Deconstructing Dengue

Scientists can spend years working on problems that at first may seem esoteric and rather pointless. For example, there's a scientist in Arizona who's trying to find a way to measure the age of wild mosquitoes.

As weird as that sounds, the work is important for what it will tell scientists about the natural history of mosquitoes. It also could have major implications for human health.

Here's why. There's a nasty disease called dengue that is just beginning to show up in the United States. It's caused by a virus, and it's transmitted from person to person by a mosquito. A mild case of dengue is no worse than flu. A serious case can mean death.

Michael Riehle at the University of Arizona is trying to solve a curious puzzle about dengue: why there have been dozens of cases in nearby Texas and none, or virtually none, in Arizona. Riehle thinks the answer has to do with Arizona's geography.

Read more, and listen to this February 11, 2012 NPR story at

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Michael Riehle
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Released date: 
Apr 4 2012