There have been several recent cases of Zika virus transmitted within the state of Florida, whereas previously all U.S. cases have been the result of the patient returning from overseas travel to countries where Zika is rampant. Here is the latest news.
A total of thirty-six cases of local transmission of Zika have been confirmed in the Wynwood neighborhood north of downtown Miami, and Miami Beach. Aerial spraying for mosquitoes has been the course of action for Wynwood, but taller buildings in Miami Beach mean that strategy cannot be employed there. The Centers for Disease Control advises that pregnant women avoid those two locations for now.
Relationship Between Zika and Birth Defects Grows Stronger
Epidemiologists and prenatal health experts are mostly united in agreement that Zika is a likely cause of microcephaly and related birth defects when women are exposed to Zika in the first, or early second, trimester of pregnancy. The fact that we are seeing specific birth defects, and that the “rare outcomes” of microcephaly are almost always associated with “rare exposures” to Zika harkens back to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, rubella, and thalidomide.
Fear of GMO Mosquitoes Greater Than Fear of Zika?
A company wishing to conduct a field trial on an island near Key West, Florida has met with stringent opposition from residents fearing unforeseen consequents from the release of genetically-modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The insects will carry a gene preventing their offspring from reproducing. The Yellow Fever Mosquito is one of only two known vectors of Zika, and the major carrier in the southern U.S.
Zika Vaccine on the Horizon?
Two separate clinical trials began in early August to investigate the potential for a DNA-based Zika vaccine. One trial is public sector (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) while the other is private (Inovio Pharmaceuticals). The government vaccination trial is being conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. They are expecting initial results of phase one by January, 2017.
Take Mosquito Bite Prevention Seriously
Even if you are not concerned about Zika, or only somewhat concerned, as 13 and 25 percent of Americans are, respectively, according to an NBC poll, mosquitoes transmit other disease agents that don’t make headlines but can be just as devastating. Wear long sleeves and pants outdoors. Apply DEET-based insect repellents, like Ben’s® products from Tender Corporation, according to label instructions. Heed travel advisories for destinations where Zika is of major concern.