Abstracts: Red Squirrels, Zika, Climate, and More


• Today’s carriers of leprosy are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed — and busy storing nuts for the impending winter. Based on recent evidence, scientists now think red squirrels across England, Ireland, and Scotland have been carrying bacteria associated with the disease for centuries. (NPR)

Genetically-engineered mosquitos may help combat Zika. Visual: iStock.com

• The question of whether some microscopic animals have horns prompted a look into the weird shapes of some of the smallest creatures on Earth. (National Geographic)

• Jonathan Pershing, the outgoing U.S. envoy for climate change, has said the rest of the world will remain committed to the Paris climate agreement, regardless of whether president-elect Donald Trump decides to pull out. (Associated Press)

• Seabirds rely heavily on olfactory cues, which can be misleading if something smells like food but isn’t. A new study shows that algae on plastic waste exudes the same scents that signal nearby prey, causing seabirds to inadvertently consume ocean trash. (Los Angeles Times)

• Although many soldiers suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the condition remains stigmatized and poorly understood. In light of Veteran’s Day last week, here are five things vets wish the public knew about living with PTSD. (Huffington Post)

• Last Tuesday, not only did Florida residents vote for the next president of the United States, but those in one county also elected to release millions of genetically engineered mosquitos to counter Zika. The start date and location will be decided on November 19. (Wired)

• History reveals that some flus are particularly lethal in young adults. Recent research suggests that contracting certain viruses during childhood could protect against related flus later in life. (The Atlantic)

• Scientists are starting to think that differences in brain structure between sexes post-trauma could explain why boys and girls respond to stress differently. This theory could explain why girls are more likely to develop PTSD, and could inform treatment approaches. (BBC News)

• And finally, today, it’s common dogma that being glued to your brightly-lit smartphone before bed could prevent you from falling asleep. However, a new study indicates that screen time during the day may also decrease sleep quality. (TIME)