Tags: Zika Virus | Zika | US | diagnostic | test | Florida | Miami

New Test Approved as Zika Spreads in US

New Test Approved as Zika Spreads in US

By    |   Wednesday, 31 August 2016 03:41 PM

Government regulators have issued emergency approval for a new Zika test in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly virus, which is spreading in Florida.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the test, manufactured by the Swiss drugmaker Roche, skirts normal approval channels, a move that is allowed during public health emergencies to quickly deploy unapproved medical products for as long as they are needed.

On Tuesday, Florida health officials confirmed three more homegrown infections in Miami-Dade County – including one on Miami Beach. The other two occurred outside that city and Wynwood, the two zones in Greater Miami where active transmission is occurring.

On Monday night, Miami Beach residents packed a community meeting, telling Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip and other officials that delays in getting testing results is causing anxiety,  especially among women who are pregnant. Zika infection is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.

Among the local speakers was Joseph Magazine, telling the panel that he and his wife, who is pregnant and was bitten, have waited six weeks for test results. “I should be out baby shopping and I am waiting to see if my wife, who got sick with a rash, has Zika or not, and we can’t get answers,” he said.

He also called upon the officials to get more funding to fight the virus. “I don’t care if it’s Republicans, Democrats, state level, federal level, Congress that held up funding or the Obama administration held up funding – this is playing with people’s lives,” he told the officials at the meeting, which was organized by State Rep. David Richardson.

Residents also voiced concern that because of delays in getting cases confirmed, the virus could be spreading beyond the zones before warnings could be issued. “Am I to believe that a Zika mosquito, or any mosquito, for that matter, has an internal GPS and will automatically get to Eighth Street and stop and say, ‘Whoops! Gotta turn around,’” asked resident Amani Ayers. (The Miami Beach zone runs from 8th to 28th streets).

Although there are thousands of Zika cases in the U.S., Miami-Dade County is the only location where the homegrown virus is being actively transmitted, the CDC says. According to Florida health officials, as of Tuesday, there are 558 cases of Zika, 46 that are homegrown and 78 pregnant women have been infected. That travel-related tally includes five in Miami-Dade, three in Palm Beach, two in Broward, two in Orange, and one in Polk counties.

The Zika virus can make anyone sick for up to a week with the following flu-like symptoms:

  • Fever.
  • Rash.
  • Joint pain.
  • Red eyes.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, making prevention essential. Health experts recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors.
  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed.
  • Use repellents to keep mosquitoes away.
  • Use air conditioning and window screens if possible.
  • Call your health care provider if you are at risk of infection.

Last month, Consumer Reports released new rankings of mosquito repellents that offer the best protection against Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, the type that carry the Zika virus. They tested products containing deet, plantlike ingredients lemon eucalyptus and picaridin. The most effective products:

  • Sawyer Fisherman's Formula Picaridin.
  • Natrapel 8 Hour, with 20 percent picaridin.
  • Off! Deepwoods VIII, w/25 percent deet.
  • Repel Lemon Eucalyptus.

The magazine also recommended skipping products made with natural plant oils, such as California Baby Natural Bug Blend (a blend of citronella, lemongrass oil, cedar oil, and other ingredients) and EcoSmart Organic, (which includes geraniol, rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, and lemongrass oil).

Women who are pregnant or breast feeding can safely use deet, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535, according to the EPA.

Other tips for using insect repellents safely and effectively:

  1. Apply repellents sparingly, and only to exposed skin or clothing.
  2. Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, irritated skin, or after shaving.
  3. When applying to your face, spray first on your hands, then rub in, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
  4. Don’t let young children apply repellents themselves
  5. Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating.
  6. At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.


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With Zika spreading in the U.S., government regulators have granted emergency approval to a test to diagnose the disease.
Zika, US, diagnostic, test, Florida, Miami, Beach
Wednesday, 31 August 2016 03:41 PM
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