New Zika Prevention Technology

Grind for June 4th, 2018

“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.”

– Tony Robbins

New Discoveries

The Headline

Multinational team of researchers develops Zika-detection laser

The Grind

A team of researchers from the US, Australia, and Brazil has developed a new method of “scanning” mosquitoes to learn whether or not they are carrying the Zika virus.

As outlined in a report published this month in Science Advances, the method utilizes near-infrared light to detect the infection.

Here’s how it works:

Near-infrared light can pass through living tissue, but not through certain molecules like melanin and chlorophyll. Due to the molecules inside their bodies, Zika-infected mosquitoes absorb the light in a pattern that is distinguishable from healthy mosquitoes.

Scientists are unsure which molecules are responsible for the difference, but early tests suggest the new scan is over 90% accurate. It’s also about 18x faster than previous methods.

The only downside is that poor countries with small disease control budgets may be unable to afford the tools necessary to test mosquitoes. While the new scanning method would save money in the long run, the initial investment for a single tool would be as much as $60,000.

The Background

The new Zika scan was developed after the 2015-2016 outbreak, when the mosquito-transmitted virus spread from Brazil into South and North America, islands in the Pacific, and Southeast Asia.

Zika is relatively harmless for most adult patients, but when transmitted to an unborn child can cause fatal birth detects. Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults – an immune dysfunction that causes rapid-onset muscle weakness

Researchers are hopeful that ongoing tests with near-infrared light will lead to discoveries that will help us treat already-infected patients and children with birth defects.

A Sweet Deal

The Headline

Ohio candy company buys NECCO

The Grind

The Ohio-based Spangler Candy Company on Wednesday purchased the bankrupt New England Confectionary Co., which is primarily known for its chalky NECCO wafers and even chalkier Valentine’s Day hearts.

While I’m not convinced anyone actually likes NECCO wafers or candy hearts, both products have become something of an American classic.

The Details

NECCO can trace its beginnings to English immigrant Oliver Chase, who invented the first American candy machine in 1847. In 1901, Chase merged his company with another to form the New England Confectionary Co.

NECCO wafers have long been a favorite among soldiers because they do not melt and can withstand transportation without breaking. During WWII, the US government purchased the candy in bulk and sent it to soldiers.

According to social media, Americans also use NECCO wafers as shingles on gingerbread houses and as currency in children’s games.

“We started as a family-owned candy company,” said NECCO CEO Mike McGee. “We’re thrilled to work with a fourth-generation candy company that’s going to bring some new stewardship to our brand. We’ll work really hard to make sure we get a successful transition.”

The current CEO of Spangler Candy Company, Kirkland Vashaw, is a fourth-generation family member of the two brothers who founded the company in 1906. Spangler is famous for its Circus Peanuts and Dum Dum lollipops.

Did you know… The Gate Tower Building skyscraper in Japan has a highway passing through its fifth, sixth and seventh floors.

April grew up in the Midwest, where she developed a passion for writing and storytelling at a young age. She transformed that passion into a degree at Indiana University (2008-2012), after which she promptly moved to South Florida to escape the cold.

Since then, April has worked as a content writer, editor, proofreader, blogger, tour guide, scriptwriter, and - I’ll admit it - bartender. Her favorite topics on which to write include health, politics, science & nature, and space exploration (anything but sports, really).

April is an amateur artist who enjoys spending time outdoors and inventing new cocktails. She currently resides in St. Petersburg, Florida

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