West Nile Virus: From Introduction to Endemnicity

The weather around the globe continues its unpredictable pattern.  Many areas of the US are experiencing unusual flooding for this time of year.  With flood waters, come hordes of tiny vectors, harboring many infectious diseases. Among these, a few are zoonotic.  In 1999, a veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo in New York City noticed an Continue Reading

Are You Cool Enough for a Superfamily?

Superfamilies. The answer is yes! As an ape, you are a card-carrying member of the superfamily Hominoidea. Taxonomy classifies all living beings from three domains of life through 8 different levels to the most specific final categories of genus and species. At times, eight levels just aren’t enough to properly group. When this occurs, we Continue Reading

The Mosquito Has a Smile Like No Other

How do you pronounce "proboscis?" One of my favorite teachers, a forensic entomologist, held a pet peeve for pronouncing the mosquito’s mouthparts as “pro-baa-skus (prəˈbɑːskɪs)” instead of “pro-baa-sis” (prəˈbɑːsɪs). She would remind everyone we study “Science,” not “Sky-unce.” Long before I learned about this controversy, I remember stabbing my juice box with my dinosaur-mosquito mouthpart Continue Reading

Eradication, Elimination, and Endemicity

Modern science has made some tremendous breakthroughs in the last century.  Diseases that used to plague livestock have now been brought under control or eradicated completely.  Only two infectious diseases can be considered completely eradicated: smallpox in humans in 1980, and rinderpest in ruminants in 2011.  When a disease occurs in a geographic region, animal Continue Reading