Texas has experienced a very mild winter this year, which means that Spring started in early February, and Mosquito Season (technically, not a real season, but it should be) has started earlier than we are used to. Because of this, we wanted to provide a roundup of the Top 5 articles about mosquitos this month.
Some locally transmitted cases of Zika continued to pop up near the Texas border during the winter months. According to Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, historically warm weather last winter compounded the problem. “We have probably not had a huge die-off of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in places like San Antonio or in Houston,” he said, referring to the type of mosquito linked to Zika. The Aedes aegypti mosquito also happens to be prevalent in Texas, specifically in densely populated areas.
The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District warns the public to beware of mosquito-borne illnesses due to an increase in mosquito activity. Environmental Health Manager David Litke said the department pays close attention to the three species of mosquitoes in the county (out of 26 species) that carry diseases, such as West Nile, Zika, Chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever and heartworm in cats and dogs. “These viruses have been more prevalent and possibly could be brought into the county, so we have an increased concern about mosquito control because we now have those viruses potentially emerging in our area,” Litke said.
Simon Warner swipes an electrified fly swatter the size of a table tennis bat through the humid air and zaps a circling mosquito. Despite this effective technique, his main objective is not to kill the insects individually by manual means but to breed a new generation of genetically modified mosquitoes that will destroy their own offspring. In a converted warehouse on an industrial estate near Didcot, Oxfordshire, his employer Oxitec, now owned by the US company Intrexon, is producing 20m mosquito eggs each week to send to test sites around the world.
Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, which is caused by parasites transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Global efforts cut the malaria death toll by more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2015 but the disease still kills more than 400,000 people per year, mostly babies and young children in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organisation. One interesting myth? That mosquito extinction would be best…
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