In what may be the most accurate real-time picture of Zika activity in Puerto Rico, a sensitive test for screening blood donations shows rapidly rising levels that could result in thousands of infections in pregnant women, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned today. At a media briefing, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said high levels of Zika activity in the US territory could result in dozens to hundreds of babies born with microcephaly. Puerto Rico has been using a highly sensitive investigational test since Apr 3 to screen local blood collections. Frieden said that though it’s not a stand-in for a serologic survey and doesn’t reflect a random sample, “it gives us a window to see what’s happening with infection rates.” Illnesses probably haven’t peaked yet, and disease activity—in view of dengue and chikungunya patterns—may last through summer and into the fall.
Meanwhile, it would be great if Brazil published its national numbers in a weekly report – along with confirmed numbers. The promise of the “Boletins Epidemiológicos de Dengue, Chikungunya e Zika” has not been realised with only two reports over the past 10 epidemiological weeks and no specific listing of laboratory confirmed numbers.
A new method for tracking the virus could help prevent outbreaks.
“The clearest consequence is that you increase the risk of spreading the virus and the disease. With half-a-million people going to Rio for the Games – not just the usual visitors but people coming from every corner of the world – you open up the possibility of someone from each one of those places getting infected. Once the individual returns to his country, the local mosquitoes may then transmit the disease,” says Amir Attaran, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Ottawa. Attaran co-authored the letter that more than 170 scientists have signed and sent to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Olympic Committee, urging them to postpone the upcoming Games – scheduled for August 5 to August 21 – until the Zika virus is no longer a threat. The letter also asks the organizations to consider moving the Games to another host country.
The outbreak of seven autochthonous dengue cases reported by Succo et al. in this issue of Eurosurveillance  was triggered by one infected traveller returning from French Polynesia in the summer of 2015, and occurred in an area where another vector, Ae. albopictus, the Asian Tiger mosquito, was established in 2005. This is not the first event of local transmission of DENV reported in Europe in recent years. Since 2010, at least 23 dengue cases were detected. In September 2010, two autochthonous cases of dengue fever were identified in Nice, southern France. The index case had friends from the West French Indies staying with him, while the second case was an individual living nearby . In the summer of the same year, another transmission event occurred in Croatia [8,9]. The index case was a German man returning in mid-August from a two-week holiday spent at the Peljesac peninsula and the isle of Korĉula, ca 100 km north-west of Dubrovnik. A second autochthonous case, and other 15 individuals with serological evidence of recent infection, were identified in October 2010. How the virus was introduced in Croatia remains unclear. In 2013 and 2014, five autochthonous case of dengue were identified in southern France, one in Bouches-du-Rhône (2013) , and four in Aubage and Toulon-Hìres (2014) . Ae. albopictus was the vector in all the transmission events listed here. Dengue is not the only Aedes-borne viral disease threatening the health of European citizens. Nearly 10 years ago, in the summer of 2007, more than 250 cases of chikungunya occurred in the north-east of Italy . The primary case was a viraemic individual arriving from the Indian State of Kerala. The chikungunya virus (CHIKV) implicated in the sustained outbreak carried the A226V mutation, which increases virus fitness and is usually detected in areas where the Tiger mosquito is the predominant vector . In September 2010, autochthonous transmission of the CHIKV was also identified in south-east France, where chikungunya was diagnosed in two children living in the same area as another child who developed a febrile illness after returning from Rajasthan, India .
Source: Eurosurveillance – View Article
After two decades of work, the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur has licensed it to Mexico and the Philippines. Last month, Sanofi Pasteur rolled out its first ever dengue mass-vaccination programme. Fourth graders are being vaccinated in three areas in the Philippines where dengue cases were highest last year.Mario Baquilod is in charge of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the Philippine Department of Health. He said last year there were 200,415 reported cases of dengue in the Philippines, one of the largest numbers in recent years.Baquilod said the department wanted to add the vaccine to its arsenal of tools that combat the virus. The government aims to get one million children immunized against dengue by June – so far 263,000 kids have received the vaccine.Baquilod said they decided to pilot the programme in three public schools because they wanted to have a “captive” population for the vaccine, which takes three doses – one every six months – to be effective. The medical world is now watching what happens in the Philippines.
- Infecting many mosquitoes with Wolbachia will result in Wolbachia resistant mosquitoes.
- Pretending that mosquitoes are an enemy or pest that can/should be destroyed ignores why mosquito populations explode (human interventions) and what the role of the mosquito is in nature.
- Someone will profit greatly and will not pay for any unintended consequences.
“The idea has been to release Aedes mosquitoes with Wolbachia in the field over a period of a few months, so they mate with Aedes mosquitoes without Wolbachia living in the place and, over time, replace the mosquito population,” says senior author Luciano Moreira of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. He is also actively involved in the Eliminate Dengue Program, a non-profit that is testing the approach in 40 locations around the world.
In 2011, I produced a document designed to provide guidelines on the use of mosquito repellents. I put these guidelines together because I’d noticed that the mosquito repellent recommendations provided by local health authorities didn’t reflect the wide range of products available or questions I was asked by the community. You can download this document for free here:
A quarter of the island’s 3.5 million people will probably get the Zika virus within a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and eventually 80 percent or more may be infected. “I’m very concerned,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the C.D.C. director, said in an interview after a recent three-day visit to Puerto Rico. “There could be thousands of infections of pregnant women this year.” The epidemic is unfolding in one of the country’s most popular vacation destinations, where planes and cruise ships disembark thousands of tourists daily. Anyone could carry the virus back home, seeding a mosquito-borne outbreak or transmitting it sexually. Health officials here have begun intensive efforts to stop the virus, which has been linked to abnormally small heads and brain damage in babies born to infected mothers, and to paralysis in adults.
Public health response Health authorities in Argentina are taking the following measures: enhancing epidemiological surveillance, including syndromic surveillance and surveillance of severe cases as well as disseminating diagnostic and notification algorithms for dengue, chikungunya and Zika; conducting vector control activities in the affected areas; communicating with health professionals and the public. WHO risk assessment This is the first time that autochthonous transmission of chikungunya is reported in Argentina. The affected area is situated next to the border with Bolivia where the virus has been known to circulate for a number of years. In Argentina, there is the potential of geographical extension to other areas where the vector Aedes is present. Furthermore, there is also possibility of extension to other countries in the region of the Americas where the competent vectors are also present. WHO continues to monitor the epidemiological situation and conduct risk assessment based on the latest available information. WHO advice The proximity of mosquito vector breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for dengue virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing the breeding of mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people. This can be achieved by reducing the number of natural and artificial water-filled habitats that support mosquito larvae, reducing the adult mosquito populations around at-risk communities and by using barriers such as insect screens, closed doors and windows, long clothing and repellents. Since the Aedes mosquitoes (the primary vector for transmission) are day-biting mosquitoes, it is recommended that those who sleep during the daytime, particularly young children, the sick or elderly, should rest under mosquito nets (bed nets), treated with or without insecticide to provide protection.
Source: WHO | Chikungunya – Argentina