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High Level of Heart Defects Found in Zika-Affected Babies

kontiki / iStock

CLICK HERE - PLOS - Echocardiographic findings in infants with presumed congenital Zika syndrome: Retrospective case series study

cidrap.umn.edu - by Lisa Schnirring - April 21, 2017

Echocardiography evaluation of a group of Brazilian babies with Zika-related birth defects found three times the expected rate of congenital heart disease (CHD), but only one infant had symptoms and most had minor septal defects that weren't hemodynamically significant.

The study is the first time CHD has been assessed in infants with congenital Zika infections, and so far there haven't been any reports of autopsy findings suggesting a connection, but other flaviviruses such as dengue have been associated with myocarditis and pericarditis.

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Why the Menace of Mosquitoes Will Only Get Worse

Aedes aegypti. Credit Andrew Bettles for The New York Times

Climate change is altering the environment in ways that increase the potential for viruses like Zika.

nytimes.com - by Maryn McKenna - April 20, 2017

 . . . Climate change is turning abnormal weather into a common occurrence: Last year was the warmest year on record, the third in a row, and there were more heat waves, freezes and storms in the United States that caused $1 billion or more in damage just in 2016 than in the years 1980 to 1984 combined. Anything that improves conditions for mosquitoes tips the scales for the diseases they carry as well: the West Nile virus that flattened Dallas, the dengue that returned to Florida in 2009 after 63 years and the newest arrival, Zika, which gained a toehold in the United States last year and is expected to surge this summer . . .

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‘They’re Just Hiding’: Experts Say Puerto Rico May Be Underreporting Zika-Affected Births

submitted by Alicia Juarrero

           

A mother caresses her 2-month-old son, who has been diagnosed with microcephaly.  CARLOS GIUSTI/AP

statnews.com - by Helen Branswell - April 8, 2017

The number of babies born in Puerto Rico with microcephaly and other birth defects caused by the Zika virus appears to be unexpectedly low — so low that experts are beginning to question whether the actual count is being significantly underreported by authorities on the island.

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Thousands Of Bacteria-Infected Mosquitoes Released To Fight Zika & Other Viruses

           

miami.cbslocal.com - April 18, 2017

On Tuesday, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate with naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria.

The offspring produced when the lab-bred mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes won’t survive to adulthood. Male mosquitoes don’t bite, and Wolbachia is not harmful to humans.

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Huge Genome Study Dissects Ebola Outbreak's Spread

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CLICK HERE - Nature - Virus genomes reveal factors that spread and sustained the Ebola epidemic

cidrap.umn.edu - Lisa Schnirring - April 14, 2017

The largest genome sample ever analyzed for a human epidemic reveals that the West Africa epidemic unfolded with small, overlapping outbreaks as the virus spread over short distances and that urban settings amplified the spread.

Meanwhile, another study harnessed different advanced scientific tools in the blood of a single sick patient to detail gene-level response during infection.

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CLICK HERE - Science Translational Medicine - Longitudinal peripheral blood transcriptional analysis of a patient with severe Ebola virus disease

 

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There’s Another Mosquito Carrying Zika Virus

submitted by Alicia Juarrero

           

CLICK HERE - Journal of Medical Entomology - Evidence of Zika Virus RNA Fragments in Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) Field-Collected Eggs From Camaçari, Bahia, Brazil

Zika Found in Common Backyard Asian Tiger Mosquito

nbcnews.com - by Maggie Fox - April 14, 2017

A common backyard mosquito can be infected with the Zika virus and it may pass the virus along in its eggs, researchers reported Friday.

The findings add to worries that the Asian tiger mosquito, scientifically known as Aedes albopictus, could help spread the virus as mosquito season hits temperate regions of the world.

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, doesn't prove that tiger mosquitoes can spread Zika, which causes severe birth defects. But it adds to evidence that they might.

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Texas Warns About Biggest Mumps Outbreak in 22 Years

                                        

CLICK HERE - Texas Department of State Health Services - Texas Alerts Providers, Public about Mumps as Cases Reach 20-year High

cnn.com - by Susan Scutti - April 14, 2017

The Texas Department of State Health Services warned this week of multiple ongoing mumps outbreaks. The surge, which includes 221 cases this year, constitutes the highest incidence of mumps in the state in 22 years.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person through saliva and mucus.

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New CRISPR Tool Can Detect Tiny Amounts of Viruses

The Cas13a enzyme causes collateral RNA damage that is the heart of a new diagnostic system, SHERLOCK, that can detect minute quantities of virus and much more.  Broad Institute

CLICK HERE - Nucleic acid detection with CRISPR-Cas13a/C2c2

sciencemag.org - by Jon Cohen - April 13, 2017

 . . . That’s the realm of SHERLOCK, a new diagnostic system that can detect attomolar levels of viruses in a sample and also distinguish Zika from its close relative, dengue. This exquisitely sensitive and specific tool promises to help detect diseases that other diagnostics miss, and it’s simple and cheap to use. Sexier still, it exploits a variation of CRISPR, the genome-editing method that has become the rage in biology.

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Nigeria: Meningitis - the Killer Disease Ravaging Nigerians

allafrica.com - April 6, 2017

 . . . Nigerians should take precautions against meningitis . . .

 . . . The disease has also spread to 16 states, the Federal Capital Territory and 90 local government areas in the country. States affected so far are Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Nassarawa, Jigawa, Gombe, Taraba , Yobe, Kano, Osun, Cross Rivers, Lagos, Plateau and FCT . . .

 . . . although this was not the first time or the worst epidemic ever faced by Nigeria, this round of the epidemic has come with a difference, as all previous epidemics were caused by Neisseria Meningitides type 'A' but this year's own was recording Neisseria Meningitides type C in epidemic proportion for the first time.

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CLICK HERE - WHO - Disease Outbreak News - Meningococcal Disease – Nigeria - March 24, 2017

CLICK HERE - Death toll in Nigeria meningitis outbreak up to 489

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Why Chinese Scientists Are More Worried Than Ever About Bird Flu

A shop owner holds a live chicken for sale in a Hong Kong market. Isaac Lawrence /AFP/Getty Images

Image: A shop owner holds a live chicken for sale in a Hong Kong market. Isaac Lawrence /AFP/Getty Images

npr.org - April 11th 2017 - Rob Schmitz

At a research lab on top of a forested hill overlooking Hong Kong, scientists are growing viruses. They first drill tiny holes into an egg before inoculating it with avian influenza to observe how the virus behaves.

This lab at Hong Kong University is at the world's forefront of our understanding of H7N9, a deadly strain of the bird flu that has killed more people this season — 162 from September up to March 1 — than in any single season since when it was first discovered in humans four years ago. 

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