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Blog | June 2018

June 25, 2018: Add Keystone Virus To The List Of Things You Can Catch From Mosquitoes

This from Bruce Y. Lee at Forbes.

“Just in case you were thinking, ‘why can’t you catch more infectious diseases from mosquitoes,’ you can now add Keystone Virus infection to the list of mosquito-borne illnesses. That’s based on a case report recently published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases by a team from the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida.

Keystone virus may not be the first thing you think about when you develop a low grade fever and a large bumpy rash on your body. (The first thing you probably think is, ‘what is this large bumpy rash doing on my body?’) Certainly, doctors weren’t thinking Keystone Virus when they first saw a 16-year-old male at an urgent care clinic in north central Florida in August 2016. The Keystone Virus is a type of orthobunyavirus and was first discovered in Aedes atlanticus mosquitoes back in 1964. This occurred in Keystone, Florida, hence the name. Until this recent case report, there had been no documented situations of the virus causing disease in humans. And based on the case report, the teenager was not a gray squirrel, a raccoon, or a whitetailed deer (three animals that are more commonly infected with the virus), unless the teenager was wearing some type of elaborate costume.

No, this 16-year-old seemed to be human and otherwise healthy when he began feeling ‘warm’ the night before the urgent care clinic visit. That following morning a red, bumpy rash started appearing on his chest and then progressively spread to his abdomen, arms, back, and face. The rash did not hurt or itch but seemed to get worse with heat and sunlight. He did feel a bit fatigued and had discomfort in his ankles but blamed these problems on band camp. Yes, that one time in band camp, he had put on new band shoes and continued to wear those new shoes throughout the band camp that he was still attending that summer. Oh, and those many times in band camp, he was bitten by mosquitoes, despite his wearing DEET.

Initial testing did not reveal usual suspects such as mononucleosis or Zika infection, but eventually more advanced testing found the Keystone Virus. Since there is currently not much you can do about a Keystone Virus infection, except say, “you have a Keystone virus infection,” the teenager did not receive specific treatment. The rash eventually disappeared 2 days later without any apparent further consequences. So, for now, infection with the Keystone Virus doesn’t seem to be a serious problem. However, as they say with underwear and life, things can change. This is simply one case and one infection. Time will tell if other more serious cases are found. Plus, viruses can mutate and eventually become more troublesome. Just look at what happened to the Zika virus, which previously was thought to be harmless.

The trouble is mosquitoes suck. And then serve as Ubers for pathogens, carrying them from animal-to-animal, animal-to-humans, and humans-to-humans. The list of mosquito-borne illnesses already reads like a long menu that you do not want to order from and includes includes malaria, dengue, Zika, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, tularemia, Ross River fever, Japanese encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, and Eastern equine encephalitis. Of course, not all mosquitoes are the same. Different species can carry different pathogens. At present, Aedes atlanticus mosquitoes seem to be the primary carrier for the Keystone Virus but there are signs that other Aedes species may be able to carry the virus as well.

While there is no reason to panic and go all Keystone Kops because of this new discovery, it will be important to follow the Keystone Virus more closely. Also, doctors should be aware of this as a possible diagnosis. Moreover, this further highlights the need for better mosquito control. Bill Gates didn’t call the mosquito the World’s Deadliest Animal for nothing. After all, how many times do you hear a story begin, and one time at band camp, there was this hippo and."

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.’

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