zika

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. 

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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
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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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Health officials have published the first comprehensive view of Zika-linked birth defects occurring in the U.S.

The study is the largest so far to estimate the risk of severe birth defects from Zika infections in pregnant women, researchers report Wednesday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,

Miami-Dade Outlines Aggressive Mosquito Control Plan

Apr 4, 2017

Officials say no disease-carrying mosquitoes have been found so far this year in the Miami area.

U.S. health officials have begun enrolling volunteers for critical next-stage testing of an experimental vaccine to protect against Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause devastating birth defects in pregnant women.

Back in 2015, Brazil reported a horrific a surge in birth defects. Thousands of babies were born with brain damage and abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly.

Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil's summer months of December, January and February — when mosquitoes are most active — health officials expected another surge in microcephaly cases.

But that never happened.

With the rainy season approaching and mosquitoes breeding at this time of year, Gov. Rick Scott and community leaders urged residents to remain aware and take necessary precautions against mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.

At a community roundtable on Monday at the Department of Health in Miami, the governor stressed the importance of residents’ actions to help prevent Zika-related infections.

A small group of researchers at Florida Atlantic University is developing a small device that could help detect the Zika virus within just a few minutes and at a very low cost that could be available for use as early as next summer. 

Florida has the highest number of Zika-related cases--with Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County being among the most affected. The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention listed 5,040 virus cases in the United States in the last two years and 1,069 were in Florida. The majority of the cases reported were travel-related.

CDC: Don't Donate Sperm In 3 Counties Due To Zika

Mar 14, 2017

Men from three Florida counties shouldn't donate sperm because of a small risk of spreading Zika, U.S. health officials said Monday.

Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health News

Miami-Dade County officials are monitoring four zones in the Miami area where the Zika virus spread through local mosquitoes.

Florida has not had any locally transmitted cases of Zika so far in 2017. And the number of travel-related cases has fallen drastically in the dry season.

But tests of new mosquito-fighting methods are still moving forward in the Florida Keys.

The first U.S. trial of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the kind that carries Zika and dengue fever — is still on track for the Keys, just not on Key Haven. That's the island that Oxitec, the company that makes the genetically modified mosquito, chose for its test site.

Race To Find Zika Vaccine Could Hinge On Summer Outbreaks

Feb 23, 2017

As warmer temperatures arrive, researchers are working hard on several promising vaccines against Zika, a virus notorious for infecting humans through this mosquito’s bite.

Florida Department of Health

Hotel taxes revenue in Miami-Dade has dropped at a rate not seen since the Great Recession, a decline in public money some attribute to tourists afraid of the Zika virus.

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The University of South Florida will use a $1.1 million dollar state grant for Zika research to look at how the virus infects fetuses.

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