Zika ‘Replicates and Persists’ in Fetal Brain, Placenta Study strengthens tie to microcephaly Zika virus RNA was found in both fetal brain and placental tissue of Zika-related pregnancy losses and infants born with microcephaly, indicating the virus continues to replicate in a fetus months after a mother’s initial infection, and even after birth, researchers reported.

Examining infant brain tissue, relative levels of Zika RNA were over 1,000-fold higher than those found in second trimester, third trimester, or fullterm placentas. In placental tissue, relative levels of Zika RNA in first trimester placentas were 25- fold higher than in second trimester, third trimester, or full-term placentas, reported Julu Bhatnagar, PhD, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues.

There was a mean 163 days in between the time of maternal symptom onset and detection of Zika virus RNA in brain tissue, and a mean 81 days to detection in placental tissue, they wrote in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“These findings demonstrate that Zika virus replicates and persists in fetal brains and placentas, providing direct evidence of its association with microcephaly,” the authors concluded.

“We don’t know how long the virus can persist, but its persistence could have implications for babies born with microcephaly and for apparently healthy infants whose mothers had Zika during their pregnancies,” Bhatnagar said in a statement. “More studies are needed to fully understand how the virus can affect babies.

” The authors stated that Zika virus antigens were previously detected in human and neonatal brains and the placentas of pregnant women, but “the presence of antigens does not necessarily indicate virus replication,” they wrote.

They examined tissue samples from 52 patients with suspected Zika infection, including eight infants who died from microcephaly. They also looked at 44 placental tissue samples — 22 from women with adverse pregnancy outcomes and 22 from women whose pregnancy outcomes were normal.

Overall, 32 of 52 case patients had fetal brain and placental tissue that tested positive for Zika via reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. There were also 24 of 32 patients testing positive for Zika, who reported “adverse pregnancy or birth outcomes.” Of these, 23 reported onset of symptoms in the first trimester.

There were 13 infants born with microcephaly — eight who died within a few minutes to 2 months after birth, and five infants born with microcephaly who lived. While brain tissues of these eight infants tested positive for Zika, tests for kidney, liver, spleen, heart, and rib were negative for the virus.

Mothers of these eight infants all reported symptom onset during the first trimester, but 21 of 22 case patients — including eight who tested positive for Zika — who delivered apparently healthy infants reported symptom onset during the second or third trimester. This added to similar research that found the virus is most deadly to the fetus early in pregnancy.

The authors also shed additional light on the mechanism of fetal infection by performing in situ hybridization, which can help identify specific DNA or RNA sequences. In this case, they found Zika virus in tissues of 32 case patients who tested positive for Zika. They also found viral activity in the Hofbauer cells of the placenta, which are involved in preventing the transmission of pathogens from mother to fetus, as well as in neural cells and neurons.

“Our findings indicate that Hofbauer cells may play a role in the dissemination or transfer of Zika virus to the fetal brain, particularly during early pregnancy,” they wrote.

The authors cited their Zika tissue-based PCR testing as a critical method of establishing a retrospective diagnosis of Zika virus.

Michigan Mosquito Control Association P.O. Box 366 Bay City, MI 48707

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Unmasking the Many Myths About Mosquitoes

Unmasking the Many Myths about Mosquitoes

Ask any vertebrate if it’s fond of mosquitoes, and you’ll get an emphatic, “Are you crazy?!” in response. But, of all the vertebrates out there, only humans have the scoop on the facts and fiction regarding the pesky little vermin and their capacity to spread disease. Or so you would think. Unfortunately, some humans have fallen prey to some misinformation which we aim to correct.

Myth: All mosquitoes bite.
Fact 1: Only Mrs. Mosquito bites. Mr. Mosquito is cool simply buzzing around your head chasing after his honey bunch. Not even all of the girls sidle up to the dinner table that is your skin, either.
Fact 2: Out of more than 3,500 species, a few can actually lay eggs without a blood meal first. But the biters far outnumber the peaceful ones making it seem like every species is out to get you.

Myth: Mosquitoes can spread HIV.
Fact: Mama Mosquito can deliver malaria, West Nile Virus, encephalitis, Zika virus, dengue fever, chikungunya and other nasties through her saliva as she drills you with her proboscis. However, she digests the HIV virus and eliminates it through the other end of her tract, by which time it is rendered harmless.

Myth: People with Type-O blood attract more mosquitoes.
Fact: Like Dracula, mosquitoes are happy to drink anyone’s blood. What draws them is your carbon dioxide emissions and body heat, plus maybe a cocktail of your skin’s genetically-determined fragrance. Perhaps the myth gained traction because Type-O is the most common blood type of all.

Myth: Citronella candles repel mosquitoes.
Fact: Who started that myth? The guy who invented citronella candles? The truth is, other botanicals effectively repel mosquitoes, but citronella fails to live up to claims.

MYTH: Every continent on the planet has mosquitoes. You can't escape them. FACT: Yes you can. But you'll have to move to Antarctica to do it. Even the arctic tundra and Siberia swam with the pests during their short summers.

Myth: Citizens of the United States are in very little danger from mosquito-borne diseases.
Fact: Americans enjoy no special favor in that department; however, as well-fed as Americans are, it’s possible that our immune systems have a heartier resistance once infected. But that’s mere speculation. We do know, though, that the U.S. definitely has infected mosquitoes and once in a while we get an outbreak of mosquito-borne disease.

Myth: Every continent on the planet has mosquitoes. You can’t escape them.
Fact: Yes, you can. But you’ll have to move to Antarctica to do it. Even the arctic tundra and Siberia swarm with the pests during their short summers.

Myth: My family will never enjoy the outdoors in the summer because of the difficulty in eradicating the mosquitoes in my yard and the exorbitant cost of pest control.
Fact: Sit up and smile! The Mosquito Squad can bring effective and affordable mosquito control to your life right now. If you can work with your neighbors, too, and eliminate all the breeding places mosquitoes love, you can go a long way towards thinning out the hoard. Plus, avoid the yard during the hours of dawn and dusk when the critters are out in force. After that, apply a personal repellent containing DEET so you’re set to enjoy your yard again. Let us take care of the mosquitoes. Call 269-932-1444


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5 T’s – Tip, Toss, Turn, Tarps & Treat

Now that the snow is gone, its time to clean up the yard for the spring.   Keep this in mind to help reduce the mosquito population in your yard for the season.


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Spring Is Here!


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March 20, 2017 · 8:00 am

Zika Effects On Adults

Two studies released today detail Zika-related ear and eye problems while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) updated their weekly Zika numbers.

“In a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Brazilian researchers detailed three cases of acute, transient hearing loss in adults who were infected with Zika virus. All patients were admitted to an ear, nose, and throat emergency department in the summer of 2015. One patient had laboratory-confirmed Zika, and the other two were probably infected with the flavivirus.

These are the first cases of acute hearing losses described during the current epidemic that began in Brazil.

The first patient was a 23-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital for hearing loss 2 weeks after suffering a fever, itching, and joint pain. The hearing loss lasted 4 days, and audiometry testing showed mild loss in the right ear. Blood tests confirmed Zika virus antibodies.

A 54-year-old woman also presented with moderate bilateral hearing loss 3 days after experiencing itching, dizziness, myalgia, and headache. Within 1 month her hearing issues were resolved, and lab tests showed she had both Zika and dengue antibodies.

The final patient was 58-year-old woman who had intense hearing loss and tinnitus for 2 days. Two weeks prior to hearing loss, she experienced itching, myalgia, dizziness, and headache. Her hearing returned after 3 weeks, and she had both dengue and Zika antibodies in her serum.

“This report of three cases indicates that transient hearing impairment may be a specific manifestation of acute ZIKAV disease,” the authors concluded.” A subsequent case-control study would be necessary to demonstrate this causal relationship and elucidate the mechanisms leading to auditory dysfunction in this setting.”

Another study, published today in The Lancet, described a case of bilateral posterior uveitis, or eye tissue inflammation, in a 26-year-old American man who was infected with Zika after traveling to Puerto Rico.

Two weeks after being diagnosed as having Zika virus with moderate symptoms, including red eyes, the man complained of seeing photopsias, or flashes of light. An eye exam showed mild ocular lesions, with symptoms resolving within 3 weeks.

The authors say this is the first description of Zika-related bilaterial posterior uveitis and acquired chorioretinal lesions.

Source: Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

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Deer Ticks

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NO TICKS—CALL cropped-msf_5957-blog-art-2.jpg

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Human cases of tick-borne Lyme disease on the rise in state

The ticks often carry the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi with them, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The bacteria can transfer when they bite a human or animal and can cause Lyme disease, a serious infection that can be permanently debilitating when it’s not treated early and well.

There were less than 30 human cases of Lyme disease reported in Michigan in every year between 2000 and 2004, according to a recent study by Jean Tsao, an associate professor in Michigan State University’s departments of fisheries and wildlife and large animal clinical sciences. But the number had jumped to 90 reported cases by 2009, and by 2013, it was nearly 170 cases.

The Lyme disease spike in Michigan correlates with the spread of blacklegged ticks in the state.

In 1998, the ticks were established in only five counties and reported in more than 20 other counties. By 2016, the ticks were established in 24 Michigan counties and reported in 18 others.

Officials with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the number of Lyme disease cases nationwide could be 10 times higher than what is reported.

Infected people and their doctors don’t often test for the disease because it’s relatively new in Michigan and its symptoms often mimic what feels like the flu. Erik Foster, an entomologist with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and co-author of the study, said doctors also don’t always report finding Lyme disease to their local public health department.

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The genetics behind what mosquitos choose to bite


Mosquito-borne illnesses are a considerable burden on human and animal health, so understanding what influences the behavior of mosquitos could be useful. A recent study published in PLOS Genetics suggests that there may be a genetic component to mosquito behavioral preferences, including what they choose to bite.

The control of malaria depends on the propensity of mosquitos to bite humans versus other hosts—if mosquitos prefer humans, then they’re more likely to spread diseases between humans, but if they prefer to feed on other animals (like cows, for example), then mosquitos may not be contributing as significantly to the human burden of disease. Additionally, control of malaria depends on the tendency of mosquitos to rest in places where we can ensure they are likely to come into contact with insecticides. Mosquitos are more likely to encounter insecticides indoors, because homes in countries where malaria is endemic are more likely to have long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets, which will kill mosquitos if they come into contact with them. These nets are highly effective and have pared down the number of dangerous mosquito species in many parts of Africa.

For this PLOS study, some researchers were interested in investigating the potential that the surviving mosquitos may have adapted their behavior to avoid control measures like nets. And, if this were occurring through evolution, it should have left a mark in the pests’ genomes. So they investigated the genetic basis for mosquito host and resting area choices.

Researchers collected the mosquitos from villages in Africa, selecting specimens based on their primary hosts and resting areas. They selected some specimens that preferred to feed on cattle, others that preferred to feed on humans, as well as specimens that tended to rest either outdoors or indoors.

The scientists then sequenced the genomes of 23 human-feeding mosquitoes and 25 cattle-feeding mosquitos. They found a total of 4.8 million base-pair differences that they used to conduct the first genome-wide estimates of heritability for host choice and resting behavior. They used a principal component analysis to segregate individuals into three groups based on genomic variation. This uncovered a genetic component for host choice but did not find anything associated with indoor/outdoor resting behaviors.

In the researchers’ analysis, they found some compelling indications for a genetic component to host choice by using what’s called a chromosomal inversion analysis. A chromosomal inversion is a piece of chromosome that is flipped relative to its normal orientation. Chromosomal inversions do not necessarily cause abnormalities on their own, but they can be useful genetic markers. In this experiment, the researchers looked closely at two chromosome inversions known as 3Ra and 2Rb.

They used a novel inversion genotyping assay to detect a significant enrichment of the arrangement of 3Ra genetic inversion among cattle-fed mosquitos. Included in this inversion were two genes that coded for odorant signaling proteins and odorant receptors. The researchers think that these proteins may be linked to the preference for cattle over humans as a food source.

Though there are no immediate consequences to this finding, there are many ways in which this information could be used for future mosquito control measures. Perhaps targeted insecticidal approaches that alter the functioning of this odorant protein or receptor could be an effective future means of mosquito control. Or, alternatively, introducing lots of mosquitos with this genetic difference to the mosquito population could reduce the percentage of mosquitos that prefer to feed on humans. This paper is the first finding connecting a mosquito genetic variant with a specific behavioral pattern, and the finding opens the door to new potential control measures in the future.

PLOS, 2016. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006303 (About DOIs).


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Spring Is Just Around The Corner


Call Mosquito Squad for a love filled spring. Love should be in the air not Mosquitoes.
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Zika Questions

“Are you starting to think the Zika epidemic is the most confusing outbreak ever?

“Join the club.

“Since Zika surfaced on the global radar about a year ago, scientists have been trying to figure out if what seemed like a pretty paltry virus could cause serious birth defects if it infected a fetus in the womb and, if so, how often?

“There is really no doubt now that the answer to the first question is yes. Over the course of 2016 a lot of science has been published showing that the Zika virus wreaks havoc on a developing brain if it gets into a fetus.

“But the ‘how often?’ question — well, that remains a mystery. And two new reports this week — from top-flight research teams in top-drawer medical journals — not only failed to arrive at a consensus, they may have sown more confusion.

“A word of warning: Scores of studies like these are in the works and will hit the medical literature in coming months. That could mean the picture will become blurrier before it starts to come into focus.

“Still, Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist with the Pasteur Institute in Paris, is delighted so many studies are underway.

“’But as a scientist and as someone who has to communicate this, it’s a mess. Because all of these [studies] are at different stages, they’ve all been using different methodologies, so that’s confusing,’ Van Kerkhove said.

“Van Kerkhove has studied Zika, but she was not involved in the two articles that came out this week. Let’s head back to them.

“One looked at a group of 125 pregnant Brazilian women from Rio de Janeiro who were known to have been infected with Zika. Scientists found the pregnancies of 46 percent were affected in some way — the pregnancy was lost or the baby had some signs of brain problems. When they looked only at the babies born, 42 percent showed some issues that might have been related to Zika.

“The other study, conducted by scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at pregnancy outcomes in 442 women in the US who tested positive for Zika. The research team calculated the rate of bad outcomes — birth defects — at 6 percent.

“There’s a whole lot of daylight between those figures. And yet, interestingly, neither group is challenging the other’s findings.

“And they found some things that are similar. For instance, the rate of cases of microcephaly, in which an infant is born with an abnormally small head, was very similar in the two studies — 3 or 4 percent in total, 10 or 11 percent if infection occurred in the first trimester of pregnancy.

“But what about the differences?

“Before we answer that question, we need to provide some important context.

“A fetus infected today during the first trimester won’t be born for months. And in many cases it may take weeks or months after birth to realize that a baby can’t hear or can’t see or isn’t developing cognitively at the rate other babies are.

“As a result, the scientists who reported the high number of bad outcomes, the 42 percent, cast a very wide net when they were looking for problems Zika may have caused.

“That team, made up of researchers from Brazil and the US, included pregnancy losses (miscarriages and stillbirths), obvious birth defects linked to Zika, and even signs of possible brain changes seen using imaging technologies. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Some of those anomalies — for instance, cerebral palsy-like limb stiffness — will have an impact on the lives of these babies. But it won’t be known for a while if, or to what degree, some of the more subtle differences this group included will affect a child’s ability to function and develop, said Margaret Honein, the lead author of the second study, the one suggesting the rate of Zika-related birth defects might be lower.

“Honein, who heads the CDC’s birth defects branch, said the Brazilian study’s findings highlight why it will be critical to follow babies infected in the womb over time.

“It’s also crucial to get more data — and data that can be more easily compared.

“Van Kerkhove and other experts worked with the World Health Organization earlier this year to devise standardized protocols for studying Zika in pregnancy. The hope, she said, was that if lots of different research groups used the same template for their studies, the ensuing results would be an apple-to-apple comparison.

“Groups in a number of different countries appear to be using the protocols, she said. But not all are. So results that come out will look at slightly different groups of pregnant women or include more or fewer problems in the list of birth anomalies they count. And that will likely mean Zika risk estimates don’t cluster neatly around a tight range of numbers, at least not for a while.

“To complicate matters even further, there isn’t one accepted definition of microcephaly. That means the same baby could be counted as microcephalic in one country, and not in another.

“’This outbreak has been plagued by problems of definition and it’s hard when we’re using different surveillance definitions to compare data across locations,’ Honein said.

“So, about those two studies …

STAT consulted a number of experts in epidemiology about these studies and there appears to be no single answer that explains the huge gap between the CDC number (6 percent) and the Rio number (42 percent). But here are some things that may be at play.

“The women being studied were different: The Rio study enrolled women who had a rash and fever, then tested them for Zika. That means they didn’t look at women without symptoms. Despite the fact the CDC study didn’t find a difference in the pregnancy outcomes between symptomatic and asymptomatic women, it’s a theory that experts haven’t given up yet and it needs further investigation.

“The CDC study, on the other hand, enrolled women who had been to places where Zika was spreading and who tested positive for the virus. But Zika testing is notoriously difficult. If it’s not done during or very soon after the infection, you cannot be sure a positive test is a true positive. The test may be picking up antibodies to related viruses like dengue.

“That means the CDC study may actually include some women who didn’t really have Zika, which would make the virus’s impact appear to be less than it was. Preben Aavitsland, Norway’s former chief epidemiologist, said that’s a possibility, but it can’t go all the way to explain the big gap between the findings.

“Another way in which the two sets of women may have been different: geography.

“Scientists have been wondering if some unidentified condition or conditions in Brazil — which has had the highest numbers of microcephalic babies due to Zika — is making Zika’s impact there worse.

“An obvious thought is that dengue, a closely related virus, circulates there commonly. Some scientists have wondered if previous bouts of dengue would raise the risk for pregnant women infected with Zika, because it’s known prior infection with one type of dengue (there are four) can make a subsequent infection with another type worse. Still other scientists have theorized that dengue antibodies might actually protect pregnant women from Zika’s worst damage.

“The Rio study compared women who had previously had dengue to women who had not and saw no difference.

“But they did see an unusually high rate of birth defects and pregnancy losses — 11.5 percent — in the women they were following who did not contract Zika, their so-called control group.

“You wouldn’t see that high a rate of abnormal outcomes in pregnancies in the US, which suggests there are differences between the Brazilian women and the US women that haven’t been accounted for, Maia Majumder, a research fellow at HealthMap, noted on Twitter.

“The upshot is that, for now, even the experts cannot quantify for a pregnant woman what the chances are that her fetus will be affected if she contracts Zika. But they do know this: Pregnant women should try as hard as is humanly possible not to get infected with this virus.

“’We’re finding pretty high levels of abnormalities in [pregnant] women who are infected with Zika,’ said Van Kerkhove. ‘The exact numbers are not completely clear at the moment. But the studies are being done and we’re hoping to get a clearer picture in the coming months or years. I hope it’s not years, but certainly months.’

Source: STAT

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