zika

Zika Cases Mostly Travel Related

Jun 22, 2017
WMFE

As summer officially started Wednesday, Florida has had 84 reported Zika infections this year — with the vast majority of them classified as “travel related,” according to information posted online by the state Department of Health.

Mix-Up Leaves Pregnant Woman In Dark About Zika Risk

Jun 21, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

Hospital officials in Washington state have apologized after failing for months to inform a pregnant woman she was likely infected with the Zika virus that can cause devastating birth defects.

To address a growing population of black salt marsh mosquitoes, Miami-Dade County officials will conduct aerial mosquito spraying Thursday night beginning at 8 p.m.

The salt marsh mosquitoes don’t transmit the Zika virus but do bite humans and can spread heartworm to dogs. County officials say they’ve recently seen large numbers of the mosquitoes in their traps, and have received numerous complaints from callers.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

On a hot, sunny Saturday morning at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library, Kathy and Dani Dahlberg walk up to a white truck holding portable fish tanks that emit a loud hum.

The new homeowners are trying to describe the size of their pond to Hillsborough County Mosquito Control officials.

Summer is upon us and that means more of the bugs that made international headlines last year – mosquitos. What progress has been made in the fight against the Zika virus? Can we cure Zika, or prevent it? And what can residents do to help?

It's June, it's hot, it's rainy -- and that means mosquitos are once again coming out in full force.

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about how the state and its residents are preparing for the potential threat of mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus.


Zika In America: One Mother’s Saga

Jun 13, 2017
Heidi de Marco/KHN

When her daughter was born at Providence St. Peter Hospital in January, the first thing Maria Rios checked was the baby’s head.

She’d seen the terrifying photos on the internet — infants in Brazil and in Puerto Rico whose skulls were misshapen, even collapsed, ravaged by the Zika virus that has engulfed Latin America.

Zika may have fallen from headlines, especially with everything going on in politics these days, but the threat remains.

And recommendations for pregnant women haven't changed: Pregnant women — and those trying to get pregnant — should not travel to places where the Zika virus is circulating.

It's just too risky because Zika can cause birth defects.

But what about babies? Or kids? Is it safe to travel with them?

There's no doubt about it: Zika is on the retreat in the Americas.

In Brazil, cases are down by 95 percent from last year. Across the Caribbean, outbreaks have subsided. And in Florida, the virus seems to have gone into hiding. Health officials haven't investigated a new Zika case for more than 45 days in Miami-Dade County.

Wikimedia Commons

A report released Thursday shows Zika had about the same impact on birth defects in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories as it did in other places hit by the epidemic.

The pesticide widely used to fight Zika-carrying mosquitoes in Florida and across the nation has been linked to deficits in motor functions in Chinese babies, according to a new study.

Ozlem Yaren

Florida scientists have developed a new test for Zika that would produce results in less than an hour.

And the test can detect the Zika virus in the blood of humans or mosquitoes.

Zika is a scary virus because of the terrible birth defects it can cause. Now scientists have a clearer sense of the size of that risk.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified 2,549 pregnant women with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories between Jan. 1, 2016 and April 25, 2017. The CDC found that 122 of these women — about 5 percent — gave birth to babies with birth defects such as small heads (known as microcephaly).

Hoping to get ahead of potential Zika outbreaks, Planned Parenthood of Collier County is launching a new education initiative aimed at prevention. While anyone is a target for a mosquito carrying the virus, the awareness program aims to help women protect their unborn children from the virus in underserved communities like Immokalee.

Matti Parkkonen (Wikimedia Commons)

Summer is quickly approaching, and that means more of the bugs that made international headlines last year -- mosquitos. What can residents do to prepare for the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses?

Florida Matters wants to hear from you. 

Wikimedia Commons

Seven babies have been born in Florida with birth defects linked to the Zika virus.

Mosquito Control: Tips for the Rainy Season

Jun 1, 2017

Drain and cover. That's the message Miami-Dade County mosquito control specialists want the public to hear. 

Mosquitos can lay more than 100 eggs at a time, and they do so in standing water. Even a bottle cap of water is big enough.

Mosquitos can carry the West Nile virus and the Zika virus, among other things. 

WMFE

There are fewer Zika cases in Florida compared to this time last year.

This year, 50 Floridians have caught Zika while traveling, and four people have caught the virus locally – but officials think they caught it in 2016.

In Florida, seven babies were born with evidence of Zika Congential Syndrome, which includes microcephaly, a severe birth defect of the brain.

The U.S. Army has been developing a Zika vaccine, but some are raising concerns that the private drug company that will manufacture it will make it too expensive.

State Focuses On Renewed Zika Threat

May 31, 2017
designer491 / Getty Images

Florida's largely dry conditions, which might appear to be more conducive to wildfires, shouldn't be seen as a reason to reduce vigilance in preventing the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information on how Sanofi Pasteur was chosen as the company to license the Zika vaccine.

The U.S. Army is planning to grant an exclusive license to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. to manufacture and sell a Zika vaccine the Army developed last year.

And that has Rebekah Gee, Louisiana's secretary of health, worried about paying for it.

Mosquito fish are 2.5-inch long native, freshwater fish that love munching on mosquito hatchlings.

On Saturday, March 27, Mosquito Control officials are giving out gambusia affinis to Hillsborough County residents for free.

Just this month Brazil—the country where experts say the Zika virus first arose—ended its nationwide health emergency related to the virus. The World Health Organization took a similar step in November. But as the summer mosquito season in Florida begins, the threat from Zika remains acute for South Florida and other parts of the world where the mosquitoes carrying the virus can be found.

Last year's Zika outbreak in Miami likely started in the spring of 2016, with the virus introduced multiple times before it was detected, researchers say. And most of those cases originated in the Caribbean.

WLRN

Last summer’s wave of local transmission of the Zika virus hasn’t yet bled into 2017 , but officials from Key West to West Palm Beach are gearing up for another round of mosquito control by creating new staff positions, adding more equipment and increasing outreach efforts.

Miami-Dade County plans to hire a full-time entomologist in its increasingly costly fight against the Zika virus.

Funding For State-Level Zika Tracking May End Soon

May 1, 2017
WMFE

Money that has helped states with Zika tracking and education may end by this summer, putting at risk efforts to better understand the mostly mosquito-borne virus and the devastating birth defects associated with it.

Here we go again.

A Senate panel approved a bill that authorizes an additional $100 million in grant funding to fight the mosquito-carrying Zika virus. The bill could now be voted on by the full Senate before summer begins, but only if Congress doesn’t repeat last year’s delay that saw the money tied up by political wrangling for months.

The money approved Tuesday would fund local mosquito-control efforts, centers that test for the virus and research into improving mosquito-control programs.

Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are worried the Zika virus may be causing epilepsy. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

As the rainy season returns to South Florida and the fight against Zika gears up, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District Tuesday began a first-in-Florida trial of a control method that uses bacteria to reduce mosquito populations.

The district will release 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria twice a week for the next 12 weeks. The releases will take place in a 10-acre test site on Stock Island,  and mosquito traps there will be compared with a similar-sized control area nearby (but separated by a buffer).

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