Sunday, November 25, 2012

College Sophmore Describes Symptoms of West Nile Virus

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Proliferating West Nile Virus Can Pose A Threat Due To Its Resistance Against Treatment

The West Nile (WN) virus is a serious illness that is thought to have originated from Eastern Africa. This virus was indigenous to Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia but has been spreading to other parts of the country lately. The virus is transferred from birds to mosquitoes, and these mosquitoes can then infect other animals by biting them. The WN virus continues to cause harm and can become a major problem to both animals and humans unless action is taken.

The Virus Can Have a Wide Range of Symptoms in Infected People

The reason that the virus needs to be controlled and eliminated is because it can elicit serious, mild, or no symptoms from the host. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list some serious symptoms such as high fever, headache, coma, muscle weakness, vision loss, and paralysis. Serious symptoms are relatively rare in people infected with the WN virus because only 1 in 150 people experience them. Milder symptoms occur in about 20% of infected people and can range from fever, headache, nausea, body aches, to vomiting. The WN virus is unique since 80% of infected people show no symptoms at all. Since 1999, the number of cases of WN virus has increased on a large scale, but the number of recorded cases do not account for all WN virus infections because a majority of infected people never find out they have it.

These symptoms are experienced by many people around the country and world. Marie Wagner, a sophomore at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, was infected by the WN virus and was lucky enough to only have mild symptoms:

There is No Treatment or Vaccine Yet for the Virus

A lot of research is being done to find an effective vaccine, but the results continue to be inadequate. The virus is able to quickly adapt to different experimental treatments, rendering potential cures ineffective before they can eliminate the virus. This virus resembles many other common ones in that it can spread quickly and survive for prolonged periods of time as long as it is attached to the host, thus engaging in a parasitic relationship.

Brenda Fredericksen, a biological researcher and professor at the University of Maryland, researches the WN virus in order to determine why it blocks the experimental host treatments. Like many others in the field, she attempts to determine how viruses function and how to eradicate it.  In an interview, she explains how the virus is able to evade antiviral response:

Fredericksen describes how interferons could be used in their recombinant form to counteract the WN virus as a possible method for treatment. Research has been conducted on interferons but the results are inconclusive because only a few studies show that people who receive interferon actually benefit in comparison to those who do not receive the interferon. Research is still being conducted in order to find a functional treatment, but it may or may not be produced on a mass scale depending on the cost of production and on how widespread and dangerous the severity of the disease is.

The Virus can be Prevented through Mosquito Control and Public Education

Since no cure currently exists, it is imperative that the public know about the virus and understand the implications on their health if infection occurs. Since the virus is spread by mosquitos, effective control methods should be taken in order to minimize contact with the insects and decrease their population. By doing so, contact with the virus will decline and there will be a smaller chance of getting infected with the WN virus. In order to be successful in controlling the spread of WN virus and mosquitoes, it is important to know specific information and precautions that have to be taken for the safety of the people.

Mosquitoes are the major carriers that transmit it to humans, but only certain species of mosquitoes have the virus in select regions. Therefore, knowing which species are responsible for “bridging” the virus to humans is crucial for taking the appropriate actions regarding pesticide application. The breeding sites of these mosquito species also need to be known so that they do not spread into human-populated areas and create an outbreak. In addition to mosquito control, people should also know what WN virus is, what common symptoms are, and what they should do if they think they have it. If severe symptoms of WN virus are observed, it is highly advised to seek medical attention. If only mild symptoms are seen, then the virus will probably be eradicated from the body in a matter of some days.

Currently, there is no effective treatment or vaccine that works best for the WN virus. Because of this, caution must be taken and the public should be alert and informed about what WN virus is and how it can be acquired. As technology advances, breakthroughs will be made in virology and the West Nile virus will be understood much more than it is today. It is only a matter of time until this virus becomes a thing of the past and is no longer a threat.

Qik - Why did you choose your topic? by Julia E

Sunday, November 11, 2012

UMD Freshmen Express Their Opinions on iPads and Blended Learning

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Digital Divide and Participation Gap Continue to be Prevalent in America

Digital Divide still is eminent in rural areas of America

Internet access and users have increased tremendously since the start of the 21st century, but there still are a significant amount of people who do not have their own computers and have to rely on alternate ways to access the internet. In an article on NBC News, Sarah Butrymowicz talks about how many people residing in rural areas of the US still do not have their own computers because of their social class and lack of resources. At Colorado Edison School in Yoder, Colorado for example, 25 – 30% of students do not have internet access at homes.
            In urban areas, there are as many computers as there are students and so there is not much digital divide in these areas. One would assume that almost everyone in America has their own computer and access to the internet, but this is not true because there are a lot of minorities and lower social classes, as Kevin Guidry stated in Digital Divide or Participation Gap? Will Mobile Affect It? Digital divide is prevalent in other areas in addition to rural areas today. It all depends upon social class, income, and environmental factors.

            The Participation Gap remains diverse among various age groups

            There continues to be different cohorts that utilize the internet differently according to their experience and knowledge. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, many app users are skeptical about whether or not they should keep apps on their mobile devices because they do not want third parties to track them. Privacy of data is a major concern for mobile device users who are technology literate. However, mostly young adults from ages 18-24 are deleting and avoiding applications compared to older adults and seniors. This shows how knowledge and privacy concerns affect how users utilize internet and applications.
            The surveys and data collected by the Pew Internet and American Life Project delineate how the younger generation is more tech-savvy and knows a lot of different ways to use the Internet and technology of the like as compared to the older generation who use technology for other purposes. As Guidry stated, the participation gap shows a big difference between people who have computers and people who do not. Both digital divide and participation gap remain prominent in today’s America.

            Digital Divide and Participation Gap will both decrease within the next couple of years

            As technology and society advances, more people will become accustomed to technology and will become technology literate. They will be able to understand many of the beneficial uses of the Internet and will know how to use it to their advantage. Privacy issues will also become better addressed because action will be taken in order to limit the data that third parties can see. In the next 3-5 years, the economy should also improve which would generate more income for Americans. This in turn would lead to families being able to buy their own computers and gain internet access which would decrease digital divide. As long as people have computers or mobile devices and can learn more about how to use them for their own needs, the participation gap will also decrease.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Captivating Entertainment of India

 Bollywood's Formula for Business Success

Bollywood is India's mega film industry and has been remarkably popular ever since its inception in the early 20th century.  Bollywood is comparable to America's famous Hollywood and continues to entertain millions of people worldwide. Movies originate from Bollywood, but other forms of popular entertainment in India include television shows and music, which also generate a lot of the revenue that the Indian entertainment industry make. The formula behind Bollywood's success is comparably similar to that of Hollywood and follows a set of steps as described below:
  1. The script is written
  2. Cast and crew are assembled and plans for the movie are made
  3. Film is shot and is incorporated into digital print
  4. A licensing agreement with the distribution company is established
  5. The movie is first screened in theaters before being released to the audience
  6. Tickets are sold and theaters, distributors, and producers make the profits
This is just a simplified version of the business model so that it is easier to understand how the film industry in India works. Bollywood has made tremendous amounts of money by following this model and continues to prosper. However, it is important to note that much profit is lost due to resources that make it free and cheaper for viewers to be able to watch movies and listen to music. Many Indians still continue to go to movie theaters, but online leaks and websites detract significantly from the profits that the film industry makes.

 Popularity of Indian Entertainment and its Lasting Impact

Bollywood has a certain element that is so attractive and enticing to Indian viewers that it makes them addicted to entertainment. When I went to India a few years ago, I witnessed firsthand how much entertainment dominated the lives of Indians. Everywhere I went I would hear the same popular music in every store, vehicle, restaurant, and home. Whenever people would converse with each other, references to popular movies and TV shows would be made. Some of the most famous movies in India of all time include Sholay, Deewar, 3 Idiots, and Krrish. I have seen these movies and understand why they were so popular; they contained a solid plot, well-done comedy, intense action, and a worthwhile climax and conclusion. These movies continue to be popular in India and this shows how influential entertainment in India is. 
Some popular television shows of India are soap operas such as Kkusum, Saat Phere, and Pancham.  Soap operas are commonly the engaging conversation that Indian women engage in, whereas Indian men tend to focus more on Bollywood movies. Even in America, when I go to Indian parties, I always hear the adults talking about TV shows, movies, and songs that have recently come out. It is important to note that the music industry is reliant on the film industry though because the majority of songs come from Bollywood movies. Music and film both coexist in order to maximize entertainment and capture and maintain the attention of viewers by making them yearn for more.

American Influences on Indian Entertainment

One of the reasons that Bollywood remains eminent among modern viewers is because Bollywood has adapted and has added Western elements so that audiences worldwide are able to relate to the movies and so that they find them more interesting. Since the past couple of years, Bollywood movies have had dialogues consisting of both English and Hindi mixed together (known as Hinglish). As society has advanced, more American elements have been integrated into both the entertainment industry and into pop culture. For example, the Bollywood movie Partner was about a business advisor who was in love with her female boss, but was unable to make a move because he was too introverted and did not know how to approach his wealthy, attractive boss. He then decided to consult his friend, the love doctor, who was known for helping men get the girl of their dreams. Does this plot scenario sound familiar? This plot was inspired from the Hollywood movie Hitch which had the same plot. This is just one example of how Bollywood integrates parts of American cinema. Partner also combined elements from the Hollywood movie Are We There Yet? because the love doctor had to take care of his crush’s son and had to develop a strong bond with him in order to win her love. Partner is just one of the many Bollywood movies that portrays how American culture has influenced Indian entertainment.   
In addition to movies, music contains significant elements of American pop culture as well. Many Indian songs now have English lyrics and feature American artists such as Snoop Dogg and Akon.  Indian TV shows such as Deal ya No Deal (the Indian version of Deal or No Deal) and Kaun Banega Crorepati  (the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) also show how American entertainment has influenced Bollywood immensely and is continuing to “Americanize” India in a sense. Indian entertainment will continue to expand and captivate Indians and others as long as it keeps adapting to the demands of modern society.