105 The Latest Buzz on DEET, and Measles Cases Spotted Again

And you thought measles had been eradicated in the United States, and that it was a harmless childhood annoyance. Guess what? Not so much.

Measles kills, as does science illiteracy.

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More than 1,000 quarantined amid measles fears at Los Angeles universities

Do you remember a few weeks ago when we spoke about flat Earthers? And we agreed that whilst they may be as potty as a pantry, at least they aren’t doing anyone any harm. We can’t say the same for anti-vaxxers and this as been demonstrated in Los Angeles where over 1000 people have been quarantined or sent home over measles fears in universities.

  • The U.S. is experiencing a 25 year high in measles cases
  • Quarantine was imposed on people who were at risk of exposure to people with confirmed measles cases based on shared study spaces. It was also legally binding.
  • Quarantine also covered no travel on public transportation, including planes, trains, buses or taxis.
  • 38 cases have been confirmed. Over 3x more than at the same time last year.
  • Numbers of quarantined:
    • Cal State-LA reported 875 students, faculty and staff
    • UCLA, 129 students and faculty were quarantined
    • Most have been released
  • Those under the quarantine are legally required to stay at home and avoid contact with others.
    • Forbidden from traveling by public transportation
    • If they had to travel for an emergency, they were told to notify public health officials first.

I would seriously like to end this story on a positive note, which I appreciate is hard. But with this worrying anti-science movement that is getting a lot of attention at the moment, maybe, just maybe, when kids really starting getting horrifically ill and inevitably dying. Hopefully that will act as a wake up call for why we should probably listen to people who know what they are talking about, so we can the deal with potentially bigger issues, like y’know, the climate?

Critics always say that scientists promise disaster but it never happens. You can’t really argue against dying kids.

The Guardian, Time, The Washington Post

Scientists Think They’ve Finally Figured Out Why DEET Is So Effective

I hate mosquitoes and whatever works against them I’m happy to use, irrelevant of its mechanism of work! However, a long lasting myth on how a popular bug-repellent works was recently busted!

  • DEET has long been known to be the most effective mosquito repellent available, but researchers weren’t sure why or how it worked.
  • Question: what is DEET?
    • DEET, or diethyl-meta-toluamide, is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents
  • Before, it was believed that the chemical blocks the mosquito olfactory receptors for volatile molecules in human sweat and breath, essentially making them blind for where the source of their bloody dinner was.
  • According to a new study published online in the 6 May edition of Cell Current Biology, DEET works because mosquitoes can taste our body with their legs, and it makes them think our skin tastes bad.
  • Earlier research showed that DEET doesn’t keep mosquitoes from landing on people.
  • This new research had six stages:
    • First, the researchers offered mosquitoes one of three foods: sugar water, sugar water mixed with DEET or sugar water mixed with another bitter chemical. The insects preferred the plain sugar water to either chemical mixture, but didn’t distinguish between DEET and the bitter substance.
    • Next, they took that bitter chemical, not the DEET, and covered their arms in it at high concentrations. The mosquitoes weren’t impressed, and just landed and began drinking the blood of undergraduates
    • Then they served up a sample of warm blood protected by a membrane that mimicked skin. When DEET or other bitter substances were mixed in the blood the mosquitoes rejected it.
    • Here’s where it starts to get interesting. They then applied the chemicals to the membrane, but the blood underneath was clean, analogous to an actual person. Result: Mozzies where not disturbed by the bitter compounds, but didn’t want anything to do with the DEET covered membrane.
    • Fifth, they then presented a patch of membrane with DEET on it with blood underneath. But the patch of skin was too small for them to land on and drink the blood at the same time. They still drank which suggests that DEET doesn’t bother their mouths.
    • And finally, they then put a special adhesive on their legs to shield their leg taste buds. The mosquitoes still drank the blood. This suggest that it’s DEET’s effect on their legs that is repelling them.


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In Closing

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Our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, and Chris MacAlister.

I’m JD Goodwin.  

Thank you for joining us.

And remember…follow the science!

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