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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

By Neha Malrani

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Since as long as I can remember, mosquitos have been known to have a bad reputation. Aedes aegypti is just one species that is known for spreading the recently talked about Zika virus, which has since been infecting humans with dengue fever, yellow fever, and chickungunya. The author brought up a good point regarding what would happen if we were to eradicate such a species for good, and this is something I have thought of as well, especially after being prone to dozens of mosquito bites every summer. It is important to note that many species of animals, not just mosquitos, are consistently becoming extinct, estimating about 150 species per day. However, these species are not lost intentionally; rather, this is occurring because humans are taking over their habitats.

Wiping out Aedes aegypti specifically would of course help decrease the spread of disease, but this would not occur without consequence. One entomologist made the point that eradicating this species would potentially cease the production of chocolate, because these mosquitos are the main pollinators of the cacao plant in tropical environments where they are found. I did not know that there had been much debate occurring within the last debate regarding whether or not mosquitos should be eradicated, if not all, then at least the 100 species that are actually able to spread infections to humans. It was interesting to note that even many scientists believe that eradicating mosquitos is possible without causing much harm to the environment, and is feasible because they do not really contribute to society in a positive way. Even after all the discussion regarding the elimination of these vectors of disease, the priority tends to remain as getting rid of the actual disease first.

I found this article to be very important, especially in regards to the many parasitic infections that still impact our world today. Being born and raised in the United States, I have not really had to deal with many infectious diseases, but this continues to be a prevalent issue that the developing world has still not been able to eradicate. In the absence of a vaccine that can help treat an infection, other efforts need to be promoted in order to lessen the spread of infection, such as improved public health education. A video that I found online from the IBT times showed that the Aedes aegypti species was once declared eliminated in 18 countries within South America, an effort that took 15 years and included high levels of insecticide DDT and vast amounts of funding. However, the species was able to reemerge, because vector control is only effective in the time that it is occurring, and as we have seen with the Zika virus, it is very possible that these pests can reemerge and cause seriously harmful effects on the human population. Another video I found that was extremely interesting was able to portray the hypothetical situation of what would happen if there were no mosquitos anymore, and that even if this were to happen, it would be an extremely long-winded effort that would cause damage to the environment, so it may honestly be better leaving the situation as is and focusing on improving the state of disease first.

 

Fazekas, D. (2014, May 29). What If there were No Mosquitoes? Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/what-if-abc-news/what-if-mosquitoes-were-anihilated-194753142.html

 

Gharib, M. (2016, February 20). Would It Be A Bad Thing to Wipe Out A Species … If It’s A Mosquito? Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/02/20/467094440/would-it-be-a-bad-thing-to-wipe-out-a-species-if-its-a-mosquito

 

Whitman, E. (2016, February 16). How Zika Virus-Carrying Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes Were Eradicated, And Then Returned. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from http://www.ibtimes.com/how-zika-virus-carrying-aedes-aegypti-mosquitoes-were-eradicated-then-returned-2309666

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By Hannah Parrish

One’s annual income and socioeconomic status is an unsettling predictor of health in the United States. More advantaged individuals are commonly in better health, but why? Health should not be a luxury but rather a human right – rich, poor, black, white, young, old. At the end of the day we are all people. So why is it that in the US wealth = health?

First off all, your environment is a critical determinant of health as it determines what you are exposed to on a daily basis. When deciding what neighborhood to live in (if you are lucky enough to have that choice) you are ultimately deciding what physical, chemical, and social agents you are exposing yourself too on a daily basis. People living at or below the poverty line rely on subsidized government housing, which provides a toxic environment to health. (more…)

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By Jenna Binkhorst

While the River Ganges in India is most widely known for its holiness to Hindus and the support it provides to millions, the real story of the river is a much darker tale. For centuries, the river has been regarded as Mother Ganges – a holy river to Hindus, which is believed to possess somewhat supernatural powers. However, largely due to the improper sewage management of the treatment facilities surrounding the Ganges, the river is a cesspool of various pollutants. Although the river actually does provide a great deal of agricultural support to nearby communities, it is also believed to redeem the sins of the sinful, heal disease for the sick, and bestow blessings for the virtuous. This romantic view of the river is partially derived from the belief that the river is an earthly reincarnation of the Hindu deity, Ganga. Seen as a gift from the gods, millions of Hindus flock to the river on a daily basis to bathe in it, consume in it, do their laundry in it and cremate their deceased family members on the banks of it. While this religious dedication to the River Ganges has been a staple of the Hindu religion for generations, the river has an equally dark and disturbing side to it. (more…)

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Living in a Haze

By Annie Duerr

Imagine living in a city where you cannot see more than 200 meters in front of you causing problems for driving, flying, and most importantly health. Our throats would burn walking across Boston University’s long campus from class to class from breathing soot and grime. The panoramic pictures of Boston taken by residents of the Stuvis would look dark and out of focus. These horrors are a reality for the citizens of Beijing, China. They are breathing in air at pollution levels more than 20 times higher than the maximum safety level[1]. For the first day of International Health, we were asked to come in with a news article that intrigued us. I brought one on the smog in Beijing, not fully understanding the gravity of the situation that affects China. (more…)

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A new mosquito has been discovered in Kenya which has very different behavior from “the usual” – which may

mosquitomean that current control measures need to be reconsidered and new measures instituted.  It’s not very often that a new species is discovered, and even rare to find a species which has the potential to cause mayhem for control of the most deadly disease in Africa….

Cross-posted from SciDev.net – with many thanks!

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Most people lead their lives hoping to leave behind a legacy, hoping to imprint their footprints in the annals of history. Yet, few realize that their footprint impressions are actually propagating the legacy of a tropical disease that the World Health Organization deems only second in lethality (after malaria), dengue fever.1 Spread to humans via the bites of infected female mosquitos of the species Aedes aegypti, dengue fever is prominently found near pools of water (such as the watery imprint of a footstep), where mosquitos like to breed, in south Asian and Latin American countries.2 With the lack of an internationally approved vaccine for dengue fever, research and public health officials are scurrying to find appropriate vaccination options and contain the vectors that cause it. (more…)

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About a year ago, I heard a student from a Quito university speak about his home and what was happening to it. It was shocking to hear what oil companies were doing to his beautiful country but what was more shocking was how little people knew about it. While people are aware of the dire climate change ramifications that will affect our futures, we tend to forget that some nations are experiencing major differences in their culture and more specifically, their health, today because of the major alterations in their environment.  One such nation, Ecuador, has been and remains largely populated by indigenous peoples. Due to Ecuador’s abundance in resources, large corporations have implemented means by which to extract them, affecting the lives of the inhabitants of the area.  If such industrial progress is not hindered, it will lead to the extinction of several of the human and animal inhabitants, as well as to the destruction of the surrounding environment.  The Indigenous tribes of Ecuador, though few, still compose a part of our international community.  As such, they are entitled the same rights. Though they need only the basic minimum necessities to survive, the pressures of the oil corporations and extraction plants have affected every aspect of their lives. One of the oil industries, Chevron, has filled more than 1, 000 toxic waste pits and hundreds of swamps and streams filled with oil sewage, which in turn have asphyxiated animals who have come to drink from their original water source (Cerda, 2008).  The people themselves are also being poisoned by the drinking water they retrieve from the river.  Illnesses vary from tumors to skin cancer, to genetic malformations (Kendall, 2008).  The natural medicine that these inhabitants rely on is not strong enough to heal them, and medical care to help them is not provided.  When Robert Kennedy Jr. visited the Amazon area, he was quoted as saying “Each of them told the same story. Sick and deformed children, adults and children affected with skin rashes, headaches, dysentery and respiratory ailments…”. Despite these truths, it has taken years for people to acknowledge the difficulties these people face. (more…)

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