TOM COSTELLO and CORKY SIEMASZKO
JAN 18, 2016
The proliferation of the Zika virus could be linked to climate change, a top researcher told NBC News on Monday.
Zika, which is suspected of causing severe birth defects in Brazil and has now been found in Hawaii, is a tropical virus spread by mosquitoes whose numbers are exploding as the earth gets warmer.
“Their lifestyles, their behaviors, the speed with which they grow up is tightly related to climate,” Heidi Brown at the University of Arizona said.
Ken Alltucker, The Republic | azcentral.com February 3, 2016
Texas public-health officials said Tuesday that the first case of the Zika virus has been transmitted in the United States, likely through sex with an infected person.
All other U.S. cases during the current outbreak are believed to have been contracted by people who returned from countries where the Zika virus has circulated. No cases have been reported in Arizona, but public-health officials are monitoring the outbreak and communicating with local doctors.
Dallas County health officials said the newly infected person had sexual contact with a person who had returned from Venezuela.
The first confirmed U.S. transmission comes one day after the World Health Organization declared that Zika is a public-health emergency, with as many as 4 million cases expected in North and South America.
Arizona public-health officials say that people traveling abroad should be aware of the virus and exercise good judgment. Still, health officials also did not sound the alarm over the mosquito-borne virus, the latest circulating virus that has captured the public’s attention.
The Zika virus can cause fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that about one in five people with the virus become ill, lasting several days to a week.
Perhaps more concerning, officials in Brazil have linked the virus to thousands of babies born with abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly. While public-health officials said more study is needed to determine the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly, the CDC has recommended pregnant woman consider postponing travel to areas where there is active transmission of the mosquito-borne virus.
UA Health Sciences
May 26, 2016
With concern growing over a potential epidemic related to the Zika virus, a team of scientists with collaborators from the University of Arizona has defined high-risk areas in the United States. The team was led by scientist Andrew Monaghan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Researcher Kacey Ernst, associate professor and infectious disease epidemiologist at the UA’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, said the factors included in the assessment of the 50 jurisdictions were: the relative seasonal abundance of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes; travel from areas where Zika is currently transmitted; and poverty as an indicator of vector-human contact.
Ernst spoke before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on Research and Technology, in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is spreading the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean, is expected to increase in numbers across much of the Southern and Eastern U.S. as the weather warms, according to a recent study led by mosquito and disease experts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the UA.
The study offers a best estimate of the potential range of mosquitoes that could transmit the Zika virus. This does not mean that all areas will be affected, nor does it mean all other areas are guaranteed safe. Mosquito monitoring and surveillance in the U.S. is not consistent across jurisdictions, Ernst said.
The study’s results are a step toward providing information to the broader scientific and public health communities on the highest-risk areas for Zika emergence in the U.S., Ernst said. But more research is needed to determine the role of Aedes albopictus, which also is capable of transmitting the virus and has a broader geographic range but does not feed on humans as much as Aedes aegypti does.
Other gaps include the extrinsic incubation period of Zika virus and whether there is vertical transmission from infected Aedes aegypti females to their offspring, which might mean the virus could survive in eggs that would hatch the next year.
Video and a transcript of Ernst’s testimony can be viewed here.
Mosquito experts recommend removing standing water to help eliminate breeding grounds, in addition to these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: wear insect repellant, cover up, and use screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes from entering.