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Scientists Turn Disease-Spreading Female Mosquitoes Male

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Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world, but it’s only the females that pose a threat to people. While female mosquitoes feed on blood to support reproduction, male mosquitoes don’t bite, and thus don’t spread deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. 

One way researchers hope to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases is by reducing the number of female mosquitoes. Researchers at Virginia Tech have identified the gene responsible for determining sex in Aedes aegypti, the species of mosquito that spreads the viruses causing dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya. They injected this genetic switch, called Nix, into mosquito embryos, causing two-thirds of the female mosquitoes to develop male genitalia. When they removed Nix, the male mosquitoes developed female genitals. 

“We’re not there yet, but the ultimate goal is to be able to establish transgenic lines that express Nix in genetic females to convert them to harmless males,” Virginia Tech entomologist Zach Adelman said in a press statement

However, this wouldn’t mean the end of every female mosquito on Earth. Only select mosquito species are vectors for disease; most are harmless. For instance, in Thailand, out of 450 identified mosquito species, only 10 carry the viruses that spread diseases among humans. Geneticists can test to see if specific mosquitoes are infected, and could target only those for the sex-change treatment. 

[h/t: Newswise]

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Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • H-E-B Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

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97 Percent of Us Are Washing Our Hands All Wrong
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Most of us know the importance of washing our hands, but we're still pretty clueless when it comes to washing them the right way. As CNN reports, we fall short of washing our hands effectively 97 percent of the time.

That number comes from a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that looked at 383 participants in a test-kitchen environment. When they were told to wash their hands, the vast majority of subjects walked away from the sink after less than 20 seconds—the minimum hand-washing time recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of them also failed to dry their hands with a clean towel.

The researchers had participants cooking and handling raw meats. Because they didn't wash their hands properly, volunteers were spreading potentially dangerous germs to spice jars 48 percent of the time, contaminating refrigerator handles 11 percent of the time, and doing the same to salads 5 percent of the time.

People who don't wash their hands the correct way risk spreading harmful microbes to everything they touch, making themselves and those they live with more susceptible to certain infections like gastrointestinal illness and respiratory infections. Luckily, the proper hand-washing protocol isn't that complicated: The biggest change most of us need to make is investing more time.

According to the CDC, you need to rub your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds to get rid of harmful bacteria. A helpful trick is to sing "Happy Birthday" twice as you wash—once you're finished, you should have passed the 20-second mark. And if your bathroom or kitchen doesn't have a clean towel to dry your hands with, let them air-dry. 

[h/t CNN]

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