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A Rare Virus Spread by Mosquitoes Can Change Your Personality — and It’s Just Been Found in 5 States

A virus that can cause brain damage has been found in New York, Massachusetts, Florida, South Carolina, and New Jersey.

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Mosquitoes EEE Virus
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(TMU) — Simply dealing with the itchiness after a mosquito bite is annoying enough, especially when you’ve been outside for a significant length of time and find yourself covered in itchy red dots. But it turns out people in several U.S. states have a lot more to worry about than some pesky itching.

According to health officials, a rare virus called eastern equine encephalitis virus, or EEE, that can cause brain damage has been found in New York, Massachusetts, Florida, South Carolina, and New Jersey.

The virus, spread by infected mosquitoes, has been confirmed in mosquitoes south of Boston, MA; mosquito pools about 20 miles north of Syracuse, NY; in the blood of sentinel chickens in Orange County, FL; in an Appaloosa colt in Chesterfield County, SC; and a 12-year-old vaccinated mare in Ocean County, NJ that was euthanized on July 23.

Thankfully EEE is rare and no human infections have been reported this year, but it is known to wreak havoc on livestock and can cause personality changes in humans who aren’t killed by the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 5 to 10 humans cases are reported every year in the United States, but 30% of cases typically prove fatal and most survivors are left with permanent damage. In 90% of cases, EEE proves fatal for horses.

After the virus is transmitted to humans via mosquito bite, the victim may suffer from encephalitis—or inflammation of the brain—ultimately leading to death or permanent brain damage. Other symptoms include headache, fever, chills and vomiting for four to 10 days after transmission. Severe symptoms include seizures, disorientation and coma.

While there is no cure for EEE, a blood or spinal fluid test can diagnose the infection and, if it doesn’t reach the brain, it’s possible to recover within a matter of weeks.

The danger comes when the virus reaches the brain. When this occurs, irreversible problems such as confusion, memory loss, personality changes, paralysis and more are possible.

Thankfully, the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses can be significantly lessened through prevention. If you work or play frequently outdoors, experts recommend using bug spray that contains DEET or lemon eucalyptus, in addition to wearing long clothing that covers the skin. According to officials, people under the age of 15 or over 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness.

Reducing sources of standing water—like flower puts, buckets, bird baths and other containers—can help to reduce the mosquito population in your yard. It is also a good idea to make sure that all screens are in-tact so the pests don’t enter your home.
Officials in Oswego County, New York released a list of recommendations to hinder the spread of EEE:
  • Repair or replace window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside and reduce or eliminate all standing water.

  • Dispose of old tires. Used tires are a significant mosquito breeding site and are accepted at Oswego County transfer stations. Call the Oswego County Solid Waste Department at 315-591-9200 for details.

  • Empty or dispose of pails, cans, flower pots, and similar water-holding containers.

  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.

  • Clear roof gutters and be sure they drain properly.

  • Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use.

  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs and drain pool covers.

  • Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.

  • Remove leaf debris from yards and gardens and clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.

  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.


By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Health

Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People

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The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.

Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.

Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.

Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.

Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.

“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”

However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.

In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”

“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

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Environment

Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say

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With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.

According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.

The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.

The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.

While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.

Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.

Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced

However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.

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Health

Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact

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Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.

And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.

Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.

Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.

Death Toll, by Percent of Population

In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.

Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.

The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.

Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.

History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning

While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.

In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.

What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?

Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics

Republished from ZH with permission.

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