The influenza division of Herscu Laboratory, a 501(c)(3) non-profit multi-disciplinary medical research laboratory, presents this resource for timely updates on current epidemics (influenza or otherwise). Be sure to sign up at bottom of this blog to receive notice of new postings directly via email. Or follow @PaulHerscu on Twitter.
My intention with this post is
to continue to lay a foundation and build scaffolding so that when you see data
or hear the news or learn of novel discoveries, you will have enough history
and adequate context to make sense of it and have an informed opinion. These
writings should also make it easier for everyone to both predict what the news
will be, and to anticipate government and scientific next steps. Here we are
focusing on Zika virus, but really the discussion of Zika virus lies within a
larger framework. As such I am going to describe a few variables below. They
relate to the topic of germs in general and Zika virus specifically. In this
update, I describe briefly, the placement of people within biology, the
relationship of Zika virus and neurological diseases, vector and coinfection
issues, economic issues, and ultimately prevention. At the end of this reading,
I expect many of your questions will be answered and much of the future news
may find a more logical place.
Into the Water
I am writing this part in the
Florida Everglades, within the home range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. One of my sons and I
just finished handling alligators and snakes and now I am about to have lunch.
And it occurs to me that these are ‘dirty’ creatures, by which I mean they
carry any number of little critters, let alone bacteria and viruses on their
skin, which might make me sick. Maybe
I should wash my hands extra special! While this may seem like those were
exotic creatures, a more common American example would be pet turtles under 4
inches and frogs in the USA that can make the very young, old, or immune
compromised people sick or even kill them with Salmonella infections. At its height, the problem was so great, the
FDA stepped in to ban the transportation of turtles in the USA.
Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic January 2016 Update Paul Herscu, ND, MPH Herscu Laboratory
We have just passed over a milestone that I want to
highlight, to place the discussion about Zika virus in a very important
context. We have just had a twelfth case of Zika virus infection diagnosed in
the USA. This number is significant to me, since it is exactly one more patient
than the total number of Ebola virus disease (EVD) patients to have hit USA
soil from the Ebolavirus 2014 Outbreak in Western Africa. That number includes
those who developed EVD in Africa and were transported here and those who fell
ill from human transmission inside the USA.
I believe it is of upmost importance to place any discussion
of Zika virus infection within an EVD context for a variety of reasons. When I
commented on EVD, both in this Blog
and in the Webinar I presented on Viruses, I made some very strong comments and
predictions. These were based on tracking viral infection outbreaks and
epidemics around the worlds for several decades.
One point I highlighted was as we look at the history of our
species and its effect on other species on this planet one thing becomes clear.
As we have explored, conquered, inhabited and thrived in a variety of
environments around the planet, when we found a species that was large-toothed,
venomous, and scary, we would try to destroy it, driving the species towards
extinction. We feel more comfortable when they are not threatening us. Right or
wrong this is what we have done. And as we have begun to feel more comfortable
in our surroundings, we began to look more closely at what may be the new scary
things to our species–germs, bacteria and viruses. And as our technology has gotten
better, cheaper, more accurate and specific, we are better able to isolate an
ever-increasing diverse microcosm, both outside and inside of our bodies. In
short, we have relearned that we are not alone. And again, reflexively, we are
frightened. An added fear is the continued realization that an ever-larger
number of bacteria become scarier as we encourage their evolution with and
toward antibiotic resistance.