Friday, April 29, 2016

NASA: Mosquitoes carrying the deadly Zika virus could reach as far north as New York....And Canada?

NASA: Mosquitoes carrying the deadly Zika virus could reach as far north as New York....And Canada? (NYT).
Nasa is better known for its work in space - but has today revealed it is assisting public health officials, scientists and communities to better understand the Zika virus and try to limit the spread of the disease it causes. 
Scientists at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado to produce a risk map.  
They hope it will help government agencies and health organizations better prepare for possible disease outbreaks related to the spread of the virus.
The research team looked at key factors including temperature, rainfall and socioeconomic factors that contribute to the spread of Zika virus to understand where and when a potential outbreak may occur.  
The researchers described their findings in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Current Outbreaks. 
'This information can help public health officials effectively target resources to fight the disease and control its spread,' said Dale Quattrochi, NASA senior research scientist at Marshall. 
To determine the potential risk in the mainland United States, Morin, Quattrochi and their colleagues applied methodology being employed in their current vector-borne disease project to potentially identify and predict the spread of Zika in 50 cities across the U.S. in or near the known range of the species.  
The team has studied this mosquito species for years, because it also transmits the dengue and chikungunya viruses. 
The research team found that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is spreading the virus, will likely increase in number across much of the southern and eastern U.S. as the weather warms across those regions in the coming months.  
Summertime weather conditions are favorable for populations of the mosquito along the East Coast as far north as New York City and across the southern tier of the country as far west as Phoenix and Los Angeles. 
'The results generally confirmed many of our suspicions about the relative risk of Zika virus transmission in the U.S.,' said Cory Morin, a NASA postdoctoral program fellow with Marshall's Earth Science Office.  
'However, there were some surprises, such as the northern extent of Aedes aegypti potential survival during the summer months.' 
Hmmmm..........In my humble opinion the area in which Zika could emerge is greater,, the Aedes albopictus also called the Asian tiger mosquito which transmits among other diseases:dengue (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, DENV-4), chikungunya (CHIKV), yellow fever (YFV), and Zika) West Nile virus. (See map below and link to my post of February 2016).

West Nile virus cases in Canada Source here.
Zika - Predicted distribution of of A. aegypti and A. albopictus.

Source and download here.
This does not bode well for much of the southern and eastern US, or for much of the Midwest and central California. Or, for that matter, for the most densely populated region of Canada, from Windsor, Ontario to Montreal. We're not on the map, yet, but we'll have our hands full even if we have to deal only with imported cases of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. HT & Source: Crof.

Based on the Agency's Rapid Risk Assessment, the overall risk to Canadians, in Canada, is very low, as mosquitoes known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and are not well-suited to our climate.

The primary risk of autochthonous transmission in Canada would arise from Aedes albopictus also called the Asian tiger mosquito becoming established here. Our knowledge of its current whereabouts is based on informal surveillance. More field research is needed in North America to better understand and predict the climatic limits of this species Footnote 10.

Several factors could alter this assessment. Temperatures suitable for chikungunya virus transmission are achieved at times in many parts of Canada during the summer Footnote 9, and it is possible that in some circumstances housing conditions and densities of uninfected people would be sufficient to sustain limited outbreaks. Furthermore, it is possible that genetic plasticity of mosquito species could improve their capacity to survive in cooler, more northerly climates, although this is difficult to predict Footnote 10

Source and more info (CDC) HERE.

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