Category Archives: zika

Will Zika be a Problem this Spring and Summer?

Last year when Zika, (the virus associated with birth defects and microcephaly), became a clear threat to humans in South America and Central America, scientists used computer models along with the assistance of meteorologists and entomologists to predict where local transmission of Zika in the continental United States was most likely to occur. As of today, the only documented cases of viral transmission from a mosquito to a human in the continental United States have taken place in southern Florida and Brownsville, Texas. That’s precisely what the best models indicated.

 

According to Science Insider, “If history repeats itself, as winter approaches and cold weather reduces populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito—Zika’s main vector—this transmission likely will stop and resurface late next spring.”

 

Does that mean that there will be fewer mosquitoes with the zika virus in the spring or emerge stronger than ever? Tropical mosquito varies, such as the ones carrying the dreaded Zika virus, perish in cold temperatures. Unfortunately, the strains inhabiting the Mid-Columbia are made of sterner stuff. We will all have to wait until the spring weather begins in earnest to see what the results will be. Spring weather plays a bigger role in determining if mosquito eggs hatch and become breeding adults. Mosquito eggs hatch when the temperatures rise. But a warm up followed by another freeze could kill the larvae before they can mature and mate. Or the weather could simply warm up enough to produce hatching and stay that way.

 

The Center for Disease Control still maintains recommendations if traveling into a zika prone area including:

  • Travel information from the CDC including maps and strategies
  • Talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider first, if you must travel to an area with Zika.
  • Prevent mosquito bites, including covering up arms and legs and using EPA-registered insect repellent, which is safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Use latex condoms, the right way, every time or choose not to have any type of sex if the male partner has been in an area with Zika during the pregnancy.

Zika Report – A Year in Review

Zika, the mosquito-borne virus, has made the news weekly since mid-2015, when it became a known threat in Brazil. As of mid-2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have declared it an epidemic that threatens South and Central America. Throughout the course of 2016, the outbreak spread to North America when it was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This concern grew as the virus was linked to birth defects, as well as neurological problems.

 

Prior to the outbreak this past year, Zika was considered a mild infection, as most Zika virus infections are asymptomatic, making it difficult to determine precise estimates of the number of cases. Zika was known to cause a fever and rash that seemed to go away on its own. It wasn’t until the virus was connected to severe brain deformities, called microcephaly, and other birth defects that it became an alarming disease. Researches indicated that the cause was the bite of an infected mosquito called the Aedes species mosquito. It was also discovered to be spread through sexual contact between an infected partner and a non-infected partner. Zika was also found to be passed through sex, even if the infected person did not have symptoms at the time.

 

During the course of the last year, travelers, especially pregnant women, were warned about traveling to an area where Zika virus was found. By mid-2016 these areas encompassed almost all of the Northern Central and Southern Americas. Areas of greatest concern were the countries in the northern South America continent such as Brazil.

The CDC put out several warnings that included preventing mosquito bites, avoiding travel in infected areas and having protected sex with a partner who may have been exposed to the virus. By the end of 2016, the WHO announced the end of the Zika epidemic. While both the CDC and WHO have lowered the risk of the epidemic, they also warn that the virus could reemerge. Due to this and continued findings of local transmission in the southern states of the United States, prevention and spraying techniques are suggested.


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Zika Update

The Zika virus has become synonymous with birth defects and gut-wrenching fear. Not a day goes by without more alarming information about this mosquito-borne disease. With information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) we hope to keep you updated on this worldwide issue.

    • Symptoms – The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
    • Statistics – There are currently (as of June 2016) 691 travel-associated cases reported. There are zero locally acquired vector-borne cases. There are 11 sexually transmitted cases and 2 Guillain-Barré syndrome cases. US territories such as US virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and America Samoa have the following statistics: Travel-associated cases reported: 4 ,  Locally acquired cases reported: 1,305 , and Guillain-Barré syndrome: 7.
    • Infected Areas and Probable Areas  The New York Times has used information gathered by the CDC and WHO to gain insight into the probably reach of the aggressive yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, that has spread most Zika cases. That mosquito is common in the United States only in Florida, along the Gulf Coast, and in Hawaii – although it has been found as far north as Washington, D.C., in hot weather.

 

 

The red areas include probable mosquito infestations. The lighter the red color the lower the chance.mosquito-720-2

 

  • Transmission – The CDC and WHO has reported that the virus can and has been transmitted sexually between partners. They do, however, believe that the vast majority of Zika infections are transmitted by mosquitoes, not sex. The unknowns continue to be the answer to these questions. Can a woman pass the virus to a man through sex? Can it be passed through anal, oral or other forms of sexual contact? Does a man have to have blood in his semen to be infectious? Is it infectious before the blood appears? If there is no blood, must he have had symptoms of Zika infection, like fever and rash, to be contagious? How long does a man remain infectious?

Zika Transmission Update

As of May 2016, the Zika virus disease and Zika virus congenital infection are nationally notifiable conditions. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization(WHO) report 503 travel-associated cases with 48 of those in pregnant women, 10 sexually transmitted and 1 with Guillain-Barré syndrome. These numbers only tell part of the story that is being told in the news as of lately.  zika-by-state-report-05-11-2016-2

 

This map from the Centers for Disease Control shows the distribution of Laboratory-confirmed Zika virus disease cases reported by state or territory.

The CDC and the WHO warn of the main transmission methods including:

  1. Mosquito bites – Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases.  They prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
  2. Pregnant Women to Child – A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy. Zika is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects including Guillain-Barré syndrome. To date(May 2016), there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding.
  3. Sexual Transmission – Zika virus can be spread by a man to his sex partners. The virus is present in semen longer than in blood so condoms should be used for at least 6 months after exposure.
  4. Blood Transfusion – As of February, 1, 2016, there have not been any confirmed blood transfusion transmission cases in the United States. Brazil has has several reported cases of this transmission type but those are being investigated.

Zika – What you Need to Know

It has been all over the national and international news. The mosquito-borne disease, known as Zika has been declared a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization. This announcement, made on February 1, 2016, is due to the clusters of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities that may be caused by Zika virus. This determination is intended to mobilize an international response to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has spread throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean and is suspected to be the cause of a sharp rise in birth defects in Brazil. The last time the World Health Organization used this designation of PHEIC was during the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This announcement has many people, most especially pregnant women fearing dire consequences. Let’s look at what the experts know about this virus and what you need to know to protect yourself.

What is Zika?

The Zika virus is a disease, spread through mosquitoes that can produce mild symptoms such as fever, rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain. The disease is so mild, in fact, that researchers estimate about four-out-of-five people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have it — and those who do feel symptoms will only experience them for two to seven days. The virus was first isolated in 1947 the Zika forest in Uganda. It was considered a rare virus until 2013 when only a few people had the disease in Africa and Asia. In that year it became widespread in French Polynesia. By 2015, the disease began to spread rapidly throughout Brazil, where it’s estimated that more than one million people may have contracted the virus.

How is Zika contracted?

In short, a mosquito who has bitten a person infected with the Zika virus and then bites a second person could in fact that person with the disease.

Why is Zika so feared?

Zika is commanding worldwide attention because of an alarming connection between the virus and microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. This causes severe developmental issues and sometimes death. While there is not definitive proof yet the WHO strongly suspects that this condition is caused by the Zika virus. To make matters even more dire, there is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.

Could Zika reach the United States?Currently this virus has been reported in the following Central and South American countries:

  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Cape Verde
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guatemala
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Martin
  • Samoa
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela.

There are already cases among travelers returning to mainland U.S. from these areas but there have not been any cases originating in the United States yet. The CDC has warned that imported cases could cause the virus to spread in some areas of the country. The World Health Organization warned in February that the outbreak would likely reach all countries and territories in the Americas that have Aedes mosquitoes.

What can we do to prevent Zika?

If you are visiting a country with Aedes mosquitoes you are advised to use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothes and use insect screens or mosquito nets while inside.To help control the mosquito population, people should cover domestic water tanks, unblock drains, avoid accumulating garbage and avoid allowing water to stagnate in outdoor containers such as flower pots.

Some affected countries have called on women to delay pregnancy because of the possible link to microcephaly

The Latest News

As of Feb 3, 2016 there are 40 known cases of people infected with zika in the United States who traveled to the countries listed above.  One case has been proven to be transmitted sexually instead of through the actual mosquito bite.

Pro-Tech will keep you updated on the latest new on this frightening virus.  Knowledge is our best defense until a vaccine is developed.