SciBites: Week of February 17th

SciBites: Week of February 17th

Foot-and-mouth model predicts most efficient vaccination strategy

During major foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks, one approach to limit viral transmission is to vaccinate at-risk livestock in a ring around infected premises. The size of the ring required depends on a range of factors, and researchers have developed a mathematical model that determines the best vaccination strategy given this uncertainty. They predict that implementing this model could save nearly $70 million in outbreak costs, strengthening the case for considering vaccination to help control future outbreaks.

Australian food taxes could save billions in healthcare costs

Some Western countries have implemented taxes on unhealthy foods to combat dietary-related diseases, but their cost-effectiveness is not well-understood. Researchers modeled the effect of a combination of taxes on fatty, salty, and sugary food and drink and a subsidy on fruits and vegetables on the 2010 Australian population. They found that this combination could avert an estimated 470,000 Disability-Associated Life Years (DALYs, or years of healthy lifespan across the population lost due to disease). This could result in a saving of $2.3 billion. The authors note that their research adds to evidence on the cost-effectiveness and health benefits of using regulatory measures to encourage healthy eating.

Trinidad golden treefrog detected by environmental DNA in its bromeliad plant habitat

The Trinidad golden treefrog lives in the small pool of water that collects in giant bromeliad plants in the Caribbean. Researchers have now developed a PCR-based environmental DNA (eDNA) assay that can successfully detect the frog from low concentrations of its DNA found in bromeliad water. The method demonstrates the potential of using eDNA in conservation biology as a non-invasive monitoring method for elusive species.

Image Credit: Ryan McGuire CC0


Beth works at PLOS as Journal Media Manager. She read Natural Sciences, specializing in Pathology, at the University of Cambridge before joining PLOS in 2013. She feels fortunate to be able to read and write about the exciting new research published by PLOS.

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