Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How recycling can help eradicate mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika

Guest blogger, Trisha Miller, joins us again today to share some important developments in the fight against the mosquito-borne illness, Zika.
Recycling to End Illness

Diseases including malaria, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and the newly discovered Zika are affecting millions of people each year. What is the cause? In one simple word -- trash. All of these diseases are a direct result of poor waste disposal. Not to mention, each of these illnesses are quite aggressive and can be fatal if not treated properly. Unfortunately, many impoverished communities are not equipped with the necessary tools to rid themselves of such a plague. With proper filtering, responsible waste placement, and recycling, we could potentially rid many areas of these illnesses. Luckily, there are numerous organizations out there working to make it a reality one day at a time.

As many are aware, the malaria infection is spread through disease carrying mosquitoes. Stagnant, unfiltered water and trash covered areas are a common breeding ground for insects such as these, which means any areas accumulating said trash could become a hot spot for the spread of this type of illness.

Recently, an outbreak of the illness Zika has traveled across South America. Scientists have concluded that the disease is spread in the same way as the malaria infection - through mosquito bites. The symptoms include rash, headache, red/sore eyes, joint pain, and a mild fever. Although these effects don’t sound deadly, it’s what’s hiding beneath the surface that is really concerning. An astonishing 20% of pregnant women who become infected with Zika have babies with serious birth defects. As of right now, there is no cure.

The birth defects include a condition called microcephaly, which is a smaller than normal head size. It is believed the disease interrupts the child’s growth process while in the womb, slowing the natural formation of the brain and skull. Of course, this type of abnormality can cause an array of irreversible mental health issues.

However, many volunteer organizations are now stepping in to provide relief for those affected. Researchers have concluded that colonies of mosquitoes are forming around trash that does not quickly decompose, such as old tires and used plastic containers. So they have decided to use the mosquito’s own resources against them. Volunteers and scientists are using recycled tires in order to trap the infected bugs for good.

Mosquitoes are attracted to the old tires, commonly equipped with a small pool of water inside. Once the colony has chosen this nice shelter for breeding, the entire family of mosquitoes moves into the oasis of trash. Researchers are then carefully capturing some of the insects for further study, as they work towards discovering a cure. And, in order to stop the spread of Zika, they are destroying the eggs of the infected mosquitoes.

This provides a solution at little to no cost to those looking to eradicate the disease. The used materials can be donated or scavenged from around the world for such a wonderful cause. What’s more, if the elimination of Zika proves fruitful in this way, these recycled traps may be used similarly in order to gain control of the spread of other infections like Malaria.


Trisha Miller is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan and is committed to an all-around eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle. You can follow her on Twitter @thatdangvegan and her blog (www.thatdangvegan.com)

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