Mosquitoes, Ticks, Rats, West Nile Virus, Zika and More: Independent District Has it Covered

December 6, 2018

Today we check in with Peter Bonkrude, District Manager of the Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District, an independent special district that provides public health mosquito and vector control to 1,100 square miles of Shasta County. Peter grew up in Minnesota, Ohio, and Colorado where he graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology. After moving to California, Peter attained his master’s degree in Entomology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and worked for a variety of research and vector-control agencies, including ISCA tech in Riverside, Calif., and the California Department of Public Health-Vector Borne Disease Section in Redding. In 2009, he accepted a position with the Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District, where he has served for the last nine years. When not working, Peter enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, playing music, and traveling around the north state and beyond.

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If you plan to travel to Cuba, bring repellent: Deadly dengue virus has returned

From the Miami Herald
December 5, 2018

If you’re planning to spend Christmas in Cuba, take plenty of insect repellent with you and stay away from areas where the mosquito Aedes Aegypti may be found.

A deadly strand of the dengue virus, transmitted primarily by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, has returned and is worrying authorities, according to Cinco de Septiembre, official newspaper of Cienfuegos in south central Cuba. This type of dengue has not been reported in Cuba since 1977.

“A new epidemic of dengue has broken out, causing alarm and clinical developments, but luckily we have not had to mourn the loss of life up until now,” the newspaper quoted provincial health director Salvador Tamayo Muñiz, speaking to regional leaders.

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New Zika vaccine effective in preclinical trials

From MedicalXpress
December 4, 2018

Researchers at the University of Hawaii medical school have successfully developed a vaccine candidate for the Zika virus, showing that it is effective in protecting both mice and monkeys from the infection.

Demonstrating the effectiveness of their  candidate in monkeys (non-human primates) is an important milestone because it typically predicts the vaccine will work in humans, enabling further clinical development.

A strong global initiative to battle Zika has produced more than 30  since outbreaks in 2015-2016 in Brazil linked the infection in some pregnant women to severe birth defects in their newborns. Zika is spread by the bite of infected mosquitos and through sex.

There is no treatment or cure for Zika virus infection nor is any vaccine currently approved for public use.

The proposed vaccine reported by scientists at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) in the journals Frontiers in Immunology and mSphere, via the open access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, is a recombinant subunit vaccine that uses only a small part (protein) of the Zika virus, produced in insect cells.

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89 Zika Cases in Florida are Travel Related

From Precision Vaccinations
December 2, 2018

December 2nd, 2018 – The State of Florida Health Department reported a year to date total of 91 confirmed Zika virus cases, as of November 24, 2018. 

Unfortunately, this update published on says there have been 68 pregnant women diagnosed with the Zika virus during 2018. 

And, 1 infant born with Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS). 

CZS is unique to fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   

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Multistate Infestation with the Exotic Disease–Vector Tick Haemaphysalis longicornis — United States, August 2017–September 2018

From the CDC
November 30, 2018

Haemaphysalis longicornis is a tick indigenous to eastern Asia and an important vector of human and animal disease agents, resulting in such outcomes as human hemorrhagic fever and reduction of production in dairy cattle by 25%. H. longicornis was discovered on a sheep in New Jersey in August 2017 (1). This was the first detection in the United States outside of quarantine. In the spring of 2018, the tick was again detected at the index site, and later, in other counties in New Jersey, in seven other states in the eastern United States, and in Arkansas. The hosts included six species of domestic animals, six species of wildlife, and humans. To forestall adverse consequences in humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife, several critical actions are indicated, including expanded surveillance to determine the evolving distribution of H. longicornis, detection of pathogens that H. longicornis currently harbors, determination of the capacity of H. longicornis to serve as a vector for a range of potential pathogens, and evaluation of effective agents and methods for the control of H. longicornis.

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West Nile virus infections could double in the U.S.

From The Houston Chronicle
November 29, 2018

The number of West Nile virus cases in the United States is expected to more than double in the next 30 years. 

That’s one of the dire predictions in the climate report that the Trump administration released on Black Friday. Scientists project that as average temperatures continue to rise, the geographic ranges of disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes and ticks will grow, putting more Americans at risk of getting infected with West Nile virus, Zika virus, Lyme disease, and dengue in the coming decades.

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Combatting the Increasing Threat of Vector-Borne Disease in the United States with a National Vector-Borne Disease Prevention and Control System

November 29, 2018

Reported cases of vector-borne diseases in the United States have more than tripled since 2004, characterized by steadily increasing incidence of tick-borne diseases and sporadic outbreaks of domestic and invasive mosquito-borne diseases. An effective public health response to these trends relies on public health surveillance and laboratory systems, proven prevention and mitigation measures, scalable capacity to implement these measures, sensitive and specific diagnostics, and effective therapeutics. However, significant obstacles hinder successful implementation of these public health strategies. The recent emergence of , the first invasive tick to emerge in the United States in approximately 80 years, serves as the most recent example of the need for a coordinated public health response. Addressing the dual needs for innovation and discovery and for building state and local capacities may overcome current challenges in vector-borne disease prevention and control, but will require coordination across a national network of collaborators operating under a national strategy. Such an effort should reduce the impact of emerging vectors and could reverse the increasing trend of vector-borne disease incidence and associated morbidity and mortality.

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Six antibodies produced to combat Zika virus

From Science Daily
November 29, 2018

Researchers have generated six Zika virus antibodies that could be used to test for and possibly treat a mosquito-borne disease that has infected more than 1.5 million people worldwide.

The antibodies “may have the dual utility as diagnostics capable of recognizing Zika virus subtypes and may be further developed to treat Zika virus infection,” corresponding author Ravi Durvasula, MD, and colleagues report in a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Dr. Durvasula is professor and chair of the department of medicine of Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. First author is Adinarayana Kunamneni, PhD, a research assistant professor in Loyola’s department of medicine.

Zika is spread mainly by mosquitos. Most infected people experience no symptoms or mild symptoms such as a rash, mild fever and red eyes. But infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and severe birth defects such as microcephaly.

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Google’s Parent Has a Plan to Eliminate Mosquitoes Worldwide

From Bloomberg
November 28, 2018

Silicon Valley researchers are attacking flying bloodsuckers in California’s Fresno County. It’s the first salvo in an unlikely war for Google parent Alphabet Inc.: eradicating mosquito-borne diseases around the world.

A white high-top Mercedes van winds its way through the suburban sprawl and strip malls as a swarm of male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes shoot out of a black plastic tube on the passenger-side window. These pests are tiny and, with a wingspan of just a few millimeters, all but invisible.

“You hear that little beating sound?” says Kathleen Parkes, a spokesperson for Verily Life Sciences, a unit of Alphabet. She’s trailing the van in her car, the windows down. “Like a duh-duh-duh? That’s the release of the mosquitoes.”

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Prenatal US detects brain abnormalities in fetuses exposed to Zika virus

From Radiology Business
November 28, 2018

In a cohort of 82 pregnant women with the Zika virus (ZIKV) infection, prenatal ultrasound (US) was able to detect all fetal brain abnormalities but one. Results from the study were published in JAMA Pediatrics.

“Since late 2015, large regions of South and Central America and the Caribbean were affected by the neurologic phenotype of the congenital ZIKV syndrome and the associated brain imaging findings of neuronal migration abnormalities, callosal and cerebellar malformation, and ventriculomegaly,” wrote lead author Sarah B. Mulkey, MD, PhD, of the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C, and colleagues. “The international medical community had to quickly develop an understanding of the infection and provide recommendations for evaluation of exposed and infected pregnant women and their infants.”

Mulkey and colleagues noted the progression of fetal brain injury is still not well documented. The researchers performed neuroimaging of fetuses and infants exposed to ZIKV with MRI and US.

The 82 study participants were from Colombia and the United States and enrolled between June 2016 through June 2017. The cohort underwent one or more MRI and US imaging exams during their second and/or third trimesters. The infants underwent brain MRI and cranial US, and blood samples were taken to test for ZIKV.

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Meghan Markle Skips Zambia Tour With Prince Harry Due To This Risk

From the International Business Times
November 26, 2018

Meghan Markle has opted to not join Prince Harry on his trip to Zambia due to a possible health risk.

Nicholas Bieber, a journalist for Daily Star, claimed that the Duchess of Sussex was supposed to fly to Zambia with her husband this week for a two-day, but her pregnancy made it impossible for her to do so.

At present, the country is being plagued with the Zika virus – a virus that is spread by mosquitoes – so she has decided to stay in London. Zika virus carries major risks, especially for pregnant women. Markle is expecting her first child in the spring of 2019.

“As far as those on the ground in Zambia were concerned, both Meghan and Harry were going. But Meghan is exhausted and understandably, expressed serious concerns about traveling to a country with even the smallest Zika threat. In the end, it was agreed Harry would do it alone and Meghan could rest-up and spend some quality time with Doria, who is down in the UK visiting,” a source said.

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Sequential imaging of Zika-exposed fetuses reveals most have normal brain development

From EurekAlert!
November 26, 2018

WASHINGTON-(Nov. 26, 2018)-Ultrasound (US) imaging performed during pregnancy and after childbirth revealed most Zika-related brain abnormalities experienced by infants exposed to the Zika virus during pregnancy, according to a prospective cohort study published online Nov. 26, 2018, in JAMA Pediatrics. Some Zika-exposed infants whose imaging had been normal during pregnancy had mild brain abnormalities detected by US and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) after they were born.

“A combination of prenatal MRI and US was able to detect Zika-related brain abnormalities during pregnancy, giving families timely information to prepare for the potential complex care needs of these infants,” says Sarah B. Mulkey, M.D., Ph.D., a fetal-neonatal neurologist at Children’s National Health System and the study’s lead author. “In our study, we detected mild brain abnormalities on postnatal neuroimaging for babies whose imaging was normal during pregnancy. Therefore, it is important for clinicians to continue to monitor brain development for Zika-exposed infants after birth.”

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State’s 1st dengue case confirmed in Miami-Dade County

From MRT
November 20, 2018

The Florida Health Department of Health said in a news release on Monday that the case emerged in Miami-Dade County. The agency didn’t identify the person or their condition.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that causes fever, severe headache, along with muscle and joint pain. There is no treatment or vaccine.

Health department officials say they’re working with Miami-Dade’s Mosquito Control and Habitat Management Division to help eliminate breeding and adult mosquito activity in the area where the case was confirmed.

Dengue, like Zika and chikungunya, spreads through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito

The Miami Herald reports Miami-Dade County has reported 21 cases of dengue during the past decade.

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Monkeys can carry zika virus, scientists discover

From Health 24
November 15, 2018

Wild monkeys in South America carry the Zika virus, which can then be transmitted to people via mosquitoes, researchers report.

The scientists said the finding suggests it may be impossible to eradicate the virus in the Americas.

“Our findings are important because they change our understanding of the ecology and transmission of Zika virus in the Americas,” said senior study author Nikos Vasilakis. He’s a professor in the department of pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

“The possibility of a natural transmission cycle involving local mosquitoes and wild local primates as a reservoir and amplification host will definitely impact our predictions of new outbreaks in the Americas, because we cannot eradicate this natural transmission cycle,” Vasilakis said in a university news release.

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Mothers infected by dengue may have babies with higher risk of severe Zika, and vice versa

From Science Daily
November 14, 2018

Two new studies provide evidence that previous Dengue infection in pregnant mothers may lead to increased severity of Zika in babies, and that previous Zika infection in mice mothers may increase severity of Dengue infection in their pups. The research, publishing November 14 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, supports that maternally-acquired antibodies for one virus can assist infection by the other by a process unique to flaviviruses.

“We’ve seen Zika infections in humans decrease from their peak in 2016, but it is still a significant concern and might re-emerge,” says senior author Mehul Suthar (@SutharLab)?, a viral immunologist at Emory University whose team studied human placental tissue to find out how Dengue antibodies help transport the Zika virus across the placental barrier. “The regions where Dengue and Zika are prevalent overlap extensively, so it’s important to understand how immune responses to one may influence vulnerability to the other.”

“There’s a prevailing attitude that antibodies are always good, but antibodies can have a range of effects,” says Sujan Shresta, an immunologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology whose group showed that mice born to Zika-immune mothers were more vulnerable to a deadly form of Dengue fever. “We need to embrace this complexity to develop the most effective vaccines.”

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Zika may hijack mother-fetus immunity route

From MedicalXpress
November 14, 2018

To cross the placenta, Zika virus may hijack the route by which acquired immunity is transferred from mother to fetus, new research suggests.

The results are scheduled for publication in Cell Host & Microbe.

Antibodies against dengue  make it easier for Zika to infect certain immune cells in the placenta, called Hofbauer cells. This effect was observed in both cell culture and in explanted human placental tissue, says lead author Mehul Suthar, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and Emory Vaccine Center.

Zika  during pregnancy can lead to overt microcephaly—a smaller head and brain—in the developing fetus, as well as more subtle neurological problems detectable later.

Researchers had previously observed that syncytiotrophoblasts, cells that make up outermost layer of the placenta, are resistant to Zika infection. Yet studies of Zika-infected pregnant women show that the virus is present in the placenta in the majority of cases.

“We needed to know how the virus gets across the placenta,” Suthar says. “Previous studies have shown that Zika persists in the placenta for months. It’s clearly getting in there.”

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Sterile mosquitoes best weapon against Zika virus. But will program continue?

From The Fresno Bee
November 14, 2018

A Fresno County experiment to trick female mosquitoes to mate with sterile males has been so successful in reducing the number of mosquitoes that can carry Zika and dengue viruses that it could become a staple in the mosquito-fighting world, if funding can be found to expand it.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, a day-biting mosquito, has proven difficult to suppress with traditional mosquito-control techniques, such as spraying. But the field study, which mated female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with sterile males, reduced the number of biting females by more than 95 percent during peak mosquito season.

The 2018 study results are encouraging, said Jodi Holeman, scientific services control director at Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District in Clovis. “With all the other strategies and control methods that we’ve put toward this mosquito there hasn’t been a single one that has been as effective as the release of the sterile mosquitoes.”

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WNV in California Horses: Case Confirmed in Sacramento County

From The Horse
November 9, 2018

California animal health officials have confirmed another equine case of West Nile virus (WNV). So far this year, there have been 11 confirmed cases of WNV in California horses.

“On Nov. 2, 2018, a 1-year-old Grade mare in Sacramento County with unknown vaccination history, displaying neurologic signs was confirmed positive for West Nile virus,” the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) said in a statement on its website. “The mare was euthanized due to severity of clinical signs.”

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What is Japanese encephalitis virus and how can I avoid it when I travel?

From The Conversation
November 13, 2018

If you’re travelling to Asia, you’re probably mindful of the risks of malaria, dengue, or Zika. But authorities are warning Australians to take care to avoid another mosquito-borne disease, Japanese encephalitis, when holidaying in the region, after a spike in cases in Indonesia.

Japanese encephalitic virus is part of the flavivirus family, which is also responsible for Zika, dengue and yellow fever.

Japanese encephalitis occurs in Asia and parts of the western Pacific, from Pakistan through to Papua New Guinea and north to Japan and parts of Russia. Almost 200,000 cases are estimated to occur each year.

Most people infected don’t suffer any symptoms. But around 1% of cases will result in severe illness. Symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting, which can progress to neurological complications, such as disorientation, seizures, and paralysis.

Of those who do suffer severe illness, almost one-third will die; while up to half of those who survive are left with long-term neurological impairment.

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How does the Zika virus prevent immune responses against itself?

From the Medical News Bulletin
November 7, 2018

When the immune system first comes into contact with a virus, it generates responses in an attempt to identify and eliminate the threat. In order to avoid detection and an immune response against them, many viruses attack immune cells such as specialized white blood cells called macrophages. The Zika virus, of particular concern as it can lead to birth defects, has been shown to employ this strategy. However, the method by which the Zika virus affects macrophages and escapes immune responses is not well understood. An improved understanding could lead to more effective methods of treatment and prevention of Zika virus disease.

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers explored the effects of Zika virus infection on macrophages and immune responses. Macrophages were exposed to the Zika virus with or without antibodies for the Dengue virus, which increases chances of Zika infection.

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How to Mail Mosquitoes

From Atlas Obscura
November 7, 2018

HE SYRINGE WAS FILLED WITH so many mosquitoes that they hardly even looked like insects anymore. Their wings, antennae, and other appendages were pressed so tightly together that the tube seemed to be holding a single substance—maybe even something hard, like a pellet or a puck.

We were almost positive that almost all of them would die,” says Hae-Na Chung, a technician in the biologist Immo Hansen’s Molecular Vascular Physiology Lab at New Mexico State University. “We thought they were completely smashed.”

Chung and her collaborators recently set out to see how many Aedes aegypti mosquitoes they could fit into a 10-milliliter tube, and how those insects would fare inside it. To load their lab-reared insects into the tubes, they first anesthetized the mosquitoes for a few minutes on ice (carbon dioxide works, too), and then used feathers to sweep them into the vessel. The mosquitoes are pliable and sluggish in this state, Chung says. That’s when the researchers depress the plunger and compress them down to one cubic centimeter.

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Are wild monkeys becoming a reservoir for Zika virus in the Americas?

From Science Magazine
October 31, 2018

When the Zika virus exploded in the Americas in 2015, it quickly became an international scare: Pregnant women, bitten by infected mosquitoes, could pass the virus to their babies, some of whom suffered brain malformations as a result. But the epidemic eventually wound down, thanks in part to large swaths of populations developing immunity. Now, scientists in Brazil have discovered that more than a third of the wild monkeys they tested for Zika have been infected, the strongest evidence yet that a “reservoir” for the disease outside of humans has the potential to form.

“We found this phenomenon in two different cities at the same time, so [infected monkeys] are more common than we think,” says Maurício Lacerda Nogueria, a virologist at the São José do Rio Preto School of Medicine in Brazil, who led the new study.

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Mosquito-to-mosquito infections keep dengue circulating

From the Cornell Chronicle
October 31, 2018

While mosquitoes acquire dengue viruses from people when they feed on blood, the insects can also infect each other, a recent study finds. 

Under normal conditions, when mosquito and host populations are robust, dengue is transmitted in a cycle from mosquitoes to human hosts and back to new mosquitoes, which keeps the virus in circulation.

But the study – published Aug. 31 in the journal Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases – reveals mother Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit dengue viruses to their offspring and, for the first time, finds evidence of male mosquitoes infecting females when they mate.

The research answers a big question among disease ecologists: how the virus is maintained during periods when mosquitoes become less active or when populations drop – such as in dry and cold spells – and when hosts are less susceptible.

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UCR researchers use DNA splicing to prevent Zika virus, dengue fever

From The Highlander
October 30, 2018

On Oct. 1, 2018, Distinguished Professor of Entomology Alexander Raikhel and Lin Ling, a postdoctoral scholar at UCR, published their research on the genetic foundation for chemical receptors responsible for the growth, metabolism and reproduction of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Using advanced CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing, they successfully created mosquitoes that are smaller, have a shorter lifespan and are less likely to transmit diseases such as the Zika virus, yellow fever, West Nile virus and dengue fever, which fatally infects millions each year.

Their research is founded on a lifetime of mosquito investigation as Raikhel, UC presidential chair and National Academy of Sciences member, has personally contributed to over 68 publications regarding mosquito genetic composition and disease transmission. In an interview with the Highlander, Raikhel explained the necessity of collaboration to the scientific process and the unique role mosquitoes have as sources of disease and proliferators of pathogens.

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Discovery of Zika virus in monkeys suggests disease may also have wild cycle

From EurekAlert!
October 30, 2018

Zika virus has been detected in dead monkeys found in Brazil near São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo State, and Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. The animals had been shot or beaten to death by locals who thought they had yellow fever. In fact, the monkeys were not bearers of that disease, but infection by Zika virus had made them sick and more vulnerable to attack by humans.

“The discovery shows the potential exists for Zika to establish a sylvatic transmission cycle [involving wild animals] in Brazil, as already occurs in the case of yellow fever. If the wild cycle is confirmed, it completely changes the epidemiology of Zika because it means there’s a natural reservoir from which the virus can reinfect the human population much more frequently,” Maurício Lacerda Nogueira, principal investigator for the study funded by São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP, told. Nogueira is a professor at São José do Rio Preto Medical School (FAMERP) and chairs the Brazilian Society for Virology (SBV).

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From New University
October 26, 2018

Orange County Health Care Agency officials confirmed the first human death this year due to West Nile Virus (WNV) in the Orange County area on Oct. 16. The agency identified the victim as an “elderly female resident of Tustin” who died as a result of infection complications.

According to the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District, the current WNV threat rating for Orange County is considered “Elevated Risk.” WNV is among the most deadly and prevalent mosquito-borne diseases. 553 cases and 44 deaths were recorded in California last year.

There have been eight West Nile cases reported thus far in Orange County, and cases have been reported in nearby Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. Several other deaths have been reported statewide.

WNV is a neuroinvasive virus transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. People over 50 years of age, young children, and those with immune system weakening medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or hypertension are at a higher risk of contracting a severe infection. Serious cases of WNV lead to inflammation of the spinal cord or brain and can be life-threatening or fatal.

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India wrestles with first significant outbreak of Zika virus

From the Washington Post
October 25, 2018

 India is working to control an outbreak of the Zika virus that has infected more than 130 people in the city of Jaipur, a perennially popular tourist destination known for its rose-colored palaces and buildings.

Zika is a virus spread primarily by mosquitoes that causes mild symptoms like fever, rashes and aches in healthy adults. However, when the virus infects pregnant women, particularly in their first trimester, it has been linked to serious birth defects.

India is one of more than 80 countries where the Zika virus is present, although the first confirmed cases were reported only last year. The initial two flare-ups of the virus, in the western state of Gujarat and the southern state of Tamil Nadu, involved just a handful of infections.

The current outbreak is considerably larger and for the first time, scientists found mosquitoes that were infected with the virus, indicating that it was being transmitted locally.

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Skittles, Magnolia Leaf & Mosquito Eggs Aided UC Davis Research

From the Davis Patch
October 25, 2018

DAVIS, CA – Using candy (Skittles), magnolia leaves, mosquito eggs and sheets of paper, UC Davis agricultural entomologist and remote sensing technology researcher Christian Nansen explored how light penetrates and scatters–and found that how you see an object can depend on what is next to it, under it or behind it.

Nansen, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, published his observations in a recent edition of PLOS ONE, the Public Library of Science’s peer-reviewed, open-access journal. He researches the discipline of remote sensing technology, which he describes as “crucial to studying insect behavior and physiology, as well as management of agricultural systems.”

Nansen demonstrated that several factors greatly influence the reflectance data acquired from an object.

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Peptide successfully exploits Achilles’ heel of Zika virus

From Science Daily
October 24, 2018

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have engineered an antiviral peptide that exploits the Zika virus at its Achilles’ heel — the viral membrane — hence stopping the virus from causing severe infections.

This new method of attacking the viral membrane focuses on directly stopping Zika virus particles rather than preventing the replication of new virus particles, and can potentially work against a wide range of membrane-enveloped viruses.

When administered in Zika-infected mice in the lab, the engineered peptide drug (a compound consisting of amino acids) reduced disease symptoms and the number of deaths. Importantly, the peptide was able to cross the nearly impenetrable blood-brain barrier to tackle viral infection in mouse brains and protect against Zika injury, a critical feature since Zika targets the brain and central nervous system.

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Deflecting mosquitoes during bite season

From the Los Altos Town Crier
October 24, 2018

Mosquitoes are incredibly well adapted for living on Earth in extreme conditions. They exist at 8,000 feet in the Himalayas and below sea level in the California desert. The eggs of mosquitoes can survive months to decades in desert, frozen tundra and even on dried flowers.

When it rains, the eggs hatch immediately, releasing mosquito larvae. Water reduces the amount of oxygen available to the eggs, which triggers hatching. Mosquitoes’ normal diet is nectar and aphid excrement. Blood is ingested only to fulfill reproductive needs. Mosquitoes become sexually mature at 2 days old and mate in swarms at dusk or dawn.

Different species feed at characteristic times of day. For example, Aedes aegypti, the mosquito responsible for spreading Zika, yellow fever, dengue fever and chikungunya, prefers to feed at dusk and has a proclivity for ankles and feet. Culex pipiens, the common house mosquito, feeds after dark.

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First human West Nile Virus case of 2018 reported in San Diego County

From CBS 8
October 19, 2018

(COUNTY NEWS CENTER) – A 91-year-old man from La Jolla has been confirmed as the first person in San Diego County in 2018 to test positive for West Nile virus, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced Friday.

The man was hospitalized in September with encephalitis but was confirmed later to have West Nile virus after testing done by the California Department of Public Health. He has been discharged from the hospital and is still recovering.

The man had not traveled outside the county within the month prior to becoming ill, so the infection resulted from a local mosquito bite. The County’s Department of Environmental Health trapped mosquitoes near his residence and is sending precautionary notices to residents in the area with information on mosquito prevention and protection. Mosquitoes recovered from those monitoring traps tested negative for West Nile virus.

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Man recovering from rare mosquito-borne illness

From Wood TV
October 17, 2018

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A couple from Allegan County hopes their experience with a rare and deadly mosquito-borne illness serves as a lesson for others.

Richard Force was rushed to the emergency room Aug. 30 after a few weeks of flu-like symptoms. It was another two weeks of testing, memory loss and partial paralysis before he was diagnosed with Eastern equine encephalitis.

“They started leaning towards the West Nile virus,” his wife Kelly Force explained to 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. “So we kept thinking it’s the West Nile virus, we know where we’re going now. But it came back negative.”

Richard Force’s EEE diagnosis is the first confirmed case in Michigan since 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the illness has a 33 percent fatality rate, making it one of the most dangerous illnesses that can be contracted via a mosquito bite.

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What is AFM? Everything you need to know about the polio-like virus suddenly affecting children across the U.S.

From the Los Angeles Times
October 17, 2018

It’s mysterious, it’s dangerous and it’s got parents on edge from coast to coast.

It’s a medical condition called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM. The disease causes sudden, unexplained paralysis, usually in children. Its resemblance to polio has caused the public to take notice.

Federal health officials have confirmed 62 cases of AFM in the U.S. this year, and 65 more are under investigation. There are four suspected cases in California, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.

This is the third time the nation has seen a nationwide uptick in AFM; so far, 2018 appears to be following the pattern seen in 2014 and 2016. Here’s a look at what experts know — and don’t know — about the condition.

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Researchers identify new approach for controlling dengue fever and Zika virus

From EurekAlert!
October 17, 2018

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Mosquitoes are the world’s deadliest animals, killing thousands of people and causing millions of illnesses each year. To be able to reproduce and become effective disease carriers, mosquitoes must first attain optimal body size and nutritional status. 

A pair of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have succeeded in using CRISPR-Cas9, a powerful tool for altering DNA sequences and modifying gene function, to decrease mosquito body size, moving the research one step closer to eliminating mosquitoes that carry dengue fever and Zika virus.

The researchers succeeded in postponing mosquito development, shortening the animal’s lifespan, retarding egg development, and diminishing fat accumulation.

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Why it’s so hard to diagnose Zika

From Reuters
October 17, 2018

CHICAGO (Reuters) – When a Zika epidemic was at its height in the Americas two years ago, diagnostics makers began working feverishly to create diagnostic tests for a virus that few in the U.S. had heard of.

Those efforts have now largely stalled, as public concern has waned, health experts say, and the development of inexpensive tests that can quickly detect Zika infections and distinguish them from similar mosquito-borne diseases remains elusive.

A lack of testing capacity has hampered efforts to track Zika in Angola, where a largely unreported cluster of microcephaly cases has been linked to the virus, and left mothers vulnerable to an illness that can cause severe birth defects in developing fetuses.

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1st human West Nile virus death in Orange County this year reported in Tustin

From the Orange County Register
October 16, 2018

An elderly Tustin woman is the first this year to die from complications of West Nile virus, the county’s Health Care Agency announced Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The agency said there were 38 reported infections and four deaths in 2017 due to West Nile virus infections in Orange County. So far, there have been six known human infections countywide.

The first two West Nile virus deaths in California were reported last month in Glenn and Yuba counties, respectively, according to the California Department of Public Health. The CDPH website also reports 36 human cases in Los Angeles County, 11 in Riverside County and three in San Bernardino County. Southern California health officials have been warning residents to exercise precautions because of increased mosquito activity in the region this year.

Symptoms of West Nile infections include fever, headache, body aches, fatigue and skin rash. Officials say anyone who experiences more serious symptoms such as severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness or vision loss should seek medical attention right away.

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Mosquito capable of carrying Zika virus found in Albuquerque

From KRQE Media
October 16, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mosquitos that have the potential to carry the Zika virus have been found in Albuquerque’s Bosque. 

This is the first time this particular mosquito species has been found in the area. 

While the species is capable of carrying the virus, at this point local health officials say they are not carrying Zika. 

The city and county are evaluating ways to stop or delay the insects from becoming established. 

“In the spring when we come back and mosquitos really pick up again, then we’ll start looking again to see if there’s been any expansion in where that habitat is and do effective of a control as possible,” said Dr. Mark DiMenna. 

The same mosquitos have been found in 14 other New Mexico counties. 

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Evidence of Zika Congenital Syndrome in Pre-Term Newborn

From the Infectious Disease Advisor
October 12, 2018

A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseasedemonstrated that epithelial cells are susceptible to congenitally acquired Zika virus, and researchers demonstrate that the virus was isolated from a pool of tissue samples from the heart, lungs and kidneys, suggesting that one of them may represent an important niche for Zika virus replication in immunosuppressed adults.

This single-participant study focused on a deceased 30-week-old newborn. Various fresh tissue samples were acquired (2 hours post-mortem) and paraffin-embedded for in situ microscopy experimentation. At a 30-week gestation period, the head circumference was 23.5 cm, and micrognathia, retrognathia, low-set ears, a depressed nasal bridge, and arthrogryposis were evident. A structural survey of the brain showed a smooth cortical surface, hypoplastic central lobes, and brain stem and bilateral ventricular enlargement.

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India hit with its biggest outbreak of Zika to date, with 32 confirmed cases

From CNN
October 12, 2018

New Delhi (CNN)India has recorded its biggest outbreak of Zika virus to date, with 32 cases confirmed in Jaipur, capital of the western state of Rajasthan.

The first case was confirmed on September 23 in the city’s Shastri Nagar area, located close to some of the city’s main tourist attractions.
The country’s health minister, JP Nadda, has deployed a seven-member team to Jaipur to continually monitor the situation and assist with control and containment operations.
The number of suspected cases cannot be estimated, said Veenu Gupta, the Additional Chief Secretary of the Medical and Health & Family Welfare Department for the state, adding that samples are being collected daily from all residents in a three kilometer radius. “Those who test positive are reported.”
Those suspected to have contracted the virus are currently being tested. Mosquito samples from the area will also be examined.

Health department confirms two cases of West Nile

From CBS 12
October 11, 2018

The Health Department confirmed two cases of West Nile in just two months in Palm Beach County.

The first case appeared in Jupiter Farms and the second one happened in Belle Glade.

Despite the virus confirmations, the Medical Director at the Free Standing Emergency Department for Delray Medical says there is no need to panic. He says only one in 150 people will experience symptoms from West Nile.

“Severe headache, stiff neck,” Dr. Henry Wagner explained. “More of a stupor or coma-like presentation.”

However, some families aren’t taking any chances. Joan McMath lives in Jupiter Farms and says her world revolves around her six grandkids.

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Officials ask public to help identify mosquito breeding areas

October 11, 2018

YUMA, Ariz. – With the recent rain, Yuma County is asking the public to help identify mosquito breeding areas in the community. 

The county’s Vector Control Division, who focus on mosquito control and prevention, is currently examining many areas in Yuma County. 

Plastic pools, wheelbarrows, empty planters, and associated kids’ toys that lay in the yard are primary concerns, according to Yuma County. 

“People don’t generally think about these items as potential breeding grounds, yet many times they are the source of the problem,” explains Diana Gomez, Yuma County Health District Director. “Something as small as a bottle cap full of water is enough to create an ideal mosquito breeding ground.”

Mosquitos can transmit viruses that may cause illnesses such as Dengue, West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, and Zika. 

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First West Nile Death of 2018 Reported in LA County

From SCV News
October 10, 2018

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has confirmed the first death due to West Nile virus for the 2018 season in the county — a resident of the San Fernando Valley area.

The patient was hospitalized in early September and died from WNV-associated neuro-invasive disease.

A total of 38 cases have been documented in Los Angeles County this year (excluding Long Beach and Pasadena as cases identified in those cities are reported by their local health departments).

“Our thoughts and prayers are with this person’s family and friends during this sad time,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer.

“This should remind all of us that West Nile virus is a serious disease,” he said. “Everyone should take precautions by using Environmental Protection Agency-registered mosquito repellent when outside and checking weekly for items that collect standing water in their homes or yards where mosquitoes can breed. Items that can hold water, even as small as a bottle cap, should be cleaned, covered or cleared out to stop mosquito breeding.”

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Longtime LA Public Defender, Father Dies From Apparent West Nile Virus

From CBS Los Angeles
October 8, 2018

SHADOW HILLS (CBSLA) – A longtime Los Angeles County Public Defender and father of two died over the weekend after contracting what was suspected to be West Nile Virus.

Fifty-three-year-old Robert Johnson of Shadow Hills passed away Saturday following a month-long fight with the viral infection, according to his husband Scott Montgomery.

Montgomery told CBS2 by phone Monday that Johnson started suffering flu-like symptoms over Labor Day weekend. About four days later, his fever spiked and he was hospitalized.

“I thought he had a stroke, that’s why I took him to the hospital,” Montgomery said. “Within a week of that he was on life support in a hospital.”

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Southern California city fights mosquitoes bearing West Nile

From U.S. News
October 5, 2018

A Southern California city is being sprayed with pesticide after an increase in mosquitoes testing positive for the West Nile virus.

The Orange County Register reports vector control workers began spraying pesticide from trucks in Fullerton early Thursday and were to continue into Saturday.

Between Aug. 24 and Sept. 28, there were 29 mosquito samples that tested positive for the virus, including 27 from the area being sprayed. One of two human cases in Fullerton this year occurred in that area.

The pesticide is being applied at the rate of under an ounce per acre.

The Centers for Disease Control says most people infected with West Nile don’t have symptoms but about one in five develop a fever or other symptoms, and one in 150 develop a serious and sometimes fatal illness.

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Pesticide spraying in Fullerton to combat spread of West Nile virus through mosquitoes

From The Orange County Register
October 4, 2018

This week, workers for Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District have been spraying pesticides from trucks, covering nearly 4,000 properties, said Lora Young, an agency spokeswoman. One spraying will cover Gilbert and Euclid streets north of Orangethorpe Avenue up to West Valencia Drive, she said. Another spraying will include West Commonwealth and West Malvern avenues, west of North Woods Avenue.

Young said between Aug. 24 and Sept.28, the agency collected 29 mosquito samples that tested positive for West Nile virus, of which 27 were found in the area scheduled to be sprayed Thursday, Oct. 4, through Saturday, Oct. 6. One of two human cases in the city this year is also from this part of Fullerton, she said.

Pesticide applications to curb mosquitoes have caused controversy over the years. In 2015, the district called off aerial spraying efforts after it failed to get a permit to fly over Disneyland. The proposal to spray from the skies caused an uproar among some county residents.

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BBC Looks Back On Epidemic With Documentary: ‘Zika Love Stories’

From NPR
October 4, 2018

It’s been three years since the Zika epidemic swept across Brazil. Rachel Martin talks to BBC producer William Kremer about the thousands of babies born with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads.


Three years ago, the Zika epidemic swept across Brazil. As a result, thousands of babies were born with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, among other impairments that come with that. Around the same time, BBC producer William Kremer had a child of his own who was also born with microcephaly, although not because of Zika.

Kremer wanted to know how Brazil’s so-called Zika babies were developing, so we went there and produced a radio documentary called “Zika Love Stories.” Among the people he met there were Germana Soares. She’s the head of a support group for parents called the United Mothers of Angels.

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New species of disease-carrying mosquito have ‘exploded’ in Long Beach

From The Long Beach Post
October 3, 2018

They’re tiny. They’re hungry. And they’re invading the city.

An invasive mosquito species called the Aedes is spreading at an alarming rate throughout Long Beach and Southern California, causing concern over possible disease outbreaks in the near future.

Known as the “ankle biter,” the Aedes has been making its home in Southern California over the last several years.

In Long Beach, the non-native species was first detected last year in the northwest corner of the city. This season they’re everywhere.

“They’ve colonized all the ZIP codes,” said Lamar Rush, a supervisor for the Long Beach Health Department’s Vector Control Program. “It started with a few calls last year, and this year it’s just exploded.”

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Fullerton Neighborhoods To Get Sprayed Due To Uptick In West Nile Virus

From Los Angeles CBS Local
October 2, 2018

FULLERTON (CBSLA) – Due to an increase in West Nile Virus activity, several Fullerton neighborhoods will be sprayed with pesticides this week.

The Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District reported Tuesday that two people have recently tested positive for West Nile Virus in the Fullerton area, along with 29 mosquito samples which have also tested positive.

Officials have not been able to pinpoint a specific reason for the increase in the West Nile virus activity.

“It could be a number of small backyard sources contributing to that,” said Lora Young with OCMVCD.

This has prompted OCMVCD to spray two areas with a pesticide known as DeltaGard, a water-based mosquito control product. Those areas contain nearly 4,000 properties, the district reported.

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$2.3 Million Grant To UC Riverside To Stop Mosquito-Borne Diseases

October 2, 2018

Riverside, Calif. — A UC Riverside scientist has been awarded $2.3 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s ‘High-Risk, High-Reward’ program to study the role of steroid hormone transporters in insect development and reproduction. Naoki Yamanaka, an assistant professor of entomology, will translate that knowledge into new ways to combat the spread of mosquitoes, which are among the deadliest animals on the planet.

“This award recognizes the critical importance of Dr. Yamanaka’s research in fighting one of the world’s most lethal disease carriers,” said Kathryn Uhrich, dean of UCR’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

Steroid hormones mediate many biological processes, including growth and development in insects, and sexual maturation, immunity and cancer progression in humans. After they are produced by glands of the endocrine system, steroid hormones must enter cells to exert their biological effects. For decades, the assumption has been that these hormones enter cells by simple diffusion, but preliminary work in Yamanaka’s lab suggests a defined passageway controlled by proteins called membrane transporters.

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First Human Case of Saint Louis Encephalitis in L.A. County Since 1997

From My News LA
October 1, 2018

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Monday reported the first human case of Saint Louis encephalitis in the region since 1997, and the first case of the disease in the state this year.

The patient, whose name was withheld, is an elderly resident of San Fernando Valley who became ill in late August, according to the DPH. Environmental monitoring for SLEV in Los Angeles County began in early spring, and, to date, one mosquito sample from Playa Vista has tested positive for the virus, according to the health department.

“Since Saint Louis encephalitis is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, the best way to prevent getting infected is to prevent mosquito bites,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County’s health officer. “Residents should protect themselves by using EPA-registered repellent to keep mosquitoes from biting you, and checking for items that collect standing water in their homes or yards where mosquitoes can breed to tip out the water.”

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