Here are some links on infestations, contagions, and controls from around the web this past month. Have more? Add them in the comments.
In outbreak news
The Ebola epidemic continues in West Africa. Vox has a nice infographic exploring the history of the virus. In addition to killing more than 3,000 people, the epidemic threatens the region’s food supplies and economies. It is also overwhelming hospitals, making it difficult for patients with other illnesses to receive treatment. Here’s a great feature at Nature describing an Ebola-stricken hospital ward in Sierra Leone.
An enterovirus outbreak that started in the Midwest has spread across the US, mainly affecting children. A few kids in Colorado with the respiratory illness have also suffered from paralysis, and experts are investigating whether the symptoms are connected.
And Aeon has an interesting essay on the history of using math to model epidemics.
In vaccine news
Speaking of Ebola, a new vaccine is being tested on humans. And speaking of dengue, a recent trial on its own vaccine apparently went well. Both would be the first vaccines against their respective viruses.
The Atlantic has a story on the history of tuberculosis vaccine attempts, as well as a recent outbreaks in an El Paso, Texas nursery.
Virginia Hughes pondered why there isn’t a broader effort to vaccinate dogs in order to lower rabies rates at her National Geographic blog. Meanwhile, an effort to do just that has helped lower cases of rabies in Bangladesh, according to the World Health Organization.
And speaking of rabies, check out this video of a rabid bat attacking a camper who’s playing a guitar in the woods.
In antibiotics news
Researchers at MIT are using a new method called CRISPR to edit genes in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which could help make the bacteria vulnerable to antibiotics.
The US government announced a new strategy to help curb antibiotic-resistant bugs. But as Susan Cosier at OnEarth points out, the plan doesn’t address the use of antibiotics in agriculture, which is a major source of antibiotic-resistance.
In agriculture and plant news
Retro Report has a nice video and story about the history of Colony Collapse Disorder in bees.
Unauthorized GMO wheat has been discovered in Montana, raising concerns about the USDA’s ability to monitor field trials.
Paul Voosen has a great story on GMO oranges at National Geographic.
And a new study suggests that a big threat to crops in the near future will be fungus.
In invasive species news
Bounties on lionfish may help keep the invasive fish in check.
At the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalists, reporters dined on an unusual spread of New Orleans invasive species, from termites to nutria.
And here’s a lovely story about a group of conservationists who are hand-weeding parts of Connecticut to curb a nasty invasive vine called mile-a-minute.
In creepy crawly news
Remote-controlled insects may someday do our bidding.
There may be an uptick of disease-carrying ticks, thanks to climate change.
Speaking of ticks, here’s an awesome story by Cat Ferguson at Modern Farmer about tick-eradicating cowboys in Texas.
Scared of cockroaches? Here’s a great story about overcoming that fear, by Rachel Nuwer at BBC Future.
And sorry, despite popular reports, public lice are still a thing, says Gwen Pearson at Wired.