Sunday January 19, 2020

Zika Congenital Syndrome spreading geographically, World Health Organization

The World Health Organization says that the Zika virus is spreading worldwide like a wildfire and it is most dangerous to infants

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Nurses set up a mosquito tent over a hospital bed, as part of a precautionary protocol for patients who are infected by Zika at Farrer Park Hospital in Singapore Sept. 2, 2016 (VOA)

A World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee reports the threat of the Zika virus and its link with microcephaly or brain abnormalities in newborn babies, and other neurological disorders, remains high.

The committee said Zika infections constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

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The committee warned the Zika virus is continuing to spread geographically. New outbreaks continue to be identified, most recently in Guinea Bissau and Singapore. It said nations must remain vigilant and take measures to contain the disease.

A pest control worker fumigates drains at a local housing development where Zika infections were reported in Singapore, Sept. 1, 2016 (VOA)
A pest control worker fumigates drains at a local housing development where Zika infections were reported in Singapore, Sept. 1, 2016 (VOA)

Since the World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency on February 1, the committee said it has learned a lot about the virus and its impacts. Additionally, the committee said it has taught people how to control the virus and protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Male Aedes Aegypti Mosquito (Wikimedia Commons)
Male Aedes Aegypti Mosquito (Wikimedia Commons)

WHO executive director of outbreaks and health emergencies, Peter Salama said health workers were trained on how to deal with the consequences of infection, helping women manage their pregnancies and dealing with a newborn baby with a brain disorder.

“Working with the scientific community, we have learned that Zika has consequences with infants beyond microcephaly to a range of complications from hearing and eyesight complications to seizures,” he said. “And we now have called these the Zika Congenital Syndrome. Many entities, both public and private, are working on the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines.”

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Three governments — Brazil, the United States, and Singapore — provided information on microcephaly, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and other neurological disorders. Brazil reported that none of the athletes or people who attended the Olympics was infected with Zika and said the upcoming Paralympics also would be safe.

The World Health Organization reaffirmed its previous advice that there should not be any restrictions on travel or trade with countries where Zika is being transmitted. (VOA)

  • Navmi Arora

    First Dengue, then Chickengunia and now this! Soon there’ll come a time when there will be more diseases and less doctors to cure them.

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This New Device Helps in Capturing and Identifying Virus

New device to capture and identify viruses developed

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Virus device
Researchers have developed a fast and inexpensive handheld device that can capture virus. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Researchers have developed a device to quickly capture and identify various strains of virus.

“We have developed a fast and inexpensive handheld device that can capture viruses based on size,” said study researcher Mauricio Terrones from Penn State University.

“Our device uses arrays of nanotubes engineered to be comparable in size to a wide range of viruses. We then use Raman spectroscopy to identify the viruses based on their individual vibration,” Terrones added.

This device, called a VIRRION, has a wide range of possible uses. For farmers, for example, early detection of a virus in the field can save an entire crop. Early detection of a virus in livestock can save a herd from illness. Humans also will benefit by the detection of viruses in minutes rather than in days with current methods.

According to the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, because of its size and low cost, such a device would be useful in every doctor’s office as well as in remote locations when disease outbreaks occur.

virus device
The device uses arrays of nanotubes engineered to be comparable in size to a wide range of viruses. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Currently, virologists estimate that 1.67 million unknown viruses are in animals, a number of which can be transmitted to humans. Known viruses, such as H5N1, Zika and Ebola have caused widespread illness and death.

The World Health Organisation states that early detection can halt virus spread by enabling rapid deployment of countermeasures. “Most current techniques require large and expensive pieces of equipment,” Terrones said.

“The VIRRION is a few centimeters across. We add gold nanoparticles to enhance the Raman signal so that we are able to detect the virus molecule in very low concentrations. We then use machine learning techniques to create a library of virus types,” Terrones added.

According to the researchers, the VIRRION enables the rapid enrichment of virus particles from any type of sample — environmental or clinical — which jump-starts viral characterisation. This has applications in virus emergence, virus discovery and in diagnosis.

“We synthesized a gradient of aligned carbon nanotube forest arrays to capture different viruses according to their size and detect them in-situ using Raman spectroscopy,” said study lead author Ying-Ting Yeh.

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“We designed and assembled a portable platform that enriches virus particles from several milliliters of clinical samples in a couple of minutes,” Ting Yeh added.

“We hope to use this device for the capture and sequencing of single virions, giving us a much better handle on the evolution of the virus in real time,” said Elodie Ghedin from New York University. (IANS)