bloggeremail-smallemailfacebookflickrgoogle-plushouzzinstagram@2xlinkedinpinterestporchtwitterwordpressyelpyoutube bloggeremail-smallemailfacebookflickrgoogle-plushouzzinstagram@2xlinkedinpinterestporchtwitterwordpressyelpyoutube
Get a Free Quote!
Blog | May 2018

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)"

Get a Free Quote!

Don't let pesky mosquitoes ruin your outdoor fun. Mosquito Squad is ready to serve you! Contact us today by filling out the brief form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

* Tick control not available in MI without a license

×