National 01/15/16 medscape.com: by Robert Lowes – Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to 14 countries and territories in South and Central America and the Caribbean where mosquitos are spreading the Zika virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced tonight. Viral infection in pregnant women has been associated with microcephaly in infants. In what it calls a level 2 travel alert, the CDC also advises women who are thinking about becoming pregnant to consult with their physician before traveling to these areas, and if they do, follow strict precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Safeguards include wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants and using insect repellent. The 14 countries and territories covered by the travel alert are Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. – For complete article see http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/857389?nlid=97363_3901&src=wnl_newsalrt_160115_MSCPEDIT&uac=218349HV&impID=957011&faf=1
Author’s Note: For “Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus” see http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/16/health/what-is-zika-virus.html?emc=edit_tnt_20160117&nlid=57949252&tntemail0=y
Hawaii 01/18/16 cbsnews.com: Health officials say a baby born in a Hawaii hospital is the first in the United States born with Zika virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday it’s also the first infant born in the country with microcephaly associated with Zika virus, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected. Babies with the condition often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly, often resulting in mental retardation. The virus, which is transmitted through mosquito bites, has affected between 440,000 and 1.3 million people in Brazil since last May, officials estimate. Researchers say they’ve found strong evidence that a recent surge in microcephaly in the country — 3,530 babies have been born with the condition since October, up from fewer than 150 in 2014 — is linked to Zika virus. – For complete article see http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hawaii-baby-born-with-brain-damage-linked-to-zika-virus/
National 01/11/16 medscape.com: by Janis C. Kelly – Zika virus, a mosquito-borne infection believed to cause microcephaly in infants born to infected mothers, has crossed from Latin America into Texas, experts reported today. The case of Zika in a traveler recently returned from El Salvador was confirmed through investigations by Harris County, Texas, health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The case is expected to result in major new surveillance and vector-control initiatives. Peter Hotez, MD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics, Houston, told Medscape Medical News, “There is a perfect storm brewing for Zika virus in the US. I was never worried that Ebola would take off here, but I am worried about Zika. We have 2 species of Aedes mosquitoes that can transmit Zika in our area. We also have high levels of poverty, resulting in people living without window screens and near discarded tires and other water-catching containers where the mosquitoes can breed.” Dr Hotez said that Zika infection usually produces nonspecific, influenza-like symptoms in pregnant women, with the associated birth defects becoming apparent only 9 months later. “By that time, it is too late,” Dr Hotez said. “This first case of Zika infection in Harris County is a wake-up call, a warning that we should immediately start implementing programs of active surveillance. As we move into the spring and summer months, if we start seeing cases among people who have never traveled outside of the country, we need to implement aggressive mosquito control measures as well as health advisories for people to implement personal protection measures.” – For complete article see http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/857072?nlid=96603_3901&src=wnl_newsalrt_160112_MSCPEDIT&uac=218349HV&impID=953397&faf=1
Author’s Note: According to numerous reports, the infected traveler is a resident of the City of Houston, Texas.
Hawaii 01/15/16 abcnews.go.com: by Marina Riker – Hawaii officials closed a Big Island road, campground and hiking trail in an effort to stop the spread of a dengue fever outbreak that has sickened 223 residents and visitors as of Friday. Five of those cases could be potentially infectious, according to the Hawaii Department of Health. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources closed the Muliwai hiking trail on the far cliff side of Waipio Valley and its Waimanu Valley campground on Friday. Hawaii County’s Civil Defense Agency blocked all traffic to Waipio Valley Access Road on Thursday and limited access to residents. The road closure comes three weeks after health officials closed access to state lands near Milolii and Honomalino Bay, which were “hotspots” for the mosquito-borne virus. – For complete article see http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/dengue-fever-prompts-hawaii-campground-trail-road-closures-36327566
Arizona 01/13/16 azdailysun.com: A resident of the Navajo Nation who lived in the east central part of Coconino County has died of complications of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. The rare but potentially fatal disease, which has no vaccine or cure, is spread by infected rodent droppings. It is the fourth confirmed case of hantavirus reported in Coconino County since 2006. Two of those cases resulted in death. It is not known at this time where the recently deceased individual contracted hantavirus. Studies show that wild mice throughout Arizona have been infected with hantavirus. It is transmitted to humans when they breathe air contaminated with the virus. If fresh rodent droppings, urine or nesting materials from infected animals are stirred up, tiny droplets containing the virus get into the air. Exposure to mouse droppings in enclosed areas such as cabins, sheds and outbuildings poses the greatest potential risk for contracting hantavirus. – For complete article including symptoms and recommendations see http://azdailysun.com/news/local/officials-confirm-hantavirus-death/article_9542f93e-6fb6-57c5-a401-6a19dfe9b1c1.html