The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) today added Costa Rica and Jamaica to its list of Zika-affected countries, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added four more destinations to its interim travel guidance for the disease.
The addition of Costa Rica and Jamaica to the list of countries in the Americas where local Zika virus transmission has been reported brings the total to 26 nations and territories. Just a few days ago, Nicaragua and Curacao were added to the quickly growing list.
In adding American Samoa, Costa Rica, Curacao, and Nicaragua to its travel advisory today, the CDC said in a news release that determining where Zika virus transmission is under way is difficult, and it will update the country list when more information is available.
The CDC has urged pregnant women to postpone travel to areas where Zika virus is transmitting and has suggested that women trying to become pregnant talk to their health providers before visiting affected areas.
Gene sequencing findings
In related news, full genome sequencing of three recent Zika virus samples from Guatemala and Puerto Rico suggest that all are from the Asian genotype and are closely related to strains from French Polynesia and Brazil, according to a CDC-led study published Jan 29 in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The investigators also found that the family tree and movement of Zika virus bears a striking resemblance to chikungunya, suggesting that similar human and ecologic factors might be responsible for the movement of both viruses in the same part of the world at the same time.
Chikungunya was first reported in the Americas in December 2013, and it has now caused at least 1.8 million cases.
Aedes aegypti summit plans
Recent developments with Zika virus have added urgency to plans for a summit focused on the mosquito an Aedes aegypti slated to take place in Brazil on Mar 13, according to a Jan 27 statement from the Entomological Society of America (ESA), which is cohosting the meeting with its Brazilian counterpart.
The meeting's main goal is to discuss collaborations on control steps to battle the Aedes species implicated in the spread of dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and now Zika virus.
C. David Gammel, ESA's executive director, said in a statement, "Entomological societies are in a unique position to address issues related to controlling insects that spread these diseases by convening the global entomological community along with related stakeholders."
The meeting is the first of two in 2016 that the ESA will host this year as part of its Grand Challenges Agenda. The other is slated for Orlando in September.
Feb 1 CDC press release
Jan 29 Emerg Infect Dis report
Jan 27 ESA statement