Mosquito & Vector News

Spring is here. So are the bugs. What to expect during Sacramento’s early mosquito season

From The Sacramento Bee
March 21, 2019

Feeling itchy?

Recent weather patterns in Sacramento may lead to more mosquito activity than usual to start the spring, the region’s mosquito control district said.

Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District warned in a news release this month that recent weather conditions have brought about an increase of mosquitoes, which hibernate in the winter.

“Dry sunny days coupled with stagnant water left behind from significant rain this winter make the perfect combination for mosquitoes to breed,” the district explained.

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As Zika danger wanes, travel warnings are eased for pregnant women

From The Washington Post
March 20, 2019

ATLANTA — U.S. and international health officials are easing warnings against travel to regions with Zika virus because the threat has diminished markedly since the virus began to sweep across the globe four years ago.

The World Health Organization designated Zika a global health emergency in 2016, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told women who were pregnant or might become pregnant to stay away from nearly 100 countries or regions. The mosquito-borne virus can cause severe birth defects.

Last month, the CDC downgraded its warning; a spokeswoman said the WHO will soon follow with similar, less-restrictive travel recommendations. Officials said the disease has died down in most of the world — although they think it is still circulating at a much lower level.

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Ticks carrying diseases continue to be active throughout Butte County

From KRCR TV
March 18, 2019

According to the Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District, ticks of medical concern continue to be active throughout Butte County.

Officials say residents need to be alert for ticks that may be carrying Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. The District’s recent surveillance activities on Chico’s Bidwell Park trails and the Lake Oroville Recreation Areas trails have identified increased populations of the western black-legged tick, sometimes referred to as the deer tick.

The District would like to remind residents to take precautions while hiking, camping, biking, and enjoying other outdoor activities. By taking measures to reduce exposure to ticks, residents can help protect themselves from tick-borne diseases.

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Wet weather followed by warm temperatures producing more mosquitoes

From the Davis Enterprise
March 17, 2019

While it’s not yet officially spring, the break in the rain and warm temperatures have brought an increase in mosquitoes to the area, according to the local vector-control district.

Dry sunny days coupled with stagnant water left behind from significant rain this winter make the perfect combination for mosquitoes to breed.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve definitely started to see more mosquitoes,” said Gary Goodman, manager for the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District.

“There are many areas with stagnant water creating a variety of mosquito breeding sites,” Goodman added.

While it’s too early to predict the severity of the mosquito season and the intensity of West Nile virus activity, one element is certain: Having more water can definitely create more areas for mosquitoes to grow and multiply.

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County confirms first instance of West Nile virus in 2019

From Fox 5
March 15, 2019

SAN DIEGO — County officials confirmed Friday that they’ve identified the year’s first instance of West Nile virus after a Cooper’s hawk tested positive.

Officials with the county’s Vector Control Program only found small amounts of the virus in the hawk’s tissues, leading them to believe it was an old infection. Last year, only one county resident contracted West Nile virus and ultimately survived, but the virus has spread to as many as 44 residents as recently as 2015. Six people died due to the virus that year.

The virus is usually carried by birds, but mosquitoes can transmit it to other animals, including humans, by biting them. Symptoms of West Nile can include headache, fever, nausea, skin rash or swollen glands, according to Vector Control officials. Native and invasive mosquito species can also carry viruses like dengue and Zika.

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Mosquitoes Return To Santa Clarita After Butterfly Migration

From KHTS
March 15, 2019

After a recent increase in rainfall and butterflies, vector control officials say there’s a potential for a surge of mosquitoes in Santa Clarita.

Vector control officials are advising residents to take extra precautions with green, unmaintained pools, rain barrels and other small containers that have collected rain water.

Since mosquitoes can complete their life cycles from egg to adult in about a week, collected water should be emptied or used within the week, according to officials with the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD).

“Rain barrels and containers must be tightly sealed to prevent mosquito entry, and green, unmaintained pools should be cleaned,” said officials in a statement.

If residents need to store water in rain barrels, buckets, and other similar containers longer than a week, these steps should be taken to ensure they are mosquito-proof:

  • Cover all water-filled containers with tightly fitting lids.
  • Screen all openings such as downspouts from the roof gutters with a 1/16 inch fine mesh to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Check for holes in screens monthly to prevent mosquitoes from entering the container and laying hundreds of eggs.
  • Use and maintain natural mosquito control products containing Bti in water that must be kept for longer periods.

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18 infections you can get from mosquitoes

From Outbreak News Today
March 15, 2019

Five years ago, Bill Gates wrote in his blog that the deadliest animal in the world is the mosquito. When it comes to killing humans, no other animal even comes close.

According to the World Health Organization, about 725,000 people are killed every year by mosquito-borne diseases.

In an update of a post from 2015,  I will go over 18 parasitic and viral infections that humans can contract from a mosquito bite.

Additions:

Jamestown Canyon virus

Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV) is a mosquito-borne pathogen that circulates widely in North America, primarily between deer and a variety of mosquito species, but can also infect humans. Since 2000, more than 50 human cases of JCV have been identified nationally.

Most infections caused by Jamestown Canyon Virus are either asymptomatic or result in a mild febrile illness, but more serious central nervous system complications, including meningitis and encephalitis, can also occur. There is no specific treatment for JCV, and care is supportive until symptoms resolve.

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Record Rainfall, Rising Temperatures Set Stage for Early Mosquito Season

From SCV News
March 14, 2019

Record rainfall provided relief to drought-thirsty Southern California but created havens for disease-spreading mosquitoes in people’s yards.

Vector control officials are advising that Los Angeles County residents must take extra precautions with green, unmaintained pools, rain barrels and other small containers that have collected rain water. Since mosquitoes can complete their life cycles from egg to adult in about a week, collected water should be emptied or used within the week, rain barrels and containers must be tightly sealed to prevent mosquito entry, and green, unmaintained pools should be cleaned.

If residents need to store water in rain barrels, buckets, and other similar containers longer than a week, these steps should be taken to ensure they are mosquito-proof:
– Cover all water-filled containers with tightly fitting lids.
– Screen all openings such as downspouts from the roof gutters with a 1/16 inch fine mesh to keep mosquitoes out.
– Check for holes in screens monthly to prevent mosquitoes from entering the container and laying hundreds of eggs.
– Use and maintain natural mosquito control products containing Bti in water that must be kept for longer periods.
– Take advantage of this rainfall to find and remove all unused containers from around the home that may collect water and contribute to mosquito problems. Other common sources include plant saucers, buckets, tires, pet water bowls, recycling bins, trash cans, and even trash hidden in nearby bushes.

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How to prevent mosquitoes from swarming in your yard

From KCRA 3
March 14, 2019

It’s the kind of buzz nobody likes to hear, the annoying sound of an opportunistic mosquito looking for a bite to eat.

As a waterlogged Sacramento emerges from a wet winter, mosquitoes are coming out of hibernation — and they’re hungry.

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Temperatures in the upper 60s and 70s draw the bugs out of their winter sleep. And as soon as we get a stretch of warm weather, they start laying their eggs.

The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District said they are starting to get more calls for service as mosquito activity has increased over the last week.

“As soon as we see steady warm temperatures, we will definitely see an increase in mosquitoes. We are supposed to have warmer temperatures over the weekend and with all the rain and stagnant water, it’s very likely we will see mosquitoes in higher numbers,” Luz Robles said.

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Mosquito Attack! Record Rainfall Means You’re A Target

From MyNewsLA.com
March 14, 2019

This winter’s record rainfall has provided relief to drought-thirsty Southern California, but it has also created havens for disease-spreading mosquitoes in people’s yards, and health officials are urging people to take precautions against the insects.

“Los Angeles County residents must take extra precautions with green, unmaintained pools, rain barrels and other small containers that have collected rain water,” according to a statement Thursday from the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

“Since mosquitoes can complete their life cycles from egg to adult in about a week, collected water should be emptied or used within the week, rain barrels and containers must be tightly sealed to prevent mosquito entry, and green, unmaintained pools should be cleaned.”

Mosquito Attack! Record Rainfall Means You’re A Target

From MyNewsLA.com
March 14, 2019

This winter’s record rainfall has provided relief to drought-thirsty Southern California, but it has also created havens for disease-spreading mosquitoes in people’s yards, and health officials are urging people to take precautions against the insects.

“Los Angeles County residents must take extra precautions with green, unmaintained pools, rain barrels and other small containers that have collected rain water,” according to a statement Thursday from the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

“Since mosquitoes can complete their life cycles from egg to adult in about a week, collected water should be emptied or used within the week, rain barrels and containers must be tightly sealed to prevent mosquito entry, and green, unmaintained pools should be cleaned.”

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Do Travelers Still Need to Worry About Zika?

From Fodor’s Travel
March 12, 2019

It’s been years since Zika dominated headlines, but there are still questions that have been left unanswered.

CBS News just brought Zika back to everyone’s attention with Zika: Children of the Outbreak. This new documentary focuses on “Generation Zika”: the children of the thousands of women infected by the 2016 Zika outbreak when they were pregnant—as well as the looming possibility of another epidemic. Should you still be protecting yourself against the virus in 2019? Here are the answers to a few common questions what do we know.

What is the Zika virus?

Zika fever is a virus that is mostly spread by the aedes species of mosquitos. In 2015 and 2016 there was an epidemic that originated in northeastern Brazil that rapidly spread throughout most of the Americas and parts of Southeast Asia.

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Warmer Temperatures Are Bringing Mosquitoes Out

From CBS 13
March 12, 2019

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Warmer temperatures have people and pests out and about. You probably saw some mosquitoes with this week’s 70-degree day.

With all this rain there is a lot of standing water. All it takes is a puddle for mosquitoes to populate.

Levi Williams likes to take his dogs to the park.

“Pena Adobe gets pretty bad. That’s where still water sits,” said Williams.

Warmer weather has caused an increase in mosquitoes. That’s why Solano Mosquito Abatement is already out.

Dave Murrietta stopped by an area where water is pooling by a residential area said, “We are doing a post-treatment sample to make sure the products are still taking effect.”

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GMO mosquitoes: Could genetic engineering protect us from the deadliest animal on the planet?

From CBSN Originals
March 11, 2019

To some people, the only good mosquito is a dead mosquito. And not just because they can ruin your backyard barbecue.

Mosquitoes have been called the deadliest animals on the planet, transmitting dangerous diseases like malaria, yellow fever and dengue. Millions of peopleworldwide die each year from mosquito-borne diseases, including half a millionfrom malaria alone.

In the last few years, Zika virus has emerged as the latest health threat carried by mosquitoes. Zika is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito — and more than half the world’s population lives in areas where the species thrives.

But what if we had the technology to eliminate the threat by tweaking the biology of the mosquitoes themselves? Would it be a safer, more effective solution than fumigation or other traditional mosquito control methods? A British company called Oxitec is betting that it will.

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Protection from Zika virus may lie in a protein derived from mosquitoes

From Yale News
March 11, 2019

By targeting a protein found in the saliva of mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus, Yale investigators reduced Zika infection in mice. The finding demonstrates how researchers might develop a vaccine against Zika and similar mosquito-borne viruses, the study authors said.

The research was published in Nature Microbiology.

There is no current vaccine or therapy for Zika virus infection, which caused substantial illness, including birth defects, during the 2015 outbreak that impacted over a million people in the Americas. One source of a potential vaccine strategy is the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries and transmits the virus. A Yale research team recently focused on proteins found in the saliva of these mosquitoes and how they might affect Zika transmission.

Led by the Section Chief for Infectious Diseases at Yale, Erol Fikrig, the team isolated antibodies from the blood of mice bitten by mosquitoes. They performed a genomic screen to identify mosquito proteins and tested the proteins for their effect in cell culture, as well as in infected mice models, against Zika virus. They pinpointed one protein, AgBR1, that exacerbated Zika infection in mice.

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Standing water from recent storms poses mosquito risk

From News Channel 3
March 10, 2019

PALM DESERT, Calif. — – With record-breaking rainfall it’s important for valley residents to take a proactive approach in preventing mosquitos and protecting from bites.

The best way to avoid mosquitos is to drain any sources of standing water in backyards.

Vector Control suggests changing water bowls, flower pots, bird baths and any sources of standing water weekly.  It’s advised for people to wear repellents and use swatters and wipes to protect your skin.

Mosquito bites can cause West Nile Virus — most times the illness is not severe and symptoms go undetected. Those include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes. 

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Pesticide-resistant mosquitoes found in southern NM

From Las Cruses Sun News
March 9, 2019

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State University researchers collaborating with the New Mexico Department of Health recently published a paper that shows there is widespread resistance to insecticides in one type of mosquito found in southern New Mexico — Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito. 

Researchers say insecticide resistance is a serious problem, which evolves in insect populations when they are repeatedly exposed to the same type of insecticide or insecticides. This resistance can undermine public health efforts. This study characterized for the first time insecticide resistance of the yellow fever mosquito across its range in New Mexico.

“With climate change, New Mexico will increasingly be seeing mosquito-borne disease,” said NMDOH State Epidemiologist Michael Landen. “This paper provides an important warning of how insecticide resistance in the state will complicate our ability to control these diseases and that we need to work on alternatives.”

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More People To Become At Risk Of Mosquito-Borne Diseases As Climate Change, Human Movements Allow For Wider Spread Of Insect Species

From the Kaiser Family Foundation
March 8, 2019

E&E News/Scientific American: Mosquito-Borne Disease Could Threaten Half the Globe by 2050
“By 2050, half the world’s population could be at risk of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever or the Zika virus, new research suggests. Climate change may put even more people at risk further into the future. A combination of environmental change, urbanization, and human movements around the world are helping mosquitoes spread into new areas, according to the findings, reported Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology…” (Harvey, 3/7).

Vox: Zika, dengue, and yellow fever are about to get much worse
“…Using statistical mapping techniques, they model how two disease-carrying mosquitos, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, have spread over the last 30 years, and predict how they’ll spread over the next 30. The results are alarming. These species of mosquito — which carry infectious diseases including Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever, though not malaria — are expected to spread throughout most of the United States and Europe, exposing hundreds of millions of people to these diseases. … It’s not clear that most countries are ready to address the public health challenge…” (Piper, 3/7).

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“Our children are forgotten”: Zika’s devastating impact lingers 3 years later

From CBS News
March 8, 2019

It was late 2015 when communities in northeast Brazil started noticing an alarming increase in babies born with an unusual and devastating type of birth defect: microcephaly. The condition is characterized by an abnormally small head, and often neurological impairment. At first, no one knew what was causing the uptick, and concern grew as dozens of cases soon became hundreds.

By 2016, experts had zeroed in on the cause: Zika virus, contracted during pregnancy, may harm an unborn child’s brain development. Panic swept through Brazil and much of the western hemisphere as health officials scrambled to understand the disease and looked for ways to stop it.

For many families, life has never been the same.

Gleyse da Silva’s daughter Gigi was born in October of 2015, the height of the outbreak. Gleyse, already the mother of three boys, said she’d always wanted a girl. She found out when she was seven months pregnant that Gigi would be born with a smaller head.

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Researchers: Potential ‘Mosquito Birth Control’ Could Curb Killer Diseases

From CBS SF Bay Area
March 7, 2019

TUCSON, Ariz. (CBS Local) — Scientists say they’ve taken a major step toward developing a “mosquito birth control” drug to curb the spread of Zika, malaria and other diseases blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year.

Researchers at the University of Arizona say they discovered a potential protein that exists only in female mosquitoes, which is critical for their young to hatch. When the scientists blocked the protein, the female laid eggs with defective shells causing the embryos inside to die.

The team said developing drugs that target the protein could provide a way to reduce mosquito populations without harming beneficial insects such as bees.

“It’s basically birth control because even though the mosquito doesn’t die, she won’t be able to lay viable eggs for the rest of her life,” Roger Miesfeld, head of the university’s department of chemistry and biochemistry, told the Arizona Daily Sun.

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Zika, dengue, and yellow fever are about to get much worse

From Vox
March 7, 2019

Climate change, urbanization, and changes in human populations have driven many beloved species to the brink of extinction. But one of the deadliest animals in the world — the mosquito — is thriving.

Around 700,000 people die every year from mosquito-borne disease. The biggest culprit is malaria, but other mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika, have proliferated wildly in recent years, and now make up a substantial share of the global burden of mosquito-borne disease. By some estimates, the number of dengue infections has increased 30-fold in the past 30 years.

The culprit? Climate change, plus urbanization and changes in where human populations are concentrated. And a new study in Nature Microbiology suggests that things will only get worse. Using statistical mapping techniques, they model how two disease-carrying mosquitos, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, have spread over the last 30 years, and predict how they’ll spread over the next 30.

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Can synthetic biology help Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers develop therapeutic antibodies in only 90 days?

From Synbiobeta
March 6, 2019

It seems as though every year there is another story of a virus rampaging through Africa, Asia, or even the Americas. And each time another Ebola outbreak occurs or the flu virus mutates in surprising ways, the conversation about global pandemic preparedness is rekindled. Borders are closed. Flights and cruise ships are cancelled. Images of quarantine tents and healthcare workers in space-like suits fill the news outlets.

The frightening truth is that we are woefully unprepared for the next global pandemic — it takes years for vaccines to be developed, tested for efficacy, and approved for use in humans. Even therapeutic antibodies, which often have more relaxed regulatory measures compared with vaccines, can take years to develop and implement. We desperately need a better, faster solution to ensure that when the next pandemic happens — and it will — the impact on human life and society is limited.

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Forecasting Future Movements of Infectious Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

From Precision Vaccinations
March 6, 2019

March 6th, 2019 – An international team of researchers, led by Dr. Moritz Kraemer, have used statistical mapping techniques to predict where infectious disease-carrying mosquitoes will spread in the future. 

Currently, limited data tools exist to accurately forecast the complex nature of disease spread across the globe, says Dr. Moritz in a video presentation on March 4, 2019.   

These new mapping techniques offer an opportunity to strategically target surveillance and control programs, which can augment existing efforts to reduce arbovirus burden in human populations. 

The global population at risk from mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika—is expanding in concert with changes in the distribution of 2 vectors: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.   

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Examining Pregnant Women’s Attitudes Toward a Zika Vaccine Trial

From the Infectious Disease Advisor
March 4, 2019

When surveyed about participation in a hypothetic Zika vaccine clinical trial, pregnant participants placed a high premium on clinical evidence and pregnancy-specific data, according to research results published in Vaccine.

A recent survey study collected data from pregnant and postpartum women in an effort to assess their willingness to participate in a hypothetic Zika virus vaccine trial and their motivations for participating. Information on demographics, prior exposure, and vaccine acceptance was collected. Although there have been previous studies on the willingness of pregnant women to participate in vaccine research, there is significantly less information about pregnant women’s willingness to participate specifically in Zika virus vaccine trials. Congenital Zika syndrome in a baby, caused by infection during the mother’s pregnancy, can result in life-altering anomalies, and the researchers hope that a vaccine can be used against future outbreaks.

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Maternal immunity and antibodies to dengue virus promote infection and Zika virus–induced microcephaly in fetuses

From Science Advances
February 27, 2019

Zika virus (ZIKV) belongs to the family of Flaviviridae, which includes other arboviruses, such as dengue virus (DENV), Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), and West Nile virus (1). ZIKV unexpectedly surfaced recently as a major public health concern because of the ongoing and spreading epidemic in South and Central America and the realization that it could cause birth defects and neurological complications (23). In a recent study, the rate of neurologic and ocular defects in fetuses born to ZIKV-infected mothers was calculated to be ~7% (4). Rarely, adults experience ZIKV-induced Guillain-Barré syndrome (5), but the congenital Zika syndrome in infants that includes a spectrum of neurological defects, including microcephaly, is the most devastating and pressing aspect of ZIKV infection (6). It has been suggested that the risk of microcephaly is higher in the fetus when mothers are exposed to ZIKV during the first trimester of pregnancy (34). Some studies have reported the direct effects of ZIKV infection on neuronal tissue damage (78). However, not all ZIKV infections during pregnancy appear to result in brain abnormality during embryonic development, and the mechanisms that lead to microcephaly in some fetuses but not others are not yet understood.

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Long-term circulation of Zika virus in Thailand: an observational study

From The Lancet
February 27, 2019

Background

Little is known about the historical and current risk of Zika virus infection in southeast Asia, where the mosquito vector is widespread and other arboviruses circulate endemically. Centralised Zika virus surveillance began in Thailand in January, 2016. We assessed the long-term circulation of Zika virus in Thailand.

Methods

In this observational study, we analysed data from individuals with suspected Zika virus infection who presented at hospitals throughout the country and had biological samples (serum, plasma, or urine) tested for confirmation with PCR at the National Institute of Health laboratories in Bangkok. We analysed the spatial and age distribution of cases, and constructed time-resolved phylogenetic trees using genomes from Thailand and elsewhere to estimate when Zika virus was first introduced.
 

Predicting Abnormal Neurodevelopment in Zika-Exposed Infants

From the Neurology Times
February 26, 2019

Most infants who are exposed prenatally to Zika virus and do not develop microcephaly have normal neurodevelopment. But roughly 20% do not, and a simple screening test called the general movement assessment (GMA) exam may help identify those at risk, according to a study published recently in JAMA Network Open.1

The study is the first to do a detailed analysis of neurodevelopment in infants with prenatal exposure to Zika virus.

“The GMA should be incorporated into routine infant assessments to enable early entry into targeted treatment programs,” wrote first author Christa Einspieler, PhD, of Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.

The 2015-2016 Zika epidemic in Brazil left researchers with lingering questions about how the virus affects neurodevelopment in children who are exposed in utero. Addressing such questions is important for reassuring families that their child is developing normally, and for starting earlier intervention if that turns out not to be the case.

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Life-threatening, insect-borne diseases spike in Venezuela, report says

From NBC News
February 21, 2019

As Venezuela grapples with an escalating humanitarian and political crisis, experts are warning about a surge in potentially deadly diseases transmitted by insects that could jeopardize public health improvements in the country and the Americas.

Venezuela is seeing a resurgence in diseases like malaria, dengue, the Zika virus and Chagas disease, according to a report published Thursday by medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The diseases are transmitted by insects such as mosquitoes, ticks and kissing bugs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Chagas disease, malaria and dengue can lead to death if not treated properly.

Zika virus infectioncould trigger other health complications such as nerve damages and spinal cord inflammations. During pregnancy, it could cause congenital abnormalities in a developing fetus.

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Flies, Ants, Mosquitoes Among Top-Searched Pests in the U.S.

From Pest Control Technology
February 20, 2019

Flies, ants, and mosquitoes caused the most widespread problems among US households according to a recent study by Organic Lesson. The three insects were identified as the top-searched pests across forty-one states, and they also accounted for 34% of total DIY pest control searches in the US.
 
The study analyzed Google’s search interest data of 30 common household pests and rodents including flies, ants, bed bugs, mosquitoes, fleas, mice, and cockroaches. The study specifically focused on pest control searches with a DIY intent, such as “bed bug remedies,” “mosquito traps,” and “how to get rid of fruit flies.”
 
For more details on the methodology and to read the full study, visit: The Most Troublesome Household Pests in Each State (2018)
 

Study: West Nile virus is now a permanent part of Arizona’s ecosystem

From AZ Big Media
February 18, 2019

Every day is a challenge for Bruce Gran, 52, who was diagnosed with West Nile virus seven years ago.

“From Day 1, it’s been a migraine-caliber headache,” the Tucson resident said. “My short term-memory is terrible. I’m not old enough to be having the effects that I have. ”

Gran is one of the hundreds of Arizonans who have been infected by West Nile since the mosquito-borne disease was discovered in the state in 2003.

Sixteen years later, the virus is here to stay, according to a study from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix. And the southern half of Arizona appears to be an ongoing source of West Nile in neighboring states.

There are several types of mosquitoes in Arizona, but the two main ones that carry West Nile – Culex tarsalis and Culex quinquefasciatus – stay year-round due to central Arizona’s mild winters, TGEN associate professor David Engelthaler said.

“We could actually find the remnants of the original strain that affected the U.S. in New York and has marched its way across the U.S.,” he said. “There’s another evolving strain that has been evolving in Texas and is now a permanent resident in Maricopa County as well.”

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Tackling Zika Transmission at the Source With Genetically Engineered Resistant Mosquitoes

From Contagion Live
February 14, 2019

As several Zika virus vaccine candidates undergo clinical trials, a group of investigators is taking an alternate approach to quell transmission by genetically engineering mosquitoes to be resistant to the virus.

In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team from the University of California, San Diego, collaborated with investigators in Australia and Taiwan and used genomic technology to generate a mosquito that is resistant to Zika virus.

“Transgenic-based (and specifically synthetic small RNA- based) methods for making disease-refractory mosquitoes can be quite effective,” Anna B. Buchman, PhD, research data analyst at Akbari Lab, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, and lead investigator on the study, told Contagion®.

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Mosquito control could slow the spread of disease in a warming world

From The Verge
February 13, 2019

The recently announced Green New Deal, a resolution to help address the threats of climate change, gives public health advocates a chance to confront an overlooked consequence of climate change: worsening mosquito-borne illnesses.

The resolution, which outlines projects designed to boost renewables, reduce emissions, and climate-proof the country’s infrastructure, was introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). Its goal is to extinguish potential economic, national, and social infernos that are brought on by climate change. But the plan also recognizes growing threats to public health, such as the diseases becoming far more common in a warming world.

Climate change has already expanded the reach of mosquitoes that carry certain illnesses. More extreme weather events are also part of the package, and more severe storms, stronger hurricane seasons, more floods and droughts also increase the risk of disease after a natural disaster. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change could increase the number of people who are at risk of malaria by over 100 million.

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This UNC research team is trying to patent a potential Zika vaccine

From The Daily Tar Heel
February 11, 2019

A team of UNC researchers filed a patent for a potential Zika virus vaccine in late January. No vaccine or treatment exists yet for the Zika virus, which gained notoriety in recent years, particularly during the 2016 summer Olympic Games.

The patent covers specific proteins on the Zika virus that contribute to initiating the body’s immune response. The Zika virus is made up of 180 proteins that form a ball-like structure. The research team, led by professor Ralph Baric and assisted by postdoctoral scholar Jessica Plante, graduate research assistant Jesica Swanstrom and research technician Matthew Begley, discovered that some of these individual proteins can be manipulated in ways to decrease the virus’s effects on the body.

Although the patent is not a vaccine itself, the framework it provides can be used to help develop future vaccines, according to Begley. 

The best way to think of the new patent is similar to that of a completed Lego set, he said. The Zika virus’s surface is the finished Lego set, which is made up of many blocks. The patent contains instructions for how to build the final “Lego set” and manipulate the ways in which the “blocks” fit together. By changing the ways in which the “blocks” fit together, researchers can hopefully achieve a better immune response to reduce the spread of the Zika virus and lead to a reduction of symptoms, Begley said.

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Groundbreaking study uses small chip to immediately detect Zika, stage of infection

From KSAT
February 10, 2019

SAN ANTONIO – A groundbreaking new study could soon take the guessing out of Zika treatment.

The Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio is working with a team at the University of California Santa Cruz to help find an immediate way to diagnose Zika and determine the infection’s stage.

The chip is only a few inches long, but local researchers are proving its power by taking bodily fluids infected with Zika and letting the chip detect the virus.

“Very small amounts of fluid, and the device just looks at what’s in the fluid and detects it immediately,” said Texas Biomed professor Dr. Gene Patterson.

It’s that immediacy Patterson said makes the research groundbreaking.

She leads the Texas Biomed portion of the study and said never before has technology been able to detect the Zika virus in real time and pinpoint how far the infection has progressed.

That is crucial information when it comes to treatment.

“Many of our antivirals work only early in infection, and they’re less effective (later), so if you know you’re early in infection, you can certainly be prescribed some antivirals. If it’s later, you might not want to bother or you may have other sources of treatments that you would do later in infection,” Patterson said.

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Scientists’ ‘Craziest Experiment Possible’ Actually Works On Mosquitoes

From NPR
February 7, 2019

Splat! A lucky strike and the telltale red splodge that your nightly tormentor has sucked its last blood vessel.

Staring at the mess on the wall, you might find it hard to believe that so small an insect can carry so much blood. But female mosquitoes have a knack for eating, doubling their body weight with each meal.

“They can barely fly,” laughs Leslie Vosshall, a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University, who’s hoping to control mosquitoes, as well as the diseases they carry, by switching off their enormous appetite.

In a paper published Thursday in the journal Cell, Vosshall and her team demonstrate how human diet drugs satiate mosquitoes’ bloodlust for several days — so they are less likely to feed on humans and spread diseases and will also produce fewer offspring.

“When they’re hungry, these mosquitoes are super motivated. They fly toward the scent of a human the same way that we might approach a chocolate cake,” Vosshall says. “But after they were given the drug, they lost interest.”

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Sky Wars: Santa Clara Co. Vector Control Takes Aim At Mosquitos

From the Campbell Patch
February 7, 2019

SAN JOSE, CA –Heads up Santa Clara County residents. The Vector Control District has started its annual program Thursday to prevent the onslaught of mosquitoes — specifically the winter salt marsh mosquito (Aedes squamiger).

This marsh mosquito lays its eggs in the moist soil in late spring and early summer. The eggs may lay dormant for years, even after flooding such as the those the South Bay has already experienced in 2019.

The specified treatment used to eliminate them has been safely and effectively used by the county every year since 1992.

The district has been closely monitoring the development of mosquito larvae in the areas to be treated. Current conditions create a high probability that a significant number of salt marsh mosquitoes will become adults in mid-February to mid-March, if left untreated. This species is known to bite viciously during the day and easily mobilize. It can fly more than 15 miles from its breeding grounds to feed on humans and other mammals.

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Red-eyed mosquitoes engineered to break the chain of Zika virus transmission

From the New Atlas
February 6, 2019

Scientists in Australia are looking at some pretty creative ways to tackle the Zika virus, which continues to pose a risk to millions across Africa, Asia and parts of the Americas. Following a trial last year where researchers were able to decimate disease-spreading mosquitos in the country’s north, scientists have now demonstrated an engineering technique that renders the biggest transmitter of the virus largely immune to it, raising hopes of a new way to control the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.

The trials conducted last year were the result of a collaboration between Australia’s James Cook University, scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and US mosquito-rearing startup Verily. The scientists set out to reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in northern Queensland by infecting them with a naturally occurring bacterium, and were able to do so with great success.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the not only the biggest transmitter of the Zika virus, it is also the number one disease vector for dengue fever, a carrier of yellow fever and of course the big one, malaria. For this reason, scientists have been attempting to use genetic engineering to limit the damage for some time, though never in this way specifically.

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Blocking Zika: New antiviral may treat and prevent infection, a Stanford study suggests

From Stanford Medicine
February 6, 2019

The Zika virus, which made headlines in 2016 following an outbreak in South America, is transmitted by mosquitos and can cause serious birth defects and neurological problems. Researchers are searching for antiviral treatments or effective vaccines to address this global health threat, but there are currently no approved treatments.

Now, Stanford researchers are taking a different approach — investigating the cellular factors of humans that are essential for Zika to propagate. One of those factors is a type of protein called Hsp70, which helps proteins fold correctly and performs a wide range of housekeeping and quality-control functions in cells.

Based on a series of experiments in mosquito and human cells, the Stanford study found that certain Hsp70 proteins are required in multiple steps of the Zika virus’ lifecycle. By blocking Hsp70 with an Hsp70 inhibitor drug, the researchers were able to prevent virus replication, as recently reported in Cell Reports.

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CDC Confirms 69 Active Travel Alerts During 2019

From Precision Vaccinations
February 4, 2019

February 4th, 2019 – A record number of Americans are forecasted to visit other countries during 2019, says the International Trade Administration (ITA).   

According to an August 2018 ITA report, the U.S. resident outbound market totaled 87.7 million in 2017, which was a 9 percent increase from 2016. 

And with the U.S. economy continuing to display signs of strengths, 2019 may be another record travel year. 

With so many Americans traveling abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also kept pace by frequently issuing ‘Travel Alerts’. 

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New disease surveillance tool helps detect any human virus

From EurekAlert!
February 4, 2019

During the Zika virus outbreak of 2015-16, public health officials scrambled to contain the epidemic and curb the pathogen’s devastating effects on pregnant women. At the same time, scientists around the globe tried to understand the genetics of this mysterious virus.

The problem was, there just aren’t many Zika virus particles in the blood of a sick patient. Looking for it in clinical samples can be like fishing for a minnow in an ocean.

A new computational method developed by Broad Institute scientists helps overcome this hurdle. Built in the lab of Broad Institute researcher Pardis Sabeti, the “CATCH” method can be used to design molecular “baits” for any virus known to infect humans and all their known strains, including those that are present in low abundance in clinical samples, such as Zika. The approach can help small sequencing centers around the globe conduct disease surveillance more efficiently and cost-effectively, which can provide crucial information for controlling outbreaks.

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WHAT’S UP WITH ZIKA? WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS AND WHERE ARE WE NOW?

From the Stanford Blood Center
January 30, 2019

TRACKING THE EPIDEMIC

In 2016, the world was in the midst of a Zika outbreak, with the largest occurring in 2016 in Brazil and Columbia. The graph below shows the distribution of Zika cases in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America from 2015–2017.

In the continental US, Zika cases also peaked in 2016, with the majority of cases occurring in people who had traveled to high-risk countries (although local mosquito transmission was reported in Florida and Texas). Overall, there have been 5,740 symptomatic Zika cases reported in the continental US from January 2015 to December 2018, of which:

  • 5,454 cases were in travelers returning from affected areas
  • 231 cases were from local mosquito transmission
  • 55 cases through other routes including sexual transmission (52 cases), lab transmission (2 cases), and person-to-person through an unknown route (1 case)

The graph below shows confirmed symptomatic Zika cases in the US (reported to ArboNET) from 2016 to 2018 (data as of 12/4/2018).

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Malarial drug inhibits Zika virus growth, IIT Mandi team finds

From The Hindu
January 30, 2019

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi have found a drug hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, that is already being used for treating malaria to be effective in inhibiting Zika virus growth and replication.

Also, the drug was able to significantly reduce viral load in placental cells. Zika virus is known to damage and kill the placental cells (which act as a barrier to protect the developing foetus from disease-causing organisms) leading to foetal infection. The drug might therefore help in preventing vertical transmission of Zika virus from the placenta to the foetus.

Since the HCQ drug is already approved for use in pregnancy, positive results in human trials will mean that it can be given to pregnant women infected with Zika to reduce the chances of vertical transmission. Some foetuses infected with Zika virus are born with a small head (microcephaly).

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San Antonio Researcher Helps Develop Experimental Zika Test

From Texas Public Radio
January 29, 2019

Texas Biomedical Research Institute scientist is helping develop a test for the Zika virus that has been called “a lab on a chip.”

The new technology uses fluid and tools including lasers to look at molecules on a small chip to quickly learn several things, according to Texas Biomed scientist Jean Patterson, who is contributing to the device’s development.

“One: to rule out other viruses they suspect might be involved so then you can sort of pinpoint what the person might have,” Patterson said. “Secondly, it can identify where you are in the infection so you could identify whether antivirals would be recommended and you could also determine if immunotherapy might be an appropriate course of treatment.”

The fluid, called optofluidics, is a process in which a scientist takes bodily fluids that might be infected with various viruses, puts them on a chip, then uses tools like optical waveguides and lasers to evaluate the sample.

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Barbara Edelston Yaroslavsky Dies After Contracting West Nile

From The Malibu Times
January 27, 2019

Barbara Edelston Yaroslavsky, wife of longtime LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, died in late December. Yaroslavsky, 71, was herself a longtime community leader, activist and volunteer, according to the LA Times. She died on December 26, 2018.

“Yaroslavsky was recovering from a severe West Nile virus infection when she collapsed during a therapy session,” the Times reported. “She was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.”

She was remembered in a statement by current Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, which was sent out on Jan. 5 of this year: “It is with a broken heart that I report that the incomparable Barbara Yaroslavsky passed away over the holiday break. My heart and deepest sympathies go out to Zev and the entire family at this incredibly difficult time.

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West Nile virus in an unlikely place: Why my loss is a wake-up call for all Americans

From EDF.org
January 24, 2019

This year will be like no other for me: I’ll be without my dad.

His recent death in Yolo County, California, intersected with my work to manage the impacts of climate change – in a very real and personal way. While West Nile is usually associated with damp summer conditions in the East rather than the arid West, I know now that drought can also lead to more cases.

Rising global temperatures have allowed the West Nile virus to reach virtually every corner of America, including regions where nobody used to worry about the mosquito-borne disease.

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Prior dengue infection may protect against symptomatic Zika disease, study finds

From the Miami Herald
January 22, 2019

As scientists continue to study the relatively novel Zika virus, researchers have found that children with a history of prior dengue infection had a significantly lower risk of being symptomatic when infected by Zika, according to a study in Nicaragua of more than 3,000 children.

Experts had worried that prior dengue infection could worsen Zika disease, but the new findings published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine suggest that prior dengue immunity in children may protect against symptomatic Zika, which can cause fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.

Zika and dengue are closely related and cause similar symptoms. Both viruses are spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, though Zika can also be transmitted by sex and through blood transfusions.

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STUDY: West Nile virus appears to remain in Maricopa County

From KYMA
January 21, 2019

PHOENIX (AP) – A new study suggests that a strain of the West Nile virus is going to remain in Arizona’s most populous county for the foreseeable future.

Arizona researchers say that the same mild winters that bring snowbirds to Maricopa County also let mosquitoes and certain virus-reservoir birds survive winter to spread West Nile anew when the weather warms up.

Phoenix radio station KJZZ reports the study concludes that potentially deadly virus seems to be endemic to the county which includes the Phoenix metro area.

Experts say the West Nile is the foremost source of mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. The virus reportedly first entered the country in 1999 in New York City and was detected in Maricopa County four years later.

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Scans, ultrasound spot Zika brain defects

From Health24
January 21, 2019

Ultrasounds and MRIs during pregnancy and after birth can detect most Zika-related brain abnormalities in infants, researchers report.

Foetal MRIs and ultrasound

If a woman is infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy, her child can be born with microcephaly and other severe brain defects, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The new study included 80 women in Columbia and two women in the United States who were exposed to Zika during pregnancy. The two US women were exposed when they travelled to areas with active Zika transmission.

All of the women received foetal MRIs and ultrasound during the second and/or third trimester of pregnancy. After their infants were born, the children received brain MRIs and cranial ultrasounds.

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Bacterial compounds may be as good as DEET at repelling mosquitoes

From Science News
January 16, 2019

Molecules made by bacteria keep mosquitoes at bay. The compounds are a newfound potential stand-in for DEET, a ubiquitous chemical used in most commercially available mosquito repellents in the United States.

In lab tests, the molecules were as effective as DEET in stopping Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which can carry Zika, dengue and yellow fever, from snacking on artificial blood, researchers report January 16 in Science Advances. Tests suggest the compounds also deter two other mosquito species: Anopheles gambiae, a major malaria carrier, and Culex pipiens, which can carry the West Nile virus.

Though DEET is considered safe for human use and effective against mosquitoes, it doesn’t hurt to have more lines of defense against the disease-transmitting insects, says coauthor Susan Paskewitz, an entomologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The molecules in question are metabolic by-products of Xenorhabdus budapestensis, a bacterium that has a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil nematode. When the nematode finds an insect host such as a caterpillar, it burrows in and defecates the bacteria into its host’s bloodstream. The bacteria weaken the host’s immune system and turn its insides to mush — a sort of “bacteria-insect milkshake” — which rapidly kills the host, says Adler Dillman, a nematologist at the University of California, Riverside who wasn’t part of the study.

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Cellular protein a target for Zika control

From Penn State News
January 14, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A cellular protein that interacts with invading viruses appears to help enable the infection process of the Zika virus, according to an international team of researchers who suggest this protein could be a key target in developing new therapies to prevent or treat Zika virus infection.

Scientists first isolated Zika, a member of the Flaviviridae family of viruses — which also includes yellow fever, dengue and West Nile viruses — in 1947 and, until recently, it typically caused only mild symptoms in humans. However, health officials first recorded larger outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus in 2007, culminating in a large epidemic in the Western Hemisphere in 2015-2016. For the first time, Zika infection also was associated with severe symptoms, including microcephaly in infants infected in the womb, and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults.

These acute symptoms and the rapid spread of the virus prompted the World Health Organization to declare Zika a public health emergency of international concern and stimulated interest among scientists in the factors governing Zika infection, about which little is known.

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