Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic - Update #2

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic
February 11, 2016 Update
Paul Herscu, ND, MPH
Herscu Laboratory

If you have not yet read my first posting on this topic, please do so now before reading the following.

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. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic - Update #1

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.