Zika, A new Outlook in Medicine?

zika

Its getting closer and closer to that time again. Its gradually warming and soon our favorite insects will be out and about once more: Mosquitoes….Last year Latin America and eventually parts of the United States were facing quite a vicious outbreak of a virus called Zika. This vector borne virus can be found in infected female mosquitos which go on to bite an individual and infect them with the virus.

This epidemic was becoming quite an epidemic and was part of the scary problem was if a pregnant woman was bitten, her child would experience microcephaly (meaning they would have a significantly smaller than normal head/brain size) which is a very concerning problem. Recently it would seem that the Western Hemisphere has actually come up with some type of vaccination and are actually looking to start with human clinical studies.

While this is really good for that we are trying to make a vaccine, researchers have speculations and wonder if the vaccinations will really help due to they will probably need Zika heavy areas to continue to see if what they are creating actually helps fend off from this nasty virus.  The current vaccine they want to test seems to be  made out of proteins found in mosquito saliva. The product is intended to trigger a human immune system response to the mosquito’s saliva and any viruses mixed with it.  The vaccine is currently going through or have just gone through Phase I trials.

The whole trials are a series of test and regulations to see if its safe before trial on humans and then its release to the whole public to be used. They aren’t quite sure if this whole outbreak last year is going to be yearly or if it was a one time explosion, but they are preparing. Scientist are also tracking the mosquito populations in states such as Texas. The one good thing that will come from this is that we will gain further knowledge and this may be able to help us with future vector borne viruses in the future.

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New Beetle Species Discovered!

beetle

Take a second and look at the photographs above. Do you notice something particularly off or strange about this ant? Well if you fail to notice what is off with this ant, don’t be too sad, entomologist almost missed it too. In fact entomologist looking at this picture had to analyze it several times due to a pondering question of “why does this ant have two abdomens?” In fact scientist are now happy to announce that they have found a new species of beetle named: Nymphista Kronaeuri

Found on the small Latin American Country of Coasta Rica, in the rainforest they found this new species of beetle attached to and riding along an army ant. Interestingly enough this beetle has extremely strong pinches to latch up on the ant and a remarkable color which helps it camouflage against predators and even in fact the army ant that it is attached to.

These army ants in Coasta Rica, live in huge colonies that can range from hundreds to  thousands of these arthropods. However sometimes they can migrate in a nomadic sort of manner usually during the Queen Ant’s breeding season, where they travel up to 3 weeks and gather a mass amount of food in the process when the colony moves. Along with them this new species of beetles hitchhike on usually medium size worker ants that are towards the end of the colony. When the ants sleep, they usually are quite close around as well. Interestingly enough scientist aren’t exactly sure why they do this.

However what they do know is that they aren’t the only insects to do this, but seemingly they are the one and only or are few to have evolved and hide from their chauffeurs. Discoveries like this show us how much we still don’t know.