Zika Spotlight: How to Prevent the Spread

by Pablo Bolanos on July 28, 2017

Mosquitoes are often considered a nuisance, whose role in nature is questioned by anyone who has to do anything outdoors during the sweltering heat of the summer months. This is especially true when these insects carry infectious, sometimes life-threatening diseases. With mosquito season in full swing, our clinical spotlight for the summer focuses on the Zika virus, because educational insights add to the preventive efforts aimed at lessening its spread.

Even though the virus has faded from the headlines, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently reports more than 2,000 Zika virus infections within the U.S. and an additional 4,285 infections in U.S. territories. Although significant, these numbers are a fraction of the staggering numbers experienced in places like Puerto Rico during the height of the 2016 epidemic, where the first half of the year saw more than 5,000 reported cases in that country alone.

During the past year, the CDC has flooded the public with educational material, statistics, and insights in an effort to minimize further infection. As a result, preventive measures are better understood throughout the world. However, more recent Zika outbreaks in the Americas sparked the need for a refresher course on mosquito bite prevention:

The rapid spread of the virus yielded comprehensive studies about its key identifiers and approved testing services—an invaluable tool for pregnant women who may be at risk of infection. Additionally, scientists have amassed a robust library of educational materials, made possible in large part due to lessons learned throughout the world about the struggles with mosquito-borne diseases.

The treatments of mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria have been handed down through generations. However, in the late 19th century, Ronald Ross, a British officer in the Indian Medical Service, was the first to demonstrate that malaria parasites could be transmitted from infected patients to mosquitoes. In the decades that followed, scientific advancements resulted in information—and chemicals such as Dichloro-ciphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT)—to aid in mosquito bite prevention to help control the spread of diseases such as yellow fever, West Nile virus, and now Zika. Thankfully, historical knowledge paired with modern science has helped to suppress the spread of a virus which was at the cusp of reaching epidemic proportions.

There is no known cure for the Zika. That said, we know how mosquitoes transmit the virus, signs of infections, and preventative measures for pregnant women traveling to known Zika hotspots to reduce risk to their unborn fetus. Despite a decrease of infections worldwide, Zika is still a big deal according to the CDC.

Stay tuned into our ongoing spotlight on the Zika virus by subscribing to our blog and newsletter.

For more information about national clinical testing, visit our website or contact us online.

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Miami-Dade County, Florida, established the first drug court in in 1989 in response to the explosion of crack cocaine use. Since that time, the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) estimates that more than 3,000 drug and problem-solving courts have been created. Increasingly, treatment courts specialize on specific populations of addicted offenders. It is not uncommon to have multiple courts such as veteran’s, family, DUI, and drug all within the same courthouse. Specialization allows the courts to modify their respective treatment and drug testing programs to better monitor and treat the participants’ underlying addictions.

Buffalo, New York, formed the nation’s first opioids crisis intervention court on May 1, 2017, in response to the current opioid epidemic. According to ABC News, “Buffalo-area health officials blamed 300 deaths on opioid overdoses in 2016, up from 127 two years earlier. That includes a young couple who did not make it to their second drug court appearance last spring.” A 3-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Justice Department funds the program. The opioid court’s goal is to treat 200 people a year while providing a model for other jurisdictions.

Because opioid addictions can quickly turn deadly, drug courts need to move more quickly and treat participants with greater oversight than traditional drug courts. The Buffalo court gets users into treatment within hours of their arrest instead of days. Additionally, court participants are required to:

  • Detox from opioids
  • Enroll in either inpatient or outpatient treatment
  • Check in with a judge every day for a month instead of once a week
  • Observe an 8 p.m. curfew

Organizers are optimistic about the court’s potential. As of July 1, 2017, none of the 80 program participants have overdosed.

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For additional information on drug testing for drug and problem-solving courts, visit our website or contact us online.

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