The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Zika is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.  Sexual transmission of Zika is also possible.

People who become infected with Zika can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and malaise or headache. These symptoms typically last for 2 to 7 days. Pregnant women, or women who want to become pregnant, must make an effort to avoid becoming infected by Zika. The Zika virus is also a cause of microcephaly and Guillian Barré syndrome.

A Timeline of the Spread of the Zika Virus is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

The World Health Organization put together the History of Zika Virus.

  • 1947: Scientists identify a new virus in a rhesus monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda – named as the Zika virus.
  • 1948: The virus is then recovered from the mosquito Aedes Africans, caught in the Zika forest.
  • 1952: The first human cases of Zika are detected in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
  • 1964: A researcher in Uganda is infected with Zika while working on the virus confirming that Zika causes human disease. He reports the illness as “mild”.
  • 1960s – 1980s: Human cases are confirmed through blood tests. No deaths or hospitalizations are reported, but studies consistently show widespread human exposure to the virus. The disease is mapped as it moves from Uganda to Western Africa and Asia in the first half of the 20th century.
  • 1969-1983: Zika virus is detected in mosquitos found in equatorial Asia, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan.

In 2007, the first large Zika outbreak in humans occurred in the Pacific Island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia.  Prior to this, no outbreaks and only 14 cases of human Zika virus disease had been documented anywhere in the world. An estimated 73% of Yap residents were infected with the Zika virus.

The Yap Island outbreak also suggests a lack of immunity in the island’s population. Regular exposure to infection by populations in Africa and Asia may have prevented large outbreaks seen on Pacific Islands and in the Americas. Under-reporting, due to the clinical similarities of (mild) illness symptoms associated with Zika, dengue, and chikungunya infections might account for previous Zika outbreaks being overlooked.

April 6, 2011: Science posted an article titled “Sex After Field Trip Yields Scientific First”.  It was written by Martin Enserink. Note that the Zika infection in the article occurred in 2008.  From the article:

A U.S vector biologist appears to have accidently written virological history simply by having sex with his wife after returning from a field trip to Senegal.  A study just released in Emerging Infectious Diseases suggests that the researcher, Brian Foy of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, passed to his wife the Zika virus, an obscure pathogen that causes joint pain and extreme fatigue.  If so, it would be the first documented case of sexual transmission of an insect-borne disease…

…Exactly what happened when Foy and Kobylinski returned from Senegal on 24, August 2008 has remained a mystery for years.  As part of their research on malaria, the scientists had been collecting mosquitoes in a southeastern village called Bandafassi, where they were often bitten. About 5 days after their return, both researchers got sick. Both had a rash on their torso, extreme fatigue, and swollen and painful wrists, knees, and ankles.  Foy also had symptoms of prostatitis, including painful urination, and he and his wife noticed what looked like blood in his semen, according to the paper.

On 3 September, Foy’s wife fell ill as well, with malaise, chills, extreme headache, hypersensitivity to light, and muscle pains. The couple’s four children remained healthy. The symptoms started receding within about a week in all three patients, although the joint pain lingered…

…There is no direct evidence that Foy’s wife was infected through sexual contact, but the circumstantial evidence is strong.  It’s very unlikely that she was infected by a bite by a mosquito that first bit her husband; the three tropical Aedes mosquito species known to transmit Zika don’t live in northern Colorado, and moreover, the virus has to complete a 2-week life cycle within the insect before it can infect the next human; Foy’s wife fell ill just 9 days after his return.  And yes, as the paper puts it “patients 1 and 3 reported having vaginal sexual intercourse in the days after patient 1 returned home but before the onset of his clinical illness”…

2012: PLOS posted a study titled: “Genetic Characterization of Zika Virus Strains: Geographic Expansion of the Asian Lineage”. It was written by Andrew D. Haddow, Amy J. Schuh, Chadwick Y. Yasuda, Matthew R. Kasper, Vireak Heang, Rekol Huy, Hilda Guzman, Robert B.Tesh, and Scott C. Weaver.  Here is the summary of the study:

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-transmitted flavivirus found in both Africa and Asia. Human infection with the virus may result in a febrile illness similar to dengue fever and many other tropical infections found in these regions.

Previously, little was known about the genetic relationships between ZIKV strains collected in Africa and those collected in Asia. In addition, the geographic origins of the strains responsible between ZIKV strains collected in Africa and those collected in Asia.

In addition, the geographic origins of the strains responsible for the recent outbreak of human disease on Yap Island, Federated States of Micronesia, and a human case of ZIKV infection in Cambodia were unknown.

Our results indicate that there are two geographically distinct lineages of ZIKV (African and Asian). The virus has circulated in Southeast Asia for at least the past 50 years, whereupon it was introduced to Yap Island resulting in an epidemic of human disease in 2007, and in 2010 was the cause of a pediatric case of ZIKV infection in Cambodia. This study also highlights the danger of ZIKV introduction into new areas and the potential for future epidemics of human disease.

March 31, 2014: The World Health Organization noted: During this same outbreak of Zika virus in French Polynesia, 1,505 asymptomatic blood donors are reported to be positive for Zika by PCR. These findings alert authorities that Zika virus can be passed on through blood transfusion.

October 2014: Eurosurveillance posted a study titled: “Concurrent outbreaks of dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus infections – an unprecedented epidemic wave of mosquito-born viruses in the Pacific 2012-2014”. It was written by A. Roth, A. Mercier, C. Lepers, D. Hoy, S. Duituturaga, E. Benyon, L. Guillaumot, and Y. Souraéz.  From the study:

Since January 2012, the Pacific Region has experienced 28 new documented outbreaks and circulation of dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus. These mosquito-borne disease epidemics seem to become more frequent and diverse and it is likely this is only the early stages of a wave that will continue for several years. Improved surveillance and response measures are needed to mitigate the already heavy burden on island health systems and limit further spread to other parts of the world.

The World Health Organization noted: Outbreaks occur in 4 groups of Pacific Islands: French Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands, and New Caledonia.

November 2014: The World Health Organization noted: Thousands of suspected infections are investigated in French Polynesia and results reveal possible associations between Zika virus and congenital malformations and severe neurological and autoimmune complications.

The World Health Organization pointed to a study posted in The Lancet. The study was titled: “Emerging arboviruses in the Pacific”. It was written by Van-Ma Cao-Lormeau and Didier Musso.  From the study:

…In 2014, concomitant outbreaks happened in the Pacific due to dengue virus, chikungunya virus, and Zika virus – another mosquito-borne virus that mostly causes mild fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis, and rash…

…In 2007, the Yap State, the Federated States of Micronesia, reported the first outbreak of Zika virus outside of Africa and Asia. Subsequent infections of Zika virus in other Pacific island were not reported until 2013, when this virus reappeared in French Polynesia and then disseminated throughout the Pacific. The first autochthonous chickungunya infections in the region were reported in 2011 in New Caledonia. Chikungunda outbreaks occurred in Papua New Guinea in 2012, the Yap State in 2013, and Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa, and Tokelau in 2014…

Tropical oceanic reagins host potential vectors for many arboviruses that local populations are mostly naive for, making these regions an ideal setting for such emerging viruses to spread; thus greatly contributing to the globalization of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses as threats to public health…

2015: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted information titled “2015 Case Counts in the US”. It contains the final 2015 data reported to ArboNET.  Here are some important facts from it:

  • 61 symptomatic Zika virus disease cases reported in the United States.  All 61 cases involved travelers returning from affected areas.
  • 9 symptomatic Zika virus cases in US Territories.  1 of those cases involved a traveler returning from an affected area.  8 of those cases were acquired through presumed mosquito-borne transmission.
  • Laboratory confirmed symptomatic Zika virus disease cases in states: Arkansas (2), California (13), District of Columbia (4), Florida (9), Georgia (1), Hawaii (4), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Maryland (2), Massachusetts (2), Minnesota (1), Missouri (1), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (1), New York (3), Pennsylvania (1), Rhode Island (1), Texas (8), Utah (1), Virginia (4)
  • Laboratory confirmed symptomatic Zika virus disease cases in U.S. Territories: Puerto Rico (9)

May 7, 2015: The World Health Organization posted information about the Zika virus infection. From the information:

  • To date, no death attributed to Zika virus infection has been reported in any of the outbreaks.
  • Currently, the public health authorities of Brazil are investigating a possible transmission of the Zika virus in the northeast of the country.
  • There is no specific antiviral treatment for Zika virus. Symptomatic treatment after excluding more severe conditions such as malaria, dengue and bacterial infections is recommended.
  • Because Zika virus outbreaks could cause additional burdens on all levels of the health care system, it is necessary to develop and implement institutional propels for the triage, and rehabilitation of patients.
  • There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika virus infection. Therefore, treatment is mainly symptomatic.
  • Patients should rest under mosquito nets (bed-nets), treated with or without insecticide.
  • Patients and other members of the household should wear clothes that cover the extremities.
  • Apply repellents containing DEET, IR3535 or Icaridin to exposed skin or clothing; its use must be strictly in accordance with the instructions on the product label.
  • Use wire-mesh screens on doors and windows.

July 2015: The World Health Organization noted: Brazil reported neurological disorders associated with a history of infection, primary from the north-eastern state of Bahia. Among these reports, 49 cases were confirmed as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Of these cases, all but 2 had a prior history of infection with Zika, chikungunya or dengue.

October 21, 2015: The World Health Organization posted information titled: “Zika virus infection – Brazil and Columbia”.  From the information:

  • Brazil – In May 2015, the public health authorities of Brazil confirmed autochthonous transmission of Zika virus in the northeastern part of the country. As of 8, October, autochthonous cases of Zika virus had been detected in 14 states: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Pará, Paraná, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Plauí, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Roraima, and Sao Paulo.
  • Columbia – As of 15, October, 9 samples were laboratory-confirmed as Zika virus infections out of 98 samples from the Bolívar department (13 from Cartagena and 85 from Turbaco). These are the first cases of Zika virus infection detected in the country.

October 31, 2015: The World Health Organization noted: Brazil reports an unusual increase in the number of cases of microcephaly among newborns.

The World Health Organization posted information about Microcephaly. From the information:

Microcephaly is a condition where a baby has a head size much smaller compared with other babies of the same age and sex. Head size is an important measurement to monitor a child’s brain growth. The severity of microcephaly ranges from mild to severe. Microcephaly can be present at birth (congenital) or may develop postnatally (acquired)…

…Increased number or clustering of cases of microcephaly have been reported in context of outbreaks of Zika virus infection. The most likely explanation of available evidence is that Zika infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities including microcephaly.

In addition to microcephaly, a range of manifestations of varying severity has been reported among newborns were exposed to Zika virus in utero. These include malformations of the head, seizures, swallowing problems, hearing and sight abnormalities. Other outcome associated with Zika virus infection is referred to as ‘congenital Zika virus syndrome.”…

November 2015: The World Health Organization noted: In the month of November, Suriname, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, and The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela all report lab confirmed cases of Zika.

November 11, 2016: The World Health Organization noted: Brazil declares a national public health emergency as cases of suspected microcephaly continue to increase.

November 28, 2015: The World Health Organization noted: Brazil detects Zika virus genome in the blood and tissue samples of a baby with microcephaly and other congenital anomalies; the baby died within 5 minutes of birth. Brazil reports 3 deaths among 2 adults and a newborn associated with Zika.

December 2015: The World Health Organization noted: Panama, Honduras, French Guiana, Martinique and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico all report lab confirmed cases of locally acquired Zika virus.

December 31, 2015: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted an article titled “First case of Zika virus reported in Puerto Rico” From the article:

The Puerto Rico Department of Health reported today the first locally acquired case of Zika virus infection in Puerto Rico. Zika was confirmed in a resident of Puerto Rico with no travel history. CDC is working closely with the Puerto Rico Department of Health to investigate how the patient may have contracted the virus. Health officials in Puerto Rico are monitoring for other cases of Zika virus infection…

2016: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted information titled “2016 Case Counts in the US”. it contains data reported to ArboNET for 2016.  Here are some important facts from it:

  • In 2016, Zika virus disease became a nationally notifiable condition.
  • 5,102 symptomatic Zika virus disease cases reported in the United States.  4,830 cases in travelers from affected areas.  224 cases acquired through presumed local mosquito-borne transmission in Florida (218) and Texas (6).  48 cases acquired through other routes, including sexual transmission (46), laboratory transmission (1), and person-to-person through an unknown route (1)
  • 36,079 symptomatic Zika virus disease cases reported in US Territories.  142 cases in travelers returning from affected areas.  35,937 cases acquired through presumed local mosquito-borne transmission.  0 cases acquired through other routes.
  • Laboratory confirmed symptomatic Zika cases in states: Alabama (37), Arizona (54), Arkansas (13), California (421), Colorado (55), Connecticut (58), Delaware (17), District of Columbia (39), Florida (1,115), Georgia (107), Hawaii (11), Idaho (4), Illinois (103), Indiana (49), Iowa (26), Kansas (20), Kentucky (32), Louisiana (38), Maine (12), Maryland (130), Massachusetts (118), Michigan (67), Minnesota (67), Mississippi (23), Missouri (35), Montana (9), Nebraska (22), New Hampshire (11), New Jersey (180), New Mexico (10), New York (1,001), North Carolina (3), Ohio (83), Oklahoma (47), Pennsylvania (175), Rhode Island (54), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (61), Texas (312), Utah (21), Vermont (11), Virginia (108), Washington (69), West Virginia (11), Wisconsin (60), Wyoming (2)
  • Laboratory confirmed symptomatic Zika cases in US Territories: American Samoa (129), Puerto Rico (34,963), U.S. Virgin Islands (987)

January 2016: The World Health Organization noted: The Maldives reports that a Finnish national who worked in the country became ill on his return to Finland, where he tested positive, by PCR, for Zika infection. Guyana, Ecuador, Barbados, The Plurinational State of Bolivia, Haiti, Saint Martin, the Dominican Republic, St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands), Nicaragua, Curacao, and Jamaica all report lab confirmed cases of locally acquired Zika infection.

January 13, 2016: STAT posted an article titled: “Zika virus likely tied to Brazil’s surge in babies born with small heads, CDC says” It was written by Helen Branswell. From the article:

New test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide the best evidence to date that a mosquito-borne virus is causing Brazil’s alarming rise in babies born with abnormally underdeveloped heads, a top official said Wednesday.

The results are not definitive proof that Zika infections during pregnancy are causing some women to give birth to babies with microcephaly, but they add to mounting evidence that the large wave of infections that began in Brazil last May is linked to the extraordinary increase in microcephaly cases…

…Brazil said it has recorded at least 3,530 cases of microcephaly and 46 deaths since the increasing number of cases was recognized last October. The country saw fewer than 200 cases of microcephaly annually over the previous five years…

…To date the virus’s rapid spread through South and Central America has not led to discoveries of infected mosquitos in continental United States. But in late December, the CDC reported an infection in a resident of Puerto Rico who had not traveled…

…Researches in Brazil – where a more than twentyfold increase in the rate of babies born with microcephaly has been seen in the past few months – had earlier found evidence of Zika virus in amniotic fluid drawn from two pregnant women who were carrying fetuses diagnosed in utero as having microcephaly…

…The accumulation of evidence pointing to Zika virus as the cause of the microcephaly cases has led Scott Weaver, an expert in arboviruses – viruses transmitted by mosquitos, ticks, and fleas – to question why the CDC has not warned pregnant women or women of child-bearing years who might get pregnant to avoid travel to locations reporting Zika virus circulation.

Such a warning might have a significant impact on travel to Brazil in the lead-up to this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio…

January 15, 2016: The World Health Organization noted: The Hawaii Department of Health (USA) reports a baby with microcephaly in Hawaii, born to a woman who had resided in Brazil early in her pregnancy.

January 21, 2016: The World Health Organization noted: Brazil reports 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, including 49 deaths. Of these, 3,381 are under investigation. In 6 cases, Zika virus was detected in samples from newborns or stillbirths.

February 2016: The World Health Organization noted: In the month of February, Samoa, Bonaire, Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago, Sint Maarten, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Argentine all report cases of Zika infection.

February 2, 2016: PCS News Hour posted an article titled “Dallas reports first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus, CDC to issue guidance”.  It was written by Nsikan Akpan. From the article:

Dallas County Health and Human Services says the city has reported its first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus.  It’s the third known case linked to sexual fluids, and the first confirmed in the U.S. since 2011…

Later, the Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) clarified on Twitter.  Their first tweet said: “CLARIFICATION: Dallas County’s 1st case of #Zika thru sex was acquired from someone who traveled to Venezuela, confirmed case did not travel”

This was followed by a second tweet that said: “CDC performed and confirmed the test on our first #Zika case.  DCHHS performed the public health follow-up to ascertain mode of transmission.”

February 2, 2016: The Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services, in Texas, posted a Health Advisory. It was written by Jessica Smith MPH, Senate Woldai, MPH, Wendy Chung MD and Chief Epidemiologist.  From the Health Advisory:

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) has received confirmation from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that Zika virus infection has been confirmed in two persons residing in Dallas County. One patient developed illness symptoms after returning from a county in South America with active Zika transmission. The second patient had not recently traveled outside of the U.S., but subsequently developed illness symptoms after sexual contact with the traveler. There was no risk to a developing fetus with these cases; both patients have recovered fully from their illnesses….

…Probable spread of the virus through sexual contact has been described in one prior case report. Maternal-fetal transmission of Zika virus has been documented in pregnancy and possible transfusion transmission events have also been reported…

February 4, 2016: The World Health Organization posted video titled: “WHO: Microcephaly and Zika virus infection – Questions and answers (Q&A).  The video features Dr. Anthony Costello, Director of WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, answers some key questions on Microcephaly and Zika virus infection.

 

February 8, 2016: The Chicago Tribune posted an article titled: “Zika prompts urgent debate about abortion in Latin America” It was written by Dom Phillips, Nick Miroff, and Julia Symmes Cobb.  The Chicago Tribune article indicated that it came from The Washington Post.  From the article:

Nearly everywhere in Latin America, women who wish to terminate their pregnancies have few legal options, raising fears that the outbreak will drive an increase in dangerous, clandestine abortions.

On Friday, United Nations human rights officials urged governments in the region to make abortion services available to infected women. Activists in Brazil, Columbia and other nations say they will press lawmakers to act as swiftly as possible tease rigging restrictions on abortion as Zika proliferates. U.N. health officials have projected as many as 4 million infections in the Americas this year.

Several governments in Latin American nations where abortion is essentially banned have responded to the crisis by urging women to postpone pregnancy. But the availability of contraceptives is limited, especially in rural Latin America, and church authorities in the heavily Roman Catholic region oppose their use.

The number of illegal abortions in Rio de Janeiro is increasing, said a leading doctor in the state who took part in a high level meeting with health officials about the crisis. The doctor asked not to be identified because the information is unofficial…

…Brazil’s government blames the virus for a sharp increase in reports of children born with undersized heads, a condition known as microcephaly, but doctors say they’re only beginning to understand the dangers posed by Zika to neurological development.

Uruguay and Cuba are the only nations in Latin America where abortion is legal and widely available. Other countries allow it in cases of rape, incest, or when a mother’s life is in danger.

In Chile, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, the procedure is completely banned.

All four have reported cases of Zika, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other nations in Latin America, including Colombia, the country with the second-highest total of Zika cases to date after Brazil, permit abortions in cases where the mother’s health is in danger or a fetus displays signs of a severe deformity. In Brazil abortion is allowed if the woman has been raped, her life is in danger or the fetus has anacephaly where part of its brain or skull is missing.

Last week in Columbia, a woman was allowed to abort her fetus at 32 weeks, the first known case of Zika-related legal abortion in the country, according to Columbia’s leading weekly magazine, Semana.  The fetus had severe cranial deformities and microcephaly, according to the report, but the mother’s decision to abort at such a later stage in pregnancy ignited a fierce debate on social media.

…Women On Web, an international group based in Canada that provides advice and medication for women wanting abortions in countries where it is banned, said it has seen a surge in inquires from women in Brazil.

About 10 percent of the 95,000 emails the group receives every year come from Brazil, a spokeswoman said. Normally, it asks for a donation of $78-100 to send abortion-causing drugs through the mail. Often, government customs inspectors seize the pills.

On Feb. 1, Women On Web announced it would send the drugs for free to women with Zika. Emails from women in Brazil have increased more than 25 percent…

…An estimated 800,000 to 1 million illegal abortions take place in Brazil every year, and some 200,000 women are hospitalized with complications from the procedure…

…In El Salvador, where abortions are banned under all circumstances, including rape and risks to the mother’s life, women convicted of having the procedure can be sentenced to decades in prison…

February 18, 2016: ABC News posted an article titled: “Pope Francis Says Contraception May Be ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ During Zika Virus Outbreak”. It was written by Gillian Mohney and Terry Morgan.  From the article:

With the mosquito-borne Zika virus continuing to spread through Central and South America, Pope Francis said today that contraception could be seen as “the lesser of two evils” if women are concerned about having children with the birth defect microcephaly…

…The pope compared the situation to a decree issued by Pope Paul VI, which said nuns in Africa could use contraception due to the threat of rape.

“Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” Francis said. “In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also ask doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these mosquitos that carry this disease. This need to be worked on.

Francis did say in strong terms that abortion “is an absolute evil” and should not be considered even if there is a risk the infant will be born with microcephaly….

February 19, 2016: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a report titled “Notes from the Field: Evidence of Zika Virus Infection in Brain and Placental Tissues from Two Congenitally Infected Newborns and Two Fetal Losses – Brazil, 2015”. It was previously posted on February 10, 2017 as part of an MMWR Early Release. From the report:

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is related to dengue virus and transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, with humans actings as the principal amplifying host during the outbreaks. Zika virus was first reported in Brazil in May 2015…By February 9, 2016, local transmission of infection had been reported in 26 countries or territories in the Americas.  Infection is usually asymptomatic, and, when symptoms are present, typically results in mild and self-limited illness with symptoms including fever, rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis.

However, a surge in the number of children born with microcephaly was noted in regions of Brazil with a high prevalence of suspected Zika virus disease cases.  More than 4,700 suspected cases of microcephaly were reported from mid-2015 through January 2016, although additional investigations might eventually result in a revised lower number…In response, the Brazil Ministry of Health established a task force to further investigate possible connections between the virus and brain anomalies in infants.

Since November 2015, CDC has been developing assays for Zika virus testing in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples.  In December 2015, FFPE tissues samples from two newborns (born at 36 and 38 weeks gestation) with microcephaly who died within 20 hours of birth and two miscarriages (fetal losses at 11 and 13 weeks) were submitted to CDC from the state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil, for histopathologic evaluation and laboratory testing for suspected Zika virus infection.

All four mothers had clinical signs of Zika virus infection, including fever and rash, during the first trimester of pregnancy, but did not have clinical signs of active infection at the time of delivery or miscarriage.  The mothers were not tested for antibodies to Zika virus….

…For both newborns, significant histopathologic changes were limited to the brain, and included parenchyma calcification, microglial nodules, gloss, and cell degeneration and necrosis. Other autopsy tissues and placenta had no significant findings.  Tests for toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and HIV were negative in the two mothers who experienced miscarriages.  Placental tissue from one miscarriage showed heterogenous chorionic villi with calcification, fibrosis, perivillous fibrin deposition, and patchy intervillositis and focal villitis, while tissues from the other miscarriage had sparsely sampled normal-appearing villi.

This report describes evidence of a link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly and fetal demise through detection of viral RNA and antigens in brain tissues from infants with microcephaly and placental tissues from early miscarriages.  Histopathologic findings indicate the presence of Zika virus in fetal tissues….

February 19, 2016: World Health Organization posted information titled: “Zika virus and safe blood supply: Questions and answers” From the information:

Zika virus may present a risk to blood safety. Currently there is a limited knowledge of Zika virus an the ways it can be transmitted. The majority of cases are transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, Aedes mosquitos. Until more is known about other means of transmission, precautions should be taken to ensure the supply of blood is safe.

  • Zika virus has been detected in blood donors in affected areas.
  • Transmission of related flaviviruses (dengue and West Nile virus) by blood transfusion has been documented, and thus transmission of Zika virus is possible.
  • Recently 2 probable cases of Zika virus transmission by blood transfusion have been reported from Campinas, Brazil.

The information includes a section under the question: What measures may be considered for reducing the risk of Zika virus through blood transfusion in areas with active Zika virus transmission?

  • Temporary exclusion of donors with a recent clinical history consistent with Zika disease, such as a combination of fever or rash with pinkeye, muscle aches, headache or malaise.
  • Temporary exclusion of donors for whom laboratory test results show they may recently have been infected.
  • Donors with clinical history consistent with Zika virus disease or a recent history of Zika virus infection should be deferred for a period not less than 28 days following the full resolution of symptoms.
  • Similarly, sex partners of men with confirmed or suspected Zika virus infection in the last 3 months should be deferred for at least 28 days after their last sexual contact.
  • People who have already donated must be encouraged to report to the blood transfusion service if they subsequently get symptoms of Zika virus infection, or if they are diagnosed with recent Zika virus infection within 14 days after blood donation.
  • Blood components of appropriate shelf life (e.g. red blood cells) may be quarantined for a period of 7-14 days and released following confirmation from the donor that he or she has not experienced symptoms consistent with the acute phase of Zika virus infection. For platelets, which have a shorter shelf life, a 3-day quarantine period may be considered.
  • Countries with many visitors to affected countries may need to assess the impact of deferral on blood supply availability and weigh the risks against the benefits of restricting donations.

February 23, 2016: ThinkProgress posted an article titled: “In Response to Zika, Brazil Moves to Restrict Abortion Even More” It was written by Alex Zielinski. From the article:

Despite urgent demands from global leaders to loosen abortion penalties in Latin American in light of the Zika virus – a mosquito-borne disease that can cause serious birth defects if pregnant women are infected – Brazil lawmakers are moving in the opposite direction.

Instead, conservatives in Brazil are working to increase penalties for women who’ve had an abortion. The deeply-Catholic government is drafting legislation that would sentence women to nearly five years in jail if they abort a fetus with microcephaly – the brain disorder that is directly linked to Zika.

In Brazil, where doctors have seen 4,000 cases of babies born with microcephaly in the past four months, abortion is already illegal – aside from cases of rape, anencephaly (a more extreme version of microcephaly, where the baby often dies in infancy), or when the mother’s life is in danger. Currently, if a woman is found to have had an abortion, she is sentenced to no more than three years in prison. But under this new legislation, if a court found the case to be based on microcephaly, a woman can spend up to four-and-a-half years behind bars. And for doctors that administer the abortion? They could face a 15 year sentence…

…”With the crisis that has hit our country, a feminist movement has tried to take advantage to change our abortion laws,” said the bill’s author, Anderson Ferreira, an evangelical member of Brazil’s National Congress who represents the region hit the hardest by the Zika virus. “This movement needs to be confronted. Everyone needs to realize the gravity of the crime that is abortion and that it is not acceptable.”

Ferreira’s bill flies in the face of the global conversation about Zika. The virus, which has spread quickly across the Americas, has inspired multiple organizations and international officials to demand a change in the way Latin American countries view abortion.

Two weeks before the release of Brazil’s bill, the United Nations urged countries affected by Zika to lift their heavy-handed restrictions on abortion, saying their governments “ignore the reality that many women and girls simply cannot exercise control over whether or when or under what circumstances they become pregnant.” Shortly after, 31 U.S. Senators called for funds to improve access to reproductive health care and birth control in areas infected by Zika, which was applauded by the international Center for Reproductive Rights (CCR). Zika has even shifted the Pope’s view on the morality of using contraception in affected countries…

February 26, 2016: The World Health Organization (WHO) posted a report titled “Zika virus, Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome”. Here are some facts from the report:

  • Between January 1, 2007, and February 25, 2016, a total of 52 countries and territories have reported autochthonous (local) transmission of Zika virus, including those where the outbreak is no over and countries and territories that provided indirect evidence of local transmission.
  • Among the 52 countries and territories, Marshall Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago are the latest to report autochthonous (local) transmission of Zika virus.
  • The geographical distribution of Zika virus has steadily widened since the virus was first detected in the Americas in 2015.Autochtnonous Zika virus transmission has been reported in 31 countries and territories of this region.  Zika virus is likely to be transmitted and detected in other countries with the geographical range of competent mosquito vectors, especially Aedes aegypti.
  • So far an increase in microcephaly cases and other neonatal malformations have only been reported in Brazil and French Polynesia, although two cases linked to Brazil were detected in two other countries.
  • During 2015 and 2016, eight countries and territories have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases.
  • Evidence that neurological disorders, including microcephaly and GBS, are linked to Zika virus infection remains circumstantial, but a growing body of clinical and epidemiological data points towards a causal role for Zika virus.
  • Between October 22, 2015, and February 20, 2016, a total of 5,640 cases of microcephaly and/or central nervous system (CNS) malformation have been reported by Brazil including 120 deaths. This contrasts with the period from 2001-2014, when an average of 163 microcephaly cases was recorded nationwide per year.
  • Countries, territories and areas reporting microcephaly cases potentially associated with Zika virus infection: French Polynesia (9), Brazil (583), Hawaii (United States of America) (1), Slovenia (1)
  • Of the 5,640 suspected cases of microcephaly reported in Brazil, investigations have concluded for 1,533 cases.  Among these cases, 950 were discarded (i.e. not fulfilling the operation case definition of microcephaly and/or CNS malformation associated with congenital infection), 583 were confirmed and 4,107 remain under investigation.
  • Among the 5,640 suspected cases of microcephaly and/or CNS malformation, 120 child deaths occurred after birth or during pregnancy (miscarriage or stillbirth); 30 of these were confirmed as having microcephaly and/or CNS malformation potentially linked to congenital Zika virus infection, 80 remain under investigation and 10 were discarded.
  • An outbreak of Zika virus in French Polynesia was followed by an increase in the number of CNS malformations in children born between March 2014 and May 2015. 18 cases were reported including nine microcephaly cases compared to the national average of 0-1 cases per year.
  • Zika virus is not proven to be a cause of increased incidence of microcephaly in Brazil.  However, given the temporal and geographical associations between Zika virus infections and microcephaly, and in the absence of compelling alternative hypothesis, a causal role for Zika virus is a strong possibility that is still under investigation.

February 26, 2016: PBS News Hour posted an article titled “CDC: Zika Virus linked to ‘series of miscarriages’ in pregnant women”.  It was written by Nskan Akpan.  From the article:

Of the nine pregnant women in the U.S. with confirmed Zika virus, only three of the pregnancies have ended with live births, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today.  Many of the cases have involved infections during the first trimester, and their outcomes highlight the tough choices that pregnant mothers are facing when dealing with this mosquito-borne virus. Experts from the public health agency also voiced their surprise over the number of sexually transmitted cases of Zika virus being reported in the U.S…

…In a report issued today, the CDC provided details for 14 possible instances of sexually transmitted Zika that have been investigated since an initial case was spotted in Dallas in early February.  So far, Zika has only been transmitted sexually from infected males to female partners.

For the six most advanced investigations, CDC has confirmed viral infection in two women, while another four cases have been deemed “probable”.

“In all [of these cases], contact involved vaginal intercourse without a condom and occurred when the male partner was symptomatic or shortly after symptoms resolved,” said CDC epidemiologist Paul Mead.  In two of the 14 investigations, Zika virus was ruled out, while the remaining six are ongoing.

Symptoms of the virus typically last for a few days to one week, but Mead said that it would take months before the CDC had an answer to the question of how long the virus survives in human semen.

Mead encouraged clinicians and the public to be aware of and follow CDC’s advice for preventing sexual transmission of the Zika virus. The CDC recommends correct condom usage or abstinence for men returning form Zika-affected areas or who have pregnant partners…

March 4, 2016: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a report titled “Transmission of Zika Virus Through Sexual Contact with Travelers to Areas of Ongoing Transmission – Continental United States, 2016”. The report was originally posted online as an MMWR Early Release on February 26, 2016.  Here are some important parts of the report:

…During February 6-22, 2016, two confirmed and four probable cases of Zika sexual transmission were reported to CDC by health officials from multiple states.  Median patient age was 22.5 years (range = 19-55 years), and several women were pregnant.  In all ages where type of sexual contact was documented, the contact included condoles vaginal intercourse and occurred when the male partner was symptomatic or shortly after symptoms resolved.  Three illustrative cases are presented.

CASE 1: In mid-January, immediately after returning to the United States from a 10-day trip to the Caribbean, a man developed illness with fever, arthralgia, bilateral conjunctivitis, and a maculopapular pruritic rash.  The illness lasted 6 days.  No hematospermia or prostatitis was noted. On the 1st or 2nd day of the illness, he had condomless vaginal intercourse with his female partner.  The woman developed a febrile illness 13-14 das after sexual contact with rash, conjunctivitis, and myalgia. Zika virus RNA was detected in the woman’s serum… The woman had no recent history of travel outside the continental United States, and local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus was not considered possible….

CASE 2: In late January, a man returned to the United States after a 4-week trip to Central America.  The same day, he developed arthralgia, generalized pruritic, myalgia, and eye discomfort.  He had condomless vaginal intercourse with his female partner several times during the following 8 days.  Ten days after the man’s return, his female partner developed fever, pruritic rash, arthralgia, eye pain, photophobia, headache, vomiting, and myalgia.  Zika virus was confirmed by RT-PCR testing of serum.  Serum collected from the man tested positive for Zika virus…antibodies….The woman had no recent history of travel outside the continental United States, and current local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus was not considered possible where she lives.

CASE 3: In mid-jaguar, a man returned from Central America with a fever, rash, arthralgia, conjunctivitis, headache, and myalgia.  His symptoms began 3 days earlier and persisted until approximately 3 days after his return.  On the day of his return, he had sexual contact with his female partner.  Ten days later, the woman developed rash, arthralgia, conjunctivitis, and myalgia. Serum collected from the woman tested positive for Zika virus…The woman had no recent travel outside of the continental United States, and current local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus was not considered possible where she lives…

…The cases here suggest that sexual transmission of Zika virus is more common than previously reported. To date, all reported cases of sexual transmission of Zika virus have been from symptomatic male partners.  Sexual transmission of Zika virus from infected women to their sex partners and from persons who are asymptomatically infected has not been reported.  Prevention of infection during pregnancy is particularly important because of the growing evidence linking Zika virus infection with congenital microcephaly, fetal loss, and other adverse reproductive outcomes. Whether sexual transmission of Zika virus poses a different risk for congenital infection than that of mosquito-borne transmission is unknown…

March 4, 2016: The Atlantic posted an article titled: “Toward an Understanding of Zika’s Neurological Dangers” The article was written by Julie Beck. From the article:

…A new study published Friday in Cell Stem Cell shows how Zika affects neural stem cells, which appear to be particularly vulnerable to the virus. This may be the mechanism by which Zika could cause microcephaly, a condition in which a baby is born with an unusually small head due to incomplete brain development.

Researchers examined the effects of a strain of Zika virus (not the same strain currently circulating in the Americas, but the original strain, from Africa) on three different kinds of cells: induced pluripotent stem cells (stem cells with the potential to turn into any kind of cell in the body); human cortical neural progenitor cells, or NPCs (stem cells that are designed to become brain cells, specifically); and immature cortical neurons (young brain cells).

They found that the Zika virus absolutely loves cortical neural progenitor cells. It just loves ’em. Even with a relatively small viral load (one virus for every 10 cells), after three days, 65 to 90 percent of the brain stem cells were infected, meaning the cells were reproducing the virus…

…As they’re making all these viruses, the NPCs’ growth and reproductive cycle is slowing down, and the cells are dying. Because a fetus’s nervous system is mostly developed by the second trimester, this research suggests that fetuses would be most at risk during the first trimester, when NPCs abound. Research has already shown that Zika can cross the placenta – the virus was found in the amniotic fluid of two Brazilian pregnant women whose fetuses were diagnosed with microcephaly. Once it does cross the barrier, it may target these brain stem cells, which could be what’s causing the condition…

April 12, 2016: The World Health Organization posted information titled: “Zika virus infection – Viet Nam”. From the information:

On 5 April 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of Viet Nam notified WHO of 2 confirmed cases of locally-acquired Zika virus infection.

The first case, a resident of Nha Trang, Viet Nam, had onset of fever, rash, conjunctivitis and headache on 26 March 2016. On 31, March, the case tested positive for Zika virus infection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at Pasteur Institute Nha Trang. On 4 April the result was confirmed by the Pasteur Institute Ho Chi Minh City and National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

The second case, a resident of Ho Chi Min City, Viet Nam, developed rash, conjunctivitis, and malaise on 29 March 2016. On 31 March the case tested positive for Zika virus infection by PCR at Pasteur Institute Ho Chi Minh City. On 2 April the result was confirmed by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and again on 4 April by the Nagasaki University…

April 13, 2016: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a Media Statement titled: “CDC Concludes Zika Causes Microcephaly and Other Birth Defects”.  From the Media Statement:

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have concluded, after careful review of existing evidence, that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other fetal brain defects.  In the report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the CDC authors describe a rigorous weighing of using established scientific criteria…

…The report notes that no single piece of evidence provides conclusive proof that Zika infection is a cause of microcephaly and other fetal brain defects.  Rather, increasing evidence from a number of recently published studies and a careful evaluation using established scientific criteria supports the authors’ conclusions.

The finding that Zika virus infection can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects means that a woman who is infected with Zika during pregnancy has an increased risk of having a baby with these health problems.  It does not mean, however, that all women who have Zika virus infection during pregnancy will have babies with problems. As has been seen during the current Zika outbreak, some infected women have delivered babies that appear to be healthy.

Establishing this causal relationship between Zika and fetal brain defects is an important step in driving additional prevention efforts, focusing research activities, and reinforcing the need for direct communication about the risks of Zika.  While one important question about causality has been answered, many questions remain. Answering these will be the focus of ongoing research to help improve prevention efforts, which ultimately may help to reduce the effects of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

At this time, the CDC is not changing its current guidance as a result of this finding. Pregnant women should continue to avoid travel to areas where Zika is actively spreading.  If a pregnant woman travels to an area with active Zika virus transmission, she should talk with her health care provider and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus. We also continue to encourage women and their partners in areas with active Zika transmission to engage in pregnancy planning and counseling with their health care providers so that they know the risks and the ways to mitigate them.

April 15, 2016: The World Health Organization posted information titled “Zika virus infection – Chile” From the information:

On 26, March 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of Chile notified PAHO/WHO of a confirmed case of sexual transmission of Zika virus; this is the first case acquired in continental Chilean territory where there is no presence of aedes [vector] mosquitos.

The case (Person A) developed symptoms consistent with Zika virus disease: rash, retroauricular adenopathies, conjunctivitis, and arthritis on 4 February. Her partner (Person B) developed symptoms consistent with Zika virus after traveling to a country where local transmission of Zika virus is known…

…Health authorities in Chile are taking the following measures:

  • conducting social risk communication on safer sexual practices,
  • advising travelers to areas where Zika virus is circulating to seek medical assistance if presenting symptoms associated with Zika virus infection after return.

April 19, 2016: The Atlantic posted an article titled: “Zika is a Delayed Epidemic” It was written by Julie Beck. From the article:

…Human Zika virus infection appears to have changed in character while expanding its geographic range,” The WHO paper concludes. “The change is from an endemic, mosquito-borne infection causing mild illness across equatorial Africa and Asia, to an infection causing, from 2007 onwards, large outbreaks, and from 2013 onwards, outbreaks linked with neurological disorders.”

“If Zika didn’t produce any of these, we would not be talking about this issue now,” says Marcos Espinal, the director of communicable diseases for the Pan-American Health Organization, The WHO’s regional office for the Americas. “Zika, in most cases, is a very mild disease.”

Which means the problem is not the suffering inflicted by the initial infection; there probably won’t even be any suffering for most, since four out of five people never experience any symptoms. The danger is what might happen later – the fetuses that get microcephaly, the people whose brains and spinal cords swell and possibly sustain damage, the people temporarily paralyzed by Guillain-Barré, the ones who die because the Guillain-Barré stops their breath (as it can sometimes do) and they’re unable to get to a hospital with a respirator.

Zika is an epidemic on delay, with the worse of the outbreak’s effects trailing in the wake of the mosquitos that carry the virus. In Brazil, the first reports of “an illness characterized by skin rash” appeared in March of 2015, according to The WHO; the first reports of neurological problems appeared in July. Until those neurological symptoms show up in a population, Zika presents a lot like its viral family members dengue and chikunguyna. And there was no commercially available diagnostic test for Zika then, so when it first appeared, there was no good way to know that the country was seeing something new…

…With no vaccine on the near-term horizon (Espinal says one is slated to go to clinical trial in September), the only real option to get out in front of the outbreak is mosquito control, which is difficult….

…This immediate control is needed to minimize the impact of Zika’s delayed effects. We’re still in the thick of this outbreak, and it’s impossible to know exactly how far its tendrils will reach, what the consequences will be, or even what the full range of possible consequences are, given that new associations seem to keep popping up…

…It will likely take some time for the long-term effects of the epidemic to fully make themselves known. It’s safe to say that in some countries, there will be a generation of kids that has higher-than-usual rates of microcephaly, though just how that will affect their lives, it’s hard to say. Other neurological complications may linger, or they may be resolved fairly quickly…

April 29, 2016: NBC News posted an article titled: “U.S. Reports First Zika Virus Death in Puerto Rico”. It was written by Maggie Fox. From the article:

A man infected with Zika virus in Puerto Rick has died from complications of the infection, health officials said Friday.

The man, in his 70s, died from internal bleeding caused by a rare immune reaction to the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

It’s the first death in the United States from Zika virus…

…The victim had a condition called thrombocytopenia – low platelet count that can result in bleeding. [CDC’s Tyler] Sharp said its a rare but known complication of Zika and not a sign that the virus is causing worse symptoms than expected…

…”With immune thrombocytopenia pupura cases, our best understanding is those antibodies that normally would be directed against Zika are actually directed against platelets,” Sharp said. “It’s the immune system attacking the host.”…

…The CDC and Puerto Rico health department reported the death in a regular update about Zika. Health officials said they tested more than 6,000 people for Zika infection. About 11 percent of them – 683 people – had Zika.

Of them, 65 are pregnant women. And 17 patients, or 2 percent of all, were sick enough to require hospitalization, the CDC team reported. Five had Guillan-Barre, a paralyzing syndrome that can follow many different infections and that’s now being noted as Zika infects hundreds of thousands of people in the Americas…

May 6, 2016: PalmBeachPost.com posted an article titled: “Genetically modified mosquitos could join Zika virus fight”.  It was written by News Service of Florida.  From the article:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Thursday he’d support the use of genetically modified mosquitos in the Florida Keys to help stop the spread of the Zika virus…

…Florida has reported 102 documented cases – the most in the nation – of the mosquito-borne virus, which emerged last year in South Africa.  The virus, while causing mild sickness, has been associated with severe birth defects.

Oxitic, a British company, wants to release about 3 million genetically modified mosquitoes in the Keys as part of the first-ever trial in the U.S. of such engineering.  The genetic change is intended to produce offspring that die young and can’t reproduce.

“It’s not like taking a gene out of something and replacing it in the genetic makeup of something else,” Nelson said. “This is altering a gene in the genetic makeup of the (Aedis) aegypti mosquito to turn off that mosquito’s ability to reproduce.  You have to meet a crisis head-on.  And if this is what it takes to eliminate that strain of mosquito, then that is what we’re going to have to do”…

May 18, 2016: The New York Times posted an article titled: “Brazil’s Abortion Restriction Compound Challenge of Zika Virus” It was written by Brent McDonald. From the article:

Marina Leite arrived at a hospital from her rural village in February, 28 weeks pregnant and struggling to speak or breathe.

She was carrying double the normal amount of amniotic fluid, a life-threatening complication that, her doctors told her, stemmed from severe fetal deformities linked to the Zika virus.

A week later, Ms. Leite, 35, had an abortion…

…In almost all circumstances, abortion is a crime in Brazil, punishable by up to three years in jail. But in Ms. Leite’s case, because of the risk to her health, the abortion was considered legal and the doctor was willing to perform it…

…Well before the rise if Zika, there were as many as 900,000 illegal abortions in Brazil each year, according to current estimates based on a 2013 study. Last year, the number of women who sought medical attention for botched abortions outpaced the number of women who received legal abortions by nearly 100 to one, according to estimates by the country’s Ministry of Health.

The law prohibiting abortions makes exceptions if a woman’s life is at risk, if she was raped, or if the fetus has anencephaly, a rare condition in which part of the brain or skull is missing. There is no exception for microcephaly or other developmental defects caused by Zika. In fact, Brazilian evangelical legislators are considering a bill to increase penalties for women who abort a fetus with microcephaly…

…In Brazil, women with money have better chances of finding a person qualified to assist with a clandestine medical procedure. For people who cannot afford black market abortion pills, which carry the added risk of being counterfeit, methods include drinking abortive teas, inserting sharp objects into the uterus and even jumping from roofs. Unsafe abortion is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in Brazil, according to the Health ministry…

May 20, 2016: The World Health Organization posted information titled: “WHO confirms Zika virus strain imported from the Americas to Cabo Verde” from the information:

Sequencing of the virus in Cabo Verde by Instiut Pasteur, Dakar confirms that the Zika virus currently circulating in Cabo Verde is the same as the one circulating in the Americas – the Asian type – and was most likely imported from Brazil. This is the first time that the Zika strain responsible for the outbreaks linked to neurological disorders and microcephaly has been detected in Africa…

May 26, 2016: Travel Health Pro posted an article titled: “India Added As A Moderate Risk Area For Zika Virus Transmission” From the article:

On 25 May, 2017, the World Health Organization added India to their list of countries in their Zika virus (ZIKV) classification category 2: ‘Area either with evidence of virus circulation before 2015 or with ongoing transmission

May 28, 2016: The World Health Organization posted information titled: “WHO public health advice regarding the Olympics and Zika virus”. From the information:

Based on current assessment, cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus. Brazil is 1 of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report continuing transmission for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice.

WHO advices pregnant women not to travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission. This includes Rio de Janerio. Pregnant women’s sex partners returning from areas circulating virus should be counselled to practice safer sex or abstain throughout the pregnancy…

…WHO/PAHO is providing public health advice to the Government of Brazil and the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, on ways to further mitigate the risk of athletes and visitors contracting Zika virus during the Games. An important focus of WHO advice revolves around measures to reduce populations of Aedes mosquitos which transmit chikugunya, dengue and yellow fever in addition to Zika virus.

Based on the current assessment of Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 countries in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games. WHO will continue to monitor the situation and update our advice as necessary…

June 1, 2016: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicaid and CHIP services (CMCS) sent an informational bulletin to states.  From the informational bulletin:

SUBJECT: Medicaid Benefits Available for the Prevention, Detection and Response to the Zika Virus

The purpose of this CMCS Informational Bulletin is to inform Medicaid agencies and interested stakeholders about how Medicaid services and authorities can help states and territories prevent, detect, and respond to the Zika virus, including efforts to prevent the transmission and address health risks to beneficiaries from the Zika virus. We encourage states to use the flexibilities outlined below…

…Key Services and Benefits in the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Zika Virus and Related Health Conditions

Prevention – There is no vaccine available for Zika virus. The major means of prevention currently available are mosquito control, protection against mosquito bites, and contraception for women of childbearing age who do not wish to become pregnant.

Repellents – Mosquito repellents that are applies to the skin can aid in preventing infection with the Zika virus. CDC recommends people use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – registered insect repellents with one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-metnthane-diol. EPA-registered repellents have been evaluated by the EPA for effectiveness. As a general matter, over the counter insect repellents would not be covered by Medicaid. However, state Medicaid programs may choose to cover mosquito repellants when prescribed by an authorized health professional and these products would be eligible for Federal Financial Participations (FFP) under such circumstances.

Family Planning and Services for Men and Women Who are of Child Bearing Age or Women who are Pregnant

The Zika virus has serious effects for pregnant women, fetuses, and children, making the family planning services and supplies available through Medicaid critical. Counseling to help beneficiaries make informed and responsible decisions about family planning, reproductive health and contraception is a critical tool to prevent the spread of Zika virus and health conditions associated with Zika virus, such as microcephaly.

  • Family planning counseling: States may offer family planning counseling to help beneficiaries make informed decisions about family planning and reproductive health, as well as learn safe sexual practices to reduce Zika transmission.
  • Contraception: The family planning services and supplies benefit covers services that may prevent the transmission of the Zika virus by providing access to barrier method contraceptives such as condoms and other methods of contraception that prevent or delay pregnancy. States may all cover item such as oral contraceptives, condoms, diaphragms, foams, gels, patches, rings, injections, tablets, emergency contraceptives and long-acting reversible contraception (LACR). LARC includes both intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants. Reimbursement for LARC should be reasonable and include the device itself as well as its insertion and removal…

…Services provided under the family planning benefit are eligible for enhances FFP at 90 percent…

…Long-term Services and Supports: Children born with microcephaly or other serious Zika-related disabilities or individuals who require long-term rehabilitative care while recovering from GBS may require nursing home services or home and community-based long-term services and supports. Medicaid offers many options for coverage of these services, which can also be used to support children living at home. States have significant flexibility in designing these services..

June 21, 2016: Science Alert posted an article titled “The FDA Just Approved The First Human Trials of a Zika Vaccine”. It was written by Peter Doctrill.  From the article:

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first human tests of an experimental Zika virus vaccine, the makers of the drug announced on Monday.

Called GLS-5700, the medication will be used in a clinical trial involving 40 healthy people, and represents the first major step towards ultimately immunizing people against Zika – which was declared a global public health emergency by World Health Organization (WHO) in February…

…GLS-5700 works by stimulating the body’s immune system to defend itself against Zika.  Synthetic fragments of viral DNA are injected into the skin, prompting the immune system’s T-cells to generate antibodies to fight the infection…

…It’s worth pointing out that just because GLS-5700 has reached human testing, there’s no guarantee it will turn out to safely immunize people against Zika.  The vaccine has been tested successfully in small and large animal models, but clinical trials in humans could take several years to demonstrate that the treatment is safe, and there’s no guarantee it will ultimately prove effective or make it through subsequent testing phases…

June 22, 2016: Center for Reproductive Rights posted a press release titled: “New Study: Zika Virus Fueling Online Demand for Abortion Pills in Latin America”. From the press release:

Since the Pan America Health Organization issued its Zika advisory in November 2015, online requests to Women on Web for abortion pills have exponentially increased, according to a new study from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The study noted the number of online requests for medication abortion by women in Zika affected countries increased significantly, from 36 percent in Costa Rica to 108 percent in Brazil, the first country affected by the virus.

The NEJM study analyzes data of online requests for medication abortion through Women on Web between January 1, 2010 and March 2, 2016 in 19 Latin American countries, assessing whether requests for abortion increase after the Pan American Health Organization issued its Zika alert. Restrictive abortion laws are prevalent throughout Latin America, leading women to turn to organizations such as Women on Web to end pregnancies.

The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international health emergency and estimates the outbreak could infect up to 4 million people in the Americas. To date, the governments of Brazil, Columbia, Honduras and El Salvador – where abortion laws are restrictive and there is limited availability of contraceptives – have called on women to avoid pregnancy to curb the virus.

Said Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Today’s New England Journal of Medicine study proves yet again that women will take whatever steps necessary to control their fertility, health and lives…”

June 23, 2016: Vox posted an article titled: “House Republicans used the sit-in to vote on a Zika bill that targeted Planned Parenthood”. It was written by Emily Crockett.  From the article:

While House Democrats were holding an all-night sit-in to demand a vote on gun control, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tried his best to act like it wasn’t happening.

At about 1am on Thursday, while drowned out by cries of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” from Democrats and partially blocked from C-SPAN’s cameras by protest signs, Ryan held some procedural votes on when the House would reconvene to vote on emergency funding to address the Zika virus. The votes were held at 2:30 am, and the Zika bill passed.

It was a surreal moment, the likes of which Washington insiders say they’ve never seen. But the actual content of that Zika bill, which passed the House, really was business as usual for congressional Republicans: It conditioned government funding for women’s health on excluding Planned Parenthood.

Zika causes severe birth defects, and it can be sexually transmitted. Helping women prevent pregnancy is an important part of Zika prevention efforts. Yet part of the Republicans’ bill effectively excludes Planned Parenthood from distributing birth control under a $95 million grant program…

…Democrats and reproductive health advocates were outraged at the Zika bill…

…Not only did the bill fall short of what President Obama had asked for, but most of the funding was also offset by spending cuts – which isn’t typical for emergency funding, and which Democrats said could set a dangerous precedent. Moreover, most of those spending cuts came from Obamacare, and Ebola virus funding also took a hit…

…[Obama] threatened to veto an earlier package that had the same controversial pay-fors, although that package only offered about half the funds that this one does.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest released a statement saying the while the details of the plan are still being reviewed, it’s clear that Republicans “have put political games ahead of the health and safety of the American people, particularly pregnant women and their babies.” He added that it’s “four months too late and nearly a billion dollars short of what our public health experts have said is necessary to do everything possible to fight the Zika virus.”

June 28, 2016: ABC News posted an article titled: “Senate Zika Bill Falls Apart Largely over Planned Parenthood Objections” It was written by  Ali Rogin. From the article:

A billion-dollar bill to help address the Zika virus crisis fell apart on the Senate floor today over perennial partisan squabbles – namely, about whether to devote funding to the family planning organization Planned Parenthood.

Democrats blamed Republicans for using the bill to “whack” the organization, while Republicans said the bill included plenty of funding, allocated in the most effective way to target those most affected by the Zika virus, including those seeking contraceptive services.

Both statements are disputed by the opposing side, but the fact is that the bill failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to advance, largely over disagreements about a portion of the money that amounted to less than 9 precent of its funding.

The Zika bill also contained provisions related to the environment and the display of Confederate flags that Democrats find objectionable. In addition to the policy specifics, Democrats object to the fact that the House Republicans revised and passed the conference report in a party-line vote in the dead of the night last week amid the protest of Democrats who were staging an unrelated sit-in on the floor of the House on gun safety measures.

But no provision got more public pushback from Democrats than the lack of direct funding to Planned Parenthood…

…The White House threatened on Monday to veto the bill, citing its inadequate funding overall and claiming it would block access to contraception…

…After the bill failed this morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would address the issue again sometime after the Forth of July weekend. But time is running out, with only two weeks of the legislative session left before senators leave for the rest of the summer.

June 28, 2016: NBC News posted an article titled “New Studies Show Just How Tricky the Zika Virus Is”. It was written by Maggie Fox.  From the article:

A batch of new studies show the Zika virus is tricker than it appeared at first glance, lurking for months in pregnant females and interfering with the immune system’s response.

The findings explain why the virus seems so mild in some people, yet causes devastating birth defects. And while the data suggests it is not going to be so easy to fight the epidemic, at least two studies offers some hope for a good, protective vaccine…

…Zika was thought to cause a brief and often symptom-free infection in most people. But David O’Connor and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in Madison found that while the virus was gone from most monkeys within 10 days, it stayed in the blood of pregnant monkeys for as long as two months.

Pregnancy suppresses the immune system, and it’s possible that pregnant women just cannot fight off the infection as well, O’Connor and colleagues said in their report, published in the journal Nature Communications…

…Researchers found evidence of Zika in the blood, saliva, urine and vaginal fluid of the monkeys. The two monkeys are still pregnant, O’Connor said, so the researchers still don’t know if the babies are affected…

…Several viruses can cause birth defects and doctors say the earlier in pregnancy a woman is infected, the more dangerous it is to the fetus. Other teams are studying pregnant women in Zika-affected areas to see what percentage of those who get infected have babies with birth defects, and to see whether fetuses infected later in pregnancy are less likely to suffer birth defects…

…There’s no specific treatment and no vaccine. But trials have already started on one vaccine in human volunteers.  Others are close to starting…

…Another bit of good news – having monkeys to study may help predict what will happen among people down the road, said Matthew Aliota of the University of Wisconsin team.

“You may have to follow children for five years or longer to tell whether there is cognitive impairment in their development,” Aliota said. “But it’s something you can answer with marques relatively quickly, and that speed is very important in the context of an epidemic.”

June 29, 2016: Slate posted an article titled: “Zika Funding Bill Fails Over Planned Parenthood, Confederate Flag, Obamacare Disputes” It was written by Ben Mathis-Lilley.  From the article:

A bill that included funding for Zika virus response activities has failed in the Senate because of provisions in the bill that involve Planned Parenthood and the Confederate flag, among other disputed issues. With Senate Democrats opposing the measure, a Tuesday vote to “involve cloture” (end debate) on the bill received only 52 of the 60 votes that would have been necessary to hold a vote.

Among the problems that Democrats say they have with the appropriations bill that include the Zika funding:

    • It cuts $450 million in Affordable Care Act funding
    • It doesn’t include money for Planned Parenthood or any other contraceptive providers. (This is a shortcoming because Zika can be transmitted sexually.)

June 29, 2016: The Hill posted an article titled “Real relief for Zika includes family planning”.  It was written by Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Global Latanya Mapp Frett and CEO of Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Dr. Hall Lawrence.  From the article:

It’s been nearly five months since the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a public health emergency.  While it’s been spreading rapidly in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, Zika is also affecting people in the United States, with over 800 travel and sexually-transmitted cases confirmed here; a number that is expected to grow in the coming months as mosquito season ramps up.  In total, scientists have predicted there will be 3 million to 4 million new Zika infections in the Americas this year…

…At this time, there is no treatment or vaccine for Zika.  But there is a solution that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees can lessen the impact of the outbreak: voluntary family planning.  In fact, ensuring access to voluntary family planning is the primary strategy recommended by the CDC to reduce Zika-related pregnancy complications. Meanwhile, millions of women are unable to access adequate sexual and reproductive health care.  That’s why it is unacceptable that the Senate conference report on Zika lacks family planning funding.  As Congress finally negotiates funding for a comprehensive response to Zika, family planning must be part of the response, globally and domestically…

June 29, 2016: Science Alert posted an article titled “Two Zika Vaccines Are Gearing Up For Human Trials After Success in Mice”.  It was written by Peter Dockrill.  The article is about a study that was posted in Nature International Journal of Science that was published on June 28, 2016.

Here are some key points from the Science Alert article:

Scientists in the US and Brazil have developed two separate vaccine candidates that provide mice with complete protection from Zika virus after just a single injection.

According to the researchers, this is the first time Zika vaccines have been reported successful in animal models, and the two candidates are now being readied for human trials…

…[Lead researcher Dan] Barouch’s team, working together with researchers from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, tested a DNA vaccine based on a Zika virus strain isolated in Brazil, and a purified inactivated virus (PIV) vaccine based on a strain isolated in Puerto Rico.

Mice given a single shot of either of the two vaccine candidates were exposed to Zika virus at four weeks after vaccination, and a separate group eight weeks after vaccination.  In both experiments, the mice were shown to be immune from Zika, with the vaccines eliciting an antibody response that staved off infection…

…Of course, there’s no guarantee that we’ll see the same results in humans as the researchers have found in mice – but the scientists remain hopeful.

June 29, 2016: Center for Reproductive Rights posted an article titled: “A Duty to Protect”. From the article:

Katia lives in El Salvador, one of several Latin American countries where the government has advised women to avoid pregnancy due to the spread of Zika virus. Mosquito-borne and sometimes sexually transmitted, the disease has been linked to an increase in the birth of infants with microcephaly, which can lead to severe developmental problems. It also increases the risk of developing an autoimmune disorder known as Guillain Barre syndrome, and researchers are investigating possible links between Zika virus and various neurological conditions, as well as tightened risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.

“They’ve said we shouldn’t get pregnant from now until 2018,  but what they haven’t said is ‘use this contraceptive or birth control of have these tests,” says Katia, who is 36 years old and contracted Zika this past year. “And they haven’t given contraception to women with low economic resources either.”…

…El Salvador’s long-standing failure to prioritize women’s reproductive rights has left women in the country – particularly poor women – needlessly vulnerable to the impact of a public health problem like Zika. In Latin America, approximately 55 percent of pregnancies are unintentional, and 22 percent of women of reproductive age have an unmet need for effective birth control…

The situation becomes more dire when women face a pregnancy they wish – or need – to end. In a number of Latin and Caribbean countries, including Katia’s home country of El Salvador, abortion is completely banned – with no exceptions, even in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal anomalies, or when a woman’s life is in danger. Generally only women of means are able to travel elsewhere to obtain safe abortion services, while low-income women – for whom having an unexpected pregnancy is often most untenable – are forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term or seek clandestine, unsafe abortions.

In El Salvador, the political climate is so hostile to abortion that hundreds of women have been criminalized and prosecuted as a result of the ban, including 17 women who were charged with homicide and sentenced to 30 or more years in prison after experiencing miscarriages or other obstetric emergencies…

…This past week, El Salvador confirmed its first case of a baby born with microcephaly linked to Zika. In Brazil, where Zika-linked microcephaly was first identified, there have been more than 1,400 cases since last fall…

…Along with our partners both domestically in Latin America, the Center has urged governments to place reproductive rights at the center of their response to the Zika outbreak…

The part of the Center for Reproductive Rights article linked to another article by Centro De Derechos Reproductivos titled: “Justice Undone”.  The article was posted on January 29, 2015. It has information about the 17 women – called Las 17 – who have been imprisoned in El Salvador after experiencing traumatic pregnancy-related complications.   Many have been convicted of murder and sentenced to up to 40 years in prison. Several of these women are in prison because they had a miscarriage.

June 29, 2016: Miami Herald posted an article titled: “Rubio can be a hero in the Zika fight” It was written by the Miami Herald Editorial Board.  From the editorial:

On Tuesday, a woman gave birth to Florida’s first baby born with the now well-known birth defect associated with Zika. The mom, a citizen of Haiti, was infected outside of the United States, but her infant was born here with the abnormally small head that signals brain damage.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate failed to pass long-overdue legislation to fight Zika with a $1.1 billion infusion that very same day…

…Senate Democrats blocked the spending bill because, despite containing the appropriation for Zika, it was also a minefield of Republican-backed funding cuts and policy changes that the Dems rightly found untenable. These included measures that would erect hurdles for women trying to access contraceptive services through Planned Parenthood and similar organizations; strip $540 million from the Affordable Care Act and weaken restrictions on the use of pesticides.

Senate GOP leaders didn’t deny the allegations that they had larded the spending bill measure to hobble the things they love to hate, but they blamed the Democrats anyway for blocking the bill…

…This, however, presents the perfect opportunity for Sen. Marco Rubio, who wasn’t running for reelection until he decided that he was last week, to step into the breach and show his constituents once and for all that he is capable of acting in the best interests of something other than his career.

Sen. Rubio is well-positioned to make the case to his Republican colleagues that Florida and the rest of the nation need some congressional sanity in the fight against Zika. More important, research and prevention measures need funding now…

June 30, 2016: Reuters posted an article titled: “More U.S. babies with Zika-related birth defects reported by health agency”.  It was written by Bill Berkrot.  From the article:

Three more babies have been born in the United States with birth defects likely linked to Zika virus infections, while another lost pregnancy was linked to the virus, according to figures updated by health officials on Thursday.

That brings the U.S. totals, as of June 23, to seven babies with microcephaly or other Zika-related birth defects such as serious brain abnormalities, and five lost pregnancies from either miscarriage, stillbirth, or termination.

The figures were listed in a U.S. Zika pregnancy registry created earlier this month bu the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….

…Brazil has confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly in babies whose mothers were infected with Zika during pregnancy in the current outbreak.

More than 900 U.S. Zika cases reported so far have all involved people who contracted the virus outside of the United States in areas with active Zika outbreaks, or were infected through unprotected sex with an infected partner.

There have not yet been any cases reported of local transmission of the virus in the United States, but health experts expect local transmission to occur with the onset of mosquito season, especially in Gulf Coast states, such as Florida and Texas…

June 30, 2016: The Seattle Times posted an article titled: “Snohomish County man is diagnosed with Zika virus”.  It was written by JoNel Aleccia.  From the article:

Zika virus infection has been confirmed in a Snohomish County man who traveled to the Caribbean, bringing to 10 the total number of cases in Washington State.

The infection was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health official said Thursday.  The man, in his 30s, is recovering.

All the cases in the state so far have been detected in people who traveled to any of the more than 45 countries where Zika virus is spreading. Five cases have been detected in King County, with one case each in Chelan, Clallam, Cowlitz, Mason and now Snohomish counties…

…Zika infections have been reported in 935 people in U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and in more than 2,000 people in U.S. territories, according to the CDC.  Those figures include infections in 287 pregnant women in the continental U.S. and 250 women in U.S. territories…

July 1, 2016: Cincinnati.com (part of the USA Today Network) posted an article titled: “First Zika case reported in Cincinnati”.  It was written by Anne Saker.  From the article:

Cincinnati has registered its first case of Zika virus, in a middle-aged man who traveled to a Caribbean nation in May.

That led public health officials to caution residents at the start of the July Fourth weekend to take great precaution against mosquito bites…

…This week, the city also acquired mosquito traps that are best for capturing the Aedes variety believed to be the chief culprit in the spread of the illness.  Robert Smith, with the city’s environmental technical services department, said the city will be setting out the traps over the next few weeks.

[Interim Health Commissioner Dr. O’dell] Owens said the local Zika case turned up in a man in his 50s who in late May visited a Caribbean country that is a hot zone for the mosquito-borne virus.  Owens declined to identify the patient’s destination to protect privacy.

The case is the 21st that Ohio has recorded since world and federal health authorities raised the alarm earlier this year about the mosquito-borne illness. The chief concern is that Zika virus appears to cause a significant birth defect called microcephaly, causing a baby to be born with a smaller-than-normal head…

…Northern Kentucky public health officials reported their first Zika virus last week, again in someone who had traveled recently to one of the 30 countries in Central and South America experiencing the outbreak…

July 2, 2016: The Guardian posted an article titled “Zika in Florida: 10 new cases confirmed amid concern over US response”.  It was written by Alan Yuhas.  From the article:

Florida health officials confirmed 10 new Zika infections on Friday, the largest number of infections found on a single day and a sign of the United States’ faltering response to a looming crisis.

There are now nearly 1,000 people infected with the virus in Washington DC and the 50 states, 246 of them in Florida, and 2,026 infections in American territories, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Those totals include 537 pregnant women, 43 of whom live in Florida.  The state has also seen the first case of an infant born with microcephaly, the fifth case of the birth defect related to the virus in the US…

…Even without mosquitos, the virus has steadily drifted north through the spring and summer.  All but five states – Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota – has reported an infection.  It has also started to appear in northern cities: Cincinnati reported its first case this week, New York health officials reported 233 cases, mostly in people who have travelled to the Dominican Republic, and Washington State reached double digits…

July 5, 2016: TIME posted an article titled “Women and Children Cannot Afford to Wait for Zika Funding”.

It was written by Abigail R.A. Aiken, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and Faculty Associate at the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. It was also written by James Trussel, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Emeritus at the Office of Population Research at Princeton University and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Edinburgh.  From the article:

Since the outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil in November 2015, over 8,000 babies have been born with confirmed microcephaly. The rapid spread of the disease has left millions of women and families living in fear and uncertainty as Latin-American public-health officials have scrambled to coordinate an emergency response.

This dithering is staggering irresponsible. Despite repeated calls from public health officials, and a request from the White House for $1.9 billion to fund mosquito control and increased access to contraception, Congress is nowhere near approving a Zika appropriations bill.

Last Tuesday, one of the final opportunities to pass such a bill before the seven-week summer recess ended in stalemate: Republicans attached a poison-pill amendment barring Planned Parenthood from receiving funds to provide contraception, and Democrats abandoned the bill.

This move is reminiscent of similar efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood in state legislatures across the country. Once again, a critical effort to protect public health and ensure reproductive autonomy has been sacrificed in favor of a political agenda. As a result, millions of women and their families have been failed…

…With no funding to support contraceptive access on the horizon, many fewer women at risk of Zika infection will be able to avoid pregnancy. With no funding to ensure mosquito control, many fewer women who do become pregnant will be able to avoid Zika exposure. It is now clear that microcephaly is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the range of fetal anomalies caused by Zika. Some neurotoxic effects are not visible on ultrasound scans and may not be apparent until after birth, or possibly even years later. In light if this reality, women may be left with no reliable information on whether their pregnancy will result in birth defects…

…The decision about whether or not to end a pregnancy in light of confirmed or possible Zika infection is no doubt a very personal one. But personal choices become issues of public policy when the ability to choose a particular option is foreclosed. In the United States, while women have a legally protected right to choose abortion, the practice of that right depends on socioeconomic circumstances and a geographical location….

July 7, 2016: TIME posted an article titled: “How Abortion Restrictions Could Collide With Zika in the U.S. This Summer”. It was written by Alexandra Sifferlin.  From the article:

Nearly 540 pregnant women in the United States have Zika, which is proven to cause the devastating birth defect microcephaly and is suspected to cause other neurological defects, too. Health authorities strongly recommend that women of childbearing age take precaution against pregnancy or delay attempts at conception if they suspect they have contracted – or are at risk of contracting – Zika. For women in the U.S., where abortion is a legal medical procedure, those who contract Zika while pregnant will have to make the highly personal choice of whether or not to terminate their pregnancy.

“We don’t know how to prevent the Zika virus, but we do know how to prevent pregnancy,” says Dr. Chris Zahn, Vice President of Practice Activities for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “The Zika crisis makes it impossible to ignore the need for full access to safe, affordable, and effective reproductive health care options for women – no matter where they live.”

Many of the states where Zika is most likely to hit – areas that are home to the aegis aegypti mosquito that transmits the virus – are places with major restrictions on abortion access.. such as extended wait periods or limits on when abortions can be performed – as well as the unintended pregnancy rate…

…Meanwhile, in Zika hit countries, more women are seeking abortion, a recent report shows. As TIME reported: “Abortion is illegal in many of the Latin American countries where Zika is spreading. But in the new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine…researchers looked at the number of women from 19 Latin American countries who contact the nonprofit Women on Web (WoW) to request abortion medication – from January 2010 until March 2016. During that time, the researchers found that the orders spiked between 36% an 108%, depending on the country…

July 8, 2016: NBC News posted an article titled: “Zika Patient Dies in Utah; 1st Death in Continental U.S.” It was written by Maggie Fox. From the article:

The continental U.S. has had its first Zika-related death. Salt Lake County officials said a patient who died at the end of June had a Zika virus infection that contributed to his death.

Zika is almost never fatal, but it’s been known to kill people. An elderly Puerto Rican man died in April from Zika complications.

The virus is not yet spreading in the United States, but health officials say thousands of people have carried it back with them from affected countries in Central and South America. The patient, who has not been identified in any way, had been traveling to a Zika-affected zone, health officials in Utah told a news conference…

…The officials said they found out about the case by checking death certificates.

July 13, 2016: USA Today posted an article titled “Baby with Zika-linked microcephaly born in Texas”.  It was written by Liz Szabo.  From the article:

A baby in Texas was born with Zika-linked microcephaly, a condition in which babies have abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development.

The baby was born in Harris County, where Houston is located.  The mother had traveled from Latin America, where she was likely infected with the mosquito-borne virus. Neither the mother nor the baby are infectious, and officials say there is no risk to the public…

…Seven babies had been born in the U.S. with birth defects related to Zika as of June 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Zika also was linked to six pregnancy losses, which includes miscarriages and abortions, in which fetuses had birth defects, in the U.S. and its territories…

…More that 1,100 travel-related Zika cases have been diagnosed in the continental U.S., including 320 cases in pregnant women, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, where Zika is spreading among local mosquitos, doctors have diagnosed 2,534 cases of Zika, including 279 in pregnant women.  The true number of Zika cases could be much higher.  That’s because only about 20% of people infected with the virus develop symptoms, which include a rash, fever, joint pain, and pink eye.

Between 1% and 13% of pregnant women infected with Zika virus give birth to babies with microcephaly, according to the CDC.  For every baby born with microcephaly, there could be 10 to 100 more born with subtle damage related to Zika, [Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine Peter] Hoetz said.  The virus has been linked to pregnancy loss, growth restrictions in the womb and vision problems in babies.  Additionally, developmental problems could become apparent as Zika-infected babies grow up and attend school….

July 16, 2016: The Guardian posted an article titled: “‘This is why people hate Congress’: politics stymies fight against Zika virus”.  It was written by Sabrina Siddiqui.  From the article:

Halfway through a hearing on Capitol Hill, as public health officials warned of dire consequences should Congress failed to pass funding to help combat the Zika virus, Tim Kaine uttered the words everyone in the room was probably thinking.

“This is why people hate Congress,” said the senator from Virginia, who is thought to be a potential vice-presidential pick for Hillary Clinton.  “This is why people hate Washington.”

A handful of his colleagues from both parties acknowledged one simple truth: lawmakers should appropriate funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and they should do so urgently…

…The following day, Congress skipped town for a seven-week recess.  The federal government was left without resources to fund emergency preparations for Zika, which include critical vaccine development, mosquito control efforts and other research related to containment and prevention…

…On Thursday, a Republican-sponsored bill that would have allocated $1.1bn in Zika funding fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate, amid objections from Democrats, who decried the inclusion of several contentious riders.

Just two months previously, the Senate had overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan compromise that appropriated $1.1bn without any significant caveats.  Barack Obama was prepared to sign it, despite having requested $1.9bn in February.

House Republicans, however, attached provisions to the bill that imposed restrictions on abortion, overturned clean water regulations, defunded parts of the President’s healthcare law, and sought to undo a ban on flying the Confederate flag at federal cemeteries….

July 19, 2016: The Guardian posted an article titled: “Zika emergency pushes women to challenge Brazil’s abortion law” It was written by Sarah Boseley.  From the article:

Women’s groups in Brazil are set to challenge the abortion laws this summer in the hope of making a safe and legal termination possible for women at risk of delivering a baby born with defects after exposure to the Zika virus..

…Lawyers for the organizations will present a legal challenge at the Supreme Court in the first week of August, when the court sits again after the winter break. They are co-ordinated by Anis Instituto de Bioética, which campaigns for women’s equality and reproductive rights.

The groups have obtained an opinion from lawyers at Yale University in the US, who argue that the Brazilian government’s policies on Zika and microcephaly have breached women’s human rights. The government “has failed to enact adequate measures to ensure that all women have access to comprehensive reproductive health information and options, as required by Brazil’s public health and human rights commitments”, says a review from the Global Health Justice Partnership, which is a joint initiative of the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Public Health.

It is also critical of Brazil’s handling of the epidemic.  Its “failure to ensure adequate infrastructure, public health resources and mosquito control programmes in certain areas has greatly exacerbated the Zika and Zika-related microcephaly epidemics, particularly among poor women of racial minorities”, the review says.

As of 7, July, there have been 1,683 cases reported of microcephaly – an abnormally small head – and other brain defects in Brazil, according to the World Health Organization. Women who do not want to continue their pregnancy because they have been infected, even if they had a scan conforming brain defects in the baby, are unable to choose a legal termination.  There is evidence of a rise in early abortions using pills obtainable online and fears that unsafe, illegal abortions will be rising too.

[Beatriz] Galli [a lawyer on bioethics and human rights who works for Ipas] said there were already about 200,000 hospitalizations of women who have undergone a clandestine termination every year, and a suspected 1 million illegal abortions before the epidemic. “We know that there are clinics operating in the very low-income poor settings in Rio and women are paying a lot of money and are risking their lives,” she said…

July 22, 2016: NBC Channel 4 New York posted an article titled: “First Baby With Zika-Related Microcephaly Born in New York City”.  From the article:

A baby with Zika-relatedmicrocephaly has been born at a New York City hospital, marking the first such delivery in the five boroughs, according to health officials.

The baby’s mother was infected while in an area known to have mosquitos transmitting the virus, the health department said.  She and the baby, who has been diagnosed with a smaller-than-normal head and other brain problems, are being monitored by physicians, authorities said.

The baby did test positive for Zika, and the health department said it is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the case.

According to the CDC, 12 babies have been born in the U.S. with Zika-related birth defects, including one in New Jersey. Some babies with no immediate signs of problems also have been born in the U.S. to Zika-infected mothers….

July 22, 2016: WWLTV.com posted an article titled: “Louisiana receives federal Zika funding to help fight virus.” It was written by Tania Dall. From the article:

On Friday, the Louisiana Department of Health confirmed the tenth Zika-related case in the state connected to people who have traveled outside of the country. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded Louisiana funding to help battle the virus…

…State health officials say two types of mosquitos can potentially spread the virus here at home, so they’re asking the public to be proactive by using repellents… or avoiding travel to the Americas if you’re trying to get pregnant.

Expects say another way to prevent mosquitos from breeding is to empty out any stagnant water that’s sitting around your house or near your property at least once a week.

The Louisiana Department of Health just received $2.4 million from the CDC to help fight the Zika virus. State health officials confirm some of that money will be used in metro New Orleans to help educate the public and it will also help fund critical medical upgrades across the state.

“Upgrade some computer systems and equipment and supplies that are specific for Zika testing. When a new disease like this comes out, you’re often times behind the ball, it hasn’t been a thing before. So you need to make sure to get equipment and supplies to test for it,” said Dr. [Frank] Welch, [Louisiana Department of Health Medical Director for Community Preparedness.]…

…State health officials say some of that CDC funding Louisiana received this week will also be used to help manage and track a pregnancy registry.

July 28, 2016: The New England Journal of Medicine published a study titled: “Requests for Abortion in Latin America Related to Concern about Zika Virus Exposure”.

It was written by:

  • Abigail R.A. Akien, M.D., PhD. – University of Texas at Austin, TX
  • James G. Scott, Ph.D. – University of Texas at Austin, TX
  • Rebecca Gomperts, M.D., Ph.D. – Women on Web, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • James Trussell, Ph.D. – Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  • Marc Worrell – Women on Web, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Catherine E. Aiken, M.D., Ph.D – University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Here are some key points from the article:

On November 17, 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological alert regarding Zika virus in Latin America. Several countries subsequently issued health advisories, including cautions about microcephaly, declarations of national emergency, and unprecedented warnings urging to avoid pregnancy. Yet in most Latin American countries, abortion is illegal or highly restricted, leaving pregnant women with few options.

For several years, one such option for women in Latin America has been Women on Web (WoW), a nonprofit organization that provides access to abortion medications (mifepristone and misoprostol) outside the formal health care setting through online telemedicine in countries where safe abortion is not universally available. We analyzed data with respect to requests for abortion through WoW between January 1, 2010, and March 2, 2016, in 19 Latin American countries. Using a regression-discontinuity design, we assessed whether requests for abortion increased after the PAHO alert, as compared with preannouncement trends…

…In Latin American countries that issued warnings to pregnant women about complications associated with Zika virus infection, requests for abortion through WoW increased significantly. Our approach may underestimate the effect of the advisories on the demand for abortion, since many women may have used an unsafe method, accessed misoprostol from local pharmacies or the black market, or visited local underground providers. But accurate data on these choices are difficult to obtain. Thus, our data provide a window on how concern about Zika infection may have affected the lives of pregnant women in Latin America.

Models that were developed by the World Health Organization predict that 3 million to 4 million persons across the Americas (including North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean) will contract Zika virus infection through early 2017, and the virus will inevitably spread to other countries where access to abortion is restricted. Official information and advice about potential exposure to the Zika virus should be accompanied by efforts to ensure that all reproductive choices are safe, legal, and accessible.

July 29, 2016: Cosmopolitan posted an article titled “9 Things You Need to Know About Protecting Yourself From Zika”. It was written by Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH, who is the Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  From the article:

  • If you are not trying to get pregnant and you or your partner travel to an area with active Zika, the CDC recommends that you use condoms or dental dams during vaginal, anal, or oral sex for at least eight weeks after travel if you don’t have any symptoms or at lease six months if you do. If you don’t want to get pregnant, you should use birth control.
  • If you are trying to get pregnant and you or your partner travel to an area with active Zika, use condoms for at least eight weeks before trying.  If you or your partner have Zika, you should consider delaying pregnancy for at least six months after their symptoms started and use condoms during the time period to ensure that you do not get infected
  • If you are pregnant and your partner lives in or travels to an area with active Zika, use condoms every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex for the rest of the pregnancy.
  • Can condoms prevent transmission of Zika virus?  Yes, while not 100 percent effective, condoms are one of the best tools we have to combat the spread of Zika since it can be transmitted through oral, anal, and vaginal sex, by both men and women.
  • Does the Zika virus hurt babies? When a fetus is exposed to the Zika virus during pregnancy, Zika can cause microcephaly, a congenital condition where the baby’s head is much smaller than expected, often due to abnormal brain development.  It is also associated with impaired fetal growth and hearing loss in infants. Zika can also cause miscarriage.  Zika does not always cause serious problems in pregnancy, but no one can predict which pregnancies will be affected.

July 29, 2016: Reuters posted an article titled: “Exclusive: In Florida Zika probe, federal scientists kept at arm’s length”. It was written by Julie Steenhuysen.  From the article:

The state of Florida, the first to report the arrival of Zika in the continental United States, has yet to invite a dedicated team of the federal government’s disease hunters to assist with the investigation on the ground, health officials told Reuters.

While Florida has a strong record of battling limited outbreaks of similar mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue and chikugunya, the risk of birth defects caused by Zika ads greater urgency to containing its spread with every available means, they say. Other states have quickly called in CDC teams to help track high-profile diseases…

…Florida on Friday said that four cases of Zika in the state were likely caused by mosquito, the first sign that the virus is circulating locally, though it has yet to identify mosquitos carrying the disease.

The current Zika outbreak was first detected last year in Brazil, where it has been linked to more than 1,700 cases of the birth defect microcephaly, and has since spread rapidly through the Americas.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said that the state health department was working with the CDC as it continues its Zika investigation. CDC said it is closely coordinating with Florida officials who are leading the effort. Dr Marc Fischer, a CDC Epidemiologist, has gone to Florida at the state’s request.

But the state has not invited in the CDC’s wider emergency response team of experts on epidemiology, risk communication, vector control and logistics, according to Florida health department spokeswoman Mara Gambineri…

July 29, 2016: Business Insider posted an article titled: “Governor: 4 Zika cases likely came from Florida mosquitos”. From the article:

Mosquitos have apparently begun spreading the Zika virus on the U.S. mainland for the first time, health officials said Friday, a long-feared turn in the epidemic that is sweeping Latin America and the Caribbean.

Four recently infected people in the Miami area – one woman and three men – are believed to have contracted the virus locally through mosquito bites, Gov. Rick Scott said.

No mosquitos in Florida have actually been found to be carrying Zika, despite the testing of 19,000 by the state lab. But other methods of Zika transmission, such as travel to a stricken country or sex with an infected person, have been ruled out.

“Zika is now here,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, U.S. health officials said they do not expect widespread outbreaks in this country like those seen in Brazil, in part because of better sanitation, better mosquito control and wider use of window screens and air conditioners…

…More than 1,650 people in the mainland U.S. have been infected with Zika in recent months, nearly all while traveling abroad. The four people in Florida are believed to be first to contract the virus from mosquitos within the 50 states..

…The four Florida infections are thought to have occurred in the small area just north of downtown Miami, in the Wynwood arts district, the governor said…

…Earlier this week, federal authorities told blood centers in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale areas to stop collecting blood until they screen it for the virus…

…Florida’s governor has allocated over $25 million for dealing with Zika, and the White House and the CDC have provided over $10 million. However, Congress left on a seven-week vacation without giving the Obama administration any of the $1.9 billion it sought to battle the virus.

July 30, 2016: The New York Times posted an article titled: “Zika Cases in Puerto Rico are Skyrocketing” It was written by Donald G. McNeil Jr. From the article:

The Zika epidemic that has spread from Brazil to the rest of Latin America is now raging in Puerto Rico – and the island’s response is in chaos.

The war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying the virus is sputtering out in failure. Infections are skyrocketing: Many residents fail to protect themselves against bites because they believe the threat is exaggerated.

Federal and local health officials are feuding, and the governor’s special adviser on Zika has quit in disgust.

There are only about 5,500 confirmed infections on the island, including 672 pregnant women. But experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they believe that is a radical undercount.

Just four cases of infection were confirmed last week in Florida.  But in Puerto Rico, officials believe thousands of residents – including up to 50 pregnant women – are infected each day…

…The proportion of pregnant women tested positive for the virus has risen sevenfold since January, the agency said on Friday. Officials warned that hundreds of infants could be born with microcephaly in the coming year.

But a wave of microcephaly like Brazil’s may yet be averted for two reasons. The pregnancy rate is falling so precipitously that this year, for the first time in history, Puerto Rico will have fewer births than deaths.

Obstetricians, too, are quietly urging their infected pregnant patients to have regular ultrasounds and to consider abortion if brain damage turns up.

And damage is turning up…

…Cases of Zika infection are expected to keep rising through October, and by year’s end, a quarter of the island’s population of 3.5 million will have been exposed, a “very dire” situation, said Dr. Lyle R. Peterson, the C.D.C’s chief of vector-borne diseases and director of its fight against Zika.

I recommend you take the time to read the rest of this New York Times article. It includes details about the mosquito abatement efforts that were done in Puerto Rico, and why they stalled.

July 31, 2016: Miami-Herald posted an editorial titled: “Congress must act – Zika has arrived” It was written by the Miami Herald Editorial Board. From the article:

Bad news – they’re here. The Zika-carrying mosquitos – despite all the spraying – have arrived in Miami-Dade County, responsible for at least four local victims contracting the disease. They are the first to be infected by mosquitos in the continental United States.

And the situation grew more dire Monday morning. The number of local Zika cases jumped to 14 and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory warning pregnant women to avoid visiting sections of Miami.

What do we do now?

First, Florida needs to make a specific request for federal funding. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the Editorial Board on Sunday that the department, so far, hasn’t received one. Why this dangerous delay?

Second, the do-nothing Congress, which went on recess before approving adequate funding to bombard the infected stingers wreaking havoc in the region, should come back early and lift a finger to protect the public…

…The Department of Health and Human Services says that this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has moved $8 million for Florida in the fight against Zika. The money can, amount other things, enhance mosquito control and monitoring, provide epidemiology and laboratory staff, equipment and supplies, and help contribute data to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry. Zika causes brain-damaging microcephaly in women’s fetuses. In addition, the CDC awarded on July 1 about $27 million to the state in Public Health Emergency Preparedness funding, which can be used to support Zika response efforts.

Now the onus is on the state of Florida to come through with a formal funding request. The delay is irresponsible.

Before Friday’s troubling revelation, Florida had 300-plus Zika cases, more than any other state…

August 1, 2016: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued “Travel guidance related to Miami neighborhood with active Zika spread”. From the travel guidance:

New assessments of mosquito populations and test results this past weekend by Florida public health officials, as part of a community survey in the Miami neighborhood where several Zika infections were recently confirmed, have found persistent mosquito populations and additional Zika infections in the same area.  This information suggests that there is a risk of continued active transmission of Zika virus in that area.

As a result, CDC and Florida are issuing travel, testing, and other recommendations for people who traveled to or lived in the Florida-designated areas on or after June 15, 2016, the earliest known date that one of the people could have been infected with Zika.  At Florida’s request, CDC is also sending a CDC Emergency Response Team (CERT) with experts in Zika virus, pregnancy and birth defects, vector control, laboratory science, and risk communications to assist in the response.  Two CDC team members are already on the ground in Florida, three more will arrive today, and three more on Tuesday, August 2…

August 2, 2016: Statesman Journal (Part of the USA Today Network) posted an article titled: “A public health crisis is no time for a vacation”. It was written by Mary Nolan of Portland, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.  From the article:

Right now, the global community faces a troubling public health threat. The Zika virus is spreading around the globe, transmitted by both mosquitos and through sexual contact.

There is still much to be learned about the virus, but one things we do know is that when the virus infects a woman who is pregnant, or who may shortly become pregnant, it can lead to harmful birth defects like microcephaly. In places where mosquitos are carrying the virus, the number of people with Zika is growing rapidly, including pregnant women.

Despite this crisis and pleas from the medical community, Republicans in Congress have chosen to put politics above public health and restrict certain family planning providers from being part of the solution to address the Zika virus…

…Republicans in Congress refuse to face the medical reality and commonsense understanding that as a sexually transmitted disease, contraception will help curb the spread and impact of the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all have forcefully stated that family planning services like contraception must play a central role in stopping this epidemic.

There have been nearly 1,400 travel and sexually transmitted cases confirmed in the continental United States, including 12 right here in Oregon, and more than 700 pregnant women across the United Starts and territories are infected with the Zika virus…

…Irresponsibly, Republican leadership in Congress chose to go on summer vacation instead of passing a bill to fund the fight agains Zika, which must include family planning services. They have elected to leave hundreds of millions in resources on the sidelines as millions of pregnant women are left exposed to Zika and its devastating side effects…

August 4, 2016: The Los Angeles Times posted an article titled: “Two babies in California born with microcephaly from Zika, officials say.”  It was written by Soumya Karlamangla.  From the article:

Two babies in California were born with microcephaly after their mothers were infected with Zika virus, state health officials said Thursday.

The mothers traveled to countries with outbreaks of the illness before becoming infected. Officials would not release any more information about the women or the babies…

…Nationwide, 13 babies had been born with Zika-related birth defects as of July 21, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

…Just last week, mosquitos began to spread the virus in a region of Miami, prompting the CDC to issue a travel advisory for pregnant women not to travel to that neighborhood – the first ever travel warning within the continental United States.

More than 1,600 people in the United States have become infected with Zika virus this year, almost of of whom traveled to countries with outbreaks. There have been 114 travel-related infections in California, with the most in L.A. County with 24 and San Diego County with 23.

August 5, 2016: CNN posted an article titled: “FDA approves Zika-fighting genetically modified mosquito”.  It was written by Sandee Lamotte.  From the article:

…After months of reviewing public comments to its draft environmental impact study, the Food and Drug Administration announced today that it is officially giving OX513A, a genetically modified male mosquito developed by British company Oxitec, a clean bill of health.  That decision gives the federal green light for the use of the mosquito in a field trial this fall in a small Florida neighborhood…

…OX513A is a male Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary species that carries the Zika virus.  He is genetically engineered to pass along a lethal gene to wild females that makes the females’ offspring die.  The gene creates a protein that interferes with cell activity, killing the mosquito before it can reach adulthood.

The field trial in Key Haven, Florida, is designed to test how well OX513A controls the local population of Aedes aegypti.  Key Haven is a small community of about 457 homes on Raccoon Key, about a mile ease of the island of Key West.

Oxitec says it expects the same results it has had in field trials in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands…

…A successful field trial is required before OX513A can be sold commercially in the United States.

Though the FDA decision paves the way for Oxitec to begin production of the genetically altered male mosquitos in its facility in Marathon, Florida, Parry said his company plans to wait for the results of a local referendum scheduled for November…

…A square-mile area of Miami-Dade County is the first site in the continental United States where Zika has been transmitted by infected mosquitos.  A total of 16 people have gotten the virus from mosquitos there since June 15.

August 7, 2016: The Guardian posted an article titled “Marco Rubio: women with Zika should not be allowed abortions.”  It was written by Martin Pengelly.  Marco Rubio is a Republican Senator in the U.S. House of Representatives who represents the state of Florida.  From the article:

Florida senator Marco Rubio has said women infected with the Zika virus should not be allowed to have abortions, even if their babies have microcephaly, the severe developmental disorder that can result from infection with the disease.

“If I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life”, the Republican told Politico.  Rubio, who has championed Zika funding bills in the Senate, also blamed Democrats for the failure to pass such federal aid.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures, Florida is the state second-worst affected by Zika, after New York, but is the only state to have infections caused by local mosquitoes.  Most Zika cases in the US have been found in people who travelled to affected countries and territories…

…In the Senate, Rubio has supported the provision of funding for work against Zika. In May, after a $1.1bn funding measure he sponsored passed the Senate, he cited an estimate from the CDC director, Tom Frieden, that the lifetime cost of caring for a child born with microcephaly could reach $10m.

“We’re going to be dealing with Zika for multiple years,” Rubio said.  “Outside of the human cost is the economic cost of this.  We’re going to be spending money on Zika for the foreseeable future.”

On Saturday, he added: “Obviously, microcephaly is a terrible prenatal condition that kids are born with.  And when they are, it’s a lifetime of difficulties.  So I get it.”

“I’m not pretending to you that that’s an easy question you asked me.  But I’m pro-life.  And I’m strongly pro-life.  I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life.”

Obama asked Congress for $1.9bn of funding, which was blocked in the Senate in June.  House Republicans had appended unrelated provisions to the bill – involving, for instance, abortion restrictions and the Confederate flag – and Senate Democrats refused to pass it in its altered form.

August 8, 2016: Politico posted an article titled: “In Zika fight, Scott haunted by public health cuts, rejection of Medicaid expansion” It was written by Christine Sexton and Mark Caputo. From the article:

Fighting the Zika virus has become a top priority for Gov. Rick Scott, but the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid coupled with his record of cutting money for county health departments, health clinics and programs for special-needs Floridians has started to complicate his message the the federal government is failing the state in addressing the potential crisis.

Scott and his office have steadfastly rejected criticism that any of the cuts reduced Florida’s front-line capacity to manage the challenges of the fast-spreading virus, saying his budget cuts have only made the state more efficient…

…Florida has the most Zika cases – 429 – of any state in the nation. And the Miami neighborhood of Wynwood was the first to experience 15 cases where the disease appears to be locally transmitted, perhaps from mosquitos, instead of being contracted overseas. A new case was documented Monday in Palm Beach County.

To Scott’s critics, the governor isn’t being realistic about the cumulative effect of the cuts to the state’s health infrastructure – a record that will come more into focus Tuesday as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visits a Wynwood health clinic that lost public money following the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare…

…There’s bipartisan agreement that the state’s loss of federal money through a program called the Low Income Pool, or LIP, played a major role in reducing the money and services provided by health clinics, especially Federally Qualified Health Centers.

But who’s exactly to blame has a more-partisan fault line.

In the Florida budget year ending July 30, 2015, the 49 centers across Florida received about $42 million. But the Obama Administration began warning the state that the money would start to phase out as Staes were expected to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, which was supposed by legislative Democrats and a number of Senate Republicans. Florida House Republicans refused as did Scott, who had once tepidly supported the expansion of the health program for the poor.

The federal government then made good on its promise and reduced the LIP money, and changed the rules on how the state could use it, making it clear that the money could no longer be spend on anything other than to help hospitals that provide charity care. Florida legislators could no longer direct LIP dollars at federally qualified health centers, leading to a reduction fo 60 percent for the health centers, which  only $16 million the following budget year.

Still, the House and Scott wouldn’t budge. They refused again, and this budget year the centers only received $9 million…

…Of the 429 confirmed Zika cases in Florida, 55 involve pregnant women – a major concern because Zika is the first mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to infant microcephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain developmental delay, intellectual disability, problems with movement and balance, hearing loss and vision problems…

August 9, 2016: The Texas Tribune posted an article titled: “Baby Girl’s Death is First Zika-Related Fatality in Texas” It was written by Edgar Walters.  From the article:

A baby girl died in Harris County from complications related to the Zika virus, local public health officials said Tuesday.

The death is the first know fatality in Texas linked to the virus, which can cause birth-defects when contracted by pregnant mothers. It is the second Zika-related death in the continental United States after an elderly man in Utah dies in June…

…Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said the baby’s mother had traveled during her pregnancy to Latin America, where authorities suspect she contracted the mosquito-borne virus. The infant was born with birth defects, including microcephaly, officials said..

…There have been 99 reported cases of the Zika virus in Texas, all of which were contracted related to travel, according to state public officials. That count includes three pregnant women, one infant infected before birth and one person who had sexual contact with a traveler…

August 11, 2016: Deseret News posted an article titled: “How Zika is changing people’s views about abortion” It was written by Jennifer Graham. From the article:

The spread of the Zika virus may be changing American’s views on late-term abortion, presenting a new challenge for abortion opponents.

Polls conducted in July by STAT News and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that people asked about late-term abortion were largely opposed to it until the question was framed to include babies who may have microcephaly caused by Zika.

Then, 59 percent of respondents said they would support abortion after 24 weeks, in contrast to the 23 percent who said they would when microcephaly wasn’t mentioned, Helen Branswell of STAT reported.

Support for late-term abortions when microcephaly is suspected increased even among Republicans, according to STAT.

Forty-eight percent said they would support the late-term abortion of a baby with microcephaly, compared with just 12 percent when not asked specifically about Zika defects.

Among Democrats, the numbers climbed to 72 percent in favor of aborting Zika babies after 24 weeks, compared with 34 percent when microcephaly was not mentioned…

…Zika, which is transmitted by mosquitos or sexual relations, affects most people for only a week or two, with symptoms that can include a rash, fever, headache, and red, itchy eyes…

…Estimates vary, but STAT has previously reported the fewer than 15 percent [of Zika-exposed babies] are born with brain damage and abnormally small heads.

Although the percentage of affected babies is relatively low, their pictures are being widely circulated, which may affect public perception.

In its latest numbers on Zika infections in America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are 479 pregnant women in the continental U.S. who are suspected of having Zika, up from 46 the previous week.

August 12, 2016: TIME posted an article titled “Zika Prevention Is a Matter of National Security”.  It was written by Lawrence O. Gostin,  a University Professor and Founding O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center.  It was also written by James G. Hodge, Jr., a Professor of Public Health Law and Ethics at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.  From the article:

A recent poll suggested 77% of Americans are not significantly concerned about Zika, and Congress went on summer recess without authorizing President Obama’s emergency Zika appropriation.  Apathy in the midst of an emerging public health crisis is dangerous. Zika prevention, in fact, is a matter of national security.

Zika is already spinning out of control in Puerto Rico, while thousands of Zika cases in the continental U.S. represent an early warning of what is to come.  Local mosquito transmission in Miami is only one of many potential “hot zones” in a large swath of the South and Gulf Coast. If a widespread epidemic emerges, low-income pregnant women will be at greatest risk, often living without screens or air conditioning.

Up to 6% of Zika-infected women will miscarry or have stillborn deliveries. Actual rates may be higher. Surviving infants will have as much as a 10% chance of microcephaly, a physically and mental debilitating lifetime condition.  Zika-related microcephalic infants are already showing up in hospitals from New York to California.  Many more may be impaired in less obvious ways.  Zika infection at any stage of pregnancy can lead to physical and mental impairments later in a child’s development. If widespread transmission becomes a reality, we could witness a “Zika generation,” much like the thalidomide generation in the 1960s.

Zika is an unprecedented public health crisis leading to first-ever public health responses. Latin American governments, as well as Puerto Rico, advised women to delay pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) warned pregnant women to avoid travel within one square mile area north of downtown Miami. Never before had CDC advised against travel within the continental U.S. It also counseled at-risk women to get tested despite the absence of effective vaccines, treatments or accessible testing services…

…Characterizing Zika as a national security threat requires Congress to act.  State and local governments have their own priorities in battling Zika. Florida governor Rick Scott allocated millions of state dollars into mosquito abatement in Miami and surrounding areas.  But federal authorities alone have the constitutional duty to safeguard national security…

August 13, 2016: Houston Chronicle posted an article titled: “Political battles cloud congressional fight over Zika funding” It was written by Kevin Diaz. From the article:

Heading into the fall elections, the political impasse has intensified over money to fight the Zika virus that took the life of a newborn girl in Harris County last week.

An emotional debate that grew deeply personal when lawmakers broke for their summer recess last month has settled into a protracted stalemate over provisions that appear to have little to do with the public health crisis spreading in southern states like Texas and Florida.

The key sticking points? The Confederate flag, water quality and Planned Parenthood, the women’s health network that has long raised partisan hackles in Congress.

The tight focus on Planned Parenthood, in particular, illustrates how powerful constituencies on both sides of the divide over abortion and contraceptives have helped grind Congress to a virtual halt in fighting the mosquito-borne and sexually-transmitted disease, which has infected more than 1,800 people in the United States, including nearly 100 in the Lone Star State…

…The central point of contention is whether a $1.1 billion package to address the health crisis purposely targeted Planned Parenthood by limiting new federal block grants to public health centers and hospitals. The restrictions written into the bill effectively disqualify private health care agencies such as Planned Parenthood, a major provider of birth control for low-income women…

…Democrats argue that it was not necessary to draft Planned Parenthood into the bill by name. The private organization, which serves about 85,000 Texans a year, clearly was dealt out of any new Zika funding, they said, as was Pro Familias, a major affiliate in Puerto Rico, where the virus has been spreading rapidly…

…The Zika virus, linked to a rare birth defect known as microcephaly, is seen by [Dawn] Lagunes [Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood] primarily as a threat to women who are pregnant or trying to have children. “It really boggles the mind to hear the any qualified family planning provider could be excluded by the Republican leadership at this time of great, great need,” she said….

…Adding to the sense of urgency has been a long, hot summer. There have been 99 Zika cases in Texas, 30 of them in Harris County. All are travel related, like that of the newborn girl in Harris County whose death a few weeks ago was revealed by public health officials Tuesday. It was the first infant death in the U.S. involving the mosquito-borne virus.

“The irony here is that the states that are at greatest risk are those states overwhelmingly represented in Congress by Republicans,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, suggesting that Republicans “have a lot of explaining to do”…

August 14, 2016: The Guardian posted an article titled “Zika virus: Floridians fear ‘Pandora’s box’ of genetically altered mosquitos”. It was written by Jessica Glenza.  From the article:

The Florida Keys are three months away from a straw poll vote on whether to release millions of genetically modified mosquitos on an island just east of Key West, and the tourist destination is awash in lawn signs.

Alongside the typical signs to vote for court clerk, judge, sheriff or school board are signs that showcase the overhead view of a mosquito and read: “NO CONSENT to release of genetically modified mosquitos.”

For the last five years, the biotechnology company Oxitec has been developing a plan to release the GMO mosquitos in the Keys, which scientists hope could eventually impede the spread of the Zika virus…

…Each male mosquito released by Oxitec will carry a gene to prevent his offspring from reaching adulthood. Scientists hope that the genetically modified males will mate with wild females to undercut the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitos, the type that spread Zika through Brazil.

But the prospect of ridding the neighborhood of a disease-carrying pest hasn’t quelled public dissatisfaction.

The GM mosquitos dominate the local news in Key West. Mosquito control commissioners up for reelection face multiple opponents. The city of Key West formally opposed the mosquitos’ introduction in 2012…

…If the trial goes well, the technology would be on track to commercial approval in the United States, opening a slice of the nation’s $14bn pest control market to the company. Globally, analysts predict Oxitec’s mosquito could bring in up to $400m in annual sales for its parent company, Intrexon…

…Though [Derric] Nimmo [a spokesman for Oxitec and a molecular biologist] has said Oxitec is running a mainly door-to-door public education-style campaign aimed at Monroe county’s 52,000 voters, Interexon has intensely lobbied Congress.

By April, the large international law firm Sidley Austin LLP estimated Intrexon paid at least $400,000 for the firm to advocate for Oxitec’s mosquitos, hoping to hurry along approval and secure funding….

…Oxitec was, in fact, invited to the island by the county’s mosquito control commissioners, a group once in favor of the experiment, but who are now divided after years of public outcry. The vote on the mosquito please is non-binding, and three of five mosquito control board members have agreed to abide by the outcome….

…Miami-Dade County began spraying Naled in August, after the first mainland cases of Zika transmitted by local mosquitos were found in the Wynwood neighborhood. About 6m Floridian acres are sprayed each year. But Naled’s effectiveness in Aedes control is widely debated, both for its effectiveness and its adverse impacts.

“I got a complain the other day – someone found 30 bees dead on teh side of the road,” [Phil] Goodman [who is on the mosquito control board] said. Naled kills just about any flying insect the size of a mosquito aloft when planes spray overhead…

August 14, 2016: The Herald posted an article titled: “S.C. mosquitos likely to carry Zika, but health experts don’t expect major disease outbreak.  It was written by Sammy Fretwell. From the article:

It’s likely a matter of time before mosquitos carrying the dreaded Zika virus show up in South Carolina and infect someone.

But while the virus is expected, some of the state’s top health officials remain skeptical that South Carolina will experience a sustained Zika crisis.

South Carolina’s cool winter climate, the types of mosquitos found here and the state’s past experience with mosquito-borne disease threats provide hope that the state could dodge a significant Zika outbreak, they say.

Of the approximately 60 species of mosquitos in South Carolina, only two are known to carry the Zika virus – and the one most likely to spread it is not common in many areas of the state, expects said…

…Nationally, about 2,000 cases of Zika virus have been documented, but until recently, all have been found in people who contracted the disease while traveling to other countries or though sex…

…[DHEC spokswoman Jennifer] Read said South Carolina also may escape a major Zika crisis because, unlike in South Florida, the weather gets cold here in the winter. Mosquitos have difficulty flying when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, and they are sluggish at temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees, Read said in an email to The State newspaper.

“Colder temperatures reduce the likelihood of being bitten by a mosquito,” she said…

…In South Carolina, state officials have confirmed 32 cases of Zika in people, almost all of whom have returned from other countries carrying the virus. One of the 32 cases was sexually transmitted…

August 16, 2016: Houston Public Media posted an article titled: “Texas Resident’s Zika Case Linked To Miami Travel” From the article:

Health officials say a Texas resident who recently traveled to an area of Miami where local Zika transmission occurred has tested positive for the virus.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday that it’s the first Texas case to be linked to travel within the continental U.S.

Health officials linked the case to Miami travel after investigating factors such as travel dates and when symptoms appeared.

The El Paso County resident sought testing after becoming ill. Health officials say it’s that county’s first case and no other evidence of the virus or local transmission has been found there.

Texas has reported more than 100 cases of Zika associated with travel to areas with active transmission. There haven’t been any reported cases of Zika transmitted by mosquitos in Texas.

August 17, 2016: NPR posted an article titled: “Florida Keys Opposition Stalls Tests of Genetically Altered Mosquitos”. It was written by Greg Allen. From the article:

The fight against the Zika virus has a new weapon: the genetically engineered mosquito. It’s recently been approved by federal regulators and may soon be available in parts of the U.S. that are confronting the virus, like Puerto Rico and Miami.

The Florida Keys do not have a Zika problem at the moment, but on Aug. 5 the Food and Drug Administration approved trial releases of these mosquitos in the Keys.

But because of the vocal opposition of people there, the local mosquito control board hasn’t yet approved the trials, instead putting it on the November ballot as a nonbonding referendum…

…When the FDA gave Oxitec the go-ahead to test its genetically modified mosquitos in the Keys, it seemed to be in the nick of time. Miami, just up the oversees highway from the Keys, already has 30 cases of locally acquired Zika, most in the Wynwood neighborhood…

…But vocal opponents of the genetically modified mosquitos in the Keys say Zika is no reason for them to change their minds. Megan Hall, who lives on Sugarloaf Key worries that its unproven technology that could have negative unforeseen consequences for people and the environment…

…If the boat decides ultimately to give the trials the green light, the earlier they would likely start would be next spring…

…On Tuesday, the Keys Mosquito Control Board agreed to allow Oxitec to use its facility on Marathon Key to breed adult males for release elsewhere. A spokesman for Miami-Dade County says there’s been no discussion about using the mosquitos there…

August 19, 2016: The Texas Tribune posted an article titled “Growing Zika Threat Prompt New Calls for Medicaid Expansion”. It was written by Edgar Walters.  From the article:

…As Gov. Greg Abbott and the state’s health leaders make public service announcements saying Texas is on heightened alert for mosquito-to-human transmission of the virus, which has been linked to birth defects, many advocates for the uninsured have a different goal in mind. They want to use the state’s own words to spur Republican leaders to consider a massive expansion of subsidized health care to low-income Texans they care are most vulnerable to the disease…

…Republican state leaders have vehemently opposed expanding Medicaid in the four years since it became optional under the federal Affordable Care Act, which offers to foot most of the bill for states that provide health coverage to their low-income populations. And Texas officials have shown little sign of changing their minds soon.

Spokesmen for Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission did not respond to requests for comment. But Charles Smith, the health agency’s executive commissioner, gave advocated for low-income Texans some hope this week when he saw he wanted to make mosquito repellent “as easily and widely available as possible.”

That comment came in an announcement that the agency had modified its Medicaid rules to make it easier for poor women who are pregnant or between the ages of 10 and 45 to obtain mosquito repellent by nixing retirement that they get a prescription from their doctor. Smith boasted of the decision issuing a press release saying Texas was the first state in the country to make the change…

…Advocates for the uninsured pounced on the announcement, using it to renew their efforts to extend health care to Texans living in the “coverage gap,” meaning their incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to buy subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Estimates vary, but researchers think there are about 800,000 Texas in that category…

…Researchers have linked Zika virus in pregnant women to microcephaly, a condition causing babies to be born with abnormally small brains and skulls. A small proportion of Zika infections may also trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome, an illness that targets the nervous system, scientists say.

There have been 118 reported cases of the Zika virus in Texas, all of which were related to travel conditions outside of the state, according to Texas public health officials. That count includes three pregnant women, two infants infected before birth and one person who had sexual contact with a traveler…

…Last week, public health officials announced a Harris County baby died after being born with microcephaly…

August 19, 2016: The Miami Herald posted an article titled “Zika now spreading in Miami Beach, sources say”.  It was written by Joey Flechas and Daniel Chang.  From the article:

Mosquitos are spreading Zika virus in Miami Beach, according to sources familiar with discussions held by the Florida Department of Health on Tuesday to alert local officials.

The health department’s daily report said only that there were two new local infections in Miami-Dade acquired through mosquitos – both outside of the Wynwood neighborhood identified as the only area in the sate with ongoing transmission.  The department did not respond to questions about active transmission of Zika in Miami Beach, the heart of the region’s tourism industry…

…[Miami Beach Mayor Philip] Levine said health officials told him there were two cases of Zika being investigated with possible links to Miami Beach, and he insisted there was no confirmation yet that they were transmitted in the city…

…Florida health officials have confirmed 35 local Zika infections so far, with all but nine cases occurring in the Wynwood area.  The health department said it is conducting nine active investigations into local Zika cases.

In addition, the department announced 18 new travel-related cases on Thursday, with seven in Miami-Dade, four in Palm Beach, three in Broward, one in Brevard, one in Lee, one in Marion, and one in Pinellas counties.  A total of 577 people in Florida have contracted Zika this year, according to the health department, including 63 pregnant women…

The article provided a chart that showed the number of Zika cases reported in each county as of August 18, 2017:

  • Alachua – 6
  • Bay – 3
  • Brevard – 12
  • Broward – 89 (does not include cases of local transmission)
  • Charlotte – 1
  • Citrus – 2
  • Clay – 3
  • Collier – 4
  • Duval – 7
  • Escambia – 2
  • Hernando – 4
  • Highlands – 1
  • Hillsborough – 14
  • Lake – 3
  • Lee – 8
  • Leon – 2
  • Manatee – 2
  • Marion – 2
  • Miami-Dade – 143 (does not include cases of local transmission)
  • Monroe – 1
  • Okaloosa – 2
  • Okeechobee – 1
  • Orange – 53
  • Osceola – 18
  • Palm Beach – 29 (does not include cases of local transmission)
  • Pasco – 6
  • Pinellas – 9
  • Polk – 16
  • Santa Rosa – 1
  • Sarasota – 1
  • Seminole – 17
  • St. Johns – 3
  • St. Lucie – 5
  • Volusia – 7

August 25, 2016: BuzzFeed News posted an article titled: “Planned Parenthood is Going to 25,000 Miami Homes to Warn About Zika and Sex”. It was written by Dan Vergano.  From the article:

Planned Parenthood is sending canvassers to knock on 25,000 doors in Miami, to warn women in the Little Haiti and Little Havana neighborhoods of the severe birth defect risks linked to the Zika virus.

“You’d be surprised by how many women we are finding don’t even know that Zika is sexually transmitted,” Lilian Tamayo, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, told BuzzFeed News. “We are stepping in because there is an urgent need here.”

Since the start of a Zika epidemic in Brazil last year, the virus has spread to about 50 countries, accompanied by a wave of nearly 2,000 cases of the shrunken brain and skull birth defect called microcephaly. The virus is most often spread by mosquito bites, and sometimes through sex.

U.S. Health officials warned pregnant women last week to avoid travel to Miami-Dade County, home to 2.7 million people, following mosquito-borne infections of the Zika virus in two Miami neighborhoods, Wynwood and South Miami Beach.  Florida health officials have confirmed 42 Zika cases tied to mosquito bites there, as of Tuesday

For the next six weeks, Planned Parenthood will also provide Zika prevention kits, with bug spray, condoms, water treatment tablets, and dental dams to Miami worm who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant….

August 28, 2016: Reuters posted an article titled: “Singapore confirms 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus” The article was written by Marius Zaharia.  From the article:

Singapore has confirmed 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus, mostly among foreign construction workers, and said it expected more cases to be identified.

All but seven of those infected had fully recovered, the Health Ministry and the National Environment Agency said in a statement on Sunday. The seven remain in hospital.

On Saturday, authorities confirmed a 47-year-old Malaysian woman living in southeastern Singapore as the city-state’s first case of a local transmission of the virus…

…Singaporean authorities said they tested 124 people, primarily foreign construction workers employed on a site in the same part of Singapore. That site has been ordered to halt work, and worker’s dormitories are being inspected. Seventy-eight people tested negative and five cases were pending. Thirty-four patients had fully recovered.

Four Singaporean men had developed symptoms of the virus in the past week and were hospitalized on Saturday. It was not clear where the foreign workers were from or when their cases were detected. Singapore hosts a large contingent of workers from the Asian subcontinent.

None of those infected had traveled to Zika-affected areas….

…Malaysia said on Saturday it stepped up surveillance at main transit points with Singapore – handing out leaflets on Zika prevention and having paramedics ready to handle visitors with potential symptoms of the virus.

In Thailand, where close to 100 cases of Zika had been recorded across 10 provinces this year, the Department of Disease Control was screening athletes returning home from the Olympic Games in Brazil, but was not otherwise changing its prevention measures…

…Vietnam has to date reported three cases of locally transmitted Zika infection…

September 2, 2016: The official, verified Twitter account of the Singapore Government posted a tweet with information about the Zika virus.

September 6, 2016: The Weather Channel posted an article titled “Mosquito Spraying for Zika in South Carolina Kills Millions of Bees” It was written by Pam Wright. From the article:

Beekeepers in Dorchester County, South Carolina, are reeling after waking on Aug. 28 to millions of dead bees, killed by areal spraying meant to eradicate Zika- and West Nile- bearing mosquitos.

According to the Washington Post, the county sprayed the pesticide Trumpet containing the ingredient Naled, which is being blamed for the deaths of honeybees throughout the country.

“My bee yard looks like it’s been nuked,” Juanita Stanley, co-owner of Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply told the Post and Courier. Stanley estimates she lost roughly 2.5 million bees in 46 different hives on her farm…

…The manufacturer’s label for Trumpet says the product is “highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops or weeds. To minimize hazard to bees, it is recommended that the product is not applies more than two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset, limited application to the times when bees are least active.”

The county heeded the warnings and sprayed between 6:30 – 8:30 a.m., but experts say the heat – which weather.com meterologist Chris Dolce says was 70 degrees at 7 a.m. on Aug. 28 – may have played a role in the deaths of the honeybees.  When temperatures rise, bees often leave the nest to cool down, huddling outside the hive in a ball formation known as a beard…

September 6, 2016: USA Today posted an article titled: “Seven new Zika cases in South Florida”. It was written by Alan Gomez. From the article:

Florida health officials are investigating whether mosquitos carrying Zika are spreading even farther in South Florida as the number of locally acquired cases continue to climb.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed on Tuesday that six more people contracted the virus in the tourist hot spot of Miami Beach. Over the past month, 40 people have contracted Zika from mosquitos in Miami Beach and a second South Florida location – the Wynwood art district just north of downtown Miami. Those two areas have become the focus for health officials, mosquito control efforts and travel warnings for pregnant women from the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, the department says someone has contracted the virus outside those two zones. The department said the new case was identified in Miami-Dade County, but would not specifics where until officials can test relatives, close contacts and neighbors of the person to determine if its an active outbreak or just an isolated case…

…To date, Florida has confirmed 577 cases of people who contracted Zika while traveling abroad. The virus has been identified in 80 pregnant women who contracted the virus abroad.

September 7, 2016: BBC posted an article titled: “Zika outbreak: US Congress blocks Zika funding bill”. From the article:

The US Senate has failed to pass a funding bill to help fight the Zika virus for a third time.

Senate Democrats blocked the $1.1bn… bill after Republicans sought to stop funding for family planning group Planned Parenthood.

Lawmakers say they hope the issue will be resolved later this month as part of a bipartisan spending package.

The 52-46 Senate vote came as Florida health officials announced seven more locally transmitted cases of Zika.

Florida has now reported 56 locally transmitted cases of Zika, which is often spread by mosquitos.

State officials have called on lawmakers to release funds to help fight the spread of the disease, which is linked to severe birth defects in pregnant women.

The Republican-backed Senate bill included a provision that would have prevented Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico from receiving new funding to fight the spread of the virus, which is linked to severe birth defects in pregnant women.

Puerto Rico has been one of the hardest hit regions with Zika in recent months…

…The political gridlock comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it had spent nearly all of the $22m … allocated to the agency in the fight against Zika.

As of late August, there were more than 2,700 cases in US states and more than 14,000 in US territories, most of which were reported in Puerto Rico.

September 9, 2016: Romper posted an article titled: “Brazil Attorney General’s Latest Zika Comments Highlight A Woman’s Right To Choose” It was written by Rupali Srivastava.  From the article:

With Zika spreading faster and faster, and new research showing more and more effects of the virus, many pregnant women are wondering what choices they have when it comes to their pregnancies.  Now, as far as Brazil is concerned, it seems many of those women will have additional choices. The Attorney General of Brazil, the country with the highest number of Zika cases in the world, has asked the country’s Supreme Court to allow abortions for pregnant women infected with Zika in Brazil, according to the Wall Street Journal…

…United Nations officials and activists across the world have said that an increase in Zika infections among pregnant women will lead to an increase in unsafe, clandestine abortions, according to the Chicago Tribune. Because of the numerous possible birth defects linked to the Zika virus, human rights officials in the United Nations have said that the consequence of not allowing abortions for infected women would be dangerous.

Attorney General Rodrigo Janot agrees. In his proposal to the court, Janot wrote that forcing women to continue a pregnancy after learning that they’ve been infected with Zika would violate their reproductive autonomy and subject them to “emotional and psychological torture.” Janot has also suggested that at-risk women be given free contraceptives and mosquito repellent.

September 9, 2016: Politico posted an article titled “Rubio hit for opposing abortions for women with Zika” It was written by Burgess Everett.  From the article:

A prominent abortion rights group is attacking Marco Rubio over his opposition to abortion rights for women infected with the Zika virus.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is spending $175,000 to air a TV ad in Orlando and West Palm Beach targeting the vulnerable incumbent starting Monday, according to a source familiar with the buy. While the Republican senator has voted for every Zika funding proposal to come through the Senate, the GOP majority has failed to approve new emergency spending to combat the mosquito-borne disease.

Senate Democrats are currently blocking at $1.1 billion measure approved by the House. NARAL says Rubio’s vote for that bill, which contains restrictions on women’s health care funding, amounts to “putting his agenda ahead of the health and safety of women and families.”

The proposal will receive a vote in the Senate on Tuesday, when Congress returns from its summer recess.

“Marco Rubio voted against funding health clinics that provide critical care during this public emergency. And Marco Rubio continues to be against a woman’s right to choose an abortion, even if they are infected with the Zika virus,” the ad says…

…Rubio’s general election opponent, Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, has attacked the senator as “extreme” on the issue. Rubio’s campaign counters that Murphy, by voting against the House Republican’s Zika bill, has done nothing to break the partisan impasse…

…Congress’ inability to deliver more funding to combat Zika is playing a major role in the Florida Senate race. Zika has already landed in several neighborhoods, and the Senate vote on Tuesday is expected to fail again over Democratic objections to its use of Obamacare funding and health care restrictions.

The Obama administration has asked for $1.9 billion to fight the disease, but the House and Senate have failed to come up with a compromise that can pass each chamber. Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to keep the government funded, and Zika money could be tucked into that must-pass legislation, aides in both parties said.

The ad from NARAL Pro-Choice America that was mentioned in the Politico ad was posted on YouTube on September 6, 2016.

September 11, 2016: Channel News Asia posted an article titled: “11 new cases of Zika confirmed Sunday, 10 have no known links to existing clusters”. The article is about Singapore.  From the article:

The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Sunday (Sep 11) confirmed 11 new cases of locally transmit Zika virus infection in Singapore. Of these, one case is linked to the Elite Terrace cluster and the other ten cases have no known links to any existing cluster.

There are currently 329 cases. Eight pregnant women have been infected with the virus, said MOH, adding that their doctors are following up closely with them to provide support and counseling…

…As of Saturday, a total of 202 breeding habits have been found and destroyed in the cluster areas.  Of which 121 are from homes, and 81 from common areas/other premises….

September 16, 2016: Reuters posted an article titled: “Florida expands Zika some in Miami Beach after five new cases” From the article:

State officials in Florida on Friday tripled the active Zika transmission zone in the trendy seaside community of Miami Beach after five new cases of the mosquito-borne virus believed to cause a severe birth defect were identified in the area.

The active transmission zone grew from 1.5 square miles to 4.5 square miles and consists of a large portion of the popular tourist destination, Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement on Friday evening.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine told the Miami Herald that the city will begin truck-spraying of larvicide in the zone on Saturday…

…The zone was expanded after the Florida Department of Health identified five cases in the area involving three women and three men who all experienced symptoms within one month of each other.

The cases bring the total of non-travel related Zika cases in Florida to 93 and in Miami Beach to 35, the governor said…

…Adding to concerns are the current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that recommend men wait six months after being infected with Zika before trying to have children to avoid passing the virus on to a pregnant partner through semen.

The governor also said in Friday he expects the Zika zone to be lifted on Monday in Wynwood where aggressive mosquito control and community outreach measures have been effective after several cases of Zika were confirmed recently in the neighborhood, north of Miami…

September 18, 2016: McClatchy DC Bureau posted an article titled: “How the 40-year battle over abortion blocked Zika funding.”  It was written by James Rosen.  From the article:

Senior policy analysts with Planned Parenthood were perplexed in June when they first saw a provision excluding their partner clinics in Puerto Rico slipped into a draft bill providing $1.1 billion in emergency Zika prevention funds.

Puerto Rico, after all, is the epicenter of the Zika health crisis in the United States, with almost 20,000 cases of the mosquito-borne virus, which can also be transmitted via sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

More baffling still, at least 1,700 of the Puerto Rican cases involve pregnant women, the group most vulnerable to Zika everywhere because of the birth defects it can cause.

Oddest of all for the Planned Parenthood analysts, their clinics and other family planning providers target the very low-income women who make up a large share of Puerto Rico’s population, and who top government health experts had identified as most in need of protection from Zika.

…The World Health Organization advised women in Zika zones to discuss it with their doctors.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently listed family-planning services – the services in which Planned Parenthood specializes – as part of “the first line of defense” against Zika.

Yet two short phrases buried deep in a long House of Representatives Conference Report on the proposed legislation – essentially the House’s revised version of the bill – would prevent any family planning funds in the Zika appropriation from going to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Puerto Rico…

…One of the phrases would restrict the use of $95 million in grants to “health services provided by public health departments, hospitals, or reimbursed through public health plans.”  The other requires that $80 million of the $95 million go to “territories with the highest rates of Zika transmission”.

That description only applies to Puerto Rico. As a private entity, Planned Parenthood’s Puerto Rico partner, Profamilia, with two clinics in San Juan and six in other parts of the island, doesn’t qualify under the first restriction…

September 19, 2016:  Reuters posted an article titled “Florida declares neighborhood Zika-free, but CDC remains cautious” It was written by Julie Steenhuysen and Ransdell Pierson. From the article:

U.S. health officials on Monday urged pregnant women to consider putting off nonessential travel to Miami due to the Zika virus even as they lifted a travel warning for one neighborhood. Earlier in the day, Florida’s governor declared the neighborhood of Wynwood Zika-free and invited visitors to return.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention left in place a travel warning issued on Aug. 19 for nearby Miami Beach even as it discontinued one issued on Aug. 1 for Wynwood due to local transmission of the mosquito-borne virus that can cause serious birth defects…

…The CDC’s Wynwood travel warning had been the first time the agency had ever told travelers to stay away from a neighborhood in any U.S. City.

But the agency on Monday recommended that pregnant women and their partners still consider postponing non-essential travel to Wynwood to avoid the risk of infection…

…Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, told a news conference before the CDC’s action that there had not been any cases of Zika infection in the Wynwood neighborhood in the past 45 days, and declared that “everybody should be coming back here and enjoying themselves.”…

…Scott’s comments followed news on Friday that the Zika transmission zone in Miami Beach, a popular tourist destination, had tripled in size after five new cases of infection were detected…

September 20, 2016: The Conversation posted an article titled: “Common Australian mosquitos can’t spread Zika” It was written by Cameron Webb. From the article:

New research from Australian scientists shows common local mosquitos aren’t able to spread Zika virus. This means Australia is unlikely to see a major outbreak of the disease. But a risk remains in northern Queensland.

Since the World Health Organization’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February, due to the effects on pregnant women, authorities have been on high alert…

…Australian mosquitos have been tested against a range of exotic viruses including dengue, chikugunya, West Nile, Rift Valley fever, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever viruses.

But no one had tested the ability of local mosquitos to spread Zika virus – until now.

Scientists from Queensland Health, the University of Queensland and James Cook University studied the potential for Australian mosquitos to spread Zika virus and found Aedes aegypti does indeed pose the greatest risk. The results are published today in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The study tested seven different types of mosquito implicated in the spread of disease in Australia, including Aedes notoscriptus, Aedes vigilax, Culex annulirostris, Culix quinquefasciatus and Aedes aegypti. These mosquitos are frequent biters, are found close to local suburbs and have been shown to transmit other pathogens…

…The only mosquito found to transmit Zika virus was, unsurprisingly, Aedes aegypti…

…Aedes aegypti is generally only found in tropical regions of Queensland. The mosquito isn’t in the major urban area of Southeast Queensland such as Brisbane, Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast. The areas at greatest risk are likely to be around Cairns, Townville as well as the Torres Strait. There is moderate risk around Rockhampton and Gladstone…

But there is a risk of a minor diseases outbreak where the Aedes aegypti is present. Every year, there are small local outbreaks of dengue in tropical Queensland; there’s a chance we’ll see similar outbreaks of Zika.

On September 19, 2016,  PLoS published the study mentioned in the article on September 19, 2016. It is titled “Assessment of Local Mosquito Species Incriminates Aedes aegypti as the Potential Vector of Zika Virus in Australia.

The article by The Conversation included a chart of Zika infections in Australia that had been acquired overseas. The information is broken up by Australian state or territory of residence:

  • ACT – 0
  • NT – 1
  • Tas. – 1
  • SA – 2
  • WA – 3
  • Vic. – 6
  • NSW – 10
  • Qld. – 21
  • TOTAL: 44

September 29, 2016: CNBC posted an article titled “Zika’s spread is making travelers rethink that Florida vacation”.  It was written by Susan Li. From the article:

Zika fears are biting into Florida’s $90 billion travel industry.

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifting a travel advisory on one neighborhood in Miami-Dade County that was linked to the spread of the Zika virus, there are signs travelers are going elsewhere.

Americans are booking travel plans for the peak fall and winter vacation seasons are booking 30 percent fewer flights to Miami, 33 percent fewer flights to Tampa and over 15 percent less flights to Palm Beach, according to Allianz Global Assistance.  The travel insurance group reviewed more than 940,000 American travel plans made during the month of August for trips to be taken from mid-November to mid-April next year and compared the results with the same period in 2015.

Overall, holiday makers are planning 15 percent fewer trips to the state of Florida, which is the second most visited in the United States.  The Sunshine State welcomed more than 106 million out-of-state and international tourists last year, according to Visit Florida…

September 29, 2016: Reuters posted an article titled: “Thailand confirms first Zika-linked microcephaly in Southeast Asia”. It was written by Aukkarapon Niyomyat.  From the article:

Thailand reported on Friday the first confirmed cases in Southeast Asia of microcephaly linked to mosquito-borne Zika, as the World Health Organization urged action against the virus across the region.

The confirmation of two cases of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by a small head size, came a day after U.S. health officials recommended that pregnant women postpone non-essential travel to 11 Southeast Asian countries because of the risk of Zika…

…[Prasert Thongcharoen, an advisor to the Department of Disease Control] declined to say where in Thailand the cases were found but officials have said they were not in Bangkok…

…The World Health Organization (WHO) said the cases were the first Zika-linked microcephaly in Southeast Asia and the virus infection represented a serious threat to pregnant women and their unborn children..

…U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, which can lead to severe developmental problems in babies…

..Thailand has confirmed 349 Zika cases since January, including 33 pregnant women, and Singapore has recorded 393 Zika cases, including 16 pregnant women…

…The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday people should consider postponing travel to Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), and Vietnam.

September 30, 2016: Science Alert posted an article titled “Scientists Just Documented The First Case of Zika Spreading Through Physical Contact” It was written by Peter Dockrill.  From the article:

A mysterious and extreme case of Zika in the US has shown that we still have a lot to learn when it comes to the virus – and suggests the virus may be capable of being spread by physical contact.

Earlier this year, health authorities in Utah were baffled the na patient contracted Zika – but not via any of the usual channels through with the virus is known to spread.

Previously, scientists thought Zika could only be contracted from the bites of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, through some, or by being passed on from pregnant women to their foetuses.

But a new study, led by researchers from the University of Utah, has examined the Utah episode, and concludes that Zika virus – at least in this very peculiar case – appears to have been spread through physical contact alone…

…The circumstances of the case began when the elderly patient, a 73-year-old Salt Lake City resident, visited Mexico in May last year. During his trip, he was bitten by mosquitoes, which is the most likely explanation for how he contracted Zika.

Upon returning from his trip, he went to hospital experiencing inflammation, watery eyes, and a rapid heart rate.

With his condition deteriorating, the man’s 38-year-old son visited him in the hospital, and comforted his father, helping to reposition him in bed and wiping away his tears.

The father died later in hospital, and tests after his death confirmed he had Zika. But only a week after the father passed away, [infectious disease specialist Sankar] Swaminathan happened to notice that the son had watery eyes – a common Zika symptom – and tests confirmed he too and contracted the virus.

What baffled researcher was that the son – unlike the father – had not travelled to a Zika-infected area, nor had sex with anybody who was infected (or who had traveled to a Zika area). And Utah doesn’t have Aedes aegypti mosquitoes…

October 1, 2016: Columbia Daily Tribune posted an article titled: “Without waiting for federal aid, Missouri takes steps to prevent Zika outbreak”. From the article:

Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services is developing a widespread plan for handling the Zika virus, despite federal aid being held up until late Wednesday to assist states in fighting the possibility of an outbreak.

After months of political wrangling, Congress late Wednesday passed a short-term resolution keeping the government open at current spending levels into the new fiscal year, which begins on Saturday, averting a potential shutdown. It includes funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitos that carry it…

…The readiness measures already in place are largely precautionary. The 29 cases of Zika so far discovered in Missouri have been found among Missourians who traveled to places where outbreaks have occurred, like Central America or the Caribbean.

Should that change, the state has laid out several response procedures, including testing at a state lab, a survey of mosquito populations in the state, and an outreach campaign to both the public and local health officials…

…Meanwhile, Congress had stalemated over passage of $1.1 billion to help states fight a possible Zika outbreak. There had been general agreement on the level of spending, but controversial amendments have sparked threatened Democratic filibusters in the Senate.

Legislators tried to attach the Zika aid package to a stopgap spending measure to keep the government open when the new fiscal year begins on Saturday. But that was temporarily stalled this week over a battle over aid to victims of the Flint, Mich., water crisis, until that stalemate was resolved on Wednesday…

October 6, 2016: The World Health Organization posted a report titled: “Zika situation report” From the report:

…The investigation by the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand confirmed 2 cases of Zika-related microcephaly on 30 September 2016. This is the first time that Zika-related microcephaly cases have been confirmed in Southeast Asia. The mothers reported no travel history to areas outside of Thailand…

October 9, 2016: The Sacramento Bee posted an article titled “As Hurricane Matthew moves out, Zika could move in”. It was written by Franco Ordoñez. From the article:

As the waters from Hurricane Matthew began to recede, costal residents from Florida to the Carolinas may have something else to worry about: Zika.

The high winds broke through screen doors and windows, knocked out power and left behind small and large bodies of standing water that could serve ad new breeding grounds for mosquitos. Scientists raised concerns that the Zika virus that has touched down in South Florida is now a greater threat to expand and move up the coast…

…Most adult mosquitos won’t survive the gusts of wind, and flooding will wash away young mosquitos. Those that survive, however, will lay new eggs near standing water that will hatch over and grow over the next week, likely boosting the bug population…

October 16, 2016: KCBMFM Central Coast Public Radio posted an article titled: “San Luis Obispo County records its first Zika virus case” San Luis Obispo is a county in California. From the article:

A northern San Luis Obispo County resident has been diagnosed with the Zika virus.

Ann McDowell with San Luis Obispo County Public Health told KCBX on Thursday that the person was infected while traveling to Morales, which is south of Mexico City…

…Travel-related Zika infections were also reported in Monterey and Santa Barbara counties back in August.

McDowell said all three counties have a fairly low chance of having mosquitos that would carry the virus. The Aedes species of mosquito, which is the one that is capable of transmitting Zika, has not been found in the SLO County…

…The California Public Health Department says there have been more than 300 travel-associated Zika cases in the state. There have been no recorded transmissions from local mosquitos.

October 13, 2016: NBC News posted an article titled “New Zika Zone Found in Miami”. It was written by Maggie Fox. From the article:

Florida has a new Zika zone – a one square mile area where the Zika virus is actively infecting people, state officials said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned pregnant women to stay out of the neighborhood if possible.

It’s the third established outbreak in Miami, a hot zone for Zika because it has both Aedes mosquitos that spread the virus, and an influx of travelers from other areas where Zika is spreading.

Florida remains the only U.S. state with verified local transmission of the virus, which causes severe birth defects when pregnant women get it, and which can cause rare but often severe neurological effects…

…Miami Beach also has an ongoing outbreak, although the state’s first Zika outbreak, in the Wynwood Arts District, was declared over after an intensive anti-mosquito spraying campaign.

“(The department of Health) has identified five people, two women and three men, in the new area,” [Florida Governor Rick] Scott said.

“Three live in this one square mile area. The other two either work in or have visited this area.”

Florida has more than 1,000 verified cases of Zika infection, most of them carried in by travelers, but 174 of them caught locally. The state health department says 106 of the cases are in pregnant women.

The state announced two more home-grown cases Thursday. “One case is linked to the new area of local transmission in Miami-Dade County.  The other case is a Broward County resident and the department is investigating to determine where exposure occurred,” the health department said…

November 7, 2016: The Cut posted an article titled “There’s a Zika Treatment in the Works for Pregnant Women” It was written by Susan Rinkunas. From the article:

…Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that doctors have identified an antibody that could be used to protect pregnant women and their fetuses from contracting Zika.

The team from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine looked at 29 antibodies from people who recovered from a Zika infection and found one that neutralized five strains of Zika in the lab. They gave that antibody with pregnant mice either one day before or one of five days after the mice were infected with Zika. The outcome: Mice given the antibody had “markedly reduced” levels of the virus in their systems as well as in their fetuses and placentas compared to mice that didn’t get it. Untreated mice infected with Zika showed placental damage.  They published their findings in the journal Nature.

It’s the first time an antiviral has been shown to protect developing fetuses from Zika…

…The antibody still needs to be tested in humans (which could be months away), but if it’s shown to work, it could be used as a treatment, an albeit expensive one, to protect pregnant women exposed to or diagnosed with Zika….

November 15, 2016: Reuters posted an article titled: “Thailand finds 33 new cases of Zika, says health ministry”. From the article:

Thai health officials on Wednesday said 33 new Zika virus cases have been detected in the country as officials step up screening for groups at high risk from the disease such as pregnant women…

…[Ministry of Public Health spokesman] Suwannachi [Wattanayingcharoenchai] said health campaigns warning travelers about Zika have been increased as many Thais flock to the capitol Bangkok to take part in national mourning activities for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died on Oct. 13…

…Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia in September to confirm Zika-linked microcephaly, a condition that results in babies being born with small heads, and has one of the highest number of Zika cases in the region.

Other parts of Southeast Asia have reported dozens of cases of Zika, including city state Singapore where 450 cases have been reported in 2016.

Thailand has reported more than 680 cases of Zika since January but its Department of Disease Control has said the virus is manageable.

In neighboring Myanmar, a pregnant foreign woman was diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus last month – the first case confirmed in the country…

November 28, 2016: The Florida Department of Health posted a “Department of Health Daily Zika Update”.  From the update:

In an effort to keep Florida residents and visitor safe and aware about the status of the Zika virus, the department will issue a Zika virus update each week day. Updates will include a Zika case count by county and information to keep Floridians informed and prepared…

…There is one new travel-related case today in Miami-Dade.

There are no new locally acquired cases today.

The total number of Zika cases reported in Florida as of today is 1,206.

The update continues with a list of the various Zika infection types and the infection count for each:

  • Travel-Related Infections of Zika: 953
  • Locally acquired Infections of Zika: 238
  • Undetermined: 15
  • Pregnant Women with Lab-Evidence of Zika: 170

November 28, 2016: NBC News posted an article titled “Zika Virus Arrives in South Texas” It was written by Maggie Fox.  From the article:

Texas reported its first home-grown case of Zika virus infection on Monday – making it the second U.S. state with mosquitos spreading the virus.

It’s a long-feared development but not a surprising one. Like Florida, South Texas is home to the Aedes aegypti mosquitos that spread Zika and also host many travelers to and from countries where the virus has been spreading.

“The patient is a Cameron County resident who is not pregnant and who was confirmed last week by lab test to have been infected. She reported no recent travel to Mexico or anywhere else with ongoing Zika virus transmission and no other risk factors,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement…

…We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas,” Texas State Health Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said in a statement…

November 28, 2016: FiveThirtyEight posted an article titled “Texas Has Reported Its First Local Case of Zika”. It was written by Anna Maria Barry-Jester.  From the article:

A woman in Texas appears to have acquired the Zika virus from a local mosquito, which would make Texas the second state where the virus has spread from mosquitos to humans (Florida was the first). There were 238 cases of locally acquired Zika in Florida as of Monday, according to the state’s Department of Health. As of Nov. 23, another 4,261 travel-associated cases – infections picked up in other countries or Puerto Rico – had been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika causes mild, flu-like symptoms in most people but has been linked to severe birth defects in the fetuses and newborns of women who were infected during pregnancy…

December 7, 2016: CIDRAP, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, posted an article titled: “More data show Zika viremia in mothers, fetal infection link”.  It was written by Lisa Schnirring.  From the article:

Spanish researchers today reported more evidence of Zika replication in the fetus or placenta, describing persistent viremia lasting more than 100 days after symptom onset in a mother of a baby born with microcephaly…

…The patient in the Spanish report is a woman who contracted a Zika infection in December 2015 while visiting Colombia, her home country.  The group reported the findings in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Her Zika symptoms began when she was 9 weeks pregnant, and blood tests for Zika virus were positive for 89 days – until she was 29 weeks along.  The reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was positive for 107 days after her symptom onset.  Tests for Zika from urine, vaginal and endocervical samples were negative…

…Fetal brain ultrasound at 12 and 15 weeks didn’t show any problems, but repeat imaging tests at 20, 24 and 29 weeks revealed bilateral mild ventriculopathy and a shortened corpus callosum, along wit parenchymal calcification and sever atrophy.  The Zika virus load in the mother’s amniotic fluid as higher than that of the blood.

The baby was delivered at 37 weeks because of fetal growth restriction, and at birth all samples from the mother, including those from the placenta, tested negative for Zika. The baby’s samples – including cerebrospinal fluid – were all negative for acute infection. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging confirmed the microcephaly diagnosis.

The group noted that an earlier report described Zika RNA in a pregnant woman’s blood 8 weeks after symptoms began and that the new findings support the hypothesis that persistent viremia might reflect virus reflection in the fetus or placenta…

December 8, 2016: The New York Times posted an article titled: “No New Local Zika Transmissions in Florida, Governor Says”.  It was written by Lizette Alvarez.  From the article:

Four months after Zika roiled Miami-Dade County and put the rest of Florida on alert, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that mosquitos were no longer actively transmitting the virus in South Florida.

Shortly after the announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted its strictest advisory urging pregnant women not to travel to the heart of South Beach, a popular tourism destination.  Instead it suggested caution…

…The federal health warning for South Beach was one of four issued for neighborhoods in Miami and Miami Beach, beginning Aug. 1 in Wynwood, which reported the first case of active Zika in the continental United States. Federal officials can remove a travel advisory after an area goes 45 days without two or more reported cases of locally acquired Zika…

…The number of locally transmitted Zika cases in the Miami area has dropped sharply, as result of both the country’s aggressive control efforts and the weather.  Winter here brings the end of the rainy season and slightly lower temperatures, making it more difficult for the disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito to survive.  Isolated cases continue to pop up.

But the county is already preparing for the next Zika cycle, which is expected when the rains arrive in early summer. Zika is here to stay, at least for a while, health and mosquito control officials said, in part because of South Florida’s tropical climate and the large number of visitors and residents from countries like Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Columbia and the United States territory of Puerto Rico.  Zika has also spread elsewhere on the mainland.  In late November, Texas reported its first locally transmitted case of Zika, and four more were reported Friday…

..The rest of South Florida is watching closely.  In the Florida Keys, where Monroe County voters approved the release of genetically modified mosquitos in a nonbinding referendum, Oxitec, a British biotech firm, is hoping to release its mosquitos next year.  Oxitic was embroiled in a long fight with residents of a tiny suburb of Key West called Key Haven – the designated site for the mosquitos’ release.

Concerned about the new technology, voters there rejected the plan in a separate referendum, scratching the project after it had received approval of the Food and Drug Administration.  Now the Keys mosquito control board commission is scouting new locations on the chain of islands and Oxitic is holding discussion with federal agencies about the changes, said Oxitic’s senior scientist, Derric Nimmo.

As of Thursday night, Florida had 1,244 or 27 percent of all the cases reported in the United States. Of those, two of the Florida cases were locally acquired.  The overwhelming majority of the others were people infected outside of the United States mainland. In total, 185 of the cases involved pregnant women.

The situation in Puerto Rico, where the virus has proved far harder to control, is more serious.  The island has 33,838 cases, almost all of them locally acquired. The disease is spread because few people have symptoms, making it hard to know they have been infected.  Zika can also be sexually transmitted…

December 9, 2016: Reuters posted an article titled: “Texas reports four more cases of Zika spread by local mosquitos”. It was written by Reuters Staff.  From the article:

Texas officials said they had identified four additional cases of Zika likely spread by mosquitos, two weeks after the first case was reported in the state.

The four patients live in very close proximity to the first case, the Texas Department of State Health Services and Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement on Friday.

The first case involved a woman living in Cameron County near the Mexico border, who is not pregnant…

December 9, 2016: Reuters posted an article titled: “Microcephaly quadrupled in Colombia this year due to Zika: report”. It was written by Julie Steenhuysen.  From the article:

Cases of microcephaly in Columbia were four times higher this year than last, an increase that coincides with a widespread outbreak of Zika virus in the country, a report released on Friday said.

At its peak in July, microcephaly cases in Columbia were nine times higher than in the same month in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report on death and disease.

Overall, there were 9.6 cases of microcephaly per 10,000 live births in Columbia, where the virus infected as many as 20,000 pregnant women since the start of the outbreak there in October 2015, according to the report by researchers at the CDC and the Columbian health department.

The numbers reflect a sharp increase in rates of the rare birth defect, proving that microcephaly was not occurring primarily in Brazil…

…According to the report, which covers the period from August 2015 through November 2016, Columbia had 476 cases of microcephaly, including 432 live-born infants and 44 that occurred among fetuses that did not survive the pregnancy.

The number was far lower than those in Brazil, where Zika arrived in May of 2015. As of Dec. 3, Brazil has confirmed 2,228 cases of microcephaly links with Zika, and is still investigating another 3,173 cases…

…Several experts also have suggested that women in Columbia took advantage of more permissive abortion laws, an option that was not available to women in Brazil, where abortion is banned in most instances…

December 14, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “Pregnant Women Warned to Avoid Brownsville, Tex., Because of Zika” It was written by Donald McNeil Jr.  From the article:

Federal Health officials warned pregnant women on Wednesday avoid visiting Brownsville, Tex., because of the threat of infection with the Zika virus.

At least five cases of Zika transmitted by local mosquitoes have been reported in the last few weeks, and temperatures are still high enough for mosquitos to thrive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said…

…Brownsville is on the border with Mexico, which has seen local transmission of the virus for months, and on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

The C.D.C. suggested that pregnant women who live in or visit Brownsville or surrounding Cameron County do everything they can to avoid mosquito bites, and that they and their sexual partners use condoms for the duration of their pregnancies…

…Women who think they have been exposed to Zika should wait at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant, officials said.

Because the virus is known to persist in semen long after an infection, men who have been exposed to it – or think they might have been – should wait at least six months before trying to impregnate a woman, the agency said…

2017: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted information titled: “2017 Case Counts in the US”. It contains data reported to ArboNET for January 1, 2017 – December 20, 2017.  Here are some important facts from it:

  • 385 symptomatic Zika virus disease cases reported in the United States. 378 cases in travelers returning from affected areas.  3 cases acquired through presumed local mosquito-borne transmission in Florida (1) and Texas (2).  4 cases acquired through sexual transmission.
  • 611 symptomatic Zika virus disease cases reported in US Territories.  All 611 cases were acquired through presumed local mosquito-borne transmission.
  • Laboratory confirmed symptomatic Zika virus disease cases in the United States: Alabama (3), Alaska (1), Arizona (2), California (46), Colorado (6), District of Columbia (2), Florida (92), Georgia (2), Hawaii (2), Illinois (7), Indiana (2), Iowa (1), Kansas (2), Louisiana (1), Maine (1), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (9), Michigan (7), Minnesota (6), Mississippi (6), Missouri (6), Nebraska (1), Nevada (1), New Jersey (11), New York (61), North Carolina (5), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (6), Rhode Island (3), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (1), Texas (44), Utah (4), Vermont (3), Virginia (6), Washington (13), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (4), Wyoming (2)
  • Laboratory confirmed symptomatic Zika virus disease cases in US Territories: American Samoa (72), Puerto Rico (494), U.S. Virgin Islands (45)

January 20, 2017: The Fresno Bee posted an article titled: “Fresno County woman confirmed as first Zika case through sexual contact.” It was written by Barbara Anderson. From the article:

A woman is the first person in Fresno County confirmed to have contracted the Zika virus through sexual transmission, county health officials said Friday.

The public health department said the unidentified woman got the virus from a partner who became infected while traveling….

…Dr. Ken Bird, health officer for Fresno County, said the Fresno County woman is not pregnant.

Nationwide as of Jan. 10, there have been 1,347 cases of possible Zika virus infection in pregnant women, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bird said the Fresno County woman’s partner became ill about a month ago and she fell ill sometime later. Neither was seriously sickened by the Zika virus. The infection in the woman’s partner was diagnosed by a doctor who asked about travel history and had him tested for the virus, Bird said. Symptoms include a rash, fever, joint pain and red eyes…

…Fortunately, the woman’s infection occurred in January, he said. “This is the off-season for mosquitos. They’re not breeding this time if the year. It’s too cold.”…

Meanwhile, influenza continues to rage in California…

February 11, 2017: LMTonline (a Texas newspaper) posted an article titled: “Funds will help fight Zika virus” From the article:

Congressman Henry Cuellar announced Friday the allocation of $560,000 of federal funding to fight the Zika virus on the border.

“I fought for these federal funds, along with the City of Laredo, so our community can invest in proven prevention methods,” Cuellar said. “Zika virus infections have been reported here in our border communities, so vigilance is more important than ever. Now, our local officials have the resources they need to protect Laredo and Zapata families…”

…Congress provided $394 million to the CDC as part of the Zika supplemental funding bill. These funds were part of a $25 million federal allocation for Zika preparedness to the Texas Department of State Health Services, about $10 million of which is flagged for local jurisdictions including 16 health departments.

Those jurisdictions, including Laredo and Zapata County, were selected for their higher risk of Zika cases: mainly border, gulf coast, and urban areas. The City of Laredo will also conduct operations in Zapata County with these funds…

March 2, 2017: NBC News posted an article titled: “Zika Raises Birth Defect Rate 20 Times, CDC Report Finds”. It was written by Maggie Fox. From the article:

Zika virus raised the risk of birth defects twentyfold fold [sic] among infected U.S. women, federal researchers said Thursday.

It’s just a rough estimate, nowhere near to being precise, and it’s taken from just a handful of states. But such a giant spike is notable, and it shows the need to keep tabs on pregnancies, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Zika is known to cause a range of birth defects if a woman is infected while pregnant. The first to be noticed was microcephaly – an abnormally small head caused when the brain fails to develop completely.

But now doctors have seen other profound defects, such as collapsed skulls and other deformities, as well as milder problems such as eye defects. Some are so severe that they cause miscarriages.

Dr. Jane Cragan of the CDC’s birth defect division and colleagues analyzed birth defect data from 2013 and 2014 in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Georgia, which have birth defect surveillance programs.

They found a rate of 2.86 birth defects per 1,000 births.

Then they looked at Zika birth defect registries that were started after Zika began arriving in the United States, carried or transmitted by travelers from Zika-affected regions. In the same three states, they found 26 infants and fetuses with Zika-connected birth defects born to 442 Zika-infected pregnant women from January through September 2016.

That works out to a rate of 58 defects per 1,000 births, they report in the CDC’s weekly report on death and disease…

…They admit it’s not a terribly exact comparison, but it gives a good ballpark estimate of just how dangerous Zika is. One study last year found that Zika caused damage in 6 percent of all babies born to women infected with Zika in the United States and 11 percent of those who were infected early in pregnancy…

…The latest studies show that Zika’s arrival at least doubled the birth defect rate across all of Brazil – even though only small areas were affected seriously by the mosquito-borne virus…

…CDC’s pregnancy registry shows more than 1,000 pregnant women infected with Zika in U.S. states and another 3,200 in U.S. territories, mostly in Puerto Rico.

March 2, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “Birth Defects Rise Twentyfold in Mothers with Zika, C.D.C. Says” It was written by Donald McNeil Jr.  From the article:

American mothers infected with the Zika virus last year were 20 times as likely to give birth to babies with birth defects as mothers who gave birth two years before the epidemic, federal health officials said on Thursday…

…A new study, published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at several hundred pregnant women entered into the C.D.C’s Zika Pregnancy Registry after lab tests indicated they had probably had the virus. The study compared their birth outcomes to those found in historic registries of birth defects kept in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Georgia.

It found that in 2013 and 2014, those states’ typical rate of severe birth defects – including microcephaly, brain abnormalities, eye defects or central nervous system problems – was about 3 out of every 1,000 live births.

By contrast, the 442 women in the pregnancy registry had 26 infants and fetuses with similar defects, which would be a rate of about 60 out of every 1,000 pregnancy outcomes, including live births, miscarriages and abortions…

…The study showed the importance of keeping birth defects registries, the C.D.C. said, and reiterated that Zika is extremely dangerous to fetuses. The agency continues to recommend that pregnant women will not travel to areas with Zika….

…Women in Puerto Rico, which had a major outbreak of the virus, are in a separate C.D.C. registry.

March 9, 2017: The Mayo Clinic posted a press release titled: “Zika virus also may have harmful heart effects, research shows in first report in adults”. It was written by Traci Klein. From the press release:

Zika may also have serious effects on the heart, new research shows, in the first study to report cardiovascular complications related to this virus, according to data being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session.

In a study at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Caracas, Venezuela, of nine adult patients with Zika and no previous history of cardiovascular disease, all but one developed a heart rhythm problem and two-thirds had evidence of heart failure…

…The patients (six were female, mean age was 47) were seen at the Department of Tropical Medicine in Venezuela within two weeks of having Zika-type symptoms. They reported symptoms of heart problems, most commonly palpitations followed by shortness of breath and fatigue. Only one patient had any previous cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure) and tests confirmed that all of the patients had active Zika infection. Patients underwent an initial electrocardiogram (EKG), a test that shows the electrical activity of the heart, and in eight of the patients, the EKG suggested heartbeat rate or rhythm concerns. These findings prompted a full cardiovascular workup using an echocardiogram, (24-hour) Holter monitor and a cardiac MRI study.

Serious arrhythmias were detected in eight patients: three cases of atrial fibrillation, two cases of non sustained atrial tachycardia, and two cases of ventricular arrhythmias. Heart failure was present in six cases. Of these, five patients had heart failure with low ejection fraction, when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should, and one had heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, where the heart becomes stiff and cannot relax or fill properly…

…”Following this research, we want patients who are suffering from Zika symptoms to also be aware of the cardiac symptoms because they might not connect the two,” Dr. Karina Gonzalez Carta says. “The same is true for physicians because they might be focuses on the Zika symptoms but not thinking about cardiac concerns.”

March 11, 2017: The New York Times posted a lengthy and very detailed article titled: “For Brazil’s Zika Families, a Life of Struggles and Scares”. It was written by Pam Belluck and Tania Franco.  For full details, I recommend that you read the article and look at the photos and short videos that are in it.

The article focuses on three babies who were had been exposed to the Zika virus before birth: Sophia, Alícia, and Daniel. From the article:

…Now more than a year old, Sophia is a child of the Zika epidemic, one of nearly 2,500 babies in Brazil born to infected mothers, with brain damage so profound the consequences are only beginning to be understood.

Thirteen months after the World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency, some of the public alarm over the mosquito-borne virus that swept through Latin America is receding. In November, the W.H.O. lifted its emergency designation, but Zika has hardly disappeared. Thousands of new Zika infections continue to be reported throughout Latin America, and W.H.O. officials say that their action simply signals that, like malaria or yellow fever, Zika is a continuing threat in the region rather than an urgent pandemic.

For families of Zika babies, however, the disastrous effects are only depending. That is especially true in the impoverished cities and villages of northeastern Brazil, where the connection between the mysterious virus and infants born with tiny misshapen heads was first detected and where hundreds of families are struggling to give these babies the best lives possible…

…And doctors and researchers are just starting to grasp the medical consequences of Zika. Besides the alarmingly small heads characteristic of microcephaly, many babies have a long list of varied symptoms, leading experts to rename their condition “congenital Zika syndrome.” They can have seizures, breathing problems, trouble swallowing, weakness and stiffness in muscles and joints preventing them from even lifting their heads, clubbed feet, vision and hearing problems, and ferocious irritability.

Some have passed their first birthdays, but have neurological development closer to that of 3-month-old infants, doctors say. Some microcephaly cases appear so dire that experts liken them to a previously rare variant called “fetal brain disruption sequence.” And new issues keep cropping up, including hydrocephalus, excess fluid in the brain.

Now, new waves of impaired children, who appeared normal at birth, are being identified. For some, microcephaly and other symptoms are emerging months later, as their brains, with malformations or debilitated or destroyed cells, fail to develop enough to match their physical growth. Experts predict there will be more children who still seem unaffected, but whose problems will surface in toddlerhood or their school years…

April 4, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “One in 10 Pregnant Women With Zika in U.S. Have Babies With Birth Defects”. It was written by Pam Belluck. From the article:

One in 10 pregnant women in the continental United States with a confirmed Zika infection had a baby with brain damage or other serious birth defects, according to the most comprehensive report to date on American pregnancies during the Zika crisis.

The report, published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also provided more evidence that the risk of birth defects was greater when women were infected in the first trimester of pregnancy. Fifteen percent of women with confirmed Zika infection in the first trimester had babies with birth defects, the report found…

…The study indicates that almost every state reported at least one woman with a suspected Zika infection in pregnancy. Some of the women were infected by mosquitoes in the continental United States, but all 51 cases of birth defects reported in the study were traced to infections acquired in one of 16 countries or territories in Latin America or the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico…

…The report found that babies with birth defects were about as likely to be born to infected women who had no Zika symptoms as they were to women with symptoms, like rash or fever. In general, 80 percent of Zika infections do not produce symptoms.

But the report did not resolve the question of whether symptomatic infection in pregnancy is more dangerous to a fetus than asymptomatic infection, experts said. That is because researchers may not have been aware of all the asymptomatic Zika cases: Some women without symptoms may not have gotten tested for Zika, and consequently, their cases would not be reported.

C.D.C officials also pointed to another possible shortcoming in the data: Despite a C.D.C recommendation that brain scans be performed on all babies born to women with Zika infection, only 25 percent of teh babies in the study had brain imaging, so the actual number of impaired infants could be higher…

April 4, 2017: ABC News posted an article titled “Omaha mom-to-be is Nebraska’s first pregnant Zika case” It was written by Camila Orti. From the article:

An Omaha woman infected with Zika virus is expected to give birth in May.

Evelyn Suastegui, 25, is Nebraska’s first reported case of the mosquito-borne illness while pregnant. Doctors at Methodist Women’s Hospital are guiding Suastegui through the last few weeks of her pregnancy…

…Dr. [Hemant] Satpathy says he has checked Suastegui every four weeks to ensure the baby is developing properly…

…He says he’s thankful the mom-to-be had blood work done after becoming sick during an August trip to Mexico with her husband…

…About five weeks into her pregnancy, Dr. Satpathy says Sustegui found out that she was going to have a baby and that she had Zika at the same time…

…So far, Satpathy says the little girl, due on May 8, is in the normal range for everything a relief for the eager parents…

April 12, 2017: Valley News posted an article titled: “First local Zika-related birth defect reinforces travel advisory”.  It was written by Tom Christensen. From the article:

Pregnant women, women who could become pregnant, and couples considering pregnancy are advised avoid traveling to areas with known Zika transmission, after a baby with the severe birth defect microcephaly was born in San Diego County.

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency reports the mother was infected with the Zika virus while traveling in a foreign country where the virus is common….

…The infant is the first reported case born in San Diego County with microcephaly associated Zika virus. Microcephaly is a condition with multiple causes where a baby’s head and brain are smaller than normal. Children born with this condition frequently have other developmental and neurological health problems as well. Details about the case are not being released due to privacy concerns.

As of March 24, HHSA has confirmed 87 travel-associated cases of Zika infection among San Diego County residents. This information is updated every Friday on the HHSA Zika website. No local mosquito-transmitted cases of Zika have occurred in California, though limited local transmission has occurred in Florida and Texas…

April 21, 2017: PBS posted an article titled: “As Zika Season Nears, States Brace for an End to CDC Funding”.  It was written by Katie Worth. From the article:

…In meetings at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta last week, federal officials told state health departments that Zika funding initially envisioned to last five years will likely run out this summer instead, according to representatives of six states that attended the meetings. State health officials say say this could harm their ability to prepare for an inevitable wave of new infections, or to provide services for babies already struggling with Zika-related birth-defects…

…Money problems have troubled the public health response to Zika since last February, when the Obama administration asked Congress for an emergency infusion of $1.9 billion for the crisis. But the plan languished after Republicans inserted a provision blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving money from the bill and Democrats balked. Congress finally approved a $1.1 billion package in September after removing the Planned Parenthood language.

The money was divvied up between several federal agencies. Some of it funded vaccine research, some helped Puerto Rico with mosquito control and some was sent abroad for international response. Nearly $400 million was sent to CDC, and the bulb of that went to public health department around the country.

But the money earmarked for the CDC was a one-time infusion and is now nearly spent, according to to [sic] state health officials who say they’ve been told by the agency not to count on new money for Zika. State labs, which ran 60,000 Zika tests in 2016, were told they should expect CDC support for mosquito-borne disease testing to return to pre-Zika levels…

…Among the programs potentially affected by cuts is one that aimed to track Zika-associated defects, educate women and doctors about them, and follow up with families of Zika babies after their birth. Before Zika emerged, only a handful of states actively tracked microcephaly… and the other neurological conditions now associated with the disease. The paucity of data has made it difficult to parse which causes are triggered by Zika and which may be attributable to other causes…

The article goes on to give details about how different states used the funding:

  • Pennsylvania used the $669,000 they received from the CDC to track birth defects – something they had never done before.  Karen Murphy, Pennsylvania State Health Secretary said without CDC funding “we would have no way to track birth defects.”
  • Texas has the fourth highest number of confirmed Zika cases.  CDC funding helped the state to speed up the time it takes to register a birth defect from two years to three months.  This helped Texas to prove services to the families of Zika babies.
  • California used CDC funding to expand surveillance for Zika-related birth defects from 10 counties to 19. California now tracks all counties infested with Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that primarily spreads Zika, as well as the five counties with the highest number of pregnant women with infections. The surveillance funding may end this year, which would directly affect surveillance efforts.
  • Louisiana – one of the states most at risk of Zika – used CDC funding to transition from a passive birth defect tracking system – in which birth defects are noted on birth certificates and voluntarily reported in doctors – to an active one, where health officials seek out information from birthing centers.  Losing funding could cause Louisiana to revert back to the passive system.

May 1, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “Clues to Zika Damage Might Lie in Cases of Twins”. It was written by Pam Belluck and Tania Franco. From the article:

…Twins often yield clues to medical mysteries because of their biological similarities allow scientists to identify relevant differences. Determining why one twin became infected in the womb while the other did not may illuminate how Zika crosses the placenta, how it enters the brain, and whether any genetic mutations make a fetus more resistant or susceptible to Zika infection.

Until recently, Brazil’s Zika twins seems to follow a pattern, said Mayana Zatz, a geneticist and molecular biologist at the university of Sao Paulo. The cases include two sets of identical twins, and both babies in each pair have microcephaly, she said. There are also six sets of fraternal twins, in which one twin has microcephaly, while the other appears unaffected.

Since the identical twins shared one placenta, while fraternal twins almost always have separate placentas, Dr. Zatz and other experts suggested that the Zika virus may have penetrated one placenta and not the other…

…But one set of twins has broken the pattern. Those twins are fraternal and had separate placentas – but both have microcephaly and other Zika complications….

May 12, 2017: CBS News posted an article titled: “Brazil declares end to Zika emergency after fall in cases”. It was written by The Associated Press.  From the article:

Brazil declared and end to its public health emergency over the Zika virus on Thursday, 18 months after a surge in cases drew headlines around the world.

The mosquito-borne virus wasn’t considered a major health threat until the 2015 outbreak revealed that Zika can lead to severe birth defects. One of those defects, microcephaly, causes babies to be born with skulls much smaller than expected…

…The concern spread even more widely when health officials said it could also be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person….

In response to the outbreak, Brazil launched a mosquito-eradication campaign.

The Health Ministry said those efforts have helped to dramatically reduce cases of Zika. From January through mid-April, the Health Ministry recorded 95 percent fewer cases than during the same period last year. The incidence of microcephaly has fallen as well.

The World Health Organization lifted its own international emergency in November, even while saying the virus remained a threat…

May 13, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “Zika Warning Is Issued Over Sperm Banks in the Miami Area” It was written by Pam Belluck. From the article:

Women who are considering trying to become pregnant with semen from sperm banks in the Miami-Dade County area of Florida should consider the possibility that sperm collected as far back as mid-June might be infected with the Zika virus, federal health officials said Monday.

The officials said the new warning was driven by caution, not by any evidence of infected semen from sperm banks or of babies with Zika-linked brain damage who were conceived with donated sperm.

The officials said a recent analysis of Zika cases in Florida found some cases in which Health Department investigators could not determine the exact place infection occurred. And since Zika was found to persist in semen for up to six months, “there is a small potential risk of Zika virus transmission associated with exposure to semen from male residents in the Florida tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward Counties since June 15, 2016,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

At the news briefing, Dr. Peter W. Marks, the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said, “When semen is donated, it can be stored frozen for significant periods of time, and that doesn’t necessarily inactivate the Zika virus.”

Dr. Matthew J. Kuehnert, the director of the C.D.C’s Office of Blood, Organ, and Other Tissue Safety, said at the briefing that “there have been no suspected cases from donor semen,” but that an analysis found “cases of people who are residents of Palm Beach County and Broward County in which the exposure was uncertain.”

As a result, said Dr. Denise Jamison, the incident commander of the C.D.C’s Zika emergency response, “Some people in the area may not have realized they are at risk.”

Dr. Jamison said that the agency was also extending the time frame of potential concern from July 29, when officials identified cases of suspected local transmission in that area of Florida back to June 15, the date of the agency’s first Zika travel advisory regarding pregnant women. She said that since then, 85,000 women had become pregnant in the tri-county area, including about 5,000 who might have used fertility methods like intrauterine insemination…

…Dr. Marks said there as not yet a licenses test that the counties’ 12 sperm banks could use to detect Zika virus in semen…

May 17, 2017: Verily posted a YouTube video titled “Introducing Debug Fresno”.

May 25, 2017: Mother Jones posted an article titled: “The GOP Health Bill Would Make Zika the Newest Preexisting Condition”. It was written by Rebecca Leber. From the article:

The controversial GOP health care bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives this month could have devastating consequences for mothers and children infected with Zika, experts say. The mosquito-borne virus is just one of a nearly endless list of preexisting medical conditions – cancer, asthma, pregnancy – for which insurers could potentially charge higher premiums if Republicans get their way…

…Multiple health care experts told Mother Jones that the GOP bill would almost certainly mean a host of insurance problems for both pregnant women who have had Zika and infants born with microcephaly, a condition where a child has a smaller brain and other health defects. Zika can cause a host of other birth defects and in rare cases has been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause temporary paralysis in adults. What’s more, the GOP bill cuts funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency on the front lines of the battle against the disease…

…Experts say that, under the Republican plan, insurers would almost certainly treat Zika as a reason to charge higher premiums…

…In other words, insurers would be tempted to charge more based on the expensive medical costs sometimes associated with Zika, and there would be nothing preventing them from doing it…

…The House bill would have other impacts on Zika prevention efforts. It cuts nearly $1 billion from the CDC’s budget. The CDC funds testing and research and deploys emergency teams to provide extra medical assistance and to control the spread of Zika-infected mosquitos. The CDC fights Zika by monitoring mosquitos that transmit the virus, and it collects data about how Zika affects pregnancies. Trump’s budget doesn’t help the situation either. Although it sets up a CDC emergency response fund to deal with outbreaks like Zika, the budget weakens prevention efforts by seeking a 17 percent cut to the CDC and an 18 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health…

May 26, 2017: Travel Health Pro posted an article titled: “India Added As A Moderate Risk Area For Zika Virus Transmission” From the article:

On 25 May, 2017, the World Health Organization added India to their list of countries in their Zika virus (ZIKV) classification category 2: ‘Area either with evidence of virus circulation before 2015 or with ongoing transmission that is no longer in the new or re-introduced phase, but where there is no evidence of interruption… Our Country Information page for India has been updated to show a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission. Pregnant women should consider postponing non-essential travel to this country until after the pregnancy…

June 2, 2017: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance regarding Zika.  “CDC Updates Zika guidance for Miami-Date County, Florida”. From the guidance:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance for people who travel or live in Miami-Dade County to lift the Zika cautionary (yellow) area designation.  There have been no new cases of local Zika virus transmission identified and no cases under investigation in Miami-Dade County for more than 45 days. Lifting the yellow area designation means that there are no longer any travel recommendations related to Zika virus for Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Although we do not know the level of risk of Zika virus transmission after a yellow area designation is lifted, it is likely to be low.  However, sporadic cases may still occur.  Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy.  Infection can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. For this reason, we recommend that people living in or traveling to Miami-Dade County continue to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses, including Zika virus…

…As of May 24, 2017, a total of 5,300 cases of Zika virus infection have been reported in the continental United States and Hawaii through CDC’s ArboNET. These cases include 224 locally transmitted mosquito-borne cases, 48 cases believed to be the result of sexual transmission, one case that was the result of a laboratory exposure, and one case that was the result of person-to-person transmission through an unknown route.

June 3, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “India Acknowledges Three Cases of Zika Virus” It was written by Nida Najar. From the article:

Officials in Ahmedabad, India, saw the first of the cases in November: A 34-year -old woman who had just given birth to a healthy child came down with a fever, and tests later confirmed that she was infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The authorities fumigated neighborhoods of the city, gathered mosquito larvae for testing, and stepped up their efforts to sport any additional cases, finding two more in the next two months.

What they did not do was tell the public.

Hardly anyone outside the government knew about the three cases until last week, after the World Health Organization announced that it has received reports about them from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Gujarat state government officials then spoke on May 28 with reporters, saying that there were no more confirmed cases beyond those three…

…Dr. Scott C. Weaver, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who predicted in 2009 that Zika was likely to strike the Americas someday, said it was unlikely that there would be a huge surge in brain damage among Indian babies, because the population probably already has a certain level of immunity from past exposure.

But experts in India said that the country has not done the kind of testing necessary to know whether millions of Indians may already have had the disease, and therefore, are immune…

…Two of the three people who tested positive in Ahmedabad were women, and both gave birth to healthy babies, the government said. But those were just two out of 26 million births in India annually. Experts said testing needed to be stepped up.

The British government has advised pregnant women against traveling to India on account of the risk of the Zika Virus…

June 5, 2017: STAT posted an article titled: “Puerto Rico declares its outbreak of Zika virus over” It was written by Helen Branswell. From the article:

Puerto Rico declared its Zika epidemic over on Monday, saying transmission of the virus on the island has fallen to relatively low levels.

In a statement, the territorial government said there have been only about 10 cases of Zika reported in every four-week period since mid-April, down from more than 8,000 cases in four-week periods at the same time last year.

The announcement seemed to be an attempt by the government of the financially troubled territory to draw a line under the outbreak that has hit the island – in terms of both disease counts and economic fallout – harder than any other part of the United States.

Puerto Rico had diagnosed more than 40,000 confirmed cases of Zika infection as of May 20, the most recent date for which data are available. Thirty-eight cases of Zika-induced birth defects have been recorded, although outside experts believe that figure is a substantial underestimate of the problem in the territory…

June 8, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “5% of U.S. Pregnant Women with Zika Had Baby with a Birth Defect”. It was written by Catherine Saint Louis.  From the article:

Five percent of pregnant women with a confirmed Zika infection in the United States territories, including Puerto Rico, went on to have a baby with a related birth defect, according to the most comprehensive report to date from federal officials.

The report, published on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also provided for the first time preliminary estimates of this risk by trimester. Previously, there were not enough births following exposure to the Zika virus to make such estimates.

This new report reviewed nearly 2,550 cases of women with possible Zika virus infection who completed pregnancies – meaning they gave birth, miscarried, or experienced stillbirth – from Jan. 1, 2016 – April 25, 2017.

Roughly 1,500 of those women had Zika infection actually confirmed by laboratory testing.

Eight percent of offspring of pregnant women in U.S. territories with a positive nucleic acid test for Zika infection in the first trimester had birth defects linked to the virus. By contrast, 5 percent of these infants did when infection occurred in the second trimester, and 4 percent in the third trimester…

…The data reported to the C.D.C came from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, American Samoa, and the United States Virgin Islands.

In total, the agency counted 122 babies with possible Zika related-birth defects, such as neural tube defects, eye abnormalities or microcephaly, and unusually small head…

…On Monday, Puerto Rico declared that its Zika epidemic had ended, based on data showing the number of new cases had fallen. Regardless, C.D.C officials said today that they still advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to Puerto Rico and to protect themselves against mosquito bites, if they do…

July 10, 2017: PBS posted an article titled: “‘Part of the new reality’: Despite confusion, Zika warnings are here to stay” From the article:

Zika has faded from the headlines like a mosquito’s dying buzz…

…But the risk of pathogen poses to a pregnancy hasn’t gone away, and public health authorities are grappling with how to get the message out to pregnant women. Despite public confusion over whether Zika remains a public health threat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to warn women who are pregnant to avoid traveling to wide swathes of Latin America and the Caribbean.

“People are just going to have to accept that as part of the new reality,” Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s global migration and quarantine division, told STAT in an interview. “Until we have better prevention tools, we’re just facing this as part of the new normal.”…

July 13, 2017: EurekAlert! published a public release titled: “Vaccines protect fetuses from Zika infection, mouse story shows” The public release was written by Washington University School of Medicine. From the public release:

…Now, a new study in mice shows that females vaccinated before pregnancy and infected with Zika virus while pregnant bear pups who show no trace of the virus. The findings offer the first evidence that an effective vaccine administered prior to pregnancy can protect vulnerable fetuses from Zika infection and resulting injury…

…The study is published July 13 in the Journal Cell…

…a so-called vaccine that is baes on the genetic blueprint for two proteins from the virus’s other shell and is developed by Moderna Therapeutics, is already in safety testing in women who are not pregnant and men. The other, a live but weakened form of the virus that was developed at UTMB, is being tested in animals…

July 14, 2017: TechCrunch posted an article titled: “Google’s life sciences unit is releasing 20 million bacteria-infected mosquitos in Fresno” It was written by Sarah Buhr. From the article:

Verily, the life sciences arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has hatched a plan to release about 20 million lab-made, bacteria-infected mosquitos upon Fresno, California – and that’s a good thing!

You see, the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito is prevalent in the area. Earlier this year, a woman contracted the first confirmed case of Zika in Fresno, through sexual contact with a partner who had been traveling. Now there’s the fear of the inevitable mosquito-meets-patient if we don’t do something about it. Verily’s plan, called the Debug Project, hopes to now wipe out this potential Zika carrying mosquito population to prevent further infections….

…So what’s the plan to get rid of them? Verily’s male mosquitos were infected with the Wolbachia bacteria, which is harmless to humans, but when they mate with and infect their female counterparts, it makes their eggs unable to produce offspring.

Bonus, male mosquitos don’t bite, so Fresno residents won’t have to worry about itching more than they usually would…

…Verily plans to release about 1 million mosquitos a week over a 20-week period in two 300-acre neighborhoods in the Fresno area – the largest U.S. release to date of mosquitos infected with the Wolbachia bacteria…

July 17, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “Houston Braces for Another Brush with the Peril of Zika” It was written by Donald G. McNeil Jr. From the article:

With 4.5 million people in a hot, muggy metropolis built atop a bayou, America’s fourth-largest city, Houston is a perfect target for the mosquito-borne Zika virus. But it may be better prepared than any other urban area to stop an outbreak.

The city last year increased its mosquito-control budget by 33 percent. Officials are testing new high-tech traps and have plans to release genetically modified mosquitos that produce short lived offspring, reducing the population.

Should the virus start spreading here, officials are prepared to follow Miami’s example, beginning wit aerial spraying and house-to-house inspections to clear standing water in which mosquitos breed….

…Almost everywhere, Year 2 of Zika is looking much less threatening than Year 1. But the risk posed by this virus is far from gone…

…More than 400 mosquito traps are scattered around the county. Some are baited with dry ice, which emits carbon dioxide, the element of human breath that draws mosquitos.

Some traps exude the lactic acid-ammonia mix of human sweat, while still others use water to attract egg-laying females.

Officials are also testing high-tech experimental traps made by Microsoft the can tell mosquito species apart. The country has its own virology laboratory, including a $300,000 P.C.R. machine acquired specifically for Zika testing…

…The $1.1 billion in Zika funding that Congress passed last year runs out in September. The Trump administration seeks to cut the C.D.C. budget by $1.2 billion, to what the agency had 20 years ago…

October 10, 2017: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued “Advice for people living in or traveling to South Florida”. From the advice:

CDC previously issued guidance related to Zika for people living in or traveling to Miami-Dade County, Florida, which advised that pregnant women not travel to this area due to local transmission of Zika virus. CDC designates areas for Zika virus transmission prevention in the continental United States and Hawaii as red or yellow.  Miami-Dade County was previously designated as a Zika cautionary (yellow) area, but that designation was removed on June 2, 2017.  This means that there are no longer any travel recommendations related to Zika virus for Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Although the level of risk of Zika transmission after a yellow area is removed is not know, it is likely to be low.  However, sporadic cases may still occur.  For this reason, CDC recommends that people living in or traveling to Miami-Dade County continue to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses, including Zika virus, but following the guidance below…

December 14, 2017: Scientific American posted an article titled: “First Snapshot of Zika-Affected Toddlers Portends a Life of Struggle” It was written by Dina Fine Maron. From the article:

Most toddlers who were exposed to Zika in the womb and born with birth defects still suffer from many long-term problems at age two, according to the first report characterizing the longer-term health effects of prenatal exposure to the virus. The children often continue to have seizures as well as an inability to respond to noises in their surroundings or follow objects with their eyes, researchers found.

The findings are based on follow-up exams of Brazilian kids born with smaller than normal heads, a birth defect called microcephaly. Earlier analyses suggested such infants would have serious developmental delays, but the new report, released Thursday by Brazilian and U.S. health officials, is the first to provide a detailed account of what challenges these kids will face as they grow up – and to confirm children born with Zika-related microcephaly will probably need lifelong care.

The report comes from careful tracking of 19 babies born in 2015 and 2016 who were diagnosed with microcephaly and had accompanying laboratory evidence of congenital Zika virus. The children were all from northeastern Brazil, and the study found that at around ages 19 to 24 months the toddlers had conditions including an inability to sit independently difficulties with sleeping and feeding, seizures, and hearing and vision problems. About 75 percent of them suffered from cerebral palsy. And the majority of the kids – three quarters – suffered from at least three of these issues.  These children “have severe functional limitations and will require specialized care from clinicians and caregivers as they age,” the study says. Ten of the subjects were male and nine were female…

December 14, 2017: The New York Times posted an article titled: “As Zika Babies Become Toddlers, Some Can’t See, Walk, or Talk”. It was written by Pam Belluck. From the article:

As the first babies born with brain damage from the Zika epidemic become 2-year-olds, the most severely affected are falling further behind in their development and will require a lifetime of care, according to a study published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, the first to comprehensively assess some of the oldest Zika babies in Brazil, focused on 15 of the most disabled children born with abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly. At about 22 months old, these children had the cognitive and physical development of babies younger than 6 months. They could not sit up or chew, and they had virtually no language….

…It is unclear how many of the nearly 3,000 Brazilian Zika babies born with microcephaly will have outcomes as severe as the children in the study, but the experiences of doctors working in Brazil suggest it could be hundreds…

…The children were evaluated when they were between 19 and 24 months old. Four of the 19 evaluated had very few symptoms or developmental difficulties and researchers concluded they were “misclassified” as Zika babies, possibly because of errors in lab testing or head measurement.

But 15 children, eight girls and seven boys, had a range of symptoms, most of which had not improved since infancy. All had severely impaired motor skills, with all but one child meeting the conditions for a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Most had seizures and sleeping problems. Eight had been hospitalized at some point, most for bronchitis or pneumonia. Nine had difficulty eating or swallowing, which can be life threatening because food can get stuck in the lungs or the children can be malnourished.

Most had vision and hearing problems serious enough to impede their ability to learn and develop…

…Dr. [Georgina] Peacock said one bright spot is that many babies have outgrown their early intense crying and irritability and seem to be able to soothe themselves or be calmed by their mothers.

In some of the severe cases, however, treatment like physical and occupational therapy can only make the children more comfortable, not improve their development…

…C.D.C officials want to monitor the Zika babies for years to understand the range of difficulties and see if problems develop for more mildly affected children and “children who at this point appear normal.”…

December 24, 2017: Citrus County Chronicle posted an article titled: “Experts: Zika threat subsides” It was written by Michael D. Bates. From the article:

Goodbye and hopefully good riddance to the dreaded Zika virus.

Citing a reduction in Zika virus transmission in Central and South America, and the smaller number of Zika virus disease cases reported in Florida in 2017, the Florida Department of Health, the Bureau of Preparedness and Response and the Bureau of Epidemiology, have demobilized the state Zika Incident Management Team (IMT).

Florida had 1,469 cases of Zika last year. So far in 2017, that number is down to 239.

The shutting down of the state’s IMT means that, due to lower number of reported cases, “further response to Zika will be handled like any other disease,” said Patrick Boyd, spokesman for the Citrus County Health Department.

But to play it safe, the Citrus County Zika Planning & Advisory Group will not disband…

December 27, 2017: Lancaster Online posted an article titled: “Down but not out: The latest on Zika in Lancaster County” It was written by Heather Stauffer. From the article:

Remember Zika?

In 2016, the virus burst not the international scene with news of hundreds of Brazilian babies born with serious birth defects, with the World Health Organization declaring Zika a global health emergency on Feb. 1…

…This past June, the Pennsylvania tally stood at 148 confirmed and 74 suspected Zika infections, and Lancaster County health system leaders said they had seen at least 29 pregnant women infected or exposed to the virus…

…As the second year of Zika draws to a close, here’s where things stand now.

Have any Lancaster County babies been diagnosed with Zika-linked birth defects?

Not definitively….

…The Pennsylvania Department of Health provides only statewide numbers. It’s latest tally shows 152 confirmed Zika infections and 80 possible ones since 2015…

Were mosquitos here carrying Zika?

The mosquito species most likely to carry the virus, aedes aegypti, has not been found in the state sine 2002, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection..

The other species that can carry the virus is called aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito.

The department reported catching 2,075 of those in Lancaster County this year, and 123,479 statewide. It said none tested positive for Zika…

January 4, 2018: WJCT posted an article titled: “Zika Hotline Closes As Reported Cases Of The Virus Decline” It was written by Lindsey Kilbride. From the article:

With less of a threat, the state of Florida has discontinued its Zika virus hotline.

Alison Hewitt with the Duval County Health Department said during a Jacksonville City Council committee meeting Tuesday, the decreased number of cases can be attributed to preventative measures, including the department’s partnering with OBGYNs to educate women that Zika can be sexually transmitted.

In addition, she points to “intense education about dumping water, especially around households because the mosquito that carries Zika does not have a very far travel rate and so we saw a lot of folks dumping [water]”…

January 4, 2018: The Los Angeles Times posted an article titled: “L.A. County officials confirm first sexually transmitted Zika virus”.  It was written by Soumya Karlamangla. From the article:

L.A. County officials said Thursday that a woman had been infected with the Zika virus by her partner in the first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus in the county.

A man who lives in L.A. traveled to Mexico and became infected with the Zika virus in early November, and shortly afterward his female partner, who didn’t travel to Mexico, also developed the infection, officials said…

…Zika virus, which has caused hundreds of babies to be born with birth defects in Brazil, is most commonly transmitted by mosquitoes.  The virus can also be transmitted through sex, though that’s much rarer.

Since 2015, there have been 122 cases of Zika infection in L.A. County, 121 of which were acquired while traveling to countries where the virus is spreading, such as Mexico and Brazil.  There are no mosquitos carrying the virus in L.A. County or elsewhere in California.

In California overall, there have been 619 cases of Zika since 2015, eight of which were sexually transmitted.

January 17, 2018: St. Louis Public Radio posted an article titled: “Future of SLU’s Zika vaccine trials remain uncertain as public interest and funding decline” It was written by Eli Chen. From the article:

In what looks like a typical doctor’s office, Gary Newcomer, 26, waited to have his blood drawn for the last time as a participant in a trial for a Zika virus vaccine.

Newcomer has visited Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development 16 times since November 2016. But a cut in federal funding is bringing a halt to the trial before a vaccine can be developed…

…Twice, participants received a booster shot that was either the vaccine, which contains a deactivated Zika virus, or a placebo. Researchers then study the blood samples to see if the vaccine is eliciting an ideal immune response. Newcomer won’t know if he received the vaccine until the end of the year when SLU’s finished with the first phase of the trial.

But for the time being, there are no plans for the vaccine to proceed into the second phase, in which scientists would conduct more safety testing. The trial’s sponsor, pharmaceutical company Sanofi, withdrew funding in the fall after the National Institutes of Health cut its financial assistance. Public interest in a Zika vaccine has also wained, as the number of cases have fallen in the Americas over the last two years…

January 18, 2018: National Institutes of Health posted a news release titled: “Zika infection during pregnancy may disrupt fetal oxygen supply” From the news release:

Zika virus infection appears to affect oxygen delivery to the fetuses of pregnant monkeys, according to a small study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers also observed a high degree of inflammation in the placenta and lining of the uterus, which can harm the fetal immune system and increase a newborn’s susceptibility to additional infections. Their study is published online in Nature Communications…

…In the current study, researchers led by Daniel Streblow, Ph.D., of the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon National Primate Research Center, used non-invasive imaging to evaluate how persistent Zika infection affects pregnancy in five rhesus macaques. The team found that the virus induces high levels of inflammation in the blood vessels of the uterus and damages placental villi, the branch-like growths that help transfer oxygen and nutrients from maternal blood to the fetus. The researchers suggest that this damage may disrupt oxygen transport to the fetus, which can restrict its growth and lead to stillbirth, among other conditions…

January 18, 2018: The Orlando Sentinel posted an op-ed titled: “It’s flu season, but don’t forget abotu Zika, says CDC official” It was written by Dr. Gary Brunette, Chief of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers’ Health Branch. From the op-ed:

…This is an especially important time of year to remind pregnant women to protect their health and not travel to areas with a risk of Zika. Becoming infected with Zika during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) want you to know that Zika virus is still a major public health concern in many parts of the world. CDC recommends that U.S. travelers who are planning to visit Latin America or the Caribbean take action now to prevent contracting or spreading Zika, especially travelers who are planning to start a family in the near future. And those who recently returned from the region, if you are not feeling well, you should see a doctor and mention that you have recently travelled…

January 19, 2018: Brides posted an article titled: “Zika and Weddings: Its it Still as Big of a Concern?” It was written by Erin Celletti. From the article:

Any couple considering planning for a family has heard the warnings by now about Zika, and they may have significantly impacted travel plans for honeymoons, destination weddings, and bachelorettes. With the headlines not so prominent anymore, is Zika still as much of a concern? We did a bit of digging to get to the bottom of it, including the latest warnings and advisories…

…Within the United States, there have been local transmissions of Zika via mosquitos in Brownsville, Texas and Miami-Dade County FL, resulting in yellow level guidances from the CDC.

A comprehensive list of countries worldwide that have risks can be found here, and does still include popular vacation hotspots along the Caribbean including The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Barbados, and more….

January 26, 2018: Medical Press posted an article titled: “Bacteria block transmission of Zika and Dengue viruses”. From the article:

Scientists at the University of Glasgow’s MRC Center for Virus Research opens in a new window (CVR) have found a bacterial strain which blocks dengue and Zika virus transmission from mosquitos.

In a new study, published in PLOS Pathogens open in a new window, the scientists show that a novel strain of the inherited bacteria, called Wolbachia, strongly blocks transmission of dengue and Zika virus in infected mosquitos. This finding could offer a potential alternative to strains already being tested as virus control tools….

…Previous research in the scientific community has shown that transmission of these viruses among mosquitoes is stalled if the flies are deliberately infected with one strain of Wolbachia bacteria. With this knowledge, several countries are testing whether infecting local mosquito populations with Wolbachia could lead to lower rates of viral disease in humans.

This time, the MRC scientists in Glasgow found that a novel strain – called ‘wAu’ – is even more effective for virus transmission blocking than the strains currently being used. The effect is emphasized in hot, tropical climates where there is a high prevalence of these diseases…

…The researchers introduced four Wolbachia strains into Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which do not naturally carry these anthropod-infecting bacteria. Two of the strains, wMel and wAlbB had already been evaluated in prior studies, and the scientists wanted to compare their effects with those of two novel strains, wAu and wAlbA.

The analysis revealed particularly promising results for strain wAu. After feeding on blood infected with the dengue or Zika virus, mosquitos infected with wAu had lower levels of viral RNA in their body tissue than did mosquitos infected with the other strains. wAu also showed very high rates of inheritance, including under high-temperature conditions…

February 8, 2018: ABC News posted an article titled: “Bacteria-infected mosquitos might be a good thing for Miami” It was written by Jennifer Kay of the Associated Press.  From the article:

…Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control and Habitat Management Division is releasing non-biting male mosquitos infected with naturally occurring Wolbacia bacteria to mate with wild mosquitos.

The bacteria are not harmful to humans, but will prevent any offspring produced when the lab-bred mosquitos mate with wild female mosquitos from surviving to adulthood. This drives down the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitos that thrive in suburban and urban environments and can spread Zika, dengue fever and chikugunya.

During a six-month field trial approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over half a billion of the mosquitos bred by Kentucky-based MosquitoMate will be released in a suburban neighborhood split by long, narrow canals near the University of Miami, said South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard.

Miami-Dade County is testing MosquitoMate’s insects as potential mosquito-control method about 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Miami’s hip Wynwood neighborhood, where health officials confirmed the first local Zika infections spread by mosquitos on the U.S. mainland in July 2016.

Stoddard, a zoology professor at Florida International University, said he volunteered his city for the trial, wanting to keep the outdoor cafes in his city from becoming another ground zero for a mosquito-borne virus outbreak…

…By the end of 2016, Florida health officials had confirmed 1,456 Zika infections in the state, including 285 cases spread by mosquitos in Miami-Dade County. Just two local Zika infections were reported in Florida last year, including Miami-Dade case.

If MosquitoMate’s bugs preform well in South Miami, Wolbachia could be added to regular mosquito control operations as a long-term preventative strategy, said Bill Petrie, Miami-Dade County’s mosquito control chief…

April 11, 2018: Reuters posted an article titled: “Men’s risk of sexually spreading Zika virus dissipates after first month”.  It was written by Gene Emery. From the article:

Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects in unborn babies, can also be spread to a woman through sexual contact. But a new study suggests the risk may be limited to the first few weeks after symptoms appear in her male partner.

“We are going to be reevaluating our guidance on sexual transmission of Zika based on this,” lead author Dr. Paul Mead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a telephone interview.

The CDC currently recommends that couples concerned about the virus use a condom every time or that they not have sex for six months, beginning when Zika symptoms first appeared. Pregnant women are told to use condoms or avoid sex throughout their pregnancy.

And while women seeking to have a child are currently told to wait at least two months before trying to get pregnant after traveling in a Zika-prone area, they are advised to wait at least six months if their male partner has been in a region with the Zika virus, known as ZIKV.

The new research “suggests that there is a short period during which ZIKV-infected men might transmit this virus through sexual contact,” writes Dr. Heinz Feldman of the National Institutes of Health in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, where the study appears…

…Researchers found that the biggest determinant of how long traces of the virus stayed in the semen was how often the men ejaculated. “After controlling for age, we found that men who ejaculated four times per week during the study cleared ZIKV RNA 21 days earlier than did men who ejaculated once per week,” the study team writes.

They also found that men who had undergone a vasectomy tended to have less virus RNA in their semen than men who had not, and that the virus lingered 12 days longer in men age 50 than in men age 30….

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A Timeline of the Spread of the Zika Virus is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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