Can we eliminate mosquito-borne diseases? Progress in combating dengue and malaria

Wikimedia Commons (Doc James)

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious illnesses and cause over a million deaths annually. Infections carried by mosquitoes make a substantial contribution to the global burden of vector-borne diseases; every year, malaria is responsible for more than 600,000 deaths, and 50-100 million people are thought to be infected with dengue. After attending two tropical medicine meetings hosted by RSTMH – the biennial Measuring Progress conference and a one-day meeting on vector-borne diseases – BMC Medicine takes a look at the current impact of mosquito-borne diseases and the steps being taken to combat them.

Dengue outbreaks and surveillance

A number of dengue outbreaks have recently been reported, with infections seen in Madeira,

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A ticking time bomb? Ebola and the neglected tropical diseases


Ripudaman K Bains is the Assistant Editor of Genome Biology, and the in-house editor of the journal’s special issue on the ‘genomics of infectious diseases

In recent months, infectious diseases have been at the forefront of public attention. The deepening Ebola crisis in West Africa has now claimed nearly 6,000 lives, and although the international response is increasing the disease continues to strain already overextended medical infrastructure in affected countries.

It is perhaps surprising that Ebola is officially classed as a ‘neglected tropical disease’. The 2014 outbreak is the worst on record; between 1976 and 2013 there were 26 outbreaks of the virus, almost all of which occurred in sub-Saharan African nations, resulting in a total of 1,716 …

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How can tagging a hammerhead shark help save the species?

Researcher releasing a tagged hammerhead shark

Hammerhead sharks, which recently received new protections from the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, have suffered drastic population declines in excess of 90% in some parts of the world.

In the Gulf of California, Mexico particularly, scalloped hammerheads are susceptible to being caught by fishing nets while moving into the open sea. However, little information exists on their exact movements, especially those of juvenile sharks as they go through their critical period of adolescence.

New research published in Animal Biotelemetry has now for the first time tracked the precise movements of a young hammerhead shark over a 10-month period, revealing important gaps in current efforts to protect this endangered species. The study is the first …

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Are carbon nanotubes the next asbestos?


A study published last week in Particle and Fibre Toxicology has found that carbon nanotubes can induce cancer in rats, in a similar way to asbestos. In this guest post, Dr Craig Poland, Associate Editor on the journal, examines the study and explains why it doesn’t mean that carbon nanotubes are the next asbestos.

Last week, Susanne Rittinghausen and colleagues from the Fraunhofer and Leibniz Institutes in Germany published the outcome of a two-year rodent study into the carcinogenicity of carbon nanotubes.


The results were surprising although not wholly unexpected and show the most convincing evidence to date on the potential for some carbon nanotubes to cause a type of cancer most commonly associated with asbestos exposure.


But before we …

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Who reviews the reviewers?


The problem of fake peer reviewers is affecting the whole of academic journal publishing and we are among the ranks of publishers hit by this type of fraud. This has been covered by Retraction Watch several times, including here, here, here and here, as well as by the New York Times.

The spectrum of ‘fakery’ has ranged from authors suggesting their friends who agree in advance to provide a positive review, to elaborate peer review circles where a group of authors agree to peer review each others’ manuscripts, to impersonating real people, and to generating completely fictitious characters. From what we have discovered amongst our journals, it appears to have reached a higher level of sophistication. The pattern …

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Dairy products and type 2 diabetes: protective or harmful?

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Yoghurt (cropped)

It is recommended that we should eat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt as part of a healthy diet. Because these foods are high in protein and calcium, moderate consumption of low-fat dairy products is thought to be important for growth, repair and strong bones.

However, some recent studies have suggested that eating dairy products might not be as good for us as previously thought. A study published last week suggested that drinking three or more glasses of milk a day may be linked to increased fracture risk, and a Swedish investigation found a lower incidence of lung, breast and ovarian cancer in those with lactose intolerance – people who avoid consuming dairy …

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The long-lasting impact of El Niño on child growth in Peru





A study published today in Climate Change Responses explains how the El Niño can stunt children’s growth. Heather Danysh, is a doctoral candidate in Epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health and an author of this study. In this guest post, she explains what El Nino is and the affect of climate change on its cyclical nature.




For centuries, the El Niño phenomenon has wreaked havoc on populations around the world through its accompanying extreme weather variability, leading to drought and flood disasters. El Niño-related disasters affect more than four times the number of people affected by other natural disasters worldwide.

El Niño is part of a normal climate phenomenon occurring every 2-7 years, and typically lasts for …

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IVF: Past, current and future developments


The first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born on July 25th 1978 at the Oldham General Hospital in Manchester, UK. This technique – in vitro fertilization – involves removing and isolating an egg or eggs from a woman’s body and allowing sperm to fertilize them outside the body (in vitro) in a laboratory. The fertilized egg is then implanted into the woman’s uterus, hopefully resulting in pregnancy.

This technique was pioneered by consultant gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and Cambridge research physiologist Robert Edwards. This was a major stepping stone in the world of reproductive biology, and science as a whole, and since Louise Brown, it is estimated that over five million babies have been born worldwide using this same technique.

Advances in

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Opinions on systematic review use in policymaking

SR use in policymaking image

“There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion” – Sir Winston Churchill

Should systematic reviews be used to inform policymaking? The debate for and against can get quite heated. New research published yesterday in Systematic Reviews indicates that those who are critical of using systematic reviews in policymaking are more than twice as likely to have pharmaceutical, tobacco or insurance industry ties compared with those who support their use.

Evidence-based policy has a simple aim; use evidence to inform policymaking.

The use of systematic reviews has become increasingly common. Instead of having different pieces of evidence scattered across different platforms, systematic reviews allow researchers to summarize the evidence into a form that can be …

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The challenges of getting your research published when English is not your first language

Language barriers faced by ESL authors

Research in a new white paper we published last week found that using a trusted editing service increased acceptance rates for papers whose authors’ first language wasn’t English. We take a look at some of the challenges these researchers face, and what publishers can do to help.

In academia, competence in writing in English is increasingly regarded as an essential component to visibility and more specifically to getting your research published in international journals.

The challenges faced by English as a Second Language (ESL) researchers in writing for submission to English language journals is well documented, and not insignificant. It isn’t just …

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