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Mosquitos: Our “Unfriendly” Neighbors! Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases

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This is a guest post by Tomoko Y. Steen, Ph.D. a Science Reference librarian in the Science, Technology & Business Division.

Oh! That horrid Mosquito. Florence Hooper Baker (composer). Hitchcock's Music Store, New York, [1882].
Oh! That horrid Mosquito. Florence Hooper Baker (composer). Hitchcock’s Music Store, New York, [1882].
Every summer when the temperatures reach their peak, daily news coverage begins to express concern about mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquitos have been our unfriendly neighbors for many centuries during the summer months and year round in some parts of the world. Not only do they cause itching and discomfort with their bites, but they can potentially transmit serious diseases. This year there was heightened concern due to the Zika virus. Discussions of mosquito-borne diseases started much earlier in the spring, much earlier than usual, because of the increasing concern about the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly in newborn babies in Brazil. Given that Brazil was the host country of the 2016 Olympics and expecting visitors in addition to athletes, there were serious concerns about migration between Brazil and other countries and the spread of the Zika virus.

The Science, Technology and Business Division of the Library of Congress sponsored and will continue to sponsor lectures on related topics, and staff have also created guides on this subject. While recent news coverage has been directed primarily at Zika, it is important to be aware of prevention, transmission processes and outcomes of infection by other mosquito-borne diseases.

Commonly known mosquito-borne diseases are: Malaria, Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus, Chikungunya, Japanese Encephalitis, and Zika. In addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation’s Global Issues and academic institutions such as the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, have comprehensive guides on each disease. Zika is a unique case, because a recent technique known as “gene drives” was used as a test in controlling mosquito populations. By releasing genetically modified mosquitos, scientists hope to wipe out mosquitos that carry Zika.

The Library of Congress has a historical manuscript collection on mosquito research including research reports by Walter Reed: Yellow Fever; a compilation of various publications. Results of the work of Maj. Walter Reed, Medical Corps, United States Army, and the Yellow Fever Commission that was presented by Mr. Owen as well as correspondence from Walter Reed.

For further information:

Upcoming Lecture

Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Monday, September 26, 2016 “Mosquitos and their Diseases” in the Mumford Room with Professor Radhakrishnan Padmanabhan, Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Georgetown University, School of Medicine (co-sponsored with The Office of Health Services).

Past Lectures

One Health: Vector-Borne Diseases
May 18, 2016 “One Health” with Dr. Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Climate Change & Migration of Disease Outbreaks
May 18, 2011 “Predicting Disease Outbreaks from Space,” presented by Assaf Anyamba, Ph.D.

Science Reference Guides

One Health
Zika Virus

Other Resources

Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL)
The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), of which the Library of Congress is a member, is a consortium of libraries dedicated to digitizing and making available the biodiversity literature in their collections.

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