Sigma Xi Speaks: January 2017

by John Nemeth | Jan 17, 2017

John NemethInfectious tropical diseases are spreading to new areas, partly thanks to climate change and to the ease with which we travel nowadays. It’s important that we are aware of the threats in our areas and that, as scientists, we can share sound, research-based information with those around us.

Sigma Xi member Peter Hotez is a leader on research involving diseases that disproportionately afflict the world’s poorest people. As coeditor-in-chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, founding dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, U.S. Science Envoy for the U.S. Department of State, and president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, he predicted that the Zika virus would come to the United States in 2016. Now he has published a list of global infectious disease threats to the United States for 2017. 

Dr. Hotez, whose daughter has autism, also speaks out against the anti-vaccination movement. Due to the number of students who are not being vaccinated, he predicts that Texas will start seeing measles outbreaks as early as the winter or spring of 2018. 

I hope you read his materials on diseases and share them with people around you. Without due vigilance, we may all be increasingly vulnerable.

Kids Science Reading Corner

The Secret Lives of Backyard BugsIt’s also important to share information about insect-borne illnesses with the kids in our lives, especially if they live in (or will be traveling to) affected areas. Those in Florida, Texas, and other Gulf-area states may want to check out this flyer from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how to talk to kids about Zika, as well as the CDC’s activity book “Mosquito Bites Are Bad,” designed to teach kids how to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illness.

Although hearing about viruses such as Zika and West Nile can be worrying for kids, learning more about insects in general may help them react to these creatures with curiosity instead of dread. Here are a couple useful titles:

For ages 4–8: Bugs Are Insects by Anne Rockwell and Steve Jenkins 
For ages 9 and up: The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards

Armed with great books, kids can appreciate that there’s so much more to a bug than its bite!

Sincerely,
 
John Nemeth Signature



John C. Nemeth, PhD
Executive Director and CEO
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
Publisher of American Scientist

Sigma Xi Speaks is a monthly series of information that we hope you share with others. Find past articles on Sigma Xi's blog, Keyed In.

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