Dengue Exposure Boosts Risk of Zika Infection
A new study confirmed researchers' suspicions that exposure to the Dengue virus could increase the likelihood of a Zika infection taking hold, according to Science Magazine.
The findings, published online today (June 23) in the journal Nature Immunology, showed that when cell cultures containing Zika were exposed to blood from people who had experienced Dengue infection, the Zika virus in the cultures replicated as much as 100 times.
Specifically, the cell cultures were exposed to the person's plasma (liquid part of the blood holding blood cells) — and antibodies, which are proteins that recognize invaders like viruses in the body.
In an earlier study shared April 25 on bioRXiv — a preprint server for biological research that has not yet been peer reviewed — scientists also found that Dengue antibodies not only failed to neutralize Zika, but appeared to stimulate the virus's growth.
There are four types of Dengue virus; prior to these studies, scientists knew that antibodies from one type of Dengue created opportunities for a different type of Dengue to invade a person's immune system, a mechanism called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). The new findings suggest that Dengue's ADE is activated for Zika as well, which is in the same family of viruses as Dengue.
Ernesto Marques, a public health expert at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, told Science that pregnant women who have Dengue antibodies may be at higher risk of passing Zika to the fetus. However, he noted that this would not necessarily increase the risk of neurological birth defects associated with Zika.
Further studies, in humans and in cells in the lab, are required to determine how Dengue antibodies could shape the severity of a subsequent Zika infection, Marques added.
Microcephaly May Be Less Common in 3rd Trimester Zika Cases
Zika infections are notoriously linked to microcephaly, or small brain and head size, in the children of women who were infected with the virus while pregnant. However, in a new study from Colombia, researchers say they did not find any apparent abnormalities, including microcephaly, in the children of women infected with Zika during their third trimester of pregnancy.
The finding is preliminary, the researchers said, but it may help some pregnant women breathe a sigh of relief.
The researchers looked at 1,850 pregnant women in Colombia, of whom 90 percent were reportedly infected with the Zika virus during their third trimester. Birth records showed that none of these women's children have apparent abnormalities, such as microcephaly, the researchers said in the study, published online Wednesday (June 15) in The New England Journal of Medicine.
However, there were four cases of Zika-related microcephaly in Colombia bewteen August 2015 and April 2016, they said. All four of those babies were born to mothers who did not show Zika symptoms during pregnancy. This isn't unexpected, as just 1 in 5 people with the virus show symptoms, such as fever, rash and muscle aches.
The researchers said they will continue to follow the pregnant women in Colombia who were infected with Zika during their first and second trimesters, as many of these women have yet to give birth.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it will begin reporting the outcomes of infants born to women infected with Zika. Starting today (June 16) the CDC will record the outcomes in a registry that will include infants who have birth defects because of Zika, as well as Zika-related pregnancy losses with birth defects.
In the coming weeks, the CDC registry will also include Zika-related pregnancy outcomes from U.S. territories, the agency reported in a news statement.
Zika Sexual Transmission Risk Lingers Longer Than Thought
The Zika virus may linger in the body and be able to infect other people longer than thought.
In a new case, scientists report that a man in France sexually transmitted the Zika to a sex partner 44 days after he was infected. This was more than twice as long as in previously reported cases.
The report, published June 7 in the journal The Lancet, described a 61-year-old man who had Zika symptoms — a rash, eye inflammation and joint pain — while vacationing with his wife in Martinique in February. The wife developed a rash and joint pain 40 days after they returned to France, where tests confirmed that she had contracted Zika.
Tests also confirmed that her husband had been previously infected.
Researchers noted that after the couple left Martinique, the woman did not visit areas populated by Aedes mosquitoes — but did have unprotected sex with her husband several times, which suggested that her infection was sexually transmitted.
Previously, the longest delay in a sexually transmitted Zika infection was 19 days after the partner became ill.
On June 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their guidelines about preventing sexually transmitted Zika, recommending that men and women who travel to places where active Zika transmission has been identified should wear condoms or abstain for at least eight weeks upon their return.
If men develop Zika symptoms before or during that time, the WHO suggested that they use condoms or abstain for at least six months longer.
Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes Confirmed as Zika Host
Scientists have found the first evidence that wild mosquitoes of the species Aedes aegypti do indeed carry the Zika virus, as was suspected, according to a report released May 24 by the University of Minnesota.
A fact sheet published by the World Health Organization says that Zika can be transmitted by two species of Aedes mosquitoes — A. aegypti and A. albopictus — which are also known to carry viruses that are closely related to Zika, such as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. But this is the first evidence that wild-caught A. aegypti mosquitoes are Zika hosts.
Researchers at the Fiocruz Institute in Brazil shared a statement on May 23, describing the results of a 10-month investigation collecting mosquitoes in Rio de Janeiro's biggest Zika hotspots.
The Brazilian scientists collected 1,500 adult mosquitoes representing a number of species that live in and around the homes of people who had been infected with Zika, from two urban locations about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Rio de Janeiro.
The researchers reported that almost half of the mosquitoes they analyzed were A. aegypti, and confirmed that they found evidence of Zika in three groups of the A. aegypti mosquitoes. No other species that they collected was hosting the virus.
Previously, the only mosquitoes caught in the wild that were found to host Zika were A. albopictus specimens, captured in central Mexico in April, according to the University of Minnesota statement.
The findings suggest A. aegypti may be a more common Zika vector than previously suspected, the researchers said.
Possible Target for Zika Vaccine Found
Scientists have found an Achilles' heel of sorts in the Zika virus, and that weakness could be used to humans' advantage.
Reporting online on May 19 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, researchers with the National Institutes of Health and colleagues found that a protein called NS5 (within the Zika virus) prevents human cells that are infected with Zika from alerting the immune system to make a powerful antiviral protein called interferon — and ultimately fight the virus.
Therefore, if scientists were to alter or remove the NS5 from Zika and then inject the virus into a human, that person’s immune system could possibly fight off the virus. Essentially, the altered, and weaker, version of the virus, they say, could be used as a Zika vaccine, though that is still far off, the scientists said in a statement.
As of May 18, there have been 544 cases of Zika virus reported in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of those cases were "travel-associated," meaning that the person either contracted Zika outside of the U.S., or contracted it directly from a person who traveled outside of the U.S. (No cases of local transmission, from moquito bites, have been reported.)
In the U.S. territories, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and U.S Virgin Islands, 832 cases of Zika have been reported as of May 18, according to the CDC.
Scientists Find First Proof Linking Zika to Birth Defects
The first evidence from experiments to link the Brazilian strain of Zika to birth defects was reported by scientists from Brazil and Senegal on Wednesday (May 11) in the journal Nature.
Researchers conducted tests in pregnant mice infected with Zika to track the development of the fetuses and determine whether the virus could be directly connected to birth defects such as microcephalyan underdeveloped skull and brain.
They found that newborn mice whose mothers had been infected with Zika were born with smaller than average heads, much like human babies born to mothers who contracted Zika while pregnant.
The newborn mice displayed other abnormalities as well — eye problems and cell death — prompting concerns among the scientists that the developmental disabilities presently associated with Zika may be "only the tip of the iceberg," according to the study's lead author Alysson R. Muotri.
Muotri, an associate professor at the Univeristy of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said in a statement, "Our findings provide direct experimental proof that the Brazilian Zika virus strain causes severe birth defects – and that the full adverse effect upon health, even beyond microcephaly, is not yet fully understood."
The CDC Updates Zika Statistics for the US
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted an updated list today, tallying all Zika infections reported in the U.S. so far.
Although no locally transmitted cases have yet been reported within the U.S., the number of Zika cases associated with foreign travel has continued to climb.
Currently, a total of 472 cases of travel-associated Zika have been reported across the U.S., appearing in all but a handful of states (Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin.) Of those cases, 10 were sexually transmitted, and 44 people who contracted Zika were pregnant at the time of infection.
One case was also accompanied by a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder that has been associated with Zika virus infection. It causes muscle weakness and tingling sensations in the extremities, and can lead to partial or total paralysis in severe cases.
In the U.S. territories — American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — a total of 661 cases have been reported, including five that were accompanied by Guillain-Barré syndrome. Pregnant women accounted for 59 cases. Only three cases were travel associated, while 658 were acquired through local transmission.
Man Infected with Zika After Having Sex with Other Man
In recent weeks, two U.S. states have reported their first cases of Zika virus infections, and Texas reported the first case of sexual transmission of the virus between two male partners.
In Texas, a man was infected with Zika after his partner returned from a trip to Venezuela, reported the news station CBS DFW. This is the first known case of Zika transmitted between gay partners in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There are already reported cases of Zika transmission from heterosexual sex. This happens because the Zika virus can survive in sperm for months after the initial infection.
In the meantime, Zika continues to infect travelers. Rhode Island reported its first imported case after a man in his 60s contracted the virus, the state's Department of Health reported. The man had recently traveled to Haiti, an area with ongoing Zika transmission.
Vermont also identified its first imported Zika case after a person traveled to an area with active transmission of the virus, according to the Vermont Department of Health.
Zika Virus Kills Mini Lab-Grown Brains
The Zika virus is capable if killing both developing brain cells and mini lab-grown brains, a new study finds.
Researchers took a Zika sample isolated from a patient in Brazil, and placed it in a petri dish with neural cells. These cells, called neurospheres, are useful for modeling and understanding fetal brain development, Popular Science reported.
Within days, the virus had destroyed most of the neurospheres. In contrast, a petri dish of neurospheres that were not exposed to the virus grew hundreds of neurons.
Next, the researchers exposed tiny lab-grown brains, known as organoids, to the Zika virus. The Zika-infected mini brains grew about 40 percent less than mini brains that weren't exposed to the virus, the researchers found.
In a follow-up experiment, the researchers exposed the mini brains to dengue virus, which is related to Zika, However, dengue did not impair brain growth as Zika did, they found.
"These results suggest that Zika virus abrogates [abolishes] neurogenesis during human brain development," the researchers wrote in the study, published online Sunday (April 10) in the journal Science.
Vietnam Reports First 2 Zika Cases
Zika has affected Vietnam in the past, but two new cases in the country show that the virus is back, health officials said.
Two women, a 64-year-old from the eastern Khanh Hoa province and a pregnant 33-year- old from Ho Chi Minh City, were diagnosed with the virus. However, both are currently in stable condition, according to Sàigòn, a news publication.
The 64-year-old woman had several symptoms, including a slight fever, headache, leg rash and red eyes. She went to the hospital on March 28, and blood tests later confirmed her diagnosis on April 4.
After the 33-year-old woman experienced rash, red eye and fatigue, she rushed to the hospital because she thought she had rubella. Doctors took a blood sample, and diagnosed her with Zika on April 4.
Just 1 in 5 people infected with Zika show symptoms. Evidence is mounting that that virus can lead to developmental disorders in the fetuses of infected women who are pregnant.
Brazil Seizes Abortion Pills Meant for Women Infected with Zika
A Canadian group that sent abortion pills to women in Brazil just announced that the Brazilian government has confiscated the majority of their shipments, news sources report.
Abortion is illegal in Brazil, except in extreme cases. For example, it's legal to abort a fetus with anencephaly (when the fetus is missing parts of its brain or skull) in Brazil, but aborting a fetus with microcephaly (when the fetus has a small and underdeveloped brain) is illegal, according to The Daily Beast.
Brazilian families may have as many as 2,500 infants with Zika-related microcephaly, the World Health Organization reported earlier this month. Some pregnant women have ordered misoprostol and mifepristone, known as abortion pills, from Women on Web. But the Canadian group, which is based in the Netherlands, said that only two of the free "dozens of packages" they sent reached recipients, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Brazilian government said that they were confiscating the pills.
"Packages are checked when they arrive at the post office, and if medications are discovered they are forwarded to us," Carlos Dias Lopes, an agency press officer, told the Times.
About one-third of the women who ordered the abortion pills said they did so because of fears of Zika, Women on Web told the Times.
Brazil to Release Zika App for Olympics
This summer, people visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the summer Olympics will be able to download a mobile app that tracks the Zika virus.
Brazil's health ministry announced that it would launch the app in May, according to Agence France-Presse. The app will list information on how to prevent Zika infection, ask people about their health and, if needed, tell them how to reach the nearest pharmacy or hospital via GPS, AFP reported.
The app will also have Olympic-style video game quizzes about Zika. It will be available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese and Russian, AFP said.
The Summer Olympics are slated to begin Aug. 5. Marcelo Castro, Brazil's health minister, said that "the risk of infection will be considerably reduced" during the Olympics, because they will start during the Southern Hemisphere's winter months, when there are fewer mosquitoes, AFP reported.
But the situation is still "very worrying," Castro said, according to AFP.
Zika Vaccine: Lab Mouse May Speed Research
Researchers have found a type of lab mouse that will them study the Zika virus, news sources report.
The Zika virus does not replicate in ordinary lab mice, the Houston Chronicle reported. So, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston investigated the matter. They found that specially bred mice that are used to study another virus related to Zika, called Chikungunya, was a good fit. These mice lack a specific immune system response so they can't fight off the disease, the Chronicle said.
Once these mice are injected with Zika, scientists were able to detect the virus in the mice's blood and organs, including the brain and testes. This means that tests on these mice could help researchers determine whether a vaccine or treatment could protect the fetuses of pregnant women or prevent the virus from infecting others through sexual transmission, the Chronicle said.
Several private and public health organizations have vaccines candidates and antiviral medicines that are ready for testing in mice, but they couldn't test them until now, the Chronicle said.
"There is a huge demand to screen antivirals that have been backlogged because we haven't had a good way to test them," lead study author Shannan Rossi, a UTMB virologist, said in a statement. "Without this model, we were really stagnant in our efforts to find new treatments."
"This will help get those drug and vaccine candidates moving through the pipeline," Rossi said.
The study was published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Sexually Transmitted Case of Zika Reported in Chile
A 46-year-old woman is the first known person in Chile to get a sexually transmitted case of Zika, news sources report.
The woman's partner caught the virus while in Haiti, Reuters reported.
Chile has so far reported 10 confirmed cases of the Zika virus within its boarders, but all of them were infected in other countries, Reuters said.
Despite these cases, continental Chile may dodge a local Zika outbreak. It's one of two countries (the other being Canada) that don't have the Aedes mosquito, the bloodthirsty insect that carries and spreads the virus, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 28).
Travel-Related Zika Cases Found in Nevada, Mississippi
Both Nevada and Mississippi recently reported their first imported cases of Zika, according to news sources.
In Nevada, a man who had recently traveled to Guatemala tested positive for the virus, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The man experienced fever, muscle and joint pain, red eyes and rash in February, but the results from his blood test came back only yesterday (March 24) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Review-Journal said.
In Mississippi, two individuals who had traveled to Haiti were diagnosed with Zika virus this week. One person lives in Noxubee County and the other in Madison County, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 25).
Zika Concerns Prompt Americans to Buy More Bug Spray
Now that spring is underway, Americans are stocking up on insect repellant in an effort to stave off the threat of Zika, news sources report.
There aren't any known local mosquitos that carry the virus in America's 50 states, but that may change as more mosquitos emerge during the warmer parts of spring, and summer.
In fact, about 58 percent of Americans said they would purchase some kind of insect repellant this year, including spray, candles or protective clothing, Sara Skirboll, director of public relations at RetailMeNot told NBC News.
Even brands that are less known, such as the DEET-free BugBand repellent, have seen their sales double compared to last year, NBC reported.
BugBand uses geraniol, a plant-derived alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people use repellants containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535.
Microcephaly Cases in Brazil Continue to Rise
The number of infants with microcephaly in Brazil continues to rise, health officials report.
As of March 19, there were 907 cases of confirmed microcephaly in infants since the outbreak began in October, according to Inquirer.net. That means there were 44 new cases confirmed in the country, since last week.
There are also now 4,293 suspected cases of microcephaly, including 25 suspected cases reported during the last week, Reuters reported. However, since October, doctors have confirmed that 1,471 babies with suspected microcephaly did not have the condition, Reuters said.
Zika Diagnosed in South Korea, Kauai, St. Thomas and Bangladesh
The Zika virus continues to spread around the world, largely due to travelers who have visited Zika-affected countries.
South Korea reported its first Zika case today (March 22). The patient is a 43-year-old man who had visited Brazil for 22 days, Jung Ki-Suck, the South Korean director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said according to Ukraine Today.
The Hawaiian island of Kauai also reported its first travel-related Zika case. The infected individual had recently visited Latin America, and may still be infectious, health officials said.
"The individual has been advised to keep indoors and stay protected from mosquitoes," the state's department of health said. This is Hawii's second case of imported Zika virus this year; the first occurred on Oahu, the state's most populous island.
The U.S. Virgin island of St. Thomas also confirmed its first Zika case. However, the specimen was taken from a 39-year-old man about a month ago, and there is a backlog of other specimens to test, health officials told the St. Thomas Post.
In addition, Bangladesh identified its first local case of Zika. The patient, a 67-year-old man who lives in the southeastern port city of Chittagong, had not traveled overseas, according to Eyewitness News.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 22).
Connecticut and New Mexico Identify Travel-Related Zika Cases
Connecticut and New Mexico both recently identified their first travel-related cases of Zika, health officials report.
In Connecticut, the individual had travelled to a Zika-affected area, and returned home in early March. The patient, in his or her 60s, had symptoms including skin rash, red eye, fatigue, chills, headache and muscle aches, according to the state's department of health. The person has seen a doctor and is recovering, officials said.
In New Mexico, a 46-year-old man from Bernalillo County tested positive for Zika. He had recently traveled in Central America, health officials said.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 21).
New York Reveals 'Aggressive Plan' to Fight Zika
New York will soon get 100,000 larvicide tablets that kill mosquitos in a new effort to prevent the Zika virus from taking hold in the region.
The strategy is part of a six-point plan to stop New York mosquitos from acquiring the virus and spreading it locally, according to news sources. State officials plan to place the larvicide tablets in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island.
"We believe it's the most comprehensive and most aggressive plan that has been designed in the country," Cuomo told reporters Thursday (March 17), according to a news release. "Hopefully, we don’t have to deploy the full extent of the plan; hopefully, this remains a minor situation."
So far, New York has 49 confirmed cases of Zika, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. However, all of these were travel-related cases, and weren't caught locally.
Check Live Science's coverage to learn more about the New York campaign against Zika.
Cape Verde Sees First Possible Zika-Related Microcephaly Case
Cape Verde just reported its first suspected case of Zika-related microcephaly in a newborn, news sources report.
The baby with microcephaly was born at a hospital in the country's capital city, Praia, on March 14, according to eNews Channel Africa. However, the mother was not one of the 100 women being monitored for the virus, the channel said.
The link between Zika infections in pregnant women and neurological problems in their infants is not yet clear, but mounting research suggests that Zika plays a role in the development of these disorders.
Cape Verde, a nation on a volcanic archipelago west of Senegal, is a region with local Zika transmission. It has historic ties with Brazil, which is experiencing an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus, the channel said.
Cuba and Dominica Identify Local Zika Transmission
Officials in Cuba and the Caribbean island of Dominica have announced that people have caught the virus from local mosquitos.
In Cuba, a 21-year-old woman from Havana was hospitalized on Monday (March 14) after experiencing fever and fatigue, according to the Associated Press. Until now, all of Cuba's known Zika cases had been imported from Venezuela.
In Dominica, an individual who had not traveled out of the country caught Zika, but has since recovered, according to government officials.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 16).
Military Encourages Safe Sex to Prevent Zika Spread
U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Zika-affected countries just got some words of advice: Use condoms.
In late February, the U.S. Southern Command advised that personnel in countries with active Zika transmission either consider abstinence or practice safe sex with condoms, the Military Times reported. As research is showing, people can catch the virus from not only infected mosquitos, but also unprotected sex with infected men, as semen can harbor the virus.
The command also recommended that troops take other preventative measures, such as wearing long-sleeved shirts, staying in air-conditioned and screened areas and using bug spray, the Military Times said.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 15).
Florida To Fight Zika With Genetically Modified Mosquitos
Genetically modified (GM) mosquitos may soon be buzzing around parts of Key West, Florida in a new campaign to prevent the spread of Zika virus, according to news sources.
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) and Oxitec, a British biotech company that makes GM mosquitos, are working together on a field trial that, if approved, would release the OX513A Ades aegypti mosquito.
The public can comment on the plan for 30 days starting today (March 14). If the Food and Drug Administration approves the plan after the review is done, male Oxitec mosquitos will be released up to three times a week in the Key West area, according to an Oxitec statement.
The released mosquitos and their offspring will carry a lethal gene that will cause them to die, Oxitec said. Ideally, the number of Ades aegypti mosquitos, which can carry Zika virus, would plummet, they said.
Three More States Identify First Travel-Related Zika Cases
Travel-related cases of Zika have turned up for the first time in three more U.S. states — Kansas, Kentucky and West Virginia.
The Kansas individual, an adult from the southwestern part of the state, had recently traveled to a country with active Zika transmission, according to Kake.com.
In Kentucky, doctors diagnosed a man from the Louisville area. The man had recently traveled to a Central American country with local Zika transmission, the state's department of health reported. "He is doing well and expected to fully recover from the illness," the department said in a statement.
The individual in West Virginia, an adult male from Clay County, had recently traveled to Haiti. "He is no longer exhibiting symptoms and has made a full recovery," Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health, said in a statement.
Moreover, two U.S. servicemen, one stationed in Columbia and the other in Brazil, were diagnosed with Zika virus, according to ABC News. Both men have since recovered and returned to duty, ABC said.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 11).
Florida Reports First Sexually Transmitted Zika Case
Florida reported its first sexually transmitted case of Zika virus yesterday (March 9), according to the state's health department.
The individual had recently traveled out of the country, health officials said. They encouraged people to be aware that the virus can be transmitted during sexual intercourse.
People traveling to countries with active Zika transmission should use protection to reduce their risk of catching the virus, the health officials said. Moreover, people should also use protection if they plan to have sexual intercourse with men who have recently been in regions with local Zika transmission, as semen can harbor the virus longer than blood can.
To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations about Zika and sexual transmission.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 10).
Teenager with Zika Infection Develops Complications
In the first report of its kind, a teenager developed an inflamed spinal cord, known as acute myelitis, after getting the Zika virus, according to a new report.
The teenager, a 15-year-old girl on the eastern Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, went to the hospital in January after experiencing weakness on the left side of her body, according to a report published March 3 in the journal The Lancet.
Doctors found the virus in the girl's cerebrospinal fluid, blood and urine, reported News Medical. They gave her an anti-inflammatory drug, and her neurological condition improved seven days after admission, according to Medical News.
The case suggests that Zika may be related to "neurological complications in the acute phase of the infection, while Guillain Barré syndromes [an autoimmune disease that can be triggered by a severe bacterial or viral infection] are post-infectious complications," the researchers said, according to News Medical.
Peruvian Doctors Diagnose 4th Travel-Related Zika Case
Peru reported its fourth travel-related Zika case on Monday (March 7), according to the country's health officials. The individual, a Peruvian citizen in Lima, had recently visited Columbia and Brazil, according to Outbreak News Today.
However, health officials called it an isolated case.
The country has already started a campaign to stop the mosquito-borne disease. For instance, it has increased surveillance, with the goal of detecting Zika cases in travelers coming from regions with local Zika transmission.
"These prevention and control actions are being carried out at airports, bus terminals and border areas," the government said in a statement, according to Outbreak News Today.
Missouri and Maine Diagnose Travel-Related Zika Cases
Two more states reported their first travel-related cases of Zika. In Maine, an older adult (age 65 or older) from Hancock County tested positive for Zika, according to state health officials. The individual had recently traveled to a country with active Zika transmission, but did not require hospitalization after the diagnosis and is recovering at home, health officials said.
"It’s important for the public to understand that the Aedes mosquito that transmits the Zika virus is not found in Maine," Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine’s state epidemiologist, said in a statement. "And that your neighbor who has come home from a trip to South America cannot transmit the virus to you."
In Missouri, a man was diagnosed with Zika after a recent trip to Haiti, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services.
The virus is also spreading elsewhere. Laos just reported its first locally transmitted case of Zika, according to a WHO report covered by Channel NewsAsia. Laos' neighboring country Thailand reported its first locally acquired case of Zika last month in a 22-year-old patient who has since recovered, Channel NewsAsia reported.
Trinidad also confirmed two more Zika cases, bringing its total case count to three, according to Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 7).
Islands in South Pacific Report Zika Cases
New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific, has reported its first local case of Zika, according to news sources. The infected individual lives in Noumea, the territory's capital, the news outlet RNZ reports.
In 2014, New Caledonia had a total of 1,300 confirmed Zika cases.
Meanwhile, Hawaii, about 3,850 miles (6,200 kilometers) north of New Caledonia, reported its first imported case Zika so far this year, according to the state's health department.
"Because people frequently travel to areas abroad where Zika virus is present, we can expect that we may see more imported cases in the coming months," Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, said in a statement on Thursday (March 4). "With Zika, and our current dengue outbreak, it's important for everyone in the state to reduce mosquito breeding areas by getting rid of standing water, and use repellant or protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites."
The Hawaii Zika case happened on Oahu, the state's most populous island, but the individual is no longer infectious, according to TheEagle.com.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 4).
Oklahoma Identifies First Zika Cases; Google Helps Track Virus
Doctors have diagnosed two Oklahoma residents with travel-associated Zika infections, state health officials report. Both residents were traveling in countries with active Zika transmission when they acquired the mosquito-borne virus.
"Local transmission of Zika virus is not currently occurring in the United States; however, cases have been reported among individuals who have traveled outside the U.S. to affected areas," the Oklahoma State Department of Health said in a statement.
To map Zika's spread, Google engineers, designers and data scientists are helping UNICEF build a platform that tracks the disease, according to Google's blog. The new platform includes data that influences new infections, including weather and travel patterns. This data should help UNICEF, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) predict potential outbreaks, Google said.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 3).
Zika Cases Confirmed in Slovakia, Cuba, Utah and New Hampshire
Doctors have confirmed cases of Zika infection in two more countries and two more states.
A woman in Presov, Slovakia caught the virus after traveling in South America, according to the news outlet Sputnik. A lab in Hamburg, Germany used a blood test to confirm the diagnosis after the woman, who is not pregnant, reported having flu-like symptoms, Sputnik reported.
Cuba also reported its first case of Zika. Healthcare workers diagnosed the virus in a 28-year-old Venezuelan doctor, according to NDTV. The woman was visiting Cuba to take part in a post-graduate medical class, NDTV said.
In New Hampshire, a woman contracted the virus after sexual contact with a man who had Zika-like symptoms and had recently traveled to a country with active Zika transmission, the officials said.
"Identifying cases in New Hampshire is not unexpected, although the most common means of transmission of the virus is through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes," Marcella Bobinsky, acting director of public health at the state's Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. "Sexual transmission is less common."
In Utah, a child between ages 2 and 10 contracted the virus after traveling to a country with active Zika transmission. The child had typical symptoms, including a rash, but has not experienced any complications, according to state health officials.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (March 2).
Mexico Has Diagnosed More Than 120 People with Zika
Zika virus has infected 121 people in Mexico, including 11 pregnant women, according to the country's health officials.
The southern state of Chiapas has the most cases, with 57 confirmed infections, according to Sputnik News. Oaxaca, a state to the northwest of Chiapas, has 52 cases, while Nuevo Leon in the northeast has four and southern Guerrero has three, Sputnik reported. The other five cases were identified in separate states.
Zika symptoms, such as fever and rash, affect about only 1 in 5 people. But researchers are working on a vaccine because the virus may be linked with microcephaly (an underdeveloped brain) in the fetuses of infected pregnant women.
France and Montana Identify First Known Zika Cases
Zika virus infections continue to spread across the globe. Health officials in France reported the first known case of sexually transmitted Zika virus in that country on Saturday (Feb. 27), according to Reuters. The woman's partner had recently traveled to Brazil, a country with active Zika transmission, Reuters reported.
Men infected with Zika virus can spread the disease through their semen, according to several reports. In one case, doctors found Zika in the semen of a man who had been infected with the virus nine weeks prior.
Meanwhile, a woman in Missoula County, Montana contracted the virus after traveling to a Zika-infected area, according to state health officials. The woman is not pregnant, the officials said.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (Feb. 29).
3 Pregnant Women in Florida Have Zika Virus
Three pregnant women in Florida have tested positive for Zika virus, according to the Florida Department of Health.
These results are concerning, as the virus may increase the risk of microcephaly (small brain and head size) in the fetuses of pregnant women infected with the virus. However, scientists are still working to find whether there may be a link between the two.
A total of 35 people in Florida have caught the mosquito-borne virus after traveling to countries with active transmission. But just four people were still showing symptoms of the virus as of yesterday (Feb. 25), the health department said in a statement.
Typically, Zika symptoms last between seven to 10 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Japan and Czech Republic Report First Zika Cases
Japan reported its first travel-related case of Zika virus today (Feb. 25) after a male teenager caught the virus after visiting Brazil, new sources report. The teenager lives in Kanagawa Prefecture, a region located south of Tokyo.
The teenager reported having a fever and rash, but health authorities called it an isolated case.
"There’s no fear of spread in Japan because mosquitoes are dormant [in winter]," a ministry official said at a news conference, according to The Japan Times.
This isn't the country's first imported Zika case. Three people in Japan were diagnosed with the virus in 2013 and 2014 after visiting Thailand and the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora, The Japan Times said.
In Europe, the Czech Republic also reported its first travel-related cases of Zika today. Two Czechs got the virus after taking separate trips to the Caribbean, the health minister said, according to Reuters.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (Feb. 25).
Texas Hospitals Develops Rapid Zika Test
Doctors at two hospitals in Texas announced that they have developed the first rapid, hospital-based test for Zika virus in the country, according to news sources.
The new test will speed up diagnoses and treatment, researchers at Texas Children's Hospital and Houston Methodist Hospital said.
"With travel-associated cases of the Zika virus becoming more prevalent in the United States, coupled with the looming increase in mosquito exposure during spring and summer months, we must be prepared for a surge of Zika testing demand,” James Versalovic, the pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children's and leader of the test development team, said in a statement according to Reuters.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (Feb. 24).
Zika Enters 3 More Nations, 3 More States
Travelers are continuing to bring Zika virus home after visiting areas with active transmission. This includes people from South Africa, the Marshall Islands and Canada, as well as Alabama and Iowa, where the first Zika cases have been reported in recent days.
Just 1 in 5 people with the virus experience symptoms, such as rash and fever. But there are concerns that the unborn children of pregnant women infected with the virus are at increased risk of microcephaly (small head and brain size) and other disorders.
In South Africa, a Colombian businessman visiting Johannesburg was diagnosed with a Zika infection, the country's first case. "The businessman presented with fever and a rash approximately four days after arrival in South Africa but is now fully recovered," the country's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told Reuters.
The Marshall Islands also identified its first Zika case, making it the fourth Pacific Islands country to find the virus in its boarders after Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, according to the Pacific Islands News Association
"The first case of Zika is that of a young female residing in [the capital] Majuro who had no travel history outside of the Marshall Islands," Dr. Kennar Briand, the island's secretary of health, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Ontario health officials identified the first known person in Canada to get Zika virus on Feb. 16. The individual had recently traveled to South America, according to the province's chief medical officer, Dr. David Williams.
In the United States, the virus was detected in an older woman from Iowa who had traveled to Central America and an individual from Alabama, according to each state's department of health. Washington also identified its first travel-related Zika case in a man in his 20s who had recently traveled to the South Pacific, according to the state's health department.
Costa Rica, which already had travel-related Zika cases, just reported that it has two local cases of the virus. Both patients are women, including one in her 38th week of pregnancy, according to The Tico Times.
Hong Kong also reported its first travel-associated Zika cases in a 38-year-old man and his 9-year-old son, according to health officials.
CDC Arrives in Brazil
An epidemiology team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arrived in Brazil today (Feb. 22) to investigate the link between Zika virus and microcephaly (small head and brain size).
The 16-member group is training its Brazilian counterparts in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, according to National Public Radio (NPR). After that, all of the researchers will collect data on 400 to 500 Brazilian women who have had babies in the past few months.
Using this information, the researchers will set up a case-control study that will help them analyze the various risk factors, be it Zika virus, rubella, malnutrition or environmental toxins, that could account for birth disorders, such as microcephaly.
"Having the data at this point in time are very critically important for understanding the impact Zika might be having in the future and as it spreads in the region," J. Erin Staples, a CDC medical officer leading the CDC team in Brazil, told NPR.
In the meantime, Brazilian researchers sequenced the genome of the Zika virus, according to a report from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The researchers also isolated the virus from the brains of fetuses who had microcephaly and died shortly after birth, according to the news outlet Agência Brasil, providing more evidence that the virus is linked to the disorder.
Zika Identified in North Carolina Resident
North Carolina has identified its first case of Zika virus, health officials reported today (Feb. 19).
The patient is an adult who got the virus while traveling in a country with ongoing transmission of Zika. However, the person's symptoms have since resolved, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
"As long as the outbreak continues in Central and South America and the Caribbean, we expect to see more travel-related Zika virus infections in our state," Dr. Randall Williams, the state health director, said in a statement. "While travel-related cases don’t present a public health threat to North Carolina, we always actively monitor emerging global situations and adjust resources to meet needs."
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (Feb. 19).
2 More Caribbean Islands Get Travel Warnings
Travelers, take note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Zika virus travel notices for two more islands in the south Caribbean Sea. The islands, Aruba and Bonaire, lie off the northern coast of Venezuela. Both have mosquitos that are spreading ongoing Zika transmission, warranting a "Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions" travel notice. This is one step below a CDC Level 3 precaution, which recommends avoiding all nonessential travel.
Zika Lands in Ireland
Three people in Ireland have become infected with the Zika virus, health officials report. All three cases involved people who had recently traveled to other countries, where Zika transmission is known to be active.
Doctors detected the first case in 2015 in a patient who had recently visited Columbia. The second two cases were identified in 2016 in people who had traveled to Columbia and Barbados, Ireland's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSC) said.
These Zika cases are "not an unexpected event" the HSC told The Irish Times. The center added that people in other European countries, including the United Kingdom, have also become in infected with Zika after traveling to countries with active transmission of the virus.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (Feb. 18).
FDA Issues Blood Donation Guidelines to Prevent Zika Spread
Individuals who have traveled to areas with active Zika transmission should wait at least four weeks before donating blood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday (Feb. 16).
There haven't been any reports of Zika in the U.S. blood supply to date, but the FDA issued the recommendation because evidence suggests the virus can spread through blood transmission, the FDA said.
"The FDA has critical responsibilities in outbreak situations and has been working rapidly to take important steps to respond to the emerging Zika virus outbreak," Dr. Luciana Borio, the FDA's acting chief scientist, said in a statement. "We are issuing this guidance for immediate implementation in order to better protect the U.S. blood supply."
The recommendation also applies to people infected with Zika or who were potentially exposed to the virus. This includes those who have had sexual contact with a person who has visited or lived in an area with active Zika transmission during the past three months, as the virus has been found in the semen of infected men.
The mosquito-borne virus typically leads to symptoms of fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis (pink eye), muscle and joint pain, general discomfort and headaches. However, researchers are investigating whether Zika is connected with an outbreak of microcephaly (small head size) in the children of women who are infected with the virus while pregnant.
Russia Reports First Identified Zika Case
Russia has identified its first known case of Zika virus in a 36-year-old woman, according to Russian authorities. The woman had visited the Dominican Republic, a country with active transmission, earlier this month, according to Reuters.
The woman's family has not contracted the virus, according to doctors who tested them. In fact, Russia is running Zika virus tests on all citizens who return from countries where the disease is present, Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told reporters at a United Nations briefing on the Ebola vaccine, Reuters reported.
"We are extremely cautious," Skvortsova said. "Our specialists have come up with excellent methodological protocols for immediate diagnosis of Zika, and also preventive measures."
About 80 percent of people infected with Zika don't show any symptoms, while the remaining 20 percent typically have symptoms such as joint and muscle pain. However, doctors are concerned that the virus may cause microcephaly and other birth defects in the babies of infected pregnant women. Research for a Zika vaccine is underway, but likely years away.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (Feb. 16).
Zika Detected in Maryland Patient
A patient in Maryland is the first person in the state to be diagnosed with the Zika virus. The individual had recently traveled to a country that has active Zika transmission, according to Maryland state officials. A later blood test confirmed that the person is infected with the Zika virus, health officials said.
Zika symptoms are usually mild, and 1 in 5 people with a Zika infection don't show any symptoms. Those who do report having fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), muscle and joint pain, general discomfort and headaches, according to the World Health Organization. However, the virus may cause birth defects in the children of pregnant women, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises pregnant women to postpone travel to countries that have local Zika transmission.
"Our department will continue to actively partner with the CDC, Maryland healthcare providers, laboratories, and health departments to provide support to Marylanders at risk of Zika infection – especially to pregnant women,” Van T. Mitchell, Maryland secretary of health and mental hygiene, said in a statement.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (Feb. 12).
Fetal Autopsy Suggests Zika Link
The discovery of the Zika virus in the brain of a fetus with microcephaly provides evidence that the two might be linked, a new study suggests.
Researchers think that Zika, a virus transmitted by mosquitos, is associated with babies born with small heads, or microcephaly. However, there is sparse evidence backing this idea. In the new study, researchers did an autopsy on a fetus whose mother had Zika virus while pregnant. The European mother got the virus when living in Brazil, but returned to Slovenia later in her pregnancy.
The woman learned that her fetus had microcephaly during an ultrasound at 29 weeks of pregnancy, and had an abortion at 32 weeks (a typical pregnancy lasts 40 weeks), according to Reuters. A later autopsy confirmed that the fetus had a small head size and severe brain injury, as well as high levels of Zika in its brain tissue.
"Importantly, the team found no presence of the virus and no other defects in any fetal organs other than the brain, which suggests the virus selectively attacks nerve tissue," Reuters wrote. "But exactly how the virus does this is not clear."
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of Zika virus, as of today (Feb. 11).
Zika Linked to Eye Damage in Infected Babies
In addition to unusually small heads, babies infected with Zika virus may also be born with eye problems that threaten their vision, according to a new study detailed this week in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.
The study involved 29 infants from Salvador, Bahia and Brazil who were born with microcephaly (unusually small heads) likely associated with contracting the Zika virus while in the womb. The researchers found that 10 of the infants showed eye abnormalities, the most common of which were changes in the pigment of the retina, called pigment mottling, and chorioretinal atrophy, which is damage to the retina as well as the membrane layer between the retina and sclera. The researchers called these abnormalities "vision-threatening."
"This study can help guide clinical management and practice, as we observed that a high proportion of the infants with microcephaly had ophthalmologic lesions," the researchers write in their study. "Infants with microcephaly should undergo routine ophthalmologic evaluations to identify such lesions."
The researchers add that in Brazil and other "high-transmission settings," doctors should be aware of the risk of Zika linked to eye damage.
China's 1st Case of Zika Virus Confirmed
A 34-year-old man from the city of Ganzhou reportedly has been infected with the Zika virus, the first such case in China, government officials said. The man recently traveled to Venezuela where he was treated for the virus on Jan. 28, before returning to China on Feb. 5, according to the Associated Press.
His case was confirmed on Tuesday (Feb. 9), and he is being treated at the Ganxian People's Hospital, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission, as reported by the AP.
—Read more at the New York Times.
2 Zika Cases Reported in Pennsylvania
Two women in Pennsylvania are ill with the Zika virus, the state secretary of health announced on Tuesday (Feb. 9).
However, local Pennsylvanians shouldn't worry, officials said.
"While we are concerned about the health of these individuals and any Pennsylvanian who may be exposed to Zika virus, we want to emphasize that these cases pose no threat to the public," Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy said in a statement. "We will continue to provide updated Zika guidance to health-care professionals across the commonwealth to ensure they are aware of the symptoms associated with the disease and the protocols that should be followed to ensure testing of potentially infected individuals, if needed."
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and a senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Center for Health Security, agreed with the assessment on Twitter.
Zika in Indiana and Florida
A person in Indiana has tested positive for Zika virus, according to the state health officials. The individual had recently traveled to Haiti, a country with ongoing Zika transmission. Health officials are concerned about the virus because it may be linked with the birth defect microcephaly. However, the Indiana individual was not pregnant and did not require hospitalization, the state Department of Health reported.
Meanwhile in Florida, 16 people to date have confirmed Zika virus infections. But none of the cases involve pregnant women, and none of them were locally acquired, state health officials said.
Athletes with Fears About Zika Should Consider Not Going to Rio Olympics, Officials Say
Athletes and staff who are concerned about the Zika virus should consider not going to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August, the United States Olympic Committee said today (Feb. 8) in a conference call, according to news reports.
Zika Virus Found in Saliva, Urine
Scientists have found active Zika virus in the saliva and urine of infected individuals, according to news outlets. The findings, announced by Brazil medical-research institute, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, suggests the virus may be transmitted in other ways beyond mosquito bites. —Read more at the Wall Street Journal.