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Bharat Biotech Says Working on Two Possible Zika Vaccines

           

A municipal health worker shows off a test tube with larvae of Zika virus vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, as part of the city's efforts to prevent the spread of the Zika, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, February 2, 2016.  REUTERS/JOSUE DECAVELE

in.reuters.com - by ZEBA SIDDIQUI - February 3, 2016

Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech said on Wednesday it was working on two possible vaccines to fight the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil.

The virus is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials on Tuesday expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well. No vaccine has been developed so far.

One of the possible vaccines is "recombinant", which means it is created by genetic engineering, while the other was "inactivated", and will enter pre-clinical trials in animals in two weeks, Bharat Biotech managing director Krishna Ella told Reuters.

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WHO Says on Watch for Spread of Zika Virus to Africa, Asia

           

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen inside Oxitec laboratory in Campinas, Brazil, February 2, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Reuters - by Stephanie Nebehay - February 2, 2016

GENEVA, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The Zika virus linked to a microcephaly outbreak in Latin America could spread to Africa and Asia, and the World Health Organization will set up monitoring sites in the poorest countries with the highest birth rates, it said on Tuesday.

. . . ”Most important, we need to set up surveillance sites in low- and middle- income countries so that we can detect any change in the reporting patterns of microcephaly at an early stage," said Dr. Anthony Costello, WHO director for maternal, child and adolescent health.

A WHO global response unit "using all the lessons we've learned from the Ebola crisis" has been set up, he said. Some 20 to 30 'sentinel sites' for surveillance could be established worldwide, mainly in poor countries lacking robust health systems.

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Texas - First Confirmed Case of Sexually Transmitted Zika in U.S.

          

Dallas County Health and Human Services confirms its first case of Zika virus transmitted through sexual activity

CLICK HERE - Dallas County Health and Human Services - DCHHS Reports First Zika Virus Case in Dallas County Acquired Through Sexual Transmission (2 page .PDF file)

cnn.com - by Sandee LaMotte - February 2, 2016

The first case of locally acquired Zika in the continental United States has occurred through sexual transmission in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

The case, announced by Dallas County health officials, involved a patient who had sex with someone who had recently returned from Venezuela infected with the mosquito-borne virus.

In a statement to CNN, the CDC said it confirmed the test results showing Zika present in the blood of a "nontraveler in the continental United States." They stressed that there was no risk to a developing fetus in this instance.

Based on that, the CDC says it will soon provide guidance on sexual transmission, with a "focus on the male sexual partners of women who are or who may be pregnant."

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Zika Virus - WHO Declares a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

                                               

WHO Director-General summarizes the outcome of the Emergency Committee on Zika

who.int - February 1, 2016

WHO statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations 

I convened an Emergency Committee, under the International Health Regulations, to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Committee met today by teleconference.

In assessing the level of threat, the 18 experts and advisers looked in particular at the strong association, in time and place, between infection with the Zika virus and a rise in detected cases of congenital malformations and neurological complications.

The experts agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. All agreed on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.

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Is the world ready for the Zika virus?

In the US, only five laboratories can diagnose the Zika virus — and a vaccine has not been developed

america.aljazeera.com - February 1, 2016

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus and the suspected associated birth defects an international public health emergency. Experts say the numbers are a sign that global surveillance systems — important for medical response — are working. But with no vaccine available and only five laboratories that can diagnose the virus in the U.S., there is a long road ahead. In this America Tonight excerpt, Lisa Fletcher talks to public health experts [Gavin Macgregor-Skinner and Anthony Fauci] about the global health disaster we're now facing.

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/2016/2/is-the-world-ready-for-the-zika-virus.html

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Obama Calls for Rapid Zika Research as Virus Seen Spreading

           

A public health technician inspects an Aedes aegyti mosquito in a research lab to help prevent the spread of Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the entomology department of the Ministry of Public Health, in Guatemala City, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/JOSUE DECAVELE

uk.reuters.com - by Julie Steenhuysen and Roberta Rampton - January 27, 2016

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the rapid development of tests, vaccines and treatments to fight the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects and could spread to the United States in warmer months. . . .

. . . "The president emphasized the need to accelerate research efforts to make available better diagnostic tests, to develop vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that all Americans have information about the Zika virus and steps they can take to better protect themselves from infection," the White House said in a statement. . . .

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WHO to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations

                              

who.int - January 28, 2016

WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, will convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.

The Committee will meet on Monday 1 February in Geneva to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Decisions concerning the Committee’s membership and advice will be made public on WHO’s website.

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CLICK HERE -Reuters - WHO says Zika virus spreads explosively, 4 million cases forecast

CLICK HERE - The Washington Post - WHO: Zika virus ‘spreading explosively,’ level of alarm ‘extremely high’

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Did Brazil, Global Health Agencies Fumble Zika Response?

           

reuters.com - by Paulo Prada - January 30, 2016

. . . "We knew this was something else," says Carlos Brito, a doctor from Recife who told state and federal health authorities in January-February last year that they were wrong to classify all the cases as dengue. "But the authorities were slow to believe,” he said.

Kleber Luz, a physician in Natal, a city 300 km up the Atlantic coast, says he gave similar feedback but got the same response.

. . . "You have to gather the data," says Marcos Espinal, director of the department of communicable diseases at PAHO, dismissing criticism that the regional body or headquarters could have moved any sooner.

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Zika Virus Threatens U.S. from Abroad

          

ZIKA, THE MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASE LINKED TO A WORRISOME BIRTH DEFECT CALLED MICROCEPHALY AND ANOTHER AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO THE U.S. IN THE BLOODSTREAMS OF SOME 20-PLUS TRAVELERS SINCE 2007. THEY PICKED IT UP IN MORE THAN A DOZEN COUNTRIES, MOSTLY ACROSS SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA. ALTHOUGH THE TWO TYPES OF MOSQUITOES CAPABLE OF TRANSMITTING THE VIRUS ARE ALREADY IN THE U.S., SO FAR, THE VIRUS HAS NOT YET BEEN LOCALLY SPREAD HERE.  GRAPHIC BY AMANDA MONTAÑEZ

scientificamerican.com - by Dina Fine Maron - January 26, 2016

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