Zika Virus News
The Zika virus has been eclipsed in the news by many other domestic and foreign policy issues this winter. Though as enter the warmer summer months, the concern for more mosquitos and the possibility of mosquito borne illnesses starts to increase. Here is an overview of the latest news updates on what is happening with Zika
Refresher: Mosquito Vectors
The only known agents of transmission for Zika in the U.S. are the Asian Tiger Mosquito, Aedes albopictus, and Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Neither is native to North America, but both occur over most of the southern U.S., the Asian Tiger Mosquito even farther north in the eastern U.S.
Zika and Birth Defects
Centers for Disease Control released a report concluding that about one in ten U.S. mothers exposed to Zika had a baby or fetus with serious birth defects. Meanwhile, Brazil’s microcephaly epidemic of 2015 did not repeat in 2016, suggesting Chikungunya virus may have dominated in 2016, mimicking Zika save for the birth defects.
According to a press release from the United Nations, the socioeconomic cost of Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean could reach $18 billion by the end of this year. Ronald Klain, a central figure in the Ebola scare, is urging Congress to pass legislation creating a Public Health Emergency Fund to address a potential U.S. Zika outbreak.
More Funding Woes
The President and Congress seek substantial budget reductions in public health agencies. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) face a one-eighth cut; but half the budget of the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) program is at risk. ELC helps fund state agencies.
New Travel Alerts
The Maldives, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and the Solomon Islands have been added to the CDC’s growing list of countries with a Zika risk.
Vaccine Program is Advancing
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) entered phase II of its experimental Zika DNA vaccine development program. Trials will run concurrently in the U.S. and Central and South America. The overall safety of the vaccine, optimal dose, and its ability to illicit immune response in trial participants, are the goals of this round of tests.
The top two formulas recommended by the CDC to prevent mosquito bites that can carry the Zika Virus are DEET and Picaridin. A great DEET repellent is Ben’s® 100 or 30 products which provide 8 to 10 hours of protection. Ben’s® 100 provides maximum protection with a 100 percent DEET formula. Ben’s® 30 contains a unique water biased formula with 30% DEET so repellent stays on longer with little absorption into the skin. Natrapel® 20% Picaridin is a good choice if you are looking for a repellent you can use on your skin and gear as it is gear safe. Natrapel® has the maximum amount of Picaridin and provides up to 12 hours of protection from biting mosquitoes.