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.

West Nile virus detected across Michigan in mosquitoes, goose

mosquito_westnile.jpg

Body bent towards the skin surface, this image depicts a lateral view of a feeding female Anopheles merus mosquito. This specimen had landed on a human hand, and was in the process of obtaining its blood meal through its sharp, needle-like labrum, which it had inserted into its human host. (Courtesy of CDC/ James Gathany)

 

Mosquitoes collected in Saginaw and Oakland counties, as well as a Canada goose from Kalamazoo County, have all tested positive recently for West Nile virus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

This is the first sign of the virus in 2019, officials said.

“It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause a severe illness, so take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health, in a statement. “We urge Michiganders to take precautions such as using insect repellant wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during those time periods.”

West Nile virus is a risk every year for Michigan residents, as it is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes who have bitten an infected bird.

The virus can cause illness three to 15 days after the mosquito bite. Adults age 60 and older are at the highest risk for West Nile — but anyone can get sick from the virus.

Symptoms of the virus include high fever, confusion, muscle weakness and a severe headache. In 2018 in Michigan there were nine deaths and 104 incidents of severe illness from the virus — which include meningitis and encephalitis.

In 2018 officials tested 4,142 mosquito pools; 159 of which tested positive for West Nile virus.

Officials are recommending people follow the following precautions to decrease their exposure to mosquitoes this summer:

  • Use insect repellent that is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol, and 2-undecanone
  • Infants under 2 months of age should not use insect repellent and instead should wear clothes that cover their arms and legs, and their crib, stroller and baby carrier should be covered with a mosquito net
  • Wear socks, shoes, light-colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outside
  • Ensure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens; make repairs to tears or other openings
  • Use bed nets if your windows don’t have screens
  • Eliminate sources of standing water that could support mosquito breeding near your home at least once a week — like bird baths, abandoned swimming pools, wading pools and old tires

Call Your Doctor If Your Bug Bite Looks Like *This*

womens_health.jpg by Korin Miller, May 20, 2019

bite-to-the-neck-royalty-free-image-584572080-1558039675.jpg_crop=1.00xBug bites are an unfortunate little annoyance in life, and the odds are prettttttyyyy high that you’ve been bitten by some creepy-crawly (er, or a variety of creepy-crawlies) in your lifetime. And while you probably just want to scratch the darn spot and move on, it’s wise to try and figure out what actually bit you.

Why? Some bug bites are relatively harmless, but others have the potential to bring on more serious health issues if you don’t treat them appropriately, and fast. Here are several fairly common insect bites you may experience, and how to know whether or not a bite warrants a trip to your doctor’s office.

Bedbug bites

While the thought of bedbug bites may skeeve you out, they’re more annoying to deal with than an actual threat to your health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Bedbug bites are primarily just super itchy and can keep you up at night. The bigger issue with these pesky bugs is that they can spread really fast and lead to an infestation, and it can be an inconvenient and expensive process to get rid of one. (Also, the idea of little bugs feeding on your blood while you sleep isn’t exactly a comforting thought.)

People can have a range of reactions to bedbug bites, says Nancy Troyano, PhD, a board-certified entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control. Some people have no reaction at all when bitten, but most people will notice an itchy, red, welt-like mark that looks similar to a mosquito bite, Troyano says. “Bites may appear in a linear fashion if there are multiple bugs feeding, and bites can occur anywhere, but they are often found in areas where skin is readily exposed,” she notes.

Contrary to popular belief, attracting bedbugs has nothing to do with bad hygiene or a dirty apartment. Bedbugs get around by hitchhiking onto your things, so prevention can be tough, says Angela Tucker, PhD, manager of technical services for Terminix. “Knowing this, the best prevention for bedbugs is being watchful during your travels and regular home cleaning,” she says.

You can also keep an eye out for the critters, which are about the size, shape, and color of an apple seed when fully grown. Another sign that bedbugs may be around your space is their byproduct, meaning you might see reddish-brown blood spots on sheets or mattresses, Tucker says.

If you do happen to get bedbug bites, spot-treat them with hydrocortisone cream to try to soothe itch, says David Cutler, MD, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Then, get rid of the infestation-with the help of a professional. “It’s important to see where the bedbugs came from,” Dr. Cutler says. “Then, call in a professional exterminator so you don’t get any more bedbug bites.”

Bee and wasp stings

You’ll usually know it when you get stung by a bee or wasp, because it hurts like hell. “At first, you may not even see anything on the skin,” Troyano says. “However, within a few minutes of being stung, there may be localized swelling and redness around the sting site.” The area might also feel warm, and you might see a small white mark near the center of the swelling (that’s where the stinger went into your skin), she describes.

If you know you have an allergy to bee or wasp stings, follow instructions from your doctor and seek medical care immediately. But if you’re not allergic, you’ll still want to take action. Bees lose their stinger after stinging, Troyano says, and you should try to remove it if it’s still stuck in you. Then, apply ice to reduce swelling, says David Gatz, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. You also may want to take an antihistamine like Benadryl, he says.

The only real way to totally avoid getting stung is to not interact with bees and wasps…obviously. (But that’s not a feasible lifestyle if you ever want to enjoy the outdoors!) So when you’re outside, don’t swat at bees and wasps-just let them be. “In general, if you leave bees and wasps alone, they will leave you alone,” says Tucker.

If you want to be especially cautious, she also recommends skipping flowery perfumes or fragrances and covering any food and drink around you.

Scabies

Scabies is a parasite infestation caused by microscopic mites, according to the CDC. When you have scabies, the female burrows into your epidermis to lay her eggs.

Scabies usually shows up as a rash with small, raised pustules or blisters, and is “intensely itchy,” Troyano says. If you’ve never had scabies before, you might not see the rash for several weeks after you’ve been exposed. But, if you’ve had scabies before, you might see a rash within one to four days of being exposed, she says.

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Examining a patient’s hands, feet and lower legs will catch more than 90% of #scabies cases. http://ms.spr.ly/6012TBBse 

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Scabies is transmitted through “prolonged direct skin contact” and is “highly contagious,” Tucker says. You need to see a doctor to get properly diagnosed and treated, but it’s generally treated with permethrin anti-parasitic cream, Dr. Gatz says.

Mosquito bites

Okay, yes, mosquito bites are usually NBD. They’re itchy and annoying, but nothing major to worry about. You probably already know what a mosquito bite looks like, but (just in case), they’re usually red, create a bump on your skin, and can itch, per Troyano. For some people, a bug bite may appear filled with fluid, with a small water blister in the center.

Photo credit: ChrisAt - Getty Images
Photo credit: ChrisAt – Getty Images
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Mosquitos can carry diseases like Zika virus and West Nile virus, which can cause fever-like symptoms, rash, joint pain, and red eyes, the CDC says. So if you’ve been bitten by a mosquito and start to feel off afterward and have symptoms like these, call your doctor ASAP.

In order to let mosquito bites heal, do your best not to scratch; that raises the risk that the bite will get infected, Dr. Cutler says. Hydrocortisone cream should help alleviate some of the itch, he says.

While you can only do so much to prevent mosquito bites, Tucker recommends removing standing water around your home or yard (mosquitoes can lay their eggs in these areas). And, if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outside, using a good mosquito repellent is key, she says.

Spider bites

Spider bites are actually pretty rare, Troyano says, but they happen. They can look like typical bug bites, so it can be hard to tell right away if you were bitten by a spider unless you see it scuttling away.

If you do notice a bite and spot the little guy, Dr. Cutler recommends washing the area with soap and water and leaving it alone. “Toxins from [certain spiders] can destroy the skin,” he says-so it never hurts to wash the spot with soap and water to cleanse the skin (even if you’re not 100 percent sure it’s a spider bite).

But if the wound area seems to be growing, is unusually red, is hot to the touch, is ulcerated, or you have a fever and/or joint pain, call your doctor ASAP, Troyano says.

Cleaning out cobwebs inside and outside of your house can lessen your chances of spider run-ins. Also, wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a hat to protect your skin when you’re working outside or in areas where things are stored and not used often, and try to keep your grass and bushes maintained, Tucker says.

Tick bites

It’s not always obvious when a tick bites you, because it won’t *always* leave a mark (more on that in a minute). But sometimes the tick will still be attached when you discover a bite, so the first thing you’ll want to do is remove it. Troyano recommends taking the following steps to do this:

  • Use tweezers and grab the tick close to the skin.
  • Steadily pull upward, but avoid twisting the insect.
  • Don’t crush the tick once removed.
  • Submerge the tick in rubbing alcohol and save it. Put it in a clear, sealable plastic bag in case you need to see a doctor or veterinarian. Or, take a clear photo, then flush it.

Once the tick is removed, wash the area with soap and water, Dr. Gatz says.

If you notice a bullseye-shaped rash appear on your body, a pink rash on your wrists, arms, and ankles, or an ulcerated area around a bite, call your doctor, Troyano says. These symptoms may be signs that a tick did bite you, and you’ve been infected with a tick-borne illness like Lyme disease. If you experience a fever, chills, aches, and muscle fatigue, those are also cues you need to make a visit to your doctor.

But remember, not every tick carries a tick-borne illness, so even if one bit you at some point, that doesn’t guarantee you contracted something more serious.

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How can you protect yourself from tick bites? Tucker recommends showering quickly when you come in from being outside (you might be able to wash off ticks before they have a chance to bite you). It’s also a smart idea to wear long pants and sleeves when you go into tick-infested areas, like the woods, and to wear bug repellent that contains DEET. Also ask a family member or friend to help you do a body scan for ticks after being out in the woods.

 

‘Kissing bug’ sickens more in Los Angeles than Zika and few know they have it – deadly Chagas disease

This insect bites people near the lips or eyes, inserts bacteria, then about 20 years later, the victim suffers a heart attack. Olive View-UCLA Medical

March 28, 2016 |by Susan Abram | Daily News, Los Angeles

This insect bites people near the lips or eyes, inserts bacteria, then about 20 years later, the victim suffers a heart attack.  Olive View-UCLA Medical Center is working to help detect Chagas. The clinic is holding community screenings across the San Fernando Valley to find people who may be infected.

Some call it the kissing bug because it leaves a painless bite near a sleeping person’s lips.

But among health experts, including those from the federal government, the cone-headed Triatomine is no prince awakening a sleeping beauty. It’s an assassin, because it leaves behind a parasite in its love bite that can be deadly.

Photos of the dime-size insect hang inside Dr. Sheba Meymandi’s medical office as if on a wanted poster. The bug, she said, carries the Chagas disease, which can cause heart failure if left untreated.

An estimated 300,000 people across the United States may have Chagas disease, Meymandi said, and the only place in the nation where it’s treated is the clinic she oversees at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar. Started in 2007, the Chagas clinic has treated 200 people, but Meymandi and her team said they are ready to take on more patients.

That’s why she and her staff are working with primary physicians at the four hospitals and 19 health clinics overseen by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. In addition, Providence Health & Services will offer Chagas screenings at a dozen free health clinics on Sundays at churches across the San Fernando Valley for the rest of the year. An upcoming screening will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. April 3 at New Hope of the Nazarene, 15055 Oxnard St, Van Nuys, California.

“It’s very clear that we need to diagnose early and treat early before the onset of complications,” said Meymandi, a cardiologist. Ten percent of those with Chagas suffer from heart failure, one of the most expensive conditions to treat, costing $32 billion year nationwide, she said. That figure could rise to $70 billion by 2030.

Chagas disease was once considered exotic, but more is known about it now than about the Zika virus. Still, most people have no idea they have it or, once they do, lack information about where to receive treatment, Meymandi said.

The disease is most common in rural Mexico and Latin America, researchers have said, adding that it kills more people in South America than malaria.Meymandi said anyone who was born in Mexico or South America should have a blood test.

But U.S.-born residents also are infected. The insect is present in more than 20 states. At least 40 percent of raccoons tested in Griffith Park carried Chagas disease, Meymandi said.

“Most of the people we see and treat in the U.S. have had it for decades,” Meymandi said. “We have the bug here, we have the parasite here. You can definitely acquire Chagas in the United States.”

An infected insect, which hides in dwellings made from mud, adobe, straw or palm thatch, crawls out at night to feed on blood. It is called the kissing bug because it feeds on a sleeper’s face, then defecates on the wound, leaving a parasite behind.

Infection takes place when the parasite enters the body through mucous membranes or broken skin, caused when the sleeper scratches the wound, eyes or mouth, according to the federal Centers for Disease and Prevention. The parasite can lie dormant for years, then cause heart disease, and if not found and treated, death.

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, body aches, headaches, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. But sometimes there are no symptoms until decades later.

Only two drugs exist to treat Chagas disease, and neither is approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration yet, though both can be provided through the CDC, Meymandi said.

“It’s very simple to treat,” Meymandi said. “But the process to go get the drugs is a challenge.”

Jose Duran, a Bellflower resident, said he learned he had Chagas disease after he tried to donate blood seven months ago. He said he would have never known he had Chagas disease otherwise. He had no symptoms.

“I went to donate blood for the first time, because I heard it was good for you to donate once in a while,” he said. Then he received a phone call.

It’s not uncommon for people to learn they have Chagas disease after donating blood, Meymandi and others said. In 2006, the Red Cross isolated 21 cases of Chagas in Southern California donors. In 2007, the figure more than doubled to 46. In 2008, there were 55 cases.

The National Red Cross would not provide additional figures.

“I got scared. I was like, wow, what is this?” the 40 year old Duran said of his reaction,when he learned what he had.

As a child, Duran lived on a ranch in Querétaro, a small state in north-central Mexico. His brother also tested positive for Chagas. He doesn’t remember being bitten, he said.

Duran was referred to the Chagas clinic and, after two months of treatment, learned Thursday he was in good health.

“Most people don’t know they have this,” he said. “If they get tested, they can get well.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

 

Messing with BedBugs’ Genes Could Carry Other Risks?

Bed Bugs Will Outlive All Of Us Unless We Screw With Their Genes

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photo:  Bluejake/Sara Bibi/Gothamist

Bed bugs, like cockroaches and new seasons of The Bachelor, seem impossible to eradicate from the face of the Earth, no matter how many exterminators our landlords call to spray that one time and then never, ever again. But Science says there’s some small hope for the extinction of a moviegoer’s biggest fear—screwing with their genome.

Scientists have managed to map the genome of the common bed bug, revealing some fun things about the little suckers. For instance, bed bugs are actually able to break down toxins, like the ones an exterminator might use, to render them harmless, allowing them to survive even when you try to whack them with bug killer. They’ve also been MUTATING, producing genes that make them resistant to certain insecticides and making it all the more difficult to eradicate an infestation. Another fun fact is that bugs’ genes vary from location to location—a Brooklyn bed bug will have a different genetic sequence from a Queens bed bug, though both are equally disgusting.

Bed bugs also inbreed, and their sex is quite violent. This violent sex has been well-documented, and for those of you who have not yet seen Isabella Rossellini’s bed bug porno, you’re welcome, and sorry:

The takeaway here is that bed bugs have been able to hold us hostage for a long time, but scientists might be able to murder them, provided they make a few genetic tweaks. First, though, let’s kill all the mosquitoes.

[A. Steiner:  So…..Messing with Genes Could Carry Other Risks – YES!]

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Zika has nothing on deadly Chagas disease. Chagas disease is a much bigger problem.

February 1, 2016 | by Cal Crilly | Global Research

“Although a causal link between Zika infection in pregnancy and microcephaly has not, and I must emphasize, has not been established, the circumstantial evidence is suggestive and extremely worrisome,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, reported by Reuters. “An increased occurrence of neurological symptoms, noted in some countries coincident with arrival of the virus, adds to the concern.”

Pesticides in Brazil and Pernambuco state are more likely to be the cause of microcephaly and birth defects than Zika virus and the links below speak for themselves.

“The farmers of Brazil have become the world’s top exporters of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry and soybeans. They’ve also earned a more dubious distinction: In 2012, Brazil passed the United States as the largest buyer of pesticides.

This rapid growth has made Brazil an enticing market for pesticides banned or phased out in richer nations because of health or environmental risks.”

Why Brazil has a big appetite for risky pesticides

“According to the latest figures available from Brazil’s health ministry, published on 20 January, 3,893 cases of microcephaly have been recorded since the start of 2015. Pernambuco accounts for 1,306 of those, around a third of the total. In 2014, there were 150 cases across the whole of Brazil.” [1]

City at centre of Brazil’s Zika epidemic reeling from disease’s insidious effects

The most obvious cause of birth defects in this area is direct contact and absorption of pesticides.

“A study of pesticide use on tomatoes in the Northern State of Pernambuco, Brazil, indicates high exposure to pesticide workers and poor application methods which threaten the ecology of the area.”

“Women washed the pesticide application equipment, generally in the work environment, without protective clothing or without observing the recommended three-fold washing process. [2]

Poisoning assessment

Many of the pesticides used were hazardous organochlorine and OP insecticides. Of the workers interviewed, 13% suffered some type of acute poisoning that required first-aid treatment; 28% reported nausea during application of pesticides; and the majority experienced some symptoms immediately after exposure. 36% reported health problems related to the immune system (frequent itching of skin, eyes, and nose; or fever); 36%, skeletal/muscular problems (pains in joints); 33%, central and peripheral nervous system problems (dizziness, numbness in superior limbs, alterations in sleep patterns, and vomiting); 28%, digestive system problems; 25%, sensory organ problems; 18%, cardiovascular problems; 13%, respiratory system problems; and 11%, with urinary-genital system problems

Reproductive effects

Of the women workers, 32% reported being pregnant more than five times, 53% reported having prenatal examinations, 97% reported that they were not poisoned by pesticides during pregnancy. Almost three-quarters of the women (71%) reported miscarriages, and 11% reported having mentally and/or physically impaired offspring.

Neuro-psychological symptoms

Symptoms of minor psychiatric disturbances were observed in 44% of women and 56% of men surveyed (in the general Brazilian population, the prevalence is 5% to 15%)”

“The results of the laboratory analysis showed the maximum residue limits (MRLs) are regularly exceeded: methamidophos in 25% of the samples, and ETU in 78%. ETU can cause goitres (a condition in which the thyroid gland is enlarged), birth defects and cancer in exposed experimental animals. ETU has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the US EPA. The organochlorine insecticide, endosulfan, which is banned for use on tomatoes was detected in 28% of samples at levels of up to 510 parts per billion.”

“It is important to introduce education on the hazards of pesticides and good agricultural practices in the school curriculum as many children accompany their family members into the fields”

Tomato production in Brazil:  Poor working conditions and high residues threaten safety

“Pesticides were found in the milk from 11 farms and one milk cooler (Fig.1), totalizing 12 positives milk samples. The main pesticide was fenthion, detected in four samples of 12 (33.33%), followed by dimethoate (25%), coumaphos (8.33%) and malathion (8.33%). In CB group, the pesticides detected were carbofuran (25%), aldicarb (16.67%) and carbaryl (8.33%). In some samples, two or more active principals were detected, what explains percentages over 100%. The frequency of pesticides found in this study is in agreement with Araújo et al. (2000) that noted that the most pesticides commonly used in Pernambuco are from OP class, followed by CB and pyrethroids.” [3]

Organophosphorus and carbamates residues in milk and feedstuff supplied to dairy cattle

“It is very well known that acute or chronic increase of retinoic acid (RA)levels leads to teratogenic effects during human pregnancy and in experimental models.

The characteristic features displayed by RA embryopathy in humans include brain abnormalities such as microcephaly, microphtalmia and impairment of hindbrain development; abnormal external and middle ears (microtia or anotia), mandibular and mid facial underdevelopment, and cleft palate. Many craniofacial malformations can be attributed to defects in cranial neural crest cells.” [4]

Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture

“There has been ongoing controversy regarding the possible adverse effects of glyphosate on the environment and on human health. Reports of neural defects and craniofacial malformations from regions where glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH)…” [5]

Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling

“The report says that national consumption of agrochemicals is equivalent to 5.2 litres of agrochemicals per year for each inhabitant. Agrochemical sales increased from USD 2 billion in 2001 to 8.5 billion in 2011. The report names GM crops as a key cause of the trend: “Importantly, the release of transgenic seeds in Brazil was one of the factors responsible for putting the country in first place in the ranking of agrochemical consumption – since the cultivation of these modified seeds requires the use of large quantities of these products.” [6]

The report continues:

“The cropping pattern with the intensive use of pesticides generates major harms, including environmental pollution and poisoning of workers and the population in general. Acute pesticide poisoning is the best known effect and affects especially those exposed in the workplace (occupational exposure). This is characterized by effects such as irritation of the skin and eyes, itching, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, breathing difficulties, seizures and death.

“Already chronic poisoning may affect the whole population, as this is due to multiple exposures to pesticides, that is, the presence of pesticide residues in food and the environment, usually at low doses. Adverse effects of chronic exposure to pesticides may appear long after the exposure, and so are difficult to correlate with the agent. Among the effects that can be associated with chronic exposure to pesticide active ingredients are infertility, impotence, abortions, malformations, neurotoxicity, hormonal disruption, effects on the immune system, and cancer.”

Brazil’s National Cancer Institute Names GM Crops as Cause of Massive Pesticide Us [7]

Health information systems and pesticide poisoning at Pernambuco [8]

Most of this is not new, with Pernambuco it’s just concentrated.

The Long Battle Over Pesticides, Birth Defects and Mental Impairment

There may be links with mosquitos and Zika virus but time will tell, if they manage to reduce the mosquito problem with more insecticides that may be a good thing but if birth defects keep rising in these areas it will be the pesticide use to blame.

If that happens we might have to start thinking about what on earth we are doing?

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

The Hidden Threat: The Kissing Bug

bugcut-2400

These seven tropical diseases are closer to home than you think. Lurking in your Dallas-area backyard is Chagas disease, caused by a parasite that infects more than 300,000 Americans. The disease can cause heart failure and death in humans and dogs and is often missed by doctors.

Or maybe you live near a typhus hot spot such as Houston? Spread by rat-biting fleas, typhus causes headaches, fever, chills and a rash.

Farther north, close to the Oklahoma border, Texans have been plagued by skin boils and sores caused by a disease called leishmaniasis — also known as the Baghdad boil. Many have suffered for years because doctors have misdiagnosed them with staph infections and given them the wrong treatment.

You’ve already heard of West Nile virus, another tropical disease that has strong-armed its way into Texas. West Nile virus has infected close to 5,000 Texans since 2002. But the real number of humans infected is probably 25,000, since about 80 percent of people who are infected don’t show symptoms.

Now get ready to meet two new tropical diseases on their way to you. Dengue and chikungunya are viruses spread by mosquitoes. Common in the Caribbean and South America, they’re being lured to the U.S. by a combination of rising temperatures and poverty.

Don’t expect your doctor to save you from these tropical diseases. Medical students spend a few days learning about this group of infections, and studies show that many health care providers in Texas and the U.S. are unaware that these infections are here or on their way.

Americans living with diseases such as Chagas can go undiagnosed for many years, by which time the infection can cause irreversible damage to the heart.

Dr. Seema Yasmin’s reporting on this project was undertaken while she was a National Health Journalism Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism. Yasmin, a physician and former CDC epidemiologist, is a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Not just tropical

Kissing Bug

Chagas disease

About: A parasite spread by the blood-sucking kissing bug — so-called because the bug likes to bite us on the face around the lips and eyes. Kissing bugs poop where they eat, and when we scratch the bite, we rub the poop and the parasite into our skin. About a third of people infected with the parasite, called Trypanosoma cruzi, develop heart disease. One in 10 suffer digestive or nerve issues.

 

Spread by: The dime-sized kissing bug, which lives in rats’ nests and wood piles and in the nooks of furniture and cracks in homes.

 

Symptoms: Swollen eyelids, breathing problems, chest pain, heart failure, death.

 

Testing: Blood test.

Treatment: Anti-parasitic drugs that can be 60 percent to 85 percent effective if given early.

 

Illustrations by Troy Oxford/The Dallas Morning News

‘Kissing Bug’ Disease, Chikungunya, and Dengue Arrive in US Amid Rising Temperatures

Healthline
Faraway tropical countries no longer have the market cornered on painful bug-borne illnesses.

'Kissing Bug' Disease, Chikungunya, and Dengue Arrive in US

Chagas, dengue, and chikungunya are likely to become more familiar words in the United States in coming decades. Once limited to climates more tropical than our own, these infectious diseases are now increasingly affecting Americans.

There have always been a handful of Americans who return from tropical travel infected with these diseases. But experts think it’s likely that they will take root here.

As the climate continues to warm, the insects that spread these diseases from one person’s bloodstream to another’s will inhabit larger swaths of the map, according to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The habitats of the mosquitoes that carry dengue and chikungunya are already expanding in the United States.

“Climate change is definitely having an effect on parasitic disease worldwide,” said Patricia Dorn, Ph.D., a Chagas expert at Loyola University New Orleans. But, she said, we’re also getting better at testing for these diseases, so part of what looks like an uptick in cases is really an uptick in diagnoses.

For patients, the difference is academic: They’re being diagnosed with diseases they may have never heard of — and their doctors may not know to look for them.

Chagas Disease: It’s Not Just in Rural Areas

Chagas is the latest addition to the list of tropical diseases that Americans have to fear. The disease initially has few symptoms — possibly a fever, rarely some swelling at the site of the bug bite — but if left untreated the parasites accumulate in the cardiovascular system and cause heart damage in 1 in 3 patients.

Triatomine, or “kissing,” bugs spread Chagas disease — though their nickname puts an overly positive spin on what they do: suck the blood of a mammal host and then defecate. The feces spread the parasite that causes the disease.

Chagas is widespread in Latin America and has rarely been considered endemic to the United States, but experts say that’s because we weren’t looking for it.

In 2007, Chagas was added to the list of tests performed on donated blood. Those who tested positive were contacted and interviewed. It suddenly it became clear that at least a few of the 300,000 Americans who tested positive for Chagas disease had not traveled to Latin America.

Triatomine

Bugs in the triatomine family capable of spreading the disease inhabit the bottom two-thirds of the United States. The now-outdated conventional wisdom said that the bugs, which bite at night, only fed only on humans living in thatched huts in rural areas.

“The dogma for years was, ‘We live in improved housing; we have air conditioning — yeah, the bugs are here but they live in wooded areas and we’re just not in contact with them.’ Our most recent study shows that that dogma is wrong,” Dorn said.

A forthcoming study co-authored by Dorn documents that triatomine bugs in Louisiana often feed on human blood. Among the bugs that had fed on humans, 4 in 10 tested positive for the Chagas parasite.

A Texas study published in October used blood donation data to identify five people who had been infected with the virus in Texas.

As the climate continues to warm, triatomine bugs will likely push further northward. And as forested lands are cleared, the bugs are likely to feed more often on humans.

Just this week, a study suggested that bedbugs could spread the parasite, too. But Dorn and Melissa Nolan Garcia, M.P.H., who co-authored the Texas study, said those findings don’t mean much on the practical level.

Although bedbugs are seemingly capable of transmitting the parasite, they probably don’t, based on empirical data. Among different triatomine species, some are far more efficient at transmitting the Chagas parasite, and even the most efficient do so only once in a thousand bites.

“We think that our bugs have better manners,” said Dorn, referring to U.S. triatomine bugs. “In Latin America the better vector takes a blood meal and defecates at the same time. The studies that we did showed that the bug took the blood meal — it was from a mouse — and left the host and defecated later.”

What does all this mean for patients? It means that those who hunt and camp in the South and those who have traveled to Latin America should get screened for Chagas.

“It’s a simple blood test,” Nolan Garcia said.

However, U.S. doctors don’t necessarily know what to do about Chagas. Dorn told the story of a California woman who got a “really scary letter” telling her that she’d been permanently banned from blood donation after testing positive for Chagas. But when she went to her doctor, he didn’t know how to treat her.

The only two drugs to treat Chagas disease are available through the Centers for Disease Control, which has dubbed Chagas a “neglected parasitic infection” and targeted it for public health action.

Nolan Garcia compared treatment with these drugs to “chemotherapy.”

The parasites settle in the heart tissue, and to eliminate them, the drugs have to kill off some healthy tissue too. The treatment is recommended for patients younger than 50 and on a case-by-case basis for those older than 50.

Dengue Fever: It’s Creeping up from Latin America

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection so painful that it’s also called “breakbone fever.” Found throughout the world in tropical and subtropical regions, it’s rarely fatal. Those infected a second time with a different strain of the virus risk developing a more severe form of the disease called dengue hemorrhagic fever; without good medical care, 1 in 5 patients die from this form of the disease.

Dengue has become more common since the 1950s. In the Americas, it’s become at least five times more prevalent since the 1980s. But only in this century has it crept into the United States. Hawaii saw a cluster of infection in the early 2000s, but in recent years Texas and Florida have been U.S. hotspots.

Last year, there were 49 confirmed cases of locally transmitted dengue in the United States. So far this year, all of the hundreds of reported dengue cases along the U.S.-Mexico border have come in from Latin America, Texas public officials told Healthline. However, Florida has confirmed six local cases.

Some counties in Mississippi may also be at “extreme risk” for domestic transmission, experts say.

The mosquitos that carry the dengue virus, Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus, are expanding their range, in part due to climate change. As they do, more Americans will be at risk.

I do think it’s a real possibility that we could have sustained transmission [of dengue] in parts of the U.S., in the southern U.S. in particular, and in parts with lower socio-economic status.
Crystal Boddie, UPMC Center for Health Security

“I do think it’s a real possibility that we could have sustained transmission in parts of the U.S., in the southern U.S. in particular, and in parts with lower socio-economic status,” said Crystal Boddie, M.P.H., at the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Baltimore.

Window screens, air conditioning, and an indoor job all diminish one’s risk of infection.

The United States won’t be hit as hard as developing countries, where screens are rare and air-conditioning is a luxury reserved for the very rich. But as dengue becomes more common, U.S. doctors will have to learn to diagnose it and provide the right kind of palliative care.

“The initial symptoms are pretty similar to the flu. It’s hard to distinguish if it’s dengue or flu,” Boddie said. “It’s difficult to diagnose if you’re not looking for it specifically.”

The good news is that, because dengue is so widespread in other parts of the world, researchers have been trying to develop a vaccine. Five candidates are currently being tested in advanced clinical trials.

Chikungunya

Chikungunya has symptoms similar to dengue and is spread by the same two types of mosquito. The two diseases often arise in the same places, but more people get sick from chikungunya because infected mosquitos are about three times as likely to transmit it.

Standing water

The disease is less likely to be fatal than dengue, but it’s painful enough to have earned its own colorful name. Chikungunya m­eans, roughly, “writhing disease” in a local language of East Africa, where it first emerged.

“It’s not a trivial disease,” said Roger Nasci, Ph.D., the chief of the Arboviral Diseases Branch at the CDC. He described “prolonged, debilitating joint pain where people just can’t get out of bed.”

About 1 in 3 chinkungunya patients will experience joint pain for months or even years after they recover from the initial infection. There are currently no medications to treat chikungunya and there is no vaccine to prevent it.

Until chikungunya entered India in 2005 and infected 2 million people, it wasn’t on the global health community’s radar. Last year, it earned still more attention when it jumped the Atlantic, sickening people on several Caribbean islands. This year, there have been 11 cases of locally transmitted chikungunya in Florida.

Public health officials say more domestic infections are “inevitable.”

The CDC is trying to educate doctors to make them aware of chikungunya and dengue. Beginning in 2010, doctors were required to report cases of dengue. On Jan. 1, 2015, they’ll be obligated to report chikungunya cases as well.

Mosquitoes breed in pools of standing water, so removing these breeding sites is a top priority. Nasci said the CDC is working with local mosquito control programs to try to limit the number of tires, buckets, and other outdoor sites that collect rainwater. In that one respect, climate change may actually help curb mosquito populations, as California and other Western states experience record droughts.

Healthline News | Cameron Scott | November 20, 2014

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