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Lyme Disease Map of Reported Cases

New England Could Face Increase in Lyme Disease Cases

New England is experiencing a large rise in its amount of ticks, as compared to recent years.

“Much of the region got a respite last year as the drought took a toll on ticks, whose numbers drop as the humidity falls below 85 percent. But the drought is largely gone from the region and ticks are taking advantage.”

Residents in Maine have claimed they are finding as many as 30 ticks at a time on their clothes, and public health officials in Vermont are reporting an “above-average rate” of emergency room visits for tick bites in the last three weeks.

Alan Eaton, a tick expert with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, said the high numbers he has seen in New Hampshire are in line with what was expected, considering the high moisture levels and short dry periods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Lyme disease cases has tripled to about 30,000 cases nationwide annually, and Vermont had the highest rate of reported Lyme disease cases nationwide in 2015.

Catherine Brown, deputy state epidemiologist for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said when asked about this issue, “No matter what happens, there are a lot of ticks in New England. If there is a few fewer this year or more next year, then from a public health standpoint it doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot of ticks and great potential for exposure to the diseases they carry.”

An EPA registered Insect Repellent is highly recommended to avoid bites from ticks and other various disease carrying insects.

Mosquitoes Capable of Carrying Zika Are On The Move

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new data in the Journal of Medical Entomology, indicating that mosquitoes capable of spreading the Zika virus are being found in more areas of the country than initially reported.

This specific species capable of carrying the Zika virus (Aedes Aegypti mosquito) is generally limited to southern states, but new data show its presence is expanding.

“In late 2016, Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes were reported in 38 new counties, a 21% increase from previous years. Further, Aedes Albopictus mosquitoes were found in 127 new counties, a 10% increase from previous years.”

The rise of these mosquitoes should be worrisome for everyone in the country, as these are potentially carrying and spreading the Zika virus.

Zika is no longer only spreading through the United States from people traveling to Zika prone areas and bringing it over, as it once was.

“In the fall of 2016, though, local transmission of the Zika virus was reported in Southern Florida.”

“Since that fall outbreak, local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in Brownsville, Texas. As the mosquito continues to expand in the lower states, the possibility of additional Zika outbreaks may occur.”

It is best advised to avoid all bites from mosquitoes, as you never know what a mosquito could be carrying until it’s too late.

Using an insect repellent is a very effective way of repelling mosquitos and avoiding a potentially dangerous bite.

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Zika in U.S. Gulf Coast Could Cost $1.2 Billion

A 1% attack rate of Zika on the Gulf Coast would “have a vast economic impact of more than $183 million, including $117.1 million in direct medical costs and $66.3 million in productivity losses” (Lee) according to a computational model developed by Bruce Y. Lee, MD, associate professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues.

These are tremendously high numbers for America to worry about.

Once birth defects were discovered to be caused by Zika, President Barack Obama requested a $1.9 billion to fund, and after a stalemate lasting months, the U.S. Senate approved $1.1 billion in Zika funding as part of a stopgap bill to keep the federal government running.

J. Hotez, MD, PhD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics, was disappointed to write in his Infectious Disease News, “This is part of an ongoing series of disappointments coming out of Washington,” referring to congress not being able to protect pregnant women from the Zika virus.

Lee and Hotez did conduct a study, but they believe they do not have enough support for their argument on the Zika funding.

“For their study, they developed an economic model to estimate Zika-related costs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas for an epidemic lasting 230 days – a duration that was based on the outbreak of Zika-related microcephaly in Northeast Brazil. They based their estimates on calculations of costs associated with clinical outcomes, medical and Medicaid costs and productivity losses. Importantly, because the economic impact of microcephaly is not well studied, the researchers substituted estimates for autism, which they said are likely to be lower. According to their estimates, the economic impact of $1.2 billion for an attack rate of just 1% — far lower than attack rates observed for Zika outbreaks in French Polynesia and Micronesia — would include $268 million in in direct medical costs and $919.2 million in productivity losses” (Lee).

“Given the tremendous uncertainty surrounding potential attack rates for Zika in the U.S., our model and study demonstrated how various outcomes and costs would vary based on attack rate and other circumstances,”

“Without details regarding the Zika-prevention measures that would be implemented and how effective these may be, it is unclear what percentage of these costs may be averted.”

After these studies, it is very clear that Zika will cost America a lot of money unless something is done to prevent the spread of it.

The most effective way to prevent this disease today is to avoid a mosquito bite altogether. An EPA registered insect repellent is highly recommended to avoid bites, as well as a repellent using the main active ingredient IR 3535 as it is much safer than a Deet product.

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Zika Virus Causing Brain Issues in Adolescents

Zika has been projected to relate to “increased incidence of neurologic manifestations, including Guillain-Barré Syndrome, meningoencephalitis, and memory loss.”

After an adolescent traveled to a Zika virus–endemic island in the southern Caribbean in the summer of 2016, the teen began to experience Zika-related symptoms (sore throat, headache, diffuse scarlatiniform rash, joint pain, confusion, and short-term memory loss), although they appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary.

While in a doctor’s examination, the patient received extensive laboratory testing, and the urine reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) results tested positive for the Zika virus.

“Three days after symptoms onset serologic results were positive for Epstein-Barr virus, consistent with the patient’s history of infection 15 months earlier. Five days after symptom onset, the sore throat, headache, rash and joint pain resolved; however, 8 days after symptom onset, the neuropsychiatric symptoms worsened and included excessive energy, decreased sleep, rapid and tangential speech, grandiose thinking, impulsivity, decreased inhibition, and behavioral regression suggestive of hypomania.”

This only shows how just 8 days after symptoms had onset symptoms of brain issues were coming about. In following days, there were no abnormalities in the patient’s brain compared to a healthy brain.

However, “Seven weeks after symptom onset, single-photon emission computed tomography revealed mildly heterogeneous cerebral cortical perfusion, with focal moderate-to-severe hypoperfusion in the inferior left frontal region neuropsychological testing demonstrated evidence of superior intellectual probably reflecting function before illness.”

“Processing speed was significantly slowed relative to other skills. Performance on most memory tests and tests of executive function was within normal limits yet lower than expected given reported performance before illness. Immediate and delayed visual recall of the Rey complex figure was poor, reflecting primary difficulty encoding new visual information. On a standardized behavioral questionnaire, the patient self-reported psychiatric symptoms including anxiety, racing thoughts, and an inability to turn off thoughts. The patient had not experienced racing thoughts before the Zika virus infection, and the anxiety symptoms had worsened since the infection. In addition, the patient reported significant and functionally limiting fatigue. Nine weeks after onset, symptoms were better but not resolved; because of concerns that these symptoms were triggered by a postinfectious immune-mediated process, a trial of intravenous immunoglobulin was administered. Fifteen weeks after symptom onset, the patient’s symptoms were better but not fully resolved.”

These comparative results go on to prove there is a relationship between this person contracting the Zika virus and their cognitive issues.

“The changes on single-photon emission computed tomographs and neuropsychological test scores raise the possibility that Zika virus infection may trigger neuropsychiatric and cognitive symptoms. Although we cannot prove that the patient’s symptoms were related to Zika virus, clinicians should be aware of this potential association and the value of closely monitoring patients with Zika virus infection.”

This quote ending the article wraps up what should be most noted to the reader. The adolescent’s symptoms were potentially related to Zika, and there is reason to worry if further testing proves Zika can cause cognitive damage.

An insect repellent can be sued effectively to repel the mosquitoes that carry Zika, removing the threat of contracting the disease in the first place.

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Researchers Discover Zika Stopping Molecule

A molecule that prevents the spread of the Zika virus has been identified by researchers at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.

Alexey Terskikh, an assistant professor at the institute, and SBP professor Alex Strongin published this finding in the journal Antiviral Research saying, “We identified a small molecule that inhibits the Zika virus protease, and show that it blocks viral propagation in human cells and in mice” (Horn).

Terskikh seems very positive in his findings, saying “The fact that the compound seems to work in vivo is really promising, so we plan to use it as a starting point to make an even more potent and effective drug.”

However, more work is needed according to Terskikh, “In addition to a Zika vaccine, we still need antivirals,” “Some people may be exposed who haven’t been vaccinated. Having a way to treat the infection could help stop Zika from spreading and prevent its sometimes devastating effects.”

This research is still going to continue with an experimental vaccine moving into phase 2 clinical trials at SBP in June.

Until further research is conducted and a Zika prevention is created it is recommended that an EPA registered insect repellent is used to repel a Zika carrying mosquito.

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Photo by USFWSmidwest on Flickr

Deet is Being Found in Our Water

Chemicals from the products we use (shampoo, conditioner, body soap, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.) are finding their ways into our environment.

Traces of chemicals have been found polluting surface water, ground water, and even some drinking water.

A recent study provided enough information to prove chemicals, such as Deet (from insect repellent), have found their way into rivers, streams, and other sources of water. These chemicals are very toxic to the wildlife that uses any affected water.

Deet specifically has very harmful effects to the environment, as it is toxic and flammable.

Another study found active ingredients in Antarctic sea water, proving that active ingredients can find their way into any water. Wildlife has been directly impacted, as Oysters and Mussels captured from Chesapeake Bay were found with traces of sunscreen on them.

Another reason to be concerned is septic tanks have been proven to discharge pollutants into groundwater and surface water in New York and parts of New England.

“Groundwater samples were collected from well networks tapping glacial till in New England (NE) and sandy surficial aquifer New York (NY) during one sampling round in 2011. The NE network assesses the effect of a single large septic system that receives discharge from an extended health care facility for the elderly. The NY network assesses the effect of many small septic systems used seasonally on a densely populated portion of Fire Island. The data collected from these two networks indicate that hydrogeologic and demographic factors affect micropollutant concentrations in these systems.”

This means these septic systems tested were positive to have been affecting nearby waters with pollutants.

“These findings suggest that septic systems serving institutional settings and densely populated areas in coastal settings may be locally important sources of micropollutants to adjacent aquifer and marine systems.”

“The primary concern is for the introduction of the contaminants to surface waters through groundwater inputs which may result in aquatic animal exposure.”

Because of these incidents occurring, I would suggest an insect repellent that uses the main active ingredient IR3535 rather than a Deet product, as IR3535 is not toxic to animal life in waters and is less prone to degrade in water.

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Lyme Disease is Surging in the United States

Lyme disease is steadily on the rise in the United States.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that about 300,000 people have Lyme disease each year.”

Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through deer ticks, which can be repelled with an effective insect repellent.

This disease is much closer to us than we think; actor Alec Baldwin recently opened up to reveal he has been battling Lyme disease himself.

Baldwin said in an interview, “I really thought this is it. I’m not going to live. I was lying in bed saying, ‘I’m going to die of Lyme disease’.”

Alec Baldwin is not the only notable name to have gotten Lyme disease; Avril Lavigne, Yolanda Foster and her two children, and Anwar Hadid have also discussed their experiences with this disease.

The CDC revealed 95% of the confirmed Lyme diseases cases in 2015 occurred in 14 states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Citizens in these fourteen states specifically should be more cautious. Wear in insect repellent that will be comfortable on the skin as you should use it every day to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease.

For comfort, I would suggest an IR 3535 based product, as it is non-greasy, lightweight, and odorless.

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Zika Carrying Mosquitoes Found In New Mexico For the Second Consecutive Year

The Aedes Aegypti (species of mosquito that can transmit Zika virus) has been found again in Doña Ana County, NM.

This is second consecutive year this mosquito species has been found in this part of the state. Last year, Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes were found in Doña Ana, Eddy, Sierra, Lea, and Chaves counties.

This is very concerning to not only New Mexico residents, but occupants of the Southwest United States and it could eventually spread even further.

Ten cases of Zika were reported in New Mexico in 2016, and in each case, travelers were infected abroad and diagnosed after they returned home.

People traveling abroad this summer should be concerned about Zika transmission, especially women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, as Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects (microcephaly).

Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid getting the Zika virus.

Try to avoid areas where mosquitoes lay eggs, such as in and near standing water in containers like old tires, buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases.

To avoid Zika and other viruses spread by mosquitos, such as the West Nile Virus, NMDOH (New Mexico Department of Health) has a few strong recommendations. “Look around your home and remove any standing water that may be found in small containers and then scrub out the containers to remove any mosquito eggs. The small squiggly creatures found in standing water are mosquito larvae that will turn into adult mosquitoes in a few days.”

“Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for children and pregnant or breast-feeding women.” “Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.”

“Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.”

To follow what is highly recommended, use an EPA registered insect repellent to stop from being infected in the first place.

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