Confronting Zika and other Viruses, with Bill Nye and Laurie Garrett – StarTalk All-Stars

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About This Episode

If you want to sleep tonight, skip this episode of StarTalk All-Stars. Host Bill Nye, co-host Chuck Nice and fan-favorite virus expert Laurie Garrett examine how we’re fighting Zika, West Nile, and other viruses – and why the battle may not be going our way. You’ll learn more than you want to know about the Zika virus, including how it’s transmitted and why it’s so difficult to develop a vaccine against. Find out about the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries Zika, Yellow Fever, Chikungunya and more, including that it can breed in stagnant or fresh water, why global warming is increasing its territory, and how it was first brought to the Americas from Africa – by the slave trade. And we’re just scratching the surface of everything you’ll discover in this episode. For instance, did you know that most of us carry anthrax in our guts, or that exposure to just two strains of Dengue will make you sick, but a third is fatal 50% of the time? Laurie fills us in on the resurgence of polio, the lost battle against West Nile virus, the Dengue outbreak in Hawaii, and how HIV has infected over 75 million people since 1979. It’s not all bad news, though. You’ll hear how the HPV vaccine has reduced cervical cancer by 64%, as well as about plans by the NIH and NSF to learn about potential threats from unidentified bacteria, viruses and phages, while the WHO and CDC are considering genetically modifying males to reduce mosquito populations. Plus, in “That Day in Science,” Bill and Chuck discuss the Bubonic Plague, which wiped out 1/3 of the population of Europe in just 3 years and is forever enshrined in the beloved kid’s game, “Ring Around the Rosie.”

In This Episode

  • Host

    Bill Nye the Science Guy

    Bill Nye
    The Science Guy
  • Co-Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
    Comedian
  • Guest

    person: Laurie Garrett

    Laurie Garrett
    Pulitzer Prize winning Science Journalist, Director of the Council on Foreign Relations - Global Health Program

Music in This Episode

Episode Topics

  • Paul F Aubin

    I have been thinking a lot about something that was said in this episode. I believe that Dr. Garrett stated that they have found many traces of DNA from past viruses intermingled with our own genome. It made me think about evolution a bit. I have mostly taken it for granted when we talk about evolution that species (including us) change over time due to mutations and influences from and to the environment, but honestly have never given much thought to HOW that actually occurs. There were mutations and we evolved. But how? Or Why? never really occurred to me. Now I am really intrigued by this notion of virus DNA intermingled with out own. So is it possible that viruses are actually an active participant in the natural selection and evolution process? If our genome contains the DNA from past viruses, could they be thought of as active partners in our evolution, rather than just parasites that we have evolved in spite of or because of?

Music in This Episode