Asian giant hornet, have been spotted in the Pacific Northwest. While experts have been tracking the invasive species in the U.S. for months, a New York Times feature published Saturday raised alarm and brought the fittingly upsetting nickname to national consciousness.
There have been just two confirmed sightings of the dangerous insects, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture. But America is already home to some deadly insects and arachnids that are more common.
MOSQUITO SEASON: What to do to avoid the West Nile Virus and protect your home
From the Appeal Democrat
April 29, 2020
April ushers in spring gardens and warmer weather … and it also marks the time when West Nile virus begins appearing.
Managers at mosquito vector control districts are offering suggestions on how residents can keep an eye on their property and help protect themselves.
“With warmer temps forecast for this week and next, it’s a great time for residents to go through their yards looking for any kind of container that may be holding water,” said Stephen Abshier, manager of the Sutter-Yuba Mosquito and Vector Control District. “Even though we haven’t had significant rain in some time, people are turning on their sprinkler systems to water lawns and plants.”
He said irrigation water can fill up the smallest of containers, which provide a good breeding spot for mosquitoes.
‘Throughline’: The Mosquito’s Impact On The Shaping Of The U.S.
April 28, 2020
NPR’s History Podcast Throughline looks at the outsized role of the mosquito on the outcome of the American Revolution.
Scientists uncover how Zika virus can spread through sexual contact
April 27, 2020
Bethesda, MD – Zika virus is capable of replicating and spreading infectious particles within the outermost cells lining the vaginal tract, according to new research. The findings provide the first molecular-level insights into how the virus can move from person to person through sexual contact.
While Zika is primarily spread by mosquitoes, researchers have been aware of its potential for sexual transmission based on cases in which people became infected after having sex with a partner who had visited a Zika-affected area. Previous studies have also found Zika particles present in semen and vaginal fluid from infected individuals.
Drought and mosquitoes
From the Sacramento News & Review
April 23, 2020
As the weather warms, it’s time to think again about conserving water and controlling pests
The weather is getting warmer and the days longer, luring us back outside (mask or no mask).
According to the National Weather Service, Sacramento will hit the 80s every day for at least the next week. That seasonal change in temperatures also means it’s time to talk about two subjects: Drought and mosquitoes.
With an eye on water use, here’s a timely offer: A great rebate on a “smart” sprinkler controller.
Local residents can now save $150 (or more) on a Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, thanks to an instant rebate program offered by the Regional Water Authority and Sacramento area water providers.
Representing 21 local water providers serving about 2 million customers, the RWA always is looking for ways to help consumers reduce water consumption. A smart controller such as the Rachio 3 can save an estimated 13,500 gallons of water per year for a typical Sacramento household.
Marin health officials remind public of mosquito risks
From the Marin Independent Journal
April 22, 2020
Even as the coronavirus crisis continues to play out, health officials are urging Marin residents not to overlook another threat: mosquito-borne illnesses.
Mosquitoes are not known to transmit the coronavirus, but they are confirmed vectors of West Nile virus, Zika and other diseases, said Dr. Matt Willis, public health officer of Marin County.
“With all the attention to COVID-19, it’s easy to forget all the other things we have always worried about,” Willis said.
“We want to make sure that we are reducing the number of incidents of those things that we know how to prevent, especially if we are anticipating surges of COVID, so that we can continue to protect our resources,” he said. “And this is something that we can control.”
Purdue Professor: Extremely Unlikely Mosquitoes Can Transmit COVID-19
From Hoosier Ag Today
April 22, 2020
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by mosquitoes, a Purdue University professor says.
In the swells of information that have surrounded the COVID-19 pandemic, Catherine Hill, a professor of entomology and vector biology, said one question that keeps popping up is whether animals, including mosquitoes, can infect humans with the virus. Scientists around the world are currently assessing if mosquitoes pose a risk in terms of COVID-19 transmission but, so far, there is no evidence to support this idea and, for many reasons, it is extremely unlikely mosquitoes are able to transmit the virus.
“It is early days but we’re always looking at things from a risk management and assessment perspective and I think the risk is very low,” Hill added.
COVID-19 belongs to the coronavirus family and other viruses, including SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), in this family are not transmitted through mosquitoes.
Can mosquitoes spread COVID-19?
From KRCR TV
April 22, 2020
SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. — If you have been outside and heard the buzz, you know warmer weather has brought along those lovely mosquitoes to the Northstate.
While for many of us that means a few itchy bug bites over the summer, experts have looked into if the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be transferred to humans.
It’s fair to say, there is a long list for why many of us tend to dislike mosquitos but experts say, spreading the respiratory illness is probably not one of them.
At this time the CDC says they have no data to suggest that the virus is spread by mosquitos or ticks.
California Mosquito Awareness Week highlights need to prepare for spring, summer mosquitoes
April 21, 2020
San Gabriel Valley, Calif. (April 16, 2020) – The increased attention on COVID-19 is a reminder of the many ways people can protect themselves from other public health concerns, including viruses spread through mosquito bites.
The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District (SGVMVCD) joins mosquito control programs across the state to promote California Mosquito Awareness Week, April 19-25. This statewide campaign empowers residents to prevent mosquitoes year-round.
Mosquito control officials encourage residents under Safer-at-Home orders in Los Angeles County to take this opportunity to curb mosquito populations around the home.
Shasta County agency warns of another virus out there
From the Record Searchlight
April 20, 2020
All over the North State people are staying home, practicing social distancing, using disinfectants and only going out wearing breathing masks.
But one Shasta County agency is reminding people that COVID-19 is not the only harmful virus out there and the public needs to take steps to avoid becoming infected.
Standing water in puddles, neglected buckets, flowerpots and other containers breeds mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus. There were 225 cases of West Nile virus in California last year, and six people in the state died from the disease, according to the Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District.
Vector Control Unveils New Mascot to Boost Awareness of Invasive Mosquitoes
April 20, 2020
To kick off California Mosquito Awareness Week and the mosquito season, the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District or GLACVCD has unveiled its new mascot, Rita the Mosquita.
The black and white striped Aedes mosquito made her debut on the district’s social media platforms on Monday, April 20, as GLACVCD joins other public health agencies statewide marking California Mosquito Awareness Week from April 19-25.
While COVID-19 is not transmitted by mosquitoes, the increased attention on public health is an excellent reminder that there are many ways for residents to protect themselves from other viruses transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
Visit the district’s social media pages daily on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram during California Mosquito Awareness Week to answer mosquito-related questions. One participant will be randomly selected each day for the distinguished Citizen Excellence Award.
Mosquito Awareness Week: Mosquito Awareness Week Amid COVID-19
April 20, 2020
The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD) joins other public health agencies statewide for California Mosquito Awareness Week, from April 19th through the 25th. While COVID-19 is not transmitted by mosquitoes, the increased attention on public health is an excellent reminder that there are many ways for residents to protect themselves from other viruses transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
To kick off California Mosquito Awareness Week and the mosquito season, GLACVCD will unveil its new mascot, Rita the Mosquita. Rita, a black and white striped Aedes mosquito, will make her debut on the District’s social media platforms on Monday, April 20th.
Visit the District’s social media pages daily on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram during California Mosquito Awareness Week to answer mosquito-related questions. One participant will be randomly selected each day for the distinguished Citizen Excellence Award. To join in on the fun, participants must reside or work in the District’s service area and must follow or like the District’s social media pages.
Are Pregnant Women Aware of Zika Risks?
From Zika News
April 18, 2020
A new study highlights interactions between pregnant women and their healthcare providers were very positive.
This study was published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 16, 2020, and was conducted during the height of the 2016 Zika outbreak.
These researchers found there was a high awareness (91%) about the risk of Zika virus infection during pregnancy and about travel advisories to avoid visiting affected areas.
In the adjusted analysis, women younger than 24 years old were more likely not to have heard of Zika compared with women older than 35 years old.
And, Hispanic women were more likely to have heard of Zika.
Women with a high school education or less, women whose deliveries were paid for by Medicaid, and those who were uninsured at delivery were less likely to have heard of Zika, compared with their counterparts with more than a high school education and private health insurance.
Mosquito and West Nile awareness week starts Monday
From the Daily Democrat
April 18, 2020
Spring is in the air and so are mosquitoes. And with people socially distancing at their homes, they need to be careful if spending more time in the backyard.
The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District is now reporting that Mosquito and West Nile Virus Awareness Week, will be held starting today and continuing through next Saturday.
This week kicks off the District’s public information and education campaign to keep residents aware about the health risks associated with mosquitoes.
The current focus on the importance of public health with the COVID-19 pandemic also provides a great reminder that residents need to take all precautionary measures to protect themselves from mosquito-transmitted diseases.
During focus on COVID-19, prepare for mosquito season
From the Valley Voice
April 16, 2020
Mosquito experts throughout the state say the increased attention on public health is an excellent reminder that there are many ways for residents to protect themselves from other viruses transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
While COVID-19 is not transmitted by mosquitoes, they can transmit several other diseases. West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that has impacted the lives of California residents since 2003. There is no human vaccine for West Nile virus which can cause debilitating cases of meningitis, encephalitis, and even death.
“As we enter mosquito season, I urge all residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito-transmitted diseases,” said Senator Henry Stern. “Having lost a dear friend to West Nile virus, I can tell you how real and devastating the risks are. By raising awareness and encouraging individual action, we can protect health and save lives.”
To raise awareness and educate Californians about the public health threat mosquitoes pose to our communities Mosquito and Vector Control Awareness Week is observed April 19-25, 2020.
Moderna Zika vaccine shows promising action in early-stage study
From Seeking Alpha
April 14, 2020
Preliminary results for the 10 µg and 30 µg dose levels showed seroconversion (antibodies develop and are detectable) rates of 94% and 100%, respectively, while being well-tolerated.
The NIH-led Phase 1 study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, remains on track with enrollment at the highest dose.
The company says its prophylactic vaccines have demonstrated immunogenicity against all eight viruses targeted thus far.
It has nine candidates in development for RSV (older adults and young children), human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza virus type 3, coronavirus, influenza H7N9, CMV, Zika and Epstein-Barr.
UC Davis Researchers Launch New COVID-19 Tracking Application
From UC Davis
April 8, 2020
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a new web application that allows users to track COVID-19 cases and testing across the globe. The app offers a simple, intuitive way for users to track COVID-19 data at the country, state and county level.
“I found many of the best real-time visualizations of the COVID-19 data to be either complex dashboards or snapshots associated with media stories that made it difficult to get a simple, quick comparison of the latest COVID-19 trends,” said Christopher Barker, an associate professor of epidemiology with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine who led the project.
Zika Carrying Mosquitoes ‘Wiped-Out’ In California
From Zika News
April 7, 2020
An experimental program to almost eliminate disease-causing mosquitoes succeeded in nearly eliminating them from test sites in California’s Central Valley.
The effort appears to be paying off, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
According to news reports on April 6, 2020, stamping out illness caused by mosquitoes is one of Google/Alphabet unit Verily’s most ambitious public-health projects, the Debug Project.
The insects are bred in Verily labs to be infected with a common bacterium called Wolbachia.
When these male mosquitoes mate with females in the wild, the offspring never hatch.
Verily’s study revealed that throughout the peak of the 2018 mosquito season, from July to October, Wolbachia-infected males successfully suppressed more than 93 percent of the female mosquito population at field test sites.
This Dangerous Mosquito Lays Her Armored Eggs – in Your House
April 7, 2020
Here’s something easy you can do to fight disease this spring. While the efforts to end COVID-19 have upended daily life, it may only take a few simple steps to stop the carriers of other dangerous diseases — mosquitoes.
As the weather starts to warm up in April and May, mosquito control districts across California are urging people to go through their yards and eliminate breeding places for mosquitoes that can transmit dengue fever, a painful and sometimes deadly disease that has exploded worldwide.
“Make sure you don’t have things that can hold water,” said Gary Goodman, manager of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. “Small children’s toys, small buckets.”
A Google-parent plan to wipe out mosquitoes appears to be working
From The Middletown Press
April 6, 2020
An experimental program led by Google parent Alphabet to wipe out disease-causing mosquitoes succeeded in nearly eliminating them from three test sites in California’s Central Valley.
Stamping out illness caused by mosquitoes is one of Alphabet unit Verily’s most ambitious public-health projects. The effort appears to be paying off, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology on Monday.
Verily is also running coronavirus triage and testing in parts of California. Bradley White, the lead scientist on the Debug initiative, said mosquito-suppression is even more important during the pandemic because outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever can further overwhelm hospitals.
Zika Virus Can Combat Central Nervous System Tumors
From Zika News
April 5, 2020
Researchers in Brazil recently reported proving the potential of the Zika virus to combat advanced-stage central nervous system tumors in dogs.
Elderly dogs with spontaneous brain tumors were treated with injections of Zika by scientists affiliated with the Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center (HUG-CELL) supported by São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP and hosted by the University of São Paulo (USP).
According to Oswaldo Keith Okamoto, a professor and a member of HUG-CELL, this data suggests viral therapy may be applicable to several types of central nervous system cancer, in both children and seniors over the age of 60.
“These two groups tend to suffer more often than not from aggressive types of tumor, for which there are no effective treatments at present,” he said in the related press release.
The study was published on Tuesday, March 10, in the journal Molecular Therapy.
Mission Viejo Eliminate Standing Water & Don’t Flush Wipes While Staying Home
From the Mission Viejo Patch
April 3, 2020
While you’re staying home to stop the spread of COVID-19, remember to also prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
The Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District says recent rains have created cryptic mosquito-breeding sources around our homes, and while mosquitos do NOT transmit COVID-19, they do transmit West Nile virus. Taking simple actions like eliminating all standing water from around your house can help to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses.
Skin Cells Might Protect People From Zika Infection
From Zika News
April 1, 2020
A new study may unlock the path scientists need to follow when developing a Zika virus vaccine.
Published on April 1, 2020, these researchers said ‘In the skin, antiviral proteins and other immune molecules serve as the first line of innate antiviral defense.’
In this study, they identified and characterized the induction of cutaneous innate antiviral proteins in response to IL-27 and its functional role during cutaneous defense against Zika virus infection.
Transcriptional and phenotypic profiling of epidermal keratinocytes treated with IL-27 demonstrated activation of antiviral proteins OAS1, OAS2, OASL, and MX1 in the skin of both mice and humans.
As a result, IL-27–mediated antiviral protein induction was found to occur in a STAT1- and IRF3-dependent, but STAT2-independent manner.
Drain after the rain to prevent mosquitoes
From the Davis Enterprise
March 30, 2020
The weekend rain has left behind a lot of stagnant water. Since temperatures are expected to increase over the next few days, this can create the perfect combination for mosquitoes to breed. The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District reminds the public to “drain after the rain” to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
“It’s been a wet March and we’ve had a significant amount of rain these last few days,” said Gary Goodman, district manager.
“Mosquitoes complete their life cycle much faster in warm weather. We urge all residents to do their part and drain all sources of standing water from common backyard sources such as buckets, flower pots, bird baths, old tires and other small containers that may breed mosquitoes. Getting rid of areas where mosquitoes can breed now will go a long way later in the season,” Goodman said.
Remember that ‘other virus’? It’s time to take precautions against West Nile
From The Woodland Daily Democrat
March 30, 2020
Remember that other virus? The one we used to worry about before coronavirus?
Well, it’s back. In fact, West Nile Virus never went away and with rains across the Sacramento Valley over the past weekend and the weather warming it’s time to take precautions against potentially deadly mosquitoes.
On Monday, Gary Goodman, district manager for the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, warned that stagnant water, coupled with warmer weather can create the perfect combination for mosquitoes to breed.
Fortunately, this first wave of mosquitoes isn’t as dangerous as those carrying West Nile, but those other mosquitoes aren’t far behind.
Rats swarm New Orleans’ streets as coronavirus precautions leave them empty
From CBS This Morning
March 28, 2020
Precautions put in place to slow the coronavirus cases in New Orleans has inadvertently led to a rat problem for the Louisiana city. With restaurants closed save for take-out service, far less food waste is being discarded in the city’s alleyways, driving the local rodent population out into the open to search for scraps.of
New Orleans’ famousbrought thousands of tourists to the city, and medical experts believe it might be a big factor in the city’s COVID-19 outbreak. Now with Bourbon Street’s famous bars all closed and people social distancing, videos show dozens of rats scurrying through the empty streets.
“I turn the corner, there’s about 30 rats at the corner, feasting on something in the middle of the street,” Charles Marsala of New Orleans Insider Tours and AWE News told CBS News’ Omar Villafranca. Marsala said he had “never” seen anything like it before.
County aims to take bite out of mosquito breeding on Thursday
From Palo Alto Online
March 25, 2020
Palo Alto Baylands trails will be closed for several hours on Thursday for aerial treatment of mosquitoes, the Santa Clara County Vector Control District said in a press release issued Tuesday.
A helicopter crew will fly over the Baylands with a spray that targets the winter salt marsh mosquito (Aedes squamiger) with naturally occurring microbes and a mosquito-specific hormone. The treatment has been safely and effectively used by the county annually since 1992, the district said.
The aerial spraying is scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. and will last a few hours.
San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District Pauses Operations to Help Slow COVID-19 Spread
From Pasadena Now
March 23, 2020
The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District (SGVMVCD) will suspend programs and services this week to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
This temporary closure will have minimal impact on the agency’s core mission to suppress mosquito populations due to the forecasted days of rain and colder temperatures. Employees will continue to work remotely while the District facility is closed to the public.
“We care deeply about the health and safety of the public and our staff,” said District Manager Jared Dever. “And for this reason, our agency will close this week out of an abundance of caution.”
“We appreciate the patience and support from the public during this uncertain time,” said Levy Sun, SGVMVCD public information officer. “In between the rain events, we encourage all residents who are Safer at Home to stop mosquitoes in their yards and patios.”
Yellow Fever Creek is a fine name, with a lesson that resonates still
March 20, 2020
“The situation is now terrible … over 150 new cases yesterday and 20 deaths … All business and work is suspended … The city government is virtually defunct, the heads having fled… God knows where the end is.”
More than 100 years ago, that’s what Jacksonville’s mayor wrote to a friend about yellow fever, a viral disease that was gripping Florida in 1888. Sound familiar?
The viral disease’s reach extended south as well, as far as North Fort Myers, where a Caloosahatchee tributary still bears the epidemic’s name. Emptying into the river just opposite Thomas Edison’s winter home, Yellow Fever Creek has been on my “to write about” list forever.
Not because of its scrappy band of advocates, who’ve been working hard to get it better preserved and protected, but because of that name. See, some would have us forget its original label and call it Hancock Creek instead. And I can certainly understand the distaste for its original label, thanks to one of the region’s early public health calamities, which calls to mind some of what we’re experiencing today.
New study finds immune cells can defend against multiple viruses
From Medical Xpress
March 20, 2020
An underlying virus does not stop the body’s immune system from launching a strong defense against a second, newly introduced virus, according to a Yale-led study that appears in the March 9 online edition of the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
For the study, Yale researchers obtained blood samples from patients from India with dengue infection, working in partnership with investigators from The National Institute of Mental Health and NeuroSciences in India and their colleagues at Apollo Hospital in Bangalore. They then infected these samples with the Zika virus and measured the cells’ immune response using advanced cell-profiling technology. The researchers found that the underlying dengue infection did not stop the cells from launching a robust immune response against the newly introduced Zika virus.
Vector Control: Mosquitoes are here early
From Gold Country Media
March 14, 2020
Mosquito season began a little early this year. With the unseasonably warm temperatures this month, officials from the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District have been hard at work.
“People are getting eaten alive,” said Meagan Luevano, public information officer for the district. “It’s been so warm, and the rice field mosquito has been pretty much everywhere and they are really aggressive biters.”
Luevano delivered a report to the Auburn City Council on Monday, reporting on what residents should look out for this year.
“Because we were so warm in February, this year our season sort of got started a little early,” Luevano said.
The vector control district’s main job is mostly to monitor the mosquito and tick community and educate the public when they are at risk of a disease carried by one of the pests. They also educate the community on how to defend themselves against mosquitoes and ticks.
Contaminated Water May Have Made Zika Infections Much Worse
From IFL Science
March 12, 2020
In 2015-16, the world got a small taste of the coronavirus pandemic with the Zika virus outbreak. Although the method of transmission of Zika is very different, and it’s seldom fatal, there was a similar scrambling to understand the disease and work out how to contain it. A particular puzzle was why the effects were so much more severe in Northeast Brazil than elsewhere. New evidence points the finger at water contamination.
Zika virus was first detected in Africa in the 1940s. Although related to other mosquito-borne viruses that cause lethal conditions such as dengue fever, it was little studied because effects were usually mild. That was until its arrival in the Americas, where infections triggered a wave of birth defects.
The outbreak was widespread, but its most severe effects were much more concentrated. The World Health Organization lists “increased risk of preterm birth, fetal death and stillbirth” as consequences of infection during pregnancy, but the most severe effect was children born with significantly smaller brains (microcephaly). Children that were born with Zika-induced microcephaly are too young for us to fully know the long-term consequences, but severe brain damage is likely.
Zika combats advanced-stage central nervous system tumors in dogs
March 12, 2020
Brazilian researchers have just reported proving the potential of zika virus to combat advanced-stage central nervous system tumors in dogs. The study was published on Tuesday, March 10, in the journal Molecular Therapy.
Three elderly dogs with spontaneous brain tumors were treated with injections of zika virus by scientists affiliated with the Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center (HUG-CELL) supported by São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP and hosted by the University of São Paulo (USP).
“We observed a surprising reversal of the clinical symptoms of the disease, as well as tumor reduction and longer survival with quality, which matters most. Moreover, the treatment was well tolerated and there were no adverse side-effects. We’re genuinely excited by the results,” Mayana Zatz, a professor at USP’s Institute of Biosciences (IB) and HUG-CELL’s principal investigator told.
California Bats Thrive in Forests Recovering From Wildfires
From Smithsonian Magazine
March 10, 2020
ire suppression has been used as a forest management tool for decades, but a growing body of research shows that California’s forest ecosystems have evolved to live with, and even rely on, some amount of seasonal wildfire. A recent study published in Scientific Reports adds to that knowledge, finding that bat populations are doing better in areas recently affected by fire, compared to areas that grown thick from years of fire suppression.
The research, led by ecologist Zack Steel of University of California, Berkeley, focused on bats in the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range in central and eastern California. Of the 17 bat species the team studied, some are known to prefer wide open areas while others can maneuver in a cluttered canopy. Eight species were found in unburned areas, and 11 fluttered above the fire-affected ones. Only one species’ population fell after fires.
“We expected to see one group of species benefiting from fire—the more open-habitat-adapted species—and another group, the more clutter-adapted species, being negatively affected by fire, preferring the unburned areas,” Steel tells Scientific American’s Jason Goldman. “But even some of those species were occurring more often in burned areas.”