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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Why it matters: Ticks spread bacteria that cause Lyme disease and more than a dozen other pathogens.
Driving the news: The increase in tick-borne illnesses moved New Jersey Rep. Christopher Smith to introduce an amendment — passed by the House last week — to investigate whether the Department of Defense experimented with weaponizing ticks with Lyme disease and released them between 1950 and 1975.
Reality check: There's evidence the Lyme disease-causing bacterium — Borrelia burgdorferi — has been in North America for 60,000 years.
The big picture: "The world is getting tickier for sure. That's especially true for the U.S.," Ostfeld says, referring to the arrival of a new tick species in the U.S. and the fact that ticks are expanding their range.
What to watch: Ostfeld co-leads the Tick Project, an ongoing 5-year study looking at whether a fungus that kills ticks can be used to control and reduce cases of tick-borne disease in neighborhoods.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Elon Musk says he has charted the long path to merging man and machine, Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes.
The big picture: Around the world, top research labs are building brain–computer interfaces (BCIs), devices that can both read brain activity directly from neurons and write information straight into the brain.
How it works: Neuralink's system consists of hundreds of electrodes implanted deep inside the brain, connected by tiny wires to a hub that communicates wirelessly with a device behind the wearer's ear. There's also a robotic "sewing machine" that plunges the electrodes into patients' brains.
Reality check: Getting surgical implants into healthy humans is a long shot in the near future, says Kenneth Shepard, a BCI researcher at Columbia University.
The World Health Organization Wednesday issued a global health warning on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although it added that the risk of the deadly virus spreading outside the region remains low, Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly writes.
Why it matters: The official intensification of the warning is partly due to the geographical expansion of cases, including at least one in the large, international city of Goma, plus renewed violence against health care workers that killed 2 recently.
Between the lines: The declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) will not immediately change anything on the ground, says Julie Fischer, co-director of Georgetown University's Center for Global Health Science and Security. But she says it could lead to much-needed funding and the possible creation of a new UN body to coordinate international responses.
Details, per WHO's press conference:
Meanwhile, concern over the amount of available vaccines grows, despite the DRC recently agreeing to use half-doses of the current Merck vaccine (the only experimental vaccine currently allowed in DRC).
Go deeper: Read Eileen's full story.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The Marius Hills pit is a possible skylight in a lava tube on the Moon. Photo: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
Lava tubes on the Moon or Mars could one day help people live off-Earth, Axios' Miriam Kramer writes.
The big picture: The surface of the Moon isn’t exactly a great place to live long term. It fluctuates between extreme heat and cold, and is slammed by radiation and meteorites.
What’s happening: Researchers from Purdue University created 3D reconstructions of lava tubes in Lava Beds National Monument in California to model lunar lava tubes.