Tuesday September 25, 2018

Florida Declares New Zika Transmission Zone In Miami After Five Local Cases

The Zika virus was first detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas

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FILE - A Miami-Dade mosquito control inspector sprays a chemical mist into a storm drain in Miami Beach, Florida, Aug. 23, 2016. (VOA)
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Miami, October 17, 2016: Florida officials have identified a small neighborhood in Miami that contains mosquitoes that have spread the Zika virus to humans.

The area spans about 2.6 square kilometers in the northwestern part of the city.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday that two women and three men have been infected by the virus in the neighborhood.

Zika infections have been reported in more than 1,020 people in Florida. Most caught it while traveling outside the U.S., but 155 cases are not travel related.

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This summer, Florida became the first state in the continental United States to report the local spread of Zika when a cluster of cases was discovered in the arts district of Wynwood, north of downtown.

That area has since been declared clear of any mosquitoes that might be spreading Zika, and health authorities have credited aerial insecticide spraying for eliminating the infected mosquitoes.

Scott said the announcement of the new area of transmission underscores the “urgent need” for federal funding to fight the virus, adding that the state still has not received any of the funding that was approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama two weeks ago.

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The Zika virus was first detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. It is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause birth defects such as microcephaly, in which babies are born with unusually small heads and deformed brains.(VOA)

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Novel Vaccine Approach Proves Powerful Against Zika Virus

However, the next big question is "will this be protective in humans?", the researchers said

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Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus
Experimental vaccine shows potential against Zika virus. (IANS)

An experimental single dose vaccine against the Zika virus has proven to be powerful in mice, new research has found.

The vaccine employs an uncommon two-pronged approach to fighting the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and is most serious for pregnant women and their foetuses.

The vaccine, carrying genes for two or three Zika proteins, proved effective in triggering an immune response that prevented later infection by the virus.

“The vaccine was potent, safe and highly effective, at least in the short term. There’s a long way to go, but we think this is a promising candidate for a human vaccine,” said lead author Jianrong Li, professor at The Ohio State University in the US.

The experimental vaccine holds particular promise because it appears to afford an adequate immune response with one dose. In hard-to-reach and resource-poor areas, that becomes especially valuable, added Shan-Lu Liu, co-author at the varsity.

zika virus
Representational image. (IANS)

In the study, appearing in the journal Nature Communications, the team targeted a protective immune response by expressing two or three Zika proteins and looked to vesicular stomatitis virus, or VSV — a foot-and-mouth disease in cattle.

In the experimental vaccine, VSV acts as a vehicle to deliver the genes for two or three key proteins from the Zika virus, carrying them into the mouse and expressing them inside some of the cells in the mouse so that the immune system could respond and build up a defence against Zika.

In addition, experiments in mice with severely compromised immune systems showed that vaccination helped their weak immune systems to fight off the virus swiftly and efficiently.

Also Read: Zika Virus May Cause Miscarriages, Stillbirths Without Any Symptoms

The early success with this vaccine has encouraged this team to use the same approach to fight other related viruses, including Dengue fever, the researchers said.

However, the next big question is “will this be protective in humans?”, the researchers said. (IANS)

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