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October 21, 2016: Zika Infection in Late Pregnancy Can Still Affect Fetal Brain

“The Zika virus may harm an infant’s brain even if the mother is infected just before giving birth, according to a study published online Sept. 6 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“The new study included 55 Brazilian women infected by Zika during pregnancy and their infants. Medical imaging revealed that 4 infants whose mothers were infected with Zika between 2 weeks and 1 week before birth had central nervous system lesions characteristic of viral infections.

“‘These infants were born with normal length and weight, and without microcephaly or any other symptoms of the disease. The lesions would have gone unnoticed by health workers if the mothers hadn’t been part of a study group,” lead researcher Mauricio Lacerda Nogueira, MD, PhD, a professor at the Sao Jose do Rio Preto Medical School (FAMERP), in Sao Paulo State, and a member of the state’s Zika Virus Research Network, said in a FAMERP news release. "We mean to keep monitoring the development of these babies for several years in order to detect any problems.’

“Another study by FAMERP researchers and led by Nogueira found that Zika infection can be spread through organ transplants. They identified 2 kidney transplant patients and 2 liver transplant patients who were infected with Zika that was present in their new organs. The study was published online Oct. 11 in the American Journal of Transplantation. All 4 patients had to be hospitalized but survived. ‘These transplant recipients didn’t have the typical symptoms of Zika, such as exanthema, itching, and conjunctivitis,’ Nogueira said.”

Source: Neurology Advisor

October 21, 2016: Bats Proposed as Latest Weapon to Fight Zika Virus in Miami

“One Miami city official has an unusual proposal to combat the spread of the Zika virus. City Commissioner Kristin Rosen Gonzalez has proposed using bats, which eat mosquitoes, including the species known to spread the virus.

“’Some people are laughing and they are not taking it seriously. But bats, depending on the species, eat up to 3,000 mosquitoes in one day, and they avoid humans,’ Gonzalez told ABC News today. She has sponsored a resolution that proposes placing bat houses in the city to curb the mosquito population.

“The first outbreak of locally transmitted Zika virus was reported in Miami in July. In the months since, city officials have continued to battle the ongoing outbreak, which has infected dozens in the Miami-area. Larvacide, insecticide and door-to-door inspections have all been used to try and reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the Zika virus.

“The resolution seeks to authorize the city manager to ‘research a potential pilot program for the placement of bat houses and habitats in the city to control the city’s mosquito population due to the continued presence of mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus. The measure was discussed at the commissioners meeting on October 19, 2016.

“’It was a goodwill gesture to the environmentalists, who were really upset about us spraying all the neurotoxins,’ Gonzalez said of her resolution, but added that she isn’t sure if it will be adopted because “it makes people nervous.”

“The Miami City Commission reviewed the resolution today and passed it to Miami-Dade County, which holds the authority to either adopt or reject the resolution.

“The measure of floated as an alternative to spraying chemicals, Gonzalez said, adding: ‘This was really the one environmental solution.’

“The American Mosquito Control Association notes on its website that bats have historically not been an effective method of curbing mosquito populations, and that mosquitoes comprise less than 1 percent of gut contents of wild-caught bats, saying that bats feed on “whatever food source presents itself.”

“‘There is no question that bats eat mosquitoes, but to utilize them as the sole measure of control would be folly indeed,’ the AMCA states, ‘particularly considering the capacity of both mosquitoes and bats to transmit diseases.’”

Source: ABC News

October 20, 2016: Locally-Acquired Zika Reported In Sonora, Mexico

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control added Mexico to its list of countries that have active Zika virus transmission. Most of the cases were in southern Mexico, but as of last month that changed.

The Arizona Department of Health learned there were a handful of locally-acquired Zika cases in the Mexican state of Sonora, which is on the other side of the Arizona border.

“There were some newspaper articles that came out about September 22 or so and we used that information to notify healthcare providers in the state that they should be aware of this if they’re evaluating patients who have frequent travel across the border to Mexico that maybe they should be suspecting Zika or consider testing,” said Jessica Rigler is with DHS.

Rigler said the outbreak in Sonora is fizzling out. She said there are now 42 confirmed cases of travel-related Zika in Arizona.

Source: KJZZ News

October 19, 2016: 23 Infants in US Born with Zika-Related Birth Defects

“As of October 6, 2016, 23 infants in the U.S. have been born with birth defects related to the Zika virus, and five pregnancies with birth defects have been lost to miscarriage, stillbirth or termination, according to the CDC.

“More babies with Zika-related birth defects, like microcephaly or congenital Zika syndrome, could be on the way in the U.S., because 878 pregnant women have lab evidence of possible Zika virus infection, the CDC reports.

“In total, 3,936 people in the U.S. have a Zika virus infection as of Oct. 12. Of those, 128 were acquired from mosquitoes in Florida, according to the CDC, but the Florida Department of Health reports 155 locally acquired cases in the states as of Thursday.

“In the U.S. territories, 25,955 people have a Zika virus infection.”

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

October 18, 2016: Florida IDs New Miami Neighborhood as Zika Zone

“Health officials have identified a new Zika zone in Miami – a setback less than a month after declaring the nearby Wynwood neighborhood cleared of the virus following aggressive mosquito spraying.

“Five people have been infected with Zika in a 1-square-mile area of the city just north of the Little Haiti neighborhood and about 3 miles north of Wynwood, according to a statement released Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott’s office.

“It is the third Miami-area neighborhood identified where mosquitoes have transmitted the virus to people, after Wynwood and a touristy section of Miami Beach, which is still considered an active transmission zone. Wynwood was declared free of the virus after 45 days went by without any new infections.

“These are the first such areas of transmission confirmed in the continental U.S., following major outbreaks of the disease across Latin America. Zika symptoms are so mild that most people who get it don’t feel sick, but the disease can cause severe brain-related birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that pregnant women should avoid travel to the new outbreak area, and they should consider postponing non-essential travel to the rest of Miami Dade, according to CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.

“’We’re not yet at the end of mosquito season, so we might continue to see local transmission going on for a little while yet,’ Skinner said.

“Four cases from the new zone first reported symptoms in September, and the fifth began suffering symptoms earlier this month, Florida Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said in an email.

“The patients in the new zone include two women and three men, according to the statement from Scott’s office. Three live in the area while the other two either visited or worked there.

“Zika infections have been reported in over 1,020 people in Florida, the vast majority of them related to travel to affected areas outside the country. Miami-Dade County has the largest share of the state’s burden, with more travel-related Zika infections than any other Florida county.

“Health officials have so far traced 105 cases to three Miami-area infection zones.

“Health officials also were investigating a Zika infection not related to travel that was reported Thursday in a Broward County resident. Officials there said aerial pesticide spraying targeting mosquito larvae would resume early Friday in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Source: CBS News

October 17, 2016: 5 New Florida Cases. Total Now up to 736.

“At least five people have contracted Zika virus from mosquitoes in Miami’s Little River neighborhood, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced on Thursday, identifying a one-square-mile zone where the disease is spreading — between Northwest 79th and 63rd Streets from Northwest 10th Avenue to North Miami Avenue.

“Scott’s office identified the area after the Florida Department of Health confirmed that two women and three men had contracted Zika there. Three of the people live in the one-square-mile area, and two either work there or recently visited, according to the governor’s announcement.

“The new zone is the second in Miami-Dade where mosquitoes are known to be spreading Zika. The other is a 4.5-square-mile area of Miami Beach covering most of South Beach and Middle Beach, between Eighth and 63rd Streets from the ocean to the bay.

“Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said Scott called him Thursday afternoon, shortly before announcing the news, to tell Regalado that a new Zika zone had been identified in his city less than a month after state and federal health officials had cleared the Wynwood area of active transmission Sept. 19.

“Regalado said he’s concerned about the people who live in the new Zika zone, which unlike Wynwood is primarily residential. The area includes St. Mary’s Cathedral and Athalie Range Park, and two high schools — Miami Northwestern and Miami Edison — border the zone.

“Miami Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon, whose district includes Wynwood and the new zone in Little River, said he was “disappointed” by the announcement. He said it confirmed his office’s recent warnings to area residents that they should not let down their guard on Zika just because they live outside the ‘box,’ a reference to the one-square-mile zone previously identified in Wynwood.

“Hardemon said both the state and federal government need to pour more money and resources into fighting the spread of the virus in Miami.

“’We were all blindsided by this bit of information,’ he said, ’and that’s why it was always important for us to protect ourselves from the Zika virus the best we can without considering it’s just within one area.’

“For Hardemon, the Zika threat has been personal.

“His wife gave birth to a healthy baby girl Oct. 6, he said. But the couple is still waiting for the state health department to deliver the results of Zika tests they both took shortly after learning July 29 that mosquitoes were spreading the virus in Wynwood near their home.”

Source: Miami Herald

October 16, 2016: Zika Syndrome: Health Problems Mount as Babies Turn 1

“Two weeks shy of his first birthday, doctors began feeding Jose Wesley Campos through a nose tube because swallowing problems had left him dangerously underweight.

“Learning how to feed is the baby’s latest struggle as medical problems mount for him and many other infants born with small heads to mothers infected with the Zika virus in Brazil.

“’It hurts me to see him like this. I didn’t want this for him,’ said Jose’s mother, Solange Ferreira, breaking into tears as she cradled her son.

“A year after a spike in the number of newborns with the defect known as microcephaly, doctors and researchers have seen many of the babies develop swallowing difficulties, epileptic seizures and vision and hearing problems.

“While more study is needed, Zika-caused microcephaly appears to be causing more severe problems in these infants than in patients born with small heads because of the other infections known to cause microcephaly, such as German measles and herpes. The problems are so particular that doctors are now calling the condition congenital Zika syndrome.

“’We are seeing a lot of seizures. And now they are having many problems eating, so a lot of these children start using feeding tubes,’ said Dr. Vanessa Van der Linden, a pediatric neurologist in Recife who was one of the first doctors to suspect that Zika caused microcephaly.

“Zika, mainly transmitted by mosquito, was not known to cause birth defects until a large outbreak swept through northeastern states in Latin America’s largest nation, setting off alarm worldwide. Numerous studies confirmed the link.

“Seven percent of the babies with microcephaly that Van der Linden and her team have treated were also born with arm and leg deformities that had not previously been linked to other causes of microcephaly, she said.

“To complicate matters, there are babies whose heads were normal at birth but stopped growing proportionally months later. Other infants infected with the virus in the womb did not have microcephaly but developed different problems, such as a patient of Van der Linden’s who started having difficulties moving his left hand.

“’We may not even know about the ones with slight problems out there,’ Van der Linden said. ‘We are writing the history of this disease.’

“On a recent day, Jose laid on a blue mat wearing just brown moccasins and a diaper, his bony chest pressed by a respiratory therapist helping him clear congested airways.

“Jose, who has been visited by The Associated Press three times in the last year, is like a newborn. He is slow to follow objects with his crossed eyes. His head is unsteady when he tries to hold it up, and he weighs less than 13 pounds, far below the 22 pounds that is average for a baby his age.

“Breathing problems make his cries sound like gargling, and his legs stiffen when he is picked up. To see, he must wear tiny blue-rimmed glasses, which makes him fussy.

“Arthur Conceicao, who recently turned 1, has seizures every day despite taking medication for epilepsy. He also started taking high-calorie formula through a tube after he appeared to choke during meals.

“’It’s every mom’s dream to see their child open his mouth and eat well,’ said his mother, Rozilene Ferreira, adding that each day seems to bring new problems.

“Studies are underway to determine if the timing of the infection during pregnancy affects the severity of the abnormalities, said Ricardo Ximenes, a researcher at the Fiocruz Institute in Recife.

“Also, three groups of babies whose mothers were infected with Zika are being followed for a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The groups include infants born with microcephaly, some born with normal-sized heads found to have brain damage or other physical problems and babies who have not had any symptoms or developmental delays.

“At birth, Bernardo Oliveira’s head measured more than 13 inches, well within the average range. His mother, Barbara Ferreira, thought her child was spared from the virus that had infected her during pregnancy and stricken many newborns in maternity wards in her hometown of Caruaru, a small city 80 miles west of Recife.

“But Bernardo cried nonstop. The pediatrician told Ferreira that her baby was likely colicky and would get better by his third month. Instead, the crying got worse, so Ferreira took him to a government-funded event where neurologists were seeing patients with suspected brain damage.

“’At the end of the second month, beginning of the third, his head stopped growing,’ Ferreira said. ‘Bernardo was afflicted by the Zika virus after all. I was in despair.’

“In Brazil, the government has reported 2,001 cases of microcephaly or other brain malformations in the last year. So far, only 343 have been confirmed by tests to have been caused by Zika, but the Health Ministry argues that the rest are most likely caused by the virus.

“Health Minister Ricardo Barros said there was a drop of 85 percent in microcephaly cases in August and September compared to those months last year, when the first births started worrying pediatricians. He credited growing awareness of the virus and government attempts to combat mosquitoes through spraying campaigns.

“Despite all the problems, some infants with the syndrome are showing signs of progress.

“On a recent evening, 11-month-old Joao Miguel Silva Nunes pulled himself up in his playpen and played peek-a-boo with his mother, Rosileide da Silva.

“‘He is my source of pride,’ Silva said. ‘He makes me feel that things are working out.’”

Source: ABC News

October 15, 2016: Zika Virus Cases Soar in Asia, WHO Says

“Zika infections are expected to continue rising in the Asia-Pacific region, where authorities are increasing surveillance, preparing responses to complications and collaborating on information about the disease, the World Health Organization said Monday.

“Complicating the fight against the virus, spread by mosquitoes, is the lack of a ‘foolproof’ approach to mosquito control, as shown by decades of efforts to contain dengue virus, WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in her address to a Western Pacific regional meeting of the world health body.

“She said other questions included why the first signs of the virus’s existence in the Asia-Pacific region came from travelers whose infections were confirmed once they returned home.

“’Is this weak surveillance an indication of population-wide immunity, or proof that the virus has somehow acquired greater epidemic potential?’ she asked.

“Zika symptoms are mild and no deaths have been reported globally, said Dr. Li Ailan, director for health security and emergencies at WHO’s Western Pacific regional office. But she said based on WHO’s risk assessment, Zika viral infection will continue to spread in the region and authorities are preparing for complications.

“The complications include like microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Babies born to Zika-infected mothers have been found to have microcephaly, or a birth defect where the head is abnormally small and brains might not have developed properly. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

“The Western Pacific region is the second most Zika-affected region in the world, Li said. Nineteen of its 27 countries have reported Zika cases since 2007 and 13 of them this year.

“Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO’s Western Pacific regional head, said they are working very hard to increase surveillance and detection of Zika, and long-term response to the disease are among the topics to be discussed at the five-day conference.”

Source: NBC News

October 14, 2016: Evidence Mounting Zika Virus Causes Paralytic Disease

Aedes aegypti mosquitos, potential carriers of the Zika virus, are photographed in a laboratory at the University of El Salvador, in San Salvador, Feb. 3, 2016. Researchers have found that during the height of the viral epidemic the incidence of the paralytic illness Guillain-Barre was 100 times the number of cases usually seen.

“Researchers have discovered the strongest evidence yet linking the Zika virus to the paralytic illness Guillain-Barre syndrome. During the height of the viral epidemic the incidence of Guillain-Barre was 100 times the number of cases usually seen.

“Guillain-Barre is a normally rare condition that affects the peripheral nervous system, the nerves in arms and legs that are responsible for sensation and movement. The immune system attacks the fatty myelin coating of the nerves that protect and speed signals from the brain to the limbs.

“Zika is in a family of viruses transmitted by mosquitoes called flavivirus, including dengue fever, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and chikungunya.

“Normally, there are between one and two cases of Guillian-Barre per hundred thousand adults according to Carlos Pardo, a neurologist and pathologist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and lead author of a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“But at the height of the Zika epidemic between January and June in Colombia, where the study was conducted, hospitals were seeing 10 to 15 cases per week.

“Pardo and colleagues from six institutions in the U.S., Central and South America established the first biological evidence connecting Zika to Guillain-Barre.

“Investigators recruited 68 patients but because of research limitations were only able to look for evidence of Zika in 42 patients complaining of symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome. They underwent a genetics test looking for Zika RNA.

“Seventeen – or 40 percent – of patients showed the virus’ genetic footprint.

“Pardo’s team also conducted blood and urine tests on each patient. Investigators were able to culture the virus in the urine and found immune system-produced antibodies against Zika in the blood samples. The most positive results were in the urine.”

Source: VOA News

October 13, 2016: Alphabet is Working to Squash the Zika Virus, Too

Verily has a few ideas for stopping the disease in its tracks.

“There are a few ways to kill off a pest: eliminate its food supply, or, make sure it can’t effectively procreate. Since the pest in question for this post is mosquitos, the former solution isn’t an option. So, Verily, the life-science division of Alphabet Inc., is addressing the Zika-carrier with a spin on the latter, according to MIT Technology Review.

“As is normal with the company’s far-fetched projects, the anti-mosquito experiments have mostly been done under the veil of secrecy. But because one of the tests involves driving vans into neighborhoods and releasing millions of altered male mosquitoes, Verily is pulling the curtain back a little bit.

“’People in some parts of the U.S. are asking for help,’ Verily’s vice president of engineering Linus Upson told Technology Review. ‘But if we are going to release mosquitoes in the real world, we need to talk to communities. This isn’t like launching a consumer internet service.’

“And he’s right. One method of stopping the diminutive airborne scourge is administering a gene drive, a DNA construct that turns poisonous when passed onto offspring. That’s still in its infancy. Another is infecting the bugs with the bacteria Wolbachia, which, when carried by males, causes females eggs to not be fertilized properly. From the sounds of it, that one is in the embryonic stages as well, but the closest to being tested and accepted by communities. For example, trials from other companies using methods similar to that haven’t caused any public outcry.

“The FDA has already approved using genetically modified mosquitoes to combat Zika, so perhaps Verily’s efforts will see the light of day sooner rather than later.”

Source: Engadget

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