Invasive Asian Longhorned Tick Spreading Widely in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with public health, agricultural, and academic experts to understand the possible threat posed by the spread of the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) in several U.S. states since its discovery in 2017, according to today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“The full public health and agricultural impact of this tick discovery and spread is unknown,” said Ben Beard, ...

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Researchers discover how ‘cryptic’ connections in disease transmission influence epidemics

Diseases have repeatedly spilled over from wildlife to humans, causing local to global epidemics, such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, SARS, and Nipah.

A new study by researchers of disease transmission in bats has broad implications for understanding hidden or “cryptic” connections that can spread diseases between species and lead to large-scale outbreaks.

By dusting bats with a fluorescent powder that glows under ultraviolet ...

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Surface water and flood dynamics increase vulnerability to waterborne disease and climate change

Diarrheal disease, a preventable and treatable illness, remains the second-leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 and a persistent public health threat in sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers have now uncovered how surface water dynamics may increase the vulnerability of dependent populations to diarrheal disease and climate change.

Kathleen Alexander, professor of wildlife in Virginia Tech’s College of ...

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Recap from the 2018 VectorBiTE workshop

VectorBiTE: Vector Behavior in Transmission Ecology by the Quantitative Ecological Dynamics Lab

JUNE 21, 2018  |  BY FADOUA EL MOUSTAID

The Quantitative Ecological Dynamics Lab, led by Leah Johnson, just wrapped up a third VectorBiTE workshop at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA. The VectorBiTE project is a Research Coordination Network that seeks to build a collaborative network of interdisciplinary researchers to investigate the effect of vector behavior and life history on transmission dynamics. More about the goals and the organizing team can be ...

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Scientists find link between increases in local temperature and antibiotic resistance

From Vector, the Boston Children’s clinical and research innovation blog

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Dr. Dana Hawley leads research linking bird immunity and pathogen virulence

From VT News

March 1, 2018  |  As annual flu shot patrons know, immune systems are not perfect and must be constantly reinforced to protect against rapidly evolving pathogens.

New research shows that, in the case of a common backyard bird, imperfect immunity to a dangerous pathogen that causes “bird pink eye” actually makes the pathogen stronger and more dangerous for its next victim.  The findings — from a multi-university team led by ...

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Climate change could wipe out a third of parasite species

From The Guardian:

Climate change could wipe out a third of all parasite species on Earth, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date.

Tapeworms, roundworms, ticks, lice and fleas are feared for the diseases they cause or carry, but scientists warn that they also play a vital role in ecosystems. Major extinctions among parasites could lead to unpredictable invasions of surviving parasites into new areas, affecting wildlife and humans and making a “significant contribution” to the sixth ...

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Reintroduction of Critically Endangered Frogs in Panama: first release marks important milestone

Smithsonian Scientists Release Frogs Wearing Mini Radio Transmitters Into Panamanian Wilderness

Lisa Belden, Angie Estrada, and Daniel Medina are Global Change Center affiliates in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. Their amphibian research was recently featured in the following video and online article at The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology InstituteThe article originally appeared as a blog post on the website of the Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Project.

“Ninety Limosa harlequin frogs (Atelopus limosus) bred in human care are braving the elements of ...

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The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

From CNN

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think. In all of Earth’s history, there have been five mass extinction events. You can see them charted here. Now, we’re on the verge of the sixth extinction. And three-quarters of all species could vanish. Imagine three out of four species that were common are gone. This is the first time humans have caused anything like this.

Experience this interactive report at CNN

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A resurgence of malaria from the gold mines of Venezuela

From the New York Times:

by Nicholas Casey

THE ALBINO MINE, Venezuela — The 12th time Reinaldo Balocha got malaria, he hardly rested at all. With the fever still rattling his body, he threw a pick ax over his shoulder and got back to work — smashing stones in an illegal gold mine.

As a computer technician from a big city, Mr. Balocha was ill-suited for the mines, his soft hands used to working ...

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Deniers: Contesting the Science of Smoking

From The Atlantic

A decade after a judge ordered tobacco companies to acknowledge the dangers of low-tar cigarettes, they continue to dispute the scientific consensus.

In a landmark ruling nearly a decade ago, a federal judge ordered tobacco companies to stop lying.

After listening to 84 witnesses and perusing tens of thousands of exhibits, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia took a year to write a 1,652-page opinion detailing the companies’ elaborate strategy to deny ...

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Should Citrus Farmers Use Antibiotics to Combat Greening Disease?

By Maryn McKenna at National Geographic

When you hear about antibiotic use in agriculture it is almost always about the kind of routine everyday use in livestock that the Food and Drug Administration is trying to eliminate. But there’s another type of antibiotic use in agriculture. It may be less known, but it’s poised to generate just as much controversy: spraying the drugs on citrus trees.

Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has applied to the U.S. ...

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Bird feeders may contribute to the spread of disease in wild songbird populations

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 17, 2015 – Wild songbirds that prefer to eat at bird feeders have an increased risk of acquiring a common eye disease. In turn, these birds also spread the disease more quickly to their flock mates, according to an international research team led by Virginia Tech scientists.

The researchers found that this feeding preference, rather than its social position in the flock, as previously thought, was more likely to result in a bird contracting ...

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The first 21 days of a bee’s life: a Ted Talk photo journey

We’ve heard that bees are disappearing. But what is making bee colonies so vulnerable? Photographer Anand Varma raised bees in his backyard — in front of a camera — to get an up close view. This project, for National Geographic, gives a lyrical glimpse into a bee hive — and reveals one of the biggest threats to its health, a mite that preys on baby bees in the first 21 days of life. With his incredible footage, set ...

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Research in the Belden Lab could lead to protective probiotics for amphibians

Press Release from the American Society of Microbiology
Washington, DC – July 30, 2015

In research that could lead to protective probiotics to fight the “chytrid” fungus that has been decimating amphibian populations worldwide, Jenifer Walke, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, and her collaborators have grown bacterial species from the skin microbiome of four species of amphibians. The research appears July 10 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the ...

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