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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Zika-1 Year Later

To cap off a year that saw the Zika virus spread throughout the United States, The Centers For Disease Control made a grand, much-needed gesture. The CDC, using money granted by Congress earlier this year, has pledged close to $200 million to help fight the virus throughout the U.S. and its territories.

The money—which actually totals to $184 million—comes at a time where as many as 75 nations and territories have shown evidence of Zika infections. Approximately one year ago, that number was as small as 23.

As both the number of worldwide infections—and the measures intended to prevent them—continues to spread, the question remains: where do we stand with Zika?

Globally, only one new nation has reported a Zika infection since September, but that doesn’t mean the burden of the disease has lessened in countries that were already struggling. Even though the World Health Organization officially ended the status of the virus— which can cause severe birth defects in the brains of children born to infected mothers—as a global health emergency back in November, many countries are in it for the long haul when it comes to dealing with Zika.

In Brazil, for example, there have been 1,749 cases of babies born with defects in their nervous system, a problem that is estimated to cost the country around >$4 million per child

In the United States, these efforts may be working, as there has only been one new Zika case reported in the past three weeks. Despite this, research is continuing to reveal new ways that the virus can endanger pregnancies, making the task of stopping its spread just as important now as it was five months ago.

The virus first appeared in the U.S. in July, when Zika began to spread through infected mosquitos in Miami. Since then, infections have been reported in all 48 continental U.S. states.

However, almost all of these cases—there are 4,618 in total—have occurred through travel, with only approximately 200 infections in Florida and only a handful of infections in Texas spreading locally. Still, Congress is responding aggressively, as the CDC’s funding was only a small part of a $1.1 billion spending bill signed into law by president Obama back in September. The money is meant to serve a number of purposes, including vaccine research, mosquito control and studies on the virus’ effects on babies.

Source: Paste Magazine

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Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

January 14, 2017: Two New Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes Found In Florida

Two new tropical disease-transmitting mosquitoes have been found in the state of Florida for the first time, according to researchers from University of Florida.

Entomologist Nathan Burkett-Cadena did not expect to find the Aedeomyia squamipennis and Culex panocossa species in Homestead as well as in Florida City on a research trip back in October. It is a sign that Florida is now becoming more conducive to tropical mosquitoes, especially as they are found near the mainland.

Both species are believed to transmit viruses to humans and lay their eggs on weeds that float in canals and drainage waters, warned Burkett-Cadena in a Miami Herald report.

Mosquito-Weary South Florida

While native to Central and South America, the mosquitoes likely arrived via plants and spread across South Florida canals and ponds. They are expected to grow in numbers soon.

“This would speak to some broader environmental changes that have caused Florida to be more accessible and hospitable to tropical mosquitoes,” the scientist said, pointing to global warming as the likely culprit and saying nobody had the species’ arrival “on their radar.”

Apart from climate change, increased tourism and global trade have probably made Florida a good destination for the exotic species, Burkett-Cadena added.

It’s a particularly bad time for the discovery in South Florida, as a Zika virus outbreak hit Wynwood and Miami Beach over the summer and extending into fall. The outbreak, with over 1,200 local and travel cases documented statewide, is caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

While dry, cool weather paired with aggressive control measures has helped contain the mosquito spread, the disease is expected to return by springtime.

Severe birth defects in different places have mounted a full-blown Zika crisis. The virus takes the form of microcephaly in babies and kids, a defect characterized by smaller-than-normal heads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued numerous health and travel recommendations for people who are most prone to the virus and its dangers, particularly pregnant women. As of Nov. 18, the World Health Organization has lifted the Zika virus’ global health emergency status.

While no vaccine exists for the virus yet, researchers have identified seven key proteins within it that may have been instrumental in the extent of the outbreak’s damage.

The two new species also carry viruses and can easily conquer densely populated areas.

There are a number of differences between them, though: the Aedeomyia mosquito feeds mainly on birds, which transmit the West Nile, Eastern equine encephalitis, and other viruses, while the Culex panocossa is a confirmed vector for the Venezuelan equine encephalitis, which poses a deadly threat to kids and the elderly.

The latter also likely carries the local Everglades virus, which is typically detected in native Culex species. The virus is so far contained since the mosquitoes do not survive well outside the Everglades, but researchers are worried about the mosquito’s tropical kin starting to spread it.

The virus in its mild form can lead to flu-like symptoms and joint aches but can progress to encephalitis and occasionally trigger comas that have not so far led to mortalities.

With the recent discovery, the number of invasive mosquitoes found in Florida over the past decade has reached nine.

Source: Tech Times

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Protect Your Loved Ones In 2017

zika-and-pregnancyzika-virus

New study provides projections for Zika outbreaks in the Americas In 2017

Published on August 3, 2016 at 1:10 AM

With the report from Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday that 14 people in the state have been infected with the Zika virus most likely through mosquito transmission, the concern about out­breaks in the U.S. has intensified.

The news comes on the heels of new research by Northeastern pro­fessor Alessandro Vespig­nani that can help coun­tries in the Americas plan a response.

The new study, along with interactive maps, provides current numbers as well projections for the number of Zika cases in the Americas through January 2017. It also provides projections for the number of microcephaly cases associated with the disease through October 2017, a date chosen to allow for the nine months of preg­nancy. Microcephaly is a serious neurological birth defect characterized by a smaller than normal head.

The research is a collaboration overseen by the Center for Inference and Dynamics of Infectious Diseases, a Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study Center of Excellence funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Tackling Zika has been “a call to arms,” says Vespignani. “We’ve been working on the modeling around the clock since January,” adds Matteo Chinazzi a postdoctoral research associate in Vespignani’s laboratory for the Modeling of Bio­log­ical and SocioTechnical Systems, or MOBS, and a coauthor of the study.

The team of 14 researchers uses large- scale com­pu­ta­tional epi­demic models that inte­grate socio- demographic and travel data of target pop­u­la­tions along with sim­u­la­tions of infec­tion trans­mis­sion among mil­lions of indi­vid­uals to reconstruct disease spread in the past and project it into the future.

Under- reporting is rife in affected coun­tries because up to 80 percent of people with the dis­ease are asymptomatic, says Vespignani, Sternberg Distinguished Professor of Physics and director of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern. “Even of those with symp­toms, prob­ably only one- third will go to the doctor and get diag­nosed,” he says.

Indeed, the number of travel- associated cases of Zika in the U.S. reported by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion may be just the tip of the ice­berg, according to the research.

The team, half of which is at North­eastern, projected that as of June 15 there were close to 30,000 cases of travel- related Zika in the U.S., a number 25 times greater than that reported by the CDC on the same date.

The discrepancy results from the difference between reported cases of the mosquito- borne virus–those actually diagnosed and reported to the CDC’s sur­veil­lance system–and those that fly under the radar but that the researchers’ modeling algorithms can project.

“We don’t project very large out­breaks in the continental U.S.,” says Vespig­nani, whose lab has been running the simulations of infection transmission–a job that requires using some 30,000 proces­sors at once. “But there is a cer­tain set of countries in the Americas that has the right mosquitoes, the right weather, and the right socioeconomic con­di­tions for major out­breaks.” Those con­di­tions include lack of air con­di­tioning, poor sanitation, and little access to education, for example, instruc­tion on preventative measures such as removal of standing water, which attracts mosquitoes.

Among those coun­tries are Brazil, with 15% of the pop­u­la­tion affected by the virus; Colombia, with 8%, and Puerto Rico with 10%. Puerto Rico is being par­tic­u­larly hard hit right now. “That’s because Puerto Rico is entering mos­quito season,” says Qian Zhang, a postdoctoral research asso­ciate in MOBS and a coau­thor of the study. “The weather conditions, including temperature and humidity, are now favor­able for the Zika spread.”

Still, the risk of con­tracting Zika as a result of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is extremely small, says Vespig­nani. That’s because the increase in air travel from Zika- affected areas will be minimal–less than 1 per­cent. The number of cases in Brazil, where the virus sur­faced between August 2013 and April 2014, reached its peak in the first half of 2015 and has been declining since, affecting close to 10 to 15 per­cent of the population.

“The number of people traveling with Zika all over the world has already been huge,” says Vespignani. “And Rio is not very much affected at the moment. So the half- million people who will travel there for the Games are just a small per­tur­ba­tion in the entire pic­ture of the virus’ spread.”

Projecting the spread of Zika has been much more dif­fi­cult than doing so for Ebola or the flu, says Vespig­nani, who has mapped both. That’s because the dis­ease is primarily transmitted not from person to person but from mosquitoes to people, most often the species Aedes aegypti but also Aedes albopictus,both of which carry the dengue and yellow fever viruses as well.

Thus data on human mobility, socio- demographics, and temperature changes–the bread and butter of epidemic modeling–must be com­pounded with data on the mosquitoes, much of which is uncer­tain, such as their travel pat­terns, abun­dance, and life­cycle depending on tempera­ure. “Unfortunately, mosquitoes do not have a GPS attached to them,” says Ana Pastore- Piontti, also a post­doc­toral research asso­ciate on the MOBS team who has also worked with Vespig­nani on past dis­ease threats such as the Ebola epidemic.

In addition, re­atively little is known about Zika itself, for example, pre­cisely when and where the virus arrived in Brazil, the length of the incu­ba­tion period in humans and mos­qui­toes, and whether humans can develop immunity to the virus.

Indeed, with no data available specifically on the relationship between Zika and its host mos­qui­toes, the researchers had to rely on the historical literature on other mosquito- borne dis­eases including dengue, malaria, and chikun­gunya. “But that means that we are making a lot of assump­tions that Zika is close to dengue, for example,” says Kaiyuan Sun, PhD’19. He and Dina Mistry, PhD’18, are also coau­thors of the Zika study.

Given all the uncertainties, the researchers cau­tion that their find­ings are “projections,” rather than “fore­casts.” “We use ‘fore­cast’ when we have a level of con­fi­dence in past data–such as the origin of the dis­ease and the pro­gres­sion of outbreaks–that allows us, even with some fluc­tu­a­tions, to project into the future,” says Vespig­nani. “With Zika we are saying, ‘These are the sce­narios based on a number of assump­tions and an attempt to get some plausible path for the future.'”

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Zika..Give the gift of protection

zika virus.pngzika and pregnancy.jpg

 

Adult Mosquitoes Can Pass Zika to their Offspring:

U.S. Study By Julie Steenhuysen | CHICAGO

Adult female mosquitoes can pass the Zika virus along to their offspring, U.S. researchers said on Monday, a finding that makes clear the need for pesticide programs that kill both adult mosquitoes and their eggs.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, show that as with many related viruses, including dengue and yellow fever, Zika can be transmitted from female mosquitoes to their offspring.

Dr. Robert Tesh of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, a study coauthor, said the fact that the virus can be passed along to mosquito offspring makes Zika harder to control.

Adult female mosquitoes can pass the Zika virus along to their offspring, U.S. researchers said on Monday, a finding that makes clear the need for pesticide programs that kill both adult mosquitoes and their eggs. “Spraying affects adults, but it does not usually kill the immature forms – the eggs and larvae. Spraying will reduce transmission, but it may not eliminate the virus,” he said.

Although Zika generally causes mild disease in adults, it is a major threat to pregnant women because it has been shown to cause the severe birth defect known as microcephaly and other brain abnormalities.

The ongoing Zika outbreak was first detected last year in Brazil, where it has been linked to more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly, and has since spread rapidly through the Americas.

Aedes aegypti, the mosquitoes that carry Zika, lay eggs in small containers of water. Homeowners have been advised to dump out containers of water on their properties. When the water is dumped, the eggs cling in a ring around the water line, where they remain dormant until the next rain, when they can hatch.

Scientists studying Zika wanted to find out whether some of the offspring from these tropical mosquitoes might carry the virus, helping to perpetuate an outbreak during dry seasons.

To find out, researchers injected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes raised in a laboratory with Zika. They were then fed, and within a week, they laid eggs. The team collected and cared for the eggs until they hatched into adult mosquitoes, and counted the ones that carried the Zika virus.

They found the virus present in one out of every 290 mosquitoes tested.

“The ratio may sound low,” Tesh said, “but when you consider the number of Aedes aegypti in a tropical urban community, it is likely high enough to allow some virus to persist, even when infected adult mosquitoes are killed.” .

For homeowners in affected areas, Tesh advised people to dump standing water from containers on their property and scrub them thoroughly to remove eggs and larvae. They should also remove any objects from their yards that could collect water.

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Gift Suggestions From Dread Skeeter

https://www.mosquitosquad.com/blog/archives/2016/12/13/mosquito-squad-dread-skeeters-top-10-holiday-gifts-for-christmas-2016/

 

 

Just a little holiday fun!! Hope it put a smile on your face!

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Lyme Disease-Call today to protect your loved ones.

Lyme Disease Facts You Should Know:

  1. General blood testing done for Lyme disease has an accuracy of approximately 50%. There are actually laws in the USA which state that a doctor has to inform the patients that a negative result does not mean he or she does not have Lyme disease.
  2. A person suffering from Lyme disease might take two to three years to get diagnosed properly. This late diagnosis can lead to chronic infection and, unfortunately, treatment provided in late stages increases the risk of treatment failure.
  3. Lyme disease is a worldwide infectious disease. The Center for Disease Control reports that Lyme disease infects 300,000 people a year, which is 10 times more people than previously reported. Approximately 25% of the reported cases are children.
  4. Lyme disease has the ability to withstand short-term antibiotic treatment. A two to four-week course of oral antibiotics is often recommended by the majority of expert doctors for Lyme disease treatment, however, there’s no guarantee that this treatment will eliminate all the pathogens. Latest research shows that these pathogens evade destruction by antibiotics and are highly adaptable.
  5. Fewer than 50% of people infected get the bull’s eye rash, which is the telltale sign of Lyme disease. Some patients develop flu-like symptoms a week or so after becoming infected, however, many people are asymptomatic but can develop Lyme symptoms months, years or decades later. Making matters worse, it is called the “great imitator,” looking like many other health problems which add another degree of difficulty in the diagnosis.

Help Prevent Lyme Disease-CALL THE SQUAD!
While there is currently not a cure for Lyme disease, there are ways to help prevent deer ticks from invading your yard or outdoor spaces. Call THE SQUAD….Mosquito Squad we don’t just treat mosquitoes. Our barrier treatment also treats the ticks that get your pets and loved ones.

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National Brownie Day

Try one of the following brownie recipes:

Chocolate Mint Brownies
Cheesecake Brownies
Cherry Swirl Brownies
Brownies

Use #NationalBrownieDay to post on social media.

Image result for brownie clipart

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Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

NATIONAL PEARL HARBOR REMEMBRANCE DAY

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day - December 7

 

Each year on December 7, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is observed across the nation.  This day is a day to honor all those those who lost their lives serving this nation at Pearl Harbor.  There were more than 3,500 Americans that lost their lives or were wounded on that solemn day.

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Available Packages-Keep your loved ones bite free-Call today for a free quote!

Our Barrier Spray Programs are what keeps the pesky bugs away! We offer several packages for season long protection.Dread Kids Sprayer

Gold Package: This package provides Mosquito and Tick Control for 6 months, with 21 day applications applied from spring to fall. This is our most popular plan and provides excellent coverage for most homes.

Platinum Package: Our Platinum Plan provides Mosquito and Tick control treatments for the same 6 months as our Gold Plan, but treatments are performed every 14 days instead of 21 days.  This treatment plan is ideal for properties characterized by mature foundation plants, heavy ground cover, and extensive wooded areas, often having much higher mosquito populations. Also, if you have children who frequently play outdoors, a higher level of protection may make sense.

Summer Packages:  Our Summer Packages runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  They’re a great option for those who only are up in the area during the summer.  You can choose the Summer Gold Package or the Summer Platinum Package depending on the frequency you’d like to be treated during that time.

PLUS! ProgramsThis year we’re offering extra protection for fleas & gnats.  If you have fleas & gnats, sign up for our Gold PLUS! or our Platinum PLUS! to ensure protection for your pets and family from these pesky bugs.  We have added an extra process with additional materials and treated areas around your home.  This program requires a minimum of three (3) weeks to become fully effective, and should be applied for three treatments to keep these pests away. For best results, it is also highly encouraged that pets are treated for fleas by your local caregiver during the same treatment time.

All Natural:  This option is made up of Peppermint and Rosemary.  With the this option your property is treated every 2 weeks and has a 70% mosquito repel rate.

Intensive Tick Control Package:  Tick tubes are placed on your property in paths of small critters that carry the nymphs (baby ticks).  The cotton that is placed in the tubes is taken back to the critter’s nest. The critters are not harmed but this smaller stage of ticks is eliminated.  This is a long term process to eliminate the next generation of ticks.

Other Services available:  Feel free to ask about other available services.  We have control for spiders, stink bugs and other crawling pests, ants, dock treatments, and fly bait.

 

 

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