Category Archives: Pandemics & Infectious Diseases

What the world has learned about Zika — and what it still needs to know

Source: Helen Branswell, Stat, September 8, 2016

…It’s been 13 months since obstetricians in northeastern Brazil started noticing babies being born with grossly underdeveloped heads. In the months since, it has become apparent that the condition — microcephaly — is just the most visible form of the devastation that the virus can wreak when it infects the fetus.

Let’s explore some of what we’ve learned about Zika over the past year, and some of the most pressing questions that remain to be answered about this unique outbreak….

….This virus has so many tricks up its sleeve. It causes birth defects in babies and neurological conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a type of temporary paralysis, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in some adults. We still don’t know, though, how often infection leads to one of these serious problems. There have been other surprises. Zika finds its way into semen and tears and saliva and vaginal fluids — and in some cases stays there for months….
What Does the Public Know and Think About Zika?
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, 2016

Poll findings from 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Tracking Polls and 2016 Survey of Americans on the U.S. Role in Global Health

Experts Say Stepped-Up Monitoring Is Crucial As Zika’s Threat Lasts Beyond A Baby’s Birth
Source: Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News, September 6, 2016

The Status of Funding for Zika: The President’s Request and Congressional Proposals
Source: Adam Wexler, Stephanie Oum, and Jennifer Kates, Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief, September 6, 2016

Mosquito Repellents That Best Protect Against Zika

Source: Sue Byrne, Consumer Reports, April 16, 2016

Consumer Reports shares its exclusive Ratings of the sprays that can help keep you safe. ….

The Most Effective Insect Repellents
To find the most effective mosquito repellents, we tested products containing a variety of ingredients, including deet, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, chemicals called IR3535 and 2-undecanone, as well as a variety of plant oils, such as cedar, citronella, geraniol, lemongrass, and rosemary.
The most effective products against Aedes mosquitoes were Sawyer Picaridin and Natrapel 8 Hour, which each contain 20 percent picaridin, and Off! Deepwoods VIII, which contains 25 percent deet. They kept the mosquitoes from biting for about 8 hours. (The Sawyer product was our top insect repellent overall. It was the only one that also kept Culex mosquitoes, which can spread West Nile disease, and deer ticks, which can spread Lyme disease, away for at least 8 hours.)….

The Six C’s of an Effective Response to the Zika Virus

Source: Kendra Smal, Center for American Progress, August 26, 2016

….To fully protect young Americans from the effects of Zika, policymakers must expand reproductive rights for young people by addressing the six C’s: comprehensive sex education, confidentiality, contraceptive counseling, choice, community support for young parents, and congressional action….

Interim Guidance for Protecting Workers from Occupational Exposure to Zika Virus

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Fact Sheet, 2016

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are monitoring the Zika virus outbreak spreading through Central and South America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean, including U.S. territories. For the most up-to-date information, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zika website frequently. Some U.S. states have mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus, and travel-associated Zika virus infections in U.S. states may result in local spread of the virus. Visit the CDC Areas with Zika website to learn where there is current transmission. Workers who are exposed on the job to mosquitoes or the blood or other body fluids of infected individuals may be at risk for occupationally acquired Zika virus infection. This interim guidance provides employers and workers with information and guidance on preventing occupational exposure to the Zika virus. The guidance may be updated as additional information becomes available.
Zika and the Workplace: What Employers Must Know
Source: Christopher Duke, JD Supra, August 16, 2016

Superbugs: Antibiotic Resistance Is Becoming a Major Public Health Concern

Source: Patricia T. Alpert, Home Health Care Management Practice, Published online before print July 11, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Antibiotic resistance has led to the development of so-called “superbugs” that no longer respond to the current treatment modalities. The array of antibiotics available to treat these infections is dwindling with very few antibiotics in the pipeline. This article discussed the pathogens the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has placed in their urgent category: (1) Clostridium difficile, (2) Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, and (3) Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In addition, a few suggestions for prevention of resistance are offered.