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June 20, 2018: Mosquitoes Trapped in El Paso Test Positive for West Nile Virus

“The City of El Paso Department of Public Health has been notified that one of several mosquito pools collected, have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The Vector Control Program with the Environmental Services Department has been setting traps this season since May.

The mosquito pool that tested positive were located in the central part of town within the 79903 zip code.
“When it comes to West Nile virus it is never really a question of ‘if’ we can expect to see the disease locally, but rather ‘when”, said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. “What we can do is be proactive against being bitten and be aware that there are other diseases that could present themselves in El Paso.”
In years past, human cases of diseases like Chikungunya, Dengue, and Zika virus have been seen in El Paso but in travel-associated cases only.
There have been no cases reported this season of West Nile Virus in El Paso, but a total of 14 human cases were confirmed last year.

The city is urging El Pasoans to “Tip and Toss” items outside their homes frequently, to prevent stagnant water which could result in mosquito breeding. Residents should also follow these tips."

June 17, 2018: Florida Flowers Enable Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes to Flourish

“A leading source for the Zika outbreak in 2016 may have been those ornamental flowers in Florida.

A new study has revealed that bromeliad plants contribute to the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can carry infectious diseases such as Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.

Bromeliad is the name for a family of plants that is incredibly diverse. There are 2,877 different species of bromeliads.

These flowers are common throughout South Florida and are a popular choice for landscaping projects since they do not require much care.

This University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (UM) study, published in the journal Parasites & Vectors, showed that water retained in the bromeliads’ leaf axils becomes breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti, the most dominant species of mosquito in the study’s test sites.

The lead study author John Beier, Sc.D., a UM Miller School entomologist, and director of the Division of Environmental and Public Health, urged against destroying the plants.

But, Beier said the new knowledge on the plant’s role in mosquito breeding will help tailor mosquito control efforts.

‘People should be aware that bromeliads are producing mosquitos so that they can treat the plants,’ he said in a press release.

Beier added that the dominant presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito was unexpected since the mosquito did not have as great a presence in bromeliads in prior years.

“The larger problem is with the Aedes aegypti, not the disease,” he said.

Similar to the sudden Zika outbreak in 2016, these researchers said vector-borne diseases are spreading to new areas due to urbanization, human movement, and global warming.

But, according to previous research, the probable vector for these infectious diseases may be humans who travel internationally.

Recently, an international research team used genomic tools to trace the spread of the Zika virus.

This analysis suggests the Zika family tree shows, with a few exceptions, the virus that infected people in Florida, Central America or Mexico descended from a single importation event in Brazil.

The evidence also shows that many locations experienced two waves of Zika infection per year, not just one.

Peaking approximately every 6 months, the researchers analyzed the environmental suitability in each country for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that primarily transmit Zika virus to people.

Their findings suggest that conditions ripe for the spread of Zika virus occur at different times of the year, depending on elevation and other factors.

Such as flowers!

UM has been a major partner in research, including mosquito mapping, surveillance and trapping. This research collaboration was supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

June 1, 2018: Zika Cases Rising in Florida

This update from ABC affiliate WZVN-HD in Florida.

“This year there have already been more than 40 travel related Zika cases in Florida – 15 of those were found in Southwest Florida.

“On top of that, local researchers say conditions are right for another outbreak.

“’You don’t have to wait many years in between these outbreaks,’ said biology professor, Scott Michael. ‘Sometimes they [the outbreaks] catch us by surprise.’

“Michael teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and is also one of the leading researchers in the fight against Zika.

“’Studying viruses is my way of helping,’ Michael said. ‘These things are global as well as local.’

“The work being done in his lab will go beyond Florida – it is going to reach parts of the world that need it.

“Michael said the Zika virus is still a big issue for people in the Caribbean.

“He said it not only takes an economic toll but also an enormous amount of human suffering, especially with children.

“Right now, he and his team of researchers are working with different cells from women, who were pregnant, and caught Zika.

“’That could help to develop a vaccine, that could help develop into medicines, and that could help to understand the epidemiology, which is the study of how these viruses travel and get to new places and spread,’ he said.

“As for another outbreak like the one we saw a couple years ago, Michael said it’s possible.

“’This is not the first time it happened, and it’s probably not the last time. You know, it’s difficult to predict for any one summer what we’re going to see. But, you can bet that these things will be back at some point.’

May 31, 2018: Could the Zika Virus Help Treat Brain Cancer in Children?

This interesting article from Sophia Swinford at Aleteia.

“Transmitted primarily through mosquito bites, the Zika virus was estimated in 2017 to be active in 50 countries and territories. Though many infected by the virus experience no symptoms, those who do are afflicted with fevers, joint pain, and rashes. In pregnant women, Zika can result in brain deformities for their newborns.

“But now this frightening infection is being used for healing. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo Brazil are discovering ways to utilize the virus’ deadly effect against brain cancer. ‘There’s a major effort to study viruses for their potential in treating illness,’ Oswaldo K. Okamoto, a researcher at USP, told Bloomberg. Researchers are testing whether the detrimental effects the virus has on brain tissue can be used to eliminate cancerous tissue from the brain, and so far they’re finding success.

“When the team infected cancerous cells with the virus, the virus attacked the cancerous cells almost exclusively, leaving most of the healthy tissue largely unaffected. This proved true again when tested on mice carrying human tumor cells.

“The most optimistic news, though, is that the Zika virus is proving to be effective in treating some of the most dangerous types of tumors found in children diagnosed with brain cancer. Okamoto confirmed that in children brain cancer is often resistant to mainstream treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, leaving many survivors with neurological damage. But this new unlikely treatment might offer hope.

“Though the treatment is still far from implementation, the new research is promising, and this deadly virus could someday be a blessing for many.”

May 29, 2018: As the Earth Warms, Mosquitoes Become a Social Justice Issue

According to Kate Stein from America, "The communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are, in many cases, the ones that have the fewest resources to adapt. Mosquito-borne illnesses are no exception.

“As temperatures rise globally, previously temperate areas are more likely to experience subtropical and tropical heat. A study authored by New York and New Jersey government researchers and one by researchers in Egypt suggest that many types of mosquitoes will move into the newly subtropical and tropical areas—bringing with them diseases like Zika, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus and chikungunya. In many countries, that means more diseases in communities that lack the medical and mosquito-control resources to cope.

“Dr. Diego Herrera is a family physician with Andean Health and Development, a Catholic nonprofit serving communities in rural Ecuador. He estimates that 60 to 80 percent of his patients have been infected by disease-carrying mosquitoes—perhaps more, since some people carry mosquito-borne viruses without showing any symptoms of illness.

“’It’s not just one disease, one mosquito, one virus,” Mr. Herrera said. In central Ecuador, where A.H.D.’s hospitals are located, chikungunya is particularly problematic, but other mosquito-borne illnesses plague the region as well.

“And people who have been infected by one virus may experience more severe illness following infection with another. A study published last year by researchers at Mount Sinai Health System in New York shows that mice that have been previously infected with dengue can have more severe symptoms of Zika; the same is true for interactions among various serotypes of dengue.

Some of these diseases can have effects that are long-term or debilitating like birth defects, blindness or severe joint pain. (In the east African language of Makonde, “chikungunya” means “bending over disease” because of the chronic pain it causes some patients.) Particularly among people who already live in poverty, mosquito-borne illnesses can have a huge impact on daily life because of missed days or weeks of work.

“If you’re the father and get these illnesses, the whole family will be impacted,” Mr. Herrera said. He is worried that more and more families will struggle if infection rates in his part of Ecuador rise along with global temperatures.

“In the United States, incidences of mosquito- and tick-borne infections tripled between 2004 and 2016, in part because of warming temperatures, according to a study released on May 1 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research suggests places like South Florida and Texas—both of which experienced outbreaks of locally transmitted Zika in the summer of 2016—may see longer mosquito seasons and more mosquito-borne illnesses as temperatures continue to rise.

“However, as temperatures in some places rise to optimal mosquito-breeding levels, temperatures in other places may become too hot for mosquitoes to spread disease.

“That pathogen has to basically go through an incubation period within the mosquito—anywhere from a couple of days to over a week,” Erin Mordecai, a Stanford researcher who studied the impact of temperature on mosquito populations, told NPR. Warmer weather causes viruses to mature faster, but it also shortens mosquitoes’ lives. So above a certain threshold, mosquitoes will die before they are able to spread disease. That means overall, the world may not necessarily see an increase in mosquito-borne illnesses, but there may be outbreaks in new places.

Catholic health care providers say when those places lack the resources to cope, climate change and mosquito-borne illnesses become issues of social justice.

“People who are the least responsible for this problem [of climate change] are the people who are bearing the burden, whether it’s in this country or third-world countries,” said Julie Trocchio, a senior director at the U.S. Catholic Health Association, which represents more than 2,200 Catholic hospitals and health facilities. She says the C.H.A. sees mosquito-borne illnesses as one of the many ways climate change has a disproportionately harsh impact on people who lack financial resources and political power.

“[Pope Francis] describes this as a moral issue beautifully in ‘Laudato Si’’—because of what it does to the poor, because of what it does to creation, because of what it does to our resources,” she said.

The C.H.A. has signed onto the Catholic Climate Covenant, a movement of organizations, church leaders, parishes and individuals seeking stronger action on global warming and climate change. It has urged President Trump and Congress to support the Clean Power Plan, the Paris climate accord and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“’We’re concerned that when people talk about climate change, health isn’t one of the impacts that comes up,’ said Ms. Trocchio. ‘And it’s huge, not just with the vector-borne diseases…but storms [and] heat events.’

“As warming temperatures allow mosquitoes to survive in new areas, there could be one upside, if it could be so described. Mr. Herrera believes mosquito-borne illnesses have garnered more attention—and funding—because of the increasing outbreaks in wealthier nations and cities. When the 2016 Zika outbreak in Miami prompted fears of a public health crisis, it also thrust Zika onto the radar of politicians, reporters and researchers in the United States.

“’It’s important that people in the first world care’ about mosquito-borne illnesses, Mr. Herrera said, in order for research benefiting poorer countries to be funded. Mr. Herrera said research on the impacts of concurrent infections, along with prevention efforts, would benefit his patients most.

“But, he added, new research cannot just focus on travelers who get infected during trips abroad, then bring the viruses back home. And in the United States, the public health implications of climate change cannot be in the spotlight only when a Zika outbreak bridges partisan divides.

“We must speak of how the world interacts, fundamentally,” he said.

May 25, 2018: A Vaccine for Zika Virus Just Might Be on Its Way

This just in from Maureen McFadden, WNDU News.

“What’s the deadliest creature on earth? Do sharks, crocodiles or snakes come to mind? Well, deaths from those creatures pale in comparison to mosquitos.

“Globally, mosquitos kill more than 700,000 people a year. Researchers are now testing a vaccine that will protect people against one of those mosquito-borne diseases, the Zika virus.

“Summer is just around the corner – a time for playgrounds, beaches and mosquitos.

“’There’s a lot of mosquitos out there, and they carry a lot of diseases," said Dr. Sarah George, an infectious disease specialist at St. Louis University. "They’re nasty pests.”

“George is one of several doctors chasing a vaccine for the Zika virus. Two years ago, an outbreak caused severe birth defects in thousands of babies across Central and South America.

“’Something called microcephaly where the brain never develops properly, and the skull actually collapses [was noticed]," George said. "There’s not enough brain tissue to hold it up.”

“An effective vaccine could prevent that. George is testing one, a two-dose shot that contains an inactivated form of the virus. In the study, more than 90 percent of volunteers showed an immune response to Zika.

“’Pregnancy is usually a wonderful thing," George said. "Nobody wants to be told, ‘I’m sorry. There’s something seriously wrong with your baby.’ Everyone wants to be protected against that and, if a vaccine can do that, that’s wonderful.”

“Rachael Bradshaw, a prenatal genetic counselor who works with families at risk for having babies with birth defects, did not hesitate to volunteer for the study.

“’It seemed like something I could do to help out, if we could find a way to protect babies in the future,” Rachael said.

“She said getting the vaccine was easy.

“’It’s really no different than getting a flu shot,” she said.

“While Zika cases have dropped dramatically since that first outbreak, a vaccine could keep pregnant women and babies safe against future threats.

“’We will have another Zika outbreak,’ George said. ‘We just don’t know when or where.’

In the 2016 outbreak, there were more than 5.000 Zika cases in the U.S. Most were among people returning from affected countries, but more than 200 cases came from mosquitos in Florida and Texas.

“This year, more than a dozen cases have already been reported in the U.S.

“It’s important to note that the virus can be transmitted by sexual contact, too, not just from mosquitos.”

NEW RESEARCH: Sarah George, MD, from the Center for Vaccine Development at St. Louis University is searching for a vaccine for Zika. She is doing one of four different studies with inactivated Zika vaccine which was developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. The vaccine trial was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, and she is studying how this vaccine works in terms of safety and antibody responses in about ninety healthy adults. The adults are being followed for a year after vaccination Early results showed no safety issues and it raised antibodies against Zika. Dr. George hopes someday they could give the vaccine to young girls before they ever become pregnant.
(Source: Sarah George, MD)"

January 8, 2018: Does 2018 Have Solution for Mosquito Disease?

More than 350 scientists from 95 leading organizations from around the world are testing a new generation of Anti-Mosquito called Kyzox as potential main weapon for Zika programs.

The program was funded by the European Union under the program Horizon 2020 “The need to reinvent health technology” to find an efficient response to the emergence of Zika Virus and more generally to the alarming 17% rise of Mosquitoes borne diseases infections occurring since 2013.

The funding allocated by the EU, €30 million, will go to three research consortia: ZikaPLAN (€11 million), coordinated by the Umeå University in Sweden, ZIKAction (€7 million), coordinated by the PENTA Foundation in Italy, and ZikAlliance (€12 million), coordinated by INSERM in France.

Project itself gathers the world’s largest expert’s coalition from the most prestigious universities, Foundations and Institutes from the five continents with the mission to deliver an Anti-Mosquitoes solution by the end of 2020.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dr. Thomas Ant invited Kyzox Technology Founder to join force to run a series of experiments on Anti-Mosquito formulas identified by experts as the world’s latest anti-mosquito technology.

“The objective is to move on to a more of a phase 3-style clinical trial to see if the product could impact on disease transmission in at risk populations. Provided results were suitably encouraging the WHO to the endorsement of the product as a recommended intervention” Dr Ant said.

The scientists groups are especially interested in Kyzox Anti-Mosquito laundry additive can become a major solution to reduce mosquito’s diseases infections among populations.

For years specialists shown concern to the global warming that contribute to the worldwide spread of the 18 major diseases transmit by mosquitoes but also help mosquitoes to migrate and adapt in north hemisphere territories. In 2015 Japan has the first dengue outbreak since 1975 and it’s a sign cannot be ignored by governments and health organizations said experts.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2016, deadly mosquito diseases have reached the alarming number of 5.5 million victims with an estimated over 1.2 billion infections worldwide.

The WHO also concluded that infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy was a cause of congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly, and that the Zika virus is a trigger for Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The Zika virus continues to expand to areas in North America and Europe besides the danger of the Zika virus compared to other mosquito-borne diseases is that the Zika virus leaves life after effect in Newborn who have been infected during pregnancy, which also becomes a heavy and long financial burden for families and governments.

Kyzox Technology was created by a French Entomologist, Dr Francois Martin, who makes his mark as the forerunner that succeed to integrate Anti-Mosquito in existing mass consumer’s products, such Laundry Detergents, Floor Cleaners or Paints.

More Known by his colleagues to run Anti-Dengue campaigns in the poorest areas of the planet than a researcher in his laboratory, in 2009, the Entomologist wrote a report to the World Health Organization concluding by “If mosquitoes kill the poorest peoples simply because they cannot afford to buy Anti-Mosquito and less to pay medical bill when infection occur.“It’s our duty to protect them by integrating an Anti-Mosquito compound in what they already use and afford to buy, laundry detergent and washing soap are the most suitable products to start from.”

The complete Kyzox formulas remain secret, contacted by phone in the Philippines where Kyzox process the formulas, Dr Martin accepted to unveil part of the secret formula, “from start we immediately eliminated the common anti-mosquitos used from the past 50 years by the industry. DEET, Permethrin, Picardin, D-Permethrin and so on, if they will work it will be no need to try to find a solution.

One of the components of this novel formula is the extract of Vitex Negundo leaves that have high Mosquitocidal (repellency) property, but alone is no use except for spray or lotion.

The keys are not only to fix the repellent on the textile but also to preserve its efficiency during washing process. Is only what I can say” mentioned the French Doctor during the phone interview.

In an industry of more than 50 billion dollar a year, Kyzox concept attracts major companies originally not in the anti-mosquito industry, Kansai, and Nippon paints launched their Anti-Mosquito paints, American tycoon Unilever in the starting block to commercialize Anti-Mosquito laundry detergent and floor cleaner by the end this year.

“We focus on local manufacturers with regional brands because they react faster, their products are more affordable and are closer to the communities we hope to protect, large international companies are welcome to launch with our formula or something else, the only point is what they will offer to consumers must work, Kyzox was created to reduce mosquitoes borne diseases infections among the poorest, not to create a multimillion dollar business, the future will show which formula consumers trust.” said Dr Martin.

Source: The Jet, Fiji

January 5, 2018: L.A. County Officials Confirm First Case of Sexually Transmitted Zika Virus

Los Angeles County officials said Thursday that a woman had been infected with the Zika virus by her partner in the first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus in the county.

A man who lives in L.A. County traveled to Mexico and became infected with the Zika virus in early November, and shortly afterward his female partner, who didn’t travel to Mexico, also developed the infection, officials said.

“This case is a reminder to take precautions during sex or avoid sex if you or your partner have traveled to an area with risk of Zika,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, L.A. County’s interim health officer.

Zika virus, which has caused hundreds of babies to be born with birth defects in Brazil, is most commonly transmitted by mosquitoes. The virus can also be transmitted through sex, though that’s much rarer.

Since 2015, there have been 122 cases of Zika infection in L.A. County, 121 of which were acquired while traveling to countries where the virus is spreading, such as Mexico and Brazil. There are no mosquitoes carrying the virus in L.A. County or elsewhere in California.

In California overall, there have been 619 cases of Zika virus since 2015, eight of which were sexually transmitted.

Health officials warned that people who travel to countries where Zika is a risk should wear mosquito repellent as well as long sleeves and pants. A couple in which one partner might have been exposed should follow national health guidelines for condom usage to prevent transmission to the other partner.

The virus can cause birth defects in pregnant women, so pregnant women should use condoms or abstain from sex for the length of their pregnancy if their male partner has been exposed to Zika virus, officials said.

Most people who are infected with Zika virus don’t have symptoms. Those that do have symptoms might experience a fever, a rash or muscle pain that lasts for about a week.

Source: Los Angeles Times

January 2, 2018: The Effect of the Zika Virus on Toddlers

According to BJ Hetherington, "Zika Virus was first reported in 2015, and the babies born with the virus are now turning two years old. These toddlers are having a hard time coping with the disease, as the side effects of the virus are already showing up. The children who became infected with the virus have microcephaly, or an abnormally small head. These results to a small brain that gives them the difficulty to speak, understand, and even eat. These children are also feared to be lacking in development, and they are expected to become mentally handicapped for the rest of their lives. Experts are suggesting that the children infected with Zika Virus be given a lifetime care program, because they would never be well as the brain was greatly affected by the virus itself.

“In 2015, after the initial outbreak of Zika Virus in Brazil was picked up by the media and was reported to the world, scientists working in the field of medicine decided to observe and study the children who were infected. 15 Brazilian children who are believed to experience the worst type of side effect from Zika Virus are being studied by experts, hoping that they can find answers how to prevent the virus from infecting someone in the future, or if there is a chance for the victims of the virus to recover. There were reports in the past stating that over 3,000 children in Brazil alone were infected with the virus, and it prompted the government to shift their attention to communities which were greatly affected. The hardest hit region of Brazil is Paraiba, and the government sent specialists that examined the children.

“The children subjected to the study came from the poorest families in the region, and while individuals who are infected with Zika Virus need to have attentive and special care, experts believe that most of the Brazilian children who are living with the disease would never get any special care at any point of their lives because of their financial difficulties. Experts are appealing instead to those who wanted to help the poor children to donate cash so that the children can continually be observed by specialist and be given the attention that they deserve.

“Zika Virus is an evidence that nature continues to evolve, and humanity cannot do anything if nature decides that the humans has to go. Men should be prepared to withstand every challenge that nature is hurling towards us.”

Source: Medical Daily Times

December 13, 2017: Zika Cases Are Down, But Researchers Prepare for The Virus’s Return

One of the top stories of 2016 quietly exited much of the public’s consciousness in 2017. But it’s still a hot topic among scientists and for good reasons. After Zika emerged in the Western Hemisphere, it shook the Americas, as reports of infections and devastating birth defects swept through Brazil and Colombia, eventually reaching the United States. In a welcome turn, the number of Zika cases in the hemisphere this year dropped dramatically in the hardest-hit areas.

But few scientists are naïve enough to think we’ve seen the last of Zika. “The clock is ticking for when we will see another outbreak,” says Andrew Haddow, a medical entomologist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md.

Researchers’ to-do list for tackling this once-unfamiliar virus is daunting. But progress has been made, especially in learning more about Zika’s biology and interactions with its hosts, and in developing a safe and effective vaccine.

In 2017, the epidemic lost steam because many areas have probably developed herd immunity to the virus (SN: 11/11/17, p. 12). Zika infected a large number of people, who are now presumably immune, and those exposed provide indirect protection to people who haven’t yet encountered Zika. If the mosquito-borne virus can’t find enough people to infect, it can’t easily spread.

But Zika doesn’t rely only on mosquitoes to get around. This year, researchers learned more about how the virus spreads through sexual intercourse. In humans, Zika can persist in semen for close to three months, researchers learned. And Haddow and colleagues reported in the August Emerging Infectious Diseases that four of eight macaques exposed to the virus vaginally developed infections as did seven of eight macaques that received the virus via the rectum.

In 95 percent of people tested, Zika RNA is cleared from the blood by 54 days after symptoms begin, and urine by 39 days. In 95 percent of men tested, Zika RNA disappears from semen by 81 days. Few people in the study had detectible levels of Zika RNA in saliva or vaginal secretions.

In the wild, animals can act as reservoirs for Zika between human outbreaks. A small number of black-striped capuchin monkeys and common marmosets in a region of Brazil with high numbers of human cases were found to carry the virus already, the first such report among New World monkeys. But there’s still a lot to learn about how the virus is maintained long-term in nature, Haddow says.

Convinced that Zika is here to stay and especially concerned about its effects during pregnancy, researchers have rushed to develop vaccines. In its first test in humans, reported online October 4 in the New England Journal of Medicine, one vaccine based on DNA from the virus elicited an immune response, with 100 percent of participants developing antibodies after a three-dose regimen. Another DNA vaccine, developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, MD, is in a second round of human testing.

Attention to the virus may wane further. But the risk to public health remains, and interventions are still needed, such as ongoing monitoring that tracks Zika and other infectious diseases in pregnancy, says Denise Jamieson, an obstetrician gynecologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “We’re not ready for another emerging infectious disease that may disproportionately affect pregnant women or their fetuses or babies,” she says. “And we need to be.”

Source: Science News

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