CDC deactivated its emergency response center for Zika.. The first probable locally acquired Zika case in 2017 has been confirmed in Texas….

County health officials on Thursday reported the case involves a Laguna Heights resident who sought testing at a county clinic. The individual is believed to have contracted the virus through a mosquito bite.
“Based on the information that we have, the source of the transmission appears to be mosquito-borne that took place several months ago. Clinical test results show that this person may have had the virus 2-3 months ago and it is no longer active in her system,” said Dr. James W. Castillo, Cameron County Health Authority. “In addition, there is no evidence of any other mosquito transmitted cases related to this one.”
Health officials conducted an “epidemiological investigation of the index case household” and provided residents in the area with information on eliminating mosquito breeding areas.” (A)

“The first outbreaks of contagious disease are beginning on the island of Puerto Rico 10 days after Hurricane Maria strafed the U.S. territory with a direct hit, according to The Daily Beast, even as the federal response lags and President Donald Trump attacks Puerto Rico and its elected officials on Twitter….
Mayor Julia Navarro of Loiza, a city half an hour’s drive from San Juan, said residents are showing signs of Dengue fever, Zika virus and a runaway epidemic of conjunctivitis that has infected more than 300 people.
“I’m here because there are still murky waters clogged on my streets and residents have been showing symptoms of Zika, Dengue and conjunctivitis virus,” she said. “If I didn’t come here personally, I wouldn’t get any help.”…
The lack of running water means that opportunities for proper hygiene have largely disappeared, Ramos said, leaving the population vulnerable to cholera, hepatitis A, meningitis, and salmonella. “Without water supply, residents rely on stocking water to wash their mouth and do the dishes. This water is often stored incorrectly and this gets infected rapidly,” he explained.” (B)

Statistics from the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica confirm today 307 Zika cases in the first 38 weeks of 2017, while notifying 2,124 people likely to carry that dangerous arbovirus.
The weekly bulletin of the Directorate of Vector Control and the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health reports that among the confirmed cases are 60 pregnant women and four are likely to carry the disease. So far this year, four confirmed cases of a congenital syndrome associated with this condition were reported, as well as four other probable cases. (C)

“More than six dozen sentinel chickens, living in coops dotted around Los Angeles, make up one of the first lines of defense in this sprawling county’s fight against West Nile virus. The disease has been a background threat for years here, but cases have spiked this fall to worrisome levels. Six deaths have been reported by Los Angeles County this year — including three just last week.
And the cases are alarmingly severe: Of 98 reported infections here this year, 79 have led to serious neurological side effects, and 87 have required hospitalization. Because it’s still peak mosquito season, more deaths are expected….
West Nile virus causes no symptoms in 8 of 10 infected people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But some, particularly the very young and very old, can get fevers, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. (Dr. Lyle Petersen, the director of the CDC’s division of vector-borne diseases, experienced that misery himself back in 2003, when he was infected with West Nile virus after going out to pick up his mail without insect repellent.)
The virus has caused more than 2,000 deaths in the U.S. since it first appeared in New York in 1999. States hit hardest in recent years include California, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and South Dakota. This year, 22 states have already reported 49 deaths and 658 of the most severe cases, known as “neuroinvasive,” which can involve meningitis, encephalitis, and paralysis.” (D)

“A mutated version of the decades-old Zika virus has been causing severe birth defects in countries like Brazil since 2015, and scientists are still trying to understand how it became so dangerous so fast.
As of early September, there had been 523 travel-related cases of the virus reported in Canada and four sexually transmitted cases, including 37 pregnant women.
In its most recent public health notice, issued on Sept. 13, Health Canada advised all travellers heading to countries where Zika has been identified to continue to take precautions — especially if they are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
These hot spots include, but are not limited to, popular winter getaway destinations like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, St. Lucia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and several other South/Central American and Caribbean nations.” (E)

“Scientists have started to unravel a key mystery about the Zika virus. And the findings are almost unbelievable.
“When I first started reading the study, I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s amazing,’ says molecular biologist Alysson Muotri, at the University of California, San Diego, who wasn’t involved in the study.
The study — published Thursday in the journal Science — demonstrates how an obscure virus may have transformed into a global threat almost overnight.
For decades, Zika had been a relatively innocuous disease. Since its discovery in 1947, the mosquito-borne virus had been circulating around Africa and Asia, almost undetected. It caused only a mild illness — a fever, a rash and joint pain. About 80 percent of people had no symptoms at all. And outbreaks tended to be small.” (F)

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the cobas Zika test, a qualitative nucleic acid test for the detection of Zika virus RNA in individual plasma specimens obtained from volunteer donors of whole blood and blood components, and from living organ donors. It is intended for use by blood collection establishments to detect Zika virus in blood donations, not for the individual diagnosis of Zika virus infection.” (G)

“Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a paper-based test that is able to diagnose the presence of Zika virus in 20 minutes.
The MIT-developed test is a cheap, portable and easy-to-use diagnostic test that could be used in countries where Zika is prominent, but tests that measure viral RNA in the bloodstream are not.
“It’s important to have a single test that can differentiate between the four serotypes of Dengue and Zika, because they co-circulate. They’re spread by the same mosquito,” Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, associate professor of engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and co-senior author of the paper, said in a press release….
Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. According to the CDC, there have been 288 reported cases of Zika in the U.S. this year as of Oct. 4.” (H)

“In September 2017, the development of the US Army’s Zika vaccine—once a leading candidate in the Zika vaccine race—came to a halt after almost all federal funding for Zika R&D was cut short. This happened less than a year from the end of the global public health emergency. Funding will now resume only if the Zika epidemic re-emerges.
That R&D on diseases like Zika is not attractive to pharmaceutical companies is a well-known phenomenon. It usually takes a major public health crisis to shake up the playing field. With Ebola, for instance, funding for R&D increased 258% in 2015. The Zika outbreak had the same effect, and so will future outbreaks of similar diseases.
But funding spikes triggered by outbreaks are short-lived. They fuel an accelerated R&D race, with multiple pharmaceutical companies and research institutions jumping in. As soon as the fear factor begins to decline, so does the support for R&D. The looming possibility of another outbreak guarantees that some drug development will still occur, but only at a residual level.” (I)

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deactivated its emergency response center for the Zika virus, as it seems the worst of the outbreak has passed…
On Jan. 22, 2017, the EOC was activated in response to Zika, which can have devastating effects during pregnancy. The CDC began its transition back to normal program operations Sept. 29.
In 2009, the EOC was activated for the H1Ni influenza pandemic. It was also activated for the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Although the center is closing, the CDC will continue to work to protect people affected by Zika and coordinate with federal, state and local governments to help families touched by the virus. In its announcement, the agency emphasized that Zika is still a risk in the U.S.A.” (J)

(A) Zika case first in 2017, by LAURA B. MARTINEZ,
(B) Disease outbreaks begin in Puerto Rico even as Trump attacks its citizens on Twitter, by David Ferguson,
(C) Costa Rica Confirms 307 Zika Cases,
(D) Deadly West Nile virus cases are spiking in LA. The first line of defense: chickens, by USHA LEE MCFARLING,
(E) Planning a winter getaway? Zika warnings remain in place as travel season looms, byy Monique Scotti,
(F) How Zika Became So Dangerous For Babies, by Michaeleen Doucleff,
(G) FDA approves first test for screening Zika virus in blood donations,
(H) This paper-based test quickly diagnoses Zika, by Danielle Kirsh,
(I) No Vaccines Before the Next Zika Outbreak?: A Case for IP Preparedness, by Dennis Crouch,
(J) CDC shutters Atlanta-based Zika emergency operations center, by Ellie Hensley,

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