BREAKING: Angola records first two cases of Zika virus.

Angolan health officials said Monday they had recorded the country’s first two cases of the Zika virus, a French tourist and a resident in the capital Luanda.


The World Health Organization in November announced that the Zika virus no longer posed a global public health emergency after an outbreak centred on Brazil erupted in 2015.


The French tourist left Angola after being diagnosed with Zika two months ago, said Eusebio Manuel, head of the department of hygiene, without further details.

“The second case concerns an Angolan patient who lives in Luanda and was diagnosed last week,” he said, adding that the patient was still hospitalised.


Zika causes only mild symptoms in most people, but pregnant women with the virus risk giving birth to babies with microcephaly — a deformation that leads to abnormally small brains and heads.


In the outbreak that began in mid-2015, more than 1.5 million people have been infected with Zika, mainly in Brazil, and more than 1,600 babies have been born with microcephaly, according to the WHO.

Zika virus widely in circulation in Nigeria – NCDC

A review of current epidemiology, risk assessment to public health and interim recommendations for public health response to Zika virus in Nigeria, released yesterday, by the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) Abuja concluded: “Previous evidence of detection of Zika virus in man, and antibodies to Zika virus in Nigerian populations, together with the presence of the vectors indicate that the virus is widely circulated in Nigeria. Thus, in the absence of continued surveillance or periodic national surveys, the epidemiology of the Zika virus in Nigeria remains poorly understood.”

The centre’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who authorised the review, said majority of those infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and for those who develop symptoms, fever, rash, conjunctivitis, headaches, muscle and joint pains typically start three to six days after infection.

He added that the virus might stay in the body for weeks following infection.

Ihekweazu said the current epidemiology of Zika in Nigeria has not been well documented or understood due to paucity of recent data.

He noted that the virus shares a similar vector, the Aedes (Steogmyia) mosquitoes, also responsible for other flavivirus infections recorded in the country such as such as yellow fever and dengue.

Ihekweazu revealed that the environmental and human behavioural risk factors in areas with reported Zika outbreaks were similar to those found in Nigeria and would thus favour the circulation of Zika.

He said possible cross-reaction with other endemic flaviviruses like yellow fever and dengue; genetic host factors protecting against infection or disease; low vector competence and transmission efficiency; lack of diagnostic testing; and the absence of systematic surveillance are potential limitations to detect on-going transmission of Zika in the country.

Ihekweazu said in principle, all countries with presence of Aedes (Steogmyia) albopictus and Aedes (Steogmyia) aegypti mosquitoes are at risk of sustained transmission and human activity aids the spread of the virus to locations far beyond the normal range for the vector.

He stressed that in the light of the review, NCDC plans to initiate surveillance to understand and monitor the epidemiology of virus in the country for appropriate interventions.

Sixth Zika Case Confirmed In Philippines

The Philippine health department confirmed on Monday that a 45-year-old woman from central Philippine city of Iloilo has tested positive for Zika virus, the sixth case recorded in the country.

Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo told a news conference that the Zika-infected woman, whom he did not identify, has no history of travel abroad, adding that she probably acquired the virus locally.

He also said the disease does not pose a public health risk at this point, adding that the department has not confirmed any local transmission.

He said this could be a case of sporadic transmission. The woman’s husband has yet to be tested for the virus, he added.

“As of now we have no confirmation of any local transmission,” Bayugo said. Nevertheless, he said the government is closely monitoring the situation.

The health department has monitored at least five Zika-infection cases since 2012.

“These (five cases) did not convert into an outbreak. And we hope that this (new) one is sporadic that will not translate (into an outbreak) similar to what is being experienced elsewhere,” Bayugo said.

The Philippine government over the weekend issued an advisory, urging Filipino travellers “to take extra precautions” while staying in Zika-infected countries.

The Philippine Bureau of Quarantine is also continues to screen arriving passengers for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Zika-infected person.

It has urged all arriving passengers to fit-out a health declaration checklist upon arrival and to report or visit any government health facility if they become ill with unexplained fever within seven days from arrival.

Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial has also advised pregnant women to avoid travel to countries with reported Zika case and transmission, adding that it is very risky for pregnant women to get infected with the Zika virus as this has been linked to birth of babies with severe brain and other neurological defects including microcephaly.

Zika virus is acquired through bites from infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya. Common symptoms include fever, skin rash, joint pains and conjunctivitis, the advisory said.

There is no available vaccine to prevent the mosquito-borne virus. But medial experts said the symptoms of Zika virus could be treated with common pain and fever medicine, rest and enough water intake.

Health Research: Zika Virus Confirmed In US Mosquitoes

Authorities have detected Zika in mosquitoes in Miami Beach, the first time the insects have been found carrying the virus in the United States.

These findings are very disappointing, but not surprising,” the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a statement released on Thursday.


Officials had already suspected that the virus was being spread by mosquitoes locally following a recent outbreak of the virus in Miami.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned pregnant women against travelling to Miami as the virus can cause birth defects.


Last week the US Food and Drug Administration also instructed blood banks across the country to screen donated blood for Zika.


According to WHO, Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever.


It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.


From the 1960s to 1980s, human infections were found across Africa and Asia, typically accompanied by mild illness.


The first large outbreak of disease caused by Zika infection was reported from the Island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007.


In July 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome.


In October 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly.


The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days.


The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.

Italian Carries Zika In Sperm For Record Six Months

An Italian man carried Zika in his sperm for six months after showing the first symptoms of the virus, twice as long as in any previously reported case, according to a new study.

Doctors at the Spallanzani Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome said their monitoring of the now-recovered patient pointed to the possibility of the little-understood virus reproducing itself in the male genital tract.

As a result, the potential for sexual transmission of a virus linked to babies being born with shrunken brains and skulls may be greater than previously thought.

The 30-year-old man began presenting symptoms including fever, fatigue and a skin rash during a visit to Haiti in January.

On his return to Italy, tests showed the Zika Virus RNA was still present in his urine, saliva and sperm 91 days after the onset of symptoms.

After 134 days it was only detectable in his sperm which remained positive after 188 days, the medics said in a report published this week in epidemiology review Eurosurveillance.

That was over twice as long as the 93 days after symptoms onset registered by a 27-year-old Frenchman whose case was highlighted in British medical journal The Lancet last month.

Prior to that the record for Zika showing up in sperm was 62 days after onset of symptoms.

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New Virus Deadlier Than Ebola, Zika To Emerge, Scientists Warn

Scientists have warned that humans should brace for the emergence of a new virus that could be deadlier than Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Zika.

The scientists in a study published on March 14, 2016, edition of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled “SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence” said outbreaks from zoonotic sources represent a threat to both human as well as the global economy.

A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed between animals and humans.

The scientists are already bracing for a potential outbreak of the new SARS-like virus.

They warn the new virus, called WIV1-CoV, may induce the same results in humans as SARS – starting out with flu-like symptoms and accelerating rapidly to pneumonia.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Bat SARS-like coronavirus WIV1, (Bat SL-CoV-WIV1) also sometimes called SARS-like coronavirus WIV1 that is W1V1-CoV, is a newly identified CoV isolated from Chinese rufous horseshoe bats. The discovery confirms that bats are the natural reservoir of the SARS virus. Phylogenetic analysis shows the possibility of direct transmission of SARS from bats to humans without the intermediary Chinese civets, as previously believed.

The scientists say this virus may never jump to humans, but if it does, WIV1-CoV has the potential to seed a new outbreak with significant consequences for both public health and the global economy.

According to the researchers, the capacity of this group of viruses to jump into humans is greater than originally thought. While other adaptations may be required to produce an epidemic, several viral strains circulating in bat populations have already overcome the barrier of replication in human cells and suggest reemergence as a distinct possibility.

The researchers wrote: “Focusing on the SARS-like viruses, the results indicate that the WIV1-coronavirus (CoV) cluster has the ability to directly infect and may undergo limited transmission in human populations. However, in vivo attenuation suggests additional adaptation is required for epidemic disease. Importantly, available SARS monoclonal antibodies offered success in limiting viral infection absent from available vaccine approaches. Together, the data highlight the utility of a platform to identify and prioritize prepandemic strains harboured in animal reservoirs and document the threat posed by WIV1-CoV for emergence in human populations.”

Credit: Guardian

Obama Seeks Fund To Fight Zika

President Barack Obama will ask the US Congress for more than 1.8 billion dollars in emergency fund to fight Zika at home and abroad and pursue a vaccine, the White House said on Monday.
According to the report, the president also said there is no reason to panic over the mosquito-borne virus.
Zika, spreading rapidly in South and Central America and the Caribbean, has been linked to severe birth defects in Brazil and public health officials’ concern is focused on pregnant women and those who may become pregnant.


Obama’s request to the Congress includes 200 million dollars for research, development and commercialisation of new vaccines and diagnostic tests for the virus.
In a new development, the London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA), Europe’s drugs regulator, said it had formed an expert task force on Zika to advise companies working on vaccines and medicines against the virus.
There are no vaccines or treatment for Zika and none even undergoing clinical studies, as the disease had previously been viewed as relatively benign.
Most infected people develop either no symptoms or mild ones like fever and skin rashes.


“The good news is that this is not like Ebola, people don’t die of Zika. A lot of people get it and don’t even know that they have it. But there shouldn’t be panic on this; this is not something where people are going to die from it. It is something we have to take seriously,’’ Obama told CBS News in an interview aired on Monday.

Scientists are working to find out if there is a causal link between Zika and babies born with microcephaly, meaning they have abnormally small heads and can suffer developmental problems.
The research began after a huge rise in such birth defects last year in Brazil at the same time the virus took hold there.
Most of the money sought by Obama, who faces pressure from Republicans and some fellow Democrats to act decisively on Zika, would be spent in the United States on testing, surveillance and response in affected areas.




Zika virus: Officials Confirm First US Case Of Infection Via Sexual Intercourse

Dallas officials have confirmed the first case of Zika virus in the US being transmitted locally via sexual intercourse.

Just one day after the World Health Organization deemed the virus as an international health emergency, officials in Dallas County said the patient had contracted the virus via sexual contact and not through a mosquito bite, as reported by NBC.

Dallas County Health and Human Services said the patient was infected after sexual contact with a person who had the virus and had returned from a country where the virus is known to be present.

The patient, their condition and address have not been identified.

Officials said this is the first case of the virus to be transmitted locally in Texas, although there are seven others in Houston and Harris County who have confirmed cases of the virus after traveling abroad.

Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis or red eyes. The virus is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week. However, there is thought to be a link between the virus and a rise in cases of microcephaly – a birth defect, which causes abnormal smallness of the head in babies – in the affected countries.

“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director, to NBC. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually-transmitted infections.”

There is currently no medication or vaccine for Zika virus.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that the evidence of the disease spreading via sexual intervourse is insufficient to warn all travelers, not just pregnant woman, of the potential danger.

Dr. Márcio Nehab, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Fiocruz, a research institute in Rio de Janeiro, told The New York Times: “At the moment we need to be more concerned with the mosquito, the vector known for transmitting the virus.”

Scientists Say Zika Virus Can Be Spread Through Sex

As the devastating Zika virus rampages through the Caribbean and Latin America – and threatens to hit parts of the US such as Florida – more and more questions are being asked about how it can be transmitted.

The virus has been linked to birth defects in thousands of Brazilian babies, born with heads smaller than normal and undeveloped brains.
Symptoms include a rash, fever, conjunctivitis and headache and to date, 21 countries have been affected.
At the moment, there is clear scientific evidence the virus is transmitted by the same type of mosquito that spreads other tropical diseases, such as dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.
But there are also fears the virus may be passed on through sex, following two reports in medical literature.
One states that Zika was found in the semen of a man from Tahiti, the other that the virus was passed from a husband to his wife after intercourse.
But is there really a risk?
In a statement issued this week, the World Health Organisation said there was still insufficient evidence to make the link.
But these research papers argue otherwise.