Zika | KERA News

Zika

***Updated at 4:00 p.m.

The first documented locally-acquired case of Zika in the continental U.S this year has been detected in Hidalgo County, at the southern tip of Texas. There's no indication this is the start of a large scale outbreak.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information on how Sanofi Pasteur was chosen as the company to license the Zika vaccine.

The U.S. Army is planning to grant an exclusive license to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. to manufacture and sell a Zika vaccine the Army developed last year.

And that has Rebekah Gee, Louisiana's secretary of health, worried about paying for it.

The Zika virus presents a lot of complications for public health officials, but according to a new study, one of the biggest problems is a knowledge gap.

Mosquito season is upon us, and Texas still isn’t out of the woods when it comes to Zika.

The mosquito-borne illness can cause birth defects if a woman is exposed to it while pregnant. Last year, there were 312 cases of Zika reported in the state.

To Test Zika Vaccines, Scientists Need A New Outbreak

Feb 23, 2017

Researchers are eager to test promising vaccines against Zika, the virus that sparked a global health emergency last year.

But uncertainty over whether the Zika epidemic will continue affects researchers' ability to finish testing vaccines. They need locations with an active viral outbreak to conduct large-scale human trials and make sure the vaccine actually protects against disease.

There could be Zika cases in Texas we missed this year, according to experts in the state. That became clearer after health officials closely monitored a small area in South Texas earlier this month and found several additional cases of locally-transmitted Zika.

A couple weeks ago, Cameron County reported the first-known locally-transmitted case of Zika in Texas.

One big question about the Zika virus has been how big a risk the virus might pose in the United States.

Studies earlier this year suggested that birth defects and other problems were mainly limited to babies born in some parts of Brazil.

A study out Tuesday provides a sense of the effects on women who were exposed while pregnant in other countries and then came to the United States. About 6 percent of those pregnancies resulted in defects in the fetus or baby.

Texas Officials Confirm 4 More Locally Transmitted Zika Cases

Dec 9, 2016
James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Cameron County health department announced Friday they've identified four more locally-transmitted cases of Zika in Cameron County.

James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A woman from the Rio Grande Valley has been diagnosed with the state’s first locally transmitted case of Zika virus, health officials announced Monday.

STEPHANIE KUO/KERA

In Texas, the Zika virus hasn’t had quite the impact as it has had in Florida or parts of Latin and South America. But the state has been vigilant in fighting the virus – with efforts like public awareness campaigns and mosquito repellent distribution to low-income mothers through Medicaid.

Houston-based Legacy Community Health Services, a federally qualified health center, is trying hard to fight the Zika virus. It's screening pregnant women and following federal guidelines to test people at risk.

For about a month now, Texas has provided mosquito repellant to low-income women and children. It’s in an effort to prevent the spread of Zika – just in case the virus infects local mosquito populations. 


US Officials Are Rushing To Develop A Zika Vaccine By 2017

Sep 10, 2016
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Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC. Image cropped.

The Rio Olympics have come and gone, but the spread of Zika virus internationally remains a threat for the United States. The CDC is actively monitoring two clusters of the virus in Florida. Government officials expect that Zika will eventually spread. Meanwhile, vaccine candidates are being rushed through clinical trials, but won't be available at least until the spring of 2017. 

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that for now, it’s important to contain Zika and to raise public awareness about its effects.

University Of Texas Professor Sahotra Sarkar chuckles when he thinks of how often he’s been interviewed the past six months.

Reporters have been calling the professor of philosophy and integrated biology more now than in his entire 20-year academic career. It’s all because of a map he and his colleagues created, which accurately predicted when and where Zika would hit the U.S.


James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed a recent baby who died in Harris County had microcephaly linked to the Zika virus.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

There are dozens of types of mosquitoes in North Texas -- more than 50, in fact. A mosquito hunter who works with the city of Denton helps explain the differences between the bugs.

The History Of Zika

Aug 3, 2016
Shutterstock

Media accounts of  Zika, Ebola and SARS sometimes give the impression that they are new viruses, when in fact evidence suggests they’ve  been around for a long time in their natural hosts — animals. Today on Think, Krys Boyd spoke to Jonna Mazet, a University of California - Davis epidemiology professor, about the spread of Zika and other infectious diseases. Mazet is featured in the PBS documentary “Spillover: Zika, Ebola and Beyond,” which airs tonight at 9 on KERA TV.

To Fight Zika, Texas Medicaid Will Pay For Mosquito Repellent

Aug 3, 2016
US Department of Health and Human Services

With federal funding to fight Zika stuck in Congress, and amid news that mosquito-to-human transmission of the virus has reached the continental U.S., Texas officials announced on Wednesday they would allow Medicaid to pay for mosquito repellent for women, in the hopes of preventing the disease.

Texas Tribune

With federal funding to fight Zika stuck in Congress, and amid news that mosquito-to-human transmission of the virus has reached the continental U.S., Texas officials announced on Wednesday they would allow Medicaid to pay for mosquito repellent for women, in the hopes of preventing the disease.

National Institutes of Health / Kuhn and Rossmann research groups, Purdue University

The news about the Zika virus has accelerated this week. A newborn in the Houston area tested positive for Zika-related microcephaly. Doctors are also trying to figure out how an elderly Utah man was infected without transmission through sex or mosquito bites. These developments come as a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center finds that Zika can infect brain cells and hide itself from the immune system.

Texas Woman With Zika Gives Birth To Baby With Microcephaly

Jul 13, 2016
nechaevkon / Shutterstock.com

A baby boy born with microcephaly in Harris County is the first Zika-affected infant in Texas, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced Wednesday. 

Texas Women And Doctors Nervously Await Zika

Jun 22, 2016
James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mimi Garcia recalls reading a string of news stories about the Zika virus, the mosquito-borne illness linked to birth defects spreading in Latin America, in late February and early March, around the time she learned she was pregnant with her second child.

Gov. Greg Abbott Asks Feds For Zika Funding, Guidance

Jun 15, 2016
James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As Texas braces for a possible Zika virus outbreak among local mosquito populations, Gov. Greg Abbott asked federal health officials Wednesday to review the state’s plan to combat the disease linked to serious birth defects.

A few months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a startling map that showed the parts of the U.S. that could harbor mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika.

Many readers, including myself, thought, "Zika could come to my town! It could come to Connecticut! To Ohio and Indiana! Or to Northern California! Oh goodness!"

The map made it look like a vast swath of the country was at risk for Zika, including New England and the Upper Midwest.

Well, not quite.

Texas Republicans Ask Obama, Congress For Zika Help

Jun 7, 2016
Texas Tribune

Texas' top Senate Republicans on Monday upped the urgency on federal policymakers to do something about the Zika virus.

From the Texas Tribune: Texas' top Senate Republicans on Monday upped the urgency on federal policymakers to do something about the Zika virus.

In Texas, State Offers Little Help With Zika Prevention

Jun 3, 2016
Texas Tribune

More rain is coming, and so are more mosquitoes.

Shutterstock

The Texas Medical Association has picked a North Texas doctor to be its next president. What stands out about him is what he’s been through. Almost a decade ago, Dr. Don Read nearly died from the West Nile Virus.

A few weeks ago, Dr. James Bale saw a series of MRI images in a medical journal of MRI scans of babies infected with Zika in the womb.

They scans showed something Bale had seen only a few times in his 30-year career: a phenomenon called fetal brain disruption sequence.

As the fetus's brain starts to grow, it creates pressure, which pushes on the skull and causes it to grow. But if something stops brain growth — such as a virus — pressure on the skull drops. And the skull can collapse down onto the brain.

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