Tick and Mosquito-borne Diseases Are On the Rise
Illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites are on the rise in the United States, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report found that during the 13-year study period, the number of reported illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled, going from about 27,300 cases in 2004 to 96,000 cases in 2016. Overall, more than 640,000 cases of these so-called vector-borne diseases were reported during the study period.
What’s more, nine germs spread by these insects — including Zika virus and chikungunya virus, which spread by mosquitoes, and babesiosis, which spreads by ticks — were discovered or introduced to the U.S. during the study period, according to the report.
It has been suggested that the effects of climate change are expanding the range of ticks, fleas and mosquitos as well as the period of their active season.
Mosquito populations have multiplied by as much as 10 times over the last half- century in New York, New Jersey and California, but scientists say it’s not because of changes in climate.
The number of mosquito species in those areas also increased two to four times. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz say the resurgence is mainly the result of expanding cities and the waning concentrations of the notorious pesticide DDT, still lingering in the environment nearly 50 years after its widespread use was banned.
“Everyone knew DDT was an extremely effective insecticide, but I was surprised by how long-lasting its effects were,” said lead researcher Marm Kilpatrick.
High Living Plants
The highest-living plants on Earth have been found growing at the lofty elevation of 20,177 feet on a small southwest-facing patch of slope in northern India.
Czech Academy of Sciences botanist Jiri Dolezal found the six species of vascular plants after hiking five days into the thin air of the high Himalayas.
The tiny plants contain a high-sugar “antifreeze” and have features that enable them to survive long and bitter winters in the arid alpine conditions.
Dolezal said the plants appear to be new arrivals, and theorizes their seeds blew in and survived so high because of a warming climate.
Monarch Refuge Losses
Storms earlier this year toppled more than a hundred acres of forest in central Mexico, where migrating monarch butterflies spend each winter. Late reports say the severe weather was accompanied by rain, cold and high winds, which killed more than 7 percent of the wintering butterflies. “Never had we observed such a combination of high winds, rain and freezing temperatures,” monarch expert Lincoln Brower said of the storms, which hit Michoacán’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve on March 8 and 9.
Hollywood has envisioned the implausible phenomenon of spinning columns of bloodthirsty sharks in recent years, but tornadoes of bloodsucking mosquitoes were actually observed and photographed near Russia’s central Ural Mountains. The photographer who shot a video of several “mosquito tornadoes” in Yekaterinburg on Aug. 13 said each column contained millions of the insects. A single mosquito tornado was photographed in Portugal during the spring of 2014.
Guinea Declared Ebola Free
Guinea, one of the countries hit by the worst outbreak of Ebola, has been declared free of any cases of the deadly virus.
Because Guinea hasn’t seen any new infections for 42 days, the amount of time in two incubation cycles for the disease, the WHO declared it free of Ebola on Tuesday. The last known patient in Guinea was a 3-week-old girl who tested negative for the virus twice in November.
State Has First Instance of Dual Mosquito-Disease Outbreak
The Arizona state health department says it found more than 100 people contracted both West Nile Virus and St. Louis Encephalitis Virus this year.
The discovery marks the first time the two diseases have been found together. Both are spread to humans by mosquitoes who have fed on infected birds. In both cases, people infected may not know they have contracted the illnesses. When they do make their presence known, both appear as flu-like symptoms, but can cause serious deteriorating cognitive function, though this can be temporary.
The co-outbreaks were between May and October, prime mosquito season.The health department says this discovery is another reason people should protect against mosquito bites year-round.