Archive for the ‘Zika Outbreak’ Category

Zika fight doesn’t diminish with change in Zika status

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Author: Camille Hesterberg, Communications Specialist, IEM

While many Americans were recovering from their holiday feasts last week, the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) was deliberating on whether Zika virus is still a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).[1] Although the decision was made to move Zika from PHEIC to endemic status,[2] this post aims to discuss why now is the time to focus more resources on Zika. (more…)

CBS’s 60 Minutes Features the Fight Against Zika

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Author: Dr. Jenn Kruk, Molecular Biologist, IEM

On the November 6th edition of CBS’s 60 Minutes, Dr. Jon LaPook spoke with the country’s top scientists about the fight against Zika and the U.S. government’s efforts to control it.

I can’t speak for others in the public health field, but I was happy to see some national coverage of the current Zika epidemic. At the same time, I struggle with the lack of attention and general dismissal the virus gets from the majority of people who aren’t directly impacted. When it comes to Zika, we need to change the ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ mentality many have now and focus more on public outreach and education.

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Zika Classified as an STD: What You Need to Know

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Author: Dr. Jenn Kruk, Molecular Biologist, IEM

Unlike other vector-borne diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya, Zika can be spread through the traditional mosquito bite and through sexual transmission. To help stop the spread of Zika through sexual transmission, it is important to understand the risks of Zika as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and to take proactive measures to protect yourself.

Despite mosquito-borne transmission dwindling over the winter in the majority of the U.S.,  the risk of Zika as an STD will not waver, particularly from the 40 million people that travel between the continental U.S. and Zika-affected areas each year.[1]  This has some people wondering: Will there be a Zika epidemic like we’ve seen with HIV?

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Hurricane Matthew’s Potential Impact on the Spread of Zika

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Author: Sid Baccam, Computational Epidemiologist, IEM

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, there have been concerns regarding how the storm might affect the spread of vector-borne diseases including Zika. Although local transmission of Zika virus has only been confirmed in Florida, coastal areas up through the Carolinas could experience increased human exposure to mosquitoes as they recover from Hurricane Matthew.

An article published by Adrienne Lafrance in The Atlantic looked at this topic. Lafrance cites research conducted at Tulane University that examined the incidence of West Nile disease in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Researchers found that the number of people with neurologic disease associated with West Nile Virus had increased sharply in the three weeks following Hurricane Katrina.hurricane-matthew-fl-zika (more…)

Zika: Protecting Yourself Protects Those around You

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Author: Camille Hesterberg, Communications Specialist, IEM

By now, you have probably heard Zika being described as a public health crisis. Zika does not have a direct impact on most people, and it is not life-threatening like some other mosquito-borne illnesses.[1] Therefore, it is challenging for the general population to feel connected to the issue and to be concerned about Zika’s spread. Understanding what makes Zika a public health issue will help people appreciate how their individual actions can help contain the spread of Zika.

Although Zika may not feel personal to you now, the more it spreads, the more likely it is that you will feel its impact. You may become infected and feel unwell as a result; someone you know may become pregnant, and her child may be born with congenital Zika syndrome (term for microcephaly and other Zika-related birth defects)[2]; or, with the price of recovering after a Zika outbreak being more costly than preventative measures that stop the spread of Zika, you may feel the social and economic burdens of this disease for years to come. (more…)

All Mosquitoes are Not the Same When it Comes to Zika

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Author: Sid Baccam, Computational Epidemiologist, IEM

By now, we all know that Zika virus can be spread to humans through pesky mosquito bites. But why should we care only about specific mosquitoes? Aren’t all mosquitoes the same? Actually, there are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes, 175 of which are found in the United States, and each one is different. The most commonly found species in the U.S. include the Anopheles quadrmaculatus, Culex pipiens, Aedes aegypti, and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. (more…)

Zika and the Brain: A Public Health Game Changer

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Author: Dr. Rashid Chotani, Senior Scientist, IEM

Human infection with Zika virus (ZIKV) was initially reported to be mild and non-life threatening. However, as ZIKV has been introduced into unexposed and highly dense populations, it has evolved. We know now that when the virus attacks the brain of an unborn child, the effects can be devastating.

ZIKV can be passed from mother to fetus (in-utero) during pregnancy, which can result in microcephaly, a very serious condition resulting in life-long disabilities, and other birth defects. Today, I want to discuss ZIKV-related microcephaly and show how the number of U.S. birth defects due to possible Zika infection has alarmingly increased, leading to a serious public health concern in the U.S. and its territories.

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Is Zika Here to Stay?

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Author: Rashid Chotani, Senior Scientist, IEM

With Zika virus making its presence known in the United States and local transmission occurring in Florida, there is a growing concern about the risk of Zika. But we have to ask the question: WHY is it spreading so rapidly, and why now? Once Zika virus was identified in Brazil, with knowledge from previous outbreaks, it was obvious that the disease would spread across the Americas and was here to stay. The BIG question was when it would emerge as a locally-transmitted disease in the U.S. (more…)

How the Olympics Will Affect the Risks of Zika

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Author: Dr. Rashid Chotani, Senior Scientist, IEM

IEM’s Dr. Rashid Chotani discusses the Zika virus outbreak and the risks the Olympics in Rio pose to the spread of the disease. Dr. Chotani predicted that the disease would surface in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in Wynwood, a neighborhood in Miami, FL. A Texas resident who recently traveled to an area of Miami known as a “hot spot” for local Zika transmission tested positive for the virus, the Texas.

video-thumbnail-valuesHow the Olympics Will Effect Zika Outbreak (7:10)

This was filmed at the International Center for Terrorism Studies at The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies Seminar, June 23, 2016.