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August 25, 2016: Zika Virus in School: Miami Officials Make Tough Decisions

“With school starting across Miami – where there are growing concerns about the Zika virus.

“Health officials are monitoring two so-called Zika zones.

“In Miami Beach, at least five people have apparently beeninfected by local mosquitoes.

“The original Zika zone is just across Biscayne Bay. So far, at least 36 people in the area have been infected. The virus can cause severe birth defects.

“The Florida Department of Health handed out free bug repellent at Miami Beach Senior High. Students from here and one other school in the newest Zika zone were encouraged to spray themselves before class.

“Melanie Fishman, principal at South Pointe Elementary in Miami, said they don’t want students to spray themselves at school because “some kids might have asthma.”

“The Miami-Dade school district handed out protective clothing – long sleeves and pants for students that needed it.

“The proactive efforts taken by the school district have impressed Carol Karp, whose son Adam is entering high school.

“’I commend their efforts, fantastic,’ Karp said. ‘It’s what we should do to protect children and community.’

“Nearly 3,300 will now be attending school in the 1.5-mile area where local Zika transmission has been confirmed on Miami Beach.

“Ashley Beauegard, a yoga teacher who is 6 months pregnant, canceled her baby shower in Miami Beach, and worries, her home, 15 minutes north of the Zika zone, may also be a vulnerable area.

“’I mean I just feel like it spread from Wynwood to Miami Beach, cases that we know of,’ Beauegard said. ‘So how many cases that we don’t know of could’ve spread further already?’

“Starting last Monday, 7,600 kids in Miami-Dade County will be attending school inside of one of the Zika zones – there are now two in the county. The superintendent of schools originally considered relocating the students, but decided not to.”

Source: CBS News

August 24, 2016: Gulf States Next at Risk for Zika Outbreak, NIH Official Says

“Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), warned that Gulf Coast states are the most susceptible to a new Zika outbreak.

“’Well, the ones that are most at risk, George, are those along the Gulf Coast. I would not be surprised if we see cases in Texas, in Louisiana, particularly now where you have a situation with flooding in Louisiana,’ Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on ‘This Week.’

“’When you have a sub-tropical, or semi-tropical region with the right mosquitoes, and individuals who have travel-related cases that are in the environment, it would not be surprising that we will see additional cases, not only in Florida, but perhaps in other of the Gulf Coast states,’ he said.

’On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel warning after five Zika infections were confirmed in Miami-Dade County.

“The CDC recommended that those living or traveling to the area increase their efforts to prevent mosquito bites and advised pregnant women and their partners to postpone ‘nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.’

“The head of the NIAID said Americans should take the threat of Zika seriously, although he does not believe there will be a widespread outbreak across the continental United States.

“’I do not think, although we need to be prepared for it, that we’re going to see a diffuse, broad outbreak in the United States because of a number of issues, particularly the conditions in our country … would not really make that a very likely happening,’ Fauci said.

“He added that he anticipates Zika to stick around for ‘a year or two.’

“’Hopefully, we get to a point to where we could suppress it so that we won’t have any risk of it,’ he noted.

“Fauci overseas research to prevent, diagnose and treat established infectious diseases, as well as emerging diseases like Ebola and Zika.”

Source: ABC News

August 23, 2016: Zika Might Affect Adult Brains, Too, Study Finds

“The Zika virus, previously thought only to be a big threat to developing babies, might also affect adult brains, researchers reported Thursday.

“Tests in mice suggest the virus can get to and damage immature brain cells in adults — something that indicates Zika infection may not be as harmless for grown-ups as doctors have believed.

“It will take much more study to know if human beings infected by Zika are at risk, but the report, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, adds another disturbing twist to the Zika saga.

“Zika is known to home straight in on developing nerve cells, especially brain cells, when it infects a fetus. The result is devastating birth defects — a small head, known as microcephaly, profound brain destruction, and sometimes less obvious brain damage.

“Babies often miscarry and if they survive, they have permanent brain damage. There’s no cure.

“Other viruses are known to prefer brain cells and nerve cells — herpes viruses are a well known example — but Zika is surprising scientists more the more they study it. “There’s a lot we don’t know about Zika,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Thursday.

“Hongda Li of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and The Rockefeller University in New York and colleagues used an experimental strain of mice for their tests.

“They knew Zika preferred immature brain cells called stem cells and they were working on recent discoveries that adult brains also carry these immature brain cells.

“’Two areas in the adult mouse brain contain neural stem cells: the subventricular zone of the anterior forebrain and the subgranular zone of the hippocampus,’ they wrote in their report.

“And sure enough, Zika got into those brain regions when the mice were infected and appeared to kill some of the stem cells in there.

“’Our data therefore suggest that adult as well as fetal neural stem cells are vulnerable to Zika virus neuropathology,” they wrote. "Thus, although Zika virus is considered a transient infection in adult humans without marked long-term effects, there may in fact be consequences of exposure in the adult brain.’

“It’s not clear what that might mean to people affected by Zika. Researchers are only beginning to study it and its long-term effects.

“Adult brains are less vulnerable to damage than those of developing babies, but brain damage can cause epilepsy, personality changes, depression and dementia.

“Zika’s not necessarily believed harmless to adults. The evidence suggests that 75 to 80 percent of those infected never know it, suffering mild symptoms at most. The worst affected usually have had muscle aches, headaches, a rash and red eyes.

“It can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome – a paralyzing disorder that a few people suffer after a variety of infections. Puerto Rico reported Thursday that 30 people had suffered Guillain-Barre in the Zika epidemic there so far.

“Li’s team said their findings may help explain cases of Guillain-Barre.

“‘Infection of neural progenitor cells in stem cell niches may relate to the emergent cases of Zika-linked Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS),’ they wrote.”

Source: NBC News

August 22, 2016: Mosquito Squad, America’s #1 Mosquito Eliminator, Honored by Inc. Magazine

For the sixth consecutive year, Mosquito Squad, the mosquito and tick eliminator, as been named one of America’s Fast Growing Companies by Inc. Magazine.

With a mission to rid the United States of disease-bearing mosquitoes that can transmit the Zika virus, Mosquito Squad continues its rapid growth with more 200 franchise locations nationwide, allowing Americans to enjoy their backyards, outdoor living areas, green spaces and outdoor entertaining.

Source: Inc. Magazine

August 21, 2016: 33 Local Transmission Cases of Zika in Florida

Florida Department of Health Investigators said Wednesday that there are three new non-travel-related cases of the Zika virus in their state, bringing the total number of non-travel-related cases to 33.

“One of the new cases is within the Wynwood area of Miami-Dade County, where officials have said they believe all local transmission is occurring. The other two are outside that area.

“Health officials are investigating seven of the non-travel-related cases because they are not within the area of local transmission and do not appear to be linked to that area.

“Florida health officials note that ‘one case does not mean active transmission is taking place.’

“In an unprecedented move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned pregnant women to steer clear of the Wynwood neighborhood this month, and a mosquito-control team began spraying a 10-square-mile area north of downtown Miami to combat the virus.

“Last week, CDC spokeswoman Erin Sykes said, ‘If we see new Zika clusters that are linked to this cluster outside of the one-mile radius [of Wynwood] or people who became ill with links to this specific one-mile radius area after mid-August, then this would be a cause for additional investigation and action. For now, we expect to find infections that occurred before these mosquito control measures were implemented.’

“On Monday, Texas health officials announced a confirmed case of the Zika virus among an individual who had traveled to the affected area in Miami.”

Source: CNN

August 20, 2016: Almost 500 New Yorkers have tested positive for Zika virus

“Nearly 500 New Yorkers — including 49 pregnant women — have tested positive for the Zika ­virus, a more than tenfold increase since April, city officials said ­Tuesday.

“Five of the 483 victims contracted the virus through sex.

“The others are believed to have been infected from mosquito bites while traveling outside the United States — a majority in the Dominican Republic.

“While no transmissions have been reported via local mosquitoes, Mayor de Blasio and other officials urged Congress to pass a stalled health package to provide resources to combat the virus before it becomes a full-bore crisis.

“’We need the federal government to act now and pass the authorization of $1.9 billion in funding,’ de Blasio said at the city’s public health lab in Kips Bay. ‘Without federal dollars, we cannot deepen our work and we won’t have the assurance that other ­jurisdictions are doing all they can do to fight Zika.’

“The majority of the cases have been found in women — 340 compared to 143 men — and one infant was born with a birth defect that results in a smaller head, known as microcephaly.

“’A public health crisis that begins with neglect by the public sector . . . becomes much more difficult to address going forward,” said state Assemblyman Brian ­Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), who joined the mayor in advocating for federal funds.

“’We know that even now, no matter what we do, it’s going to increase and get worse in the United Stated before it gets better.”

Source: New York Post

August 18, 2016: Paraguay Reports First Cases of Zika-Linked Microcephaly

“Health authorities in Paraguay are reporting the country’s first two cases of babies born with the microcephaly birth defect related to the Zika virus.

“The virus is mainly spread by mosquitoes but cases of sexual transmission have also occurred. Some women who contract it during their pregnancies have given birth to babies with microcephaly, which leads to babies with abnormally small heads and improperly developed brains.

“Health Ministry official Agueda Cabello said Wednesday that the two cases of birth defects linked to Zika were confirmed in a laboratory this week. Both babies are in stable condition and are part of a group of 29 babies with microcephaly. The rest are still being tested.”

Source: The New York Times

August 17, 2016: What Do Americans Think About the Zika Virus?

This CBS News Poll on the Zika Virus was just released

Eight in 10 Americans have heard or read at least something about Zika – a virus spread mainly by mosquitoes that has recently reached the U.S. and which can cause birth defects and other illnesses – and most are at least somewhat concerned about a possible outbreak. Sixty-four percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that there will be a large outbreak of the Zika virus inside the United States within the next twelve months, including 1 in 4 who are very concerned.

The greatest risk posed by Zika is to unborn babies, who can contract severe fetal brain defects if the pregnant mother is infected with the virus. Concern about an outbreak of Zika in the U.S. is considerably higher among Americans who have a family member who is or is trying to become pregnant: 40 percent of these Americans are very concerned.

Americans show concern that the federal government is not prepared if an outbreak were to occur. Sixty-four percent of Americans do not think the federal government is adequately prepared to deal with a widespread outbreak of Zika inside the U.S. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents all don’t think the federal government is adequately prepared.

Most Americans think Congress should approve additional funding to help prevent the spread of Zika. Fifty-seven percent think Congress should approve more funding, while just 27 percent think enough is being spent already. Here Americans divide along party lines: majorities of Democrats and independents want Congress to approve more funding, while Republicans are more likely to think enough is being spent already.

Most Americans are not comfortable with the idea of traveling to places already affected by Zika, particularly if it means travel abroad. Three in four Americans would not be comfortable traveling to a foreign country that was affected by Zika, including just over half who would not be comfortable at all. Americans are a little more agreeable to the idea of visiting an area within the U.S. affected by an outbreak of Zika (currently just one neighborhood in Miami, Florida), though 58 percent would still not be comfortable traveling there.

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