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Amazon Rainforest with Mist

Shrinking Forests, Emerging Diseases

Dona Dora’s man is away from home a lot more these days. It didn’t used to be like that.

He leaves early, sometimes on foot, but increasingly on his bicycle, and heads into the forests surrounding Belém, the capital of Brazil’s Para province. He keeps his eyes open especially for five medicinal plants that are always in demand — sucuúba (Himatanthus sucuuba), copaíba (Copaifera spp.), andiroba (Carapa guianensis), barbatimão (Stryphnodendron spp.) and pãu d’arco (Tabebuia avellanedae).

Fifteen years earlier, he would have found all five within hours and been back for lunch, but times have changed. These days, medicinal forest plants in high demand are becoming harder to find as forests that have stood strong for millennia are cleared to make way for grazing pastures for millions of cattle owned by meat companies, or to grow soybeans to feed cattle and poultry.

Now, Dona Dora’s man can spend a whole day and not find more than a few plants. It might be late at night before he gets back home.

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Image of a chimp.

Chimpanzees May Self-Medicate With Plants, Using the Forest as a Pharmacy

Chimpanzees may be using the forest like their own personal pharmacy. When they’re sick, the primates appear to seek out and eat plants with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, according to new research.

Observers have long suspected that chimpanzees use plants to self-medicate. Now, a new paper published last week in the journal PLOS ONE offers more evidence in support of this idea.

Researchers followed two groups of wild chimpanzees through Uganda’s Budongo Forest for eight months. They recorded what the animals ate, as well as whether they were sick—which they determined by checking their feces for parasites, testing their urine for elevated levels of immune cells and looking for wounds.

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ransmission electron micrograph of dengue virus particles (gold). Micrograph courtesy of CDC; colorization and visual effects by NIAID © CDC and NIAID

The Rise of Dengue: A Global Perspective

Around the world, dengue is considered the most common viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that affects people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease is now endemic in more than 100 countries. In the first three months of 2024, over five million dengue cases and over 2000 dengue-related deaths were reported globally. The figures so far project that 2024 could be even worse than 2023, with the regions most seriously affected being the Americas, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific.

In the Americas, there were 6,186,805 suspected cases of dengue reported in the first 15 weeks of 2024. To put this into perspective, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), this figure represents an increase of 254% compared to the same period in 2023. Of these cases 5,928 were confirmed and classified as severe dengue.

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Rogan Brown: The Science of Paper

Rogan Brown is an Anglo-Irish artist notable for his intricate paper sculptures that beautifully intertwine art and science. Drawing inspiration from the microscopic to the monumental—microbiology, botanical forms, geological structures, and marine ecosystems—Brown meticulously handcrafts and laser-cuts complex three-dimensional artworks. His pieces surpass mere representation, merging scientific accuracy with surreal artistic flair.

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Shiuly Khatun

Shiuly Khatun: Dengue Warrior

Shiuly Khatun is a Field Supervisor at the Dhalpur Aalo Clinic in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where she manages and coordinates the clinic’s operations. Her daily responsibilities are vast and critical, ranging from mapping areas and dividing work for community volunteers to conducting health sessions and overseeing satellite clinic activities.

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Aedes mosquito

Dengue fever, once confined to the tropics, now threatens the U.S.

Climate change is expanding the habitat of the mosquitoes that carry the disease, allowing them to spread further north.

Meg Norris was traveling in Argentina in April when the first signs of dengue fever hit her. The weather in Salta, just south of the Bolivian border, was warm, but Norris, a 33-year-old from Boulder, Colorado, zipped a fleece sweatshirt around her body to stop herself from shivering.

“I thought it was sun poisoning,” she said.

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