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Zika Virus continues to spread in the Americas
An edes aegypti mosquito inside a test tube as part of a research on preventing the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. (Reuters)
This week’s snapshot focuses on the continuing effort to stem the latest outbreak of the Zika virus, which is believed to have originated in Brazil in APR15. Zika virus (ZIKV), spread primarily through the infected Aedes species of mosquito, has come to the United States, though it is thought that mosquito species indigenous to the continental US have not been affected. Researchers continue to discover new information concerning transmission of the virus. On 17JUL, in a first of its kind, Utah authorities reported an individual contracted Zika by an unidentified means other than mosquitos or sexual contact. Health officials in Florida investigated potential cases of mosquito spread Zika, in an attempt to confirm the reports from the Utah Department of Health. As the Olympics in Rio Di Janero approaches, Brazilian researchers believe they may have found Zika in common mosquito species in addition to the Aedes. Congress began its summer recess on 14JUL without a plan to aid the fight against the mosquito-borne virus despite health authorities’ urging for government action.
News summary of events during the week of 18JUL16 – 25JUL16
- 18JUL: Utah Department of Health reported the diagnosis of a new case of the virus that did not appear to have been contracted through either of the known sources of transmission: a mosquito bite or sexual contact. (NYT)
- 21JUL: Florida health officials trapped mosquitoes in an area of Miami-Dade County and are testing them for Zika to confirm whether a woman with the virus could be the first person infected directly by a mosquito bite in the continental United States. (AP)
- 21JUL: The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that 400 pregnant women in the United States were infected with Zika, up from 346 the week prior. (Reuters)
- 21JUL: Florida health officials announced they were investigating a possible second case of the Zika virus that may have been locally transmitted. (NYT)
- 21JUL: Health officials reported the first Zika-infected baby delivered at a New York City hospital with a smaller than normal head. (AP)
- 21JUL: Brazilian researchers said they found signs of the Zika virus in a common mosquito that is a separate species from the insect known to be the primary means of transmission. (Reuters)
- 22JUL: Florida mosquito control officials worry they won’t be able to keep up their efforts to contain the bugs that carry Zika without federal funding, even as concern mounts that the first infection from a mosquito bite on the US mainland is near. (AP)
- 22JUL: Puerto Rico’s governor said he will not authorize aerial spraying with the insecticide Naled to fight an increase in Zika cases despite being urged to do so by US health officials. (AP)
- 22JUL: Health authorities in Florida tested about 200 people for the virus as part of the state’s investigation of two possible cases of infections not related to travel to a region hit by an outbreak. (Reuters)
- 22JUL: The US Navy announced that a civilian contract worker became the first person with a confirmed case of Zika on the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after being diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus following a trip to Jamaica. (AP)
- 25JUL: Swiss local newspaper Tribune de Geneve reported the Swiss authorities recorded 28 cases of infection by the mosquito-borne Zika virus since the beginning of the year, up from 16 cases at the beginning of MAY16. (Xinhua)
- 25JUL: Colombia’s vice health minister said the virus officially ended in the country, 10 months after the mosquito-borne illness arrived in the Andean nation. (Reuters)
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the Zika epidemic
- @betswrites – Betsy McKay, Senior Writer, The Wall Street Journal
- @DrFriedenCDC – Dr. Tom Frieden, Director, Centers For Disease Control
- @picardonhealth – André Picard, Health Columnist, The Globe and Mail
- @richpizzi – Richard Pizzi, Editor, Frontline Medical News
- @snolen – Stephanie Nolen, Latin America Correspondent, The Globe and Mail
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the Zika epidemic
Dr. Amesh Adalja, Spokesman, Infectious Diseases Society of America
“We know bodily fluids like saliva and urine can harbor the virus.”
- “Zika mystery widens as Utah caregiver contracts virus,” Reuters, 18JUL16
Constancia Ayres, Researcher, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation
“It means that we have a second species of vector involved in transmission. And with this vector having totally different habits from Aedes aegypti, we will have to create new strategies to combat Culex as well.”
- “Zika is found in common Culex mosquitoes, signaling a potentially larger risk,” Washington Post, 21JUL2016
Chris Barker, Researcher, School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, Davis
“It’s not really tourists going back and forth…Travel-related Zika cases are a function of both travel volume and how active the virus is in countries being visited. When there is a high level of both, that is where you have the most cases.”
- “How A Caribbean Island Became Prime Source Of U.S. Zika Cases,” Kaiser Health News, 22JUL2016
Jerome Goddard, Professor of Entomology, Mississippi State University
“Just finding the virus in another species doesn’t mean that it can efficiently transmit it.”
- “Brazil scientists find Zika traces in Culex mosquitoes in wild,” Reuters, 21JUL2016
Michael Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota
“I really believe the worst is yet to come with Zika throughout the Americas…It has not peaked.”
- “Zika epidemic in Latin America may have peaked, and scientists predict it will be over in 3 years,” Los Angeles Times, 14JUL16
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the Zika epidemic
- Public-Health Officials Across U.S. Race to Build Defenses Against Zika Virus
Media: Wall Street Journal
Byline: BETSY MCKAY and CAMERON MCWHIRTER
Date: 18 July 2016
With summer in full swing, public-health and mosquito-control officials are pulling out the stops to halt the Zika virus from taking root and spreading in the continental U.S.
The mosquitoes that are able to spread the virus are flourishing this summer in Key West, Fla., just as they did six years ago during an outbreak of dengue—another disease they can transmit, said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. “We’re on high alert,” he said.
- Florida health department investigates possible local Zika transmission
Byline: Michele Gershberg
Date: 19 July 2016
Florida health officials said on Tuesday they are investigating a case of Zika virus infection that does not appear to have stemmed from travel to another region with an outbreak.
The statement from the Florida Department of Health did not specify whether the Zika case was believed to have been transmitted via mosquito bite, sexual contact or other means.
- Florida Investigating Second Possible Case of Locally Acquired Zika
Media: Wall Street Journal
Byline: BETSY MCKAY
Date: 21 July 2016
Florida health officials said late Thursday that they are investigating a second case of Zika in a person whose source of infection is unknown.
The second person resides in Broward County, whose county seat is Fort Lauderdale. The Florida Department of Health said that it is conducting an epidemiological investigation into a “possible nontravel related case of Zika virus” in that county, and added that its investigation into a similar case in neighboring Miami-Dade County, which it disclosed late Tuesday, is “ongoing.”
- A Grim First: New York City Reports Baby Born With a Zika-Related Defect
Media: New York Times
Byline: MARC SANTORA
Date: 22 July 2016
Health officials on Friday reported the first baby born in New York City with the Zika-related birth defect known as microcephaly, a condition marked by an abnormally small head and impaired brain development.
The virus has caused more than 1,500 children to be born with birth defects around the world, mostly in Brazil. As it continues to spread, doctors are struggling to understand the virus and to prepare for its effects.
- Doctors devise care plan for babies as Zika threat looms in U.S.
Byline: JULIE STEENHUYSEN
Date: 22 July 2016
As U.S. public health officials try to determine whether Zika has arrived in the country, doctors are establishing guidelines on how to care for the rising number of babies whose mothers were infected with the virus during pregnancy.
Florida said it is investigating two possible cases of Zika not related to travel to an area where Zika is active, raising the possibility of the first incidence of local transmission of the mosquito-borne virus.