17 – 23 October 2015

Brendan Wren speaks to Associated Press about plague, following research from Denmark suggesting that it was spread nearly 3,000 years before previously thought: “It might be that (plague) will eventually burn itself out… The evidence is that (plague) is not going to come back big time, but it’s hard to predict what the bacteria will do… they are great survivors.” The story runs on more than 300 news sites around the world, including The Washington Post, New York Times, Daily Mail and Fox News.

James Logan presents a BBC Scotland documentary on ‘The Secret Life of Midges’: “It might seem a little bit odd but I am genuinely fascinated by midges… I’ve probably spent more time being bitten by these insects than any sane person should.” The programme also features Victor Brugman, Vicki Austen and Christina Due. The documentary is covered by the Express, Herald Scotland, Daily Record, Edinburgh Evening News, The National, The Times and The Scotsman. It inspires an interactive BBC iWonder timeline on midges and how to avoid them.

James Logan speaks to BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio 4 Farming Today (at 5m30s) about the documentary, the damage midges cause to Scottish forestry and agriculture, and the theory that some people are more attractive to midges than others: “Our research has shown that it’s all to do with the way we smell, so people who don’t get bitten by midges produce these natural repellents, almost as if your body has a natural defence against midges, we’ve just completed a study to show that it’s actually genetic.”

Martin Hibberd speaks to Thomson Reuters Foundation about the current outbreak of Dengue fever in Asia: “Outbreaks like the current dengue cases can have significant impacts on health systems. These patients are acutely ill with severe symptoms and need to be treated fast to avoid complications.” This leads to global coverage in outlets including the Daily Mail, Jakarta Globe, and Malaysian Insider

Adam Kucharski speaks to Reuters about care for Ebola survivors in the light of recent findings that the virus can persist in the body for longer than previously thought: “The Ebola response has already had to adapt to the extraordinary nature of this outbreak. The possibility of transmission long after apparent recovery poses yet another challenge.” This leads to coverage in global outlets including SABC Channel Africa, Globe and Mail (Canada), Pulse (Nigeria), The Star (Malaysia) and multiple radio outlets across the US.

Adam Kucharski’s recent research on how many lives were saved in Sierra Leone after the introduction of Ebola treatment beds is covered in SciDev.net and IFL Science.

Following media reports suggesting a rise in the number of Lyme disease cases, James Logan appears on ITV’s This Morning to explain how the disease is transmitted by ticks, and how people can protect themselves (from 3m5s): “We’re seeing more cases every year; we’re not sure whether we’re seeing more cases because our diagnostics are getting better and people are becoming more aware so we’re diagnosing more people, or whether we’re actually seeing an increase in the disease itself.”

Islay MacTaggart writes for SciDev.net about the importance of reducing the vulnerability to sexual violence of adolescent girls with disabilities: “How can we ensure that adolescent girls with disabilities have full and meaningful access to SRH [Sexual Reproductive Health] information and education, and awareness and fulfilments of their rights?”

Sally Bloomfield advises Men’s Health on how often bedsheets should be changed: “If you give bacteria enough time to build up, your washing machine will have a tougher time removing them.”

Mark Petticrew leads research showing that the alcohol industry is not meeting its Responsibility Deal labelling pledges, reported by Indian outlets including Deccan Chronicle and Zee News.

Anne Mills is mentioned in Bangkok Post as a member of the Prince Mahidol Award Committee in Thailand. There is further coverage on Thai TV.

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