As a mosquito control company, Mosquito Joe is constantly monitoring the ongoing Zika virus situation. Every day there are news stories about research breakthroughs, new areas affected, and developments in surveillance. In an effort to spread awareness of the illness and its wake of issues, we will do our best to publish updated information on a regular basis. One source of such information is the Mosquito Joe Zika Virus webpage with FAQs, prevention measures, and external health resources. The updates below cover the past couple months of the Zika virus situation both domestically and abroad.
As of April 18, 2016, 42 countries worldwide report active Zika virus transmission. Most are concentrated throughout Central and South America, however, countries in the Pacific Island and Africa also made the list.
As of April 20, 2016, 40 U.S. states have reported 388 travel-associated Zika virus cases. 33 of those individuals were pregnant, with one case resulting in Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Eight cases were sexually transmitted from individuals who had traveled to an affected country. No cases were acquired stateside. States with the highest number of reported cases include Florida (84), New York (60), California (29), and Texas (30).
Be sure to consult the CDC for updated information and travel notices. Health professionals urge travelers planning to go to affected areas to either postpone their plans or at least take necessary precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
The primary source of Zika virus transmission is still through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. This is the same mosquito that spreads dengue fever and chikungunya virus. Aedes are most aggressive during the day, but can also bite at night.
One of the most significant developments over the last few weeks has been the official link made between Zika virus and the birth defects microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Both conditions can cause neurological damage and long-term disability in infants. A pregnant mother infected with Zika can pass the virus onto the fetus during pregnancy and/or birth.
There have been several sexually transmitted cases of Zika as well, creating another possible transmission danger. Currently, the virus is only known to pass from an infected male to his sex partners. It can be spread before symptoms manifest, while symptoms are showing, and even after symptoms stop.
Several reports of Zika cases via blood transfusion were reported in Brazil but have not been confirmed yet. The reports are currently being investigated. In areas like the U.S., without active Zika transmission, the FDA recommends blood donors to postpone donations for at least 4 weeks if they are at risk of infection through travel or sexual contact.
Response and Surveillance Improvements
As concern over Zika continues to spread, surveillance and response systems to monitor the virus have improved.
National organizations such as the CDC and Pan American Health Organization have created interactive maps to track the presence of Zika virus in countries throughout the world. Updated on an almost daily basis, these resources can help the public see the range of impact Zika has internationally. Smaller institutions such as the Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) have also contributed. BCH is a world leader in public health threats, managing tools such as healthmap.org, which deliver real-time surveillance information on a variety of illnesses, including Zika virus.
The World Health Organization recently published several resources that are some of the most comprehensive and up-to-date available. The Zika Virus Situation Report provides a global overview of the virus including information on its distribution, transmission, and link to microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
The Zika Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan outlines how WHO will provide support to affected countries, build capacity to prevent further outbreaks and control them when they do occur, and to facilitate research that will help us better understand this virus and its effects. It’s a great way to learn about the global impact of Zika and how it impacts the international community.
Lastly, the WHO Zika App aims to provide essential information on Zika virus and its suspected complications. Designed primarily for health care workers and responders, the app can also be a source of real-time information for the general public. It provides Zika updates and research, news, and response efforts right at your fingertips.
Research & Development
Research into Zika virus has only increased in recent months, providing new insights into the makeup of the virus. There has also been an increased push for more funding attributed to Zika as there is still no vaccine or treatment for those infected.
In late March, a team of researchers at Purdue University determined the structure of Zika virus. This discovery aids greatly in the development of a vaccine as the unique structure helps explain differences in how Zika is transmitted and how it affects humans in contrast to other mosquito-borne illnesses.
Funding for Zika virus research, prevention, and development has been in a state of flux as Congress debates its necessity. In February, President Obama submitted a $1.8 billion bill to provide emergency funding surveillance, response, and research domestically and internationally. The bill has been stalled in Congress ever since due to hesitation about the need for such an expensive response.
Since that time, the White House convened a summit at the CDC in early April to brainstorm ways to fight the virus and garner support for more funding and action. As a temporary solution to the lack of funding, over $500 million in unused Ebola crisis money has been re-dedicated to the fight against Zika. But Congress and health professionals insist more is needed, urging their colleagues to pass the initial $1.9 billion bill proposed by the President.
Another bill signed into law recently encourages pharmaceutical companies to ramp up vaccine and treatment development. It puts Zika virus on the FDA’s priority review voucher program, expediting treatments through the development and approval process, which can often take years.
The CDC provides an extensive list of steps you can take to prevent mosquito bites, protecting yourself and your family from mosquito-borne illnesses. Of course, you can always call your local Mosquito Joe for a customized mosquito control treatment for your yard that will help you enjoy the outdoors this summer.
We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates like these whenever possible. For continuous information and news, please visit the Mosquito Joe Zika Virus information page, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.