Category Archives: Pandemics & Infectious Diseases

Zika: Resources at Your Fingertips

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Current as of June 6, 2016

This document provides Zika virus disease resources and an overview of public health and healthcare system considerations and implications that are applicable to professionals in those systems, emergency management stakeholders, and other audiences. Appendix A contains resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and relevant contact links. Appendix B includes citations with annotations for additional relevant resources and Zika Guidance. Finally, individuals can review ASPR TRACIE (Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange) Topic Collections, which provide a wide array of materials and resources for further research.
About the Zika Virus Planning Resources
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), June 2, 2016

Global warming to expose more people to Zika-spreading mosquito Aedes aegypti

Source: Andrew Monaghan, The Conversation, June 16, 2016

As Americans ready themselves for the arrival of mosquitoes this summer, many may be wondering whether they are at risk for tropical diseases like Zika and whether climate change will raise the risks of infection.

My colleagues and I recently completed a study examining how projected changes in climate and human population may increase global exposure to the mosquito that spreads these viruses: Aedes aegypti.
We found that both climate change and human population change will play a part in driving future human exposure to Aedes aegypti globally. In the United States, specifically, warming temperatures from climate change mean that this disease-spreading mosquito will be increasingly abundant in the southern and eastern U.S….
The potential impacts of 21st century climatic and population changes on human exposure to the virus vector mosquito Aedes aegypti
Source: Andrew J. Monaghan, K. M. Sampson, D. F. Steinhoff, K. C. Ernst, K. L. Ebi, B. Jones, M. H. Hayden, Climatic Change, First Online: 25 April 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The mosquito Aedes (Ae). aegypti transmits the viruses that cause dengue, chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever. We investigate how choosing alternate emissions and/or socioeconomic pathways may modulate future human exposure to Ae. aegypti. Occurrence patterns for Ae. aegypti for 2061–2080 are mapped globally using empirically downscaled air temperature and precipitation projections from the Community Earth System Model, for the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios. Population growth is quantified using gridded global population projections consistent with two Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), SSP3 and SSP5. Change scenarios are compared to a 1950–2000 reference period. A global land area of 56.9 M km2 is climatically suitable for Ae. aegypti during the reference period, and is projected to increase by 8 % (RCP4.5) to 13 % (RCP8.5) by 2061–2080. The annual average number of people exposed globally to Ae. aegypti for the reference period is 3794 M, a value projected to statistically significantly increase by 298–460 M (8–12 %) by 2061–2080 if only climate change is considered, and by 4805–5084 M (127–134 %) for SSP3 and 2232–2483 M (59–65 %) for SSP5 considering both climate and population change (lower and upper values of each range represent RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively). Thus, taking the lower-emissions RCP4.5 pathway instead of RCP8.5 may mitigate future human exposure to Ae. aegypti globally, but the effect of population growth on exposure will likely be larger. Regionally, Australia, Europe and North America are projected to have the largest percentage increases in human exposure to Ae. aegypti considering only climate change.

Women And The Zika Virus: Smart Questions And A Few Solid Answers

Source: Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News, June 13, 2016

….. What’s the danger? A lot is up in the air, since there’s not a ton of research on the virus. Here’s a quick breakdown of the smart questions to ask and what we do actually know.
• I’m a woman of childbearing age. What if I get Zika? …..
• I am pregnant. What steps should I take to protect myself? …..
• I went somewhere where Zika-carrying mosquitoes have been detected, but I feel fine. Can I carry on as normal? …..
• I have Zika, and I’m pregnant. What do I do? …..
• This is scary, and it’s a lot of information. How else can I stay up to date? …..

Gaps In Women’s Health Care May Derail Zika Prevention In Texas, Florida
Source: Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News, June 14, 2016

Zika: The Tragedy and the Opportunities

Source: Laura C. Rodrigues, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 4, April 2016
(subscription required)

Even before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic of microcephaly a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” the interest by public and media was clear. The series of articles in this April issue of AJPH explores aspects of this—in some ways unprecedented—public health situation: the first almost-but-not-quite pandemic to cause congenital malformations. Curiously, scientists and international organizations are taking public health actions and giving advice assuming that the epidemic of microcephaly is caused by congenital Zika infection, while remaining reluctant to accept the causal link. And almost every day comes with its new first: the first congenital transmission of a vector-borne virus in humans and possibly the first sexual transmission of a vector-borne virus.
Preventing Zika Virus Infections in Pregnant Women: An Urgent Public Health Priority
Source: Beth P. Bell, Coleen A. Boyle, Lyle R. Petersen, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 4, April 2016
(subscription required)

Aedes Rides Again: Mosquitoes and Flaviviruses in the Americas
Source: John McNeill, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 4, April 2016
(subscription required)

Initial Description of the Presumed Congenital Zika Syndrome
Source: Demócrito de Barros Miranda-Filho, Celina Maria Turchi Martelli, Ricardo Arraes de Alencar Ximenes, Thalia Velho Barreto Araújo, Maria Angela Wanderley Rocha, Regina Coeli Ferreira Ramos, Rafael Dhalia, Rafael Freitas de Oliveira França, Ernesto Torres de Azevedo Marques Júnior, Laura Cunha Rodrigues, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 4, April 2016
(subscription required)

The Epidemic of Zika Virus–Related Microcephaly in Brazil: Detection, Control, Etiology, and Future Scenarios
Source: Maria G. Teixeira, Maria da Conceição N. Costa, Wanderson K. de Oliveira, Marilia Lavocat Nunes, Laura C. Rodrigues, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 4, April 2016
(subscription required)
History, Epidemiology, and Clinical Manifestations of Zika: A Systematic Review
Source: Enny S. Paixão, Florisneide Barreto, Maria da Glória Teixeira, Maria da Conceição N. Costa, Laura C. Rodrigues, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 106, No. 4, April 2016
(subscription required)

Zika virus disease – fact sheet

Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), CUPE National Health and Safety Branch, 2016

From the introduction:
Recently, a new disease known as Zika virus disease (Zika) has gained world-wide attention. First diagnosed in the 1950’s in Central Africa, it has recently made headlines with significant outbreaks in South American, Central America, and Caribbean Nations. Having been completely unseen in the western hemisphere, there has been little to no exposure to the virus by the general population, leading to low immunity and a high rate of infection. ….

Is Tuberculosis Making a Comeback?

Source: Marsha Mercer, Stateline, May 12, 2016

….After two decades of steady decline, the number of active tuberculosis cases in the U.S. inched up last year. Hall’s was one of 9,563 TB cases reported last year, up from 9,406 cases the year before. The CDC is still trying to determine the reason for the uptick. The goal set by the CDC, in 1989, of eliminating TB by 2010 — defined as less than one case in a million people — remains elusive. Even if the trend of declining cases had continued, the United States would not have eliminated TB by the end of this century, the CDC said….

….State and local health departments are the front line of defense for a disease that many think has already been eradicated. ….. Today four states — California, New York, Texas and Florida — have more than half the nation’s active TB cases, though they have only a third of the country’s population. The four states have the highest numbers of foreign-born residents. The number of cases in Texas rose 5 percent to 1,334 last year. …..

Zika Virus: The Challenge for Women

Source: Jennifer Kates, Josh Michaud and Allison Valentine, Kaiser Family Foundation, Updated: April 15, 2016

The recent and rapid spread of Zika virus, a mosquito-transmitted infection, into the Americas is the latest in a series of emerging infectious diseases that pose new threats to human health. Active Zika transmission is now reported in over 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as several other territories, and the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts it could affect 4 million people across the Americas this year alone. On February 1 following an emergency meeting of experts, WHO declared that clusters of birth defects associated with Zika infection during pregnancy constitute a “public health emergency of international concern” requiring a stepped up, coordinated global response. In April the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed this link.

Even before the association between Zika infection and births defects was confirmed, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the CDC and other health authorities had issued guidance to pregnant women and those seeking to become pregnant to consider delaying travel to Zika-affected areas, and for those living in countries with widespread Zika transmission to avoid exposure to mosquito bites. In some countries public health authorities have gone even further, recommending that women postpone becoming pregnant for a period of time; most notably, the Minister of Health of El Salvador, a country which is experiencing a rise in suspected Zika cases, has recommended delaying pregnancy until 2018.

Such calls to postpone pregnancy raise serious issues, because many women across the region have limited access to contraceptives and other reproductive health services, experience high rates of sexual violence, and face other reproductive health decision-making barriers that can result in unintended pregnancies. In fact, some of the Zika-affected countries have among the strictest abortion laws in the world, potentially presenting women who have an unintended pregnancy with a dangerous catch-22. The United States government may have an important role to play in addressing health access and rights for women in Zika-affected countries, both through its direct health and development assets as well as its diplomatic engagement and public health expertise. To understand more about where these issues are likely to be more acute, we examine available country-level data on access to contraception, abortion policies, and the US government’s foreign assistance and global health presence in Zika-affected countries.