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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.
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.