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Disease control has made incredible strides in the last century, as interventions like vaccines and antibiotics have averted untold suffering. In 2014 we face a backlash as vaccine uptake drops, preventable diseases re-emerge, and bacteria continue to evolve resistance to our most powerful drugs. Yet even as the limits of these tools become apparent, scientific understanding opens up new avenues to disease-free living.  On ERV, Abbie Smith shares an incredible account of genetic tinkering that could curb malaria worldwide. Researchers used a ‘homing endonuclease’ to ensure male mosquitoes made sperm with mostly Y chromosomes, meaning they fathered mostly more males.  This could provide a clear benefit since only female mosquitoes suck blood (and thereby transmit malaria); the new ratio between the sexes would also reduce mosquito populations overall.  Meanwhile, on The Pump Handle, Dr. Rajiv Bhatia says to combat disease in the U.S., we could simply raise the minimum wage. Analysis of a proposed $13/hour standard in California concluded that the raise would prevent 389 premature deaths per year among low-income workers in the state.

Comments

  1. #1 Robby
    July 9, 2014

    A colleague of mine mentioned the mosquito/malaria research to me at lunch yesterday. Truly an innovative approach to a long standing public health problem in many developing nations.

    As to raising the Min wage for societal health benefit? Considering that low income people typically have poorer diets and less access to quality health care, I can see the obvious correlation. However, I personally try to distance myself as far as possible from any form of research that has a high potential to be used as rhetorical fodder for some politician. I have seen far too many folks put themselves into very compromising positions that way.