Zika in 30 seconds: What you need to know today
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Have 30 seconds? Here’s what you need to know today about the Zika virus.

Tuesday, Aug. 23

The big news right now

  • Florida has confirmed 5 new non-travel-related cases of Zika: 4 in Miami and one in Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg is located (WFLA)
  • South Dakota confirmed its first Zika case in a woman who traveled overseas (AP)
  • Indian track and field Olympian Sudha Singh, who participated in the Rio Games, was briefly quarantined due to concerns she may have contracted Zika, but she has since tested negative (Times of India)

On people’s lips

“Zika is one of those diseases that is always like an iceberg — you just see the tip.” — Alessandro Vespignani, computer scientist at Northeastern University (NPR)

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Rio debrief

Today’s must-read

  • Zika took her baby. She doesn’t want it to happen to you (NBC News)

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Monday, Aug. 22

The big news right now

  • Today kids go back to school in Miami-Dade County, Fla. (USA Today)
  • An Orlando sperm and egg bank won’t sell any samples collected after Aug. 1, until a screening test for Zika is approved (WUSF)
  • Zika will very likely spread locally on the Gulf Coast, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci says (VOA)

On people’s lips

“During pregnancy, a woman often worries about the food she’s eating, if she’s sleeping in the right position. The threat of Zika doesn’t just alter the equation: It blows it up.” — Gynecologist Dr. Kristyn Brandi (Washington Post)

Number of the day: 270

The upper bound of the number of cases of Zika birth defects expected in Puerto Rico through the middle of next year. (JAMA)

Today’s must-read


Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 20-21

The big news right now

  • Florida confirmed that the Zika virus is now spreading locally in Miami Beach, as the CDC urged pregnant women to avoid the area (STAT)
  • Puerto Rico reported its first death from Zika-related Guillain-Barre syndrome (AP)
  • The CDC updated its interim clinical guidance for health care providers caring for babies born to mothers possibly infected with the Zika virus (CDC)

High-rises = no aerial spraying

According to CDC Director Tom Frieden, the many high-rises in Miami Beach, as well as strong winds, prevent aerial spraying of insecticides to kill off Zika-carrying mosquitoes. The high-rises make it impossible for planes to get low enough for the spraying to be effective, while strong winds also hinder the flights. (AP)

Today’s must-reads

  • In Florida, expectant mothers are covering up, staying indoors, even leaving town as they try to cope with the Zika virus (New York Times)
  • Zika cases jump to 170 in California (Los Angeles Daily News)

Friday, Aug. 19

The big news right now

  • Zika is believed to have spread to Miami Beach, which could lead to a travel advisory for the tourist destination (STAT)
  • 30 people in Puerto Rico have come down with Guillain-Barré syndrome after being infected with Zika; as many as 200 cases are eventually expected (NBC News)
  • Two individuals may have contracted the Zika virus after receiving blood transfusions from an infected donor in Brazil in January (CBS News)
  • Six public schools near the Wynwood area of Miami are distributing free school uniforms, consisting of long-sleeved shirts and pants, to families (Miami Herald)

Small solicitors

“Can we come in to look around quickly? We won’t take long!” So said 11-year-old Miguel to a resident of Campina Grande, Brazil, whose door he had knocked on. Schools in the city have begun training students to go door-to-door to tell neighbors about Zika, which meets two needs: Local health officials lack the resources to hire staff to do it, and schools want to educate their students about the virus. And the inspections come with a perfect kid touch: a sticker for residents to keep. (UNICEF)

Today’s must-reads

  • In the race to develop a Zika vaccine, volunteers are needed to be infected with the virus (AP)
  • Pregnant women with Zika have no way of knowing for sure if their baby will be healthy (Quartz)

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Thursday, Aug. 18

The big news right now

  • A Taiwanese woman contracted Zika in Miami (Taiwan CDC)
  • Two Florida billboards showing an unrolled condom to urge protection against Zika have been removed because the tourism board worried they were inaccurate (WSVN)
  • Guatemala has confirmed its first case of Zika-linked microcephaly (Reuters)

Lingo to know

Hofbauer cells: A type of immune cell, found in the placenta, which has been recently discovered to play an important role in Zika transmission to a fetus. The cells appear to physically harbor the virus, according to a new study. (The Atlantic)

On people’s lips

“My gynecologist told me being pregnant with twins, there are more dangers than Zika.” — Puerto Rico resident Tahiri Velez Rosario (USA Today)

Today’s must-read


Wednesday, Aug. 17

The big news right now

  • Poland has confirmed its first two cases of Zika infection (Radio Poland)
  • New York City officials said that 49 pregnant women have tested positive for Zika since April, and one baby was born with microcephaly (WABC)

Zika refugee

Pregnant Miami resident Christina Frigo is a refugee from her city because of Zika. Now living in the suburbs of Chicago, Frigo says some of her pregnant friends are scared and feeling trapped in Miami, but that she’s met problems elsewhere too — for instance, doctors who have cancelled her appointments after learning she was previously living in a Zika-affected area. (The New Tropic)

Today’s must-reads

  • If you drink beer, sweat a lot, or have type O blood, mosquitoes may find you especially desirable (CBS)
  • Mosquito guns and heavy fines: how Cuba kept Zika at bay for so long (Nature News)

Tuesday, Aug. 16

The big news right now

  • The first case of travel-related Zika within the US has been reported — in a Texas resident who contracted the virus in Miami (USA Today)
  • Two more cases of locally acquired Zika have been reported in Miami-Dade County, bringing the state’s total to 30 (CBS)
  • Pregnant women on Medicaid in Texas can drop by any pharmacy to get two free cans of mosquito repellant per month (CBS)
  • Canada is developing a national surveillance program to track pregnant women who test positive for Zika (Ottawa Citizen)

Spray update

After 10 days of insecticide spraying in Miami, officials report mixed results. The Wynwood area, which received two types of spraying — one to kill larvae and another to kill adults — has seen a drop in the population of Aedes aegypti. But the surrounding area, which just received chemicals to kill adults, has actually seen a rise in mosquito numbers. (Miami Herald)

Number of the day: $4 million

That’s the lifetime cost of raising a child with congenital Zika infection. (Wired)

Today’s must-reads

  • Could a special government reserve fund help in dealing with emergencies such as the Zika crisis in the future? (STAT)
  • Close to the outbreak, a quiet Brazilian village is spared from Zika (Washington Post)

Monday, Aug. 15

The big news right now

  • The flooding that struck Louisiana over the weekend may increase Zika risk in its wake (USA Today)
  • Pesticide spraying in Miami has been met with some protests (Local 10)
  • Singer Demi Lovato posted a Snapchat video of her mom joking about Zika, which drew immediate criticism (Huffington Post)

Zika scare

The first Olympic athlete to possibly have been infected by Zika is Indian wrestler Babita Kumari. Kumari came down with a fever and body aches; Zika was suspected but never confirmed. She’s back to good health, according to media reports. (First Post)

Today in odd headlines: Bite me

At the Russian Mosquito Festival in Berezniki, there’s an award for getting the most mosquito bites — which this year went to a 9-year-old girl with 43 bites from berry-picking in the forest with her mother. Mosquitoes there, luckily, don’t appear to carry the Zika virus. (AP)

Today’s must-reads

  • The race for a Zika vaccine (New Yorker)
  • Brazil defeated the mosquito that spreads Zika once before — few expect it to do so again (LA Times)

Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 13-14

The big news right now

  • HHS declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico as the island reported 10,690 cases of Zika, including 1,035 involving pregnant women (STAT)
  • Three new cases of local mosquito-acquired Zika have been reported in Florida, bringing the total number to 28 (NBC News)
  • A southeastern Michigan county has its first confirmed Zika case (Associated Press)

Trump on Zika funding

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Congress should approve funding to fight the Zika virus. In comments to the Miami Herald covering a variety of topics, Trump said he would “let some of the funds that they’re asking for come in. … They’re fighting for it, and hopefully that’s going to be approved very soon.” He also praised Florida Governor Rick Scott’s handling of the current outbreak in Miami: “And I think it’ll be fine.”

Number of the day: 25 percent

The percentage of Puerto Rico residents who could be infected with the Zika virus by the end of the year. (STAT)

Today’s must-read

  • In New York City’s fight against Zika, the focus is shifting away from mosquitoes to sex (New York Times)

Friday, Aug. 12

The big news right now

  • The Zika virus may remain in men’s semen twice as long as previously reported — up to six months and maybe longer (STAT)
  • With funds running out, the Obama administration has been forced to shift money around to fight Zika (STAT)
  • The CDC added Cayman Islands to its Zika travel risk list (CDC)
  • Three new cases of local mosquito-acquired Zika in Miami have been identified, bringing the statewide total to 25 (Sun Sentinel)
  • Canada has reported its first case of Zika-linked microcephaly (Ottawa Citizen)

Brazil’s Zika babies grow up

The immense cost of raising Brazil’s babies with congenital Zika syndrome is straining poor families and the government that supports them. The epidemic is overwhelming hospitals and clinics, which struggle to find enough doctors, therapists — and even basic supplies, such as infant feeding tubes — to meet the need.

STAT’s Melissa Bailey went to Recife, the epicenter of the crisis, to meet the family of one of the country’s first diagnosed infants with the syndrome, baby Duda, who is now 8 months old. Read the full story here.

For this senator, it’s personal

US Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has called for Congress to end its vacation early to pass Zika funding. And he has a personal investment in this case: His daughter, who lives in Miami, is five months pregnant with her first child and his first grandchild, he said at a recent press conference. “It seems to me that we are not doing enough to protect women like my daughter, before they get pregnant, during, and after.” (YouTube)

Today’s must-read

  • Beyond Zika: How Congress is flirting with medical disaster (The New Republic)

Thursday, Aug. 11

The big news right now

  • The Bahamas reported its first confirmed case of Zika (AP)
  • An additional case of local mosquito-acquired Zika infection has been reported in Miami-Dade County, bringing the total number in Florida to 22 (Miami Herald)
  • Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is in Puerto Rico today talking with doctors and residents about Zika (Twitter)

A drought, water politics, and Brazil’s Zika crisis

A prolonged drought and long-standing issues with its water infrastructure underlie Recife, Brazil’s Zika problem and why the area became a hotbed for the virus. In some neighborhoods, for example, the state utility agency runs water only a few times a week, and residents are left to store water in whatever containers they have, providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes. (Frontline)

Range at risk

Scientists have created a new model of where local Zika transmission might occur, taking into account both climate and socioeconomic factors. Blue areas are those considered most at risk in both dimensions.

Today’s must-read

  • I got Zika. The US health care system had no idea what to do with me (Vox)

Wednesday, Aug. 10

The big news right now

  • Texas reported its first Zika-related death, of a baby born with microcephaly and other birth defects (STAT)
  • Florida has reported four additional cases of Zika likely acquired through local mosquito bites, bringing the total to 21 (Governor’s office)
  • In her visit to a Miami health clinic, Hillary Clinton called on Congress to reconvene to pass Zika funding (STAT)
  • USAID has awarded $15 million in grants to 21 pilot projects to combat Zika (USAID)
  • Businesses in the epicenter of Miami’s Zika outbreak are suffering and asking for help, including the creation of an emergency fund (Miami Herald)

Candidate divide

Today’s must-read


Tuesday, Aug. 9

The big news right now

  • Cayman Islands, in the Caribbean, has reported its first locally transmitted Zika infection (Reuters)
  • In addition to neurological effects, Zika can cause joint problems in babies when infected in utero, a new study finds (USA Today)
  • Florida officials are investigating Palm Beach County’s first reported case of non-travel-related Zika, bringing the statewide total to 17 people (Palm Beach Post)

What’s ahead

Hillary Clinton will take a detour from talking about job creation in Florida to discuss Zika today. Later today she will tour the Borinquen Medical Center, which is near the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami where most of the local transmission of the virus has occurred to date. She’s expected to call on Congress to reconvene to approve Zika response funding. (Washington Times)

Number of the day: 65%

The share of Americans who say they are “not too” or “not at all” worried about being infected with Zika or an immediate family member becoming infected, according to a new poll. (Washington Post/ABC News)

Today’s must-read

  • While small biotechs and government researchers are racing to develop a Zika vaccine, the world’s top-tier drug companies are largely watching from the sidelines (STAT)

Monday, Aug. 8

The big news right now

  • Aerial mosquito spraying began this weekend in Miami, focusing on the Wynwood neighborhood (NBC)
  • “Zika” appears to be the crowd’s favored taunt of American athletes in Rio (USA Today)
  • Puerto Rico’s doctors are offering free birth control to all women on the island (NPR)
  • Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has been in favor of Zika legislation, said on Saturday that pregnant women infected with the virus shouldn’t be able to have abortions (Politico)

Viral shrine

Today’s must-read

  • She went to Miami to report about the Zika virus, but she may have ended up contracting it as well (Reveal)

Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 6-7

The big news right now

  • Florida took a step closer to releasing genetically modified mosquitoes as a way to combat Zika (STAT)
  • The FTC has sent 10 warning letters to marketers for making questionable claims about purported anti-Zika products (FTC)
  • Florida identified a new non-travel-related case of Zika infection in the epicenter of the current outbreak (Florida Health Department)

On people’s lips

“We’ve gone from getting zero Zika specimens to getting hundreds a day.” — Dr. Jennifer Rakeman, New York City’s chief Zika hunter. (Wall Street Journal)

Today’s must-reads

  • Now that local transmission of the Zika virus has hit the US, Congress needs to stop playing politics and provide funding (STAT)
  • Why developing a Zika vaccine will probably be a slow slog (Quartz)
  • In Recife, Brazil, medical professionals and women’s health advocates rally around children born with Zika-related microcephaly, and their mothers (Huffington Post)
  • Puerto Rico is getting hammered by Zika, but its residents don’t seem too concerned (CNN)

Friday, Aug. 5

The big news right now

  • A STAT-Harvard poll found most Americans favor allowing late-term abortions in cases where a pregnant mother is infected with Zika (STAT)
  • President Obama urges Congress to pass Zika funding (STAT)
  • Three separate Zika vaccines have shown efficacy in monkeys (NBC)
  • With the Olympics here, there are plenty of bikinis but nary a mosquito in Rio (STAT)

I dare you to wear this

Japanese firm Bibilab has designed a Zika suit that is essentially a head-to-toe net to keep wearers from getting bitten by mosquitoes. The outfit makes the wearer look as if he or she is surrounded by a force field. Bibilab says that while it offers protection, it will not offer 100 percent protection. (Daily Mail)

On people’s lips

“We have bigger mosquitoes to squash than Zika — like ISIS, the national debt, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We have a wall to build to keep the illegals out. We have so many other issues that are more important than this.” — Juan Fiol, vice chairman for Miami-Dade County for Donald Trump’s campaign. (Daily Kos)

Today’s must-reads

  • Pregnant women in the epicenter of Florida’s Zika outbreak are unable to avoid the area, putting them on edge (AP)
  • The virus has caused those wanting to get pregnant to delay or otherwise change their plans (CNN)

Thursday, Aug. 4

The big news right now

  • The New York attorney general is cracking down on seven marketers for alleged deceptive marketing of Zika-related insect repellants (STAT)
  • The CDC issued travel notices for Antigua and Barbuda, and Turks and Caicos Islands (CDC)
  • Despite stringent mosquito controls, Cuba has seen its first two cases of locally contracted Zika (Reuters)
  • 33 US military personnel are believed to have contracted Zika, including one pregnant woman (Reuters)
  • Asked how he would combat Zika virus, Donald Trump said Florida governor Rick Scott is doing a “fantastic job” and “seems to have it under control” (CNN)

The latest from Florida

  • Pregnant women will get free testing for Zika at county health departments (Governor’s office)
  • FDA approval for the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys is expected “any minute now,” Oxitec says (Reuters)
  • CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says the travel advisory for Florida could last up to a year (Washington Post)

Cher on Zika

Not for the first time, Cher weighed in on Zika with emojis and caps lock. This time, she went political. (Twitter)

Today’s must-reads

  • Researchers are trying to decipher why Brazil is so susceptible to birth defects resulting from Zika (CNN)
  • Some airlines have changed their refund policies following a Zika-related travel advisory from the CDC (The Hill)
  • As many as about 40,000 people in the US could have the Zika infection from having traveled abroad (New Scientist)

Wednesday, Aug. 3

The big news right now

  • The NIH has dosed its first human volunteer with an experimental Zika vaccine, just a week after Inovio met the same milestone (MIT Technology Review)
  • Relatively few women and girls in states that could see Zika outbreaks use effective birth control methods (STAT)
  • The CDC is devoting $16 million to a surveillance system to track microcephaly cases across much of the US (CDC)
  • New York plans to drop larvicide into water pooled along New York City’s subway tracks as a preventive strategy against Zika (New York Post)

The latest from Florida

Florida health officials are investigating an additional case of non-travel-related Zika infection in Miami-Dade County, which may suggest the outbreak is spreading beyond the Wynwood area.

Miami plans to begin aerial mosquito spraying in Wynwood, but that was delayed due to inclement weather today.

But the city is testing whether mosquitoes there have become resistant to common insecticides.

And outdoor activities in the Wynwood neighborhood, including the unfortunately named class “The Naked Bite,” are being moved or cancelled entirely.

Meanwhile in Rio

Zika got the cover treatment by the New Yorker this week. (Twitter)

Today’s must-reads

  • A Zika vaccine may be farther away than we want to believe (Wall Street Journal)
  • Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy and concern about Zika helped shaped Hillary Clinton’s policies on the virus (Politico)

Tuesday, Aug. 2

The big news right now

  • The CDC is advising pregnant women to avoid Miami-Dade County in Florida, where local mosquitoes are believed to be transmitting the Zika virus (STAT)
  • US Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut wants congressional Republicans to call for an emergency session to provide more funding for the Zika virus (CBS Connecticut)
  • Theranos has submitted its Zika blood test, running on its newly unveiled testing platform, for FDA evaluation (STAT)
  • The Hong Kong government is offering its residents attending the Rio Olympics Zika testing upon their return as part of a clinical study (RTHK)

Utah update

After a mysterious case of Zika was found in Utah that may have been transmitted from a father to a son, health officials went door to door to solicit blood tests from nearly 100 neighbors, according to the Deseret News. All results have been negative so far, though, and CDC staffers that were deployed to help have now left Utah. Officials say their findings should be announced by early September.

Today’s must-reads

  • Three reasons Puerto Rico is getting hammered by Zika (Time)
  • What cities can learn from Key West’s Zika controversy (CityLab)

Monday, Aug. 1

The big news right now

  • The UK government advises pregnant women to delay travel to Florida (Guardian)
  • Two golfers who skipped the Olympics because of Zika now face the virus in their home state of Florida (Telegraph)
  • Reggae star Beenie Man says he was denied a visa to Canada, where he was due to perform, because of Zika infection (Rolling Stone)

On people’s lips

“I saw 30 pregnant women today, so I had 30 conversations about Zika.” — Dr. Christine Curry, obstetrician-gynecologist in Miami, in the wake of the first locally transmitted cases of Zika there (STAT)

Playing it safe

ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted this photo over the weekend of one athlete’s mosquito protection.

Today’s must-read


Saturday-Sunday, July 30-31

The big news right now

  • Zika cases are surging in Puerto Rico, and health officials fear hundreds of babies could be born with severe brain defects (STAT)
  • A study suggests that all strains of the Zika virus are of the same serotype, a finding that could aid in the development of a vaccine against all strains (NIAID)
  • US Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio of Florida want Congress to reconvene to provide funding for anti-Zika efforts (AP and press release)
  • OneBlood has begun testing all blood it collects in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina for the Zika virus (press release)

Today’s must-reads

  • Many polls indicate Americans aren’t overly concerned about Zika, but news of local mosquito transmission in Florida could change that (Washington Post)
  • Now that local transmission of Zika in the US is a reality, Congress, as well as state and local governments, must take more forceful action (New York Times editorial)

Friday, July 29

The big news right now

  • Florida confirms it is the first state to see locally transmitted Zika virus (STAT)
  • The FDA has asked blood centers in two Florida counties to stop collections (FDA)
  • The Cayman Islands began releasing genetically modified mosquitoes to fight against Zika, dengue, and chikungunya (Oxitec)
  • Next month, New Zealand will begin monitoring babies who show signs of possible Zika infection, such as brain abnormalities (New Zealand Newswire)

Book report

With remarkable speed, the first mainstream book about the current Zika epidemic has been published, called “Zika: The Emerging Epidemic.” It’s “dense with information,” a New York Times review says, but notes that, in such a quickly evolving outbreak, that information can quickly become out of date. One example: Since the book went to press on June 1, health officials have found that the virus can spread via female-to-male sexual transmission and that it may even spread person-to-person by other routes.

Today’s must-read

  • In the race to develop treatments for Zika, we may already have drugs approved that could work against the virus (STAT)

Thursday, July 28

The big news right now

  • Two more cases of possible local Zika transmission have been reported in Florida, bringing the state’s total to four and heralding what could be the start of the first outbreak in the continental US (STAT)
  • A 31-year-old woman’s miscarriage may have been caused by Zika (HealthDay News)
  • Paraguay reported its first two cases of Zika-related microcephaly (Reuters)
  • Florida senator Marco Rubio wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to more quickly distribute the limited existing Zika funds (letter)
  • The makers of the “Yes to Sex” app have created a version specifically geared to athletes and spectators at the Olympic Games to encourage them to think through safe sex practices ahead of time (press release)

Blood safety

Hawaii is set to begin testing all its blood donations for Zika virus starting in September, as a safeguard against possibly having to go the route Puerto Rico did and import its blood supply from the mainland US. Assorted other local blood centers are testing for Zika, including some in Texas and in Florida, though FDA guidelines only suggest blood centers ask people about their possible Zika exposure. However, the guidelines say that areas of “active transmission” should test or import blood — which may soon mean that parts of Florida have to change their blood procedures.

Branding bonanza

Not to be outdone by OFF! — the first ever official Olympic bug spray — Fit Organic Mosquito Repellent announced that US Olympic gymnast Jake Dalton will serve as their official brand ambassador. (press release)


Wednesday, July 27

The big news right now

  • Honduras reports eight babies born with severe Zika birth defects, five of them in just the past week (AP)
  • The CDC has added Caribbean island Saba to its Zika travel advisory (CDC)
  • Travel has been ruled out as the cause of two cases of possibly locally acquired Zika infection in Florida, but officials are still investigating possible person-to-person transmission (Miami Herald)
  • IBM is donating more resources to combat Zika, including giving Brazilian researchers access to its software for travel monitoring and for mining Twitter sentiment, and giving UNICEF access to its weather modeling software (press release)

Vaccine progress

A person has been given Inovio’s experimental Zika vaccine, the first reported start of such human testing globally. The trial, which will involve 40 healthy adults, is designed simply to test the safety of the vaccine. Interim results are expected later this year. (press release)

Today’s must-reads

  • Why does so much about the Zika virus, including all the ways it’s transmitted, remain a mystery? (Quartz)
  • All the extremely absurd ways people are fighting Zika at the Rio Olympics (Smithsonian)

Tuesday, July 26

The big news right now

  • Colombia declared the country’s Zika crisis over, but other health experts said it could just be a seasonal drop (STAT)
  • A baby was born in Spain with Zika-related microcephaly, the first in Europe (the Guardian)
  • New CDC guidance urges doctors in the US to inquire about pregnant women’s possible Zika exposure during each exam (AP)
  • A mathematical analysis indicates that less than 80 visitors out of the thousands attending the Olympic Games will contract Zika virus in Rio (CNBC)

Number of the day: 76

That’s the number of days Zika virus persisted in an infected man’s semen in a recent case. The longest persistence previously observed was 62 days after first symptoms. (Emerging Infectious Diseases)

On people’s lips

“The cash donations have been slow. … Zika is the victim of bad timing coming at the heels of Ebola. There can be some donor fatigue.” — Dr. Judith Monroe, president of the CDC Foundation (US News & World Report)

Today’s must-reads

  • Brazil asks whether Zika acts alone to cause birth defects (Nature)
  • Zika’s untold war: Uncovering the role church and government play in combating the spread of Zika virus in El Salvador (Newsy)

Monday, July 25

The big news right now

  • It’s “unlikely” that Kate Middleton, Prince William, and Prince Harry will attend the Rio Olympics, though Kensington Palace denies that’s because of Zika (Express)
  • The NIH is sponsoring studies to determine how effective grapefruit-derived nootkatone is at repelling and killing mosquitoes (press release)

Destination Zika

Visitors to the Dominican Republic make up a large proportion of the travel-associated cases in the US so far. Why? An analysis by Kaiser Health News points to the many Dominican immigrants in the US — it’s the fifth largest Hispanic group — as well as the fact that when travelers visit family they “tend to make longer visits and often stay in residential locations” than tourists do. Finally, it could also be the case that Dominican-Americans are more aware of the virus and are seeking more testing, points out the New York City Health Department.

Model of preparedness

US women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo took to Twitter to show off her Zika-protective gear.

Today’s must-read

  • Scientist who mapped US Zika risk now working on awareness app (Women’s e-News)

Saturday-Sunday, July 23-24

The big news right now

  • New York City reported its first baby born with Zika-related microcephaly (NYC Department of Health)
  • A contractor at Guantanamo Bay has been diagnosed with the Zika virus (AP)
  • Alaska has its first confirmed case of travel-related Zika (Alaska Dispatch News)

On people’s lips

“The virus is flowing through Miami International Airport every day. There are thousands and thousands of people coming back into our area from those countries that may be affected, they may not be.” — Chalmers Vasquez, Miami’s head of mosquito control (NPR)

Lingo to know

Bti: A larvicide that Puerto Rico plans to use instead of the CDC-recommended insecticide naled. Bti, which stands for Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that kills mosquito larvae when they eat its spores.

Today’s must-reads

  • With more than 7,500 cases of Zika in the Cape Verde region in recent months, more attention must be paid to the outbreak in Africa (the Lancet)
  • This year, it’s the Zika virus. But what about next year? (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Friday, July 22

The big news right now

  • A possible second case of local Zika infection in the continental US has been reported (STAT)
  • No mosquitoes trapped in Miami-Dade County have yet tested positive for the virus (Miami Herald)
  • The Zika virus has been found in the Culex mosquito, which is much more widespread than the Aedes species, though it is unclear whether it may be spreading the virus to people (Washington Post)
  • Starting Aug. 1, the CDC will begin distributing $60 million in Zika funds to states, territories, and local authorities (CDC)
  • Monaco’s Princess Charlene won’t be in Rio to watch the Olympics because of Zika concerns (People)

Whiff of desperation

Following on from an editorial in which he assured visitors that the Olympics would be safe, Brazil Health Minister Ricardo Barros has now sent personal letters to top athletes urging them to come to the Olympics. The letters went to 10 athletes, including Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, who are currently planning to attend, as well as Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman, who have said they won’t. (Bloomberg)

Deceptive display

In-store marketing to point people to Zika prevention products is a good idea, in theory — except when staffers stock the shelves with allergy spray.

Today’s must-read

  • No, you cannot catch Zika from drinking water that contains the virus, and other Zika myths debunked (the Culture Trip)

Thursday, July 21

The big news right now

  • The CDC may give Florida an additional $5.6 million in funding to help determine whether a case reported earlier this week is the first instance of Zika infection by a mosquito in the continental US (White House)
  • San Diego biotech JAJ International is trying to get approval from Brazilian regulators for its Zika virus diagnostic test (San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • The FDA granted emergency use authorization to Eurofins Scientific’s Zika virus test (GenomeWeb)

 Hype watch

“Suspending a chicken over your bed could protect against Zika virus and malaria” read the headline in the Telegraph. Scientists isolated odor molecules from chickens’ feathers and put them near a mosquito trap, and found that the bugs avoided the vicinity. But crucially the study was on Anopheles arabiensis mosquitoes, an entirely different genus than the ones that carry Zika. So while it might work against malaria, don’t count on chicken protection from Zika.

Today’s must-reads

  • The Brazilian Ministry of Health has launched a smartphone app that will allow authorities to monitor possible Zika symptoms among visitors to and residents of Rio during the Olympic Games (Huffington Post)
  • There’s a higher risk of getting the flu at the Rio Olympics than of getting the Zika virus (Vox)

Wednesday, July 20

The big news right now

  • Florida may have recorded the first case of locally acquired Zika in the continental US (STAT)
  • The devastating April earthquake in Ecuador has resulted in a twelvefold increase in the number of Zika cases in the country (UNICEF)
  • At the Republican National Convention last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed Democrats for the Senate’s recent impasse on Zika funding (STAT)
  • The hepatitis C drug Sovaldi has shown an antiviral effect against Zika in test tube studies (the Scientist)

Mom jeans, manspread, and Zika

Zika virus is among 300 new terms being added to Dictionary.com’s list of words. Others include mom jeans, manspread, and Pokemon. (New York Daily News)

Infection confusion

After 11 RNC attendees from California came down with symptoms of norovirus, misinformation abounds, reports Doug Sovern with radio station KCBS. (Twitter)

Today’s must-reads

  • Millennials are rethinking their travel plans and possible future pregnancies in light of Zika (Conde Nast Traveler)
  • How Zika breaks into the brain (the Atlantic)

Tuesday, July 19

The big news right now

  • Health officials in Utah are investigating the most mysterious case of Zika yet, wherein a man was infected apparently by caring for his ailing father (STAT)
  • An antibiotic may limit the damage caused by Zika, according to tests on cells in a dish (STAT)
  • Florida officials recorded 18 new cases of Zika infection on Friday, the state’s highest one-day count (Florida Politics)
  • Advocacy group Ipas is challenging strict abortion laws in a case set to be heard by Brazil’s supreme court next month. The group says any woman infected with Zika during pregnancy should have the right to an abortion (the Guardian)

What a ride

Among its other public health efforts around Zika, Harris County, Texas, has a “Skeeter Schoolbus” to educate children about mosquitoes — but whether that means it looks like a giant insect is unknown, because photos are sadly lacking. If you spot the skeeter bus, snap a photo and send it our way!

Today’s must-reads

  • Not everyone who wants to get tested for Zika should (Huffington Post)
  • The CDC says it is “extremely, extremely unlikely” that the Zika virus can be contracted by airborne transmission (Washington Examiner)

Monday, July 18

The big news right now

  • Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych is the third tennis player to withdraw from the Olympics because of Zika (WBT)
  • South Carolina has 18 reported cases of Zika (WYFF)

Hype watch

“Olympic Games could spread Zika virus around the world” warns the headline of a story yesterday in the British paper the Mirror. But that’s based on one scientist in the UK; when the CDC thoroughly analyzed the risk, it found only four countries were at risk of getting Zika imported to them.

On people’s lips

“Knowing this is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes and by humans means we should be investigating it as if we’re part of the world, and not shielded from it.” — Paul Farmer, physician and humanitarian (the Atlantic)

Today’s must-read


Saturday-Sunday, July 16-17

The big news right now

  • Puerto Rico reported the biggest weekly rise in Zika cases yet, with 1,336 new cases for the week ending June 30, including 533 pregnant women diagnosed with the virus (AP)
  • Tennis players Milos Raonic of Canada, the men’s Wimbledon finalist, and Simona Halep of Romania, the fifth-ranked women’s player in the world, withdrew from the Rio Olympics, citing the Zika virus (New York Times)
  • Two patients who were infected with the Zika virus have developed severe thrombocytopenia, a clotting disorder (Clinical Infectious Diseases)
  • Brazilian researchers have observed a sharp increase in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis (Neurology)

On people’s lips

“And this excuse about Zika is feeble. You have Zika in America in some states right now. You’ve got more of a chance of being killed by a gun or a motorcar in America than getting Zika.” — Golf legend Gary Player calling out the game’s top pros who have elected to bypass the Rio Olympics (Fox Business)

Today’s must-reads

  • The spread of AIDS in the 1980s may offer a glimpse into the future of the Zika virus (CNN)
  • With Congress unable to reach a deal on Zika funding, an outbreak of the virus is bound to occur in the US, translating to more babies born with microcephaly (Vox)

Friday, July 15

The big news right now

  • The first case of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika has been reported in New York City (STAT)
  • Congress is going on break without a deal for Zika funding (STAT)
  • The CDC has posted a Zika travel notice for St. Eustatius, an island in the West Indies (CDC)
  • Pennsylvania has begun distributing Zika prevention kits to pregnant women (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • The current Zika crisis in the Americas may be over in one to two years (STAT)

Number of the day: 9

As of July 7, the number of liveborn infants in the US with Zika-related birth defects has risen to nine, while the total number of pregnant women diagnosed with the virus rose to 346. (CDC)

On people’s lips

Former Ebola czar Ron Klain took to Twitter Thursday night to warn about the repercussions that lie ahead thanks to congressional inaction.

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Thursday, July 14

The big news right now

  • Despite fears that the Rio Olympics could spread the Zika virus globally, the CDC said only four countries may be significantly impacted by the games (STAT)
  • Texas has seen its first case of Zika-related microcephaly (Time)
  • The CDC is seeking sperm samples from hundreds of American men who’ve had Zika to figure out how long the virus persists in semen (CNN)
  • Air Canada will suspend nonstop flights to Rio de Janeiro from Toronto indefinitely starting in mid-October, partly because of the Zika virus (Travelweek)

Lingo to know

Nootkatone: a grapefruit-scented compound that the CDC has been studying for its mosquito-repellent qualities, and has already licensed to several companies (News West 9) 

Mocked by a mosquito

A man in a mosquito costume, representing NARAL Pro-Choice America, handed out bug spray outside the Senate hearing on the Zika virus. (Huffington Post)

Today’s must-reads

  • The fading Ebola epidemic has lessons for the upcoming Zika crisis (STAT)
  • Largely shunned by society, Brazilian mothers to babies born with Zika-related microcephaly are bonding (ABC13)
  • Republicans legislators in Washington need to stop using a proposed Zika funding bill as a weapon against Planned Parenthood (STAT)

Wednesday, July 13

The big news right now

  • “Time has run out” begins a letter sent by over 50 organizations, including March of Dimes and American Academy of Pediatrics, to congressional leaders, imploring them to pass a Zika bill this week (letter)
  • Themis Bioscience has licensed technology from Institut Pasteur for the development of a Zika vaccine and expects to begin a clinical trial in the next 12 months (Reuters)
  • The Zika virus has been detected in the female genital tract for the first time (the Lancet Infectious Diseases)
  • Former gold medalist rower Sir Steve Redgrave said potential big payoffs at the major tournaments, and not the Zika virus, are the real reason golfers are skipping the Rio Olympics (Reuters)

Mystery in Colombia

Colombia is second only to Brazil in the number of Zika infections in its population. But it continues to have a much lesser rate of microcephaly than its larger neighbor, which has health experts scratching their heads. It may be that more pregnancies are being terminated in Colombia, though abortion providers don’t report an uptick. It could be that the cases are just yet to be seen, or that the numbers are wrong. Or it could be that other factors in Brazil, like genetics or other viruses, made the infection worse there. (Washington Post)

On people’s lips

“The money that we were spending in February, March, April, and May [on Zika] was money that we would be spending in July and August [on the other research]. We were borrowing money. We were mortgaging our resources.” — NIAID Director Anthony Fauci on having to divert government funds from other research to Zika-related work (Kaiser Health News)

Today’s must-reads

  • Athletes’ families put aside Rio’s health, security risks to support Olympic dreams (Washington Post)
  • Experts warn spraying may not be very effective against Aedes (CIDRAP)

Tuesday, July 12

The big news right now

  • Romania has reported its first case of Zika virus (Reuters)
  • Local health officials are making emergency funding plans in the event that federal Zika funding doesn’t get approved by Congress this week (NBC)
  • The US’s Jordan Spieth, South Korea’s Kim Kyung-tae, and the Philippines’s Angelo Que will forego the Rio Olympics out of fears about the Zika virus (New York Times, Yonhap NewsPhilippine Daily Inquirer)
  • International Golf Federation President Peter Dawson said that the world’s top golfers who have chosen to skip the Olympics because of Zika are overreacting (the Telegraph)

Number of the day: 13

Florida recorded 13 new cases of the Zika virus on Monday, setting a new one-day record for the state, which now has 276 total cases of the virus. (Palm Beach Post)

On people’s lips

The GOP this week added to its platform a statement designating pornography as a public health crisis. In response, Twitter users decried the lack of attention to other health concerns including Zika.

Today’s must-read

  • A recent study suggests that the antibiotic azithromycin may have use for treating the Zika virus (Quanta)

Monday, July 11

The big news right now

  • Congress begins its recess on Friday, and it’s very uncertain whether a Zika funding bill will be passed before then (USA Today)
  • Meanwhile, 139 days have passed since President Obama’s request for Zika funding (STAT)

Live bait

For a quick gauge of mosquito density, officials in Burlington County, N.J., “send a guy out in shorts and a T-shirt [to] stand there with his arms out” near the river, according to Joe New, an inspector with the county’s mosquito control commission. “If we count more than 100 on him in a minute, we call in the fixed-wing aircraft.” (Philly.com)

On people’s lips

“Fast forward to Zika — we don’t have a silver bullet. We cannot spray our way out of this.” — Dr. Umar Shah, executive director of Harris County, Texas, public health department (the Guardian)

Today’s must-read


Saturday-Sunday, July 9-10

The big news right now

  • Utah health officials reported the first Zika-related death in the continental US, although it is unclear what role the virus may have played in the death (Washington Post)
  • State and city governments are investing $21 million over three years as part of a New York City mosquito vigilance effort and a “Zika response plan” (WNYC)
  • American golfer Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from the Olympics citing Zika, meaning that three of the world’s four top golfers will now not compete (ESPN)

Number of the day: 40%

In the latest numbers, for the week ending June 23, Puerto Rico said there was a one-week jump of 40 percent in the number of pregnant women on the island who were diagnosed with Zika. (Puerto Rico Department of Health)

On people’s lips

Comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien countered athletes’ Zika fears with his own concerns on Twitter.

Today’s must-read

  • Why Congress’ Zika impasse could awaken Ebola menace (Politico)

Friday, July 8

The big news right now

  • The CDC is monitoring 320 pregnant women in the US who appear to have the Zika virus (Reuters)
  • French biotech Valneva said it may have a vaccine against Zika, though it provided scant details (Reuters)
  • GlaxoSmithKline yesterday threw its hat into the ring of drug makers looking for a Zika vaccine, joining Sanofi as one of the largest drug makers involved in the Zika R&D effort (Fierce Pharma)
  • Pathogenic fungi could help kill off larval mosquitoes, a new study finds (Cosmos)

Swaddled safely

A company that makes mosquito-repellant blankets is providing the US Olympic team with red, white, and blue protective blankets to take to Rio. However, whether athletes want to wrap up in a blanket in between sweaty bouts of athleticism might be another story. (WFMY)

A new scent-sation

“Perfumes that double as bug repellent are having a moment,” reports the New York Times. Some top choices: Coqui Coqui, which is apparently just citrus oil in a nice bottle; Aromaflage, which has orange oil and cedar; and the cleverly named Unstung Hero, which contains insect repellant IR3535. But many oils and extracts haven’t been proven to ward off the bugs, and the CDC doesn’t recommend their use. (New York Times)

Today’s must-read

  • New insights into how Zika harms the brain (Quanta)

Thursday, July 7

The big news right now

  • Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, said that Democrats will again block a proposed Republican bill for Zika funding in an upcoming vote (The Hill)
  • About one-sixth of Ebola funds that were diverted to fight the Zika virus have been distributed so far by the White House (Politico)
  • US health officials urge Puerto Rico to strongly consider aerial spraying to prevent further spread of Zika (AP)

Dear Olympic contenders

To go or not to go? It’s a question that many athletes are grappling with ahead of the Rio Games. STAT’s infectious disease reporter Helen Branswell, who’s been covering the virus closely, has some advice for them — read her letter to potential competitors here.

Number of the day: 11

That’s the number of Zika infections confirmed in Florida yesterday, a record high for one day. (Miami Herald)

Today’s must-read


Wednesday, July 6

The big news right now

  • Brazil will distribute 9 million condoms for free during the Rio Olympic games to protect against the Zika virus (Yahoo)
  • Sanofi is partnering with the US Army to speed up the development of a vaccine for Zika (Reuters)
  • Brazil’s Butantan Institute is working with a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization to develop a vaccine against the Zika virus (Wall Street Journal)

Twins diverge

Researchers are studying six sets of twins in Brazil in which one infant has microcephaly and the other does not. Specifically they are curious whether genetic differences between the babies might explain their different response to Zika infection in utero. (CNN)

Bats to the rescue

One town on Long Island, N.Y., is turning to bats, which can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour, in the battle against the Zika virus. North Hempstead has approved the building of bat houses in order to attract more of the critters. (New York Times)

Today’s must-read

  • Women and children are political pawns in the Zika funding battle (Time)

Tuesday, July 5

The big news right now

  • Rihanna has dropped out of a music festival in Colombia due to fears about Zika, causing the cancellation of the event (BBC)
  • Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama became the seventh male golfer to pull out of the Rio Olympics, citing the Zika virus (ESPN)
  • Most of the attention on transmission of Zika has been on mosquito bites, but some researchers are more concerned about its transmission through sex (New York Times)

Number of the day: 1,000

That’s how many Olympic athletes, coaches, and staff researchers plan to enroll in a study of Zika virus exposure in Rio. Participants will provide samples of bodily fluids and fill out health surveys; they’ll be tracked not just during the games but for up to a year after. (NIH)

Today’s must-reads

  • SC Johnson’s OFF! brand has become the Olympics’ first-ever insect repellent partner. Thousands of bottles will be distributed to athletes, staff, and volunteers to help ward off mosquitoes that may carry Zika. (Bloomberg)
  • Health officials are frustrated by complacency among the the American public and politicians with the Zika virus. (NBC)
  • Thailand is wary as more Zika cases are reported. (Nikkei Asian Review)

Saturday-Monday, July 2-4

The big news right now

  • The CDC is awarding $25 million to 53 state, city, and territorial health departments to fight the Zika virus. (CDC)
  • Researchers tested different methods used to disinfect and clean laboratories to see how well they fared against the Zika virus. (Emerging Infectious Diseases)
  • For the first time, the Zika virus has been linked to uveitis, an eye infection that can result in glaucoma, cataracts, and vision loss. (Boston Herald)

Zika fears spur awkward talks at work

The Zika virus is leading to awkward conversations at work, as some employees feel they must disclose their plans to get pregnant, or go public with a pregnancy in its very early stages, in order to avoid being sent to Zika-affected regions for work. One law professor said “it’s easy” to imagine a potential lawsuit against an employer if a worker gets infected with Zika after being sent to an area where the virus is prevalent. (Huffington Post)

Number of the day: 10

Florida confirmed 10 new cases of the Zika virus, its highest single-day figure. Statewide there have been 246 cases this year. (Miami Herald)

Today’s must-reads

  • Brazil will conduct aerial spraying of insecticides to target mosquitoes that carry Zika. But the move has some people concerned. (Wall Street Journal)
  • President Obama is calling on Congress to end its stalemate on Zika funding before it goes on summer recess. (Reuters)
  • But some say that even if a funding deal is reached before the recess, it is already too late. (Time)

Friday, July 1

The big news right now

  • Three more babies were born in the US with birth defects likely linked to the Zika virus, bringing the total now to seven (Reuters)
  • The March of Dimes is petitioning Congress to fund Zika prevention efforts, following the failure of the Senate earlier this week to pass a $1.1 billion bill to fight the virus (Washington Post)
  • The University of Michigan has cancelled a football camp for high school players in American Samoa due to concerns about Zika (Fox Sports)

What’s ahead

This morning President Obama meets with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden to hear about the status of the response to Zika.

Fact check

“Mosquitoes are more likely to bite pregnant women,” the New York Post headline warns, going on to talk about the risk of Zika to fetuses. But the research it points to looked at Anopheles gambiae — a mosquito that doesn’t transmit Zika and lives only in Africa.

On people’s lips

“That is completely, ethically cockamamie. You can’t take away contraceptive funding and say you care about preventing Zika. You just can’t.” — Arthur Caplan, bioethicist at New York University School of Medicine, on Republicans adding provisions to defund Planned Parenthood to the congressional Zika bill that failed (Religion News Service)

Today’s must-reads   


Thursday, June 30

The big news right now

  • Borrowing money from other programs, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has started a study of sexual transmission of Zika in Brazil and Colombia (Reuters)
  • The CDC yesterday added Anguilla to its Zika travel warning, saying local mosquito transmission of the virus has been reported there (CDC)
  • South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace became the first woman golfer to drop out of the Rio Olympics because of the Zika virus (Golf Digest)

Mixed funding feelings

Seventy-three percent of respondents in a new poll are in favor of fully funding the Zika response, to the tune of the $1.9 billion originally requested by President Obama. But many fewer, 46 percent, say Congress should approve it immediately. (ABC News/Washington Post)

Depressing fact of the day

The three-month Olympic torch relay leading up to the games in Rio de Janeiro this summer has a bigger budget than the WHO’s two-year plan to fight Zika. (Bloomberg)

Today’s must-reads

  • What the US could learn from Cuba about ending Zika (Reuters)
  • The danger of a third-trimester Zika infection (the Atlantic)
  • Scientists thought Colombia had dodged Zika-linked microcephaly. Not anymore (WLRN)

Wednesday, June 29

The big news right now

  • As expected, the Senate failed to pass the Zika funding bill yesterday — leaving little time for lawmakers to approve funding before they go on a seven-week break (STAT)
  • Studies in monkeys found that pregnancy prolongs the length of time that the virus stays in the body, but that getting infected once protects against future infection (Washington Post)

Making more mosquitoes

In the world’s largest “mosquito factory,” in Guangzhou, China, researchers are infecting mosquitoes with a strain of Wolbachia bacteria to make them more resistant to Zika virus. The mosquitoes are being tested on Shezai Island and may be ramped up to other areas as well. (CBC News)

On people’s lips

“If I have to write on a piece of paper my top 10 worries [for the Olympics] today, Zika wouldn’t be there.” — Sidney Levy, CEO of the Rio Organizing Committee (AP)

Today’s must-read  

  • In Puerto Rico, one expectant mother’s Zika “nightmare” (Roll Call)

Tuesday, June 28

The big news right now

  • The Florida Department of Health today confirmed the first Zika-related case of microcephaly in a child born in Florida (Florida Health)
  • Two new experimental vaccines protect mice against Zika, a study out today shows (STAT)
  • Australian Jason Day, the world’s top golfer, has also withdrawn from the Olympics — the sixth such golfer to do so (BBC)
  • The federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has tapped Maryland drug maker Emergent BioSolutions to develop a vaccine for Zika (Baltimore Sun)

On people’s lips

“If you’ve ever lived in Brazil, you’ve come to expect frequent civic demonstrations. But I saw none about Zika.” — Glafira Marcon (Star Tribune)

Political paralysis

The Senate will vote today on the final Zika bill, but it’s not looking promising. Failure to pass would hopefully force House and Senate negotiators back to the table, but if no bill is passed this week, Congress will have less than two weeks left in July to try to work out a compromise before both houses adjourn until after Labor Day. (USA Today)

Meanwhile, it’s been 126 days since the administration requested emergency funding.


Monday, June 27

The big news right now

  • Though golfers are dropping like flies, most of the world’s elite tennis players have said they’re not worried about Zika at the Olympics (AP)
  • Zika presents a heightened risk to homeless families, a charity in Tampa says, and the organization is distributing protective supplies in response (AP)

Pre-Games infection

While many athletes have expressed concern over contracting Zika in Rio, Jamaican sprinter Kemar Bailey-Cole says he has already contracted the virus. The good news is, that will likely make him immune to infection later this summer. The bad news: He is competing in the country’s Olympic trials this week. (BBC)

On people’s lips

“Another possibility … is that the placenta and the fetus became infected and continued to release virus into the bloodstream.” — Thaddeus Golos, a pregnancy expert at University of Wisconsin, on some surprising findings in monkey models of Zika (STAT)

Today’s must-reads

  • Zika may be an election issue in Florida, a crucial swing state (Boston Globe)
  • Fear of Zika virus is putting a damper on destination weddings (New York Times)

Saturday-Sunday, June 25-26

The big news right now

  • Puerto Rico yesterday reported a big jump in the number of pregnant women with confirmed Zika infection — from 191 to 299 (PR Department of Health)
  • South African Branden Grace is the fourth golfer to cite the Zika virus as a reason not to participate in this year’s Olympic Games (USA Today)
  • In the other camp, Chicago Bulls basketball star Pau Gasol says he wants to play in the Olympics despite concerns over the Zika virus. (Chicago Tribune)

On people’s lips

Former Ebola czar Ron Klain took to Twitter Thursday night to criticize Congress’s failure to pass a Zika bill before they went on recess.

A range of impacts

Evidence is mounting that Zika’s effects on fetuses can take a range of forms. A study to be presented at a conference next week reports joint problems, seizures, vision impairment, trouble feeding, and persistent crying as health issues that Zika appears to contribute to. (Scientific American)

Today’s must-reads

  • Without federal funding, counties brace to confront Zika on their own (Washington Post)

Friday, June 24

The big news right now

  • The House passed a $1.1 billion bill to combat Zika on Wednesday, but it falls short of the requested funding, and the White House is threatening to veto it (STAT)
  • A new study provides more evidence that prior infection with dengue may make Zika infection worse (Science)
  • The latest tally from the CDC shows one more infant in the United States has been born with Zika-related birth defects, and one more Zika-related “pregnancy loss” has been reported (CDC)
  • Florida Governor Rick Scott will allocate $26.2 million in state funds to battle Zika after the federal government did not approve Zika funding in time for the start of hurricane season (News release)

Whiff of desperation?

Ricardo Barros, Brazil’s minister of health, took to the pages of the Miami Herald to urge people to come to the Olympic Games, writing, “The circulation of the Zika virus will not keep us from having a safe and unforgettable event for athletes, participants and spectators.” The oped may have been prompted by recent numbers showing just half as many Americans are expected to go to the games as in earlier projections. (Miami Herald)

Musical chairs

After Irish golfer Rory McIlroy withdrew from the Olympics this week, a game of musical chairs has been set off among the country’s golf greats. Graeme McDowell was next in line, but he turned it down because his wife is pregnant; next up is Pádraig Harrington, for whom it holds a special meaning — Harrington was one of the players who pushed hardest for golf to be reinstated as an Olympic sport. (Irish Examiner)

Today’s must-reads

  • Zika is the “most difficult” emergency health response ever, CDC official says (Atlantic)
  • Bug spray may have a permanent spot in people’s medicine cabinet as long as Zika remains a threat (Washington Post)

Thursday, June 23

The big news right now

  • The House passed a $1.1 billion Zika funding bill in the early morning hours today largely along party lines, and it’s being bitterly criticized by the White House and congressional Democrats (STAT)
  • The Zika outbreak has spread to the Caribbean island of Anguilla, according to the WHO. Expect the CDC to add Anguilla to its travel advisory in response (WHO)
  • Requests for abortion-inducing drugs have shot up in some Zika-affected countries, a new study finds (STAT)

Travel tiff

Bali’s hoteliers are upset over Australia’s recent travel advisory warning citizens about Zika risk in Indonesia. Neither the CDC nor the WHO report ongoing Zika transmission in the country, but the virus is considered endemic there, meaning it crops up in low numbers from time to time. But Australia supplies the bulk of Bali’s tourism, and the hotel association in Bali says the warning is unfounded. (Travel Daily)

Number of the day: 100,000

That’s the current estimate of American visitors expected to attend the Rio Olympics, down from an initial estimate of 200,000. (USA Today)

Today’s must-read


Wednesday, June 22

The big news right now

  • Irish golfer Rory McIlroy will skip the Rio Olympics over Zika worries (the Telegraph)
  • US and Brazilian researchers are launching a new study of approximately 10,000 pregnant women in Zika-affected areas to evaluate the virus’s health impacts (AP)
  • 10 pregnant women in Dallas County, Texas, have tested positive for Zika (Dallas Morning News)

A Microsoft skeeter trap

Texas health officials are testing a new mosquito trap built by Microsoft. The trap will identify Zika-spreading mosquitoes, catch them, and then send an alert to officials. (CNN)

What’s your risk of getting Zika?

How likely is it that you will get the Zika this summer? The Washington Post has made a useful graphic to answer that question. Explore it here.

Number of the day: 5 percent

That’s the percentage of tested New Yorkers that have Zika. (New York Daily News)

Today’s must-reads

  • Inside the US Army lab racing to create a Zika vaccine (Wired)
  • CDC and states ponder plans to keep ahead of Zika (New York Times)
  • What we know about the first Zika vaccine trial by Inovio Pharmaceuticals (ABC News)

Tuesday, June 21

The big news right now

  • The US government will fund technology to help reduce the risk of Zika being transmitted through the blood supply (Reuters)
  • Nearly six months after the first Zika cases were confirmed in Haiti, the most dire predictions for the country have not materialized (Washington Post)
  • Australia is advising pregnant women to consider postponing travel to Indonesia due to a Zika outbreak there (Daily Mail)
  • Health advice published today by the WHO for the Summer Olympics includes Zika as only one of a number of health concerns travelers should be aware of, including typhoid fever, food poisoning, and tickborne Brazilian spotted fever (WHO)

On people’s lips

“It all started with some pain in my toes, which I thought was just a result of my feet swelling from the extreme Caribbean heat.” — Chrissy Rutherford, who contracted Zika in Jamaica (Harper’s Bazaar)

Zika in New York

Meg Tirrell, cohost of STAT’s Signal podcast, spotted this on the NYC subway.

Number of the day: 1 million

That’s how many pregnancies could be at risk of Zika exposure in US Gulf Coast states. (Reuters)

Today’s must-read

  • Zika and children: What parents need to know (NPR)

Monday, June 20

The big news right now

  • The FDA has approved the first Phase 1 human trial of a Zika vaccine (STAT)
  • Only a small fraction of contraceptives donated in Puerto Rico to prevent Zika-related birth defects are getting to the women who need them (Reuters)
  • US Senator Chuck Schumer heads to Albany today to urge New York’s Congress to provide $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fight the virus (News10)

Preying on Zika fears

Entrepreneurs across the US are flooding the market with a slew of products they say will fight mosquitoes and Zika. The problem, reports STAT’s Rebecca Robbins: Many are unproven and questionable. (STAT)

Today’s must-reads


Saturday-Sunday, June 18-19

The big news right now

  • Zika is spreading so rapidly in Puerto Rico that the island could see hundreds of babies born with Zika-linked microcephaly, the CDC said. (STAT)
  • The FDA granted Hologic emergency authorization to sell its Zika test, increasing the number of labs that can test for the virus. (Reuters)

Mosquito-fighting tech?

LG is now selling a mosquito-repelling TV in India. The TV has “Mosquito Away Technology” that the company says uses ultrasonic waves to fend off mosquitoes. (Reuters)

Number of the day: 400

Florida’s Broward County is getting 400 calls a day for mosquito spraying, twice the regular amount for this time of year. So far, the county has reported 24 cases of Zika. (Kaiser Health News)

Today’s must-reads

  • Zika testing lags in New York City for a vulnerable group. (New York Times)
  • The high cost of failing to fund the Zika fight. (US News)

Friday, June 17

The big news right now

  • Three US infants have been born with Zika-related birth defects, the CDC said. Three other pregnancies in the US have also been affected but they were not carried to term (STAT)
  • The CDC also reported 234 pregnant women in the continental US have been infected with Zika (New York Times)
  • The WHO said $122 million is needed for a global response to the Zika virus (Reuters)

Funding coming?

Lawmakers negotiating a Zika funding package have said they’d like to pass something as soon as possible, and STAT’s sources said a final deal could be ready as soon as Tuesday night. The big question: the raw dollar amount that’ll be given to the Zika response plan. (STAT)

Hype watch

There is no vaccine or FDA-approved drugs to treat Zika. That isn’t stopping people from selling “natural” remedies for Zika online. They range from mosquito shield bands to telling people to eat dirt. (Gizmodo)

Number of the day: 35

The number of pools on abandoned property that a New Jersey town has slated for demolition in an effort to reduce mosquito breeding grounds. (CBS Local)

Today’s must-read

  • Is the risk of catching Zika greater in poor neighborhoods? (NPR)

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Thursday, June 16

The big news right now

  • Zika infection can damage fetuses even if pregnant women show no symptoms (STAT)
  • Nearly 12,000 pregnant women in Colombia have reported having Zika (TIME)
  • Members of the House and Senate met Wednesday to formally kick off their negotiations on a funding package to address the Zika virus (The Atlantic)
  • Embattled blood-testing startup Theranos plans to present a new blood test for Zika at a conference in August (Business Insider)

Taking precautions

If Spanish basketball player Pau Gasol goes to the Rio Olympics, he may freeze his sperm first, he said. He joins at least two others who have publicly announced they’ll do the same: John Speraw, coach of the US men’s indoor volleyball team, and Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford. (ESPN, New York Times)

Number of the day: 65,726

The number of Zika cases in Colombia from Aug. 9, 2015, through April 2, 2016, according to a New England Journal of Medicine report. (NEJM)

Today’s must-reads

  • Zika: The epidemic at America’s door (Rolling Stone)
  • Summer camps say they’re not sweating over Zika risk (NPR)

Wednesday, June 15

The big news right now

  • The Rio Olympics pose a “very low risk” of spreading Zika further internationally, a WHO expert panel concluded (STAT)
  • El Salvador confirmed its first case of Zika-linked microcephaly (Reuters)
  • Researchers say it is highly likely that Zika can be transmitted through blood transfusions (NIH)

Hype watch

Should women intentionally try to get Zika before they conceive as a way to immunize themselves against the disease? So asks ELLE magazine, which then shoots down the idea after interviewing experts. (ELLE)

On people’s lips

“It needs to be the same as putting on sunscreen or brushing your teeth.” ­— Michael Beach, deputy incident manager for the CDC’s Zika response team, advising Americans to use bug spray daily (Bloomberg)

Today’s must-reads

  • CDC preparing to deploy strike teams to limit spread of Zika (STAT)
  • Republicans, who warned of dithering on Ebola, now hesitate on Zika (New York Times)
  • Gaps in women’s healthcare may derail Zika prevention in Texas, Florida (Kaiser Health News)

Tuesday, June 14

The big news right now

  • Today the WHO is convening an emergency committee on Zika. One topic of discussion will be if the Rio Olympics should be postponed or moved because of Zika fears (WHO)
  • A University of Alabama student who recently studied abroad has tested positive for Zika (AL.com)

Travel bug

Summer tourism will place some parts of Europe at risk of local spread of Zika, a new study suggests. The cities in Europe most likely to be affected: Barcelona, Milan, and Rome. (STAT)

Number of the day: 87 percent

The number of Zika cases in Brazil has dropped 87 percent from February to May this year, Brazilian health officials say. (Brazil 2016)

Today’s must-reads

  • How Zika became a global threat (New York Times)
  • What would happen if entire countries affected by Zika put off having babies? (Quartz)

Monday, June 13

The big news right now

  • British scientists say they’ve developed a model that can predict outbreaks of viruses like Zika by looking at changes in climate (Reuters)
  • Puerto Rico has had more than 1,500 cases of Zika, including 182 in pregnant women (AP)

Hype watch

Anheuser-Busch InBev has launched a Zika public awareness campaign in Brazil before the Olympics. The push includes a TV spot and employees distributing 350,000 posters and flyers. Staff have also identified and eliminated more than 3,000 potential breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. (AdAge)

Today’s must-reads

  • Get real about minimizing risk of future Zika and Ebola cases (Seattle Times)
  • Women and the Zika virus: Smart questions and a few solid answers (Kaiser Health News)

Saturday-Sunday, June 11-12

The big news right now

  • French researchers reported a case of sexual transmission of Zika in a couple who were completely asymptomatic (Eurosurveillance)
  • Mosquitoes that can transmit Zika have been found to live in nearly all US states (Reuters)

Number of the day: 99 million

99 million units of bug spray were sold in the last year, up 648 percent from last year, according to market research firm IRI. (Yahoo)

On people’s lips

The risk of catching Zika during the game is “almost zero.” — Ricardo Barros, Brazil’s new health minister, who said he wanted to “put at ease the minds of all residents and tourists coming to the games.” (CNN)

Today’s must-reads

  • Congressman skimps on Zika funding, then complains about needing more money (Huffington Post)
  • Why we can’t say how likely Zika is to leave you temporarily paralyzed (Quartz)
  • “Put a helmet on that soldier” and other tips if you’re traveling to a Zika-affected area (NPR)

Friday, June 10

The big news right now

  • The CDC is ready to send rapid-response teams to US communities when Zika begins to be transmitted locally there (Washington Post)
  • A researcher in the Pittsburgh area working on Zika in a lab experiment was accidentally infected with the virus from a needle stick (USA Today)

A WHO clarification

The WHO is scrambling to correct news reports that it advised women in Zika-affected areas to consider delaying pregnancy because of the risks associated with the virus. The confusion arose due to a recent update to the WHO’s guidance on preventing sexual spread of Zika. “We understand that the way it’s phrased, it can be misinterpreted,” William Perea, the WHO official who is coordinating global health guidance on the Zika outbreak, told STAT’s Helen Branswell. (STAT)

Number of the day: 40

A new map shows that the mosquitoes that spread Zika can be found in 40 states and Washington, D.C. (NBC News)

Zika, meet CRISPR

Researchers have incorporated CRISPR into a diagnostic test that can differentiate between two strains of Zika, reports STAT’s Andrew Joseph. The scientists are now working to convert their demonstration in the lab into a practical Zika diagnostic that can be used around the world. (STAT)

Today’s must-read

  • CDC director: Funding delay hurts fight against Zika (AP)


Thursday, June 9

The big news right now

  • The Senate agreed to go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to discuss Zika funding (The Hill)
  • Jamaica will begin testing all pregnant women for Zika (Jamaica Observer)
  • Slovenia has confirmed its first imported case of Zika virus (Reuters)

Staying mum

One group staying silent on Zika: Olympic sponsors. So far, none of the 10 largest sponsors have issued any official statements on the virus. (the Daily Beast)

More mosquitoes

Scientists in California are releasing hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria, a strategy which has shown promise in making the insects more resistant to Zika infection.

Number of the day: 40 million

That’s the number of people a year who travel between the US and Zika-affected areas, according to the CDC. (Wall Street Journal)

Today’s must-reads

  • Zika virus forces tough choices on couples seeking fertility treatment (ABC News)
  • Lab on wheels tracks Zika spread in Brazil (Voice of America)
  • Did deforestation contribute to Zika’s spread? (Smithsonian)

 


Wednesday, June 8

The big news right now

  • A WHO panel will meet next week to consider whether to recommend that the Rio Olympics be postponed or moved because of Zika fears (STAT)
  • Steph Curry says Zika had “no bearing” on his decision to skip the Rio Olympics (CBS Sports)
  • Concern over Zika has led British Olympian Greg Rutherford to freeze a sample of his sperm before attending the Games (the Guardian)

Scientists split

A survey of 3,000 scientists shows the group is split almost evenly on whether the Olympics should proceed or not. (the Science Advisory Board)

Number of the day: 0

The number of cases of Zika reported so far during Olympic warmups in Rio. (Reuters)

On people’s lips

“I think about all the other moms and dads out there right now who wonder whether it’s safe to go out and go to the grocery store.” — Florida Representative Jared Moskowitz, who’s urging the state’s legislature to hold a special session on Zika (Sun Sentinel)

Today’s must-reads

  • Could cancelling the Olympics for Zika do more harm than good? (Forbes)
  • Idiot who says Zika is a conspiracy still wants you to buy his bug spray (Gizmodo)

Tuesday, June 7

The big news right now

  • A Brazilian research group predicts there will be no more than 15 Zika infections among foreign visitors to the Rio Olympics (Reuters)
  • Spain will provide 3,000 bottles of insect repellant to its athletes at the Rio Olympics (AP)
  • “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie, who is pregnant, said she will skip the Rio Olympics (Hollywood Reporter)

On people’s lips

“I would say to any athlete, to any visitor planning on coming to Rio, you do not have to worry, Rio and Brazil have prepared for this moment.” — Brazil’s sports minister Leonardo Picciani on fears over Zika and the Olympics (Reuters)

Paying for Zika

The world may be alarmed by Zika, but no one wants to pay for it, STAT’s Helen Branswell reports. Part of the problem is that Zika may not be seen as the urgent situation public health leaders believe it to be. (STAT)

 Today’s must-reads

  • Zika may infect Florida Senate race as money to fight virus lags (Bloomberg)
  • The answer to Zika is obvious: Bring back DDT (New York Post)

Monday, June 6

The big news right now

  • Scientists have identified a protein that can block Zika from infecting human and mouse brains (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)
  • As of June 1, New York state had 130 cases of travel-associated Zika, jumping ahead of Florida’s 128 (Kaiser Family Fund)

Struggles beyond birth

For Brazilian babies now nearing a year of age with microcephaly, the condition is still a daily challenge. Doctors test their eyes and ears to gauge the extent of the damage. To correct for stiff limbs, some infants wear special footwear. Regular physical therapy and medical appointments multiple times a week make parenting a full-time job — mother Lacie Santos was fired for the amount of time she missed. (CNN)

Trump weighs in

Donald Trump was asked about Zika and the Olympics on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He said the US should still compete but that “if an athlete wouldn’t want to do it, they should [have the] right not to do it.” (CBS)

Today’s must-read


Saturday-Sunday, June 4-5

The big news right now

  • WHO scientists expand the list of possible Zika-related birth defects (STAT)
  • At least 11 US service members have been infected with Zika since January, a new Pentagon health report disclosed (USA Today)
  • An expert committee, convened by WHO, will consider whether the Summer Olympics in Brazil should proceed as planned (AP)

Number of the day

In Brazil, authorities have confirmed more than 1,400 cases of Zika-linked microcephaly (Reuters)

On people’s lips

“It’s the Olympics, it’s the Olympics! Mosquitoes? Like, whatever, I’m going. This is my shot. I don’t care about no stupid bugs!” — Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic gymnastics all-around champion, at a meet in Hartford (Associated Press)

Today’s must-reads

  • Florida lawmakers press GOP on Zika funding: “Mosquitoes bite Republicans” (Miami Herald)
  • Fearing Zika, a top American will skip the Olympics. He may not be the last. (New York Times

 

Friday, June 3

The big news right now

      • Scientists are raising the possibility that Zika may be transmitted by oral sex (New York Times)
      • US cyclist Tejay van Garderen has withdrawn from consideration for the Summer Olympics citing the Zika risk for his pregnant wife (the Guardian)
      • 46 countries and territories now have cases of locally transmitted Zika (WHO)

On people’s lips

“I am worried about Zika. … We’re coming to the point where we are going to run out of funds to support the Zika response. And that’s going to happen right as we’re hitting mosquito season in the United States.” — Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy at a meeting with STAT (STAT)

Zika in the US

Here’s a quick recap of Zika cases in the US. (Roll Call)

Today’s must-read

      • The true cost of Zika in the US could be staggering (CBS News)

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Thursday, June 2

The big news right now

      • States can use Medicaid to pay for Zika virus-fighting tools, the Obama administration says (USA Today)
      • Florida Governor Rick Scott says the state, which has 162 cases of Zika, will experience a “disaster” if it doesn’t get federal funds soon to help fight the outbreak (AP)

On people’s lips

“The take-home message is that it is time for us as a nation … to do every single thing possible to bring a halt to Zika infection.” — Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan, who delivered a baby born with microcephaly in a New Jersey hospital earlier this week (LA Times)

Conspiracy theory

Here’s what researchers found when they analyzed Twitter to see when Zika pseudoscientific claims and conspiracy theories spiked (Undark)

 Today’s must-reads

      • Scientific sleuths hunt for Zika-carrying mosquitoes (Science)
      • The Gates Foundation is trying to stop Zika by giving mosquitos a sexually transmitted disease (Recode)

Wednesday, June 1

The big news right now

      • A baby born in New Jersey appears to have Zika-linked microcephaly. If confirmed, it would be the first such case in the continental US (STAT)
      • Millions of dollars of Ebola funding, redirected to the Zika response, may not be replenished, lawmakers say (STAT)
      • Detroit Tigers player Francisco Rodriguez said he had Zika over the offseason while in his home country of Venezuela (AP)

On people’s lips

“A lot of the money and funds are going to go to the vaccine, but it should go to mosquito control, because at this point, that’s the only way to control the vector of the disease.” — Chalmers Vasquez, head of mosquito control in Florida’s Miami-Dade County (Bloomberg)

Know thy enemy

Scientist-artist David Goodsell, who works at the Scripps Research Institute, is trying to make Zika easier to understand through art. His watercolor shows the virus infecting a cell. (NPR)

Number of the day: 18

That’s the number of people in Virginia with known Zika infection, according to state health officials. (Washington Post)

Today’s must-reads

      • How to stop the Zika virus: Ease restrictions on pesticides (CNBC)
      • Malaria, Zika, and dengue could meet their match in mosquito-borne bacteria (Smithsonian Magazine)

Tuesday, May 31

The big news right now

      • People returning from Zika-endemic areas should practice safe sex for eight weeks, not four as previously advised, according to new World Health Organization guidelines (Reuters)
      • Couples in Brazil considering in vitro fertilization are now required to take a test to show they are Zika-free. The same goes for sperm and egg donors (Mother Jones)
      • Chicago Bulls’s Pau Gosol is considering skipping the Olympics due to Zika (ESPN)

On people’s lips

“It’s just a false security to say that you’ll postpone the Olympics and postpone the globalization of this disease.” — David Heymann, head of the WHO panel of independent experts on Zika, on the WHO’s advice to not move or postpone the Summer Games (Reuters)

Fashionably protected

Three mothers are selling a hybrid head scarf and mosquito net, dubbed the Mozzie, which is Australian slang for mosquito. The $20 scarves are intended to protect women’s face, neck, and shoulders from mosquito bites.

Number of the day: 42,000

That’s the number of hotel room reservations through 2018 that have been cancelled in Puerto Rico due to Zika fears. (AP)

Today’s must-reads

      • New York’s Zika fight turns to travel precautions and safe sex (New York Times)
      • Zika patients are coming down with a rare and paralyzing disorder. I had it 13 years ago (Narratively)
      • Fellow Americans, it’s time to stop panicking about Zika (Mother Jones)

Saturday-Monday, May 28-30

The big news right now

      • 150 health experts asked WHO to consider moving or postponing Rio Olympics due to Zika. The WHO responded, saying there is “no public health justification” to delay or postpone the Games (AP)
      • Uruguay and Chile are now the only countries in South America to not have local transmission of Zika (Business Insider)

A missed mark

In March, the WHO came up with a six-month, $56 million plan to tackle Zika. So far, only $3.86 million has been raised. (Quartz)

On people’s lips

“Cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.” — The World Health Organization in its statement that the 2016 Olympics should not be postponed or moved.

Today’s must-reads

      • Zika precautions: What you need to know as you plan your summer travel (Washington Post)
      • Japan-based researchers have developed a new tool that predicts the risk of Zika virus importation and local transmission for 189 countries. (ScienceDaily)

Friday, May 27

The big news right now

      • Congress has left for an almost two-week break without passing a Zika funding resolution (Washington Post)
      • There are now 46 countries and territories with locally transmitted Zika (WHO)
      • Just 1 in 5 people say that they have taken steps in the past three months to protect themselves from getting Zika virus, a new survey finds (Annenberg Public Policy Center)

Hype watch

Extract from the leaves of a common plant could kill Aedes aegypti, according to research done by a teen from the Philippines. The 17-year-old described his results at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. (Science News for Students)

On people’s lips

“We have a narrow window of opportunity to scale up Zika prevention measures, and that window is closing.” — CDC Director Tom Frieden, speaking at The National Press Club on Thursday (Huffington Post)

Number of the day: $62 million

That’s how much Americans have spent on insect repellent this year, up 12 percent from a year ago. (CBS News)

Today’s must-reads

      • How businesses should respond to the Zika virus (Fortune)
      • Chasing an epidemic: On the road with Brazil’s Zika detectives (Los Angeles Times)
      • GOP congressman defends House Zika funding package (NPR)

Thursday, May 26

The big news right now

      • When Zika virus infection occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy, the fetus has up to a 13 percent chance of developing microcephaly, new research finds (STAT)
      • Zika may be linked to previously unreported eye problems in babies with microcephaly (BBC News)
      • Miami International Airport is likely to welcome the most travelers from Zika-affected countries this summer, an analysis of the CDC’s Zika travel notices finds. In second and third place, respectively: New York and Houston (Vocativ)

Coming up

A webcast of the Kavli Foundation later today will bring together neuroscientists to discuss Zika’s effects on the brain. Tune in at 3:30 p.m. EDT here.

Mythbusting

The rumor-busting website Snopes has taken aim at Zika. In a new post it investigated conspiracy theories that claim Americans are immune to Zika virus. Its finding? A big, red “false.”

Reality check

Travelers to Brazil are more likely to be sickened by flu or food poisoning than Zika, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. (Vox)

Today’s must-read

      • We need to fight Zika the way governments fight terror (Reuters)

 


Wednesday, May 25

The big news right now

      • Thousands may have arrived in the US unaware they were infected with Zika, a top CDC official says (ABC News)
      • The FTC on Tuesday fined a maker of mint oil mosquito repellant wristbands, saying that Viatek “took advantage” of consumers’ Zika fears to sell them a product without scientific support (FTC)
      • Congress hasn’t passed a Zika emergency funding bill, but it did pass one using Zika as a reason to eliminate certain clean water rules (Huffington Post)

Olympians under the microscope

The US Olympic Committee hopes to enroll 1,000 athletes, coaches, and staff heading to the Rio Olympics or Paralympics for a long-term study of Zika’s effects. Volunteers who test positive for Zika will be monitored for up to two years, and any pregnancies among the group will be studied as well. (Washington Post)

Coloring time

The Alabama Department of Health has posted online a Zika coloring book, which it’s been distributing to kids in the state. Get yours here.

On people’s lips

“Three months is an eternity for control of an outbreak. There is a narrow window of opportunity here and it’s closing. Every day that passes makes it harder to stop Zika.” — CDC Director Tom Frieden on the congressional feud over Zika funding (New York Times)

Today’s must-read


Tuesday, May 24

The big news right now

      • Brazilian researchers have found Zika in wild-caught Aedes aegypti, strengthening the case the mosquito is the principal vector driving the outbreak (Science)
      • A coalition of 11 senators sent a letter to the US Olympic Committee asking how the committee will protect athletes from Zika at the Rio Olympics (USA Today)

Today in odd headlines: Zika freebies

Blood centers in Indiana have seen donations dip since the start of the Zika outbreak, and so to entice donors, the organization is offering a free ticket to the Indy 500 kickoff including a performance by rock band Journey. (IndyStar)

On people’s lips

“The notion is not that there is no need for a vaccine. … What’s not predictable is how to use this vaccine.” — Moncef Slaoui, chairman of GlaxoSmithKline vaccines division (Bloomberg)

Number of the day: 60,000

That’s the number of cans of Off! insect repellent SC Johnson has donated to Puerto Rico’s health department. (New York Times)

Today’s must-reads

      • Mosquito hunters set traps across Houston, search for signs of Zika (NPR)
      • How Zika spiraled out of control (Scientific American)

Monday, May 23

The big news right now

      • The United States could see its first case of local transmission of Zika in the next month or so, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci says (Wall Street Journal)
      • Australian biotech Biotron saw its shares jump after it announced making compounds effective against Zika (Business Insider)

Zika is coming

Ronald Klain, the former White House Ebola response coordinator, is not happy with how Congress has handled President Obama’s Zika funding request. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Klain argues the president should have a public health emergency fund to draw from when epidemics hit, without needing to wait for Congress to act. (Washington Post)

On people’s lips

Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, addressed Zika in her remarks at the opening of the World Health Assembly in Geneva today.

Number of the day: 450,000

That’s the number of condoms the International Olympic Committee will distribute to athletes and staff in Rio. (Metro)


Saturday-Sunday, May 21-22

The big news right now

      • The Caribbean island of Martinique has reported its first Zika-related death, of Guillain-Barre syndrome (ABC)
      • The first case of Zika-related microcephaly has been reported in Costa Rica (Reuters)
      • Puerto Rico has recorded more than 1,100 confirmed cases of Zika (AP)

Skip the skirt

Female Mormon missionaries are now allowed to wear pants (instead of the previously allowed skirts or dresses) in areas affected by mosquito-borne illnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement Friday. The church is also buying mosquito repellant for all 74,000 missionaries. (Salt Lake Tribune)

On people’s lips

“This is not something we can build a wall to prevent. Mosquitoes don’t go through customs.” — President Obama, who said Friday Congress should not leave for recess until it sends him a Zika funding bill (The Hill)

Number of the day: 36

Under the CDC guidelines, Florida’s number of pregnant women with evidence of Zika has quadrupled from 9 to 36. (Miami Herald)

Today’s must-read

      • The Zika virus has reached the US. Here’s what we can do to stop the spread (Medium)

Friday, May 20

The big news right now

      • The Senate approved its $1.1 billion Zika bill. The Senate and House will now have to reach an agreement on the spending amount before sending it to President Obama (Reuters)
      • President Obama will be briefed on the state of the Zika response this morning (STAT)
      • The Dominican Republic reported two more deaths from Zika-linked Guillain-Barré syndrome (AP)
      • USA Swimming has moved a pre-Olympic training camp from Puerto Rico to Atlanta due to Zika concerns (AP)

On people’s lips

“If you take funding from local health department preparedness, that means people are fired or labs can’t run the same way or disease surveillance has to stop.” — Thomas Inglesby, CEO of the Center for Health Safety at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (NPR)

Number of the day: 279

A newly revised count in US states and territories finds that 279 pregnant women show signs of prior Zika infection. This is higher than previous estimates as it includes women who have laboratory evidence of possible infection, whether or not they recall having symptoms. (CDC)

Today’s must-reads

      • How the media fell for an “anti-Zika” condom stunt (The Verge)
      • 5 lessons from the protracted Zika funding fight (STAT)

Thursday, May 19

The big news right now

      • A bitterly divided House passed its $622 million Zika bill. Next up: a fight with White House, and maybe the Senate, too (STAT)
      • CDC Director Tom Frieden says the House’s Zika funding bill is inadequate (AP)
      • The Gates Foundation is giving $750,000 to a collaborative effort by PAHO and the CDC to better communicate the risks of Zika (PAHO, Gates Foundation)
      • A new project from IBM uses computers’ and phones’ downtime to virtually test out potential Zika drugs (CNBC)

Today in odd headlines: Zika and truckers

Bundled with Zika funding bills in the House and Senate are provisions that lengthen the number of hours truck drivers are allowed to be on the road. That has some safety advocates concerned. (Huffington Post)

Fact check

Usain Bolt drew some ire for his joke that he’s not afraid of Zika because the mosquitoes “can’t catch me.” But he’s right: At 28 miles per hour, he’s way faster than the 1.5 mph a mosquito can fly. (Complex)

On people’s lips

“The babies being born are neither Democrats or Republicans. They’re babies.” — Former Ebola czar Ron Klain, saying Zika funding shouldn’t be a political battle (Politico)

Today’s must-reads

      • Brazil’s abortion restrictions compound challenge of Zika virus (New York Times)
      • How many Zika-infected infants will develop microcephaly and other FAQs (PBS NewsHour)

Wednesday, May 18

The big news right now

      • Zika virus may spread to Europe in the coming months, WHO warns (Reuters)
      • The Senate advanced a compromise bill to provide $1.1 billion in federal funds to fight Zika (STAT)
      • The House could vote on a Zika funding bill as soon as today, though a vote could be delayed until later in the week (STAT)

Vaccine update

In an interview with Mother Jones, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave more details about that agency’s progress toward a Zika vaccine. Currently in development, aiming for clinical trials in September, is a vaccine based on DNA. On track for trials perhaps at the end of this year is a different type made of inactivated virus. Another variety, a “live chimeric inactivated vaccine,” is behind that with a 2017 test date. All told, they have “four or five candidates lined up,” Fauci said.

Number of the day: 94%

Researchers estimate that was the percentage of the population of French Polynesia infected with Zika during a 2013 outbreak. As a result, it will take 12 to 20 years before we will see another outbreak there. (PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases)

Today’s must-reads

      • GOP repurposes EPA pesticide bill for Zika (The Hill)
      • Florida town buzzing over biotech mosquito for Zika defense (WSJ)

Tuesday, May 17

The big news right now

      • The House’s Zika funding bill would provide $622 million, less than half of what the Obama administration wanted (STAT)
      • Meanwhile, the Senate is slated to vote today on three competing plans to battle Zika (AP)
      • US scientists have cloned Zika, an important step toward getting a vaccine (BBC News)

Zika is not Ebola

Zika is “not at fever pitch the way it was with Ebola,” Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina told STAT’s David Nather. He’s not alone. Many key Republicans say they’re just not hearing a lot of urgency about Zika from their constituents. And that could make a big difference later this week, when the House is likely to vote on its own, smaller Zika bill. (STAT)

Number of the day: $1.76 million

The Defense Department is providing $1.76 million in extra funding to military laboratories to expand Zika surveillance worldwide. (DoD)

Today’s must-reads

      • Is this early-stage vaccine our best hope against Zika? (Mother Jones)
      • US Zika tests “unacceptably” backlogged (BuzzFeed)
      • Tracing Zika back to patient zero (The Atlantic)

Monday, May 16

The big news right now

      • The House is likely to weigh in on Zika funding today. Expect far less than the $1.1 billion the Senate agreed to (STAT)
      • The USDA is using student volunteers to track the mosquitoes that spread Zika (AP)
      • IBM scientists have designed a macromolecule that could help stop viruses like Zika from spreading (Medical Daily)

On people’s lips

“I don’t know anyone who’s got the Zika virus and I know a lot of people so this is not a big issue.” — Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro, dismissing calls for the Olympics to be cancelled or postponed (Sky News)

Number of the day: 3 weeks

That’s how long the delay is for Zika testing in Rio de Janeiro, according to an Australian scientist. With throngs of visitors soon arriving for the Olympics, the test backlog may get much worse. (AAP)

Today’s must-reads

      • Zika’s emotional and financial burden has fallen squarely on women’s shoulders (Quartz)
      • Southerners brace for mosquito season with fears of Zika (NPR)

Saturday-Sunday, May 14-15

The big news right now

      • Puerto Rico reported its first case of Zika-linked microcephaly (STAT)
      • US states and territories can now apply to the CDC for funds to fight Zika. The Department of Health and Human Services has redirected $85 million to support the efforts (CDC)
      • The House will attempt to pass emergency Zika funds next week. How much money to spend hasn’t been settled yet (Reuters)

Hype watch

Comedian Amy Schumer took to Twitter to set the record straight that she did not ask studio executives to move locations for her upcoming film from Puerto Rico due to Zika concerns. (ET Canada)

Number of the day: 2x

That’s the strength of the free “dual protection” condoms Australian athletes will receive at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio to combat the spread of the Zika virus. (Australia’s Sunday Telegraph)

Today’s must-read

      • Yes, Zika will soon spread in the United States. But it won’t be a disaster (Science)
      • The US doesn’t have an emergency fund for health crises like Zika. That’s a huge mistake (Vox)

Friday, May 13

The big news right now

      • The Senate reached a $1.1 billion bipartisan deal to fight Zika. The package will be voted on next week (Washington Post)
      • Grenada has been added to the CDC’s Zika travel caution for pregnant women (CDC)
      • Singapore reported its first case of imported Zika (Channel News Asia)

Hype watch

Is the US Army testing Zika samples in its labs in South Korea? The military says no, but 50 local South Korean civic groups aren’t convinced, protesting in front of the US Forces Korea’s base in Yongsan. (Korea Herald)

No delays

The WHO released guidelines for athletes and visitors planning to attend the Summer Games in Rio, making it clear the Olympics would not be delayed or postponed. (New York Times)

Number of the day: 55%

That’s the percentage of of people who said they’d be “very” or “somewhat” likely to get a Zika vaccine if it were available, according to a new Annenberg Public Policy Center survey. (APPC)

Today’s must-read

      • Playing Russian roulette with the Zika virus in Rio (AP)

Thursday, May 12

The big news right now

      • The International Olympic Committee says it sees no need to cancel, delay, or move the Rio Olympic Games because of Zika (BBC News)
      • Three groups of scientists reported Wednesday that fetal mice infected with Zika showed brain damage, confirming links to microcephaly (STAT)
      • Senate Republicans are close to approving at least $1.1 billion to combat Zika (Bloomberg)

Number of the day: $4.95 million

Canada is contributing almost $5 million for research into Zika and humanitarian aid to countries hit hard by the virus. (Globe and Mail)

Hype watch

Televangelist Jim Bakker is using the Zika threat as a marketing push to sell survival food buckets. Bulk supplies of rice and potatoes, he indicates, are important supplies in preparation for the End Times. (Right Wing Watch)

Today’s must-reads

      • When Zika hits, a push for birth control and abortion? (AP)
      • Public health professor: Because of Zika, Rio Olympics “must not proceed” (NPR)

Wednesday, May 11

The big news right now

      • US health officials say a urine test for Zika is more effective than a blood test (AP)
      • Florida has had 109 Zika cases this year, more than any other state (Miami Herald)

Masked mosquito

Adam Beam, Kentucky statehouse reporter for the Associated Press, captured this scene at an educational session on Zika.

On people’s lips

Cher tweeted some very head-scratching comments about Zika last night, but kudos to her for at least getting the geography right: Zika is not yet in the Bahamas.

Today’s must-reads

      • This is what it’s like to actually be told you have Zika (BuzzFeed)
      • Fighting Zika is about protecting pregnant women, Fauci says (NPR)
      • For Republicans in Congress, does “pro-life” extend to fighting Zika? (Washington Post)

Tuesday, May 10

The big news right now

      • Honduras “strongly suspects” its first case of Zika-related microcephaly in an unborn fetus (Reuters)
      • The White House says it’s concerned the debt crisis facing Puerto Rico could hamper its ability to respond to Zika (Reuters)
      • Washington, D.C., plans to hand out condoms to stop the spread of Zika (Washington City Paper)

Job alert

UNICEF is hiring a consultant to manage its Zika-related innovation projects. Points if you have a master’s in engineering, innovation, or microbiology. (UNICEF)

On people’s lips

Comedian David Spade joked about getting Zika on a recent flight. (Not to worry: You can’t actually catch Zika from a sneeze.)

Today’s must-reads

      • A window into the workings of Zika (New York Times)
      • Olympians battle mosquito infestations in Rio as US develops new Zika test (People)

Monday, May 9

The big news right now

      • The Senate heads back to the Hill today with Zika funding looming (STAT)
      • Zika may cause microcephaly by making the fetus’s brain attack itself, new research finds (Newsweek)

Hype watch

A British tabloid is claiming Kate Middleton will skip the Rio Olympics due to concerns over Zika. (Daily Star)

The more you know

A new video from PHD Comics explains the science of Zika in cartoon form:

On people’s lips

“Simply put, Zika infection is more dangerous, and Brazil’s outbreak more extensive, than scientists reckoned a short time ago. Which leads to a bitter truth: the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games must be postponed, moved, or both.” — University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran (Harvard Public Health Review)

Today’s must-read

      • Mosquito season brings no urgency for money to fight Zika (AP)

Saturday-Sunday, May 7-8

The big news right now

      • The MLB is moving a two-game series in Puerto Rico to Miami due to Zika concerns (STAT)
      • Researchers have developed an inexpensive, paper-based test that can detect Zika in just a few hours (Harvard Gazette)
      • The UN established a trust fund to help combat Zika (AP)

Number of the day: 35%

Just 1 in 3 Americans says protecting against mosquito bites is a step that scientists think people can take to avoid Zika’s negative health effects, a new survey out of the Annenberg Public Policy Center finds. (APPC)

On people’s lips

“If I’m pregnant and I’m trying to figure out whether my baby is in danger or not, it makes a huge difference whether it’s Zika or dengue. Because dengue doesn’t cause microcephaly.” — Immunologist Ilhem Messaoudi, on the ambiguity in Zika tests (McClatchy)

Today’s must-reads


Friday, May 6

The big news right now

      • Spain reported its first case of Zika-related microcephaly in an unborn fetus (Reuters)
      • Peru is the latest destination to be added to the CDC’s Zika travel caution for pregnant women (CDC)
      • The Cayman Islands plan to use genetically modified mosquitoes to fight Zika (AP)
      • A small study in Brazil found nearly 90 percent of people with Guillain-Barré syndrome reported prior symptoms of Zika (AP)

Number of the day: 200 percent

A large DEET manufacturer says it expects production this year to be 200 to 300 percent more than what it was last year. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

On people’s lips

“I don’t even know what a Zika virus is. But I’ll tell you what, it scares me when I hear about it.” — NBA player Carmelo Anthony on whether Zika will factor into his decision to attend the Rio Olympics (Bleacher Report)

Today’s must-reads

      • Gulf Coast could be ground zero for Zika (USA Today)
      • One year into the Zika outbreak: how an obscure disease became a global health emergency (WHO)

 


Thursday, May 5

The big news right now

      • Infecting Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with a strain of bacteria known as Wolbachia makes them less likely to transmit Zika (Reuters)
      • Florida Governor Rick Scott will visit Capitol Hill next week to push for emergency funds to fight Zika (Miami Herald)
      • Australian golfer Adam Scott will skip the Rio Olympics due to Zika concerns (Sydney Morning Herald)
      • The makers of a fertility app are donating 1 million free subscriptions to women in Brazil who want to minimize likelihood of conception (SBS)

On people’s lips

“We don’t know the future course of the epidemic of Zika, but we have to be prepared for the virus to be present for years.” — José Esparza of the University of Maryland School of Medicine (National Geographic)

Number of the day: 4

That’s the number of microcephaly cases linked to the Zika virus that have been confirmed in Panama. Panama was the first country outside of Brazil to report such cases in the current Zika outbreak (Reuters)

Today’s must-read

      • Heartbreak and hardship for women in Brazil as Zika crisis casts deep shadow (The Guardian)

Wednesday, May 4

The big news right now

      • A Connecticut woman who traveled to Central America and became pregnant while there has tested positive for Zika (Hartford Courant)
      • The MLB is considering canceling its series in Puerto Rico due to concerns over Zika (Yahoo! Sports)
      • The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease plans to start tests of a Zika vaccine in September (Science)

Number of the day: 500 million

The number of people in the Americas and Caribbean at risk of contracting Zika, according to the Pan American Health Organization. (Science)

Zika watch

STAT reporter Dylan Scott noticed this Zika warning sign at Logan Airport in Boston. Airports across the country are posting similar displays, alerting travelers about the virus and ways to protect themselves. (USA Today)

On people’s lips

“Aedes aegypti is a very difficult mosquito to control and eliminate. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to have a significant impact on it — but it will require a very aggressive, concerted effort.” — Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID (ABC News)

Today’s must-reads

      • Malaria during pregnancy is a lot more dangerous than Zika (Quartz)
      • The high schooler behind the mini-brain generator (Slate)

Tuesday, May 3

The big news right now

      • A three-day conference in Atlanta wraps up today, having convened academics and drug makers from across the globe to discuss Zika (Bridging the Sciences)
      • Could an already existing drug help treat Zika? Scientists are investigating whether older drugs might block Zika infection (USA Today)
      • A new Baltimore-based drug developer launched in December specifically to design a Zika vaccine (Baltimore Sun)

Number of the day: 700,000

The number of Venezuelans a watchdog group estimates have been infected with Zika, 150 times as many as the official government tally. (Americas Quarterly)

Today in odd headlines: Clamor for coveralls

Red Wing, which makes pesticide-treated coveralls for oil and gas employees in malaria-endemic regions, is now marketing them to companies operating in South America as well. (My San Antonio)

Today’s must-reads

      • A more worrisome Zika vector for the US? (Undark)
      • Controlling Zika mosquitoes may be ‘lost cause’ (USA Today)
      • Should the US reconsider its stand on foreign aid for abortion clinics? (NPR)

Monday, May 2

The big news right now

      • Zika could be behind more damaging neurological conditions, affecting 1 in 5 babies of women who contract the virus during pregnancy (BBC News)
      • Rio de Janeiro has had three times more Zika cases than any other state in Brazil (Vice News)
      • New York City is donating 1 million condoms to Puerto Rico to protect against sexual transmission of Zika (NY Daily News)

On people’s lips

“The microcephaly and other birth defects we have been seeing could be the tip of the iceberg.” — the CDC’s Dr. Sonja Rasmussen at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting (NBC News)

Gauging resistance

A recent study examined insecticide resistance in Aedes albopictus, a species that may carry Zika, though less commonly than Aedes aegypti.

Today’s must-reads

      • Brazil: In the age of Zika, syphilis advances (H5N1 blog)
      • Bug spray maker tripling production for Zika (Fox 54)

 

For more Zika in 30 Seconds archives click here.

 

— Curated by Lisa Raffensperger and Elana Zak

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