chikungunya fever

Dengue, Chikungunya y Zika

El virus del dengue, chikungunya y zika (como es comúnmente conocido) se transmite por medio del mosco Aedes aegypti y Aedes albopictus

Esta enfermedad representa serios problemas epidemiológicos puesto que se conoce poco acerca de su patogenia y aunque existen vacunas y métodos de diagnóstico avanzados, son poco rentables para establecerse en los sistemas de salud pública. La OMS estima de 50 a 100 millones de infecciones nuevas anualmente. La siguiente imagen corresponde a los casos de dengue recientemente reportados, los círculos rojos representan las alertar emitidas y los países de color rojo, un área endémica.

¿Cuáles son las recomendaciones?

  • Evitar la reproducción del mosco:
    -Lavar con jabón y cepillo contenedores de agua
    -Tirar botellas, llantas o latas en donde se pueda acumular agua
    -Mantener ordenado su patio
  • Medidas de protección:
    -Usar playera de manga larga y pantalón cerrado
    -Utilizar repelentes de insectos
    -Instalar mosquiteros en puertas y ventanas

En caso de presentar alguno de los síntomas se debe acudir inmediatamente al centro de salud y evitar automedicarse.

NICARAGUA, Managua : An elderly woman has her mouth and nose covered with a piece of cloth as Health Ministry workers fumigate against the Aedes aegypti mosquito to prevent the spread of dengue fever and chikungunya in Managua, on August 25, 2015. The Nicaraguan government issued a health alert as a dengue fever and chikungunya epidemic have killed 9 people and infected nearly 200,000 between January and August this year in Central America. Alerts have been declared in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.  AFP PHOTO / INTI OCON                        

Turning Out the Lights on Disease-Carrying Insects

Night falls, and the lights on streets and in homes go on. For more than 130 years, artificial light has been a key contributor to human development, allowing people to extend their work hours beyond when the sun goes down, school children to study their lessons, and communities to feel more secure on roads and in shared public spaces. 

In many parts of the world, though, the simple act of turning on a light after dark comes with dangerous risks. Lightbulbs attract insects. Some of these bugs are infected with microbes, which get transferred to people and cause chronic or deadly diseases. Certain mosquitoes bring malaria, Dengue fever or rash- and fever-inducing Chikungunya virus. Sandfly bites can pass on the ulcer-causing Leishmaniasis parasite. A kissing bug kiss can impart Chagas disease.

The impact is substantial, with insect-borne illnesses representing 17 percent of all infectious diseases and 1 million deaths annually around the world. But now researchers say there is a new disease prevention tool that could help lower infections by insects that find their way indoors using light as their guide. Scientists have found that LED bulbs tuned to emit certain wavelengths of light attract significantly fewer insects.

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KEY WEST, Fla. — Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases.

Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood.

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the experiment.

Dengue and chikungunya are growing threats in the U.S., but some people are more frightened at the thought of being bitten by a genetically modified organism. More than 130,000 people signed a Change.org petition against the experiment.

Even potential boosters say those responsible must do more to show that benefits outweigh the risks of breeding modified insects that could bite people.

“I think the science is fine, they definitely can kill mosquitoes, but the GMO issue still sticks as something of a thorny issue for the general public,” said Phil Lounibos, who studies mosquito control at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.

Mosquito controllers say they’re running out of options. With climate change and globalization spreading tropical diseases farther from the equator, storm winds, cargo ships and humans carry these viruses to places like Key West, the southernmost U.S. city.

There are no vaccines or cures for dengue, known as “break-bone fever,” or chikungunya, so painful it causes contortions. U.S. cases remain rare.

Insecticides are sprayed year-round in the Keys’ charming and crowded neighborhoods. But Aedes aegypti, whose biting females spread these diseases, have evolved to resist four of the six insecticides used to kill them.

Enter Oxitec, a British biotech firm that patented a method of breeding Aedes aegypti with fragments of genes from the herpes simplex virus and E. coli bacteria as well as coral and cabbage. This synthetic DNA is commonly used in laboratory science and is thought to pose no significant risks to other animals, but it kills mosquito larvae.

Oxitec’s lab workers manually remove modified females, aiming to release only males, which don’t bite for blood like females do. The modified males then mate with wild females whose offspring die, reducing the population.

Oxitec has built a breeding lab in Marathon and hopes to release its mosquitoes in a Key West neighborhood this spring.

FDA spokeswoman Theresa Eisenman said no field tests will be allowed until the agency has “thoroughly reviewed all the necessary information.”

Company spokeswoman Chris Creese said the test will be similar in size to Oxitec’s 2012 experiment in the Cayman Islands, where 3.3 million modified mosquitoes were released over six months, suppressing 96 percent of the targeted bugs. Oxitec says a later test in Brazil also was successful, and both countries now want larger-scale projects.

But critics accused Oxitec of failing to obtain informed consent in the Caymans, saying residents weren’t told they could be bitten by a few stray females overlooked in the lab.

Instead, Oxitec said only non-biting males would be released, and that even if humans were somehow bitten, no genetically modified DNA would enter their bloodstream.

Neither claim is entirely true, outside observers say.

“I’m on their side, in that consequences are highly unlikely. But to say that there’s no genetically modified DNA that might get into a human, that’s kind of a gray matter,” said Lounibos.

Creese says Oxitec has now released 70 million of its mosquitoes in several countries and received no reports of human impacts caused by bites or from the synthetic DNA, despite regulatory oversight that encourages people to report any problems. “We are confident of the safety of our mosquito, as there’s no mechanism for any adverse effect on human health. The proteins are non-toxic and non-allergenic,” she said.

Oxitec should still do more to show that the synthetic DNA causes no harm when transferred into humans by its mosquitoes, said Guy Reeves, a molecular geneticist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute.

Key West resident Marilyn Smith wasn’t persuaded after Oxitec’s presentation at a public meeting. She says neither disease has had a major outbreak yet in Florida, so “why are we being used as the experiment, the guinea pigs, just to see what happens?”