In the epicenter of the Zika epidemic in northeast Brazil, 73 percent of people living in an urban slum in Salvador were infected in 2015, but a new study finds that those with immunity to dengue, a genetically similar virus, had a reduced risk of infection with Zika. [Read more…] about Dengue immunity may buffer against Zika, study finds
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ZIKA UPDATE
The Florida Department of Health today is announcing that the first sexually transmitted Zika case in 2017 has been confirmed in Pinellas County. There is no evidence of transmission through mosquitoes taking place anywhere in Florida.
While the individual had no travel, their partner recently traveled to Cuba and was ill with symptoms consistent with Zika. Both tested positive for Zika. The department notified mosquito control and appropriate mosquito reduction activities are taking place.
There is no evidence of ongoing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes in any area of Florida. It is important to remember Zika can also be transmitted sexually and to take precautions if you or your partner traveled to an area where Zika is active. If the department identifies an area where ongoing transmission of Zika is taking place, we will notify the public immediately.
The total number of Zika cases reported in Florida in 2017 is 118.
Note, these categories are not mutually exclusive and cannot be added together.
It is critical for people who recently traveled overseas to an area with Zika to prevent mosquito bites for at least three weeks after they return home. It is also important to reduce the chance of sexual transmission by using condoms. CDC has issued additional guidance related to sexual transmission and prevention.
Before you travel, check to see if your destination is on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of areas with Zika.
If you traveled to an area with Zika, you could have become infected and not know it, and you could spread the virus in your community if you do not take proper precautions to prevent mosquito bites or sexual transmission after you return home. Zika can persist in semen over extended periods of time. Pregnant couples with recent travel to areas with active Zika transmission should consider using condoms for the duration of the pregnancy.
According to CDC guidance, providers should screen all pregnant women in the US for possible Zika exposure and symptoms at each prenatal care visit. Additional CDC guidance on screening and testing can be found here. At Governor Scott’s direction, all county health departments offer free Zika risk assessment and testing to pregnant women.
The department urges Floridians to take action around their home and business to reduce the mosquito population. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one teaspoon of water so it is critical to drain all sources of standing water to keep mosquitoes from multiplying. Residents and visitors should also use mosquito repellent day and night to prevent mosquito bites.
The department updates the full list of travel-related cases by county online each weekday. To view the list of travel-related cases by county and year, click here.
For more information on Zika virus and the status of Zika in Florida, please visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/zika.
The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today approved legislation to bolster local mosquito-control efforts to curb the spread of the Zika virus.
The legislation filed earlier this month by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) would authorize an additional $100 million per year in grant funding to local mosquito-control efforts to eliminate the mosquitoes responsible for spreading the virus. It would also authorize additional funding for public health laboratories so they can better test for the virus, and would require the Government Accountability Office to find ways to improve existing mosquito-control programs.
“One of the best ways to curb the spread of the Zika virus is to eliminate the insects known to carry it,” Nelson said. “As summer approaches, Florida’s mosquito population is going to rise, and we need to make sure our local mosquito-control boards have the resources they need to protect their communities.”
With more than 1,300 cases of the virus reported last year, no state has been harder hit by Zika than Florida.
The bill, which Nelson filed along with Sens. Angus King (I-ME), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
The text of the bill is available here.
Tomorrow, April 18, Governor Rick Scott will host a roundtable discussion with community leaders in Jacksonville regarding efforts to prepare for and combat the Zika Virus.
WHAT: Zika Preparedness Roundtable
WHEN: 9:00 AM
WHERE: Duval County Department of Health
900 University Blvd. N.
Jacksonville, Florida 32211
“Gov. Scott in Miami Discussing the Fight Against Zika”
WTVJ-MIA (NBC) – Miami, FL
March 27, 2017
To view the clip, click HERE.
“Gov. Scott Hosts Zika Preparedness Roundtable”
WOFL-ORD (FOX) – Orlando, FL
March 27, 2017
To view the clip, click HERE.
Governor Rick Scott today hosted a roundtable with community leaders in Miami on Zika preparedness ahead of the rainy season when mosquitos are most prevalent in Florida.
Governor Scott said, “Florida has only had two isolated cases of local Zika transmission this year and there are not currently any identified areas with active Zika transmission, which is good news. However, it is crucial that we continue to work together to remain vigilant and take precautions to stay ahead of this virus. That is why I hosted a Zika preparedness roundtable in Miami today with the Florida Department of Health to make sure the South Florida community is taking action now in advance of the upcoming rainy season.
“I urge all Floridians to remember to eliminate any standing water around your homes, businesses and communities, and to wear bug spray to prevent mosquito bites. It is also important to protect yourself if you travel outside of Florida to an area with Zika virus. Last year, our aggressive actions helped lift the previous Zika zones in Wynwood, Little River and Miami Beach. This year, we stand ready to once again do all we can to protect Florida’s families, visitors and communities.”
More information on the Zika virus and preparedness actions can be found HERE.
Florida Department of Health’s Zika Virus Hotline: 1-855-622-6735
UCF scientists received almost $1.3 million in state funds Wednesday to research the Zika virus with the goal of understanding its effects on human health and developing a vaccine for the mosquito-borne illness.
The funding was part of Gov. Rick Scott’s authorization of $25 million in state funds to develop better testing and prevention for the mosquito-borne virus that authorities say has infected almost 5,000 people in the U.S. and more than 1,000 in Florida. The governor announced 24 grants across Florida.
People infected with Zika can suffer from common flu symptoms, but pregnant women are at serious risk for birth defects thanks to the virus. The spread of the disease prompted Gov. Scott to declare a health emergency in parts of South Florida last year.
College of Medicine researchers Griffith Parks and Bradley Jay Willenberg received UCF’s largest grant — $500,000 – to determine how Zika fends off the body’s innate immune response and how the mosquito’s saliva might act to block the body’s ability to stop the infection.
When a person is bitten by a Zika-carrying mosquito, the virus is met by the body’s “innate immunity,” the first line of defense against pathogens. If that immunity works, the virus doesn’t take hold and the person doesn’t get infected. But Parks has discovered that Zika is adept at fighting off this immunity process by binding to certain proteins in the body. Parks, who is director of the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, and a virus specialist, said the grant will help his lab identify the molecular process the virus uses for protection as a step to developing a vaccine or drug therapies.
“Viruses are smart and opportunistic,” he said, “and they’ve had hundreds of millions of years to hone their skills against us,” he said.
Parks is collaborating with Willenberg, who in a separate project is designing a mosquito surveillance tool that may assist in the Zika fight. The tool attracts the insects, feeds them a special gold nanoparticle-colored sugar water that diagnoses those carrying a disease, and turns the infected mosquitos a different color as a warning system to residents.
Through that research, Willenberg developed an understanding of how mosquitoes feed and the role their saliva plays in spreading disease. In this new collaboration with Parks, Willenberg will use microscopes and tiny tweezers to remove the salivary glands of mosquitoes and help analyze the interactions between innate immune compounds, mosquito saliva and Zika infection. He and Parks hope that will uncover the mechanisms that maintain Zika infection inside humans despite the activity of the innate immune system.
“This is very interesting and important research because the interactions of the innate immune system with Zika-rich mosquito saliva is the first link in the chain of human infection from a mosquito bite,” Willenberg said.
Recently medical experts have identified Zika infection in pregnant women as a cause of serious birth defects, including microcephaly, a significant reduction in the size of the baby’s head and brain, leading to severe brain impairment.
“We must remain vigilant and continue to do everything we can to help protect pregnant women and their developing babies,” Scott said in announcing the grants. “I look forward to seeing the innovation and progress of Florida’s world-class research institutions as we continue to work together in the fight against Zika and to find a vaccine.”
Parks said the College of Medicine’s research shows the importance of scientific collaboration in addressing a public health issue. “We have an engineer and a virologist who have now become The Zika Team,” he said. “This is a great example of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You put two perspectives together and the result is better.”
Several other UCF researchers also received funding to tackle different aspects of the disease. They include Qun Huo from the NanoScience Technology Center and Karin Chumbimuni-Torres and Yulia Gerasimove from the College of Science, Department of Chemistry.