Fourth case of Zika reported in Cayman

| 03/08/2016 | 24 Comments
Cayman News Service

Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes

(CNS): Public health officials have confirmed that the fourth case of the Zika virus in Cayman was a returning Cayman Islands resident. Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said the female patient was in a country where there has been an outbreak of the virus last month. Her symptoms starting on 14 July and she visited the Health Services Authority two days later. Although there is still no evidence of local transmission, the chances of that happening increase as the number of imported cases grows.

The news of the latest imported case comes against the backdrop of last week’s release of genetically modified mosquitoes by the Mosquito Research and Control Unit in partnership with British bio-engineering firm, Oxitec. Last Week the MRCU began to releases tens of thousands of the GM bugs in West Bay as part of a pilot project to try and eliminate the invasive Aedes aegypti, which is responsible for transmitting a host of unpleasant viruses, including Zika.

“We are aware of this fourth case of Zika and are taking all the necessary precautions to stop the local transmission of the virus,” said MRCU Director Dr Bill Petrie. “This includes traditional insecticide spraying and now we also have the additional public health programme in West Bay using genetically modified mosquitoes to bring down the population of Aedes aegypti, which is the mosquito that transmits Zika, dengue and chikungunya.”

Petrie also reminded the public to help eliminate Aedes aegypti breeding sites, such as buckets, old tyres and other objects which can hold water.

Public health officials said that while Cayman has not yet seen any local transmission, the number of countries and territories that have is up to 67 (as of 27 July), with Antigua and Barbuda as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands recently added to the list. In the United States, there have been 15 non travel-related Zika infections in Florida that are currently being investigated.

Paraguay is the latest country to report two cases of microcephaly associated with laboratory-confirmed Zika virus infection. In Spain, the first baby with microcephaly linked with in-utero Zika infection was born recently. But questions are being asked in Brazil about whether the Zika virus alone is responsible for the birth defects there.

Fatima Marinho, director of information and health analysis at Brazil’s ministry of health, told the scientific journal Nature last month that the distribution of cases suggests Zika is not the only factor in the country’s microcephaly surge.

“We suspect that something more than Zika virus is causing the high intensity and severity of cases,” she said.

The ministry has asked Oliver Brady, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Simon Hay, director of geospatial science at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington, to collaborate with researchers in Brazil. They hope the experts can help them learn why the elevated rates of microcephaly are occurring just in the northeast of the country while the Zika virus is much more widespread.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US has launched a clinical trial of a vaccine candidate intended to prevent Zika virus infection. The early-stage study will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in participants.

For advice on mosquito control, contact MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2223 on Cayman Brac; and DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac. For further information on Zika, please contact the Public Health Department at 244-2648 or 244-2632.

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Category: Environmental Health, Health, Land Habitat, Medical, Science & Nature

Comments (24)

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  1. MM says:

    Finally, even the experts are questioning this microcephaly situation in Brazil. GMO Mozzies perhaps? Just saying…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lets face reality. GM mosquitoes were released specifically there and mutated to cause a virus of this magnitude. Leave nature alone. Learn the lesson, but no lets release more everywhere else and spread the love. Pesticides is still an option but really I think GM mosquitoes will be found to be blamed in the end. Now what use are they if they are found in other species of mosquito in Brazil now. It just gets worse.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your theory makes no sense. If the GM mosquitoes are to blame then how would it also be useless because its found in other..(NON GM) species. Just because you have a thought doesn’t make it true…Leave the assumptions to yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      The reality is that so many arm-waving school-leavers do not know the scientific difference between single strand RNA (Zika virus) and double strand mosquito DNA – even if slightly altered. Double strand mosquito DNA cannot biologically leap into a single strand RNA virus. Ingesting animal/insect/vegetable DNA does not alter human DNA. Children know these things.

      • Anonymous says:

        Say wha?? Its Friday, just give me a double gin and tonic and forget the gobbeldygook

      • MM says:

        Genetic Modification is still a very new concept and the techniques are still very much in the development faze, therefore no one (not even the scientists) can truly know what effects such processes will have.

        Altering natural genetics is in itself a risk- mosquitos have very different bodies and organs than we do. A mosquito can carry a virus (say dengue) and it will have no effect on the insect except to be retained by the body and then transferred through the mosquitos saliva to a human.

        With that said, if a mosquito can develop dengue (for example) and then transfer it to a human (whilst not being affected by the virus itself) and GMO mosquitos can still get the disease (according to Oxitec)… would not their genetically modified DNA (and growth process) in some way affect the naturally occurring virus prior to its transmission to a human?

        Microcephaly itself is a word coined to describe the appearance of a very small head on a person; however it is well known that a small head of this sort is a definite sign of haltered growth and brain development… funny the GMO mozzies are genetically engineered for haltered growth, short lives and the inability to properly develop.

        Nature always fights back and kicks serious booty – it is unfortunate we insist on playing game with it!

        Just something to consider.

        • MM says:

          phase* had to correct that lol

        • Anonymous says:

          You sound like you’re full of assumptions and lacking of factual evidence behind your empty claims. You seem overly trusting in your assumptions. I really don’t mean to post this to insult, it’s simply the vibe you’re giving off.

        • Anonymous says:

          DNA cannot mutate or leap into a single RNA strand. Here is a video for children that explains the difference:

          The linkage between current strain of Zika, microcephaly and Guillian Barre Disease was researched and documented by CDC and has shown up in cases from French Polynesia, Colombia, Panama, and other countries where Oxitec never released anything.

          NYT debunked the persistent conspiracy myths last month:

          Where is your science?

        • Anonymous says:

          Just so you know, no type of mosquitos actually “get the disease” GMO or otherwise. They only host the virus in one of its stages of life and help transmit it between humans

      • Anonymous says:

        So you saying that viruses cannot mutate? The virus was barely seen as a risk before, people had a fever and in a few days were back to normal. They were not off producing a whole generation of deformed babies after getting bitten. GM Mosquitoes have a lot of unknowns.It is childs play if you want to use that example to what God created. Do you claim to know it all versus Gods perfected version? Those mosquitoes along with the virus has mutated to form this horror. There is no other explanation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Soooo thankful that the GM mosquitoes have been released to tackle the vector.

  4. Anonymous1 says:

    Of course the supporters for the GM mosquitoes being release here, will say at least something has neen started that will save us. … as if we never had and survived from deadly mosquitoes before.

    Just one catch: Oxitec, one of many competing companies in the field of science, will be getting alot of doe from using Cayman’s environment.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Unprotected sex?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Google “Netsman mosquito suit” . Suitable for the Cayman Islands. Problem solved!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ha! – Brilliant, I especially like the fact that they market it for people “enjoying a picnic in the park” – Not quite sure how you’d enjoy eating your picnic through a 1mm net!

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not giving up my Borat Mankini for anything.

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