Scientists say WHITE-TAILED DEER have the MALARIA PARASITE ~ ARKANSAS reports 56 cases of CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE ~ What we KNOW and what we DON’T KNOW about the ZIKA VIRUS.

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National 02/09/16 newsweek.com: by Douglas Main – A new species of malaria parasite has been found in one-quarter of the white-tailed deer living the eastern United States. The news comes as a surprise since deer are one of the better-studied wild animals; they are some of the more populous mammals and very popular game species for hunting, and they are often surveyed for disease. A team of researchers found the parasite accidentally when they were looking at DNA within the blood of mosquitoes at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. In a mosquito engorged with deer blood, they noticed the presence of genetic material that they didn’t recognize. Further analysis revealed that the genetic material came from a protozoan in the genus Plasmodium. The results of the study were published last Friday in the journal Science Advances. Species in the genus Plasmodium are known as malarial parasites. The genus includes several species that spread malaria in humans; other varieties infect nonhuman mammals, birds and reptiles. There are about 200 species worldwide in this genus. In the recent study, scientists sampled blood from deer in 17 states and found 41 infected animals in 10 states; nearly 25 percent of the deer from Virginia and West Virginia had the parasite. None of these deer seemed to have any symptoms, however. It’s unclear yet if the new species could affect people, but it seems unlikely, Ellen Martinsen, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow, told Smithsonian.com. Although there was one scientific record of a malarial parasite found in a deer’s spleen in 1967, this is the first proof of a widely established malaria parasite in New World mammals, and it expands scientists’ knowledge of the malarial family tree.  – See http://www.newsweek.com/malaria-parasite-found-nearly-one-four-white-tailed-deer-424344

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD):

whitetail deer 3Arkansas 04/01/16 arkansasonline.com: by Jaime Dunaway –  Six more deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, bringing the total number of cases in Arkansas to 56, officials from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Friday. All infected deer came from a sampling area in Newton County. The final results of the sampling effort should be available late next week once the last batch of 110 samples has been processed, according to the commission. Officials said the high number of positive results, some of which came from outside the sampling area, has prompted a second sampling initiative to see if the disease is present throughout the state. The second phase of testing will continue until May 20, and anyone who sees a dead or sick deer is asked to contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. See http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2016/apr/01/chronic-wasting-disease-cases-climb-56/?news-arkansas

Author’s Note: The first case of CWD ever reported in Arkansas was confirmed just two months ago.

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Author’s Note: Until media sensationalism surrounding the ZIKA VIRUS issue subsides only reliable scientific information from credentialed sources will be referenced in this blog. See http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2016/dpk-zika-virus.html

 

54494d18be0dc2e250d990c0f03b1583Author’s Note: The family history I was working on is finally done and published, though it took a bit longer than anticipated. The  I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand 4 weeks ago (March 7) and recovering very well.  Scheduled to have the left hand done on May 9. I will post a blog entry whenever possible and appropriate over the next several months but it won’t be a daily or even regular posting. Thanks!

PUERTO RICO reports sharp rise in ZIKA VIRUS cases ~ OREGON county reports first-ever case of HANTAVIRUS

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Puerto Rico 02/12/16 washingtonpost.com: by Brady Dennis – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday detailed a sharp rise in Zika virus infections in Puerto Rico, from a single case involving an 80-year-old late last year to nearly 30 confirmed patients by the end of January. One case involved a woman in the first trimester of pregnancy, and another occurred in a patient hospitalized for Guillain-Barré syndrome, a potentially paralyzing condition that has followed Zika infections in some patients. The CDC said the commonwealth has not reported any Zika-associated cases of microcephaly — the congenital defect, characterized by abnormally small head size and brain damage, that is suspected in hundreds of newborns at the outbreak’s epicenter in Brazil. Public health officials expect the prevalence of the virus to only increase in Puerto Rico in coming weeks and months. One big reason: The mosquito that most commonly transmits it, Aedes aegypti, is present throughout the island. “The risk to Puerto Rico is significant,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said recently. The U.S. territory has experienced previous widespread outbreaks of dengue fever, another virus spread by the same type of mosquito. Most of the people infected with Zika so far live on the the eastern side of the island or around the populous capital of San Juan, according to the CDC. Four patients have been hospitalized, but most have reported only minor symptoms, such as rash, joint pain or eye pain. – For complete article see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/02/12/cdc-puerto-rico-seeing-mounting-cases-of-zika-virus-infection/

HANTAVIRUS:

hantavirus.339988iidOregon 02/12/16 eastoregonian.com: Hantavirus is here. The sometimes fatal rodent-borne virus has been diagnosed in a Umatilla County resident for the first time ever. The county health department wouldn’t give details about the victim to protect the person’s privacy, but the case prompted Umatilla County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Jon Hitzman to issue a warning. “Hantavirus is a rare but serious disease spread by rodents,” Hitzman said. “This disease can frequently become fatal, but there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure.” The virus lurks in enclosed areas such as barns, outbuildings and sheds where mice nest. Since hantavirus was first identified in 1993, 588 cases showed up nationally, 21 of them in Oregon. About two thirds of cases in Oregon were contracted through direct contact with rodents or rodent droppings. Other cases came through indirect exposure while camping or farming. – For complete article see http://www.eastoregonian.com/eo/local-news/20160212/first-ever-umatilla-county-hantavirus-case-diagnosed

New strain of LYME DISEASE complicates diagnosis ~ Mayor of HAWAII COUNTY declares State of Emergency due to DENGUE epidemic

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National 02/10/16 startribune.com: by Allie Shah – Mayo researchers have discovered a new strain of Lyme disease that is raising concerns because it does not produce the bull’s-eye rash that typically alerts people to the condition. The culprit is a new species of bacteria found in the Upper Midwest and reported in the online medical journal, the Lancet Infectious Diseases. “It was a fortuitous discovery,” said Dr. Bobbi Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “We weren’t setting out to find a new organism.” Before the discovery, scientists believed that only one species of bacteria — called Borrelia burgdorferi — caused Lyme disease in humans. But when scientists tested samples from patients for evidence of Lyme disease they found a new bacteria in a small number of the cases. It is carried by the black-legged tick, or deer tick, as it’s commonly known. Most of the patients infected with the new bacteria showed different symptoms than the classic Lyme disease signs. A low-grade fever, body aches and chills are common symptoms. But the new bacteria caused many of the patients to experience nausea and vomiting too. “One of the most important differences was their rash,” Pritt said. Most of the patients infected with the new bacteria suffered from a diffuse rash all over their body instead of the typical bull’s-eye rash. – For complete article see http://www.startribune.com/new-strain-of-lyme-disease-produces-different-symptoms-that-could-complicate-diagnosis/368313801/

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Author’s Note: Are TICKS active in the winter? See the Univ. of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center Winter 2016 Newsletter at https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/152cc1ac26833141

DENGUE FEVER:

 

dengue_alert548HAWAII 02/08/16 staradvertiser.com: by Craig Gima – Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi declared a state of emergency today. The emergency proclamation stated that there have been 250 confirmed cases of dengue fever on Hawaii island since Oct. 29 and that state and county officials are working on mosquito control and public education measures to break the cycle of dengue infection and transmission. The mayor said the state of emergency is needed to prevent the spread of the outbreak and eliminate dengue fever virus from the island. The immediate effect of the proclamation is to suspend a county law that prohibits the acceptance of tires at county landfills. The emergency period is in effect for 60 days and could be extended. (Governor) Ige said in a news release that the state will issue an emergency proclamation if certain conditions are met, including requiring additional resources beyond current levels; the outbreak spreading to other islands; the outbreak expands to include zika and other diseases; if there’s a need to waive laws and regulations; and if the state needs federal assistance. – For complete article and declaration see http://www.staradvertiser.com/breaking-news/hawaii-county-mayor-declares-state-of-emergency-over-dengue-fever-outbreak/

Reacting to ZIKA without overreacting ~ Outbreak of DENGUE in HAWAII now largest since statehood.

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Reacting to ZIKA without overreacting ~ Outbreak of DENGUE in HAWAII now largest since statehood.

Global 02/04/16 clarke.com: posted by Rajeev Vaidyanathan –  Excellent blog article addressing

  • What we know about Zika Virus
  • How it is spreading
  • Comparing Zika to Dengue
  • Lessons from Dengue
  • What now? What’s Next?

See http://www.clarke.com/blog/zika-react/?sthash.Xnn1prqN.mjjo

Author’s Note: Who is Rajeev Vaidyanathan and what is Clarke? – Dr. Vaidyanathan is the Director of Environmental Science  at Clarke, a global environmental products and services company based in St. Charles, Illinois. Their mission is to make communities around the world more livable, safe and comfortable. They do this.by pioneering, developing and delivering environmentally responsible mosquito control and aquatic services to help prevent disease, control nuisances and create healthy waterways,

Dengue:

hotspotHawaii 02/04/16 hawaiinewsnow.com: Health officials identified one new case of dengue fever on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 249. Three cases are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious. Of the total confirmed cases, 225 are Hawaii Island residents and 24 are visitors; 45 have been children. As of Monday, a total of 1,100 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results or because they didn’t meet case criteria. The outbreak, which started Sept. 11, is now the largest since statehood. – For complete article see http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/30671944/new-cases-of-dengue-fever-on-hawaii-island-bring-total-to-248

WHO expects ZIKA VIRUS to reach most countries of the AMERICAS ~ CDC expands ZIKA VIRUS TRAVEL WARNING ~ CDC officials says big ZIKA VIRUS outbreak unlikely in US ~ ARIZONA officials confirm HANTAVIRUS fatality ~ ARIZONA scientist says DEER are developing genetic resistance to CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE.

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South, Central and North America 01/25/16 wcvb.com: by Emily Smith – The World Health Organization anticipates that the Zika virus will spread to all but two countries in South, Central and North America. The mosquito-borne disease has raged in South America and other regions for several months. Twenty-one countries and territories of the Americas have reported cases of the virus since Brazil reported the first cases of local transmission in May 2015, WHO’s regional office for the Americas said in a statement. “Aedes mosquitoes — the main vector for Zika transmission — are present in all the region’s countries except Canada and continental Chile,” the statement said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged pregnant women to postpone travel to Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Samoa, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The CDC also recommended that women who have recently traveled to these places during their pregnancy be screened and monitored for the virus. – For complete article see http://www.wcvb.com/health/who-expects-zika-virus-to-spread/37620996

Caribbean 01/26/16 cdc.gov: Media Release – Today, CDC added the following destinations to the Zika virus travel alertsUnited States Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic.  Previously, CDC issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory; Barbados; Bolivia; Brazil; Cape Verde; Colombia; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Martinique; Mexico; Panama; Paraguay; Saint Martin; Samoa; Suriname; and Venezuela.  Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to continue to change over time. As more information becomes available, CDC travel alerts will be updated. – For complete release see http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0126-zika-travel-guidance.html

National 01/27/16 npr.org: by Rob Stein – The outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil and other countries has raised concern that the pathogen could start spreading widely in the United States, as well. But federal health officials and other infectious disease specialists say so far that seems unlikely. “Based on what we know right now, we don’t think that widespread transmission in the United States is likely,” says Dr. Beth Bell, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are several reasons for Bell’s cautious optimism that isolated cases that show up in the U.S. could be contained. The first is that the two species of mosquitoes that could be capable of transmitting the virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, live mostly in the southern, more tropical parts of the U.S. That makes it likely that transmission would be limited primarily to these areas. And for various reasons, the chain of events and conditions the virus needs in order to spread is more easily disrupted in the U.S. than elsewhere. For example, many people in the U.S. have air conditioning in the summer, so aren’t as likely to leave windows open at the times of day when mosquitoes are especially active. Open windows also tend to have screens. And many counties and other municipalities spray to kill mosquitoes and are vigilant in trying to eliminate pools of standing water where the insects can breed. “These are all conditions that make it less likely for ongoing, large-scale spread to occur,” Bell says. – For complete article see http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/26/464459350/big-zika-virus-outbreak-unlikely-in-the-u-s-officials-say

Hantavirus:
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Arizona 01/25/16 lakepowelllife.com: by John Christian Hopkins – A 17-year-old Cameron girl is the first victim of the Hantavirus on the Navajo Nation in 2016. The death was confirmed by the Navajo Department of Health and the Navajo Epidemiology Center on January 19. . . . The girl was active in her community and had a 4.0 GPA. She had Hantavirus symptoms when she visited the Tuba City Hospital, and died en route to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. – For complete article see http://www.lakepowelllife.com/navajo-girl-dies-from-hantavirus/

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD):

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National 01/22/16 greatfallstribune.com: by Nicholas Haley, DVM, PhD – Perhaps no issue is as controversial in the hunting community right now as Chronic Wasting Disease. There’s constant finger-pointing and a lot of theories about how it will change hunting forever for the worse. But fortunately, emerging scientific research suggests that CWD doesn’t have to be the scourge that many fear. Last year, a herd at an Iowa ranch was depopulated after one of the animals tested positive for CWD, as is standard U.S. Department of Agriculture protocol. However, the situation took years to resolve as the ranch owner fought for a more equitable solution. As such, CWD naturally spread among the animals. This provided a unique opportunity for testing of the animals, since depopulation normally occurs relatively quickly. After testing and euthanizing the entire herd, sadly a large percentage were identified as CWD positive. The silver lining was that 20 percent were negative, and we are currently looking at a genetic link to resistance in these animals. If we can further characterize this resistance in deer, that’s very promising. As CWD spreads — and it will, since you can’t stop free-ranging deer from moving around — then the deer that are more genetically susceptible to the disease will die off at higher rates than those that are less genetically susceptible. The net result will be a hardier population of deer that is more resistant to CWD. With farmed deer, there’s the potential to select for this resistance faster than nature herself could. – For complete article see http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/opinion/guest-opinions/2016/01/22/chronic-wasting-disease-prognosis/79199086/

CDC expands ZIKA VIRUS TRAVEL ALERT adding 8 more locations and reporting suspected link between ZIKA VIRUS and GUILLAIN-BARRÈ syndrome

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National 01/22/16 medscape.com: by Robert Lowes – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that it has added eight more countries and territories — some outside the Americas — to the list that pregnant women should avoid on account of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is strongly suspected of causing microcephaly.

microcephaly-comparison-500pxIn addition, the agency is conducting research with hard-hit Brazil into a possible link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which has been reported in patients with probable Zika infections.

K_guillianBarre1Last week, the CDC advised pregnant women to consider postponing trips to 14 countries and territories in Central and South America and the Caribbean where mosquitos have spread the Zika virus. It also suggested that women trying to become pregnant should first consult their physician before traveling to those areas, and if they do, to apply insect repellent and take other measures to avoid mosquito bites. These 14 countries and territories are Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Of the eight countries and territories added to the list of Zika hot spots, six are in the Caribbean and South America: Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, and Guyana. The two others, Cape Verde and Samoa, break the geographic pattern. Cape Verde is off the coast of Africa while Samoa is in Polynesia. – For complete article see http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/857693?nlid=98072_3901&src=wnl_newsalrt_160122_MSCPEDIT&uac=218349HV&impID=965828&faf=1

CDC issues ZIKA TRAVEL ALERT ~ HAWAIIAN baby’s brain damage tied to ZIKA VIRUS ~ ZIKA VIRUS confirmed in TEXAS traveler – DENGUE FEVER outrbreak prompts HAWAII officials to close recreational area ~ ARIZONA officials confirm HANTAVIRUS death

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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 zikavirus.symptom77884first 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 Zika-Virus-2.rashin 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.

Dengue Fever:

Hawaii 01/15/16 abcnews.go.com: by Marina Riker – Hawaii officials closed a Big Island a_48road, 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

Hantavirus:

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 imagesCAULAVUQSyndrome. 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