Local News Headlines: September 20, 2023

IU research analyzes relationship between agriculture, emergence of new diseases
Research from the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington proposes a new way of understanding how diseases spread between animals and humans, by focusing on the effect that agriculture, ecological and sociopolitical factors have on disease emergence and transmission. 

In an article published in the journal One Earth, the research team specifically considers how to minimize the emergence of zoonotic diseases, or new infectious diseases where pathogens are circulated between humans and domestic and wild animals. They recommend taking a more holistic approach and looking at broader factors that may be in play as new diseases sicken people.

According to the researchers, there needs to be a focus on the agricultural matrix, or the landscape where food is produced, which includes both human-managed land and natural habitats. For example, they refer to previous research that looked at the Ebola virus epidemic in west Africa in 2014, explaining that the virus went from an intermittent infection in isolated villages to a widescale epidemic that infected 28,000 and killed 11,000 in that region. They say farmers had transformed areas of the Guinean forest into plantations as demand for international palm oil increased, which drew more bat species to the area, increasing human-bat contact and promoting transmission.

Or, the authors say, consider malaria, which in Costa Rica is associated with the development of pineapple plantations and open-field mining operations. But in similar landscapes in Africa, where farmers introduced irrigated rice, malaria transmission didn’t increase despite an increase in mosquito numbers. The researchers said that positive social change within these African communities, like improved housing, kept mosquitoes out of contact with humans and reduced transmission.

Warning for Hoosiers to beware of scammers sending texts and emails claiming shipping-and-delivery issues
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is advising Hoosiers to watch for texts and emails informing them of shipping-and-delivery issues with items they supposedly have ordered. Scammers are flooding inboxes with these false claims in an effort to steal personal information and/or lure victims into unknowingly downloading malware onto their computers or phones.

The fraudulent emails and texts often contain links purported to help the consumer track a package — when in reality those links connect to malicious websites. These scam messages typically appear to come from such sources as Amazon, FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and others.

Example of a popular scam email/text

If you receive an email or text of this nature, DO NOT click on any links or reply in any manner. Instead, if you believe there is any possibility such a message could be valid, simply contact the delivery carrier yourself by navigating to the appropriate website — without using any contact information provided in the suspicious text or email.

Anytime you believe you are the target of a scam attempt, you may file a complaint at in.gov/attorneygeneral/ or call 1-800-382-5516. An example of such a text received by an Indiana resident is to the right..

Lt. Governor announces release of new housing dashboard
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) and partners from the Housing Working Group, which represents stakeholders from around the state, released a housing dashboard that includes a statewide inventory of housing in Indiana.

This new dashboard serves as a tool for identifying the greatest housing needs and opportunities for economic development and investment. Information can be compared county by county, including housing stock in Indiana by age, by price, by number of units in a structure, by number of bedrooms in a unit, and more. A complete report can be generated for each county and for the state. The comprehensive nature of the information in the dashboard enables municipalities, private industry and independent organizations to work together to meet the housing needs of their communities.

Click here to access the Indiana Housing Dashboard

This Week in Hoosier History


1881 – President James A. Garfield died after having been shot by an assassin 11 weeks earlier.  Shortly after, the city of Indianapolis changed the name of South Park to honor the fallen President.

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