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17 July 2018

Guinea Worm Eradication: The Dog Days are NOT Over

The end of the guinea worm’s life cycle looks like a scene from a horror movie: a thin, slimy creature emerging from lesions on the legs of the infected.

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16 July 2018

Good morning! Bed bugs left you Chagas Disease.

Bugs can be scary. Bugs can be especially scary when they are in your bed.

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13 July 2018

The forgotten dogs of the Americas

Over the course of history humans have created hundreds of specialized breeds, each bread for a specific purpose, and originating from all corners of the globe. However, due to having such low ancestry in common, more recently scientists have begun to point to Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor (CTVT) disease as the most likely cause of the almost extinction of American dog breeds either before or during European arrival in the 15th century.  

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12 July 2018

Our favorite yellow fruit in danger?!

In the 1950s, the Gros Michel banana was the most-exported banana in the world until a fungus known as banana wilt ravaged the banana population. The banana that we eat today is the Cavendish and is the replacement for the Gros Michel after it was led into near extinction by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. It’s spreading across Southeast Asia, Australia and the Middle East, where bananas are grown. In the 1950s the banana industry almost completely collapsed because of the fungus, and through switching to the Cavendish they were able to keep the industry going. The banana is being infected by the fungus once again.

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11 July 2018

Origin found of amphibian’s worst nightmare, Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis

In recent years, amphibians all over the world have been dying to the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, affectionately referred to as BD. The fungus has been spreading at an alarming rate, and the death toll is rising. The sudden and dramatic outbreak of BD around the world has prompted a large-scale research effort to locate the origin of the fungus, which may reveal the genetic lineage of the fungus, as well as give us insight into preventing further spread of the disease.

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10 July 2018

Brains for breakfast: Can cannibalism lead to disease resistance?

The Fore tribe in Papua New Guinea has a long history of ritualistic cannibalism, resulting in a crippling outbreak of a degenerative brain disease called Kuru in the 1950’s. The epidemic devestated the tribe, but some survivors of the Kuru epidemic are now found to show signs of evolved Kuru resistance and possibly other degenerative neurological diseases.

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9 July 2018

Gene modification: How it could save the pig industry billions

Scientists have recently produced pigs with the ability to resists a highly problematic and costly disease. Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is a pathogenic disease that infects pigs, and it ultimately causes the industry to lose approximately $2.5 billion in revenue annually.

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6 July 2018

Holy worms: Historical depictions of Guinea Worm disease in Medieval art

This 15th-century altarpiece depicts St. Roch, a Catholic saint from the 14th century known for his work with plague victims. The prominent feature in this, and almost all depictions of St. Roch is the wound/mark on his upper thigh. It has been speculated to be a birthmark, a boil, or a sore and until recently, art historians said this particular piece shows a long drop of pus leaking from a wound. Now, researchers believe this actually depicts Guinea worm disease (GWD).

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5 July 2018

Zombie shrimp?

Parasites are known to manipulate their hosts’ behavior in a variety of ways to aid parasite survival and reproduction.

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4 July 2018

A new bacterium that causes Lyme isease

This is part of a series of posts from our own Shane Hanlon’s disease ecology class that he’s currently teaching at the University of Pittsburgh Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology. Students were asked to write popular science posts about (mostly) wildlife diseases.

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