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  1. Aunque no está completamente comprobado, el virus volvió a indicarse como responsable del nacimiento de niños con defectos. La última y preocupante cifra señaló que en Estados Unidos ocurrió en uno de cada diez bebés de madres afectadas La prevención es muy importante para evitar la picadura Aunque hasta ahora no fue declarado como la causa definitiva, las investigaciones en continúan relacionando al virus de Zika con las malformaciones congénitas. La última es la del Centro de Control y Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC), que reveló que alrededor del 10% de las mujeres embarazadas infectadas en Estados Unidos en 2016 tuvieron un hijo con la condición mencionada. El estudio examinó un subgrupo de 250 mujeres infectadas. Entre ellas, 24 llevaban en el vientre un feto o habían dado a luz a un niño que tenía un defecto cerebral. "El Zika sigue siendo una amenaza para todas las mujeres embarazadas en Estados Unidos", recordó Anne Schuchat, directora interina del CDC, haciendo énfasis en "el pronto regreso de un clima más cálido y la cercanía de la temporada de mosquitos". Entre enero y diciembre de 2016, se encontraron casi 1.300 mujeres embarazadas con signos de una posible infección por Zika en todo el territorio estadounidense y países de alrededor, exceptuando Puerto Rico. Más de 50 nacidos de ellos presentaron malformaciones congénitas que podrían haber sido causadas por el zika. Sin embargo, estos datos no fueron confirmados mediante análisis de laboratorio. El zika puede llevar a un defecto de nacimiento llamado microcefalia (AP) El CDC señaló que la infección por este virus durante el primer trimestre del embarazo plantea un mayor riesgo para el feto. Aproximadamente el 15% de los niños afectados en este período nacen con malformaciones congénitas. El informe revela asimismo que aproximadamente uno de cada tres recién nacidos potencialmente expuestos a la infección durante el embarazo no fue sometido a estudios sobre posibles defectos neurológicos. Y sólo uno de cada cuatro fue sometido a un escaneo del cerebro. Por último, remarcaron la importancia de la atención médica para el diagnóstico sistemático en todas las mujeres embarazadas potencialmente expuestas.
  2. MEXICO CITY, Mexico—While the world awaits a Zika vaccine, the first ever injection against dengue fever is spreading, with Mexico becoming next week the latest country where people can get the shot. French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi is presenting its Dengvaxia vaccine to doctors at an event in eastern Mexico on Saturday, while people aged nine to 45 will be able to get the shot from their physicians from Monday. After public programs were launched in the Philippines and Brazil’s state of Parana this year, the company is rolling out the vaccine in the private sector in Mexico while health authorities prepare a public immunization plan. The head of Sanofi’s dengue program, Guillaume Leroy, told Agence France-Presse in Mexico City that the company already has one million doses ready in the country. Leroy said it was difficult to estimate how much the vaccine will cost in Mexico as it will depend on the distribution networks and the public vaccination program. The mosquito-borne virus costs governments around the world $18 billion a year, Leroy said. “We estimate that in Mexico and in other countries that the benefits will outweigh the costs of the (vaccine) intervention,” he said. The company will have a “fair policy throughout the world and affordable for health authorities.” Zika vaccine Mexico was the first country in the world to give regulatory approval to the vaccine in December last year. Seven others followed suit, including Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and the Philippines. Sanofi is awaiting authorizations in 18 other countries. The fast-growing disease infects as many as 400 million people every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has endorsed the vaccine. Sanofi’s research and development work took 20 years, costing more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion). Now, Sanofi and other pharmaceutical firms are racing to find a weapon against Zika, which like dengue is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. “Developing a vaccine against Zika will be easier after developing a vaccine against dengue,” Leroy said, noting that the viruses share genetic similarities. “All these investments (on dengue) through more than 100 collaborations worldwide allow us today to gain a lot of time on different vaccinal approaches” against Zika, he said. Some 70 countries and territories have reported local mosquito-borne Zika transmission, with Brazil by far the hardest hit and the WHO declaring it a public health emergency. Zika causes only mild symptoms for most people such as fever and a rash, but infected pregnant women can give birth to babies with microcephaly, a deformation marked by abnormally small brains and heads. – Vaccine concerns – Scientists had also long been stumped by dengue, which has four separate strains, forcing researchers to find a drug able to fight all of them at once. Dengue can trigger a crippling fever, along with muscle and joint pain. But clinical tests on 40,000 people from 15 countries found Dengvaxia can immunize two thirds of people aged nine years and older, rising to 93 percent for the more severe form of the disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever. It was also found to reduce the risk of hospitalization by 80 percent. Brazil launched a public immunization program for 500,000 people in Parana in August, while the Philippines has injected 489,000 public school children aged nine since it became in April the first country to use the vaccine. Philippines health department spokesman Eric Tayag said authorities followed WHO recommendations, which say it should not be given to children under nine years old. “We are tracking each child” to look for any sign of dengue or side effects, Tayag said. Some scientists have voiced concerns about studies showing that the vaccine could give dengue to people who have never had the virus. Scott Halstead, founder of the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative, told AFP that the WHO was “being hasty” in recommending the vaccine and that people should be tested to see if they have had dengue before being vaccinated. “It’s not ethical to give a vaccine that harms someone,” Halstead said. But Leroy noted that Dengvaxia, in addition to the WHO’s green light, is getting approval from government health regulators. “It is a great solution and the first solution because dengue did not have until now any specific medial solution to treat this illness,” Leroy said, adding that Sanofi is conducting studies in Asia among younger people to see if the vaccine’s reach can expand. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/814368/mexico-joins-philippines-brazil-with-dengue-vaccine
  3. A new analysis based on data from seven countries hit hard by Zika virus found a strong link between Zika infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a complication marked by numbness, weakness, and sometimes paralysis of the limbs. In other Zika research developments, scientists published new reports on co-infections with other mosquito-borne viruses and fatal encephalitis. GBS elevated up to 10-fold For months now, global health officials have said there's a scientific consensus about a link between Zika virus and GBS. The syndrome is a rare complication of other virus infections, including other members of the flavivirus family. Today's letter to the New England Journal of Medicine reviews Zika and GBS patterns in seven countries: Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Suriname, and Venezuela. Authors include health ministry officials and experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). According to data submitted by the countries for Zika and GBS, changes in Zika incidence in 2015 and 2016 were closely associated with the rise and fall of GBS. Differences from GBS baselines for some countries, however, were much higher than others, with the greatest percentage rises reported in Suriname and Venezuela. The team explored a possible link between dengue infection and GBS incidence but didn't find one. Women had a 75% higher incidence rate of Zika than men, especially those in the 20- to 49-year-old age-group, which could reflect differences in exposure, more severe symptoms, or differences in healthcare-seeking behavior, the report said. The GBS incidence, though, was 28% higher in men and increased with age, consistent with findings for other similar diseases. The investigators concluded that the levels they found—2.0 to 9.8 times as high as baseline—shows that GBS poses a substantial burden on health systems in the region. They added that more studies are needed to show that Zika infection is a cause of GBS. Zika, chikungunya, dengue co-infections Multiplex testing for Zika, chikungunya, and dengue viruses in Nicaragua found that coinfections are common, a research group from the United States and Nicaragua reported yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases. They based their findings on 346 serum samples submitted by healthcare providers and tested from Sep 1, 2015, to Apr 3, 2016. Of 263 that were positive for one or more viruses, 192 tested positive for one of the three mosquito-borne viruses and 71 had evidence of co-infection involving two or all three viruses. The researchers concluded that co-infections are common and that because the diseases have similar clinical presentations, multiplex tests are needed to help with patient care and surveillance. Fatal encephalitis in an adult Brazilian researchers, meanwhile, reported the first known case of fatal encephalitis in an adult infected with Zika virus. According to their report in the Journal of Clinical Virology, the patient was a previously healthy 47-year-old woman who wasn't pregnant. She sought care for an itchy rash in joint pain in early January. Four days later she experienced lower limb weakness, dysarthria, and confusion. The next day she was admitted to the hospital, where her condition deteriorated rapidly, requiring mechanical ventilation. Cerebrospinal fluid was positive for Zika antibodies and her urine tested positive for Zika virus. Her doctors saw massive brain swelling on computed tomography. Despite aggressive treatment, the woman died 11 days after she was admitted. The authors said the case is a reminder for clinicians to consider Zika virus as a cause of encephalitis and to be aware of how severe the infections can be. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2016/08/analysis-highlights-strong-zika-gbs-association
  4. MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Officials in Nicaragua say the first baby with the birth defect of microcephaly has been born to a mother infected with the Zika virus. Government spokeswoman and first lady Rosario Murillo said Friday evening that the baby was born in the capital of Managua. Health officials had been tracking the woman since confirming that during the fourth month of her pregnancy she showed rash and fever symptoms. Doctors did not test her for Zika at that time. Ultrasounds later suggested the baby had microcephaly, characterized by a small head and a brain that is not fully developed The child was born very underweight, weighing less than 4 pounds. Murillo says the mother and baby are in stable condition. Neighboring Guatemala announced its first Zika-related microcephaly case earlier this month. https://www.yahoo.com/news/nicaragua-first-zika-related-case-microcephaly-180105529.html
  5. Donated blood at a bank in Indianapolis. The F.D.A. has recommended that all donated blood in the United States be screened for the Zika virus. CreditMichael Conroy/Associated Press The Food and Drug Administration on Friday took steps to safeguard the nation’s blood supply from the Zika virus, calling for all blood banks to screen donations for the infection even in states where the virus is not circulating. The recommendations are an acknowledgment that sexual transmission may facilitate the spread of Zika even in areas where mosquitoes carrying the virus are not present. Officials also want to prepare for the possibility that clusters of local infection will continue to pop up in parts of the United States for years to come. “There could be multiple outbreaks of Zika happening outside the known current ones in South Florida, but because we are not actively looking they could be happening silently,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, who applauded the F.D.A.’s move. Without federal funds, it is generally not possible for local health departments to conduct active surveillance for Zika virus in the blood or urine of patients with fever or rash, he added. “In some ways the inaction from Congress has forced the F.D.A. to adopt this position,” Dr. Hotez added. “They have no other choice.” The agency urged blood centers to use one of two experimental tests intended to detect active infections, called nucleic acid tests, before releasing donated blood for use in transfusions. As an alternative, banks may decontaminate plasma and platelets with so-called pathogen reduction technology. But the recommendations are likely to pose a significant challenge for some blood banks and for the third-party labs that perform much of the blood screening nationwide, some experts said. Eleven states must put the new safeguards into place within four weeks. They include Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Louisiana, New York and Texas, which have many residents who travel to Zika-affected countries or are near an area that already has locally acquired mosquito-borne cases. Other states have 12 weeks to carry out the recommendations. “This is a bombshell, because this is extremely rapid introduction of a new test nationwide that’s almost unprecedented,” said Dr. Jeffrey McCullough, emeritus professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “To try to implement this, in four weeks, is really, really difficult.” Yet the new safeguards also are necessary, Dr. McCullough said. Under current guidelines, it is too difficult to identify infected donors by “trying to sort out risky donors by history of where they’ve been or what they’ve exposed to.” Nationwide, nearly 14 million units of whole blood and red blood cells are collected each year from about seven million donors. Every day, as many as 36,000 units of red blood cells are given to patients, along with 7,000 platelet units and 10,000 units of plasma. Consistent screening of the blood supply is an enormous task. There are more than 11,500 confirmed cases of Zika virus in states and territories, according to the C.D.C. Nearly 2,500 of them are people in the continental United States who traveled abroad where Zika-infected mosquitoes are circulating. More than 30 cases were acquired in Florida. Puerto Rico has been screening all blood donations since March. TheCenters for Disease Control and Prevention in June found that asurprisingly high percentage of donors had signs of active infection with the Zika virus. The F.D.A. provisionally approved two screening tests for Zika in blood donations on an investigational basis in March and June respectively. The first is made by Roche Molecular Systems, and the second by a collaboration between Hologic Inc. and Grifols. Neither test is fully F.D.A approved yet, and the facilities using them are enrolled in a continuing study. As part of Roche’s investigation, four centralized testing labs that screen blood for multiple banks in the South have been “collecting and testing blood for weeks now,” said Tony Hardiman, who leads the blood screening operations at Roche. For the 11 states that need to be ready in a month, he said, “we are pretty much locked and loaded.” “Our focus now is what do we do for the rest of the country to bring them up in 12 weeks,” he added. Officials at Blood Systems, which operates blood banks in 24 states, said they will be able to test blood donations in California and some Southern states like Mississippi in a month. The company will then work on getting sites in the Rocky Mountain States operational, said Dr. Ralph R. Vassallo Jr., the chief medical and scientific officer. Creative Testing Solutions, a large blood donor testing lab, already is using both experimental Zika screening tests. In Tampa, the company has relied on Roche’s test since the Zika outbreaks began in Miami-Dade County. In its Dallas and Phoenix outposts, C.T.S. has installed two so-called Panther machines to be able to screen tubes of blood with the Hologic-Grifols test, in case Zika-infected mosquitoes arrive along the Gulf Coast. In light of Friday’s F.D.A. recommendations, officials said they will have to train more employees to use new tests and significantly scale up. “We test 35 percent of the blood supply, so in order to be able to do that in all states in 12 weeks, we are going to need additional pieces of equipment,” said Marc Pearce, a spokesman for C.T.S. — 12 more Panthers and one more machine that runs the Roche test. Asked on a conference call with reporters about funding the new safeguards, Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said, “I can’t speak to the cost of implementation at this time.” Hospitals may wind up paying more for each unit of blood because of additional screening costs, some experts said. “When hospitals hear this, they will be concerned that they could see a cost increase of up to $8 more per unit,” Dr. Vassallo said, which is roughly how much it costs to screen each unit for the Zika contamination. This month, after the first cases of local transmission in Miami were discovered, some blood banks near Zika hot zones in Florida began screening blood donations. According to Dr. Marks, one donation contaminated with the virus had been found in recent weeks in the state. The bag of contaminated blood was discarded. “The system worked correctly,” Dr. Marks said. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/27/science/all-donated-blood-in-us-will-be-tested-for-zika.html?_r=0
  6. Scientists raised the possibility that the Zika virus can be transmitted by oral sex — perhaps even by kissing — on Friday in a letter to The New England Journal of Medicine describing one such case in France. A single incident may seem trivial. But until early this year, there was only one known instance of sexual transmission of the Zika virus — a 2008 case in which a mosquito researcher just back from Africa infected his wife in Colorado. Now scientists believe that sexual transmission is an important driver of the Zika epidemic in the Americas. Cases have been reported in 10 countries where no mosquitoes carry the virus, including France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and New Zealand. In the French case, a 46-year-old man returned to Paris from Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 10, shortly after experiencing Zika symptoms in Brazil — fever,headache and a rash — that had just ended when he reached France. He and a 24-year-old partner had sex seven times between Feb. 11 and Feb. 20, each involving vaginal sex without ejaculation and oral sex with ejaculation. The woman fell ill on Feb. 20. Both were tested for Zika infection on Feb. 23. The man had high levels of the virus in his semen and urine, but none in his blood or saliva. The woman had the virus in her urine and saliva, andantibodies to the virus in her blood. But a vaginal swab was negative for the infection. The two were using oral sex as a form of birth control, said Dr. Yazdan Yazdanpanah, an infectious disease specialist at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris and one of the report’s authors. “I don’t think this changes anything, but it shows you how elaborate the number of avenues of possible transmission can be,” said Dr. William Schaffner, head of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School. He agreed that the most likely transmission route was oral sex, although he said it was possible that the woman was infected by pre-ejaculate during vaginal sex, or that the couple’s recollections of each sex act were imperfect. “It could be that it’s a moment of passion, it’s late at night and everyone’s had a few liqueurs,” he said. Dr. Yazdanpanah said the two were interviewed separately and their descriptions matched. Dr. John T. Brooks, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studying sexual transmission of the Zika virus, said he was “not particularly surprised” to see transmission that was probably by oral sex. Transmission through kissing is unlikely, Dr. Brooks said. “Casual kissing has got to be safe because, if it weren’t, don’t you think we’d see a lot more Zika? Every mom who kissed her baby would pass it on,” he said. “To be sure, we’d have to look for deep kissing in the absence of sexual contact, and that’s hard to find.” Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/03/health/zika-oral-sex-kissing-transmission.html
  7. Doctors are monitoring 279 pregnant women with confirmed or suspected Zika virus infections in the United States and its territories, federal health officials said Friday. Of those women, 157 are in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and 122 are in territories, including Puerto Rico. Public health officials are gathering data on the health consequences of the infection, including the rate at which fetuses develop abnormally shrunken heads and brain damage, a birth defect called microcephaly. Also on Friday, the World Health Organization confirmed that the strain of Zika virus in Cape Verde, just off the western coast of Africa, is the same strain that is spreading in Brazil. Almost 200 pregnant women in Cape Verde have been infected, and the virus has been blamed for three cases of microcephaly there. The rising numbers of pregnant American women testing positive — Friday’s figure is more than double the previous count of 113 — reflect a new case definition used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rather than a surge in cases, according to Dr. Margaret Honein, the chief of the agency’s birth defects division. No cases transmitted by mosquito have yet been reported in the 50 states. The number of infected pregnant women in this country began rising dramatically in February, probably reflecting the spread of the Zika virus from Brazil to more countries visited by Americans. Most of the 279 women are still pregnant, Dr. Honein said, and fewer than a dozen have experienced “adverse outcomes,” such as stillbirths, microcephaly or other congenital problems. A “relatively small number” of the infections clearly resulted from sexual transmission rather than mosquito bites, she added. But in most cases, it was difficult to determine how the women became infected because they had lived in or had traveled to areas where mosquitoes carrying the virus were biting. The C.D.C. previously reported only pregnant women with symptoms like rash, fever or bloodshot eyes. But “we’ve learned a lot in the last four months,” Dr. Honein said. At least four published studies have cited cases in which women with no memory of having symptoms gave birth to children with birth defects. The new case definition includes all women who have had a positive test for Zika virus, or a likely positive for antibodies to it. Antibody tests are not as accurate as tests for the virus itself because previous infections with dengue fever or shots to prevent yellow fevercan create false positives. “C.D.C. wants to make sure we are monitoring all women at risk for poor outcomes,” said Dr. Denise J. Jamieson, a co-leader of thepregnancy and birth defects team at the agency. Each Thursday, the agency will update the number of infected pregnant women in the United States, officials said. The outbreak in Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking country with close links to both Brazil and West Africa, has been a puzzle for months. The intense outbreak in the island nation started last October, just as Brazil’s surge in microcephalic babies was detected. But confirmation that it was caused by the Brazilian strain, rather than the much older African one, did not come until the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal, sequenced the genomes of the infecting viruses. Cape Verde’s outbreak is now fading, said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Africa, and there has been no outbreak in Senegal, which she called Cape Verde’s “door out to other countries.” Although that might suggest that Africans have some immunity, “it’s never good news to hear that a virus with neuropathic effects is on your doorstep,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, the W.H.O.’s chief of emergency response. “We don’t know what the level of population immunity is in Africa, and we don’t know if it will mitigate some of the impact,” he said. “So we have to work against a worst-case scenario.” Although laboratory capacity in Africa has been built up in the wake of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the continent is still very poor and the response to the W.H.O.’s appeal to donors for a $50 million Zika fund has been “anemic,” Dr. Aylward said. A recent study in Clinical Microbiology Reviews looked at 80 sets of blood tests for the Zika virus in countries around the world between 1947, when the virus was discovered in Uganda, and 2014, when it was detected in French Polynesia — the last major outbreak before it reached South America. Some samples are small, some tests used methods that would confuse Zika with related viruses, and the results range wildly: For example, 12 percent of 261 Ugandans tested in the 1940s were immune to the virus, while nearly 60 percent of 2,457 Senegalese tested in the 1970s were. The authors concluded that the Zika virus was probably endemic to all of sub-Saharan Africa, although there was no way to know how many people had immunity at any given time. Although Dr. Aylward said it is still not known whether immunity to the African strain confers protection from the Brazilian one, Scott C. Weaver, the director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and an expert on the Zika virus, said he would be “very surprised if there weren’t complete cross-protection between the two.” Genetically, the two strains are very closely related, he said. By contrast, strains of yellow fever have much more variation, and yet he did not know of a single instance in which the yellow fever vaccine, which is based on one strain gathered years ago, failed to protect against the other strains. Testing in animal models, including immune-deficient mice, has just begun, he said, but he could not name any laboratory trying to prove that infection with one strain of Zika protects against later infection with another. “We assume there’s cross-protection, and we’re interested in other questions,” he said, including whether microcephaly is typically caused by Zika alone. At the White House on Friday, President Obama pressured Congress to give him $1.9 billion for the fight against Zika. Americans should tell their Congressional representatives to “get on the job,” he said. “This is something that is solvable — it is not something that we have to panic about, but it is something we have to take seriously,” Mr. Obama said in the Oval Office after a briefing from top health officials. Congress should not take its scheduled Memorial Day vacation without passing the legislation, he said. His advisers have said the president would veto a House measure that provides only $622 million. The administration was “encouraged” by the Senate’s $1.1 billion version but is not promising to sign it. Referring to the funding Mr. Obama has requested, “anything short of that will be insufficient,” said Eric Schultz, the deputy White House press secretary. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/21/health/pregnant-women-zika-virus-cdc.html?_r=0
  8. (CNN)The first commercial test for Zika virus has received emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the test's developers, Quest Diagnostics, the newly approved diagnostic tool will become available to physicians in the United States and Puerto Rico as early as next week. Puerto Rico is considered to be among the most affected areas, compared to the rest of the United States, with potential for hundreds more infections. Currently, people who suspect they are infected with the virus can only be tested through anetwork of laboratories approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The current process requires a visit to physicians who must then go through the health department to get samples tested. Results can take up to three weeks and some people in the United States have reported challenges in getting tested, despite meeting the testing criteria. This new authorization is hoped to increase capacity for testing in the United States as well as shorten the time taken to receive a diagnosis. "The availability of our new molecular Zika test provides physicians broad access to a diagnostic tool for managing the Zika outbreak," Rick L. Pesano, vice president of research and development at Quest Diagnostics, said in a statement released Thursday. How the test works The commercial test uses a process known as real-time RT-PCR to test for the presence of Zika virus in blood samples. This means it can only detect the virus when it is still present in blood. A negative test, therefore, does not conclude that the virus isn't still in the body. Additional tests -- including those that look for the presence of antibodies against the virus, known as serological tests -- can further clarify this, and are currently available through the CDC. Quest plan to offer such tests services in the future, if further emergency use is approved. Samples for the currently approved diagnostic by Quest will be analyzed by trained personnel in laboratories run by Quest's subsidiary, Focus Diagnostics Inc. All cases of Zika must continue to be reported to the CDC for surveillance purposes. How useful will it be? The CDC recommends testing for anyone with symptoms of Zika infection who has traveled to an area with transmission within the past two weeks, as well as any pregnant women who have lived or visited affected regions. Testing is also recommended for males who have lived in, or visited, an affected region, in case of any sexual transmission of the virus. Infants born to mothers who lived or traveled to transmission areas during their pregnancy should also be tested. The CDC recently confirmed that Zika virus infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly and other birth defects, further increasing the need for improved testing capacity. "As the period (in) which the virus is present in the bloodstream, is transient, access to testing via the CDC network may not be possible for frontline physicians," said Rosanna Peeling, professor and chairwoman of diagnostics research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Peeling has seen challenges in diagnosis, particularly due to the presence of dengue and other viruses in the same family, within transmission regions. "Having a US FDA approved test that is commercially available will not only improve access to diagnosis, but will provide a useful tool for broadening our understanding of the infectivity and transmission dynamics of Zika virus infection," she said. Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/29/health/zika-test-fda-approved/index.html
  9. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Puerto Rico could see "hundreds of thousands of cases of Zika virus." Officials also said the rest of the country needs to be prepared for possible outbreaks. (April 11)
  10. The World Health Organization says there is now scientific consensus that the Zika virus is connected with microcephaly — a condition in which babies are born with very small heads and brain damage. Scientists have been working for months to confirm a link between Zika and microcephaly, ever since Brazil reported a startling increase in cases last fall. Zika infection during pregnancy appears to increase the risk for several types of birth defects and miscarriages, a recent study found. And scientists have found the virus in the brains of affected babies. But all this evidence is circumstantial. So the big question has been: Is Zika really the culprit? Now WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree there's enough evidence to say, yes, Zika is linked to microcephaly. "At this point the most pressing question people want answered is, 'If I get a Zika infection during pregnancy, what are the chances my baby is going to be affected?' " says Dr. Anne Schuchat, the deputy director of the CDC. "We really feel a sense of urgency to both answer that question and to help stop the spread of the virus." Currently the Zika virus is circulating in 33 countries in the Americas and has sickened hundreds of thousands of people. Source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/03/31/472607576/health-agencies-confirm-zika-is-linked-with-microcephaly
  11. The Zika virus now spreading widely throughout the hemisphere probably arrived in the Americas in a single traveler in the second half of 2013 — almost a year earlier than previous estimates — according to a new study of the virus’s genome led by Brazilian and British researchers. Experts were divided in their opinions of the new study, published Thursday in the journal Science. Some praised the work, while others said it was too limited to draw such a specific conclusion. By counting mutations in the viral genomes in different blood samples over time, the scientists created a “molecular clock” that estimates how fast the virus mutated. The researchers then compared new samples with earlier ones from Asia, where the Zika virus had circulated for decades, and from the South Pacific, where it began circulating in 2007. The team calculated that the Zika virus arrived in the Americas between May and December 2013. They also concluded that it probably — but not necessarily — arrived in Brazil first. The virus was not positively identified in Brazil until May 2015. But by then it had clearly been circulating in the country’s northeast for many months, because cities there were experiencing large outbreaks of a mysterious disease causing rash, fever and bloodshot eyes. (The virus did not become headline news around the world untilDecember, when health officials in Brazil, alarmed over a surge in infants born with tiny heads, warned women not to become pregnant. The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on Feb. 1.) The new study relies on just 23 viral genomes. They include samples of Zika virus obtained in Thailand, French Polynesia and the Cook Islands and 20 in the Americas, including nine from Brazil and the rest from Colombia, Martinique, Haiti, Guatemala, Suriname and Puerto Rico. The Haitian virus was noted as being particularly unusual, because it was collected in December 2014 — more than a year before the virus’s presence in Haiti was confirmed by the W.H.O. this past January. The gene sequences from the Americas were all closely related, and most resembled one collected in French Polynesia in November 2013. Two earlier studies have suggested that the virus reached Brazil either with the influx of athletes and tourists arriving for the 2014 soccer World Cup, which was played in host cities all over Brazil in June to July that year, or for the Va’a World Sprints, a set of outrigger canoe races held in Rio de Janeiro in mid-August of that year. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/health/one-traveler-may-have-brought-zika-to-the-americas-in-2013.html?ref=health&_r=2
  12. Pope Francis has indicated that women exposed to the Zika virus may be permitted to use contraception to avoid pregnancy, in a departure from Catholic teaching. However he reiterated the church’s staunch opposition to abortion, saying it was a crime and “absolute evil”. His comments came as women in South America frantically try to terminate pregnancies for fear of giving birth to babies with microcephaly, which gives them unusually small heads. Speaking to reporters on the papal plane as he returned to Rome after a visit to Mexico, Francis obliquely suggested that artificial contraception could be used in extreme situations to avoid pregnancy. Unlike abortion, “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil” and in certain circumstances it may be “the lesser evil”. He referred to the exceptional dispensation issued by one of his predecessors, Pope Paul VI, who permitted Catholic nuns in Africa to take birth control pills in the face of the risk of being raped. He was thought to be referring to the conflict in what was the Belgian Congo in the 1960s and 70s. But, Francis said, abortion could never be allowed, even for women who may be carrying foetuses with serious brain defects caused by the Zika virus. Abortion was “a crime”, he said. “It is killing one person to save another. It is what the mafia does … It is an absolute evil.” Earlier the Vatican ruled out easing its ban on abortion in the face of the Zika virus. “Not only is increased access to abortion and abortifacients [abortion-inducing drugs] an illegitimate response to this crisis, but since it terminates the life of a child it is fundamentally not preventative,” the Vatican said. The Holy See representative to the UN announced the Vatican’s response during the launch of a $65m (£45m) campaign by the World Health Organisation to tackle the spread of the Zika crisis. An estimated 4,000 babies have been born with microcephaly, which has been linked to their mothers becoming infected with the Zika virus by mosquito bites. “It must be emphasised that a diagnosis of microcephaly in a child should not warrant a death sentence,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the UN. Such a response would be “the confirmation of a failure of the international community to stop the spread of the disease”, he added. Abortion is banned or highly restricted in many countries affected by the Zika crisis. Earlier this month, the Catholic church in Brazil – one of the worst affected countries – said it strongly opposed a move to permit abortions for pregnant women exposed to the Zika virus. “There is no justification to defend abortion,” it said. Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/18/pope-suggests-contraception-can-be-condoned-in-zika-crisis
  13. The president will submit a request to Congress on Monday President Obama is asking Congress to provide $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus, the mosquito-borne illness that could be causing the proliferation of a rare birth defect in some Latin American countries. The president will submit a formal request to Congress on Monday requesting money to up increase mosquito control programs, help build response and support capacities in states and territories where transmission is possible, expand research into the link between the virus and birth defects, and help countries currently facing the virus keep it from spreading. “There is much we do not yet know about Zika and its relationship to the poor health outcomes that are being reported in Zika-affected areas,” a White House Fact Sheet reads. “We must work aggressively to investigate these outbreaks, and mitigate, to the best extent possible, the spread of the virus.” Brazil has been hardest hit by the virus, which has been detected in 26 countries and territories in the Americas. World health officials believe it could spread to three or four million people this year, including in the United States. The request also includes an additional $250 million in federal assistance in Puerto Rico for women and children who are at risk for or have been diagnosed with microcephaly, the birth disorder linked to the virus. A public health emergency has been declared in the U.S. territory because of the virus. Democrats in Congress pushed the president to formulate aproper response plan for the virus and called for additional resources and an interagency response to fighting the virus. The White House has been insistent that the administration is responding aggressively to the virus, which has not yet been transmitted via mosquito in the U.S. The virus has already been transmitted on U.S. soil via sexual contact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been actively working to keep the public informed about the virus. Officials are now advising pregnant women and their male partners to use condoms or abstain from sex if either have traveled to or live in Zika infected areas. Video Source: http://time.com/4211801/zika-virus-obama-congress/ “There is much we do not yet know about Zika and its relationship to the poor health outcomes that are being reported in Zika-affected areas,” a White House Fact Sheet reads. “We must work aggressively to investigate these outbreaks, and mitigate, to the best extent possible, the spread of the virus.” Brazil has been hardest hit by the virus, which has been detected in 26 countries and territories in the Americas. World health officials believe it could spread to three or four million people this year, including in the United States. The request also includes an additional $250 million in federal assistance in Puerto Rico for women and children who are at risk for or have been diagnosed with microcephaly, the birth disorder linked to the virus. A public health emergency has been declared in the U.S. territory because of the virus. Democrats in Congress pushed the president to formulate aproper response plan for the virus and called for additional resources and an interagency response to fighting the virus. The White House has been insistent that the administration is
  14. Guest

    Zika Virus

    Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes. In response, CDC has issued travel notices for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Symptoms About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika). The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Deaths are rare. Diagnosis The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika. See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where Zika is found. If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled. Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya. Treatment No vaccine or medications are available to prevent or treat Zika infections. Treat the symptoms: Get plenty of rest. Drink fluids to prevent dehydration. Take medicine such as acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain. Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin and NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage (bleeding). If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication. If you have Zika, prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness. During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. Prevention No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease (Zika). Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites (see below). Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, take the following steps: Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness. Always follow the product label instructions Reapply insect repellent as directed. Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent. If you have a baby or child: Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin. Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face. Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items. Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last. If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully. Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing. If you have Zika, protect others from getting sick During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. To help prevent others from getting sick, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness. Source: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

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