Zika virus: Your questions answered

zika childBy Gretchen Vogel, Jon Cohen, Martin Enserin

Where did the Zika virus come from?

First isolated in 1947 and first described in a paper in 1952, Zika has long been known to occur in Africa and Southeast Asia—but until a decade ago, fewer than 15 cases had been described in the scientific literature. In 2007, the virus caused a big outbreak on Yap, an island group in the Western Pacific that is part of the Federated States of Micronesia; since then, it went on a major tour of other Pacific Islands before it landed in Brazil, from where it started spreading rapidly to other parts of South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Why has it exploded so suddenly?

There may have been big outbreaks in Africa and Asia in the past that went undetected; scientists weren’t paying much attention. But the current massive epidemic was an event waiting to happen. Latin America has huge numbers of A. aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, an important vector for Zika. (The Asian tiger mosquito, A. albopictus, which is on the rise around the world, is believed to be a vector as well.) In addition, nobody in the Americas had immunity to the virus. Travel makes it worse. Aedes mosquitoes don’t fly more than a few hundred meters during their lives; Zika travels from city to city and country to country when infected people get on cars, buses, trains, and planes.

These combined factors meant that the virus had the ability to spread far and fast once it had arrived.

Will Zika spread to the United States and Europe?

Both the United States and Europe have already seen “imported cases”—people who arrived from a Zika-affected country carrying the virus. This was widely expected given the size of the epidemic in Latin America. The key question is whether there will be local outbreaks—that is, mosquitoes spreading the virus from person to person. There’s definitely a chance; A. albopictus occurs in several countries in southern Europe (and it may move north), while the southern and eastern United States have populations of both A. aegypti and A. albopictus.

If so, scientists expect outbreaks to be much smaller than elsewhere, based on past experience with mosquito-borne diseases. Recent dengue outbreaks in Florida, Texas, and Hawaii haven’t sickened more than a few hundred people, for instance; an outbreak of a mosquito-borne disease called chikungunya in northern Italy in 2007—which started when a man infected with the virus arrived from India—ended after 197 cases. One reason that outbreaks in these countries tend to be smaller may be that people spend less time outside and live in houses that are more difficult for mosquitoes to enter; mosquito population sizes may play a role as well.

Do we know for sure that Zika is causing a rise in birth defects?

No. There is strong circumstantial evidence that areas in Brazil hit hard by Zika have experienced a sharp increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a condition in which the head is much smaller than normal because the brain fails to develop properly. But it will take at least several months before the results from the first case-control studies of pregnant women infected with Zika are available. Doctors in Brazil first noticed an increase in cases of microcephaly during ultrasounds of pregnant women in June and July, a few months after the sudden rise in Zika infections. Fetal medicine expert Manoel Sarno, who works at the Federal University of Bahia, says the pattern of brain damage he is seeing now looks distinct from microcephaly caused by other infections, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) or rubella. He and his colleagues started a study in August that is following women infected with Zika during their pregnancy; the results could come out late summer. Similar studies are underway elsewhere in Brazil and in Colombia.

Are there other urgent questions that scientists are asking?

Plenty. Scientists have difficulty determining who has been infected and who hasn’t because diagnostic tests have limitations. The most accurate tests—which detect viral RNA in a patient’s blood—only work within a week of the first symptoms appearing. After that time, researchers can test for antibodies in the blood. But current tests for Zika antibodies cross-react with antibodies to dengue, which is so widespread in Brazil—and much of the rest of Latin America—that almost all adults have antibodies to it. That makes it difficult to tell whether the mother of a baby born with microcephaly was infected with Zika earlier in her pregnancy.

Researchers would also like to know how often Zika is transmitted through sexual contact. One U.S. scientist who caught the virus in Africa passed it to his wife after he got home in 2008, and a second case of suspected sexual transmission happened in French Polynesia in 2013. But researchers have no idea what the risk is. (“If I was a man and I got Zika symptoms, I’d wait a couple of months before having unprotected sex,” virologist Scott Weaver of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston recently told The New York Times.)

What drugs are available against Zika?

None. Until last year, Zika was so rare and believed to be so mild, that nobody bothered to look for candidate drugs. Even now that the virus is surging, it’s not obvious that there’s a big market for an antiviral drug, because the vast majority of those infected have very few symptoms or none at all. And it’s not clear that a drug could prevent birth defects when women contract Zika during pregnancy; by the time they become infected and develop symptoms, it may be too late to prevent such damage. A vaccine against Zika may offer more hope of preventing microcephaly.

And when can we expect a vaccine?

That will take years. Several groups have begun to make candidate Zika vaccines, a process that will take at least several months. Most of these vaccine approaches are piggybacking on existing vaccines. For example, many vaccines are made by stitching proteins from a pathogen’s surface into a harmless virus or vector; that is now being tried with Zika using those same vectors. Once a candidate vaccine is made, it will have to be tested in animals before humans.Human trials begin with small safety studies, then move on to larger studies that test whether the candidate product works. All of that usually takes 10 to 15 months. Given the urgency, the timeline could be compressed, but even so, Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told STAT that it may be at least 5 to 7 years before a Zika vaccine is commercially available.

Then what can we do to stop the spread of the virus?

Stop mosquitoes from biting people. Countries and communities can try to reduce mosquito populations by removing the small water reservoirs—such as flower pots, empty bottles, and discarded tires—in which Aedes mosquitoes like to breed. People can also reduce their personal exposure—especially important for women who are or might become pregnant—by putting screens on windows, covering their skin, and using insect repellant. However, history has shown that the impact of mosquito control on epidemics is modest at best, and they’re difficult to sustain.

There must be better ways to control mosquitoes?

Not yet but they’re in the works. A British biotech called Oxitec—which was recently purchased by Intrexon, a U.S. synthetic biology company—has developed A. aegyptimosquitoes containing a gene construct that will kill their offspring before they reach adulthood. When massive numbers of male individuals of this strain are released in the wild, they will mate with local females, producing offspring that are not viable, which has been shown to make a dent in the population.

In another line of research, scientists are infecting A. aegypti with a bacterium named Wolbachia, which reduces mosquitoes’ ability to transmit diseases. The researchers developing these approaches were mostly thinking about dengue, but Zika’s surge is giving their attempts a new sense of urgency. But again, it will take several years before these strategies are ready for prime time.

The Paris Attacks: The Leader Behind The Atrocity Is A Belgian

PoliceFrench officials have named Abdelhamid Abaaoud, as the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks. The 27 year old Belgian  linked to a Brussel-based terror cell. He remains at large and is believed to be in Syria.

He became known to security forces after, appearijng in an Islamic State Video. He was also linked to two twarted attacks in France this year, one on a high speed train to Paris and another on a church in the capital.

Omar Ismail Mostefai has been indentified as one of the Islamic attackers at the Bataclan. His body was found at the scene. He was born in France and grew up in Le Canal Estate in Courcourronnes, 16 miles, South of Paris.

For updates and more information follow Yahoo News: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/video/abdelhamid-abaaoud-islamic-state-jihadi-105741833.html

Do We Have To Trust A Dog Than A Human Being?

Blind 2

Is dog trustworthy than man?:A guard dog leading the blind

Have you ever being a passenger in a train, bus or a tram, then another passenger comes in with his or dog? Did you notice the reactions and facial expressions of other passengers who don’t like animals? Action speaks louder than words. Some people hate animals to the extent that they develop hatred for animal lovers.

We have read it many times and sometimes finds it hard to believe or understand when people, even though have children but give everything they own or prepare their will for their pets. In New York, an accountant and pet owner left a fortune of around £I million to her dog to enjoy a happy life after she dies.

In Germany, a German Shepherd called Gunther became one of the world’s richest animals after his owner, a German countess, left the dog $145m (£95m) when she died. Many may call such people bad, wicked, pitiless, or people without compassion, the fact that they don’t care about the suffering of people.

The question is: Why is that many people are homeless, dying of hunger, yet certain rich people prefer their animals to inherit their wealth? When you go deep to find out the reason many give their wealth to their pets, you can find out that a lot have been hurt by other people, including their own family. People have lost confidence and faith in other people, because of  bitter experiences they find it hard to forget or forgive.

If you want to test how cunning, unfaithful and dishonest a man is, give him an inch, he will take a yard, or give him a yard, he will take a mile. Dogs are trained to serve the blind for the rest of his or her life, but man can’t. A dog can be with the blind every day without grumble, but man grumbles. Man has no patient to serve his fellow man, even to love his woman for the rest of his life. The reason there is so much separation and divorces worldwide, but a faithful dog never leaves the master.

Life is full of many challenges, thus; the happiness of many people depend on their pets. Instead of hating someone because you hate dogs or cats, cultivate love in your heart, for both the animal and the owner, that will make you appreciate and see the beauty of every living creature on earth, because they all have breath like a normal person.

The Wonders Of Technology: Making The Impossible Possible

Train ferry 2

Despite many people fear to travel by air, thousands still enjoy the comfort of travelling by airplane. As a matter of fact, according to aviation experts, travelling by air is the safest, since we don’t often hear of air disasters like road accidents.

How great has technology made things impossible to be possible, as we travel to various destinations around the globe, to carry out our professionals and business duties? Again there is assurance and possibility that technology will change the entire universe within few decades for mankind to witness its impact and benefit.

Take, for example, travelling from Copenhagen- Denmark, to Hamburg-Germany by train. A route I’ve used twice and it’s amazing to share this experience. Do you know that while enjoying the Summer holidays or taking a trip to visit the family in Winter, along the line from Copenhagen, the train goes in a ferry to cross the Baltic sea?

In the train for a couple of hours, it suddenly stopped, followed by sounds of clanging metals. That’s where the work of the train finding its way into the ferry starts. I realized the coaches were entering a gigantic ferry one by one until the coach I was inside also got the chance to enter into the belly of the ferry. What a wonderful world? I asked myself.

In the ferry, we descended to the floors of the ferry, while the ferry rides us through the 45 minutes journey across the Baltic Sea. On my way to London, I have joined the ferry many times from Calais to Dover, which carries vehicles of all sizes as well, but ferries for loading train coaches are special.

It’s amazing to see rail lines weaving its way through the ferry for the train to enter across the Baltic Sea, and at the end of the ‘water’ -journey, the train transports passengers once again on land. It’s incredibly wonderful, beautiful and splendid thing I’ve ever seen.

Since the world is constantly changing through the periscope of technology, technology will continue to change our environments, electrical gadgets, medicine, transportation and our infrastructure, despite that many aren’t happy, because we are losing our jobs to machines.