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)"
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
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
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
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
Zika virus cases skyrocketed from 103 just before the quake to 1,275 confirmed cases in Ecuador 10 weeks after the disaster, with 86 percent of all new cases occurring near the Manabi epicenter
A public health study has found a link between psychological distress and people experiencing Zika-like symptoms in areas hardest hit by Ecuador’s 2016 earthquake, particularly among women between the ages 40 and 60 years.
The city of Bahia de Caraquez in Ecuador’s Manabi province was rocked by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 16, 2016. The region’s weak infrastructure and lack of preparedness resulted in high rates of mortality and morbidity and significant damage to buildings, roads and water supply.
At least 660 people died, with a further 30,200 displaced and 720,000 left in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 9,700 buildings were reported damaged or destroyed.
Survivors were forced to sleep outside in makeshift tents and store water in open tanks, placing them under increased psychological stress.
A joint study by the Ecuadorian Department of Health; the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY; and the University of California San Francisco in Sacramento concludes the conditions caused a spike in incidents of the Zika virus and other vector-borne diseases, such as dengue fever.
Zika virus cases skyrocketed from 103 just before the quake to 1,275 confirmed cases in Ecuador 10 weeks after the disaster, with 86 percent of all new cases occurring near the Manabi epicenter.
Scientists, led by Anna Stewart-Ibarra, director of the Latin American Research Program for the Center for Global Health and Translational Science at SUNY Upstate Medical University, found that nearly 10 percent of interviewees suffered from a variety of Zika virus or dengue fever symptoms. Of those, more than 58 percent were suffering fear or anxiety.
The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, concludes that women between 40 and 60 years old still not sleeping in their own homes three months after the quake reported the highest incidences of Zika symptoms and mental distress.
Middle-aged women shoulder the most responsibility for their families in Ecuador, the study found, with female community leaders feeling doubly responsible to care for their neighbors. These social factors, along with the environmental conditions, likely decreased the ability of their immune systems to fight off the virus.
Director Stewart-Ibarra told teleSUR: “The earthquake in Ecuador triggered PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], lowering people’s immune systems because of stress.”
She said very few researchers are “looking at how mental health and infectious diseases interact in post-disaster settings.”
She also noted that such studies, of which there are very few, are important because “we see more and more extreme natural disasters, especially climate-related natural disasters.”
In early results published in the Lancet, researchers report that an investigational Zika vaccine was well-tolerated and stimulated potentially protective immune responses in three phase 1 clinical trials, one of which was conducted at Saint Louis University. More than 90 percent of study volunteers in the 3 trials who received the investigational vaccine demonstrated an immune response to Zika virus. Spread primarily by Aedes mosquitoes and also by sexual contact, Zika infection of pregnant women can put babies at risk of developing microcephaly, characterized by underdeveloped heads and brain damage, and other serious health issues. An investigational vaccine against the virus, called ZPIV (Zika Purified Inactivated Vaccine), was developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), both at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The three placebo-controlled, double-blind trials were designed to address different questions researchers wanted to answer about the immune responses elicited by the investigational vaccine.
The SLU study continues its enrollment, examining how three different vaccine doses compare in terms of safety and ability to stimulate an immune response. A trial conducted by WRAIR is examining the impact of priming the immune system with either a licensed yellow fever or Japanese encephalitis vaccine followed by ZPIV vaccination. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is evaluating three dosing schedules of ZPIV.
Principal investigator of the SLU trial Sarah George, M.D., is encouraged by the study findings.
“I’m happy to see our work help make progress toward a vaccine against Zika,” said George, who is associate professor of infectious diseases, allergy, and immunology at Saint Louis University. “We need a vaccine to protect people from this emerging infectious disease that can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects in babies.”
This work was supported in part by a cooperative agreement (W81XWH-07-2-0067) between the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc., and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). This research was also funded, in part, by NIAID.
SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development is one of nine Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units selected in 2013 by the National Institutes of Health to study vaccines that aim to protect people from infectious diseases and emerging threats. The project is funded under Contract No. HHSN272201300021I. The federal government has funded vaccine research at SLU since 1989. More information about the Zika clinical trial is available on clinicaltrials.gov.
Mosquitoes are, by far, the deadliest animals on Earth. More than 725,000 people die from mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria each year, and millions are affected by mosquito-borne illnesses, according to the World Health Organization.
Now new technology is being used to try to reduce mosquito-borne illnesses. In particular, introducing sterile male mosquitoes to a population can increase competition for female mosquitoes, eventually reducing the population by as much as 90 percent, according to researchers.
But introducing the mosquitoes to areas affected by mosquito-borne diseases can be a challenge.
“Not everybody lives next to a road. Even if roads do exist in some of these areas, they look very different when the rainy seasons hit. … And of course when it rains … you have pools of standing water and even more mosquitoes,” says Patrick Meier, executive director and co-founder of WeRobotics, a nonprofit with offices in the US and Switzerland.
“What we’re doing that nobody else has done is to make it such that we release these mosquitoes from the air, using affordable drones,” Meier says.
In partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Insect Pest Control Lab in Vienna, Austria, WeRobotics is testing out the technology and hopes to put it to use in Zika hotspots in Latin America.
But releasing hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of mosquitoes comes with engineering challenges, Meier says.
“How do you take 100,00 mosquitoes, put [them] in a relatively small box and have them not kill each other?” Meier says. “You have to keep the mosquitoes in a kind of sleep state, which means you reduce the temperature within this ‘box’ between 4 and 10 degrees celsius.”
Other challenges include releasing mosquitoes in a uniform manner, Meir says. “You’re not releasing 100,000 as soon as you get to 400 feet. You’re trying to do a homogenous release over a gridded area. Remember, these mosquitoes are basically knocked out, if you’d like, or tranquilized. How do you ensure that as they’re falling from the release mechanism, they actually wake up in time before they go splat on the ground?”
WeRobotics will begin deploying these drones in the coming months, focusing on communities that are already deploying sterile mosquitoes on the ground, and providing education to locals about the project.
“This is frankly our bread and butter — training, awareness-raising, capacity-building and informing local communities can be used, and are being used, to improve their health,” Meier says.
Other methods to reduce mosquito-borne illnesses range from simple nets and vaccines to mass spraying of insecticides, but many have proved ineffective, costly, and damaging to the environment.
Source: Public Radio International
Hospitals and health departments could have a new tool in 2018 to detect Zika – a test that is cheap, portable and fast.
The test involves a drop of blood, can get results in 20 minutes and doesn’t require blood be sent out to a lab. It was developed by a team of University of Central Florida researchers led by Qun Treen Huo.
Huo said the test is ideal for rural and low-income areas because it’s cheap and portable
“We really want to put this test for rural area that don’t have access to expensive lab facility,” Huo said. “It’s a very simple test, does a quick test, our device is portable as well.”
Nano Discovery, a spinoff biotech company out of the University of Central Florida, said the test involves gold nanoparticles that are used to detect the Zika virus in a few drops of blood. The company also manufactures the machines that do the test.
Researchers optimistically hope to have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and have the test on the market by mid-2018. In the future, Huo said the same technology can be used to look for other viruses, and her team has been researching it’s use for cancer screening as well.
“This basically test technology we developed is not only limited to Zika. It can be for many other infectious diseases,” Huo said.
Zika is a mild virus in adults, but can cause a myriad of birth defects in babies if a mother catches it during pregnancy. It’s primarily spread by mosquitoes but can be transmitted sexually as well.
Nerve-related complications of Zika infection may be caused by the immune system’s response to the virus, not the virus itself, according to a new study.
Zika is spread primarily via the bite of an infected mosquito, but it may also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sexual contact. Most people who become infected don’t have any symptoms, but some develop serious neurological conditions. And an infection during pregnancy can cause devastating birth defects.
The researchers said their findings, based on experiments with mice, may help lead to new ways to treat people with Zika-related nerve complications, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
The syndrome can cause muscle weakness, tingling and even paralysis.
The Yale University research team found that when Zika infection spreads from the blood to the brain in mice, immune cells flood the brain. This limits the infection of brain cells, but it can also trigger paralysis.
“The immune cells that are generated by infection start attacking our own neurons,” study leader and immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki said in a university news release. “The damage is not occurring through the virus infection, but rather the immune response to the virus.”
The findings suggest that suppressing the immune system response may be a way to treat Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, research in animals frequently doesn’t produce similar results in humans.
The study was published online this month in the journal Nature Microbiology.
Source: Web MD