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posted by martyb on Thursday April 21 2016, @09:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the invest-in-mosquito-nets-and-DEET dept.

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

Related Stories

El Salvador Advises Against Pregnancy until 2018 over Zika Virus Birth Defect Fears 12 comments

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a travel alert for 14 nations affected by the mosquito-borne Zika virus. One of those nations, El Salvador, is recommending against pregnancy due to a risk of birth defects suspected to be caused by the virus:

The entire region has erupted with concern over the virus, and each country has taken measures to combat its spread. Other Latin American countries, such as Colombia and Ecuador, as well as Jamaica in the Caribbean, have recommended delaying pregnancies, though not for an entire two years.

The rest of Latin America has responded with different tactics, ranging from widespread fumigation efforts to directing citizens not to be bitten by the Aedes mosquito, which is known to carry yellow, chikungunya and dengue fevers.

So far, the hardest hit nation in the region has been Brazil, where more than a million cases have been confirmed, including nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly in newborns that could be linked to Zika. Microcephaly is a rare, incurable condition in which an infant's head is abnormally small.

Brazil has announced its plans to control the Zika virus while continuing to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro:

Inspections of Olympic facilities will begin four months before the Games to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds. Daily sweeps will also take place during the Games. But fumigation would only be an option on a case-by-case basis because of concerns for the health of the athletes and visitors.

The Brazilian health ministry says it is also banking on the fact that the Games are taking place in the cooler, drier month of August when mosquitoes are far less evident and there are considerably fewer cases of mosquito-borne viruses.

The World Health Organization warns that Zika is likely to spread across all of the Americas.

Related: Genetically-Modified Mosquito Company Expands Operations


Original Submission

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

WHO Calls Zika Virus Outbreak an International Health Emergency 17 comments

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

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

Maybe “It’s Not the Zika Virus”. 43 comments

The Zika Virus is triggering all sorts of fear in much of the warmer areas of south and central America, and recently spreading to the US via semen of a man who visited the area. (There are only 31 cases of the virus being found in the US to-date, all from travelers.)

The fear is caused by linkage to microcephaly birth defects, but so far the science behind that linkage is unproven.
The World Health Organization is becoming alarmed:

"The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainty," WHO’s director general Dr. Margaret Chan said. "We need to get some answers quickly."

Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that can lead to life-threatening paralysis also seems to be linked with the Zika.

But this isn't the first outbreak of the Zika virus. Its been around for decades. And prior outbreaks did not exhibit any linkage to Microcephaly or Guillain-Barre.

[Continues.]

Pope Francis's Plane Reports Laser Incident 52 comments

In yet another laser beam incident, crew on a flight carrying Pope Francis reported a laser beam sighting to air traffic control in Mexico City:

Alitalia flight AZ4000 was travelling from Havana with the Pope on board, and was preparing to land when the laser was spotted.
No crew or passengers were injured by the beam, the airline added.

[...] "This is yet another incident that shows how serious and widespread the issue of laser attacks on aircraft is," said Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), in response to the case involving the Pope's plane. "Modern lasers have the power to blind and the potential to dazzle and distract pilots during critical phases of flight," he told the BBC. "Shining a laser at an aircraft is illegal and dangerous and puts all those on board and on the ground nearby at completely unnecessary risk."

Aboard the plane headed from Rome to Mexico, the Pope said that contraception may be the "lesser evil" for women at risk of catching the Zika virus. In comments made on the ground, he chastised Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump for his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border.


In another story from the UK laser crime beat, Englishman Philip Houghton has been sentenced to 20 weeks in prison for admitting to shining a laser pen at a Humberside Police helicopter that was investigating a shooting.

Original Submission

Zika Virus and Birth Defects 25 comments

The Zika virus has been known for quite some time, but it gained notoriety recently due to its possible linkage to birth defects.

Science News has a summary report on Zika virus:
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/special-report-heres-what-we-know-about-zika

A report on the studies of its possible linkage to microcephaly, a birth defect of babies with undersized and underdeveloped brains:
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-zika-became-prime-suspect-microcephaly-mystery

In short, studies are continuing, evidence is mounting, but still not quite a confirmation.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:06PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:06PM (#335472)

    The mosquitos came for the 2 billion people, but i wasn't one of them, so i didn't give a damn.

    Then

    Sharknado!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @11:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @11:28PM (#335508)

      The German language is very efficient. For instance, one simply appends an "s" to indicate possession,

  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:09PM

    by Immerman (3985) on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:09PM (#335475)

    So, we have a new virus that threatens to render people incapable of reproducing effectively, and primarily targets the poorest, tropical regions of the world, where it's going to be damnably difficult to stamp out. Am I the only one to think this might be some mad scientist's idea of population control?

    I mean we're assuming it's just that these folks have never been exposed before to acquire immunity, and in a generation at worst it will cease to be an issue, but what would it take to make sure any immunity is only temporary?

    At the very least it seems poised to motivate a large swath of the world's fastest-growing populations to get serious about making reproductive control socially acceptable a serious priority.

    • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:10PM

      by ikanreed (3164) on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:10PM (#335476) Journal

      It doesn't render them incapable of reproducing. It makes babies who will have miserable lives.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by PartTimeZombie on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:20PM

        by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:20PM (#335485)

        So, we have a new virus that threatens to render people incapable of reproducing effectively

        There's a qualifier in there ikanreed.

        • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by ikanreed on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:24PM

          by ikanreed (3164) on Thursday April 21 2016, @10:24PM (#335489) Journal

          I don't know. People born without brains seem pretty effective at posting on soylentnews.

          • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @11:10PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @11:10PM (#335505)

            Case in point [soylentnews.org]

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @11:11PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @11:11PM (#335507)

            Sheesh, bit reactive there.... won't really work too well as population control, just increase the number of disabled people.

        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @11:11PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21 2016, @11:11PM (#335506)

          Well, turns out he kan't.

    • (Score: 2) by Gravis on Friday April 22 2016, @12:17AM

      by Gravis (4596) on Friday April 22 2016, @12:17AM (#335515)

      Am I the only one to think this might be some mad scientist's idea of population control?

      nature has never needed our help to create scary and insidious diseases.

      • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Friday April 22 2016, @02:30AM

        by bitstream (6144) on Friday April 22 2016, @02:30AM (#335546) Journal

        Disease and famine has been the way nature keeps a population balance for perhaps 500 million years? No news.
        What is news is our desire and capability to get rid of horrific diseases.

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday April 22 2016, @04:17AM

        by Immerman (3985) on Friday April 22 2016, @04:17AM (#335573)

        And yet that hasn't stopped militaries the world over from trying to give it a helping hand.

  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday April 22 2016, @12:14AM

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday April 22 2016, @12:14AM (#335514)

    Arguably, Zika has long been present in populated areas.
    It seems lots of people do get it, and brush it off because they're not pregnant ... BECAUSE it's so prevalent that they get it as kids.
    The problem seems mostly to be when people get it later.

    The easy solution is therefore to rush to infect all children worldwide, in middle school (when moms or big sisters are least likely to be expecting).

    You can send my check to the usual address.

  • (Score: 2) by SanityCheck on Friday April 22 2016, @12:57AM

    by SanityCheck (5190) on Friday April 22 2016, @12:57AM (#335525)

    My company decided to "reward" us with a trip to Mexico. Well technically it was Mexico or Florida, but the idiots voted for Mexico. So my fiancee cannot go since she is pregnant. And upon return I will have to "suit up" for at least 6 month as a precaution... Good times...

  • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Friday April 22 2016, @02:53AM

    by bitstream (6144) on Friday April 22 2016, @02:53AM (#335548) Journal

    The article Mapping global environmental suitability for Zika virus [amazonaws.com] on page 20 gives a good clue on which geographical areas to avoid. At this time definitely Brazil, Mexico, mid-west Africa, and parts of Asia around Thailand and the equator.

    It seems most people get sick with fever for a week and nothing more unless pregnant. In some cases like an outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013-2014 out of 8723 cases Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) occured in in 42 people, encephalitis, meningoencephalitis, paraesthesia, facial paralysis or myelitis in 25. So a 0.85% chance to have complications in other words.

    Now we can calmly await the a super virus that actually will kill in droves.. :p

  • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Friday April 22 2016, @03:47PM

    by butthurt (6141) on Friday April 22 2016, @03:47PM (#335793) Journal

    If it's spread via sex, it could be contracted by people anywhere. If 10% of the people outside the mosquito-prone areas engage in sex, that's over 500 million potential victims.