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Malaria Treatments Could Successfully Treat Zika Victims As Well
Zika virus may not cause many complications or intolerable symptoms for the majority of sufferers, but for pregnant women infected with the virus, Zika could cause severe birth defects to unborn fetuses. The Zika virus penetrates the body’s protective barriers, leading to damage to a pregnant woman’s fetus. Sadly, the past two years of Zika research has not produced many results that could save unborn babies from Zika-induced birth defects. Billions of dollars have been spent studying the virus, yet medical professionals are still not even close to a vaccine. However, there is some good news, as one researcher and her team have discovered that a drug, which is already in existence, could help to prevent birth defects to babies that have acquired the Zika virus from their mothers.
According to Indira Mysorekar, an associate professor at Washington University, an antimalarial drug has been shown to prevent the transmission of the Zika virus from mother to fetus in mice. This drug is known as hydroxychloroquine and it reduces the viral load of Zika in the placenta of impregnated mice, as well as in the brains of baby mice. The drug did not reduce the viral load outside of the placenta, which indicates that this antimalarial drug helps the placenta to do its job by protecting the fetus from outside contaminants. Of course, this treatment will have to be repeated in humans, but hopefully similar, or even more promising, results will be demonstrated.
This particular antimalarial drug is very common, inexpensive, and safe, which makes it an ideal treatment option for Zika sufferers that are expecting to give birth. Also, this drug has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so years of testing will not be necessary, and this will lead to countless babies being given a shot at living a life free from the physical defects caused by the Zika virus.
Why do you think that this drug has not already been recognized as an effective Zika treatment?
When Are Pregnant Women The Most Vulnerable To The Zika Virus?
It has been over two years now since Zika first ravaged Brazil and then made its way up into the southern United States. After two years, and billions of dollars in funding, you would think that the world’s top scientists would know more about how the world will be impacted by the Zika virus in the future. Since the beginning, pregnant women have been of primary concern to researchers since the Zika virus results in severe birth defects. There is no doubt that pregnant women and their offspring suffer the most from the Zika virus. In non-pregnant people, Zika can come and go, sometimes without being noticed by the victim, but Zika will leave a permanent mark on the children of mothers who have contracted the virus. But despite the research already conducted, scientists have only recently gained insights into when pregnant mothers are at the greatest risk for permanently damaging the health of their unborn children.
New research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shed some light on the dangers that Zika poses to pregnant women. According to the report, five percent of pregnant women living with the Zika virus ended up giving birth to children that had Zika related birth defects. The collection of pregnant women that were taken into account for this study only included women from the United States and its territories.
The report confirmed results from an earlier study that showed that pregnant women are most at risk for fetal damage from Zika during their first trimester. In fact, one in twelve women who birthed children with physical defects ended up falling ill with Zika during their first trimester. However, the researchers were sure to point out that birth defects could occur at any point during a pregnancy. Researchers need to collect more daa from recent cases in order to better understand how to prevent birth defects in mothers infected with Zika.
Do you think that the Zika virus will be around for several more years to come? Why or why not?
Deadly Malaria Parasites Can Invade Your Cells
Mosquitoes are major killers. In fact, they are the most deadly types of creatures on the planet. Some people are more aware of that fact than others depending on where you live in the world. In just the past decade we have experienced multiple panics related to mosquito-borne disease. West Nile virus and the Zika virus are just a couple of bug-borne diseases that have pestered Americans. However, we here in America do not have to be on our guards as much against the mosquito-born virus known as malaria. However, many other nations in the world do have to worry about this virus, and to make it worse, researchers are learning that the malaria parasite is capable of using proteins to penetrate cell walls.
This knowledge on the nature of the malaria disease has only been recently discovered. Entomologists have recently constructed an insectarium in order to monitor the effects that bugs, or a lack of bugs, is having on the state of the planet, and various ecosystems. This institute grows malaria parasites in order to see how such parasites invade the human body, as well as other animals.
Once the researchers took note of how two separate parasites invaded a cell wall, they took samples of the proteins present during the cell invasion. Researchers had no idea that healthy cell walls could be invaded by parasites in this way, and for this reason, researchers are referring to this ability to invade cells as a “superpower”. Researchers believe that these two parasites could be targeted in order to develop more successful malaria vaccines and treatments.
The deadly parasites start their journey at the site of the bite, then the proteins are released. The proteins quickly make their way down to an infected individual’s liver cells, and this is the first major step towards infection. Eventually, the parasites will burst out of the liver only to infect the host’s blood. This could all be avoided if researchers could find some way of interrupting the process of parasitic cell invasion in an infected person’s liver.
Have you ever traveled to a country where you had to take special precautions as a result of the dangers of malaria?
The warmer weather this year is already bringing more mosquitoes, but this year many states are going to be prepared for Zika. State health officials are adamant about stepping up their efforts to stamp out Zika despite a lack of certainty regarding federal funding for Zika research. During the year of 2016 federal health officials reported finding forty four cases of Zika in pregnant women throughout the country. There were also major outbreaks in South America, The Caribbean, Florida and Texas. A CDC report released earlier last month claimed that one out of every ten pregnant women with Zika gave birth to children with birth defects. Last year in the United States seventy seven babies died in the womb as a result of pregnant mothers contracting the virus.
Last month federal health officials working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta claimed that six states that were heavily affected with Zika will probably lose all of their Zika funding by the end of the summer. This is a big problem for many states because the millions of dollars that was allocated to these states for the purposes of Zika control were meant to be used over a period of five years. Now many state government leaders are wondering what can be done once funding runs out.
The United States Senate has introduced a bill that allows for another one hundred million dollars in funds to go to states fighting the spread of the Zika virus, but the bill has yet to be approved by both houses. Both Florida and Texas have been hit hard by the Zika virus. However, New York is actually the state that was hit second hardest by Zika when considering the over eleven hundred cases of the virus reported within the state.
How hard was your state hit by Zika last year? Do you expect the negative impact of the virus to be worse this year?
The Zika virus has recently infected a resident of Alaska, so if you think your safe living in a northern state, you are wrong. The southern states, most notably Florida and Texas, are taking bold measures this year in order to make sure that the Zika virus keeps from spreading. There have been numerous Zika victims in both Florida and Texas, but Texas is trying something new to combat the spread of Zika. Beginning on May 1st the Texas Board of Health and Human Services will include mosquito repellent within Medicaid benefits. This will allow every Medicaid recipient in Texas to have a free bottle of skeeter repellent in order to prevent the spread of the Zika virus and the West Nile virus.
This is also the first time that the state of Texas has extended their benefits to some boys and men. And all women between the ages of forty-five and fifty five will be given a free bottle of repellent no matter the circumstance. Eligible recipients can pick up their free bottle of repellent at any pharmacy in Texas, and without a prescription.
This benefit is for all pregnant women, women between the ages of ten and fifty-five and all males aged fourteen and up who are enrolled in Medicaid or other qualifying state-funded insurance programs. This benefit includes up to two cans of repellent per month, but this number could be even higher for residents that are living in areas that have been heavily affected by Zika.
State health officials are urging Texas residents to take as many precautions against mosquito bites as they can. For example, wearing long sleeves, using air conditioning, or making sure your window screens do not have any holes in them. Health officials in Texas are also urging residents to rid their foundations of any standing water that could attract mosquitoes.
Do you use mosquito repellent while spending time outdoors during the summer months?
As of March in United States alone there have been over 5 thousand registered Zika cases. The good news is that over 90 percent of these cases are travel-associated, meaning that these people have been infected during their time abroad and have gotten sick upon their return to the United States. But this also shows that people are not as careful as they should be in avoiding Zika while traveling. So here are some travel tips that will help you avoid getting Zika virus if you are traveling to one of the Zika virus affected areas.
Since there still isn’t a vaccine to prevent or to treat Zika virus, travelers need to be extra careful about their mosquito control, because it essentially is the only way to ensure that you don’t get Zika virus. When traveling to any of the Zika affected areas the first line of defense will be your clothing. One of the ways how mosquitoes are able to detect their targets is heat, which is why light colored clothing will be your best friend. Dark clothes absorb more heat than light clothing making it much more appealing to mosquitoes, which is why light-colored duds can make you less of a lure to mosquitoes. On top of that if you are wearing light colored long sleeve shirt and long pants, the clothing will also create a barrier between your skin and the mosquito, further ensuring that it cannot bite you and you are safe.
The second thing that you can do to avoid Zika virus is to know the habits of mosquitoes that carry this virus. As you might already know, insects responsible for Zika virus are the Aedes genus mosquitoes, like for example the Yellow fever mosquito. Most genus mosquitoes are the most active during dusk and dawn, spending their days hiding in dark places, but not Aedes mosquitoes. They prefer doing their hunting in daytime, which means that people naturally have a higher chance to get bitten by this mosquito during the day. Fortunately, Aedes genus mosquitoes are quite distinguishable in their looks, so you will be able to differ them from other insects. All Aedes genus mosquitoes gave dark bodies and legs with white striped markings on them, similar to tiger markings, making them look more intimidating but also better recognizable, so you can avoid them more easily.
And lastly don’t forget to use mosquito repellent. Even though most governments of affected areas do frequent mosquito fogger sprayings to eradicate the Zika carrying mosquitoes, these treatments are not enough to keep you 100% safe. Mosquito experts all over the world agree that the most efficient mosquito repellent is DEET, and none of the natural repellents can replace it. However, if you are against DEET then choose a repellent with oil of lemon eucalyptus in it, which is the closest you will get to natural DEET replacement. And remember to reapply your mosquito repellent frequently, too, because one of the most common mistakes that people make in regards to bug spray is that they apply the repellent once and hope that it will last for the whole day. But the truth is that most repellents are efficient for only a couple of hours, after which the repellent needs to be reapplied to maintain its mosquito repelling abilities.
So if you are traveling to any of the Zika virus affected areas make sure you wear long and light colored clothing to make yourself less attractive and your skin less accessible to mosquitoes, know the mosquito habits so you know when to use your insect repellent and reapply the repellent often to ensure the best possible protection against Zika virus.
Before the Zika virus ravaged Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands, medical researchers and practicing doctors did not know a whole lot about microcephaly. However, now that a couple of years have passed since Zika infected so many pregnant women, researchers are beginning to learn more about microcephaly. It is looking like the amount of microcephaly-afflicted children born to Zika infected mothers have increased dramatically.
Scientists have claimed that the Zika virus caused a twenty fold increase in the amount of birth defects occurring within the United States. This increase is allowing medical researchers better access to large sample sizes of microcephalic children. Before the Zika virus ravaged our southern neighbors, researchers estimated that three out of every one thousand births in the US resulted in infants being born with microcephaly. Now that the worst of Zika is hopefully over, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now estimating that a whopping sixty out of every one thousand births in the United States end up with infants developing birth defects. When taking into account the increase in birth defects, Zika was reported to have increased thirty three percent in prevalence since the previous Zika-free year.
Luckily, every single one of the reported cases of Zika infection involved the victim contracting the virus while overseas, and not while on American soil. According the CDC’s website, 1,534 women within the continental U.S. were known to be infected with the virus while pregnant. However, the number may be much higher as these women had laboratory confirmed infections. Many women within the United States may have been infected, but were not determined to be by the CDC. Although the news on Zika currently looks good, experts are continually warning politicians to step up the funding for research into mosquito control methods.
Did you know anybody personally who had contracted Zika?
Latin American is well known for their outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease. Most people are familiar with dengue fever and the West Nile virus, and unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, the Zika virus has caused tremendous devastation in Latin America. Chikungunya is another fairly well known mosquito-borne disease that is most prevalent in South America. However, it is the two diseases that are known as Eastern equine encephalitis and mayoro that do not appear in the news quite as often, yet still cost many Latin American citizens their lives. So why is Latin America more prone to experiencing mosquito-borne epidemics than the rest of the world?
One of the primary reasons why Latin American is such a hotspot for the spread of mosquito-borne disease has to due with the many different and numerous species of mosquitoes that inhabit this region of the world. Eight hundred and sixty two different species of mosquito can be found in South America. While four hundred and sixty two different species of mosquito can be found in Central America, and only one hundred and ninety two in North America. In addition to the high number of different mosquito species in Latin America there also exists a large amount of hosts present in the region that a disease carrying mosquito can infect.
Global warming is another reported reason for why rates of mosquito-borne disease are higher in Latin America. Since mosquitoes require external sources of heat in order to remain at a comfortable temperature, and mosquitoes are highly dependent on the climate for proper functioning, then mosquitoes may prefer and thrive in certain climatic conditions. The relationship between warming climates and the physiological functioning of mosquitoes is complex, but many scientists agree that the increasingly hot and humid climate in South America may be closely related to the rates of reported cases of mosquito-borne disease.
Do you think that there are any other countries that are hit as hard as Latin America when it comes to insect-borne epidemics? Is it possible that some countries may not report as many cases?
Spring is almost here, which means the mosquitos that are currently spreading an absurd number of illnesses to humans, are going to be coming out in full swing. This is also when they mate, which means those females will be looking for tasty human blood for their precious little eggs that are probably chilling out in a watering can or shallow puddle in your very own yard. Now, while most of the 200,000 cases of yellow fever that crop up each year, 90% of them occur in Africa. Out of those cases approximately 30,000 end in death.
However, the mosquito that transmits yellow fever is the same one that has been passing along the Zika virus for the past year, the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The number of aedes mosquitos in the U.S. has been growing steadily every year, as has the number of yellow fever cases, so don’t fool yourself into thinking it couldn’t possibly happen to you. Now, a vaccine was developed, but most people don’t get it unless they are taking a trip to a country like Africa where the threat of contracting it is much greater. The biggest problem with a mosquito-borne disease like yellow fever is that one person can be bitten by a mosquito abroad and contract the illness, but then once they return home local mosquitos then contract it by drinking that person’s blood and then pass it on to other humans. So, it’s not difficult for this disease to travel vast distances.
So, how do you know if you’ve caught yellow fever? Symptoms tend to appear around 3 to 6 days after a person has been infected. Initial symptoms include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, and muscle aches. These will generally go away in just a few days. However, there is a second stage called the toxic stage that around 15% of patients also develop. These more severe symptoms such as recurring fever, abdominal pain, bloody vomit, kidney failure, liver failure, jaundice, delirium, and number of other that, along with the ones I mentioned, can turn fatal for 20% to 50% of those that enter the toxic stage. And treatment doesn’t include much more than simply trying to keep the patient hydrated, in a stable condition, and as comfortable as they can be.
The lesson here is to not even chance getting bitten by mosquitos in this world, because God knows, yellow fever is just one of the many prizes you could get. I’d definitely rather deal with an icky smell and sticky skin than any of those symptoms I described above.
Have you or anyone you know ever gotten yellow fever? What was it like and how did they or you come out the other side?