Brazil’s Tale Of Two Epidemics: Zika And COVID-19 – OpEd

From EurasiaReview
July 2, 2020

As Brazilian athletes were preparing for the upcoming Summer Olympics, a growing global health crisis shifted the government’s attention from winning gold medals to securing testing kits. On February 16th, the Brazilian government ordered the deployment of 220,000 soldiers to hand out educational material to citizens on how to combat the new virus that was ravaging the country, a strategy that proved effective in mitigating the spread of the disease. The year was 2016, and Zika virus was the disease.

Four years later, Brazil is losing the battle against a more formidable enemy, COVID-19. The country has the world’s second-highest death toll, having surpassed the United Kingdom as deaths reached 44,000. As the situation becomes grimmer by the day, President Jair Bolsonaro has chosen to replace his two previous health ministers with an army general to lead the country to battle, even though he lacks a background in public health or medicine. The president, himself a retired army captain who has fondly romanticized the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, has downplayed the pandemic, calling it a “little flu.” Thus far, Brazil’s COVID-19 response has been so botched that on May 26, President Donald Trump, long-time Bolsonaro ally, prohibited the entry of foreign Brazilian nationals into the United States due to an increased risk of transmission.

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Wash. state begins trapping for Asian giant hornets

From Komonews
July 1, 2020

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — About 600 traps to catch invasive Asian giant hornets are being placed in Whatcom County by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, more than doubling the number already set out by citizens.

The Capital Press reports the state traps are being placed around Blaine, Custer and Bellingham, the only places in the U.S. that the giant hornet has been found.

The traps are being put on the edge of forested areas.

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COVID-19 isn’t the only virus spreading this summer; entomologists watching spread of West Nile

From ABC 10 San Diego
July 1, 2020

Heather Hyland, a self-proclaimed bug nerd, has found a love for mosquitos despite the diseases they carry.

“I have loved bugs I would say since I was about 2 years old,” Hyland said.

Initially a public information officer for the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District in Southern California, she said her bug fascination was because so many people don’t like them. So, as a child, Hyland thought, someone should love them. That love turned into entomology.

“They’re so interesting. They’re these intricate little tiny bugs with the capability to do big things. If you look at how prehistoric a mosquito is, it has six mouth parts. There’s so many different things they can do that are big,” Hyland said.

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West Nile Virus in Amador County, California

From EquiManagement
June 29, 2020

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has confirmed one case of West Nile virus (WNV) in Amador County.

The confirmed WNV case was in a 20-year-old Quarter Horse gelding that had onset of clinical signs of June 19 that included ataxia, hind limb ataxia and neurologic signs. The gelding was confirmed on June 26. He was alive and affected at the time of this report.

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‘Murder hornets’: race to protect North America’s honeybees from giant invader

From The Guardian
June 25, 2020

It took Moufida and John Holubeshen just a day of tracing alleged sightings and studying map coordinates before the two amateur detectives found their target.

“We did the whole CSI thing,” says Moufida. “Plotting points and drawing lines, searching for where the middle of the circle – the nest – would be.”

The couple, like hundreds of other beekeepers in western Canada and the US, were hunting the Asian giant hornet, an invasive species whose stealthy advance throughout British Columbia and Washington state is causing growing unease.

Scientists and apiarists fear that, if permitted to spread unchecked, the hornets, which feast on honeybee larvae, could have disastrous consequences for tens of thousands of hives.

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Zika virus ‘harms baby brain collagen development’

From SciDevNet
June 25, 2020

Zika virus can hamper vital collagen development in the brains of babies whose mothers were infected with the disease while pregnant, new research reveals, as the search for a vaccine continues.

Collagen is crucial to the circulatory system, as it regulates the compression of blood vessels. A large amount of the collagen found in the human brain is located inside vein tissue.

The research findings could explain the deaths of babies with microcephaly, a birth defect that causes a baby to be born with a smaller head and often smaller brains that may not have developed properly.

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LA County’s #TipTossTakeAction campaign fights mosquito bites

From the Los Angeles Daily News
June 22, 2020

Los Angeles County officials are generating some buzz for National Mosquito Control Awareness Week to remind residents to protect themselves from the biting insect and the diseases it can transmit.

The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD) reminded Angelenos Monday to take action against the bugs by removing standing water and wearing repellent, which can help prevent itchy bites as well as mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus.

GLACVCD is getting the word out through a #TipTossTakeAction summer campaign launched as part of National Mosquito Control Awareness Week (June 21-27).

“The #TipTossTakeAction campaign allows residents and city officials to take an active role in protecting their communities by working closely with GLACVCD staff,” GLACVCD Community Affairs Director Mary-Joy Coburn said.

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2 Men Confirmed With West Nile Virus In Stanislaus County

From CBS Sacramento
June 22, 2020

STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) — Two human cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed in Stanislaus County, officials said on Monday.

According to a release from the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, two men were recently tested and confirmed to have the virus. Both of the men were not showing any symptoms of the potentially deadly disease.

The two cases are the first two confirmed West Nile Virus cases confirmed in Stanislaus County this season.

West Nile Virus often spreads to people and animals through mosquito bites. It’s a disease that sees an increase in cases come the summer months.

While most people will only develop symptoms like headache, fever and fatigue, less than 1 percent of cases could develop into more serious complications.

This season, health officials say at least 10 California counts have been confirmed with West Nile virus through testing of dead birds and mosquito samples.

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Mosquito Population Four Times Higher Than Normal in the San Gabriel Valley

From Pasadena Now
June 22, 2020

Mosquitoes were four times higher in numbers last week in San Gabriel Valley than they were in 2018 and 2019, data from the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District (SGVMVCD) showed.

The data was reported out Sunday, as Pasadena begins to observe National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, June 21-28. The SGVMVCD obtained from mosquito surveillance traps examined between June 8 and 12 at various sites within the Valley, including Pasadena.

The SGVMVCD said they have tested mosquitoes collected in Hacienda Heights, the second largest census designated place in Los Angeles County, positive for carrying West Nile virus.

In Orange County, mosquito control officials confirmed they are detecting five times the average mosquitoes in their surveillance traps compared to 2019.

To prevent the spread of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases, the SGVMVCD advocates for three simple steps that residents should practice: Tip, Toss and Protect – Tip out stagnant water, Toss unused containers that can collect stagnant water, and Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using repellent.

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San Joaquin County hands out fish to curb mosquito population

From KCRA 3
June 22, 2020

It’s that time of year — the mosquitoes are out.

San Joaquin County officials are trying to reduce the number of mosquito populations with free fish.


This week, mosquito and vector control is handing out mosquitofish.

The fish can be put in ornamental ponds, animal water troughs and neglected water pools, where they eat mosquito larvae. According to county officials, the fish can consume 100 to 500 mosquito larvae per day.

People can get up to 15 fish along with a small bag of fish food and informational brochures.

Those interested can contact the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District for delivery information and the distribution schedule.

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Santa Clara to be sprayed after mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus

From the Mercury News
June 19, 2020

SANTA CLARA – A swath of Santa Clara is set to be sprayed after mosquitoes there tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The infected insects were collected from portions of the 95054, 95051 and 95050 ZIP code areas, the Santa Clara County Vector Control District said in a news release.

The district said the target zone is largely industrial and commercial, with about 10 percent residential. It is bounded by Montague Expressway and Walsh Avenue to the north, De La Cruz Boulevard and West Trimble Road to the east, Warburton Avenue to the south and Bowers Avenue to the west.

The spraying operation is slated to begin at 10 p.m. Tuesday and will take three hours to complete.

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West Nile Virus detected in Elk Grove

From the Elk Grove Citizen
June 19, 2020

A mosquito sample tested positive for the West Nile Virus in Elk Grove, local mosquito control officials announced on June 10. This marks the first time that the virus was detected in mosquitoes in Sacramento County this year.

Gary Goodman, the general manager of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, said mosquito activity has increased during the recent, hot weather.

“It’s important for residents to take these findings seriously and do everything they can to protect themselves,” he said in a press statement.  

West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that infects humans and cause flulike symptoms in mild cases, and can become lethal in severe cases. There were 225 confirmed West Nile human cases and six deaths in California last year, Goodman’s district staff reported.

West Nile has been detected in mosquitoes and dead birds in Sacramento and Yolo counties over the past 15 years.

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West Nile virus makes its way back to Las Vegas

From News 3 Las Vegas
June 19th, 2020

As if 2020 wasn’t hard enough already, West Nile Virus is back for another summer.

According to the Southern Nevada Health District 26 mosquitos tested positive last week.

All of them captured in the 89120 zip code.

An area that includes Sunset Park.

That’s where Kyara Solorzano was fishing Friday morning.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never been fishing here,” she says,

While the fish weren’t biting, fortunately neither were the mosquitos.

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West Nile still biggest risk, but mosquito season may bring other threats

From the Daily Republic
June 19, 2020

FAIRFIELD — West Nile is not the only concern as mosquito season starts to take hold.

Chikungunya, dengue fever, yellow fever and Zika, all of which are costly to treat and can have long-term health and financial consequences, can be transmitted by infected mosquitos, which are known to be in California and are expanding their range.

Richard Snyder, manager of the Solano County Mosquito Abatement District, said the invasive Aedes mosquitoes have been found in neighboring counties, but not in Solano.

“They are in Sacramento County right now, and San Joaquin County,” Snyder said. “We have been actively surveilling for them with trapping methods, and hoping we don’t find any.”

Generally speaking, Snyder said, the mosquitoes are brought into a county by humans.

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Double trouble: South Asia braces for dengue outbreak amid coronavirus pandemic

June 19, 2020

As the coronavirus continues leaving a trail of devastation behind globally, another deadly virus is rearing its ugly head in South Asia – dengue fever. 

The monsoon months in the region, between late May and September, bring much needed rain but also mosquito-borne diseases. And this includes dengue fever, an illness caused by an infection with a virus transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, which currently has no cure. 

Even without the backdrop of a global pandemic, dengue cases have seen a dramatic spike in the past decade due to erratic storms, rising global temperatures, and unplanned rapid urbanization. Last month alone, India and Bangladesh were hit by the biggest storm in 20 years, forcing five million to evacuate. 

An estimated 400 million dengue infections happen around the world each year, killing some 25,000 people annually. According to the World Health Organization, 2019 saw the most number of cases reported, with Asian countries bearing approximately 70 percent of the disease burden.

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Orange County officials warn of rising mosquito count

From FOX 11
June 18, 2020

A perfect storm of events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, have boosted the mosquito population in Orange County, vector control officials said Wednesday.

Light misty rains in May, higher than usual spring temperatures, reductions in staffing due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the economic downturn discouraging residents from more regular cleaning of their pools are among the reasons for the higher mosquito counts, said Heather Hyland, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District.

For the past six weeks, the OCMVCD has been averaging higher mosquito counts compared with the same period last year. The district’s traps are averaging 110 mosquitoes per trap, compared to 24 per trap last year at this time.

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Mistaken identity? Some Texans think mostly-harmless cicada killer wasps are Asian giant hornets

June 17, 2020

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Mostly-harmless Cicada killer wasps that emerge in Texas every summer are being confused for so-called Asian “murder hornets” that have caused panic in the United States, an entomologist has said.

She said there’s no need to worry here in Texas because the giant hornets, which can reach up to two inches in length, have not been found in the U.S. outside of Washington state.

Despite their name, cicada killer wasps are mostly harmless to humans – their name comes from their hunting of cicadas.

Entomologist Wizzie Brown said people have been emailing her with concerns about the cicada killers, which are being mistaken for the Asian giant hornets due to their large size and distinctive coloring.

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O.C. sees rise in mosquito activity as neighboring counties report positive West Nile Virus tests

June 16, 2020

Orange County has seen an an uptick in mosquito activity in urban and coastal areas, recording higher than average counts of the bloodthirsty insect for six straight weeks, officials said Tuesday.

This year’s mosquito count is nearly five times higher than last year’s and double the county’s five-year average, according to a news release from the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District.

Collection traps have captured an average of 110 mosquitoes each, compared to 24 per trap at this time last year, the release stated.

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Asian giant hornet panic is oversized — and threatens native insects

From Capital Press
June 10, 2020

The U.S. has 3,141 counties, but just one, Whatcom County in northern Washington state, has documented sightings of the Asian giant hornet, dubbed “murder hornet.” Even there, only three specimens have been confirmed.

But news reports about the hornets that went viral early May have sparked nationwide panic. For over a month, entomologists coast to coast have been swamped with questions and false sightings, and they say the frenzy has prompted a backlash: people are indiscriminately killing beneficial bumble bees, wasps, hornets and native species.

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Volcanic Glass Could Potentially Control Mosquito Population

From Nature World News
June 10, 2020

The findings of a new study show that a residual spray that contains a combination of perlite, a type of volcanic glass, and water is effective against malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The study results can help reduce the populations of these mosquitoes in Africa and thereby reduce the risk of malaria.

According to the study, malaria is a fatal mosquito-borne disease and a primary cause of death of sub-Saharan Africans. This disease is also competing against TB and AIDS as the world’s deadliest infectious disease.

Malaria deaths in Africa have significantly gone down from an annual rate of 1.8 million deaths to an estimated of only half a million in 2020 through a combination of bed nets and indoor spraying. However, malaria-carrying mosquitoes are showing widespread resistance to pyrethroids and increasing resistance to recommended insecticides by the World Health Organization.

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Region’s first mosquito sample of year finds West Nile virus activity in Elk Grove

From The Sacramento Bee
June 10, 2020

The year’s first mosquito sample revealed that insects carrying the West Nile virus already have arrived in the Elk Grove area.

“The very warm weather we’ve had recently increased the number of mosquitoes and accelerated virus activity,” said Gary Goodman, the manager of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. “It’s important for residents to take these findings seriously and do everything they can to protect themselves.”

This news comes even as the Sacramento region is seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

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New antivirals for influenza and Zika

From EurekAlert!
June 9, 2020

Leuven researchers have deployed synthetic amyloids to trigger protein misfolding as a strategy to combat the influenza A and Zika virus.

Amyloids are particular protein assemblies with properties similar to silk, that serve numerous functions. They also form upon protein misfolding resulting in protein inactivation.

Frederic Rousseau and Joost Schymkowitz (VIB-KU Leuven) used these properties to invent synthetic amyloid peptides that can be tailored to switch-off the function of desired target proteins. These peptides, termed Pept-ins, already proved to be a valuable approach to tackle bacterial pathogens or slow down tumor growth. Now, Schymkowitz and Rousseau’s team wanted to explore whether pept-ins could also be used to inactivate viral proteins and thereby interfere with viral replication.

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Mosquitoes With West Nile Virus Found In Milpitas

June 9, 2020

MILPITAS (CBS SF) – Crews with Santa Clara County Vector Control plan to spray mosquito control treatments in parts of Milpitas later this week, after insects that have the West Nile Virus were found.

Mosquitoes collected in the 95035 zip code tested positive for the virus, officials said in a statement Monday.

In response, spraying will take place late Thursday night in an area bordered by Dixon Landing Road to the north, North Milpitas Boulevard and North Abel Street to the east, Highway 237 and Bellew Drive to the west and North McCarthy Boulevard to the West.

People living in the area do not need to relocate, but are urged to stay inside their homes to minimize exposure, Vector Control said. The chemicals, which are widely used by other Vector Control agencies, have been approved by state and federal regulators.

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Positive Tests Confirm West Nile Virus Mosquitoes In Santa Clara

From the Milpitas Patch
June 8, 2020

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The County of Santa Clara Vector Control District has confirmed West Nile virus (WNV) positive tests in adult mosquitoes collected from portions of the 95035 ZIP code area that includes part of the City of Milpitas. As a result, a truck-mounted adult mosquito control treatment has been scheduled in the area to prevent human cases of WNV. Weather permitting, the ground operations are scheduled for approximately 11 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, and will conclude a few hours later. See area treatment map.

The District is adhering to all recommendations from the Centers for Diseases Control and the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and will be conducting the treatment in accordance to those guidelines.

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More valley mosquitos test positive for West Nile Virus

June 5, 2020

More mosquito traps have tested positive for the West Nile virus in our valley.

“Yes, lots of them hordes of them…swarms,” said Diane Mann.

West Nile virus mosquitos are now found in Cathedral City, La Quinta, Indio and Palm Desert. 

One resident showing us of his recent bites. 

“I get mosquito bites all the time for the last two weeks actually,” said Efrain Garcia.

According  the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, 15 mosquito traps valley wide have been tested positive for the West Nile virus including 38 infected mosquitos found in Cathedral City on Friday. 

“As temperatures rise up so will the mosquito numbers and as birds migrate, which is mosquitos favorite food, they carry WNV and St. louis encephalitis virus (slev),” said Tammy Gordon.

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First Mosquito With West Nile Virus Found In San Diego County

June 5, 2020

A mosquito caught in routine trapping in the Black Mountain Ranch area has tested positive for West Nile virus, the first appearance of the virus in San Diego County in 2020.

County environmental health officials remind people to protect themselves from mosquitoes, which can potentially transmit the disease, by following the county’s “Prevent, Protect, Report” guidelines — including finding and dumping out standing water in yards and around homes to keep mosquitoes from breeding.

Incidences of West Nile virus were mild in San Diego County in 2019. Three people tested positive, but there were no fatalities and all three people were suspected of having contracted the virus while outside the county.

However, West Nile virus remains a potentially deadly threat in San Diego County and the state, officials said. In 2015, 44 San Diego County residents tested positive for West Nile virus and six died. In 2019, 225 California residents became sick from West Nile virus and six died, according to the California Department of Public Health.

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First Find Of West Nile Virus Activity In San Joaquin County for 2020

From San Joaquin County MVCD
June 4, 2020

(STOCKTON, CA) – San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District’s (District) mosquito-borne disease surveillance program confirmed a West Nile virus (WNV) positive bird found in zip code 95219. “With this being the first evidence of WNV this year in San Joaquin County, residents need to take precaution to 1) prevent mosquito development around homes and, 2) prevent mosquito bites. After all, mosquito control is everyone’s responsibility,” said Aaron Devencenzi, Public Information Officer of the District.

“Adult mosquito control activities will increase in accordance with our surveillance results,” said Devencenzi.

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A new threat to bees

From the Harvard Gazette
June 4, 2020

They’re here. Native to East Asia, the so-called murder hornets were spotted in North America for the first time late last year and just again in May. The presence of the predators, which can grow as much as 2 inches in length, drew media attention because their frightening prowess at killing honeybees means they could adversely affect the supply of foods we consume that require pollination. Known officially as the Asian giant hornet, the species is capable of wiping out an entire hive in a matter of hours, decapitating bees with powerful mandibles and hauling away the thoraxes to feed their young. The hornets are less of a direct threat to humans, although they do kill about 50 people a year in Japan, where they are most prevalent.

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June 4, 2020

Kalamazoo County health officials announced details of the current mosquito surveillance program for this summer. In order to detect any evidence of potential carriers of the Zika virus, traps are being placed throughout the county, and with the aid of Michigan State University, carriers of the EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) virus will also be identified. The program will continue through September. Last year, vast areas of Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties were sprayed from the air to fight mosquitos carrying the Zika virus.

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Brazil’s Zika Epidemic Worsens

From Zika News
June 4, 2020

As the COVID-19 disease pandemic dominates the world media headlines, the Zika virus has steadily put women and children at grave risk in the Federative Republic of Brazil.

Recently, Brazil’s Ministry of Health identified 579 new suspected cases of Zika between December 2019 and February 2020.

This is concerning news since a ‘Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause congenital conditions in infants,’ said Human Rights (HRW), on May 28, 2020.

Due to the Zika virus, more than 1,600 babies were born in Brazil with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, from September 2015 through April 2016.

Brazil’s Zika epidemic took health professionals by surprise because the virus had been known since 1947 and was not linked to birth defects.

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Mosquitoes with West Nile virus in Fresno. ‘Everyone should take this disease seriously’

From the Fresno Bee
June 4, 2020

West Nile virus has again been detected in mosquitoes in Fresno, county health officials announced Thursday.

“This confirmation is a strong reminder that everyone should take this disease seriously and should take every precaution to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County Department of Public Health’s interim health officer.

The mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus were collected from an area around the 93704 zip code, which runs through the center of Fresno, extending from around Fresno City College in the south to Herndon Avenue in north Fresno.

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West Nile virus mosquitoes collected in Fresno County

From FOX 26 News
June 4, 2020

The Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District notified the Fresno County Department of Public Health of West Nile virus-positive tests in adult mosquitoes collected from an area around portions of the 93704 zip code area that is within the City of Fresno.

“This confirmation is a strong reminder that everyone should take this disease seriously and should take every precaution to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” says Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County Department of Public Health Interim Health Officer.

The FCDPH recommends that individuals contact their local mosquito control district regarding standing water or mosquito problems, as well as to report any neglected swimming pools.

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What We Know (And Don’t Know) About Child Language Development and Zika Virus Exposure: An Interview with Dr. Keisha Lindsay

From NYU Steinhardt
June 3, 2020

We sat down with Provost’s Fellow and Assistant Professor of Communicative Sciences and Disorders Keisha Lindsay to discuss her research on the 2016 Zika epidemic and the expertise speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can lend to global public health issues.

Although the Zika (ZIKV) epidemic affected 84 countries, research on the developmental trajectories of children with confirmed or suspected prenatal exposure to the virus is limited.

“As a researcher, I am deeply committed to creating knowledge about individuals, groups, and communities that we have not yet described in the scholarship of our field,” said Dr. Keisha Lindsay, who is currently researching the effects of ZIKV on child development in an investigation taking place on the Eastern Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

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West Nile virus discovered in mosquitoes in Coachella Valley

From the Desert Sun
June 1, 2020

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus were discovered in Palm Desert, officials announced today.

The infected mosquitoes were collected from two traps — one near the Shadow Mountain Golf Club on Portola Avenue, and the other near Highway 74 and Mesa View Drive, the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District reported.

“Just one bite from an infected mosquito can make a person sick,” said Tammy Gordon, a district spokeswoman. “We need everyone to cover up and use repellent at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are the most active.”

Vector control officials confirmed there are no reported human cases of West Nile virus in California at the moment.

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Walnut Creek residents up to their ankles in beetles The small, black beetles are in the house and all over the property

From The Mercury News
June 1, 2020

DEAR JOAN: Can you help us? We have been utterly inundated with beetles.

We’ve lived in this location for 10 years, and we’ve never experienced this before. The beetles are about half an inch long. They’re in the house. They’re in the flower pots. They’re in the barn. They’re all over the place.

They run but they don’t fly.

George Doddington, Walnut Creek

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Can The ‘Murder Hornet’ Destroy Our Food And Honey Supply?

From Huffpost
May 29, 2020

As if we don’t have enough to worry about, now there’s a “murder hornet.” It’s the nickname for an Asian giant hornet, and according to breathless reporting about the insect, which was discovered in December in Blaine, Washington, it can wipe out entire honeybee hives in hours. And it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

That’s concerning to anyone who cares about our food supply, as honeybees are responsible for pollinating a long list of foods many of us take for granted at the grocery store.

But how much of the hype around the “murder hornet” is just that? We spoke to three bee experts about whether the insidious insect could kill enough honeybees to damage our food supply.

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Viral disease confirmed in La Quinta mosquitoes

From the Desert Sun
May 29, 2020

The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District today announced mosquitoes in La Quinta had tested positive for a viral disease that can be transmitted to humans and initially cause flu-like symptoms, and in rare cases, death.

There are no reported human cases of St. Louis Encephalitis in California, according to the district, but officials still warned people to guard themselves against mosquitoes, and announced targeted insecticide spraying operations were scheduled for next week in La Quinta.

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Zika infection soon after birth leads to long-term brain and behavior problems

From Medical Xpress
May 26, 2020

Researchers from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center have shown Zika virus infection soon after birth leads to long-term brain and behavior problems, including persistent socioemotional, cognitive and motor deficits, as well as abnormalities in brain structure and function. This study is one of the first to shed light on potential long-term effects of Zika infection after birth.

“Researchers have shown the devastating damage Zika  causes to a fetus, but we had questions about what happens to the developing  of a young child who gets infected by Zika,” says lead researcher Ann Chahroudi, MD, Ph.D., an affiliate scientist in the Division of Microbiology and Immunology at Yerkes, director of the Center for Childhood Infections and Vaccines (CCIV), Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Emory University, and an associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. “Our  in  provides clues that Zika virus infection during the early postnatal period can have long-lasting impact on how the brain develops and works, and how this scenario has the potential to impact child behavior,” Chahroudi continues.

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Asian giant hornets sighted in US for first time, UC Davis entomologists say media exaggerated severity of issue

From The Aggie
May 22, 2020

Despite sightings of giant hornet species, spread through North America highly unlikely, experts say 

Giant, tiger-striped insects have been making quite the buzz lately. Vespa mandarinia, or the Asian giant hornet, typically lives in eastern and southeastern Asia, but two individuals of the species were sighted in the U.S. for the first time.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) verified two reports of the Asian giant hornets near Blaine, Washington in December of 2019. One report was of a dead hornet, while the other was of one spotted flying back into the forest. Additionally, a giant hornet nest was found and destroyed in a park south of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.

In Washington, neither the second hornet nor its nest were found, but researchers are fairly confident their removal efforts were successful. In April, Blaine local authorities alerted residents to the possible threat and asked them to stay vigilant, according to the WSDA.

“They found a dead individual and were able to confirm that, yes, this is Vespa mandarinia,” said Eleanor Field, a doctoral candidate in entomology from Iowa State. “Then the same resident also said, ‘Hey, I saw another one and it went off into the woods.’ That means we have one confirmed dead individual and another presumed confirmed sighting.”

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New Mexico reports first human case of West Nile Virus infection this year

From KFOX14
May 21, 2020

The New Mexico Department of Health is reporting the first human case of West Nile virus infection in New Mexico this year.

The patient is a San Juan County man in his 50s.

He was diagnosed with the neuroinvasive form of the disease, which has required hospitalization, and he is now recovering.

West Nile virus is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can sometimes be fatal.

New Mexico has had cases of West Nile virus infection every year since the virus was introduced to New Mexico in 2003.

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What’s ‘bugging’ your dog? Let’s take a look

From the Chico Enterprise-Record
May 14, 2020

You’ve just returned home from a springtime walk through the woods with your furry pal, and you see something on her fur that looks like a piece of dirt. But then you see it’s moving. It’s not dirt, it’s a disgusting TICK!

I have no idea why we’re not equally repulsed by the blood-sucking mosquito … yet both of these pests can be equally dangerous to our canine companions.


The tick that carries the greatest danger to people and pups alike is the western black-legged tick or deer tick, the only one of California’s 48 tick species that transmits Lyme disease. Today, this tick can be found in 56 of California’s 58 counties.

While Lyme is far less serious in dogs than in humans, dogs with the disease can have a number of health issues, including lameness, swollen joints, fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph glands, and in rare cases, chronic kidney disease.

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From Action News Now
May 14, 2020

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. – The Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District and the Butte County Sheriff’s Department are teaming up to conduct aerial surveillance of areas to locate and treat possible mosquito breeding sources.

Starting the week of May 18, the Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District will conduct aerial surveillance of un-maintained swimming pools and other “backyard breeders,” such as, boats holding water, ponds without circulation, unused tires, un-maintained hot tubs, and other man-made objects holding water.

“It is crucial for the District to locate and treat these suspected mosquito-breeding sources early in the mosquito season to prevent larger populations from hatching off in the summer, when virus is most active” said Matt Ball, District Manager of Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District.

Public health officials said they expect the mosquito-transmitted West Nile virus to be a serious public health concern in California this year.

In 2019, the West Nile virus was extremely active in Butte County, as well as the rest of the state, according to health officials.

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Mosquitoes’ taste for human blood may grow as African cities expand

From Science Magazine
May 12, 2020

n most of the world, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is notorious for biting humans and spreading dengue, Zika, and other viruses. But in Africa, where the mosquito is native, most Aedes prefer to suck blood from other animals, such as monkeys and rodents. A new study suggests, though, that their taste for humans may rapidly expand—and with it their ability to spread disease.

By surveying the range of Aedes biting preferences across Africa, the study shows that dryness and dense populations favor strains that target people. Those conditions are likely to intensify in Africa with climate change and increasing urbanization, though not everywhere.

“The work is significant because the better we can understand where and why mosquitoes like humans, the better equipped we will be to predict and mitigate disease spread,” says Mara Lawniczak, an evolutionary geneticist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, who was not involved in the study.

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Why Wasps, Ticks, and Mosquitoes Are More Dangerous Than Murder Hornets in Summer 2020

From Medicine Net
May 12, 2020

Huge, invasive “murder hornets” may be scary, but so are the typical native species of hornets, bees, mosquitoes, and ticks that cause disease and death in the US every year.

A warm, wet winter means all those pest populations are spiking early this spring and will likely thrive through the summer.

The National Pest Management Association publishes a “Bug Barometer” report every year in its Pestworld trade journal to give members an idea of what to expect in the coming season.

“(Winter weather) conditions allowed vector pests such as ticks, responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, and mosquitoes, common vectors of West Nile virusZika virus and Eastern equine encephalitis to get a jumpstart on activity,” said Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist for the NPMA, in a release. “With more warm and wet weather predicted for summer across most of the US, we’ll likely see these populations, and others, rapidly expand.”

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Zika Virus Tied to Profound Developmental Delays

From U.S. News
May 11, 2020

Toddlers with congenital Zika syndrome have severe developmental delays, researchers report.

In a study that covered a five-year period, researchers found that children in Brazil with congenital Zika syndrome who had microcephaly at birth suffered severe mental delays.

Microcephaly is a condition in which the head is smaller than normal. Its severity was the only significant factor linked to developmental delays, according to the study authors.

The study included more than 120 children. At age 2.5 years, nearly all of these children were functioning like 2-month to 4-month-old babies.

“The research findings reinforce public health concerns during the Zika outbreaks in 2015 and 2016 regarding the severity of disability that children with [congenital Zika syndrome] and their caregivers will be experiencing in the years to come,” said public health analyst Anne Wheeler of RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

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Mosquitos Don’t Carry COVID-19, But They’re Still A Threat In California

From Cap Radio
May 11, 2020

It’s getting to be mosquito season in California, and public health officials say people need to be vigilant about avoiding bites.

Mosquitos don’t spread COVID-19, but they do carry West Nile Virus, which has sickened more than 6,000 Californians since 2003, according to state data. There’s no vaccine for it, and it can be fatal.

And this year some counties may not be taking their usual vector control measures. The National Association of County and City Health Officials says department budgets are strained due to coronavirus, and mosquito testing might go by the wayside.

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Mosquitos Carrying Dengue, Zika, Yellow Fever Would Be More Prevalent by 2030, Study Warns

From The Science Times
May 9, 2020

A new study by the Imperial College London warns that mosquitos carrying diseases such as dengue, Zika, and yellow fever would likely colonize parts of southern Europe by 2030.

The changes in weather patterns and the rising temperatures will make many parts of the world viable homes for these insects. Scientifically known as Aedes aegypti, currently only thrives in the hottest regions of the world.

As global warming continues, the range of their habitat from Africa, the Amazon, and northern Australia could expand to other countries, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey in the next ten years. More so, the invasion in China and southern continental America will also be accelerated by around four miles every year by 2050.

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A Kenyan-British team of scientists has discovered a microbe to stop malaria transmission

From Quartz Africa
May 7, 2020

Scientists in Kenya have discovered a novel method with significant potential to completely stop mosquitos from transmitting the parasites which cause malaria in humans.

The team of scientists, mostly from Kenya and the UK, plus one from South Africa, have been studying mosquitoes on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya. They discovered that Microsporidia MB, a microorganism that lives in a mosquito’s gut and reproductive tract, completely protects the mosquito from being infected with plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria.

Microsporidia are fungi, or at least closely related to them. Like plasmodium, which are protozoans, they are also known to live inside mosquitoes as parasites. Mosquitoes inject their saliva into the skin to facilitate blood-feeding. Their saliva sometimes contains plasmodium, which is usually injected together with their saliva resulting in malaria transmission. According to the study, the Microsporidia MB reduces the establishment of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite in the guts of the mosquitoes, and impairs the colonization of the salivary glands by the parasite.

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Genetically Engineered Male Mosquitos to be Released in Florida and Other Parts of US to Curb Zika and Dengue Spread

From The Science Times
May 6, 2020

Mosquitos are best known as pests causing itch-inducing bites and spread harmful diseases such as dengue fever and Zika virus. But, they still are with purpose as many of them help pollinate plants and serve a vital role as a food source to fish, birds, and other animals in the food chain above them.

However, mosquitos, for the most part, are a huge problem for humans. So much that researches are conducted to ensure they can no longer harm any person. The Environmental Protection Agency has recently approved a new and controversial field test aimed at reducing their population.

The plan is to release genetically modified male mosquitos that over time will lead to lesser regular mosquitos in the population.

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Brazilian Study Assesses Developmental Delays in Children with Congenital Zika Syndrome

From Contagion Live
May 5, 2020

As children born in 2015 and 2016 with congenital Zika syndrome age, investigators are gradually able to assess neurodevelopmental outcomes.

The team behind a recent study published in JAMA Network Open observed substantial developmental delays at ages 2-3 years across all areas evaluated. The investigators also found that severity of microcephaly at birth was significantly associated with the severity of these developmental delays.

The study was a case series of behavioral and medical needs of 121 young children with serologic confirmation of congenital Zika syndrome . Children were assessed at a rehabilitation center in the Brazilian city of Recife, starting in January of 2018 and intended to continue for a 5-year total longitudinal term.

The comprehensive assessment was based on the Brazilian edition of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, administered by trained specialists. Interviews with caregivers and reviews of medical records provided basic demographic information and comorbid medical conditions.

The median age of participants was 31.2 months. The gender distribution was 58 boys and 61 girls. Out of 121 children, 99 children had microcephaly at birth with 74 cases classified as severe. A majority of participants, between n106 to 118, scored at the floor of 1 or more scales. There was, however, variability on raw and age-equivalent scores. A standard score of 55 for the cognitive domain was assigned to children with raw scores between 1-42, for example.

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