Welcome to another issue of The Filtrate, which we hope won't be as much of a letdown as Season 3 of Stranger Things. I mean, at least we won't outright plagiarize a concept created by a trading card game three years ago.
Summer is well underway, which means we're approaching Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) season. As explained by the CDC in their latest surveillance report, AFM is a serious paralytic condition first defined in 2014, which has followed a biennial cycle since then. In 2018 it affected 233 people, mostly kids. We still don't understand why. Check out Vincent Racaniello's summary of the situation as well.
Once summer ends we'll head into flu season, of course, and another timely CDC report documents how that played out a couple of years ago. Briefly: not well. Records of workplace absenteeism revealed that the 2017-18 flu season was a nasty one, with more people missing work that season than in the past five years. That doesn't mean they were all home with the flu, but the correlation is strong.
Before we continue, I have some advice for you: don't procrastinate. Just stop messing around making "To Do" lists and start doing the stuff on them. There, that should help my grades next semester. What am I talking about? Well, as the paper explains, students who were assigned to give helpful academic advice to peers did better in school themselves afterward. It seems the act of giving advice may help the giver as much as the recipient.
Another study of serious conversations also came out this week, showing that talking with one's peers about climate change really can persuade them to take the issue more seriously. And we do need to take it more seriously, lest we consign our descendants to an ever-bleaker future of disaster and disease.
Disease? Oh, yeah. As the climate changes and global average temperatures increase, extreme weather events will become more likely. Take heat waves, for example, which not only kill people directly, they also change disease vector biology. While this modeling study found that heat waves can slow the development of one major vector species, the mosquito Aedes albopictus, it implies that mosquito control programs will get more complicated if heat waves become more common.
We need to interpret mathematical modeling studies carefully, because they don't always line up with reality, but they can show us where to focus field studies. This one suggests that rabies epidemiologists should start taking a more nuanced view of dogs. Using a model based on observed canine behavior, the authors found that different dog personalities have different risks of spreading rabies. And if you meet a dog named Explorer, stay away.
That's it for this week. As always, if you want to comment on a story covered here, you can reach me through Twitter.