KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Why Eliminating Zika Mosquito Species Is ‘Guerrilla Warfare’

Because of its habits -- such as hiding at night -- the species of mosquito that carries Zika and other viruses is particularly hard to kill. Meanwhile, a research hospital in Texas has signed an agreement with Brazil to develop a vaccine, NIH officials say a vaccine might be ready to test by summer, and the CDC reports that two women who were infected while traveling have had miscarriages.

The Wall Street Journal: Fighting The ‘Cockroach Of Mosquitoes’
Experts working to halt the spread of the Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses face a stubborn foe in the main mosquito that transmits them, and some of the many methods under consideration for fighting them are stirring controversy. The Aedes aegypti mosquito primarily responsible for spreading these diseases has been called “the cockroach of mosquitoes.” It thrives around people, particularly in the densely packed neighborhoods that are common in the tropics. It bites during the day and hides at night in dark corners, including in closets and under beds. (McKay, Johnson and Jelmayer, 2/11)

The Associated Press: Brazil, Texas State Hospital Reach Deal On Zika Vaccine
Brazil has signed an agreement with a Texas research hospital to develop a vaccine against the Zika virus, the country's health minister said Thursday, adding the goal is for the vaccine to be ready for clinical testing within 12 months. Minister Marcelo Castro said at a news conference that the government will invest $1.9 million in the research, which will be jointly conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the Evandro Chagas Institute in the Amazonian city of Belem — two facilities specializing in study of mosquito viruses. (2/11)

The Washington Post: NIH Officials Accelerate Timeline For Human Trials Of Zika Vaccine, Saying They Will Now Begin In The Summer
National Institutes of Health officials said this week that researchers may be closer to developing a Zika vaccine than previously thought and that tests on human subjects could begin in as soon as a few months. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview that government scientists have been able to leverage previous research done on two similar viruses — West Nile and dengue — to very quickly create a hybrid vaccine that targets Zika. (Eunjung Cha, 2/11)

The Hill: Zika Virus Linked To Two Miscarriages In US
Two American women have had miscarriages after being infected with the Zika virus while traveling abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday. The two miscarriages are the first linked to the Zika virus in the U.S., CDC spokesman Tom Skinner confirmed to The Hill on Thursday. The virus was found in the women's placentas, he said. (Ferris, 2/11)

Elsewhere, media outlets offer coverage of the Zika virus in states —

The Seattle Times: Amid Zika Fears, Local Family Shares The Reality Of Microcephaly
When Leah and Travis Wright saw news reports about the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil and the suspected tie to a little-known birth defect, no one had to tell them about the devastation caused by microcephaly. The Pasco couple’s daughter, Isla Rose, who turns 2 on Friday, was born with the condition that leaves babies with smaller-than-normal heads, brain damage, and possibly hearing loss and other deficits. (Aleccia, 2/11)

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Oregon Reports Zika-Virus In Woman
Oregon health officials announced Thursday the state’s first confirmed case of the Zika virus. Stressing that there is no danger to the public, Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division officials said a person in Oregon has been diagnosed with a travel-associated Zika virus infection. (Hagar, 2/11)

The Miami Herald: Florida Reports 18 Cases Of Zika Virus, All Acquired Outside State
Zika virus infections in Florida increased to 18 on Thursday, marking the first increase in three days, with the highest number reported among residents of Miami-Dade, where seven cases have been confirmed, the Department of Health said. All of the Zika cases were acquired outside of Florida, and none involves pregnant women, who are considered to be at greatest risk from the virus because of its suspected association with birth defects and neurological disorders. (Chang, 2/11)

The Miami Herald: CDC To Host Zika Virus Conference Call With Florida Health Care Workers
No new cases of Zika infection have been reported in Florida since Monday, but more help is on the way from the federal government as requested by Gov. Rick Scott to prepare for the rapidly spreading virus that appears to pose the greatest threat to pregnant women and their unborn children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will host a conference via telephone and Internet Thursday with Florida obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers to learn more about how Zika is transmitted, its symptoms, treatments and precautions against the infectious disease. (Chang, 2/10)

The Connecticut Mirror: Pino Named To Lead Public Health, Just In Time For Zika
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy named Dr. Raul Pino to lead the state Department of Public Health on Thursday, then immediately featured him at a briefing on the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Pino and other state officials said Thursday that chances are extremely remote that the virus would be transmitted by any of the 49 species of mosquito found in Connecticut, but his department is getting calls from pregnant women who recently returned from warm-weather areas with a Zika outbreak, which include Puerto Rico. (Levin Becker and Pazniokas, 2/11)

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