El Zika Aprovecha Que Embarazadas Están Bajas de Defensas Para Atacar el Feto

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

El virus del zika aprovecha que el sistema inmunológico de las mujeres embarazadas está bajo de defensas, especialmente en los dos primeros trimestres, para atacar al feto, según una investigación dada a conocer el lunes.

El estudio, realizado por la Escuela de Medicina Keck, de la Universidad del Sur de California (USC), descubrió que el virus ataca específicamente los glóbulos blancos presentes en la sangre de la madre.

El ataque del zika “incapacita el sistema inmunológico de la mujer embarazada de una forma que casi refleja el del sida”, explicó el lunes Jae Jung, autor senior del estudio.

Jung, director del Departamento de Microbiología Molecular e Inmunología de la Escuela Keck, señaló que durante la gestación las mujeres son más susceptibles al ataque de virus “porque el embarazo naturalmente suprime el sistema inmunológico de la mujer para que su cuerpo no rechace el feto”.

“Nuestro estudio muestra que las mujeres embarazadas son más propensas a la supresión inmunológica, y el zika explota esa debilidad para infectarlas y multiplicarse”, agregó el científico.

La investigación, que analizó el virus del zika denominado “asiático” y que fue publicada en la revista científica Microbiología de la Naturaleza, representa “un paso instrumental para mejorar el destino de las mujeres embarazadas y sus bebés no nacidos”, destacó Jolin Suan-Sin Foo.

La investigadora, miembro del equipo de Jung, la debilidad inmunológica de la mujer embarazada permite que “el virus del Zika Asiático se cuele en el útero y haga presa del vulnerable bebé”.

La investigación igualmente destacó que, aunque el síntoma más claro de la infección en los bebés es la microcefalia, el verdadero ataque del virus se centra en el cerebro de los bebés.

“Estas anomalías causan daño cerebral y retrasos en el desarrollo de los bebés aún si éstos han nacido con cabezas de tamaño normal”, advirtió la investigación.

La Organización Mundial de la Salud declaró emergencia sanitaria internacional en febrero de 2016 por la rápida propagación del zika, aunque la levantó en noviembre pasado, después de que el número de nuevos casos disminuyese notablemente.

Health Officials Warn of West Nile and Zika Carrying Mosquitoes

June 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles County health officials last week confirmed the county’s first human case of West Nile virus for the 2017 season, a revelation followed up on Monday by Long Beach city health officials who announced mosquitoes that can transmit Zika, dengue and other virus have been detected in their city.

Both public health agencies are urging residents to take extra precautions against mosquito bites, noting that mosquito season is at its peak in Southern California between May and October.

The Zika carrying mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, which have also been found in other areas of Southern California, were detected in North Long Beach in the jurisdiction of the Compton Creek Mosquito Abatement District. Authorities are working to determine the extent of the infestation and prevent their spread. A variety of mosquito traps have been deployed in the area.

“We are actively informing and encouraging residents and visitors to take necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.

Aedes aegypti is a roughly quarter-inch large, black-and-white insect that is notably aggressive and is known to bite during the daytime.

The patient known to have contracted the West Nile virus was described only as an “elderly” San Gabriel Valley resident who was hospitalized in late March and has since recovered.

According to the state’s West Nile virus-tracking website, only one other human case of West Nile virus has been reported this season in California, in Kings County.

“West Nile is a serious illness spread by mosquitoes in Los Angeles County,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer.

“Take precautions against mosquito bites such as using a repellant containing DEET when outdoors, especially around dawn or dusk.

“There is currently no vaccine or treatment for West Nile virus,” he said. “Elderly persons and other people with weak immune systems are at highest risk of developing severe illness.”

Symptoms can include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headaches, but many people who are infected may not show any symptoms. About one in 150 people could develop more serious problems, such as brain inflammation or paralysis, health officials said. Zika is especially dangerous to pregnant women, whose Zika virus infection (Zika) during pregnancy can cause damage to the brain, microcephaly, and congenital Zika syndrome, a pattern of conditions in the baby that includes brain abnormalities, eye defects, hearing loss, and limb defects, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

To reduce exposure to West Nile, Zika and other viruses, residents are urged to:

— eliminate standing water that can attract mosquitoes;

— spend as little time as possible outdoors at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are generally on the move;

— wear pants and long-sleeved shirts during outdoor activity;

— use insect repellent; and

— ensure door and window screens are fitted properly to keep bugs out.

In 2016, Los Angeles County health officials reported 153 human cases and five deaths from West Nile virus. Those statistics do not include the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own public health agencies.


UCLA Study Unravels Genetic Evolution of Zika Virus

April 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Zika virus possesses the ability to mutate rapidly, meaning the current outbreak of the virus has the potential to spread swiftly around the world, according to a UCLA study released today.

“The Zika virus has undergone significant genetic changes in the past 70 years,” said the study’s senior author, Genhong Cheng, a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“By tracing its genetic mutations, we aimed to understand how the virus is transmitted from person to person and how it causes different types of disease,” he said.

First isolated in 1947, the Zika virus caused sporadic disease in Africa and Asia until the 2007 Micronesia and 2013 French Polynesia outbreaks.

Scientists previously believed that infection was spread solely by mosquitoes and caused only mild disease.

The latest epidemic, however, has linked the virus to fetal brain-development disorders and Guillain-Barre syndrome. New modes of transmission, including infection through sex and from mother to newborn have also surfaced.

“We don’t know why Zika infection was not associated with serious human disease, especially in newborns, until recently,” said co-author Dr. Stephanie Valderramos, a fellow in obstetrics-gynecology at the Geffen School.
“We hoped that taking a closer look at the virus’ genetic changes over time would reveal clues to this mystery.”

The Cell Press journal, Cell Host & Microbe, published the findings today in its advance online edition.

Cheng’s laboratory collaborated with researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College in Beijing to compare individual genetic differences between more than 40 strains of Zika virus.

Thirty strains originated from humans, 10 from mosquitoes and one from monkeys.

In sequencing the virus, the team identified substantial DNA changes between the strains, showing a major split between the Asian and African lineages, as well as the human and mosquito versions.

“We suspect these mutations could help the virus replicate more efficiently, evade the body’s immune response or invade new tissues that provide a safe harbor for it to spread,” said co-author Lulan Wang, a graduate student researcher in Cheng’s laboratory.”

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