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posted by martyb on Wednesday February 03 2016, @11:17AM   Printer-friendly
from the time-to-invest-in-nets-and-DEET dept.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is intensifying efforts to investigate the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is believed to cause microcephaly (infants born with abnormally small brains):

The World Health Organization has declared the cluster of microcephaly associated with the spread of the Zika virus to be a public health emergency of international concern — a designation reserved for an"extraordinary event" that is "serious, unusual or unexpected." Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, said during a press briefing Monday that an international coordinated response was needed to improve mosquito control as well as to expedite the development of tests that detect the Zika virus.

The declaration is chiefly important to intensify the efforts to prove that the Zika virus is causing microcephaly in infants. Essentially, Chan said, if the Zika virus was not thought to be causing these neurological problems in newborns, it would not be a "clinically serious condition." Dr. David L. Heymann, assistant director-general of the WHO, said that it was unclear how long it would take to definitively link the Zika virus to microcephaly in children.

Brazil's Health Minister says that the Zika outbreak is worse than believed because most of the infected show no symptoms.

Here is another article taking down a conspiracy theory that claims that the Zika outbreak is the result of genetically modified mosquitoes and intended for population control.

The New York Times , Wikipedia.

Previously: World Health Organization to Convene Emergency Meeting for Zika Virus


Original Submission

Related Stories

World Health Organization to Convene Emergency Meeting for Zika Virus 17 comments

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects, is spreading, and the World Health Organization will convene an emergency session on Monday to deal with the problem:

The World Health Organization announced Thursday that it would convene an emergency meeting to try to find ways to stop the transmission of the Zika virus — which officials said is "spreading explosively" across the Americas.

"The level of alarm is extremely high, as is the level of uncertainty. Questions abound. We need to get some answers quickly, " Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO, said in a briefing to member countries in Geneva.

Chan said that the situation today is dramatically different than last year because of the surge in the number of cases and the severity of the symptoms and that "the level of alarm is extremely high."

Health officials said the number of countries impacted by mosquitoes that are spreading the virus locally is now up to 23. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States now has 31 laboratory confirmed cases in 11 states and the District of Columbia. All are travel-related, the CDC's Lyle Petersen said, and "this number is increasing rapidly." The country also has 20 additional cases because of local transmission in U.S. territories — 19 in Puerto Rico and one in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Alternately at The Guardian. Some believe that South American countries will loosen abortion restrictions in response to the virus. For example, Brazil's Supreme Federal Court ruled in 2012 that abortion was legal in cases when a fetus develops anencephaly (no brain). The Zika virus in Brazil is being linked to a 20x increase in microcephaly (abnormally small brain) prevalence, which is not always fatal.


Original Submission

Two Billion People Live in Areas at Risk of Zika Virus Spread 17 comments

New research has found that over 2 billion people live in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread via mosquitoes:

More than two billion people live in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread, detailed maps published in the journal eLife show. The Zika virus, which is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, triggered a global health emergency this year. Last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the virus causes severe birth defects.

The latest research showed mapping Zika was more complex than simply defining where the mosquito can survive. One of the researchers, Dr Oliver Brady from the University of Oxford, told the BBC: "These are the first maps to come out that really use the data we have for Zika - earlier maps were based on Zika being like dengue or chikungunya. "We are the first to add the very precise geographic and environmental conditions data we have on Zika." By learning where Zika could thrive the researchers could then predict where else may be affected. The researchers confirmed that large areas of South America, the focus of the current outbreak, are susceptible.

To put that in perspective, a recent estimate states: "The world population (the total number of living humans on Earth) was 7.349 billion as of July 1, 2015 according to the medium fertility estimate by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. "

Related:
El Salvador Advises Against Pregnancy until 2018 over Zika Virus Birth Defect Fears
World Health Organization to Convene Emergency Meeting for Zika Virus
WHO Calls Zika Virus Outbreak an International Health Emergency
First U.S. Zika Virus Transmission Reported, Likely via Sex Rather than Mosquito Bite
Maybe “It’s Not the Zika Virus”
Pope Francis's Plane Reports Laser Incident
Zika Virus and Birth Defects


Original Submission

First U.S. Zika Virus Transmission Reported, Likely via Sex Rather than Mosquito Bite 16 comments

The outbreak of the Zika virus has reached the U.S., and the virus was likely transmitted through sexual contact rather than a mosquito bite:

The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States was reported in Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite, a day after the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency.

The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials on Tuesday expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well. Zika had been thought to be spread by the bite of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, so sexual contact as a mode of transmission would be a potentially alarming development.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed it was the first U.S. Zika case in someone who had not traveled abroad in the current outbreak, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden on Twitter. However, the CDC has not investigated how the virus was transmitted.

After this case, the CDC advised men to consider using condoms after traveling to areas with the Zika virus. Pregnant women should avoid contact with semen from men exposed to the virus.

CDC Zika page.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday February 03 2016, @12:51PM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @12:51PM (#298525)

    Here is another article taking down a conspiracy theory

    Lamest ever. Don't bother reading unless you want some laughs. To paraphrase its a pile of authoritarian babble about how people in charge have never done anything wrong and various authorities are backing them up as per the thin blue line doctrine because it would really suck if the people in charge did something bad. Most incompetent attempt possibly EVER at debunking a conspiracy theory. I want my minutes of life wasted reading it returned to me. Seriously thats all the article has. Pitiful.

    Now what would work to debunk the theory:

    1) Some independent 3rd party analyzes residual samples from the mosquito release to verify no intentional (or much more likely accidental) viral contamination.

    2) Independent scientific analysis of samples captured between the mosquito release and the beginning of the viral outbreak show no viral contamination.

    3) A detailed geographic analysis of where the virus first popped out doesn't seem to match the detailed geographic analysis of where the mosquitoes were released. More detailed than "It was in South America, bro". So if it was released 100 miles away and the average mosquito only lives 10 miles at best then ...

    4) A statistical analysis of diff eqs of growth rates indicates that to continuously grow at a rate of doubling every week or WTF its doing, to have a biological mass of X kilograms of infectious viral agent on the planet today would imply that 1 / 2 to the 104th power fraction existed at mosquito release, and the virus having a molecular weight of a zillion, would imply that the mass of virus that subsequently doubled in the last mosquito release was one trillionth of the mass of one electron, so when-ever it came from, it didn't come from the mosquitoes.

    5) Some kind of analysis of the process of weaponization of the virus indicates the least efficient way to spread it is mosquitoes, compared to adding it to the water in the prisoners showers or having cops mix it with pepper spray or putting it in government supplied food or adding to existing aerial spraying solutions or simply pouring out a bucket of infected slop in a hyper dense populated slum area. Or it was added to vaccination supplies either officially or clandestinely like the CIA does ops involving vaccination. Seriously, the best you could come up with is some ridiculous james bond BS plot about mosquitoes?

    But no, no, we totally debunked that conspiracy theory by telling the proles that leaders have never done anything bad and nobody in authority would ever lie. I'm sure they'll totally fall for it just like the last 1e9 times.

    In a way I wonder if the journalist is intentionally pot stirring or knows something but is being censored and this is the smart ass response. I find it about a million times more likely some operator dumped out a bottle in a slum, than for once you can trust the authorities to do no wrong.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03 2016, @06:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03 2016, @06:43PM (#298612)

      You forgot:

      6) If you wanted to use genetic modification for spreading illnesses for population control, you'd certainly use your genetic manipulation expertise to create a virus tailored for the job, rather than modifying mosquitoes to transport an illness that is not exactly ideal for that job, to say the least.

    • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Wednesday February 03 2016, @11:47PM

      by NotSanguine (285) <NotSanguineNO@SPAMSoylentNews.Org> on Wednesday February 03 2016, @11:47PM (#298779) Homepage Journal

      Granted, you're correct that the article about the conspiracy theory doesn't cite the specific details you mention.

      However, one of the articles [blogspot.com] linked to does address many of the points you bring up.

      It's a shame you didn't actually read it. Perhaps you should go and do so now.

      Just a silly thought.

      --
      No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Thursday February 04 2016, @09:01PM

        by VLM (445) on Thursday February 04 2016, @09:01PM (#299145)

        The existence of other well written articles does very little to disprove my claim that the poorly written article, is in fact poorly written.

        • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Thursday February 04 2016, @09:10PM

          by NotSanguine (285) <NotSanguineNO@SPAMSoylentNews.Org> on Thursday February 04 2016, @09:10PM (#299155) Homepage Journal

          I guess you didn't read the first sentence of my comment, or chose to ignore it.

          I don't consider this to be a competition, friend. So guess what -- you win the intertubes! Hooray!

          --
          No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
  • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Wednesday February 03 2016, @01:02PM

    by isostatic (365) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @01:02PM (#298531) Journal

    Who controls the British crown?
    Who keeps the metric system down?
    We do, we do
    Who keeps Atlantis off the maps?
    Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
    We do, we do
    Who holds back the elctric car?
    Who makes Steve Gutenberg a star?
    We do, we do
    Who robs cavefish of their site?
    Who rigs every Oscar night?
    We do, we do
    Who Calls Zika Virus Outbreak an International Health Emergency?
    Who Funds the Next Global Anti Corporate Insurgency?
    We do, we do

    Not quite as snappy, but carry on.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Bobs on Wednesday February 03 2016, @01:04PM

    by Bobs (1462) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @01:04PM (#298532)

    The patient was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with an ill individual who returned from a country where Zika virus is present.

    http://www.dallascounty.org/department/hhs/press/documents/PR2-2-16DCHHSReportsFirstCaseofZikaVirusThroughSexualTransmission.pdf [dallascounty.org]

    The first time this has been documented.

    I am assuming they are competent to make this call, but this is Texas. Until there are a couple more like this there is still a possibility that it was merely the same mosquito bit them both. If true this is bad news as it means it is not as simple as just wiping out the mosquitos.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by Gravis on Wednesday February 03 2016, @03:12PM

      by Gravis (4596) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @03:12PM (#298559)

      I am assuming they are competent to make this call, but this is Texas. Until there are a couple more like this there is still a possibility that it was merely the same mosquito bit them both. If true this is bad news as it means it is not as simple as just wiping out the mosquitos.

      you act as if Texas has a problem with killing humans. ;)

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by esperto123 on Wednesday February 03 2016, @09:33PM

      by esperto123 (4303) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @09:33PM (#298708)

      As it is not completly confirmed yet, I, for one, volunteer to test the hypothesis, and humbly suggest to have the victoria secret models as female participants of test group.

      for science, of course.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Bobs on Wednesday February 03 2016, @01:30PM

    by Bobs (1462) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @01:30PM (#298539)

    The prevalence of a new widespread, birth-defect causing disease may catalyze the loosening of abortion laws in Central and South America.

    The history is that rubella is presented as a large catalyst as making then illegal abortions acceptable in the 50-60's.

    And Zika creating widespread microcephaly may play the same role now.

    In a sense, it’s analogous to rubella in the 1950s and 1960s. The rubella virus, when it infects pregnant women in the first six months of pregnancy causes birth defects. Usually this is deafness accompanied by vision problems and heart defects, though even more serious problems often occur including mental retardation. Today, abortion is recommended in those exceptional circumstances where it does happen. While rubella fortunately isn’t a concern anymore–it’s the “R” in the MMR vaccine–in the pre-vaccine era, it was a terrifying prospect and led to underground acceptance of abortion–it was the circumstance, even though rare, where most people would ‘allow’ an abortion.

    ...

    I find it incredible that the NY Times story–or any of the other coverage I’ve read–doesn’t mention that abortion is illegal in Brazil. It’s not an option at all, even if a woman were to be seropositive for Zika virus. If Zika virus isn’t stamped out, and given the particular mosquito vector that spreads it, that doesn’t seem likely, this disease very well could change Brazil’s no-abortion policy.

    From Mike the Mad Biologist's blog [mikethemadbiologist.com] (Helping idiots who desperately need my assistance by calling them fucking morons since 2004)

    Also interesting if this has an effect on US Presidential politics and those in Texas [webmd.com]. Are the Republican candidates going to hedge about never allowing abortions or support more state care for the impaired children?

    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Wednesday February 03 2016, @02:26PM

      by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @02:26PM (#298551)

      Zika is a drop in a bucket as far as Brazil is concerned: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/94/2/15-152363/en/ [who.int]

      --
      compiling...
      • (Score: 2) by quacking duck on Wednesday February 03 2016, @02:49PM

        by quacking duck (1395) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @02:49PM (#298555)

        That seems to address mortality of the already-living. Zika appears to be different for two reasons: high likelihood it's being passed from mother to fetus, with resulting brain defects; and transmission via mosquito which of course means it's not limited to the poor population and conditions in which they live.

        Dengue fever fits the mosquito vector, but my quick googling suggests it's not been conclusively proven to pass to the fetus, or that it's rare enough compared to Zika, and the effects even if it does are not as dire for the newborn.

        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Wednesday February 03 2016, @05:45PM

          by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @05:45PM (#298585)

          No. There's already the anencephaly exception for fetus brain damage in Brazil. There will be no abortion laws changes otherwise.

          --
          compiling...
    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03 2016, @05:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03 2016, @05:48PM (#298586)

      Are the Republican candidates going to hedge about never allowing abortions or support more state care for the impaired children?

      Are you kidding? They'll be recruiting these pinheads as future candidates for office.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday February 03 2016, @07:21PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday February 03 2016, @07:21PM (#298635) Journal

      Are the Republican candidates going to hedge about never allowing abortions or support more state care for the impaired children?
       
        No

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03 2016, @07:29PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03 2016, @07:29PM (#298644)

    wat? smaller physological heads? doesnt seem any different from
    what we have today ... only now we can acctually see the shape of the
    cloud users brain size?
    obviously i have to object on behalf of the fake muscle steroid crew and
    the plastic surgeon union.
    we want to help google improve stock payouts
    to shareholders for providing steroid and plastic surgeory like head size
    improvment ADDS... really