As expected, the number of Zika cases in steadily rising in the United States, and now it appears that hundreds of pregnant women in this country have been infected with the virus that has been traced to severe birth defects.
More than 400 pregnant women now have Zika in the US – up from 364 last week.
Another three babies have also been diagnosed with the virus, bringing the total number of infected infants to seven, according to new data from the CDC.
It comes amid fears that American mosquitoes may now be infected with Zika after a woman in Miami contracted the virus without traveling abroad.
A man in Utah has also been diagnosed with Zika after caring for his Zika-infected father, who died last month.
In a desperate bid to curb the spread, the CDC awarded $60 million in grants to states on Thursday.
The spread through the rest of the Americas has been such that the Aedes aegypti mosquito has been deemed the “most dangerous animal in the world” by Germany’s Spiegel International Online.
The fear of a global Zika outbreak has put the spotlight on an insect that was long seen as the smaller, less dangerous brother of the Anopheles, which spreads malaria. But times are changing. Whereas the Anopheles was the mosquito of the 20th century, the Aedes aegypti seems intent on taking that crown for the 21st.
The number of people dying of malaria has long been in decline, but Aedes-spread dengue fever, by contrast, is now considered the fastest spreading mosquito-borne illness in the world. Fully 128 countries are now considered at risk of dengue and around 400 million people become infected each year, according to WHO. Most of them suffer from rashes, joint pain and high fever. But an estimated 20,000 per year have a different reaction: They experience severe internal bleeding which often ends in death.
It took dengue fever half a century before the WHO’s map of affected areas slowly turned red. But in the case of Zika, it is as though someone dumped a bucket of red paint on half the world. After the virus arrived in Brazil in 2013, likely by plane from French Polynesia, it only took a few months for it to spread to 60 countries. And everywhere Zika became established, it had been preceded by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
More troubling than this designation are the report that a close relative of Aedes aegypti, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) can transmit Zika.
….Unlike Aedes aegypti, which is mainly found in areas where the weather is warm year-round, Aedes albopictus can tolerate colder weather, and in the United States it is found as far north as New York and New Jersey.
Sadly, it appears as if New York City has had two “firsts” related to Zika infection.
New York City has reported its first case of a baby born with the birth defect microcephaly related to exposure to the Zika virus, health officials said on Friday.
New York City Department of Health officials said the baby’s mother was infected after traveling to an area with ongoing Zika transmission. They declined to provide further details about the mother or child.
So far, the city has reported 346 cases of Zika infections, all related to travel. Of these, four have been linked to sexual transmission, including the first case ever of a woman transmitting the virus to a male partner.
The infant is the 12th baby born with microcephaly since the outbreak of this disease in the US. The cost estimates for the long term care of these children is staggering, and could hit the billions.
It looks like in addition to the “War on Terror” the next President will have to lead the fight against the “most dangerous animal on Earth” and its cousin! Perhaps something to consider when deciding who to pull the lever for in November?DONATE
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