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There are 80 species of mosquito in Canada. SLAP.
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Mosquito bites are a part of Canadian living. Usually, the only consequence of an unwanted invasion is an itchy welt. However, over the last decade, the consequences have become significantly greater due to the emergence of several viruses.
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There are many welcome hallmarks to summer, such as the longer days and pleasant temperatures. Yet, summer also brings unwanted risks like damaging storms, oppressive heat waves, forest fires, and drought. One of the least favoured recurrences is the rise in mosquito populations and the potential for West Nile Virus infection.
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A recent study undertaken by scientists in Ethiopia came to a startling conclusion: Chickens seemed to be immune to mosquitoes, showing fewer bites than any other animal. So the question is, of course: Why? And can that be replicated in humans? The answer isn't quite so straightforward.
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Only about 20 per cent of people who are infected with Zika actually experience any symptoms. The rest have no idea they were ever infected with it at all... Fever, rash, nausea, joint and muscle pain, headaches and redness of the eyes are all signs of a Zika infection. The only way to know for sure, though, is by getting a blood test.
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This year, the World Health Organization is calling on the global community to "end malaria for good" by lowering the global malaria burden over the next 15 years, and reducing malaria death rates by at least 90%. We still have a long way to go, but the end of the malaria epidemic may finally be in sight, and could even be achieved within our lifetime.
So far, no case of Zika has been contracted in Canada. But some people wonder if that might change. At first blush, this question seemed silly, especially when asked in the middle of a cold Canadian winter. But winter is receding and some people in Hamilton who know what they are talking about are asking that very question. Could Zika come to Canada?
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The Zika virus has captured the attention of the international community because thousands of babies are being born with underdeveloped brains to women who were infected with Zika during their pregnancy. Should Canadians be worried? For now, WHO says no, because our country doesn't harbour the mosquito types that spread the disease, aedes aegypti and albopictus. But Canadians shouldn't be too complacent about the spread of the virus. Here's why.
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Normally, when an outbreak or epidemic is found, the first order of business is to confirm a situation is actually happening. Once that is confirmed, the next step is to identify the cause. In the case of Zika virus, both these steps happened without much concern. Unfortunately, the rest of the epidemiological investigation has been anything but a matter of routine. The reason stems from our rather rudimentary understanding of the Zika virus. While we have known about its existence for decades, only a few studies on its effect on humans have ever been conducted. This means we're learning new things every day as new studies are ordered. What this does NOT mean, however, is that we are all victims of a vast conspiracy. So let's keep that in mind as we look at what we do know so far.
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For many people, coffee is the perfect way to start the day, end a meal, or help to recover after a long weekend. But while humans may tend to love the bitter flavour -- usually with some cream and sugar -- some insects find it toxic.
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Mosquitoes are re-emerging as a serious North American health threat as carriers of the West Nile Virus. In the developing world, mosquitoes pose an even more menacing danger. There, they transmit malaria, the deadliest disease borne by any insect or animal anywhere. This year, malaria deaths are expected to spike upwards, after more than a decade of steady decline. The reason: Ebola. The fragile health systems in West Africa have been stretched to the limit in the Ebola fight, and routine measures to combat malaria have gone by the wayside.
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The illness is called Chikungunya (pronounced chick-uhn-guhn-ya) and is derived from the African Makonde language meaning "to become contorted" or "to walk bent over." As the name implies, the disease is manifested through the development of muscle and joint pains although this isn't the only symptom.
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In the coming month, close to a half million Canadian snowbirds, will seek out new homes in the southern United States. While the promise of a gentler environment is obvious, there are risks with the semi-annual migration. The lack of a freezing season means a number of pests thrive throughout the year including the ever annoying mosquito.
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Mosquito-borne diseases kill 725,000 people a year -- including one child in Africa every minute from malaria alone -- making the seemingly innocuous bugs responsible for more human deaths than every other creature combined.
We've all heard that mold in the home is extremely hazardous to our health, but did you know that mold occurs outdoors as well? Our gardens and backyards are actually a great breeding space for molds that are inhaled via mold spores. Our immune systems deal with these mold spores just like an allergy, with watery eyes, sneezing and congestion.
Mosquito bites mean something different in many parts of the world. Working for an international aid and development agency, I've learned about the dangers of malaria, an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito. On World Malaria Day, I think about the millions of children who have no bug spray -- not ever.
Two third of malaria cases in South-East Asia occur in India. According to the World Health Organization, in 2011, 2.15-million parasitologically confirmed malaria cases were reported, with three countries accounting for 95 per cent of confirmed cases: India, Myanmar and Indonesia.
With more funding for research and development of new insecticide and for distribution of preventative tools, the world has the capacity to eradicate this horrific disease, malaria, from our psyche. The question is, do we have the will to do so?
Canadians may revel in the splendours of summer — hot-weather clothing and open-toe footwear, trips to the lake or seaside, and the no-fuss joy of outdoor cooking on the grill. But those lazy days of...
Most of Canada and parts of the United States has been gripped in a cold snap that has seen temperatures dip below -40ºC in some places. While we may have little enjoyment from this forecast, in terms of germs and pests, this may actually be good news.
Hollywood is not the only place with an increasing their number of sequels. While returning health villains, like West Nile Virus and "Swine Flu 2" continue to represent only a minority of worldwide infections, the future is looking rather glum. There are certain to be more germs that will re-emerge and send us all into a frenzy worthy of a blockbuster's opening day weekend.
By: Jackie Davis Good news, cottagers: 2011 was packed with research and technology breakthroughs that may, one day, help in the battle against our perennial enemies. %Slideshow-539142% 1. Electric Wa...