Zika virus News

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2016

February

February 1

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus and health problems it is causing, "a public health emergency of international concern". The WHO has declared it a public health emergency over concerns on how fast the virus is spreading and also the link to an alarming spike in babies born with microcephaly (babies born with abnormally small heads), in Brazil and French Polynesia.

Three new cases of Zika virus were confirmed at Harris County in Houston, United States. The total number of patients contracted with the virus in Harris County becomes 4.

February 2

The first reported case of sexual transmission of Zika virus in the United States is reported in Texas.

February 5

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called for countries with Zika virus outbreak to make available sexual and reproductive health counselling to women and uphold their right to terminate pregnancies. "Laws and policies that restrict her access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice," he said.

Panama is planning to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes to try and combat spread of Zika virus. Panama has 50 confirmed cases of Zika virus so far.

Scientists of a Brazilian health research institute find active Zika virus in urine and saliva samples. This new finding will require further study.

February 6

Queensland health minister confirms two positive cases of Zika. In both cases, the virus was contracted abroad. Both are recovering well.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos confirms more than 25,000 Zika cases in Colombia. The number is projected to reach 600,000 before the epidemic reaches its ceiling.

February 7

Australian government announces it would contribute up to $500,000 to Tonga and other pacific countries to stop spread of Zika virus.

February 11

Three persons died in Venezuela because of complications of Zika virus. The total number of Zika virus cases in the country reach 319.

February 12

A top official of the World Health Organization says that a vaccine for Zika virus is approximately 18 months away. WHO also says that a test to diagnose Zika virus easily could be available within weeks.

Brazil health minister Marcelo Castro says that they are absolutely sure of the connection between Zika virus and microcephaly cases.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its director Dr. Tom Frieden holds a hour long chat on Twitter to answer questions about Zika virus and microcephaly.

First case of microcephaly because of Zika virus in Honduras is reported.

A 50 percent jump in the number of dengue cases were reported by the Brazil Health Ministry. According to the statistics released, there are 74,000 probable cases of dengue fever in a three week period from Jan 3 to Jan 23, compared to a year ago.

Hawaii Governor David Ige declares state of emergency to combat mosquito-borne illnesses including dengue fever and Zika virus.

February 13

Brazil deploys 220,000 soldiers to distribute 4 million pamphlets advising people of risks of Zika virus. The exercise is aimed at boosting the morale of the people.

Colombia has reported over 31,555 confirmed cases of Zika infection. More than 5,013 pregnant women are infected with Zika.

The World Health Organization in its weekly report said that they have seen a rise in a rare neurological disorder Guillain–Barré syndrome in Latin American countries where Zika is active.

February 15

Jamaica Health Ministry releases a public service annoucement about the ongoing Zika virus outbreak

The second case of Zika virus in a pregnant women was reported in Spain. The total number of cases of Zika virus in Spain has now reached 23.

February 16

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended delays for blood donation from people who are deemed at risk of having the Zika virus.

World Health Organization launches a global Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan to deal with Zika virus and associated diseases. The WHO says $56 million is required to implement the framework and the plan.

Panama declares nation-wide health alert because of Zika virus.

February 18

Pope Francis hinted that use of contraception by women in places of Zika virus outbreak may be permissible. He however insisted abortion is still considered a crime.

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with experts from the Food and Drug Administration and the Health and Human Services department met with counterparts from Brazil's leading biomedical research centers. The researchers will work together to develop a Zika vaccine.

U.N. Environment Program Director Achim Steiner linked Zika virus with Climate Change. Steiner urged nations to take more aggressive action to combat climate change, underscoring findings that show a significant number of premature deaths are attributed to environmental problems. "Skin cancer. Lung cancer. Asthma. Lead poisoning. Mercury poisoning. Malaria. Ebola. Zika. The list of health conditions that can be linked to environmental pollution and degradation is long and growing," he said.

Malicious spam campaign
Symantec, a popular anti-virus company, has reported that cyber criminals are trying to capitalize on the Zika virus scare. The Security Response unit of Symantec observed a malicious spam campaign. The malicious spam email claims to be from Saúde Curiosa (Curious Health), a health and wellness website in Brazil. The subject of the email says, “ZIKA VIRUS! ISSO MESMO, MATANDO COM ÁGUA!” which translates to: “Zika Virus! That's Right, killing it with water!" The email itself uses imagery and text taken from a real article on Saúde Curiosa, but includes buttons and attachments to try to capture the recipient’s attention, such as “Eliminating Mosquito! Click Here!” and “Instructions To Follow! Download!” as well as a file attachment. The links behind these buttons lead to the URL shortening service Bitly, which redirects to the file hosting service Dropbox. Symantec products detect both the file hosted on Dropbox and the file attached to the email as JS.Downloader. Once a user is infected with JS.Downloader, it will attempt to download additional malware onto the compromised computer.

February 19

First case of Zika virus in Ontario, Canada was confirmed. The person contracted the virus in Colombia.

February 20

Brazilian scientists obtain the genome sequence of Zika virus. They find that the Zika virus is responsible for microcephaly.

Colombia announces that it has 37,011 confirmed cases of Zika virus in the country. More than 6,536 pregnant women are infected with Zika.

Panama Health Minister says that the total number of Zika virus in the country climbs to 73. A first case reported outside of Guna Yala has been reported in village of Pacora.

February 22

Cuban President Raul Castor assigns 9,000 military personnel to keep Zika virus out of Cuba. The soldiers will spray in neighborhoods and eliminate breeding spots for mosquitoes.

An epidemiologists' team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived in Brazil. They will train their Brazilian counterparts and will begin gathering information from 100 mothers who gave birth to children with microcephaly after the Zika outbreak.

A Brazilian non-profit called Moscamed will use cobalt-60 irradiator to sterilize 12 million male mosquitoes a week. They would be released in target areas which will result in female mosquitoes laying infertile eggs. If the program is found successful, the Brazilian government will expand the program to other towns and cities.

Two more Zika cases were confirmed in Florida bringing the total count to 28. In all the cases, the virus was contracted while traveling outside the U.S., in Latin and Central America.

The first case of Zika virus in Washington State was confirmed by the CDC. The man in his 20s visited South Pacific where he contracted the virus.

Two more persons in Pennsylvania state of the U.S. were tested positive for Zika virus. The total number of Zika cases in the State reach 4.

February 23

U.S. health officials are investigating at least 14 cases of Zika virus spread through sexual transmission. CDC has confirmed that two pregnant women in the 14 cases are positive for Zika. In all of the 14 cases, men have traveled outside the U.S. and women have no recent history of traveling outside the country.

WHO Director General Margaret Chan says Brazil is doing a good job in tackling Zika virus to ensure 2016 Rio Olympics will be safe for athletes and visitors.

Pathologists and clinical laboratory scientists at Texas Children's Hospital and Houston Methodist Hospital developed a "Zika direct test" that would quickly determine if a patient has the virus. The Zika direct test is the first hospital-based rapid tests for Zika virus in the country.

First case of Zika virus in Seminole County of Florida reported, bringing the total number of cases to 29.

February 25

The first case of Zika virus in Japan in 2016 was announced. The male teenager was infected the virus in Brazil.

February 26

Two travel-related cases of Zika virus were confirmed in State of Iowa. This brings the total count of Zika cases in Iowa to 3.

Two new cases of Zika virus were confirmed in Orange County of Florida.

February 27

The first case of Zika virus spread through sexual transmission in France was confirmed on 27 February 2016. A woman was diagnosed with virus when her male partner returned from Brazil. The woman is not-pregnant and not hospitalized.

February 29

The first Zika case in Argentina was notified to the World Health Organization.

March

March 1

First case of Zika virus in Chicago of Illinois confirmed. A woman was tested positive after returning from Colombia.

First case of Zika in Utah confirmed. A child between the ages of 2 and 10 contracted the virus while traveling outside.

March 2

The first case of Zika virus in Slovakia was announced by the country's health minister Viliam Cislak. A woman who traveled to South America contracted the virus.

The first Zika case in Napa County of California is announced. A pregnant woman contracted the virus while she was in South America.

March 6

The first case of Zika virus in Missouri is confirmed. A man contracted the virus while traveling in Haiti.

March 7

SC Johnson has donated 60,000 can and bottles of its product OFF! as part of their $15 million donation effort to slow the spread of Zika virus. The mosquito repellent will come in prevention kits given out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The effort will focus on helping pregnant women in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Island, and American Samoa.

UC San Francisco hosted a symposium with researchers from UCSF, Berkeley, Davis and Stanford along with public health officials.

Pennsylvania State Department of Health announced that there are six confirmed cases of Zika virus.

Canada's chief public health officer says 20 Canadians have contracted Zika virus after traveling in Zika outbreak destinations. No cases of Zika virus contracted locally were reported.

Walgreens announced that it is working with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to educate people and prevent spread of Zika virus in Puerto Rico. Walgreens also donated $100,000 to the CDC Foundation.

March 8

Zika virus confirmed in a patient who resides in Grayson County of Texas.

March 9

A sexually transmitted case of Zika virus was confirmed in Polk County of Florida.

WHO says traditional insecticide spraying methods have had no significant impact in slowing down dengue and the same could be applied to Zika virus. Health experts say that there can be other species of mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus, but it is unclear if they can infect humans.

The first case of Zika virus in Kentucky was confirmed in a man who contracted the virus in a Central American country.

March 10

Three persons, including two pregnant women, were tested positive for Zika virus in Norway. All the three contracted the virus while traveling in Latin America.

March 11

The first Zika virus case in Kansas, United States was confirmed by the CDC.

March 12

WHO's Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Ala Alwan praised Kuwait for taking measures to prevent Zika virus. The Middle East is free from Zika virus.