Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite. They have returned with a vengeance.

Credit Victoria Roberts

A. Scientists believe that bedbugs have developed resistance to some insecticides, and travel is helping to spread the resistant insects worldwide.

Another major contributor is the failure of many hotels and residential landlords to identify infestations promptly, and to dispose of or treat infested bedding and carpeting.

It has been known since the 1950s that bed bugs can develop resistance to commonly used insecticides, like pyrethrin. Resistance has emerged to more products over the years.

The biological mechanisms include a thickening of the bedbugs’ exterior cuticle, so that an insecticide does not penetrate properly, and metabolic resistance, in which the insects produce extra amounts of detoxification enzymes.

Resistance can also involve something as simple as a tendency to avoid insecticidal powders.

Researchers are pursuing new control methods, especially the use of natural pesticides. One is a fungus called Beauveria bassiana.

The fungus, which infects insects, already has been incorporated into a commercially available product called Aprehend.

Can You Pick a Bedbug Out of a Lineup?

In a survey, scientists found many travelers could not distinguish bedbugs from other pests, which could have implications for hotels and the travel industry.

Alpine huts take drastic action to ensure the bed bugs don’t bite

German refuge tells tourists to microwave sleeping bags in effort to halt infestation.

The bed bug (Cimex lectularius). The German Alpine Club estimates that many of the 2,000 huts across the Alps are affected.

 The bed bug (Cimex lectularius). The German Alpine Club estimates that many of the 2,000 huts across the Alps are affected. Photograph: Alamy

Remote Alpine mountain refuges are battling an infestation of bed bugs transferred from hut to hut by hikers in their luggage and sleeping bags.

On Friday, the German Alpine Club introduced new guidelines to tackle the bugs, including asking guests to place luggage in special bags overnight to prevent the insects spreading.

One refuge has resorted to more extreme methods. The Münchner Haus, at a height of 2,964 metres on the Zugspitze mountain on the German-Austrian border, requires hikers to microwave their sleeping bags on the way in to kill the bugs.

The problem was not new but has worsened over previous years, said the German Alpine Club.

“We have to do more to solve this problem, otherwise it just keeps getting bigger,” said a spokesman, Thomas Bucher, on Friday. He added that the main battle was to raise awareness of the infestation.

Bucher estimated that 10%-15% of Germany’s 321 Alpine huts were now affected, though exact figures were not available.

“It’s a taboo subject, so we can only go on estimates at the moment. Lots of huts don’t want to come out publicly and say they are also affected. We only know now that the problem is there and that we have to fight it,” said Bucher.

“The fight against bed bugs needs both the hut landlords and the guests to do something. The guests are the ones who are spreading the bugs with their luggage, so they need to take care.”

An infestation of bed bugs is not an indication of poor hygiene. The insects are particularly drawn to mountain cabins, which are often built from wood.

Bucher said the bugs were also thought to have spread to many of the Alp’s 2,000 huts, which have become increasingly popular with tourists.

“It doesn’t matter if its in Germany, or Austria, or Switzerland, or France, or anywhere else [United States],” said Bucher. “The bugs don’t recognize borders.”

Bed Bug Allegedly Found On Montreal STM Bus (Video)

A brief video submitted to MTL Blog by Instagram user @sssareenak shows what appears to be a bed bug crawling across the seat of an STM bus in Montreal. The video was taken on Friday July 5th on the 968 bus, which runs between the Côte-Vertu orange line metro station and the Gare Roxboro-Pierrefonds.

An exterminator tells MTL Blog that though the video is too low quality to determine with 100% certainty the identity of the bug, a quick assessment suggests it is, indeed, a bed bug.

We reached out to the STM to inquire specifically about bed bugs on this bus line and, more generally, bed bugs on any vehicle in the STM network.

In response, an agency spokesperson explained only that “we regularly evaluate the cleanliness of buses and trains. When such a situation is brought to our attention, we quickly remove the vehicle from service and take the necessary measures.”

They further explain that bus interiors are washed every 42 days.

The short video of the alleged bed bug is below:

If this is, in fact, a bed bug, this would not be the first time the insect was found on public property.

Last year, an infestation of bed bugs at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) forced officials to remove most upholstered furniture from the enormous complex in downtown Montreal.

Plastic chairs replaced couches until exterminators were able to eradicate the pests.

Bed bugs, according to a page on the government of Canada website, “are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.”

“A bedbug bite can take as long as 14 days to appear, depending on the person. While bites can happen anywhere on the skin, they are often found on the face, neck, arms, legs, and chest.”

There is no indication that bed bugs have spread on the STM network. This appears to have been an isolated incident.

Bedbugs found in Hempstead Town building, officials say – Long Island Nassau County

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Bedbugs were found at town offices on North Franklin Street in Hempstead. Photo Credit: Town of Hempstead

Hempstead Tax Receiver Don Clavin on Thursday called on the town to close and fumigate a town office building that is infested with bedbugs.

Employees first spotted the bloodsucking pests yesterday, and since then workers have found dozens of them crawling on furniture and scaling the walls of the building  on North Franklin Street , where more than 200 town employees work and where some 55,000 members of the public pass through annually, Clavin said.

“Do what’s right,” he said at a news conference on Thursday, flanked by the town’s CSEA union president Theresa Kohutka. “Shut the building down, get it rectified, get it clean, and let these hardworking men and women come to this building in a clean safe environment.”

Clavin, a Republican, is challenging Democratic Supervisor Laura Gillen for her seat this fall.

Mike Fricchione, a spokesman for Gillen, said in a statement Thursday that exterminators treated the affected area of the building Wednesday night and would do so again Thursday night.

Fricchione accused Clavin of politicizing the infestation.

“This is not the first time departments, including the Tax Receiver’s Office, have been notified of an isolated report of bedbugs in an office space, so it’s curious why the Tax Receiver would this time request that the entire building be shut down,” Fricchione said. “This administration does not believe in scaring the public and will continue following all appropriate protocols and procedures relating to bedbugs.”

Bedbugs are brown, apple-seed sized critters that feed on sleeping humans and other animals, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They are hard to eradicate — capable of surviving in low temperatures and without food for long periods. A female bedbug can lay multiple eggs per day, according to the federal agency.

Clavin and Kohutka criticized the town administration for not clearly communicating with employees about the problem or what it is doing to solve it.

“That’s all we ask: just a little bit of communication and a little bit of action,” Kohutka said. “There’s absolutely none going on at the moment.”
Fricchione said town officials had discussed the situation and treatment plan with union leaders and department heads.

The infested building houses the town’s parks, public safety and economic development departments, as well as other Hempstead agencies.

“Yes, we have some issues”; Pikeville apartment complex battling bed bugs

WYMT
July 10, 2019 | By Buddy Forbes

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – Tenants at Myers Towers in Pikeville have been dealing with bed bugs for years. This is an issue that has cost them a lot of headaches and a lot of furniture.

“We’re dealing with a whole epidemic here. Every week it’s furniture piled up,” said tenant Neil Thompson.

He said the bed bug “infestation” often results in tenants throwing out their furniture.

Jim Hobbs, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Pikeville, said the bed bug issue is present in the building but is not an infestation.

“Bed bugs are a problem all over the country and, yes, we have some issues,” Hobbs said.

He said anywhere from 15 to 35 apartments are usually dealing with bed bugs. But, he said, the maintenance crew at Myers Towers is doing everything it can to keep the bugs out of the complex.

“When we find them, we put them on our list and treat them accordingly,” he said.

He said the tenants also hold responsibility for keeping the maintenance crew informed, and doing their part to avoid bringing in any more bed bugs.

Thompson said he agrees that the tenants should shoulder part of the responsibility, but hopes to see those in charge doing more to get the bed bugs out.

Hobbs said plans for a heat chamber are currently in the works, to help save the tenants from losing their furniture. The chamber will heat up the furniture, killing the bed bugs.

Hobbs said it will take a team effort to get the situation under control.

Today’s Menu: Pesticide Salad, Leaded Fish with Plastic, Chemical Fruit

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Credit: UN Environment.

MADRID, Jul 10 2019 (IPS) – In case you were not aware or just do not remember: all you eat, drink, breathe, wear, take as a medicine, the cosmetics you use, the walls of your house, among others, is full of chemicals. And all is really ALL.

For instance, in your bathroom, formaldehyde often sits in your shampoo, microbeads in your toothpaste, phthalates in your nail polish and antimicrobials in your soaps, while your medicine cabinet contains a myriad of synthetic pharmaceuticals.

In your kitchen, a juicy strawberry may carry traces of up to 20 different pesticides.

The size of the global chemical industry exceeded 5 trillion dollars in 2017. It is projected to double by 2030. Consumption and production are rapidly increasing in emerging economies.

And the perfumed bin-liners and air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds that can make you nauseous and give you a headache. And the list goes on…

Who tells all these and many other shocking facts is one of the top world organisations dealing with the sources and dangers of pollution and contamination – the UN Environment, which on 29 April 2019 released its Global Chemicals Outlook.

Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals everywhere

See what Tanzanian microbiologist and environmental scientist Joyce Msuya, the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said in her introduction to this report:

“Chemicals are part of our everyday lives. From pharmaceuticals to plant protection, innovations in chemistry can improve our health, food security and much more. However, if poorly used and managed, hazardous chemicals and waste threaten human health and the environment.

“As the second Global Chemicals Outlook lays out, global trends such as population dynamics, urbanisation and economic growth are rapidly increasing chemical use, particularly in emerging economies.

“In 2017, the industry was worth more than 5 trillion dollars. By 2030, this will double.

“Large quantities of hazardous chemicals and pollutants continue to leak into the environment, contaminating food chains and accumulating in our bodies, where they do serious damage.

“Estimates by the European Environment Agency suggest that 62 per cent of the volume of chemicals consumed in Europe in 2016 were hazardous to health.

“The World Health Organization estimates the burden of disease from selected chemicals at 1.6 million lives in 2016. The lives of many more are negatively impacted…”

Referring to the agreed objective that, by 2020, chemicals will be produced and used in ways that minimise significant adverse effects on the environment and human health, Joyce Msuya warned “At our current pace, we will not achieve the goal.”

Key findings

The following are three key findings included in the report, among many others.

One is that the size of the global chemical industry exceeded 5 trillion dollars in 2017. It is projected to double by 2030. Consumption and production are rapidly increasing in emerging economies. Global supply chains, and the trade of chemicals and products, are becoming increasingly complex.

Another one is that, driven by global mega-trends, growth in chemical-intensive industry sectors (e.g. construction, agriculture, electronics) creates risks, but also opportunities to advance sustainable consumption, production and product innovation.

And a third one is that hazardous chemicals and other pollutants (e.g. plastic waste and pharmaceutical pollutants) continue to be released in large quantities. They are ubiquitous in humans and the environment and are accumulating in material stocks and products, highlighting the need to avoid future legacies through sustainable materials management and circular business models.

The Global Chemicals Outlook covers three broad inter-linked areas building upon the findings of existing and concurrent studies:

Production, trade, use and disposal of chemicals

Both the continuous growth trends and the changes in global production, trade and use of chemicals point towards an increasing chemical intensification of the economy.

This chemical intensification of the economy derives largely from several factors, such as the increased volume and a shift of production and use from highly industrialised countries to developing countries and countries in economic transition.

Another factor is the penetration of chemical intensive products into national economies through globalisation of sales and use.

Then there are the increased chemical emissions resulting from major economic development sectors.

According to the report, products of the chemical industry that are increasingly replacing natural materials in both industrial and commercial products.

Thus, petrochemical lubricants, coatings, adhesives, inks, dyes, creams, gels, soaps, detergents, fragrances and plastics are replacing conventional plant, animal and ceramic based products.

Industries and research institutions which are increasingly developing sophisticated and novel nano-scale chemicals and synthetic halogenated compounds that are creating new functions such as durable, non-stick, stain resistant, fire retardant, water-resistant, non-corrosive surfaces, and metallic, conductive compounds that are central to integrated circuits used in cars, cell phones, and computers.

Penetration of chemical intensive products 

The Global Outlook also informs that many countries are primarily importers of chemicals and are not significant producers. Agricultural chemicals and pesticides used in farming were among the first synthetic chemicals to be actively exported to developing countries.

Today, as consumption of a wide range of products increases over time, these products themselves become a significant vehicle increasing the presence of chemicals in developing and transition economies, the report explains, adding the following information:

  • These include liquid chemical personal care products for sale directly to consumers; paints, adhesives and lubricants; as well as chemically complex articles ranging from textiles and electronics, to building materials and toys. Emissions from products pose different management challenges from those associated with manufacturing, as   they are diffused throughout the economy, rather than being concentrated at manufacturing facilities.
  • Trade in articles has been identified as a significant driver of global transport of lead, cadmium, mercury and brominated flame retardants.
  • It is often the case that electrical and electronic equipment, which contain hazardous or toxic substances, are purchased in developed countries before being disposed of or recycled in unsafe and unprotected conditions in developing states or countries with economies in transition.
  • Products such as cell phones and laptops are being purchased and used in regions of the world recently thought to be too remote.
  • Increasing consumer demand for electrical/electronic goods and materials, along with rapid technology change and the high obsolescence rate of these items have led to the increasing generation of large quantities of obsolete and near end of life electronic products.
  • These trends contribute to global electronic waste generation estimated at 40 million tons per year.

Chemical contamination and waste associated with industrial sectors of importance in developing countries include: pesticides from agricultural runoff; heavy metals associated with cement production; dioxin associated with electronics recycling; mercury and other heavy metals associated with mining and coal combustion, explains the Global Outlook.

They also include: butyl tins, heavy metals, and asbestos released during ship breaking; heavy metals associated with tanneries; mutagenic dyes, heavy metals and other pollutants associated with textile production; toxic metals, solvents, polymers, and flame retardants used in electronics manufacturing, and  the direct exposure resulting from the long range transport of many chemicals through environmental media that deliver chemical pollutants which originate from sources thousands of kilometres away.

pesticida

Credit: UN Environment.

Health and environmental effects

According to the report:

  • Chemicals released to the air can act as air pollutants as well as greenhouse gases and ozone depleters and contribute to acid rain formation.
  • Chemicals can contaminate water resources through direct discharges to bodies of water, or via deposition of air contaminants to water. This contamination can have adverse effects on aquatic organisms, including fish, and on the availability of water resources for drinking, bathing, and other activities.
  • It is common for soil pollution to be a direct result of atmospheric deposition, dumping of waste, spills from industrial or waste facilities, mining activities, contaminated water, or pesticides.
  • Persistent and bio-accumulative chemicals are found as widespread contaminants in wildlife, especially those that are high in the food chain. Some of these chemicals cause cancers, immune system dysfunction, and reproductive disorders in wildlife.
  • In some countries, the runoff of pesticides and fertilisers from agricultural fields or the use of chemicals in mining in neighbouring countries, may leach into ground water, or run into estuaries shared across national boundaries.
  • Fisheries, an important source of protein and of economic value for populations around the world, can be severely affected by chemicals. Persistent organic pollutants can accumulate in fish, especially those high in the food chain. As a result, the value of this otherwise excellent protein source is diminished or lost completely.
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals can cause or contribute to a broad range of health outcomes. These include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation; damage to organs such as the brain, lungs, liver or kidneys; damage to the immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous, reproductive or endocrine systems; and birth defects and chronic diseases, such as cancer, asthma, or diabetes.
  • Workers in industries using chemicals are especially vulnerable through exposure to toxic chemicals and related health effects.

These include an increased cancer rate in workers in electronics facilities; high blood lead levels among workers at lead-acid battery manufacturing and recycling plants; flame retardant exposures among workers in electronic waste recycling; mercury poisoning in small-scale gold miners; asbestosis among workers employed in asbestos mining and milling; and acute and chronic pesticide poisoning among workers in agriculture in many countries.

In spite of these and other immense negative impacts on health and the environment, the more than 400 scientists and experts around the world, who worked over three long years to prepare the Global Chemicals Outlook, underscore that the goal to minimise adverse impacts of chemicals and waste will not be achieved by 2020.

“Solutions exist,” the 400 world experts emphasise, “but more ambitious worldwide action by all stakeholders is urgently required.”

Now Fruit Juice Is Linked to a Higher Cancer Risk

Drinking soda doesn’t just threaten to make us fat, it could be linked to a higher risk of cancer, judging from a new study. But here’s the more surprising part: so could fruit juices.

Increased daily consumption of about 3.4 ounces of soda — roughly a third of a can of Coke — was associated with an 18% greater risk of some cancers in a study published in the British Medical Journal. The likelihood of breast tumors alone rose even more, by 22%. When people drank the same amount of unsweetened fruit juice, they were also more likely to develop cancer, the researchers found.

The research, part of a broader effort carried out in France to investigate links between nutrition and health, is one of the first to find a connection between sweet drinks and cancer. The findings may also taint the image of fruit juices, which are often perceived — and promoted — as healthy.

“All beverages — either with sugar or without — are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement. Beverage companies are working to provide more choices with reduced or no sugar, smaller package sizes and clear calorie information, according to the industry group.

The researchers tracked 97 beverages and 12 artificially sweetened ones, including carbonated ones, sports drinks, syrups and pure fruit juices. The correlations they found don’t necessarily mean the beverages alone lead to cancer. The study didn’t seek to understand the reason for the link, though the researchers speculated that sugar’s effect on visceral fat, blood-sugar levels and inflammation may play a role. Additives found in sodas and pesticides in fruit could also have an impact, they wrote.

“These data support the relevance of existing nutritional recommendations to limit sugary drink consumption, including 100% fruit juice, as well as policy actions, such as taxation and marketing restrictions targeting sugary drinks,” the authors wrote in conclusion.

Taxing on sweet products and labeling the front of packages can help reduce sugar consumption, especially if pure fruit juice is included in the measures, according to a study from the University of Waterloo published in May.

The French study found no increased cancer risk from sugar-free drinks, although so few of the people studied consumed them that the results may not be significant, the researchers said. Water, unsweetened tea and coffee also showed no heightened risk.

The research is part of France’s NutriNet-Sante, a web-based study following about 100,000 volunteers since 2009.

One-third of children in Zika virus study show developmental problems

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“Children who were exposed to Zika during their mothers’ pregnancy need to have developmental assessments over time, and eye and hearing exams should be performed,” said lead study author Dr. Karin Nielsen-Saines.

July 10, 2019 | HealthDay New

Researchers say that children exposed to Zika virus in the womb should be screened for effects of the virus. File Photo by mycteria/Shutterstock

New research shows that neurological damage for babies who were exposed to the Zika virus while in the womb continues to unfold years after birth.

Developmental problems were found in one-third of the 216 children studied, some of whom were 3 years old. The problems affected language, thinking and motor skills development. Some also had eye and hearing issues.

Surprisingly, the researchers also discovered that fewer than 4 percent of the children had microcephaly — a smaller-than-normal head that is one of the hallmarks of Zika exposure in the womb. And in two of those cases, the head actually grew to normal size over time.

“Children who were exposed to Zika during their mothers’ pregnancy need to have developmental assessments over time, and eye and hearing exams should be performed,” said lead study author Dr. Karin Nielsen-Saines. She is a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“If there is risk of developmental delay, or developmental delay is identified, there are cognitive, language and behavior interventions that can be put in place to improve outcomes for these children,” she added in a university news release.

The finding that some children born with microcephaly went on to develop normal head circumference by age 1 means that “microcephaly is not necessarily static,” Nielsen-Saines said.

The study was published July 8 in the journal Nature Medicine.

The researchers noted that they didn’t have a comparison group of non-exposed children who were born at the same time and raised in the same settings as those known to have been exposed to Zika in the womb.

“Zika exposure can be a very difficult condition to diagnose in retrospect, so we can’t rule out undiagnosed Zika infection in a control group of children enrolled at the same time,” Nielsen-Saines said.

“Neurodevelopmental tests should be done simultaneously in similar populations with the same background,” she suggested.

“These children require close attention and ongoing surveillance, so that prompt interventions to improve their development can be provided if needed,” Nielsen-Saines said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on Zika.

Brandon man discusses life after having West Nile virus

 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) – Nearly three years ago, Chris Kielman was doing what every South Dakota does in the summer, enjoying the outdoors.

Mosquito feeding on a human host, Photo Date: January 23, 2016 / Cropped Photo: Day Donaldson / CC BY 2.0 / (MGN)

“I specifically remember one night, when I think back to it very, very buggy. I got bit a bunch of times by mosquitoes,” Kielman said.

After that evening everything changed for him after a misdiagnosis of Swine Flu. Nearly five days after developing flu-like symptoms, Kielman was unable to move. He attempted to get out of bed one morning and collapsed.

Kielman was rushed to the ER and received the diagnosis of West Nile Neuroinvasive disease, which infects the brain and spinal cord area.

“I ended up five days in the hospital tremendous pain, headaches,” he said. “Lost my hearing in my left ear completely was told it may not come back. Fortunately, after about two months it did. And that all is neurologic and that’s the scary thing is that this isn’t physical, this is a neurologic thing that affects you, and you have no control. You’re basically along for the ride.”

Now, years later, Kielman still feels the effects of the virus. He says he is not quite at 100% and even gets tired relatively easy at times.

This year there is some good news, so far this summer we’ve seen lower temperatures which could help decrease the number of West Nile cases.

“We do have a prediction model that we run based off of temperature that’s predicted for the rest of the summer,” Dr. Joshua Clayton, South Dakota state epidemiologist, said. “And so, that predicted number puts us at 62 potential West Nile cases for the coming year.”

But, that doesn’t mean to put the bug spray down, make sure always to protect yourself if you head outdoors.

People who are at high risk for developing the virus are those who are individuals over 50, pregnant women, organ transplant patients, individuals with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney disease, and those with a history of alcohol abuse. People with severe or unusual headaches should see their physicians.

If you do develop flu-like symptoms after getting bit, be sure to visit with your doctor.

One-third of toddlers exposed to Zika in the womb suffer developmental problems, study says

A new study of toddlers exposed to the Zika virus during their mothers’ pregnancies found that nearly a third suffered developmental delays and other problems — even if they were born without the abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains often associated with the virus.

The study of more than 200 babies, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, also shows that a very small number of children born with the congenital condition known as microcephaly had their symptoms improve. Conversely, a very small number of the children born without symptoms of microcephaly went on to develop it.

The research further noted a higher rate of autism among children exposed to the virus than among those in the general population.

Infectious disease expert Albert Ko, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Yale School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study, said that during the 2015-2016 Zika epidemic, public health professionals were focused on the most severe birth defects, such as microcephaly, but “we always suspected that was the tip of the iceberg.”

The study, Ko said, shows “there are more subtle, but very significant, defects associated with Zika infection, such as below-average neurodevelopmental performance.” These deficits can affect language, learning and social interactions, among other things, he said.

During the outbreak in Brazil, which spread through North and South America, Zika spurred widespread concern that babies exposed to the virus in utero would be born with devastating and long-lasting birth defects. Indeed, Ko said, research has shown that about 4 to 6 percent of those studied developed microcephaly, many with abnormally small heads and skulls, eye problems, hearing problems, issues with joints and muscles, and severe developmental issues.

But experts say the new research shows the issue may be more complex. Because a large number of children without microcephaly are nevertheless still suffering neurosensory and developmental problems, children who were exposed to the virus before birth should be monitored throughout their formative years for potential problems in school and in life.

You can’t just look at them when they’re born and say they don’t have microcephaly and they look normal and they’re fine, because there are repercussions for the developing brain,” said lead author Karin Nielsen-Saines, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of California at Los Angeles.

She noted these children should be watched for developmental problems because “if you see that these children are at risk for bad neurodevelopmental outcomes, you can implement measures” to help them.

“That, I think, is the major message,” Nielsen-Saines said, “that you should follow these children and that this may allow for interventions that can give them a better future.”

Researchers from UCLA, with help from those in Brazil, Austria and Germany, monitored the children up to age 3 to determine how the virus would affect their development.

The researchers found that eight of those children had microcephaly — four developed it at birth and remained affected by it, two were born without it but fit the diagnostic criteria within the first year, and two were born with it but grew out of it, according to the study.

Nielsen-Saines said one of the children who overcame the disorder also had a birth defect in which the bones in the skull fuse too early, affecting both appearance and brain development.

Before surgery to repair the baby boy’s skull at about 6 months of age, he had several Zika-related symptoms — an issue with the retina, calcifications in the brain and significant developmental deficits, Nielsen-Saines said. After surgery, the child began to improve, though she noted that his developmental scores remained below average.

The other child who improved, Nielsen-Saines said, was born with a moderate case of microcephaly and experienced developmental delays early on. But by the time he was about a year old, Nielsen-Saines said, the microcephaly had resolved — his head shape and size were within the normal range and he had no developmental issues.

Nielsen-Saines noted that the child who improved spontaneously was not as severely affected as the other child and did not have eye or hearing problems. Nielsen-Saines also said that his parents used developmental stimulation early on to try to help him.

Nielsen-Saines said the researchers never expected to see a reversal of microcephaly in the study, but it did “not come as a complete surprise” because children with other developmental disorders, such as cerebral palsy, can improve with stimulation. This type of stimulation uses intensive playing, learning and interacting with others, for example, to help develop babies’ brains.

Nielsen-Saines, who has been studying Zika and its effects on children since the epidemic, said that three other children who were exposed to the virus were diagnosed with autism at age 2. She said the children were developing normally but stopped talking and started showing other symptoms of the disorder at that age. Since the study, she said, two more have been diagnosed.

Ko, an epidemiologist, said that given the small number of children who went on to develop microcephaly as well as the small number who recovered from it, it would be difficult to estimate how often these situations occur. He also said that although the number of children who developed autism is “quite concerning,” there’s no way to determine the extent of the risk at this point.

Still, Ko agreed with the study’s authors that these children should be monitored for potential problems, especially as they are entering school.

“As we are following these babies longer, we’re learning more and more about the potential harms that were caused during gestation,” Ko said.