Zika Outbreak Latest News & Updates: Japan Develops New Tool That Predicts How Virus Will Spread Further

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald June 01, 05:00 am

The spread of the Zika outbreak has already reached stunning proportions. Scientists in Japan have developed a new tool that is capable of predicting the spread of the Zika virus outbreak, which originated in Brazil.

Hiroshi Nishiura, a professor of hygiene at Hokkaido University, and his colleagues can predict Zika's potential of importation and local transmission using the tool, according to a report from NDTV. The team is using a survival analysis model, data about airline transportation networks and information about the transmission of dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Zika, dengue and chikungunya are all transmitted by infected Aedes species mosquitoes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote. Pregnant mothers infected with Zika can pass the virus to their unborn infants, with Zika manifesting as the congenital condition microcephaly in babies. Doctors also fear that the virus can give eye damages to newborns.

According to the researchers, countries that have ties with Brazil have high risks of contracting Zika. Subtropical and tropical nations like the Caribbean and South and Central America are vulnerable from the Zika outbreak once the virus sets foot in their countries.

Countries such as China, France and the UAE with histories of dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses are high risks as well. Zika has already reached more than 40 countries. In the U.S., southern states are more at risk because of their warm and humid climate that is suitable for mosquito breeding grounds.

Remedies Proposed

Ohio Congressman Bob Gibbs pushed for the easing of restrictions slapped on pesticides. Cities, municipalities and mosquito-control organizations are using pesticides to control and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, but this can be challenging when there's a flawed permitting process, CNBC reported.

Scientists at the University of Hawaii, meanwhile, are working on creating a vaccine by studying a vial containing the Zika virus, according to KHON 2. The vial came from the CDC and will be heavily guarded and monitored so untoward incidents will not occur. The vial will be stored in a bio-safety cabinet that has filters.

WHO Issues Warnings

Just recently, WHO warned couples or women returning from Zika-infected countries to wait at least eight weeks before attempting to conceive a child, CBC reported. This is to make sure that the virus has already left their bodies and their babies will not be affected.

WHO officials said males infected with Zika should practice safe sex abstinence for six months. They advised safer sexual practices like non-penetrative sex, accurate and constant use of male or female condoms, less numbers of sexual partners and postponing sexual debut.

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