West Nile virus and other domestic arboviral activity — United States, 2017 Provisional data reported to ArboNET Tuesday, August 29, 2017
This update from the CDC Arboviral Disease Branch includes provisional data reported to ArboNET for January 1 – August 29, 2017 for West Nile virus and selected other nationally notifiable domestic arboviruses. Additional resources for ArboNET and arboviral diseases are provided on page 9.
West Nile virus (WNV) activity in 2017
As of August 29th, 740 counties from 45 states and the District of Columbia have reported WNV activity to ArboNET for 2017, including 35 states with reported WNV human infections (i.e., disease cases or viremic blood donors) and 10 additional states and the District of Columbia with reported WNV activity in non-human species only (i.e., veterinary cases, mosquito pools, dead birds, or sentinel animals)
“Zika virus used to treat aggressive brain cancer,” BBC News reports. Animal and laboratory research suggests a modified version of the virus could possibly be used to target and destroy cancerous cells.
The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947. It hit the headlines in 2016 when an epidemic of the virus began quickly spreading through parts of South and Central America.
The virus, spread by mosquitoes, rarely causes serious problems in adults. But it can lead to birth defects, specifically microcephaly (a small, not fully developed head), if a woman contracts the virus when pregnant.
The virus has the ability to cross from the blood into the brain, so researchers wanted to see if it could be used to treat a very aggressive type of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
MIAMI (AP) — The waning of Zika outbreaks in the Caribbean and South America has helped slow the spread of the mosquito-borne virus in Florida this year, according to health officials.
Herd immunity, when enough people in an area are infected with a virus and develop resistance to it, likely has contributed to Zika’s decline outside the continental United States, Dr. Henry Walke, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s incident manager for Zika response, said in a Miami Herald report .
“People that were infected before can’t be infected again. That’s our understanding,” Walke said. “So you don’t have as much of the virus circulating. That’s true not only in Puerto Rico but throughout the Caribbean and throughout South America.”
Excerpted from American Chemical Society newsletter August 23rd, 2017
“Conventional chemical insecticides used to control mosquitoes are used as cover sprays, frequently dispersed over wide areas. But this blanket spray approach exposes people and animals to potentially harmful compounds and can kill bees and other beneficial insects. In addition, residues of these sprays can contaminate soils and streams, as well as promote increased pesticide resistance. To overcome these issues, Mafra-Neto of ISCA Technologies and colleagues at several universities sought to create a more targeted approach using an insecticide potion spiked with a blend of semiochemicals, or chemical signals, that mosquitoes can’t resist.”
“The blend of chemicals that we use to attract mosquitoes is so powerful that they will ignore natural plant odors and attractants in order to get to our formulation,” says Agenor Mafra-Neto, Ph.D. “From a mosquito’s point of view, it’s like having an irresistible chocolate shop on every corner. The product is so seductive that they will feed on it almost exclusively, even when it contains lethal doses of insecticide.”
The resulting product, which is called Vectrax®, is a slow-release formula for use indoors or outdoors. It can be applied as a spray, which produces 1- to 5-millimeter dollops on vegetation or building eaves, or as a semi-solid, caulk-like gel on cracks or holes in outdoor structures. Because the mosquitoes visit and manipulate the dollops, they receive precise doses of the insecticide, and thus are more effectively controlled. Unlike with traditional blanket sprays, nearby surfaces can remain insecticide free.
The researchers are conducting field tests in Tanzania, an African nation where 93 percent of the population is at risk for malaria. In preliminary results, they found that mosquito populations plunged by two-thirds in just two weeks in Vetrax-treated communities compared to untreated ones.
WASHINGTON — Diagnosing if a tick bite caused Lyme or another disease can be difficult but scientists are developing a new way to do it early — using a “signature” of molecules in patients’ blood.
It’s still highly experimental, but initial studies suggest the novel tool just might uncover early-stage Lyme disease more accurately than today’s standard test, researchers reported Wednesday. And it could tell the difference between two tick-borne diseases with nearly identical early symptoms.
“Think about it as looking at a fingerprint,” said microbiology professor John Belisle of Colorado State University, who helped lead the research.
Lyme disease is estimated to infect 300,000 people in the U.S. every year. Lyme-causing bacteria are spread by blacklegged ticks —also called deer ticks — primarily in the Northeast and Midwest, although their range is spreading. Lyme typically starts as a fever, fatigue and flu-like symptoms — often but not always with a hallmark bulls-eye rash — and people usually recover quickly with prompt antibiotics. But untreated, Lyme causes more serious complications, including swollen joints and arthritis, memory and concentration problems, even irregular heartbeat.
“This summer, scientists in California are releasing 20 million mosquitoes in an effort to shrink the population of mosquitoes that can carry diseases.
It sounds counterintuitive. But the plan is to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes, which will then mate with wild female mosquitoes. The eggs the females lay won’t hatch, researchers say.
The project is called Debug Fresno and it’s being undertaken by Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s holding company. It’s the company’s first field study involving sterile mosquitoes in the U.S.
Scientists say the goal is to cut the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the species responsible for spreading Zika, dengue and chikungunya. A. aegypti have been present in California’s Central Valley since 2013 and have been a problem in Fresno County.”
“Each week for 20 weeks, the company plans to release 1 million of the sterile, non-biting male mosquitoes in two neighborhoods in Fresno County. The male mosquitoes are bred and infected with Wolbachia, a bacterium that is “naturally found in at least 40 percent of all insect species,” according to The Scientist magazine, though it’s normally not found in A. aegypti.”