Your monthly roundup of infestations, contagions, and controls from around the web.
In outbreak news:
The Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa, and particularly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization publically admitted “serious failings” in how it handled the crisis.
In other microbe news:
Hundreds of people filed a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins for $1 billion over decades-old experiments in which Guatemalans were intentionally infected with STDs. Check out Azeen Ghorayshi’s coverage at BuzzFeed.
A handy mouth virus may actually help us fight off the flu.
Have you ever heard the one about the cat parasite that’s making us crazy? Well, maybe you don’t have to worry after all. Check out this Brain Decoder piece by Bahar Gholipour for more.
And new research may lead to a detector that can sense malaria through the breath, which, if it works, could lead to a cheap and helpful new diagnostic tool.
In antibiotics news:
Tyson announced that it will stop feeding human antibiotics to its chickens by 2017. Unfortunately, though, antibiotic use overall is still increasing in the U.S., as Maryn McKenna reports at her new Germination blog.
The World Health Organization says that, out of 133 countries surveyed, only 34 have plans to address antibiotic resistance.
Meanwhile, nasty drug-resistant Shigella, which causes food poisoning, is popping up in the U.S.
In vaccine news:
In the future, vaccine jabs may be replaced by needle-free patches—clinical trials on at least one version could begin as early as 2017.
Yet another big study—this one including nearly 100,000 children—found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
WNYC pulled together data to find out where kids aren’t getting vaccinated. (If only people in every city could access similar figures.)
And a new study showed that “genetically tailored vaccines” helped patients fight advanced skin cancer. See Arielle Duhaime-Ross’s story at the Verge for more.
In agriculture news:
Quartz has a neat story on botanical pesticides in Tanzania.
These corn field drones in Australia can dump beneficial insects that nibble up pesky mites.
And the New York Times magazine has an interesting account of why environmental activitst Mark Lynas changed his mind about GMOs.
In invasive species news:
Retro Report has a great short documentary on the invasive Burmese pythons of Florida.
The island of Kauai is overrun with invasive chickens.
New research suggests that washing fishing equipment in hot water could help curb the spread of invasive aquatic species.
And Brandon Keim has an interesting tale at Nautilus of the reviled-yet-necessary invasive sea lamprey.
In creepy crawly news:
New research suggests that genes may play a role in how attractive you are to mosquitoes.
For truly cringe-inducing reading, check out this piece by Cassie Willyard at the Last Word On Nothing about screwworms. (You may regret clicking the story’s links.)
And new studies on neonicotinoids spark more debate on the insecticide and its affect on bees. Gwen Pearson breaks down the facts on which bees we should really be worried about over at her Wired blog. (Hint: most people are worried about the wrong bee species.)