Zika outbreak in Florida more widespread than originally thought

Women warned virus may have been present as early as June 2016 and can live in sperm up to 3 months

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Local transmission of the Zika virus in Florida may have occurred as early as June 15 of last year and likely infected people who lived not only in Miami-Dade County, but in two nearby counties, U.S. health officials said on Monday.

The warning means that some men who donated semen to sperm banks in the area may not have been aware that they were at risk of infection, and may have donated sperm infected with the Zika virus, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration told reporters in a telephone briefing.

The information is concerning because Zika has been shown to cause birth defects in the babies of women who become infected while pregnant.

Previously, the CDC had warned of the risk of Zika in Miami-Dade County, beginning on July 29. But the new warning dials that risk back to June 15, and adds in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties, home to the major tourist destinations of Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach.

Zika’s arrival in Florida last summer followed the rapid spread of the mosquito-borne virus through Latin America and the Caribbean.

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The World Health Organization last year declared Zika a global health emergency because of its link in Brazil with thousands cases of the birth defect microcephaly, which is marked by small head size and underdeveloped brains that can result in severe developmental problems.

U.S. officials said because of frequent travel between the three Florida counties, some women may have been infected and not been aware of it, either through contracting the infection directly from a mosquito bite while visiting Miami-Dade or through sex with an infected partner who had.

Lives 3 months in semen

And because Zika has been shown to last up to three months in semen, it may mean some men living in the affected counties may have donated sperm without reporting they were at risk.

CDC Zika expert Dr. Denise Jamieson said the risk applies “particularly (to) women who became pregnant or are planning to become pregnant through the use of donor semen.” She urged these women to “consult their healthcare provider to discuss the donation source and whether Zika virus testing is indicated.”

The new warning came to light through investigations of several cases of Zika reported by the Florida Health Department late last year that suggested residents of Palm Beach or Broward counties may have become infected while traveling back and forth from Miami-Dade.

According to the CDC, a total of 215 people are believed to have contracted Zika in Florida last year through the bite of a local mosquito. But since only one in five people infected with Zika become ill, experts believe the actual number was higher.

 

 

5 Zika Health Problems Experts Say Could Affect Anyone

March isn’t mosquito season in much of the United States, but scientists are still busy studying the various health problems caused by the mysterious mosquito-borne Zika virus. While experts know more about the virus than they did over a year ago, and they know it can cause birth defects in babies, the full spectrum of Zika related health risks—including the ones that may impact adults—is unknown.

For instance, in a new report that will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session, researchers found that Zika may cause heart problems in otherwise healthy adults, which was unknown until now. “As days go by, and more people are infected, we see different aspects of the virus,” says study author Dr. Karina Gonzalez Carta, a cardiologist and research fellow at Mayo Clinic.

Here are some of the health problems linked to Zika that researchers find most worrying.

Heart problems: In the new study, Carta analyzed nine adults in Venezuela with no prior history of heart disease who complained of heart-related symptoms. Carta and her team found that eight of the people had developed a heart rhythm issue, and six had evidence of heart failure. Since the study size was small, it’s hard to know how common it is to develop heart problems after a Zika infection, but Carta says she’s found more people with heart issues since she wrote her study.

“We need to create awareness,” says Carta. “People should know this is possible.” The people in the study have been followed since July 2016, and while most of their symptoms have abated, they are not gone altogether.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Close to 15 countries have reported cases of muscle-weakening Guillain-Barré syndrome in people with Zika infections. The health complication is characterized by arm and leg weakness, and in some serious cases, Guillain-Barré can harm the muscles that control a person’s ability to breathe. Very few people die from the Guillain-Barré, but symptoms can be chronic.

Hearing and vision problems: Microcephaly can cause vision and hearing problems among infants, but two studies published in December 2016 found cases of hearing and vision loss among adults with Zika. In one report researchers identified three people in Brazil who developed hearing loss that lasted from a few days to a month. Another report published in the journal The Lancet detailed a case where a 26-year-old American man was infected with Zika after traveling to Puerto Rico and later developed vision problems which included seeing flashing lights. Thankfully his vision returned after a few weeks. More research is needed, but the study authors argue that doctors treating people with Zika should be aware of these potential side effects.

Microcephaly: The most well-known health problem caused by Zika is severe microcephaly, which is a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head. Babies born with microcephaly often have smaller brains due to improper development, which is why the head size remains small too. Infants with microcephaly often have several other health complications, like seizures, trouble swallowing, vision and hearing problems, and balance issues. In the U.S., nearly 50 babies born to women with Zika infections have had birth defects.

Congenital Zika Syndrome: Many infants infected with Zika during pregnancy develop Congenital Zika syndrome, which is a combination of birth defects beyond just microcephaly. The syndrome also includes less brain tissue overall, damage to the back of the eye, joints with limited range of motion, and too much muscle tone, which makes it harder for the babies to move. It’s not completely clear how the virus causes all these issues—and not all babies with Zika infections will have them—but researchers say some birth defects will become more apparent as infants get older.

‘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!

 

Trending today: #Bedbugs are developing a strong resistance to most common insecticides

February 2, 2016 | by Ryan Biek | Newsy

Bedbugs are reportedly building up a strong resistance to some of the most powerful insecticides due to overuse, which means we might need to turn to non-chemical solutions to get rid of them.

Researchers from Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University tested the most common class of insecticide called neonicotinoids, or neonics, which is often combined with pyrethroids in commercial treatments for bedbugs.

Bedbugs are developing a strong resistance to most common insecticides photo

They took a group of bedbugs that came from homes in Ohio and Michigan, which had previously been exposed to neonics, and compared those bedbugs to a population that has been kept in isolation for 30 years, before the insecticide was used.

A third group of bedbugs that was resistant to pyrethroids but never exposed to neonics was also included in the study.

Depending on the specific types of neonic tested, the Ohio and Michigan bedbugs were hundreds to tens of thousands of times more resistant than the isolated group.

The third group’s results were in the middle: more resistant than the isolated group but less resistant than the Ohio and Michigan bedbugs.

Because that third group had never been exposed to neonics, the researchers believe the bedbugs may have a pre-existing resistance mechanism.

The researchers said more non-chemical methods need to be used to combat bedbug infestations. However, they noted the most resistant bedbugs in the study only came from two areas, and not all of the U.S. may be facing this level of resistance.

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!