Mosquito & Vector News

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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New research could allow fast diagnosis of viruses like Ebola and Zika

From Digital Trends
January 12, 2019

The researchers at CIRAD were searching for a way to diagnose viruses quickly and early in the infection process, so they could avoid the time consuming and potentially dangerous process of transferring contaminated samples to a lab. They struck on using the portable sequencer MinION device, which in the last few years since its development has become a common tool for biological analysis techniques like de novo sequencing, targeted sequencing, metagenomics, and epigenetics. The CIRAD team were able to both test and validate that the device could be used in plant virology, making it an invaluable potential tool for diagnosing viruses in real world outbreaks.

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LB documents zero cases of West Nile Virus for first time since 2011

From the Signal Tribune
January 11, 2019

Even though the annoyance of mosquitoes never seems to go away, residents finally have good news in the war against the buzzing pests.

On Jan. 3, the City of Long Beach issued a press release announcing that the Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department), Vector Control and Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) recorded zero cases of West Nile Virus in 2018 in Long Beach. This is the first time the city has documented zero cases of the disease since 2011, according to officials.

“It is extremely rare to see zero cases of West Nile Virus in a city,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia in the press release. “This was without a doubt the result of City staff and our community working together to protect and fight against mosquito-borne diseases and infestation.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile Virus (WNV) is the most common “mosquito-borne” disease in the continental United States. The first case in Southern California was recorded in 2003, and the first case of WNV in Long Beach was documented in 2004.

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New antibodies could diagnose and treat Zika virus

From the Medical News Bulletin
January 9, 2019

Researchers from the United States utilized ribosome display technology to generate six antibodies that could diagnose and treat Zika virus.

Zika virus disease, also known as Zika fever or Zika virus infection, is primarily caused by a bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus. The disease can also be transmitted through different forms of transmission such as blood transfusion, sexual contact, and organ transplantation. The infection often causes no or only mild symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and headache, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever.

Zika in early pregnancy has found significantly increase the risk of birth defects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10 % of babies of women with confirmed infection during pregnancy in US states and about 5% in US territories had Zika-associated birth defects. This can cause serious pregnancy complications such as fetal loss, stillbirth, and preterm birth.

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Do Travelers Still Need to Worry About the Zika Virus in 2019?

From Smarter Travel
January 7, 2019

On a recent trip to Southeast Asia, I saw signs warning about Zika transmission and realized that it had been over a year since I had heard about the virus. And though a lot has changed the Zika outbreak, Zika is still affecting almost 100 countries in some capacity.

After interviewing medical professionals and researching Zika on the CDC’s website, I think this underreporting is the result of zero reported cases of mosquito-bite transmission of Zika in the continental U.S. in 2018. Even Puerto Rico, while it still has the Zika virus, has seen a drop in cases. Because of this decline, Zika has largely gone unreported in 2018 for North Americans.

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A Virus Even More Dangerous Than Zika to Pregnant Woman

From the New York Times
January 7, 2019

The mosquito-borne virus that causes Rift Valley fever may severely injure human fetuses if contracted by mothers during pregnancy, according to new research.

In a study published last month in the journal Science Advances, researchers used infected rats and human fetal tissue to discover how the virus targets the placenta. Results showed that the virus may be even more damaging to fetuses than the Zika virus, which set off a global crisis in 2015 and left thousands of babies in Central America and South America with severe birth defects.

“Zika caught everybody by surprise,” said Amy Hartman, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, who led the research. “If doctors had known about Zika’s birth effects, they could have done a lot more to protect pregnant women and babies. With Rift Valley fever, we’re trying to get ahead of the curve.”

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Where will the world’s next Zika, West Nile or Dengue virus come from?

From EurekAlert!
January 4, 2019

After collecting data and comparing it with every known mammal and bird species on Earth, scientists from the University of California, Davis, have identified wildlife species that are the most likely to host flaviviruses such as Zika, West Nile, dengue and yellow fever. Flaviviruses are known to cause major epidemics and widespread illness and death throughout the world.

The resulting “hot spot” maps show regions of the world with high diversity of potential wildlife hosts of flaviviruses — viruses mostly spread by mosquitoes and ticks. These include regions where flaviviruses have not been detected but that have wildlife species with the potential to harbor them.

The information provides scientists and health authorities with a road map for disease detection and surveillance efforts.

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Long Beach reported no cases of West Nile virus in 2018, but invasive mosquito species is on the rise

From the Long Beach Post
January 3, 2019

For the first time in nearly a decade, Long Beach reported no cases of West Nile virus in 2018, health officials said Thursday.

The city has documented human cases of the virus almost every year since it was first reported in 2004. In 2017, Long Beach saw 15 human cases, down from 53 in 2016.

The disease is transmitted from a bite from an infected Culex mosquito and can cause fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache. While most people show no symptoms, about one in 150 may develop a more serious disease, such as brain inflammation or paralysis.

City officials attributed the zero cases last year to ramped mosquito control and greater public outreach.

“It is extremely rare to see zero cases of West Nile virus in a city,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “This was without a doubt the result of city staff and our community working together to protect and fight against mosquito-borne diseases and infestation.”

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What Pennsylvania & federal records say about Zika in 2018

From Lancaster Online
January 3, 2019

Almost three years since the Zika virus burst onto the international news, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention show zero Pennsylvania cases in 2018.

The CDC listing shows only symptomatic cases confirmed by a laboratory, so that doesn’t mean the virus that spreads by mosquitoes and sex and can cause serious birth defects wasn’t here at all.

Nate Wardle, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said in an email that Pennsylvania did have three pregnant women this year who had Zika but did not show symptoms.

“The department tracks these pregnancies through delivery and the child’s infant life to check up on the children and review their health,” he wrote, not offering details on how those mothers and babies are doing.

Last December the Department of Health’s running tally stood at 152 confirmed Zika infections in Pennsylvania, and 80 possible ones, since 2015.

Wardle noted that Pennsylvania has never had a “locally transmitted” Zika case — that is, one spread by a mosquito bite in the state.

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DNA tests of Lassa virus mid-outbreak helped Nigeria target its response

From Science News
January 3, 2019

When an outbreak of a viral hemorrhagic fever hit Nigeria in 2018, scientists were ready: They were already in the country testing new disease-tracking technology, and within weeks managed to steer health workers toward the most appropriate response.

Lassa fever, which is transmitted from rodents to humans, pops up every year in West Africa. But 2018 was the worst season on record for Nigeria. By mid-March, there were 376 confirmed cases — more than three times as many as by that point in 2017 — and another 1,495 suspected. Health officials weren’t sure if the bad year was being caused by the strains that usually circulate, or by a new strain that might be more transmissible between humans and warrant a stronger response.  

New technology for analyzing DNA in the field helped answer that question mid-outbreak, confirming the outbreak was being caused by pretty much the same strains transmitted from rodents to humans in past years. That rapid finding helped Nigeria shape its response, allowing health officials to focus efforts on rodent control and safe food storage, rather than sinking time and money into measures aimed at stopping unlikely human-to-human transmission, researchers report in the Jan. 4 Science.

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Residents encouraged to do their part to prevent mosquito borne illness

From the Pacific Daily News
December 28, 2018

Residents are encouraged to do their part in keeping a mosquito borne illness from spreading.

A small number of cases of dengue fever in Palau is being watched by public health officials on Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

According to a release from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. in Saipan there have been a confirmed outbreak of dengue fever involving a small number of cases in Palau.

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Barbara Yaroslavsky, longtime community volunteer and activist, dies at 71

From the Pasadena Star News
December 27, 2018

The wife of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky had been seriously ill since contracting West Nile virus weeks ago.

LOS ANGELES – Longtime community leader Barbara Yaroslavsky, wife of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, died Wednesday at age 71.

Barbara Edelston Yaroslavsky had been seriously ill over the last six weeks with infections after contracting West Nile virus, according to her husband’s former spokesman, Joel Bellman.

She had appeared to be on the road to a slow recovery and was discharged Wednesday from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to begin a period of recuperation and rehabilitation at another facility, Bellman said. But during a physical therapy session this morning, she suddenly collapsed, he said.

Yaroslavsky was taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she died shortly after 10 a.m., according to a statement issued on behalf of her husband and children, David and Mina.

“We are shocked and devastated by this turn of events,” the statement reads. “We have lost an exceptional mother, a loving grandmother and a beloved wife and partner in life. There are no words to describe what we are feeling at this moment, but our loss is profound and the void in our lives is immeasurable.”

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Flowery Deterrents for Dengue, Yellow Fever, and Zika Viruses

From Precision Vaccinations
December 25, 2018

According to new research, some flowery plants in your backyard may attract infectious disease-carrying mosquitoes, while other plants may repel them. 

Although most mosquitoes are just a nuisance, some mosquito types spread viruses that can cause disease. 

The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes often carry infectious diseases, such as Yellow Fever, Dengue and Zika viruses, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   

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‘We’ve been forgotten’: Brazil’s Zika generation

From Malaymail
December 18, 2018

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 18 — When doctors told her that the six-month-old foetus she was carrying had severe brain damage caused by the Zika virus, Thamires Ferreira da Silva tried to commit suicide by jumping in front of a bus in Rio de Janeiro.

“I just wanted to finish it,” said the 29-year-old Brazilian, crying.

But the bus driver braked in time and more than two years later, she is raising her son Miguel with the help of her husband Wallace, their families and medical specialists.

Miguel was the first child in Brazil to be diagnosed with the mosquito-borne illness, which at the time was an unremarked phenomenon but which soon grew to be the focus of a global health alert.

“I feel that we’ve been totally forgotten,” Ferreira da Silva said.

Her son, aged two years and four months, suffers from microcephaly—a condition in which the brain does not develop properly and results in a smaller than normal head.

He also has lissencephaly, where parts of the brain appear smooth, the rare Dandy-Walker syndrome that is characterised by deformation of the part of the brain that controls movement, kidney problems and epilepsy.

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Residents Cautioned About Ticks, Lyme Disease In Santa Cruz Co.

From the Santa Cruz Patch
December 17, 2018

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA — Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control officials are warning residents to be on the lookout for western black‐legged tick (Ixodes pacificus), which can carry Lyme disease and other tick‐borne illnesses.

“Winter is a time of high adult tick activity in our coastal hills, and residents should be aware when spending time outdoors”, SCCMVC Manager Paul Binding said in a statement.

There have been five cases of Lyme disease reported in Santa Cruz County this year.

The risk of being bitten by ticks may be reduced with the following precautions:

  • Wear long pants and long‐sleeved shirts.
  • Walk in the center of trails and avoid logs, tree trunks, trail margins, brush and tall grass.
  • Shower and thoroughly check your entire body for ticks after time outdoors. Parents should examine their children, especially on the scalp and hairline.
  • Keep your pets on trails as well, and check and remove ticks after time outdoors.
  • Use EPA‐registered repellent for use against ticks; always follow label directions.
  • Products with a concentration of 20% DEET or higher, and/or treating clothes and shoes with permethrin before entering tick habitat are recommended.
  • Launder clothes (and dry on high heat) soon after activity in tick habitat.

Removing a tick within 24 hours after it attaches can prevent transmission of Lyme diseases
and other tick‐borne diseases.

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City Health Dept. Reports 93 Dirty Pasadena Swimming Pools, Possibly Mosquito Breeding Sites, Cleaned or Emptied

From Pasadena Now
December 17, 2018

City authorities and staff from the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District identified a total of 93 dirty swimming pools in Pasadena that could be breeding places for mosquitoes, including those that carry the West Nile virus and other diseases.

The owners of these swimming pools were notified and advised to clean them and restore them to a functional state, or to empty the water and keep the pools dry.

A report by Michael Johnson, the City’s Director of Public Health, said the dirty or “green” pools – green because of algae – were identified in the spring. The owners were given Swimming Pool Notices, and by August all the pools have been cleaned, Johnson said.

According to the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, a dirty and unmaintained swimming pool can produce up to three million mosquitoes in a month, contributing to the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

The District said only two conditions could guarantee that mosquitoes don’t grow in the swimming pools: they should either be “clean and functional,” with a working filtration system, or “empty and dry.”

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Florida had 93 cases of Zika in this year

From the Tampa Bay Times
December 11, 2018

As the end of the year approaches, Florida has reported 93 cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in 2018, according to numbers posted Monday on the state Department of Health website.

The number of cases has slowly increased in recent months, with all but two of the cases classified as “travel” related — generally meaning people were infected elsewhere and brought the disease into the state.

Two cases were classified as having “undetermined” origin, with both of those cases involving people in Miami-Dade County.

The disease, which caused major concerns in 2016, is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects. Collier County has topped the state this year with 35 cases, followed by Miami-Dade with 27 cases and Orange County with 11 cases, according to the Department of Health website.

Broward and Palm Beach counties each reported six cases, Osceola County reported three cases, and Lee, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and Walton counties each reported one case.

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

December 6, 2018

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

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

From the Miami Herald
December 5, 2018

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

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

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

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New Zika vaccine effective in preclinical trials

From MedicalXpress
December 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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89 Zika Cases in Florida are Travel Related

From Precision Vaccinations
December 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

From the CDC
November 30, 2018

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

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

From The Houston Chronicle
November 29, 2018

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

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

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

November 29, 2018

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

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Six antibodies produced to combat Zika virus

From Science Daily
November 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

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Google’s Parent Has a Plan to Eliminate Mosquitoes Worldwide

From Bloomberg
November 28, 2018

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

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

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

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Prenatal US detects brain abnormalities in fetuses exposed to Zika virus

From Radiology Business
November 28, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

From the International Business Times
November 26, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

From EurekAlert!
November 26, 2018

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

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

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

From MRT
November 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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Monkeys can carry zika virus, scientists discover

From Health 24
November 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

From Science Daily
November 14, 2018

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

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

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

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Zika may hijack mother-fetus immunity route

From MedicalXpress
November 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From The Fresno Bee
November 14, 2018

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

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

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

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WNV in California Horses: Case Confirmed in Sacramento County

From The Horse
November 9, 2018

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

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

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

From The Conversation
November 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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How does the Zika virus prevent immune responses against itself?

From the Medical News Bulletin
November 7, 2018

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

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

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How to Mail Mosquitoes

From Atlas Obscura
November 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

From Science Magazine
October 31, 2018

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

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

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Mosquito-to-mosquito infections keep dengue circulating

From the Cornell Chronicle
October 31, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

From The Highlander
October 30, 2018

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

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

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

From EurekAlert!
October 30, 2018

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

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

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From New University
October 26, 2018

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

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

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

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

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India wrestles with first significant outbreak of Zika virus

From the Washington Post
October 25, 2018

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

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

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

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

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Skittles, Magnolia Leaf & Mosquito Eggs Aided UC Davis Research

From the Davis Patch
October 25, 2018

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

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

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

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Peptide successfully exploits Achilles’ heel of Zika virus

From Science Daily
October 24, 2018

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

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

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

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Deflecting mosquitoes during bite season

From the Los Altos Town Crier
October 24, 2018

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

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

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

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

From CBS 8
October 19, 2018

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

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

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

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Man recovering from rare mosquito-borne illness

From Wood TV
October 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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