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Scientists Are Using Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight the Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus

Trials show cuts in the wild mosquito population of as much as 90 percent.

Photo via Wikipedia (public domain)

As the Zika virus begins its spread in the United States, a British company is looking into genetically engineered mosquitoes to impede the outbreak.


NPR reports that Oxitec, a biotechnical insect control company, has developed a line of modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the species that carries the Zika virus as well as dengue fever and chikungunya. The company has altered male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes so that when they mate, the females lay eggs that produce larvae that die before adulthood. Through this program, Oxitec has been able to cut the mosquito population by as much as 90 percent in Brazil and other countries over the past decade.

The virus was first detected in Brazil in May 2015 and has since spread to 22 more countries in South and Central America, prompting the CDC to issue a travel alert for people visiting the affected regions. Zika is transmitted through mosquito bites, but a few cases suggest it can also be sexually transmitted.

Zika causes fever-like symptoms and poses a threat especially to pregnant women—the infection has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect in which infants are born with an abnormally small skull. The pathogen has also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition that can cause paralysis.

While Oxitec is waiting for FDA approval to begin conducting trials in the Florida Keys, the company reports an 82 percent cut in wild mosquito larvae in Piracicaba, a neighboring city of São Paulo, Brazil. Several years ago, Oxitec and Key West officials agreed to a similar program during a dengue outbreak.

There have been several confirmed cases of the Zika virus in New York, Florida, Texas, and California. All were found in U.S. residents returning overseas from Zika-affected countries.

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via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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