• Resistance-proof antiviral can treat many diseases

    Scientists and health officials are marshalling forces to fight Zika, the latest in a string of recent outbreaks. Many of these efforts target that virus specifically, but some researchers are looking for a broader approach. The new strategy aims to fight a wide range of viruses that appears to be safe in vivo and could evade a virus’s ability to develop resistance.

  • Congress’ inaction hobbles U.S. preparation for a major Zika virus outbreak: Experts

    Despite dire predictions that the Zika virus could affect much of the United States including large cities this summer, the country is unprepared, and the financial and moral consequences could be significant. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama requested $1.86 billion for surveillance, mosquito control, research and health services, but Congress has not approved the funding. In the absence of Congressional action, the president reallocated $589 million of designated Ebola funds to Zika preparedness, research and the creation of response teams. “The nation’s state of preparedness is compromised by Congress’s inaction on supplemental funding and the weak capacities and powers of states and localities,” two public health experts say.

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  • Zika virus “scarier than we initially thought”: U.S. health officials

    Dr. Anne Schuchat from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the Zika virus is more of a threat than previously thought. Speaking at a White House press conference, she said there was potential for the virus to spread to more U.S. states than experts first believed. “Most of what we’ve learned is not reassuring. Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” she told reporters.

  • Novel alignment-free sequence descriptors in Zika virus characterization

    The recent epidemic of Zika virus infections in South and Latin America has raised serious concerns on its ramifications for the population in the Americas and spread of the virus worldwide. Researchers explain their research on computer-assisted approaches toward surveillance and consequent design of drugs and vaccines to combat the growth and spread of the Zika virus.

  • Limited awareness or concern about Zika virus in U.S.

    A recent survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that three-quarters of Americans who have heard at least a little about the Zika virus are aware that the virus is linked to birth defects in babies born to infected mothers. However, the survey found that most Americans are unclear about the availability of tests to diagnose Zika and whether or not preventative vaccines and effective medicines exist to treat it.

  • Texas hospitals developed first rapid tests for Zika virus

    Two major Texas health centers have developed Scientists at two Texas hospitals — Texas Children’s hospital and Houston Methodist hospital – have developed what they describe as the U.S. first hospital-based, rapid test for the Zika virus. The test can yield results in a matter of hour.

  • Ebola crisis provides framework for how to respond to outbreaks like Zika virus

    As world leaders grapple with containing the Zika virus, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa provides valuable lessons for how to respond to other infectious disease epidemics, according to a just-published policy report. Rebuilding local health care infrastructures, improving capacity to respond more quickly to outbreaks and considering multiple perspectives across disciplines during decision-making processes are among the key recommendations the authors propose.

  • Losing the fight against antibiotic resistance

    Antibiotics have been used in medicine since the 1930s, saving millions of lives. Two decades later, they were introduced into agricultural practices. A growing awareness of the antibiotic resistance crisis and continued debate over who and which activities are most responsible led to the EU calling for the use of antibiotics in non-therapeutic settings to be phased out. Tackling antibiotic resistance on only one front is a waste of time because resistant genes are freely crossing environmental, agricultural and clinical boundaries, new research has shown.

  • DHS response plan to the Zika virus

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the U.S. government’s lead for efforts to respond to the Zika virus. As the White House announced last Monday, the president is also seeking more than $1.8 billion in supplemental funding from Congress to address the virus and our government’s response efforts.

  • WHO “must reform” to deal effectively with pandemics like Zika

    The World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergency response capabilities are “lacking” and will put thousands of lives at risk if they are not reformed now, a UN panel, convened in the wake of the Ebola crisis, said. “This may be the last opportunity to ensure the WHO is empowered” to build an effective emergency response capacity, an advance unedited copy of the UN panel’s report warned.

  • Obama urges Americans not to panic, asks Congress for emergency funding

    President Barack Obama has urged the American public not to panic about the Zika virus, and has asked Congress for more than $1.8 billion emergency funding to combat further infections. Speaking in an interview on CBS This Morning, Obama said: “The good news is this is not like Ebola, people don’t die of Zika — a lot of people get it and don’t even know that they have it.”

  • Planes arriving from Zika-infected regions to be sprayed with insecticides

    The U.K. government announced that planes landing in the United Kingdom  from areas affected by the Zika virus will be sprayed with insecticide as part of the government’s response to the outbreak. So far there have been no Zika cases reported in the United Kingdom, but two adults in Ireland were confirmed to have been infected. Both have since fully recovered.

  • Florida declares state of emergency in four counties with Zika virus

    Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in four counties where nine residents have been diagnosed with the Zika virus. Miami-Dade in south Florida, Hillsborough in Tampa Bay, Lee County in southwest Florida, and Santa Rosa County in Florida Panhandle have all been affected under the executive order. Health officials believe, however, that the residents became sick outside the United States.

  • WHO calls Zika virus “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”

    The Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO), after considering the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean, agreed that the situation meets the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO called for a coordinated international response to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread.

  • Biodefense Panel concerned as Zika, avian flu expand their reach toward U.S.

    The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense responded last week with what it described as “serious concerns” over two emerging infectious diseases that now threaten the United States — Zika virus and avian influenza.