The Month In Plagues: Sexually-Transmitted Zika, New Lyme Disease Cause, And More | Popular Science
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Our Modern Plagues

Humanity's contagions and infestations, both real and imagined. By Brooke Borel

The Month In Plagues: Sexually-Transmitted Zika, New Lyme Disease Cause, And More

A plague of links from around the web

The deer tick, a vector for Lyme disease.

The deer tick, a vector for Lyme disease.

CDC

In infectious disease news:

The first case of Zika virus transmitted in the U.S. was confirmed earlier this month, and it was transmitted through sexual contact. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced confirmation on 9 new sexually-transmitted cases, as well as an investigation into 10 more. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the virus, including whether or not it causes birth defects.

Meanwhile, some Ebola survivors are struggling with neurological problems.

And new research suggests that a previously unknown bacterium may cause Lyme disease, in addition to the bacterium we already knew causes the illness. Read more from Melinda Wenner Moyer at Scientific American.

In agriculture news:

Stephen Hall has a great longread at Scientific American about how gene-editing tools—particularly the much-hyped CRISPR-Cas—may be used in agriculture (paywall).

Speaking of Scientific American, there is also a good feature on curbing antibiotics on the farm. And speaking of antibiotics on the farm, Maryn McKenna has a frightening write-up about agriculture’s role in last-ditch antibiotic resistance at her NatGeo Germination blog.

And here’s a good piece on how complicated the GMO food fight can get—particularly in Boulder, Colorado. It's by Luke Runyon for Harvest Public Media.

In creepy crawly news:

The Zika outbreak led to a series of think pieces on whether or not we should eradicate mosquitoes once and for all. Daniel Engber argued for total obliteration at Slate. Melissa Cronin explained why that’s not such a great idea at Motherboard.

Meanwhile, Rose Eveleth imagined a future totally devoid of mosquitoes at her podcast Flash Forward.

And two teams of scientists sequenced the bed bug genome, which may eventually (as in, probably not any time soon—sorry) help point to new ways to kill the pest. For more, read my piece at The Verge.

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