Aedes aegypti mosquitoes may be proficient breeders, but they don’t like high elevations. In Fact, the cities in Brazil that are a 6,500 feet or more above sea level have not been inundated with Zika virus cases, according to Dr. Sergio Cortes. Dr. Sergio Cortes is one of Brazil’s Ministry of Health advisors, and an expert in Zika virus symptoms and complications.
Brazil has been fighting a Zika virus outbreak since May 2015, and the fight is still on. More than 1.5 million Brazilians have been infected by the virus. According to an article posted by R7.com, Dr. Cortes thinks the total number of Zika virus infections are four times that many. Only 20 percent of the people infected develop symptoms, according to Dr. Cortes. The other 80 percent are walking transmitters for the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently updated their travel warnings. Dr. Cortes said 37 countries are now on the list in a LinkedIn post. The CDC said on Noticias R7, pregnant women can visit cities in higher elevations and not worry about mosquito bites, but they still should be concerned about getting the virus through sexual contact even at high altitudes. The previous CDC warning said pregnant women should avoid countries that are experiencing a Zika outbreak. The new list includes cities in Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and Guyana. The cities mentioned have elevations of more than 6,500 feet.
On the Dr. Cortes Facebook page, another post talks about the chance of developing a vaccine before the expected outbreak in the United States in May. Brazilian and French scientists are close to testing a vaccine that was developed for dengue. That virus is also carried by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The vaccine is in preliminary trial phase. More volunteers are needed before the trial can move to the advanced stage. A Dr. Cortes tweet told followers that advanced trials may begin in fall 2016. That’s too late for the United States, and all the other countries that will be battling the Zika virus for the next five or six months.
Researchers are making progress, however. Researchers now know the Zika virus does play a role in the autoimmune disorder, Guillain-Barré syndrome. Paralysis sets in when the immune system attacks the nervous system. The attack is usually temporary, but there have been deaths reported if the paralysis affects the lungs before medical attention is available.
There has also been progress in determining how the Zika virus acts when it enters the body. Scientists now know the virus invades the semen, saliva, urine, and in certain cases it has been found in spinal fluid and amniotic fluid. That discovery does validate the notion that humans can give Zika to other humans, and that microcephaly could be a by-product of the virus.