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Zika Virus

Zika Virus29 posts

The Zika virus, named after the Zika forest in Uganda, is a mosquito-transmitted disease found in tropical areas. Zika is a flavivirus in the same family as yellow fever, dengue, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis. Infection causes mild fever-like symptoms, a rash and conjunctivitis, or no symptoms at all. In 2016 the virus was suspected for causing birth defects in babies, with thousands of babies being born with smaller than normal heads in Brazil. The spread of the virus has caused worldwide alarm.

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8 Feb, 2016

U.S. athletes should consider not attending Olympics

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Reports say The United States Olympic Committee told U.S. sports federations that athletes and staff concerned for their health over the Zika virus should consider not going to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. The message was delivered in a conference call involving USOC officials and leaders of U.S. sport federations in late January, according to two people who participated in the call. Federations were told that:

[No one one should go to Brazil] if they don’t feel comfortable going. Bottom line.

Obama asks congress for emergency funds

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The White House says it will ask Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus: $828 million for the CDC to increase research into Zika, monitor the disease, and improve testing programs; $250 million to expand health programs in Puerto Rico, where the virus has already taken hold; $200 million is for vaccine research; $335 million for the US Agency for International Development to support Zika control efforts abroad; and $210 million to establish a new Urgent and Emerging Threat Fund that would build readiness in case other mosquito populations — like the Aedes albopictus — start carrying Zika to new states. President Obama:

The good news is this is not like Ebola, people don’t die of Zika. A lot of people get it and don’t even know that they have it.

7 Feb, 2016

France curbs blood transfusions

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French Health Minister Touraine says travellers coming back from any outbreak zones of the Zika virus will need to wait at least 28 days before giving blood to avoid any risk of transmission, and advises pregnant women to inform the authorities if they had travelled to any of the zones. Eighteen cases have been reported in travellers in France.

5 Feb, 2016

Brazil finds Zika virus in urine, saliva

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Brazilian scientists says they have detected the presence of the Zika virus in samples of human saliva and urine, a first for Brazil. The samples came from two patients with Zika-like symptoms; one was found to have the virus in urine, the other had Zika in the saliva sample. It remains unclear whether the tiny sample size was enough to produce solid conclusions. Researchers warn that the virus might have the potential to spread through kissing or urine, but are quick to point out that this still remains to be proved. A potential upside to Friday’s revelation could involve developing urine tests as a diagnostic tool. Researcher:

It is something we have to further investigate. We are not yet sure if Zika can be transmitted to others [through saliva or urine].

Columbia: three deaths linked to nerve disorder

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Colombia says three people have died after contracting the Zika virus and developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare nerve disorder. The country’s Health Minister says there is a “causal connection” between Zika, the Guillain-Barre disorder and the three deaths. Health Institute says they are investigating a further six deaths for possible links to Zika.

We have confirmed and attributed three deaths to Zika. In this case, the three deaths were preceded by Guillain-Barre syndrome. Other cases (of deaths linked to Zika) are going to emerge. The world is realising that Zika can be deadly. The mortality rate is not very high, but it can be deadly.

4 Feb, 2016

Brazil: Zika infections from blood transfusions

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Brazilian health officials say they have confirmed two cases of transmission of Zika through transfusions of blood from donors. Doctors say genetic testing confirmed that a man who received a blood transfusion using blood from a donor with Zika in March 2015 became infected with the virus, although the patient did not develop symptoms. Earlier, the health department of Campinas, an industrial city near Sao Paulo, said a man with gunshot wounds became infected with Zika after multiple blood transfusions in April 2015 that included blood donated by an infected person.

The two cases can be considered transmission of the virus through blood transfusion, with greater certainty in the first because we did genetic sequencing comparing the virus in the donor and to the virus in the recipient.

Pregnancy case confirmed in Spain

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Spain’s health ministry confirms that a pregnant woman in the north-eastern Catalonia region, who recently returned from Columbia, has the virus, the first case in Europe. Spain has reported seven other cases of the virus.

All are in good health. The diagnosed cases of Zika virus in Spain… don’t risk spreading the virus in our country as they are imported cases.

3 Feb, 2016

Declares State of Emergency in FL counties with Zika virus

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Gov. Scott declares a state of emergency in the four counties where people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus: Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa. Nine people have been diagnosed with Zika in Florida, though health officials believe that all of them contracted the disease outside of the U.S. Scott’s executive order requires the state health officer to “take any action necessary to protect public health” and allows the commissioner of agriculture to issue a “mosquito declaration” in the affected counties to reduce populations of the insects that can spread the disease. Scott:

Although Florida’s current nine Zika cases were travel-related, we have to ensure Florida is prepared and stays ahead of the spread of the Zika virus in our state.

2 Feb, 2016

Asks blood donors to wait 28 days

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The American Red Cross asks prospective donors who have visited Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central or South America during the past four weeks to wait at least 28 days before giving blood. The organization says:

The risk of transmission through blood donation continues to be extremely low in the continental U.S.

Drugmakers announce virus efforts

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Sanofi announces that it has launched a project to develop a vaccine against the virus, the most decisive commitment yet by a major vaccine maker. The company says its Sanofi Pasteur vaccines division would use its expertise in developing vaccines for similar viruses such as yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and dengue. The University of South Australia also says it is working on a Zika vaccine with Australian biotech Sementis Ltd. U.S. drug developer NewLink Genetics Corp said it has started a project to develop Zika treatment options.

First US transmission case; through sexual contact

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The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States is reported in Dallas, TX. Officials say it was likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite. The person was infected through sexual contact with someone who had traveled to Venezuela. Texas Department of State Health Services:

Case details are being evaluated, but the possibility of sexual transmission from an infected person to a non-infected person is likely in this case.

25 Jan, 2016

Countries warn women to delay pregnancy

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Officials in four Latin American and Caribbean countries warn women to delay pregnancy as the consequences of the Zika virus outbreak for developing fetuses become more apparent. During an outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil, the nation saw an increase of nearly 4,000 infants born with microcephaly. US health authorities have warned pregnant women to avoid travelling to more than 20 countries in the Americas and beyond, where Zika cases have been registered. Colombian health minister:

We are doing this because I believe it’s a good way to communicate the risk, to tell people that there could be serious consequences.

Virus likely to spread across Americas

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The WHO warns that the Zika virus is likely to spread across the Americas. The virus has already been found in 21 countries in the Caribbean, North and South America. No treatment or vaccine is available. The virus is spread through the Aedes mosquito. This mosquito is found throughout the Americas with the exceptions of Canada and Chile. 80% of infections do not show symptoms, but there seems to be a link between the virus and impaired fetal development.

16 Jan, 2016

First brain-damaged baby in US

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The Hawaii State Department of Health says a baby born with an unusually small head and brain in an Oahu hospital had been infected with the Zika virus. The presence of the virus was confirmed by the CDC. The child’s mother was probably infected early in her pregnancy by a mosquito when she lived in Brazil in May in 2015. The virus presumably reached the embryo and damaged its developing brain. Hawaii’s state epidemiologist:

We are saddened by the events that have affected this mother and her newborn. This case further emphasizes the importance of the C.D.C. travel recommendations released today.

29 Dec, 2015

2700 microcephalic babies born in 2015

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The New York Times reports that more than 2700 microcephalic babies have been born in Brazil in 2015, up from fewer than 150 in 2014, according to news media reports in Brazil. Though the increase is tentatively blamed on spreading Zika virus, some say the link is not clear.

14 May, 2015

Link to Zika confirmed, officials downplay

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The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation confirms Dr Soare’s research. Officials downplay the disease as having moderate effects, compared to Dengue fever, which kills hundreds people each year. Health Minister:

Zika virus doesn’t worry us. It’s a benign disease.

Apr 2015

Zika identified

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By March 2015 the virus appears in two more Brazilian states, then reaches Salvador, a city of 2.5 million. Doctors speculate that the symptoms are the result of an allergy; that it was roseola, a childhood illness; that it was a new variant of Fifth Disease, a facial rash that gives children a “slapped-cheek” look. Dr Soares, a biologist:

People were claiming it was polluted water. I began thinking it was something transmitted by mosquitoes.

Working in his modest lab with a colleague, Dr. Soares tests thousands blood samples. Other doctors are doing the same. Over 6,800 samples are tested from victims ranging from 4 months to 98 years old. Parvovirus, dengue, chikungunya and other suspects are all ruled out, leaving Zika as the cause in April. Dr Soares:

I actually felt a sense of relief. The literature said it was much less aggressive than viruses we already deal with in Brazil.

Aug 2014

Virus spreads in Brazil

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Shortly after the 2014 World Cup, doctors start to notice patients trickling into public hospitals in Natal, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, about 200 miles up the coast from Recife. Natal had been one of the host cities of the soccer championship, which draws fans from all over the world. A second theory, proposed by French scientists, who had investigated the outbreak in Polynesia, was that it arrived a few weeks later, during the Va’a World Sprint, a canoe race in Rio that attracted teams from several Polynesian islands. Almost all victims had the same symptoms: a flat pinkish rash, bloodshot eyes, fever, joint pain and headaches. None were desperately ill, but the similarities were striking. Local epidemiologist:

That scared some patients and doctors, and my team. We knew nothing other than that it might be some kind of light dengue.

In January, 100 infected people show up at the state’s hospitals in one day. Infectious disease specialist:

We alerted the federal authorities that we were dealing with something urgent and new. But their reaction was sluggish.