Friday, February 26, 2016

Quick Zika

I've given it a label so you can scratch through the scroll if you like. 

Party on!

"Brazilians shrug off Zika fears to revel in Carnival fun" by Andrew Jacobs New York Times  February 10, 2016

SALVADOR, Brazil — From a mosquito’s point of view, the sweaty, minimally clothed multitudes thronging the streets of this northeastern city Monday night must have looked especially delectable.

Drunk on beer and preoccupied by the prodigious carnal possibilities, young men and women danced their way along Avenida Oceânica as Brazilian pop icons performing atop giant motorized stages exhorted them to jump, party, and celebrate life.

Momentarily distracted from the bacchanal, Mariana Souza, 26, rolled her eyes when asked about Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that is raging across the nation and much of Latin America. “Do I look worried?” Souza, a shop clerk dressed in short-shorts and a stringy halter top, shouted above the din. “Ask me next week, after Carnival is over.”

Despite deepening fear and worry across the Americas since the World Health Organization declared that Zika is a global emergency, millions of Brazilians this week offered a collective shrug and took to the streets to celebrate Carnival. Such dispassion has alarmed public health officials, who are scrambling to curb the outbreak among a population that has long lived with mosquitoes — and which seldom takes precautions to avoid bites, especially those too poor to afford repellent, window screens, or air conditioning.

In interviews with scores of revelers in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Salvador, only a handful expressed concern about Zika — and few people wore the pants or long-sleeve shirts that would reduce the chance of mosquito bites.

“Carnival in Rio: A Party for Humans and a Feast for Mosquitoes,” is how one newspaper headline summed up the mood.

Here in Salvador, an impoverished, sweltering city of 3 million that has been hit hard by Zika, hotels are fully booked, news outlets are fixated on Carnival, and cologne-suffused sweat, not mosquito repellent, is the dominant scent wafting through the crowds that gather day and night. According to some estimates, attendance is up 25 percent over last year.

Amid soaring unemployment, a plummeting currency, and an expanding corruption scandal that threatens the presidency of Dilma Rousseff, Zika barely registers among Brazilians.

“Most of my friends are more worried about finding jobs,” said Andre Olveira, 38, the owner of a small hotel in Salvador that went belly-up last year. He noted that dengue fever, another mosquito-transmitted virus that killed more than 800 people in Brazil last year, is far more pernicious. “If you’re not a pregnant woman, you don’t need to worry. Let’s be honest: Brazilians have far bigger problems than Zika.”

Still, for outsiders, the sight of so many people gallivanting about in various stages of undress and seemingly oblivious to the potential dangers of Zika can be striking. The warning last week that the virus might be transmitted through saliva appeared to have little effect on the hallowed tradition of snogging complete strangers. An entirely unscientific survey of revelers who were asked about the dangers of contracting Zika through unprotected sex yielded expressions that blended ridicule with disbelief.


"Scientists still believe that mosquitoes are the main means of transmission for the virus, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that it is investigating 14 new reports of potential sexual transmission." 

Now it is looking like some biological weapon.

Carnival is simply playing its time-honored role as a national escape valve during tough times, said Raul Juste Lores, editor at large at Folha de São Paulo, one of the nation’s largest newspapers.

During the currency crisis of 1999, foreign media outlets that predicted a subdued Carnival in Rio were proved wrong by jubilant, record crowds.

“No crisis has ever diminished the magic and excitement of Carnival. During pessimistic and depressing times, it becomes more important,” Lores said. “It’s escapism on steroids.”

Citing the growing threat of Zika, some critics have questioned the state government’s decision to add two nights to the traditional five-day pre-Lenten festival, which ends Wednesday; others have bemoaned what they described as lackluster public education about the virus and piecemeal efforts at mosquito eradication. In many Brazilian cities, mosquito repellent has become nearly impossible to find.

“It’s just absurd,” said Dr. Gúbio Soares, a virologist at the Federal University of Bahia who identified some of the first cases of Zika. “It’s like Caesar in Rome: he gave the people circus and bread, but in Brazil we only get the circus.”

Brazilian doctors have reported more than 4,000 cases of microcephaly — a rare condition in which infants are born with abnormally small heads — that they believe are linked to the Zika virus, though the number of confirmed cases is much smaller

This is starting to look like nothing but a $care, sorry to say.

In fact, that is what many bloggers are saying while criticizing how often people initially fall for these things.

More and more the medical emergencies are being seen as a way to impose martial law and bolster the bottom line of pharmaceuticals by introducing another needed vaccine (in addition to other ancillary issues like abortion).

By some estimates, the virus has infected more than 1 million Brazilians, though few people experience symptoms, which include joint pain, fever, and a rash. Health officials in some affected areas have also reported a surge in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a nerve disorder that can cause temporary paralysis and leave some patients dependent on life support.

Even those who acknowledged their fears of Zika said their dread was tempered by a belief that tough times should never get in the way of a good party. Taking a pause from banging on a drum, Priscila Lacerda, 28, a cook from Rio who is eight months pregnant, said many pregnant women she knew refused to leave their homes, or did so only fully covered. 

When did they all convert to Islam?

She said that she was vigilant about wearing mosquito repellent, and that she made sure the potted plants in her home were free of standing water.

“I don’t want to develop a neurosis over Zika,” she said. “I’m not totally relaxed about it now, but I’m not going to stop living.”



"Knife-wielding monkey goes on rum-fueled rampage through Brazilian bar" Washington Post  February 19, 2016

Monkeys just want to have fun — and brandish dangerous weapons.

At least that’s what a group of bar patrons in Patos, Brazil, learned earlier this month, when a capuchin monkey ambled inside and proceeded to sample leftover rum on the tables, UPI and the Brazilian news website aRede reported.

After the long-tailed creature had guzzled its fill, it somehow came into possession of a kitchen knife almost as long as its body. With the powerful weapon in hand, it began chasing the men in the establishment; according to local fire Lt. Col. Saul Laurentino, it left the women alone.

‘‘It was a bar staff oversight that ended with the monkey drinking some rum and taking the knife,’’ Laurentino told aRede.

Video footage captured on the scene shows the monkey on a roof with the knife, indiscriminately stabbing at shingles.

UPI reported that firefighters were able to capture the monkey and release it back into the wild. Its antics soon attracted attention and alarm a second time, however, when residents living near the woods reported that it was behaving aggressively towards them.

Local authorities are now in the process of determining whether the monkey should be permanently kept in captivity."

Also see:

Evidence grows of Zika threat to fetus

"The government is shipping Zika virus tests for pregnant women to health departments around the country, but warning there could be temporary shortages. Health officials don't expect widespread transmission of the mosquito-borne virus in the continental United States, but said Thursday that Puerto Rico is especially vulnerable. They asked for emergency funding from Congress to battle an outbreak that is quickly spreading through Latin America. "We may see rapid spread through the island and we need to respond urgently," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a Senate appropriations subcommittee. 

As if Puerto Rico didn't have other problems right now.

The Zika virus is suspected of causing a rare but potentially devastating birth defect, an abnormally small head, which can indicate underlying brain damage. Brazil has reported an apparent increase in cases of that defect, called microcephaly, as Zika exploded in that country, although scientists haven't definitively proven the link. Last month, the CDC found the Zika virus in the brain tissue of two dead newborns from Brazil and in placentas from two miscarriages. On Wednesday, European researchers caring for a woman who returned there from Brazil reported a post-abortion autopsy that found the virus in her fetus' severely damaged brain. If someone is actively infected, the CDC has a test that diagnoses Zika fairly well. But most people experience no symptoms or very mild one, and the antibody test used to tell afterward if they were infected isn't very accurate. It might reflect prior infection with related viruses instead. The CDC is urging pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant not to travel to Zika-affected areas." 

Yeah, bloggers have pointed that out. There is no link, but the pre$$ is still playing it that way (while never mentioning the tDap vaccine that was mandated to them all).

Also seeMessing with Mother Nature to stop the Zika virus

Who can argue with a leaf-blower, 'eh?

"Brazil minister says no doubt Zika connected to microcephaly" by Joshua Goodman Associated Press  February 12, 2016

BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil’s health minister said Friday that authorities were ‘‘absolutely sure’’ that the Zika virus is connected to devastating birth defects and rejected criticism the government was slow to investigate the surge of cases that set off international alarms.

Meaning it is not, and that did set off alarms.

Marcelo Castro made the remarks during an interview with the Associated Press in Brazil’s capital. He spoke a day before tens of thousands of soldiers and health inspectors were to take to the streets in an unprecedented drive to encourage residents to be vigilant for mosquito breeding sites. The goal: visit 3 million homes in more than 350 cities.

Brazil is at the epicenter of a mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to rare birth defects known as microcephaly. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned pregnant women to avoid traveling to more than two dozen countries and territories in the Americas where active outbreaks are taking place.

Although the link has not been scientifically proven and myriad questions remain, Castro said the half-year gap between the virus outbreak in South America’s largest country and the spike in reported cases of microcephaly was not a coincidence.

‘‘We are absolutely sure of the causal relationship between microcephaly and Zika,’’ he said, adding that government researchers were unanimous in their assessment: ‘‘It has nothing to do with the environment, nothing to do with race, nothing to do with gender.’’ 

Where is that salt shaker?

Clinical and preliminary laboratory evidence has shown that many mothers of children with microcephaly were infected with the virus during their pregnancies. Castro said more research was needed to determine whether additional factors may have played a role in the spike of birth defects.

Historically, Brazil had reported about 150 cases of microcephaly a year. Since October, 5,079 suspected cases have been reported, according to the latest figures released Friday. Of those, 462 cases have been confirmed while 765 have been discarded. Of the confirmed microcephaly cases, 41 have been connected to Zika.

In response to criticism Brazil was moving too slowly to confirm cases of microcephaly, Castro said the federal government was pushing states and local governments to speed up tests on newborns.

Castro, who will be traveling to the capital of the northeastern state of Bahia to oversee the ‘‘Zero Zika’’ campaign there, called on his compatriots to join the battle to eliminate Zika. He said that keeping homes free of mosquitoes was the most effective way to contain the virus until a vaccine is developed.

‘‘In this last 30 years we never managed to defeat the mosquito,’’ he said. ‘‘But this time we’re obligated to prevail because the mosquito has become much more dangerous.’’

See: 5 creative ways to stop mosquitoes

On Friday, a top official from the World Health Organization said a vaccine was approximately 18 months away.

Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, said 15 companies or groups have been identified as possible participants in the hunt for vaccines.

Castro, a psychiatrist by training who has spent much of the past two decades in Congress, was named minister in October as part of a Cabinet shake-up giving more power to President Dilma Rousseff’s coalition allies in a bid to shield her from looming impeachment proceedings.

His remarks in the early days of the health crisis drew sharp criticism and added to Brazilians’ anxiety. For example, he declared that Brazil was ‘‘losing ugly’’ in the fight against the mosquito, and urged women to pick up Zika before getting pregnant to develop immunity against the virus.

And you wonder why I think the way I do? 

Government telling you to go get infected! But they wouldn't do it to you! 

Now roll up that $leeve!

But in recent weeks, he’s helped mobilize the government to invest in the development of a vaccine with a Texas research lab, provide care to the hundreds of babies born with birth defects and deploy the military to carry out inspections for mosquito breeding sites.

During Saturday’s nationwide prevention drive, 220,000 troops accompanied by mosquito control teams plan to hand out pamphlets on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

Rousseff planned to travel to Rio de Janeiro, host of the Olympics in August, to oversee the effort. She also planned to dispatch Cabinet members to each of Brazil’s 27 states. 

Oh, yeah, maybe they out to rethink the Games!

Castro cited the Amazonian state of Acre, which managed to slash the incidence of dengue to 350 cases last year from over 30,000, as an example of the key role played by local communities. Dengue is transmitted by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito behind Zika.

‘‘If we’re asking society to get involved, we have to be the first ones to set an example,’’ said Castro. ‘‘Without them our fight will be difficult, and with them it will be difficult but not impossible.’’


Let the Games begin!

"US Olympic athletes raise alarm amid rapid spread of Zika in Brazil" by Shira Springer Globe Staff  February 22, 2016

The Zika virus and its possible connection to birth defects has caused heightened concern among American athletes — especially those heading for the Summer Olympics in August in Rio de Janeiro. They understand that major international competitions come with risks: terrorism, environmental hazards, illnesses uncommon in the United States. But Zika is creating concern on a more personal level.

“People finish the Olympics and restart other parts of their life,” said Glenn Merry, chief executive of USRowing. “Is there a long-term impact to childbearing? If not, what’s the medium- and short-term impact? We want to better educate our athletes so that they can make the decisions they need to make to protect themselves.”

Some high-profile athletes have already voiced concern about competing in the Summer Games. US soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo told Sports Illustrated this month that she wouldn’t go to the Rio Olympics “if I had to make the choice today.” She added, “Female athletes should not be forced to make a decision that could sacrifice the health of a child.”

Not tough enough to take it?

But the show must go on. There is too much at stake, especially financially.

You need to keep that in mind because it is the basis for my pre$$.

IOC president Thomas Bach told reporters he believes time is on the side of Brazilian organizers, who have begun to inspect venues for mosquito breeding areas and fumigated when necessary. Also, the Games will take place during Brazil’s winter, when the weather turns cooler and drier and the mosquito population decreases.

Still, Bach’s words and Brazil’s efforts would inspire more confidence if the waters slated for competition weren’t polluted with raw sewage.

And have been for years.

Organizers promised to clean up the water around Rio, but haven’t done so. With the Games drawing closer, Brazilian and Olympic officials have downplayed the risk the dirty water poses to athletes. Now, it’s only logical to wonder whether the Zika issue will follow the same pattern.

Then they wouldn't mind going in for a swim, right?

For better or worse, some Olympic veterans see this as a predictable part of the pre-Games spotlight on host cities.

Then why were the Russians raked over the coals by the very same pre$$ back in 2014?

“I’ve been through enough Olympics — three of them — and there’s always been some concern,” said Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan, a member of the US marathon team. “Every site has had their issues, and every time the media tends to build it up as horrendous. But every time I’ve arrived at an Olympic site, it’s exceeded my expectations. So I’m actually not worried.”

With less than six months until the Rio Games, here’s what we know about Zika:

As if the distorting, deceiving, obfuscating, and agenda-pushing pre$$ is "sorting out Zika fact from fiction."


Zika might take a bite out of the Games, huh?

Pope Francis signals openness to birth control for Zika virus

That's classic.

"Blood banks turning people away over Zika virus concerns" by Sheila Kaplan, February 3, 2016

WASHINGTON — Blood banks in the United States and Canada have begun turning away prospective donors who have visited Latin America in the past four weeks to avoid contaminating the blood supply with the Zika virus, according to officials with the group that represents nearly all of the blood donation centers in the United States.

The AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks, said it developed these guidelines with input from the Food and Drug Administration, as well as the American Red Cross, one of its members.

The FDA has said it is still developing its plans to ensure that the Zika virus does not infect the blood supply. Canada has just announced a one-month deferral on donations by people who have travelled to the Zika-affected countries.

“The FDA is still considering what to do about the Zika virus, and considering whether they want to make any binding recommendations,” said Dr. Steven Kleinman, AABB’s senior medical adviser. In the interim, AABB has issued recommendations to its members that call for blood banks to reject those donors.

Late Tuesday, the Red Cross, which handles about 40 percent of the US blood supply each year, said it would ask anyone who has traveled to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central or South America within 28 days to voluntarily delay donations. Donors who have traveled to Zika-affected areas and show symptoms of the virus after they have donated are urged to notify the Red Cross as soon as they feel ill.

There are tests to detect the Zika virus, but they are complex and are now done only by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a few state labs. Until they can be manufactured for use in blood banks, AABB also recommends that people who have traveled to Latin America or the tropics wait 28 days before donating blood.

Blood banks are being urged by AABB to require donors to monitor their health after they give blood, and report in if they have two of five symptoms: fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, eye pain, and rash.

The Zika virus is generally transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is prevalent in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, but also found in parts of the southern United States.

Many people who contract the Zika virus develop only a mild infection, often with flu-like symptoms and a skin rash. Some don’t even know they have it. But scientists suspect that Zika has caused thousands of babies to be born with microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains. In Brazil, more than 4,100 babies were reported to have been born with microcephaly — significantly more than is normally seen.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, infectious disease physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security, said that, for blood banks, “self-deferral is a reasonable action to take at this time.”

“We do need to develop a test quickly to screen donors, and it’s important to emphasize to the vast number of people that the Zika virus isn’t going to be bad,” he said.

Blood bank donor deferral has been used to stop the spread of infectious diseases through blood before. In some European countries, for example, travelers who have visited the United States during mosquito season must wait four weeks before donating, to ensure that they do not have West Nile disease.

The American Red Cross requires prospective donors to wait 12 months after traveling to a country where malaria is endemic before donating.


And now I'm not feeling well.

NDU: Zika infections confirmed in 9 pregnant women in US

Web Globe aborted that.

UPDATE: New evidence links Zika to brain defect

Like we would believe anything they say.

Also see: 

Google engineers to help track Zika virus

Somebody engineered something, and now it has shown up in the Philippines

This whole thing is starting to scream population control. 

I'll bet it shows up in Africa next!