Mosquito & Vector News

County aims to take bite out of mosquito breeding on Thursday

From Palo Alto Online
March 25, 2020

Palo Alto Baylands trails will be closed for several hours on Thursday for aerial treatment of mosquitoes, the Santa Clara County Vector Control District said in a press release issued Tuesday.

A helicopter crew will fly over the Baylands with a spray that targets the winter salt marsh mosquito (Aedes squamiger) with naturally occurring microbes and a mosquito-specific hormone. The treatment has been safely and effectively used by the county annually since 1992, the district said.

The aerial spraying is scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. and will last a few hours.

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San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District Pauses Operations to Help Slow COVID-19 Spread

From Pasadena Now
March 23, 2020

The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District (SGVMVCD) will suspend programs and services this week to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

This temporary closure will have minimal impact on the agency’s core mission to suppress mosquito populations due to the forecasted days of rain and colder temperatures. Employees will continue to work remotely while the District facility is closed to the public.

“We care deeply about the health and safety of the public and our staff,” said District Manager Jared Dever. “And for this reason, our agency will close this week out of an abundance of caution.”

SGVMVCD’s automated online tip line will remain open for residents to report mosquito issues in the community. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.sgvmosquito.org.

“We appreciate the patience and support from the public during this uncertain time,” said Levy Sun, SGVMVCD public information officer. “In between the rain events, we encourage all residents who are Safer at Home to stop mosquitoes in their yards and patios.”

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Yellow Fever Creek is a fine name, with a lesson that resonates still

From News-Press
March 20, 2020

“The situation is now terrible … over 150 new cases yesterday and 20 deaths … All business and work is suspended … The city government is virtually defunct, the heads having fled… God knows where the end is.”

More than 100 years ago, that’s what Jacksonville’s mayor wrote to a friend about yellow fever, a viral disease that was gripping Florida in 1888. Sound familiar?

The viral disease’s reach extended south as well, as far as North Fort Myers, where a Caloosahatchee tributary still bears the epidemic’s name. Emptying into the river just opposite Thomas Edison’s winter home,  Yellow Fever Creek has been on my “to write about” list forever.

Not because of its scrappy band of advocates, who’ve been working hard to get it better preserved and protected, but because of that name. See, some would have us forget its original label and call it Hancock Creek instead. And I can certainly understand the distaste for its original label, thanks to one of the region’s early public health calamities, which calls to mind some of what we’re experiencing today.

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New study finds immune cells can defend against multiple viruses

From Medical Xpress
March 20, 2020

An underlying virus does not stop the body’s immune system from launching a strong defense against a second, newly introduced virus, according to a Yale-led study that appears in the March 9 online edition of the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

For the study, Yale researchers obtained  from patients from India with , working in partnership with investigators from The National Institute of Mental Health and NeuroSciences in India and their colleagues at Apollo Hospital in Bangalore. They then infected these samples with the Zika  and measured the cells’ immune  using advanced cell-profiling technology. The researchers found that the underlying  infection did not stop the cells from launching a robust immune response against the newly introduced Zika virus.

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Vector Control: Mosquitoes are here early

From Gold Country Media
March 14, 2020

Mosquito season began a little early this year. With the unseasonably warm temperatures this month, officials from the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District have been hard at work.

“People are getting eaten alive,” said Meagan Luevano, public information officer for the district. “It’s been so warm, and the rice field mosquito has been pretty much everywhere and they are really aggressive biters.”

Luevano delivered a report to the Auburn City Council on Monday, reporting on what residents should look out for this year.

“Because we were so warm in February, this year our season sort of got started a little early,” Luevano said.

The vector control district’s main job is mostly to monitor the mosquito and tick community and educate the public when they are at risk of a disease carried by one of the pests. They also educate the community on how to defend themselves against mosquitoes and ticks.

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Contaminated Water May Have Made Zika Infections Much Worse

From IFL Science
March 12, 2020

In 2015-16, the world got a small taste of the coronavirus pandemic with the Zika virus outbreak. Although the method of transmission of Zika is very different, and it’s seldom fatal, there was a similar scrambling to understand the disease and work out how to contain it. A particular puzzle was why the effects were so much more severe in Northeast Brazil than elsewhere. New evidence points the finger at water contamination.

Zika virus was first detected in Africa in the 1940s. Although related to other mosquito-borne viruses that cause lethal conditions such as dengue fever, it was little studied because effects were usually mild. That was until its arrival in the Americas, where infections triggered a wave of birth defects.

The outbreak was widespread, but its most severe effects were much more concentrated. The World Health Organization lists “increased risk of preterm birth, fetal death and stillbirth” as consequences of infection during pregnancy, but the most severe effect was children born with significantly smaller brains (microcephaly). Children that were born with Zika-induced microcephaly are too young for us to fully know the long-term consequences, but severe brain damage is likely.

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Zika combats advanced-stage central nervous system tumors in dogs

From Phys.org
March 12, 2020

Brazilian researchers have just reported proving the potential of zika virus to combat advanced-stage central nervous system tumors in dogs. The study was published on Tuesday, March 10, in the journal Molecular Therapy.

Three elderly  with spontaneous brain tumors were treated with injections of zika virus by scientists affiliated with the Human Genome and Stem Cell Research Center (HUG-CELL) supported by São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP and hosted by the University of São Paulo (USP).

“We observed a surprising reversal of the clinical symptoms of the disease, as well as  reduction and longer survival with quality, which matters most. Moreover, the treatment was well tolerated and there were no adverse side-effects. We’re genuinely excited by the results,” Mayana Zatz, a professor at USP’s Institute of Biosciences (IB) and HUG-CELL’s principal investigator told.

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California Bats Thrive in Forests Recovering From Wildfires

From Smithsonian Magazine
March 10, 2020

ire suppression has been used as a forest management tool for decades, but a growing body of research shows that California’s forest ecosystems have evolved to live with, and even rely on, some amount of seasonal wildfire. A recent study published in Scientific Reports adds to that knowledge, finding that bat populations are doing better in areas recently affected by fire, compared to areas that grown thick from years of fire suppression.

The research, led by ecologist Zack Steel of University of California, Berkeley, focused on bats in the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range in central and eastern California. Of the 17 bat species the team studied, some are known to prefer wide open areas while others can maneuver in a cluttered canopy. Eight species were found in unburned areas, and 11 fluttered above the fire-affected ones. Only one species’ population fell after fires.

“We expected to see one group of species benefiting from fire—the more open-habitat-adapted species—and another group, the more clutter-adapted species, being negatively affected by fire, preferring the unburned areas,” Steel tells Scientific Americans Jason Goldman. “But even some of those species were occurring more often in burned areas.”

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From the Spanish flu to zika: How coronavirus compares

From My San Antonio
March 8, 2020

The current coronavirus outbreak has been the news story of the year (and it’s been a busy year — remember that impeachment thing?).

From when a cluster of pneumonia cases was found in and around Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019, to recent deaths in Washington state and the growing spread of confirmed cases across the US, the outbreak has gripped the world. We’re in the midst of one of the biggest global health emergencies of our time, and only time will tell how it goes down in history.

The effects of COVID-19 on patients can vary from no symptoms at all, a shortness of breath and fatigue to a progression into pneumonia and multi-organ failure in the most vulnerable people. But how does the coronavirus epidemic (which is yet to be officially defined as a “pandemic”) compare to outbreaks of the past?

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Lessons learned from addressing myths about Zika and yellow fever outbreaks in Brazil

From Science Daily
February 27, 2020

When disease epidemics and outbreaks occur, conspiracy theories often emerge that compete with the information provided by public health officials. A Dartmouth-led study in Science Advances finds that information used to counter myths about Zika in Brazil not only failed to reduce misperceptions but also reduced the accuracy of people’s other beliefs about the disease.

The results provide important context as countries launch public information campaigns about the new coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to protect oneself and prevent the spread of the disease.

“It is essential to evaluate public health messaging and information campaigns,” said co-author Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth. “Our results indicate that efforts to correct misperceptions about emerging diseases like Zika may not be as effective as we might hope.”

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Mosquitoes out in force, but not ones that carry disease

From the Chico Enterprise-Record
February 24, 2020

CHICO — Each year, usually around February, the Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District gets a flood of calls from concerned residents about the sudden jump in the mosquito population.

While there are certainly more of them in the air lately, the ones that appear in February are known as the Anopheles Freeborni mosquito. They are pests, but the good news is that they do not carry West Nile Virus, said Maritza Sandoval, the district’s office manager.

According to the district, this is normal.

Sandoval said the anopheles mosquito generally goes looking for a blood meal any day that reaches 65 degrees or higher.

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CBS 4 Special Report: Zika Trials

From CBS4
February 19, 2020

A mosquito-borne illness that instilled fear across the country in 2015, slowly made its way to the Rio Grande Valley.

The Zika virus put everyone on high alert, especially expecting mothers wanting to have a healthy baby.

To this day, there is still no cure but there soon could be a way to prevent it, as Doctors Hospital at Renaissance concluded clinical trials on a potential Zika vaccine.

“It was named after the Zika forest in Africa and that is when it was first discovered back in the ’50s. It’s been around for a long time,” said Eddie Olivarez, Health and Human Services Chief Director for Hidalgo County.

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Warm temperatures wake up mosquitoes in Sacramento region

From Fox 40
February 12, 2020

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — While the warm weather is accelerating the hatching of eggs and development of larvae in standing water, the mosquitos out and about over this winter warm spell are already mature.

They’ve just been hibernating. With the number of man-made and natural waterways in the area, there’s no shortage of opportunity for mosquitos to breed.

The current warm spell tricks them into believing its spring. They’re waking up hungry and looking to feed.

“They’re definitely out, they’re hungry, they’re aggressive and they’re looking to bite,” said Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control spokeswoman Luz Maria Robles.

It’s something mother Rochelle Ginter discovered firsthand.

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They’re back! Mosquitoes aggressive, hungry, seeking first blood in Sacramento area

From KCRA3
February 11, 2020

Higher daytime temperatures are leading to an increase in mosquitoes seeking to draw the season’s first blood meals in the Sacramento region.

“What we have right now are adult mosquitoes that have been hunkering down during winter months in area rice fields,” said Luz Robles, a Sac-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control spokeswoman.

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The specific type of mosquitoes increasing in activity are adults in the Anopheles freeborni genus. These mosquitoes do not carry the West Nile virus and are not a coronavirus threat, said Robles.

This species can travel as many as 10 miles away from winter hideouts.

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Killing them softly: Santa Clara County to ensure immature mosquitoes never grow up

From Palo Alto Online
February 10, 2020

Santa Clara County will unleash an eco-friendly larvicide on mosquitoes in the Palo Alto Baylands on Wednesday.

Part of an annual tradition since 1992, the county’s Vector Control District — tasked with monitoring and managing the spread of diseases such as the plague, rabies and other maladies that can come from rodents or insects like mosquitoes — will be covering Palo Alto Baylands trails with a soil bacterium esoterically known as the Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis or Bti.

What’s more important to know than the egregiously long and hard-to-pronounce name of the bacteria is that the marsh trails of the Baylands are closed to the public during the treatment, which starts around 7:30 a.m. and is expected to last several hours, according to a county press release.

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Army Inches Closer To Develop Zika And Dengue Virus Vaccine

From Forbes
February 8, 2020

Mosquito-carried diseases such as the Zika virus and Dengue continue to thrive in warm temperate parts of the world, but new US Department of Defense research suggests we are on the cusp of a vaccine that could potentially work to fight both infections. 

A new study published online in Nature Medicine reveals results from an ongoing project led by scientists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. In the Phase 1 trial, scientists found that an antibody, named MZ4, was able to have a positive effect on both the Zika virus and the dengue virus. Although the early stages, these results suggest this antibody may one day play a role in a universal vaccine that would be able to work against the Zika virus and dengue. 

“Rapid-onset countermeasures are needed to protect military personnel, travelers and residents in areas where emerging infections such as Zika and dengue viruses are already widespread and expanding,” said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, who leads the U.S. Army Zika vaccine program, directs the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch at WRAIR and is one of the lead authors on the paper, in a press release.”These results demonstrate the potential for MZ4 to be part of the prevention toolbox for these diseases.”

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Tick season chomping at the bit

From the Sonoma Index-Tribune
February 6, 2020

In California ticks are ready to bite year-round, but there are peak periods for some ticks in certain stages of their life cycle. Winter happens to be when the adult ticks that can cause Lyme disease are most active.

In 2019 in Sonoma and Marin counties, about 1.1 percent of adult ticks and 5 percent of nymphs tested were infected with Borrrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, said Nizza Sequeira, spokesperson for Marin-Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District.

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Public Health Grad Student’s CDC-funded Research Helps Mosquito Control

From UC Merced
February 5, 2020

Public health Ph.D. student Ryan Torres presented research at last month’s Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California Conference in San Diego that could be foundational for future mosquito-control efforts.

Torres’ presentation, “Wolbachia Infections in Mosquitoes of Merced County,” is based on a collaborative project with the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District. The research is funded by a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) training grant with his faculty advisor, Professor Andrea Joyce.

The invasive mosquito Aedes aegypti — known as the Zika mosquito — has expanded its reach in California and was found in Merced County in 2017. A new pest control technique, Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes or “sterile male releases,” has been used in Fresno and globally to reduce mosquito populations and to prevent vector-borne diseases — diseases that result from infections transmitted to humans and other animals by blood-feeding anthropods.

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Zika vaccine induces potent Zika and dengue cross-neutralizing antibodies

From MedicalXpress
February 3, 2020

A new study led by scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research has shown for the first time that a single dose of an experimental Zika vaccine in a dengue-experienced individual can boost pre-existing flavivirus immunity and elicit protective cross-neutralizing antibody responses against both Zika and dengue viruses. Findings were published today in Nature Medicine.

Researchers analyzed the  of a -experienced volunteer who participated in a Phase 1 clinical trial of the WRAIR-developed Zika purified inactivated . They identified a potent cross-reactive antibody called MZ4 that demonstrated a potent ability to neutralize the Zika virus as well as the dengue virus serotype-2 strain. In addition, MZ4 protected against Zika and dengue in a mouse model of infection.

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State health officials reports 27 human cases of West Nile Virus in Kern County

From 23ABC
December 6, 2019
 
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — State health officials have reported that the West Nile Virus human cases in Kern County have jumped from 23 to 27..

According to The California Department of Public Health’s website that tracks and updates human cases in each county, Kern County is number three after Los Angeles and Fresno counties.

The Center for Disease Control said the virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the country. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

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How more rain could spur on rat infestation

From KESQ
December 3, 2019

More rain is on the way, and could potentially bring unwanted visitors.

“They climb up on the trees onto the roof, they go down the pipe vents if there are any openings on the roof,” Mr. Beez Pest Control Owner Barrett Toohey said.

Toohey has worked in the business for over a decade. He says rats will go through any opening they can find. The rodent problem tends to spike between the months of October and March, especially when it rains.

“Basically floods them out of their habitats, they’re looking for shelter. The colder it gets the more rain, they come inside homes. They’re looking for a warm place to nest,” Toohey said.

Rats are also known to chew through walls and pipes.

“They always have their incisors growing so they’re always looking to chew things,” Tammy Gordon, with the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District said.

Despite the pesky problem, there is a silver lining.

“Southern California does have some health risks with rodents. Our region does not,” Gordon said.

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Pregnant Women Should Avoid Miami’s Dengue Outbreak

From Precision Vaccinations
December 2, 2019

December 2nd, 2019 – The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has reported information that may impact where pregnant women vacation this winter.

The Florida DOH published its Week #43 report of November 23, 2019, which confirms 14 locally-acquired dengue fever cases during 2019.

These 14 dengue cases were reported in the south Florida counties of Broward (1), Hillsborough (1), and Miami-Dade (12).

This is important news since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its website during October 2019, saying ‘If possible, avoid travel to areas with risk of dengue during pregnancy.’

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Could insulin prevent the spread of dengue, Zika and West Nile Virus?

From BioTechniques
November 29, 2019

Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of acquiring vector-borne diseases, according to the WHO (Geneva, Switzerland). Flaviviruses, including ZikaWest Nile virus and dengue virus, can lead to severe illness and death.

A team of researchers from Washington State University(WSU; USA) has demonstrated that insulin could be key in targeting the spread of these mosquito-borne infections, due to its virus-suppressing downstream effects.

“It’s really important that we have some sort of protection against these diseases because currently, we don’t have any treatments. If we’re able to stop the infection at the level of the mosquito, then humans wouldn’t get the virus ” explained lead author Laura Ahlers (now at the NIH; MA, USA).

In Drosophila, chosen due to their similarity in immune response with mosquitoes, the team identified an insulin-like receptor responsible for preventing viral replication of the West Nile virus within the flies when challenged.

Previous studies have demonstrated that within mosquitoes, insulin increases the immune response. However, the researchers have now deduced that this is due to the activation of the JAK/STAT signaling cascade via ERK, which leads to insulin-dependent suppression of viral replication.

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Zika-Exposed Children Challenged with Motor Developmental Delays

From Zika News
November 29, 2019

A recent study found about 32 percent of children born to mothers with probable or confirmed Zika virus infection had below average or poor scores when tested at age 18 months.

This study is important since December 2017, there were about 4,100 pregnant women confirmed with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico.

A Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been associated with adverse birth outcomes known as the Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS), characterized by microcephaly and central nervous system abnormalities. 

However, microcephaly is considered the “tip of the iceberg” of this congenital infection. 

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Should we worry about an eastern equine encephalitis outbreak?

From Medical News Today
November 25, 2019

The EEE virus is carried by mosquitoes — through mosquito bites, it can be transmitted to equines, such as horses or zebras, and to humans.

This virus has been present in the U.S. for centuries, though it has rarely infected people.

However, if it does infect a person and the infection evolves into a severe form of the disease, EEE can be deadly.

Only a handful of these infections in humans had been reported throughout the U.S. each year for the past few years.

According to dataTrusted Source from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year there were six reported cases of EEE and five in 2017.

Until this year, the highest annual number of EEE cases in the country over the last decade had been 15, in 2012.

But as of November, this year has seen an upsurge in EEE cases in humans, including fatalities due to the illness. The CDC reportTrusted Source that there have been “36 confirmed cases of [EEE] virus disease […] this year, including 14 deaths.”

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A Third of Zika-Exposed Toddlers Face Developmental Delays

From Medpage Today
November 24, 2019

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — About a third of toddlers born to mothers with probable or confirmed Zika virus infection in Puerto Rico were associated with developmental delays, a researcher said here.

A small study of 49 children with Zika exposure found that 16 of these children had below average or poor scores at age 18 months, as measured by the Peabody Developmental Scales Gross Motor Quotient Standard Score Classification, reported Luisa Alvarado-Domenech, MD, of Ponce Health Sciences University in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

“As we have learned … in the literature, the most severe presentation [of Zika in children] is congenital Zika syndrome, but we know the spectrum of disease is much broader,” she said at a presentation at the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene annual meeting. “We have identified infants with microcephaly without brain imaging abnormalities … and infants without apparent birth defects that have … developmental delays.”

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Unintended consequences of wildlife conservation, could more frogs mean more mosquitoes?

From Beat the Bites: Mosquito Research and Management
November 23, 2019

We need to do all we can to protect our urban wildlife but what if the ways we do that increases mosquito risk? PhD candidate Jayne Hanford will be presenting the results of her research at the Ecological Society of Australia conference in Tasmania.

Mosquitoes can share their aquatic habitats with many other animals.

The 2019 Ecological Society of Australia conference will be held in Tasmania, 24-29 November. The conference theme, “Ecology: science for practical solutions”, is closely aligned with much of the work my collaborators and myself undertake each summer. We’re trying to ensure that recommendations on managing the pest and public health risks associated with mosquitoes is informed by the best available science.

Practical solutions to the challenges of balancing mosquito management while also ensuring positive outcomes from the environment too.

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Santa Ana, Anaheim areas to be sprayed for mosquitoes beginning Friday

From The Orange County Register
November 22, 2019

Small areas of Santa Ana and Anaheim identified as having a higher level of invasive Aedes mosquitoes will be sprayed for four nights, beginning Friday, Nov. 22.

Using a truck-mounted spraying system, Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District workers plan to spray the pesticide between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. from Friday night through Tuesday morning.

In Santa Ana, the area affected is bordered roughly between West Secrest Way and West Adams Street, and the Santa Ana Gardens Channel and one block off South Poplar Street.

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Infecting Mosquitoes With Bacteria Could Have A Big Payoff

From NPR
November 21, 2019

Cameron Simmons is far more familiar with dengue than he would like to be.

“I’ve had dengue. My family’s had dengue. It’s a miserable, miserable experience,” he says. “It’s not one I’d ever want to repeat or have anyone else experience.”

Unfortunately, last year nearly 400 million people experienced the viral disease that is so painful it’s often called break-bone fever. There’s no specific drug to treat the infection; medication is given only for the fever and other symptoms. Severe cases, although rare, can be fatal. And the only licensed vaccine has run into concerns about its safety.

In tropical places where dengue is rampant, annual outbreaks are a huge burden on health clinics.

Simmons is the director of the impact assessment team for the World Mosquito Program. He and his colleagues are trying to make a dent in this persistent disease.

“Throughout Southeast Asia, dengue is a guarantee every rainy season,” he says. “And so communities know — and indeed our public health colleagues in those communities know — that what they’re doing at the moment doesn’t work.”

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Dengue cases in the Americas have reached an all-time high

From Science News
November 20, 2019

The Americas set a gloomy record in 2019: the most dengue cases ever reported. More than 2.7 million cases of the mosquito-borne disease have struck the region, largely in Brazil, the Pan American Health Organization reported on November 13.

Dengue is one of the top 10 threats to global health, according to the World Health Organization, with cases of the viral disease climbing rapidly around the world in recent decades. An estimated 390 million dengue infections occur each year, which can be mild or cause flulike symptoms and headaches. Less commonly, dengue can lead to a severe, life-threatening illness. South Asian countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have also been slammed with large dengue outbreaks this year (SN: 10/7/19).

The last record-breaking year for the Americas was 2015, when there were more than 2.4 million cases. After that, cases dropped slightly in 2016 and then precipitously in 2017 and 2018, coming in below 600,000 each of those years. “Dengue is endemic in the Americas, with cycles of the epidemics that are repeated every three to five years,” says Jose Luis San Martin, an advisor on dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases for PAHO in Washington D.C. “During those two years there was an accumulation of a large number of people susceptible to the disease.”

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Ethiopia chikungunya update: Nearly 2,000 additional cases reported

From Outbreak News Today
November 18, 2019

In a follow-up on the chikungunya outbreak in Ethiopia, nearly 2,000 additional suspected cases have been reported in recent weeks, bringing the outbreak total from Dire Dawa City Administrative City and Araf regions to 53,238 cases since the end of July.

Symptoms of chikungunya disease usually begin 3–7 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Most people infected with chikungunya virus develop some symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms can include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

The symptoms of chikungunya disease are similar to those of dengue and Zika. Dengue and Zika are two other diseases spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya.

People at risk for more severe disease include newborns infected around the time of birth, older adults (65 years or older), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

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Sterilizing mosquitoes may be the answer to curb Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, WHO reports

From News Medical Life Sciences
November 18, 2019

A new technique that sterilizes male mosquito through radiation shows promise in fighting mosquito-borne illnesses, including Zika, dengue and chikungunya. Soon, health experts plan to test the technique as part of global health efforts to control these diseases.

Dubbed as the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), the innovative technology has bee developed decades ago to target crop-eating insects in the United States. Now, UN researchers have studied the technique over the past ten years to adapt it to mosquitoes.

Working with the World Health Organization (WHO) tropical diseases program, the UN’s special programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) plans to develop a pilot program for countries that are interested in utilizing SIT on mosquitoes to test its effect on disease transmission.

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Master Gardener: Mosquito Trouble

From The Hanford Sentinel
November 16, 2019

There’s a new(ish) pesky critter in town, and while it doesn’t directly affect our garden plants, it does affect our gardens, and more importantly, our gardeners!

Have you been bothered by multiple large, itchy welts, especially around your lower legs? Did you think the culprit was a gnat? Have you curtailed your backyard activities in order to avoid these bites? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s time to find out if you are unknowingly harboring the Aedes aegypti mosquito and allowing it to breed in your yard.

The Aedes aegypti is a different mosquito species from the native California mosquitoes that most of us in the Valley are used to. It is much smaller, measuring only 1/8 – 1/4″. Although this mosquito will bite at night and target any available area of your body, it does prefer to bite the lower legs during the daytime hours. It is so small, most people don’t feel it bite. What I find the most annoying about these bites is their excessive itch that no amount of anti-itch cream seems to alleviate.

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Mutated Genes Known in Flies for Years Were Never Associated With Zika or Microcephaly

From Zika News
November 16, 2019

November 15th, 2019 – Patients with rare genetic mutations are helping scientists understand exactly how the Zika virus harms the developing brains of a fetus.

Researchers have uncovered one way that the Zika virus leads to microcephaly, a congenital condition resulting in smaller-than-normal head size and related mental developmental delays.

Congenital Zika syndrome is a unique pattern of birth defects and disabilities found among fetuses infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy.

A 2017 study in Brazil found that at 19-24 months of age, babies with congenital Zika virus infection exhibited challenges with sitting independently, feeding, and sleeping. 

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Mild Zika infection in fetuses may cause brain abnormalities in young despite no symptoms

From EurekAlert!
November 15, 2019

Using a relevant animal model (pigs), University of Saskatchewan researchers have shown that mild Zika virus infection in fetuses can cause abnormal brain development in apparently healthy young animals.

The study, published Nov. 14 in PLOS Pathogens, provides new insights into the potential outcomes of Zika virus infection and could point to new prevention and treatment strategies to alleviate the long-term effects of Zika virus infection.

Spread by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, Zika infection of pregnant mothers can lead to death and decreased brain size (microcephaly) in fetuses, leading to life-long developmental and cognitive impairment.

However, there is growing concern that sub-clinical infections (showing no symptoms) in pregnant mothers can result in brain disorders and delayed neurodevelopmental abnormalities in offspring after birth.

Using the pig as a model, new research at USask’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) has provided direct evidence to support this concern.

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Officials confirm three new human cases of West Nile Virus in Kern County

From 23 ABC
November 15, 2019

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — There are three new human cases of West Nile Virus in Kern County, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The website that records West Nile Virus cases said that the county’s total of human cases is at 23, making it the third county with the highest number of Human cases in the state. Fresno is leading with 49 human cases.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the country. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

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WHO scales up response to worldwide surge in dengue

From the World Health Organization
November 14, 2019

Over the past several months, Pakistan hospitals have faced an influx of thousands of patients admitted with headache, muscle pain and high fever, all classic symptoms of dengue, a mosquito-borne virus that has struck large numbers of people across the country. Pakistan health officials say they are battling one of the worst dengue outbreaks the country has experienced. One city hospital in Rawalpindi admitted more than 2000 dengue patients in a single weekend in October, straining emergency services, converting ordinary wards into dengue wards, and forcing staff to work overtime. 

As of early November, more than 45 000 people in Pakistan have been infected with the dengue virus in 2019. 

Pakistan is not the only country confronting a surge in dengue cases this year. Bangladesh also has been in the grip of its worst dengue outbreak since the country first recorded an epidemic in 2000, with more than 92 000 cases reported. Health officials in the region blame the prolonged monsoon rains, which promote ideal breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus and thrive in warm, humid conditions, laying their eggs in used tires, flowerpots, tree holes and any water-filled container. 

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Mosquito sterilization offers new opportunity to control chikungunya, dengue, and Zika

From the World Health Organization
November 14, 2019

A technique that sterilizes male mosquitoes using radiation will soon be tested as part of global health efforts to control diseases such as chikungunya, dengue, and Zika.

The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a form of insect birth control.  The process involves rearing large quantities of sterilized male mosquitoes in dedicated facilities, and then releasing them to mate with females in the wild. As they do not produce any offspring, the insect population declines over time.

The Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and WHO have developed a guidance document for countries that have expressed interest in testing the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) for Aedes mosquitoes.

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NASA Helps Fight the Mosquito Bite Coast-to-Coast

From NASA.gov
November 13, 2019

Utah and New Jersey state public health officials are now using a NASA-enhanced website that began in California to strengthen mosquito control efforts. The invasive mosquito surveillance system, called CalSurv (short for California Vectorborne Disease Surveillance System), helps mosquito control agencies and public health officials monitor and respond to potential outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases by mapping the insects that can carry these deadly viruses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cases of mosquito-borne disease in the United States is growing – the rate of these infections was 10 times higher in 2016 than in 2004.  Expanding surveillance of mosquitoes in the United States is becoming more pressing. “Mosquito season” in the United States reaches its peak during the heat of summer. Rising global temperatures are associated with warmer spring and fall temperatures, which allow mosquitoes to breed and multiply beyond the summer months.

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Molecular Scissors Could Help Keep Some Viral Illnesses At Bay

From WBUR
November 13, 2019

It’s not easy to treat viral infections. Just ask anyone with a bad cold or a case of the flu.

But scientists in Massachusetts think they may have a new way to stop viruses from making people sick by using what amounts to a pair of molecular scissors, known as CRISPR.

It’s a gene editing tool based on a molecule that occurs naturally in microorganisms.

CRISPR comes in many “flavors” that perform a variety of functions inside cells. The Cas9 flavor has been widely used as a tool for editing DNA inside cells. It’s already shown promise for medical therapies such as treating sickle cell disease.

What’s different is that the antiviral approach researchers at the Broad Institute in Cambridge are using involves a form of CRISPR called Cas13 that targets specific regions of RNA, not DNA.

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Insulin can increase mosquitoes’ immunity to West Nile virus

From Science Daily
November 13, 2019

In a study published today in the journal Cell Reports, researchers demonstrated that mammalian insulin activated an antiviral immunity pathway in mosquitoes, increasing the insects’ ability to suppress the viruses.

Mosquito bites are the most common way humans are infected with flaviviruses, a virus family that includes West Nile, dengue and Zika. In humans, both West Nile and dengue can result in severe illness, even death. Zika has been linked to birth defects when pregnant women are infected.

“It’s really important that we have some sort of protection against these diseases because currently, we don’t have any treatments. If we’re able to stop the infection at the level of the mosquito, then humans wouldn’t get the virus,” said Laura Ahlers, the study’s lead author and a recent Ph.D. graduate from WSU. Ahlers is now a post-doctoral fellow with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Dead hawk tests positive for West Nile virus in Ramona

From FOX 5 San Diego
November 13, 2019

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County environmental health officials announced Wednesday that a dead Cooper’s hawk recently found in Ramona tested positive for West Nile virus.

The hawk is the second bird found this year that tested positive for West Nile virus, according to officials with the county’s Vector Control Program. A dead Cooper’s hawk found in Lakeside in March was also carrying the virus.

Two county residents have tested positive for the virus this year, but both were found to have contracted it in different counties. Nevertheless, Vector Control officials warned residents to protect themselves against mosquitoes, which carry the virus, due to warm, summer-like temperatures maintaining this deep into the year.

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How the Zika virus can spread

From Science Daily
November 11, 2019

In most cases, mosquitoes of the genus Aedes transmit the Zika virus to humans. Primary vectors are the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Both mosquito species are widespread in South America. Whereas the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is nearly absent in Europe, the Asian tiger mosquito is widespread in the Mediterranean region.

“With our new modelling approaches we can illustrate the risk areas for Zika infections in Latin America,” says Sven Klimpel Professor for Parasitology and Infection Biology at Goethe University in Frankfurt and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre. “The models additionally allow us to illustrate Zika risk areas for Europe. For example, our models indicate the two autochthonous cases in southern France in Département Var (see illustration).” At the end of October, French authorities announced the first Zika case in Europe; about a week later, a second case was made public.

According to the researcher’s calculations, the Zika infection risk in South America is highest along the Brazilian East Coast and in Central America. The risk is moderate in the Amazon region and lowest in the southern areas of the continent. The following countries are especially affected according to the model: Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. In Europe, a risk of infection exists mainly in the Mediterranean region, but also in the inland regions of France and in the Rhine areas of Baden-Württemberg.

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Climate change may allow mosquitoes, rodents to proliferate

From The MetroWest Daily News
November 11, 2019

BOSTON — With the leaves falling, the first frost behind us, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting a mild, but wet winter for the Northeast, citizens across Massachusetts are likely looking forward to pumpkin spice lattes, cozy sweaters, and a break from mosquito bites and ticks.

But, the question of how pest populations will respond to climate change in Massachusetts, and around the world, lingers.

Pests have been a longstanding issue for the commonwealth. This summer and fall, mosquitoes were particularly troublesome, with 12 human cases of the mosquito-transmitted eastern equine encephalitis virus.

While it is impossible to determine exactly why Massachusetts experienced such a large EEE outbreak this year, climate-related factors, including substantial rainfall and warmer temperatures last fall and winter, may have played a role, according to Todd Duval, an entomologist with the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project.

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Dengue and zika virus

From Yahoo News
November 7, 2019

Videographic on dengue fever and Zika. A record-breaking 44,000 people have been infected with mosquito-borne dengue in Pakistan this year, a senior health official said Wednesday, as increased outbreaks linked to rising temperatures and erratic rainfall ravage other parts of Asia.

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Take mosquito-borne diseases seriously, health inspector urges

From the Jamaica Observer
November 7, 2019

THE Clarendon Health Services is urging residents to take mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases seriously, as the team boosts its vector management programme.

Chief public health inspector from the Clarendon Health Services, Linnees Green-Baker, said despite the efforts made by the team in the parish, there is need for residents to be more serious in safeguarding their health.

“It is now more important than ever for residents to safeguard their health and take more seriously mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases. We have been educating residents, inspecting homes and collaborating with government agencies to boost our vector management programme. We have also been fogging communities, but it is critical that residents take the Ministry of Health’s efforts more seriously and work with us in protecting their health and that of their family and friends,” the chief public health inspector said.

Green-Baker added that the vector control team has also intensified inspection of premises and sensitising householders on proper water-storage practices and eliminating mosquito-breeding sites. She added that the team also treats breeding sites and serves notices on individuals who are not complying with the vector control team.

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Critical protein that could unlock West Nile/Zika virus treatments identified

From EurekAlert!
November 5, 2019

ATLANTA–A protein that is critical in controlling replication of West Nile and Zika viruses — and could be important for developing therapies to prevent and treat those viruses — has been identified by a Georgia State University biologist and his research group.

The researchers found Z-DNA binding protein 1 (ZBP1) is a sensor that plays a significant role in triggering a robust immune response when it detects a viral infection within cells. The Georgia State study, published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, found ZBP1 is essential for restricting both West Nile and Zika virus replication, and that it prevents West Nile-associated encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in mice. The absence of ZBP1 in mice leads to 100 percent mortality when infected with even a non-disease-producing strain of West Nile Virus, the study found.

“It’s significant because you take a virus that has never been shown to kill anything and if you block this protein the virus will just kill everything,” said Mukesh Kumar, assistant professor of biology and senior author of the study. “We discovered that when cells are infected with viruses such as Zika and West Nile, they respond by triggering necroptosis, a form of programmed cell death, via ZBP1 signaling. This inhibits viral replication and spread, allowing the immune system to clear the virus.”

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Are California’s Zika Cases Coming From Mexico?

From Zika News
November 3, 2019

November 3rd, 2019 – According to the State of California and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), additional Zika virus cases were confirmed during the month of October.

This is unfortunate news since there is not a medication available to treat a Zika infection.

As of November 1, 2019, California reported (30) travel-related Zika cases during 2019. The California Department of Public Health confirmed that (2) additional international travelers brought the Zika virus with them in October. 

The leading areas in California reporting Zika cases are Los Angeles (13), San Diego (5), San Franciso (3), and Santa Clara (3).

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St. Louis Encephalitis found in more mosquitoes

From Champion Newspapers
November 2, 2019

The West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District detected the presence of St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) virus in two mosquito samplings collected Oct. 21 to 25 in Chino Hills at Butterfield Ranch Road and Ridgegate Drive, and in Chino at Comet Avenue and Chino-Corona Road.

SLE-positive samples were found in the same Chino location in September.

Previously, SLE had not been detected in the area since the formation of the district in 1983, according to district manager Michelle Brown.

The mosquitoes carrying SLE are not the black and white Aedes mosquitoes that have been aggressively biting residents during the day and night, but the native “Culex” mosquitoes, Dr. Brown said.

SLE is a mosquito-transmitted virus in the “flavivirus family,” which is the same as the West Nile Virus, Dr. Brown said.

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Four new cases of West Nile hit Kern County

From KGET
November 1, 2019

There are four new cases of the West Nile virus in Kern County, according to the California Department of Public Health. 

The county now has a total of 19 cases. The last time there were new cases was nearly a month ago. California now has a total of 178 cases, according to CDPH data. 

Residents are urged to use mosquito repellent if going outdoors, especially at night, as well as wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

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