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Society’s fourth Reddit AMA focused on Zika

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On March 4, three Science News writers rushed to answer as many questions as they could during the Society’s fourth Reddit AMA. The Ask Me Anything Q&A session, hosted in Reddit’s science community, focused on mosquitos, Zika, malaria, and chikungunya.

Life sciences writer Susan Milius, general assignment reporter Meghan Rosen, and molecular biology writer Tina Saey report for Science News, which is published by the Society, and worked together to answer 30 questions in an hour on Friday. Susan covers large and small creatures, Meghan recently reported on the spread of Zika in the Americas, and Tina recently covered how CRISPR could potentially end insect-borne diseases.

Redditors posted more than 200 comments and upvoted (the site’s version of liking or favoriting) the conversation 1,269 times. AMAs allow people to ask hosts of the Q&A session anything. Questions can stay on topic or go off on interesting tangents.

Even in a densely-populated place like Singapore, mosquitoes will outnumber people.
—Tina Saey

Questions included: Why is Zika suddenly perceived to be an imminent threat? As a man who doesn’t plan on having any children, is Zika a personal concern? Do we have any hope of genetically engineering silent mosquitoes? And how much progress is being made to wipe out human-biting mosquitoes?

The three reporters answered as many questions as they could within the AMA hour. “There’s still so much we don’t know about sexual transmission of Zika,” Meghan said.

Sterile insect releases have been combating insect problems for half a century now, Tina said, and CRISPR may make genetic engineering of mosquitoes easier. Susan explained that pyriproxyfen (a pesticide used in water tanks in Brazil in an effort to control mosquitos) is also used in the U.S. for mosquito control without seeing the same rise in microcephaly.

The Reddit AMA ended, but you can still learn more about mosquitoes and view the Q&A.

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