Vector-borne Diseases & Climate Change
Climate change creates new risks, particularly in the United States, for human exposure to vector-borne diseases (VBDs) — diseases which are transmitted to humans through the bites of insects (referred to as vectors) that carry the disease-causing pathogens. Common vectors include mosquitoes, ticks, and flies.
Climate change creates new uncertainties about the spread of VBDs such as the Zika virus, dengue fever, malaria, and Lyme disease by altering conditions that affect the development and dynamics of the disease vectors and the pathogens they carry.
Tracking the Global Burden of Vector-Borne Disease
The burden of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) is one of public health’s most pressing challenges. VBDs are caused by pathogens such as arboviruses (arthropod-borne virus), bacteria, and parasites that are transmitted to humans and animals through the bites of infected arthropods including mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies, and fleas, among others. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , “vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 deaths annually worldwide”.
Beyond these broad statistics, attempts to quantify the global burden of VBDs is extremely challenging – for a number of reasons. At the highest level, even “burden” has an underlying complexity in public health terms: burden may refer to the number of cases of a given disease as well as the number of deaths.
Burden can also represent Disability-adjusted Life Years (DALYs), a measure that accounts for the long-term effects of disability among the afflicted, as well as the economic impact of disease from regions and countries all the way down to households and individuals. These economic impacts can be further scrutinized as reduced productivity among the populace, increased healthcare costs, and negative impacts on tourism; all of which can directly affect the GDP and economic growth of local and regional economies. And that’s just the beginning.
Study: Digitally Managed Larviciding
A new study has found that larval source management (LSM) – treating mosquito breeding habitats – can still be effective in malaria elimination operations, especially with the aid of new digital technologies. LSM has been replaced in Africa by long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS), but these methods are becoming less effective due to mosquitoes’ growing resistance to insecticides.
Anna Dumitriu: Exploring the Intersection of Art, Science, & Technology
British artist Anna Dumitriu’s name is synonymous with the world of BioArt. Not only is her work visually stunning, but it is also intellectually stimulating, as she tackles some of the most pressing issues of our time.
Dumitriu’s art explores our relationship to infectious diseases, artificial intelligence, and the impact of the pandemic from cultural and scientific perspectives. During her exploration of these topics, she has worked with the Liu Laboratory for Synthetic Evolution at the University of California in Irvine to investigate synthetic biology, and she has collaborated with BeyondSequ at the University of Birmingham to visually observe her CRISPR edit using super-resolution laser microscopy.
Dr. Agnes Kalibata: Sustainable Agriculture Advocate
When it comes to building a healthier and more sustainable future, few people have made as much of an impact as Dr. Agnes Kalibata. As a renowned agricultural scientist, policymaker, and advocate for nutrition and food security, Dr. Kalibata has spent decades working to improve the lives of people in her home country of Rwanda and around the world.
After growing up in an Ugandan refugee camp with her Rwandan parents, Dr. Kalibata earned a degree in agricultural sciences from Makerere University in Uganda and then went on to complete a PhD in entomology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. However, it was her work in Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture that really put her on the map.
Earth Day & Public Health: Unavoidably Connected
Each year on April 22nd, people and nations around the world celebrate Earth Day to raise awareness and promote action toward environmental protection and sustainability. Activities typically include community clean-ups and educational campaigns designed to promote sustainability in daily life.
The origins of Earth Day date back to the 1960s and a decade of growing enviro-consciousness brought about by the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and a series of environmental disasters that climaxed with a devastating oil spill off the coast of California in 1969. Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, organized the first Earth Day in 1970, when an estimated 20 million Americans took part in organized activities ranging from tree plantings to beach cleanups and teach-ins on college campuses.
Since those humble beginnings, Earth Day has become a global event – but amidst the tree plantings and landscape revitalization lies a subtle and yet direct connection between Earth Day and Public Health. Just as we depend on the natural environment for our survival, civilization creates and shapes a social and economic environment that greatly influences the health and well-being of our species.
Rachel Sussman: Artistic Explorations of Natural Wonders
Rachel Sussman is a contemporary artist based in Brooklyn.
Sussman is a Guggenheim, NYFA, and MacDowell Colony Fellow, and two-time TED speaker. Her critically acclaimed, decade-long project “The Oldest Living Things in the World” combines art, science, and philosophy into a traveling exhibition and New York Times bestselling book.
Under the Canopy
Journey into the largest tract of tropical rainforest on our planet — the Amazon.
Narrated by indigenous guide, Kamanja Panashekung, and actor Lee Pace, this new virtual reality film by Conservation International and Jaunt VR takes you into the Amazon and urges the protection of world’s largest rainforest.
Infographic: Carbon & The Sea
By releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humans are changing the global climate in ways that are affecting the marine environment in terms of weather patterns, water temperature, sea level, ocean chemistry, currents, coastal erosion and the frequency of storms.
Forests & Earth’s Temperatures
Seeing the forest through the trees is an expression you may not think of when the topic of global warming comes up. However, 31% of the earth’s surface is covered by trees and each one is working overtime to sequester carbon to combat global warming. Carbon sequestration is a natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form, and it is estimated that forests absorb approximately 7.6 billion metric tons of carbon annually.