Mosquito & Vector News

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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Lots of rain means lots of mosquitoes in the Midstate

From the Cumberland County Sentinel
September 30, 2018

They buzz, they bite and they make you itch. Now, thanks to an abundance of rain this summer and early fall, the little blood suckers are back with a vengeance.

Periods of excessive rain beginning in the spring have caused the mosquito population to explode in the Midstate, according to John Bitner, chief of the Vector Control/Weights & Measures Office for Cumberland County.

“We’ve been pretty inundated with people calling with mosquito complaints,” Bitner said.

The heavy rains experienced in the Midstate have created two problems that result in more mosquitoes, Bitner said. More standing water provides more breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which creates more opportunities to increase the mosquito population, he said.

The other problem is the rains have limited the ability of Vector Control to reduce the mosquito population.

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Mosquito activity uptick in Los Angeles County increases risk of West Nile and other viral infections

From the Daily News
September 28, 2018

The Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District is warning residents that mosquito season in the area is not over just yet.

Ongoing mosquito activity is continuing to bring additional human West Nile infections, along with the threat of other illnesses transmitted by new invasive populations of Aedes mosquitoes.

The district collected 49 West Nile-positive mosquito samples this year compared to 309 from the same period last year. However, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Department has reported 28 human infections this year, and that the number is expected to increase.

West Nile virus is transmitted by the native Culex mosquitoes that are most active and bite between dusk and dawn. Residents are urged to use mosquito repellents with DEET in them if they are spending time outdoors during the early morning and evening hours.

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Editing mosquito DNA could help wipe out malaria and Zika — here’s how

From Digital Trends
September 28, 2018

“If this genetic modification can have the ability to incapacitate the female mosquito’s ability to reproduce it could be an incredibly powerful tool to suppress the mosquito population which transmits diseases, such as malaria, Zika, yellow fever, and so on,” Andrea Crisanti, professor of Molecular Parasitology at Imperial, told Digital Trends.

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1 dead from West Nile virus complications in Yolo County

From KCRA 3
September 27, 2018

A person living in Yolo County has died from complications of West Nile virus, health officials say.

As of Monday, there have been four human deaths in California this year linked to the virus, which is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito.


The deaths have been in Butte, Glenn, Yolo and Yuba counties, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The health department declined to say where the person died in Yolo County, saying the death was disclosed through a confidential report that protects patient information.

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West Nile Virus Confirmed in Sonora

From the Sierra Sun Times
September 26, 2018

SONORA—On July 30, 2018, the Tuolumne County Public Health Department announced the first confirmed human illness in Tuolumne County due to West Nile virus (WNV).

On September 4, 2018, a dead California Scrub Jay bird was found in Sonora, and the dead bird was tested for WNV infection – the result was positive as reported on September 21, 2018. The detection of WNV in a dead bird provides an early signal that mosquitos carrying the WNV are present in our environment, and an early warning that it is important to take protection against mosquito bites:

Test Result Submitting Agency City County Zip Code Species Date Reported Date Tested Positive Tuolumne Co Dept of Env Health Sonora Tuolumne 95370 California Scrub-Jay 9/4/2018 9/21/2018

As pointed out by CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith in our previous Press Release, “West Nile virus activity throughout the state is increasing,” so once again we urge residents and visitors to Tuolumne County to take every possible precaution to protect against mosquito bites (see below).

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Understanding mosquitoes’ mating behavior is key for developing vector control strategies

September 26, 2018

The ears of male mosquitoes amplify the sound of an approaching female using a self-generated phantom tone that mimics the female’s wingbeats, which increases the ear’s acoustic input by a factor of up to 45,000, finds a new UCL-led study.

The researchers were studying disease-carrying mosquitoes, and hope their findings, published in Nature Communications, could help design acoustic lures to control the spread of deadly diseases.

“Hearing is a crucial sense for mosquitoes as acoustic communication plays a key role in their mating behavior. Understanding how mosquitoes communicate in swarms to find mates is important in the development of vector control strategies,” said the study’s lead, Dr Joerg Albert (UCL Ear Institute).

The researchers studied three mosquito species: the malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae, the Zika virus and dengue carrying Aedes aegypti, and the West Nile virus carrying Culex quinquefasciatus.

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Dead bird in Sonora tests positive for West Nile virus following human case

From the Union Democrat
September 26, 2018

Testing has confirmed that a dead California scrub jay found on Sept. 4 in Sonora was infected with West Nile virus, according to the Tuolumne County Public Health Department.

This comes nearly two months after a human in the county tested positive for the sometimes deadly mosquito-borne illness for the first time in more than 10 years, prompting health officials to urge people to take precautions.

“The detection of WNV in a dead bird provides an early signal that mosquitoes carrying WNV are present in our environment, and an early warning that it is important to take protection against mosquito bites,” the county Public Health Department stated in a news release this week.

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Building A Better Mosquito Trap — One Scientist Thinks He’s Done It

From NPR
September 25, 2018

A scientist in Australia has come up with an insecticide-free way to control a particularly pesky species of mosquito.

The approach involves two things: deploying a decidedly low-tech mosquito trap called a GAT and getting to know your neighbors.

GAT stands for Gravid Aedes Trap. Aedes is short for Aedes albopictusknown colloquially as the Asian tiger mosquito, which bites aggressively night and day.

The trap doesn’t look particularly impressive — it’s basically three plastic buckets stacked together. The top and bottom buckets are black. The mosquitoes fly into the trap through a hole in the top bucket, but they seem to have a hard time flying back out through the hole. To make matters worse (for the mosquito) you can dangle a piece of sticky paper inside the top bucket to catch a wayward pest that happens to land there.

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NIH funds UNC study to investigate maternal-fetal transmission of Zika

From EurekAlert!
September 25, 2018

Chapel Hill, NC – Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and collaborators in Nicaragua have been given a five-year, $2.7 million R01 award from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to better understand the epidemiology of Zika virus in pregnancy and the impact the virus has on infant neurodevelopment.

Zika, a mosquito-borne infection, is also transmitted in utero from mother to child. Zika is the only flavivirus known to cause birth defects, including microcephaly. More than 1,000 cases of Zika infection have been documented in Nicaragua in the past year.

“We do not have a lot of data about Zika virus because it is an emerging infection,” said Elizabeth Stringer, M.D., M.Sc., the study’s principal investigator and an associate professor of maternal and fetal medicine in the UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “During this study, we will follow up with infants exposed to Zika in Léon and Managua, Nicaragua.”

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From Action News Now
September 24, 2018

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. – The Butte County Public Health Department has confirmed the first human death due to West Nile Virus in Butte County. 

The infection was confirmed last Friday, Sept. 21 as the most severe form of West Nile Virus.

The individual who died was between 50-70 years old and lived in south Butte County. 

As of Sept 24, 100 human cases have been reported in 25 of California’s 58 counties. 

Four deaths have been confirmed in the following counties. 

  • Butte County 

  • Glenn County 

  • Yolo County 

  • Yuba County 

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25% of infants exposed to Zika have eye abnormalities

From Healio
September 24, 2018

Recent findings suggest that approximately one-quarter of infants with suspected or confirmed Zika virus exposure during the 2015-2016 Rio de Janeiro outbreak developed eye abnormalities. Researchers said that regardless of laboratory confirmation, all infants born during Zika outbreaks “should be universally screened for eye abnormalities.”

Irena Tsui, MD, an ophthalmologist at UCLA, and colleagues wrote that lab confirmation of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in neonates may be difficult for several reasons, including the observation that many cases of ZIKV infection are asymptomatic. These cases, according to the researchers, tend not to get tested for the infection. Additionally, a negative test result cannot rule out infection because the virus is detectable through testing for only 3 to 16 days after symptom onset.

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West Nile Virus Persists – More Mosquitoes, A Bird, Chickens Test Positive

Press Release from Contra Costa MVCD
September 21, 2018

Dump Standing Water and Avoid Mosqito Bites as Temperatures Rise 
CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – The Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District is reporting mosquitoes from Quimby Island and Bethel Island, a dead bird from Oakley, and chickens from Martinez and Oakley have tested positive for West Nile virus.  This is the first West Nile virus activity from Bethel Island this year. 
So far in 2018, 17 groups of mosquitoes, 12 dead birds, and 15 chickens  from Contra Costa County have tested positive for the virus.  
According to the District’s Scientific Programs Manager Steve Schutz, Ph.D., “Even though today is technically the last day of summer, there is warm weather in the forecast which means West Nile virus season is not over. West Nile virus replicates faster in warm weather, so county residents should continue to dump standing water to prevent mosquitoes and wear repellent to prevent mosquito bites.”    
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Residents can also avoid mosquito bites by  staying indoors when mosquitoes can be present. Mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus are most active at dawn and dusk.

Most mosquitoes can’t start their lives without water, and so dumping out standing water prevents mosquitoes from having a place to develop.

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8-year-old girl relearning to walk, talk after getting West Nile virus

From KRON4
September 21, 2018

FARGO, North Dakota (KRON/CNN) – Over the past few weeks, KRON4 has told you about the West Nile virus showing up in the Bay Area.

Most recently, a mosquito tested positive in Solano County.

On Friday night, we’re seeing just how serious it can be when a person becomes infected.

A once-energetic third grader in Nebraska is slowly getting her strength back after getting the diagnosis.

Seemingly simple tasks like playing catch are slowly getting easier for Vivi Lee.

The 8-year-old has been at Sanford’s Children’s Hospital the last several days.

It started with basic kid stuff–a headache and vomiting.

But then, it got worse. Much worse.

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