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4 months ago

Auburn University research team discovers Zika-transmitting mosquito species in Alabama

Auburn University researchers have discovered the presence of Aedes aegypti — the primary mosquito that transmits Zika virus, yellow fever and other flaviviruses — in Alabama.

After a 26-year absence of the mosquito, Sarah Zohdy, Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Assistant Professor of Disease Ecology, and wildlife sciences undergraduate student Victoria Ashby have discovered the species in Mobile. Ae. aegypti was thought to have been eliminated from the state.

“Our CDC-funded research has not only allowed for the detection and molecular confirmation of the mosquito in the state, but over the last year we have documented the spread of the mosquito from central Mobile to all of Mobile County,” Zohdy said.
The study was conducted from July 2016 to September 2017. Mosquitoes were collected twice a month from the grounds of various tire shops, gas stations, abandoned buildings and open containers quantified to estimate larval abundance. A total of 1,074 mosquitoes were collected, with Ae. aegypti being detected most commonly in the 36606 ZIP code of southwest Mobile, where there were more open containers than any other area in the city.

Since 1991, Ae. aegypti was thought to have been displaced in Alabama by another container-breeding mosquito, Ae. albopictus, because Ae. albopictus larvae are better competitors with resource-limited habitats and the males are capable of mating with Ae. aegypti and rendering the females sterile. Despite these advantages, Mobile is the ideal habitat for Ae. aegypti reintroduction or for remnant populations to persist because the city’s maritime traffic and its diverse mix of urban, suburban, rural and industrial environments allow the mosquito to find different habitats where it can either escape from Ae. albopictus or have the competitive upper hand.

The detection of Ae. aegypti confirms that Alabama residents could be at risk to contract several mosquito-transmitted diseases. “This work demonstrates that citizens of Alabama may be exposed to the mosquito vector of Zika, chikungunya and Dengue fever viruses,” Zohdy said.

Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Female mosquitoes become infected by ingesting microbes from a person’s blood while biting them and then passing those microbes to the next person’s blood stream. Once infected, the mosquito is then thought to remain infected and able to pass on the virus throughout the remainder of its life, about two to four weeks. During this period they may take three to four blood meals, biting up to four or five people during their lifespan. Ae. aegypti is particularly problematic because it will also bite during the day and is very adaptive to different environments.

Specific geographic areas of greatest risk are correlated to the existence of the Aedes species. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has developed estimated-range maps using models that predict potential geographic ranges where the Zika-transmitting mosquitoes would likely survive and reproduce based on local and historical records and suitable climate variables. According to the 2017 maps, the Zika-transmitting mosquito species are very likely to exist throughout the southeastern U.S. and as far west as California and as far north as Delaware.

Despite Alabama being an ideal habitat for mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus, very little mosquito surveillance data has been collected from around the state. Zohdy said that because of its research efforts and the discovery of Ae. aegypti, her team is now working with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

According to the CDC, 449 symptomatic Zika virus disease cases were reported within the U.S. in 2017, with three reported in Alabama and two in Georgia. The majority of cases were instances of travelers contracting the disease from affected areas. Seven cases were acquired through presumed local mosquito-borne transmission — two in Florida and five in Texas.

Zohdy’s team is conducting research in all 67 counties in Alabama to determine how widespread Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus are across the state.

In an effort to crowd-source mosquito surveillance data around the state, Zohdy’s research team has partnered with Prakash Lab at Stanford University to develop and implement an app called “Abuzz,” which will allow Alabama residents to record the sound of a mosquito flying. From this recording, the app can identify the species of mosquito and whether that species could potentially carry a disease by the sound of the buzzing of its wings.

Once deployed, the app can empower volunteer “citizen scientists” to participate in mosquito surveillance to help researchers increase the volume and locations of data collection. “Alabama has had little mosquito surveillance in the past, and we hope this app can change that to make it the best-sampled state in the nation,” Zohdy said.

Zohdy and her team also surveyed Mobile residents to gain insight about their perceptions of Zika virus and the best ways to target mosquito prevention. Of those responses, 70 percent reported a moderate to very high density of mosquitoes in their home and more than half of those surveyed said they feel concerned to extremely concerned that they or a family member might contract Zika virus.

“To help mitigate the threat of the Zika virus it is critical to understand local knowledge and behavioral factors related to exposure to the mosquitoes,” said Wayde Morse, an Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences associate professor of human dimensions, who participated in the research efforts.

The results of the research were published April 5 in the Journal of Medical Entomology, a scientific journal that historically publishes important information regarding mosquito surveillance. “Having this research published is a good way to reach people who study mosquitoes and other disease vectors,” Zohdy said.

Victoria Ashby, a sophomore studying wildlife sciences with a pre-veterinary medicine concentration, has worked with Zohdy’s research team for more than a year and leads fieldwork efforts. “My fieldwork has consisted of biweekly trips down to the Mobile Bay area in order to aspirate for adult mosquitoes and collect larvae using larval dip cups at 25 different sites in 12 ZIP codes,” she said.

After graduation, Ashby plans to attend graduate school to continue on the path of disease ecology research and later attend veterinary school. “I have a strong interest in veterinary epidemiology and public health and throughout my time so far at Auburn, my involvement in the disease ecology lab with Dr. Zohdy has really shaped my academic interests and ambitions,” she said.

Though Zika virus is primarily spread by infected Aedes species mosquitoes, the disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person or from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or at birth.

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, but the CDC recommends the best way to avoid contracting the disease is to protect yourself from mosquito bites by these tips.

–Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
–Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
–Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home by minimizing standing water in containers in and around the home.
–Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.
–Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Always follow the product label instructions. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
–Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers or cribs to protect them from mosquito bites.
–Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air-conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
–Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex.

Report suspected illness or learn more about mosquito-borne disease prevention methods.

Read more about Zohdy’s research findings with the Journal of Medical Entomology.

Learn more about the Abuzz app.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 hours ago

Will Ainsworth slams Democrats for Kay Ivey health ‘October surprise’: ‘Sick,’ ‘despicable’

ENTERPRISE — On Tuesday, a report surfaced questioning the circumstances of a hospital visit then-Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey made in Colorado in 2015. That has led some to suggest the resurfacing of the story was part of a so-called  “October surprise” deployed by Democrats against the incumbent governor and intended to better Ivey’s general election opponent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s chances in next month’s contest.

Ivey has disputed the report in an appearance at the Tuscaloosa Republican Party Lincoln-Reagan Dinner later in the day and called it “plum sad” Maddox’s campaign would resort to such tactics.

On Wednesday after speaking to the Republican Women of Coffee County at the Enterprise Country Club, Republican lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Will Ainsworth also criticized Democrats believed to be behind the report.

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Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News the Ivey report and the weaponization of it was part of the Democratic Party’s “playbook,” and he likened it to what Brett Kavanaugh faced during his U.S. Supreme Court associate justice confirmation process before the U.S. Senate over the past several weeks.

“That’s just the Democrat’s new playbook,” Ainsworth said. “I mean, if you look at what they did to Kavanaugh, what they’re doing to Kay Ivey – they just try to destroy people based on lies. I think that’s sick. I think that’s despicable. I think Governor Ivey is in great health and certainly doing a tremendous job as a leader. I think it’s terrible what they’re trying to do, but they’re desperate, and that’s the only tactic they can go back to.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

5 hours ago

The sky is holding up just fine in Alabama

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” cried Chicken Little in the ancient European folk tale about a manic chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The expression “the sky is falling” has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or inaccurate belief that calamity is looming.

Twenty-five centuries later, lets cue, stage left…Walt Maddox.   The Mayor’s recent stump speech to a business luncheon in Birmingham was a cavalcade of doom and gloom.  A melancholy prognosis based on a miserable catalogue of what the liberal mayor believes is wrong with Alabama.  The Democrat from Tuscaloosa has hitched his caboose to the Chicken Little express.  Destination “Glum Town, USA.”

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Maddox told the suit and tie audience that he fears the millions of Alabamians who drive over the state’s roads face death every day, simply by crossing a bridge.  By his account Alabama’s bridges will collapse at any minute, killing commuters in droves.

The Democratic nominee, wants to bring Obamacare to the state – as his number one priority.  Maddox inferred if Alabama took the “free money,” the state could “afford to build a new UAB, think about that’.  We did think about that Walt, the money isn’t free.  Cash doesn’t fall from the money tree to be scooped up by liberals paying for socialist policies.  He believes “…there are literally two Alabamas.”  Sorry, you are wrong Walt.

While on the subject of free money – a recurring theme throughout the Maddox pitch – he wants to provide every felon released from Alabama’s jails a free iphone, so they can get about their business.  Not sure why, or who pays, but this smacks of the Obama Phone vote buying scandal.

Maddox is endorsed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group “Mom’s Demand Action.”  Despite assurances to the contrary, Maddox toes the liberal anti gun line and is fundamentally opposed to the Second Amendment.  “[L]et me make my position clear. I will never favor taking any existing constitutional right away from any American unless we, as a people, come to the conclusion that restraint of some rights helps ensure the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by all.”  Ummm, ok Mr. Mayor.

Sure, Walt Maddox is erudite, speaks without notes and is photogenic.  But Bobby Kennedy he is not.  There was no uplifting message.   No inspirational vision for Alabama.  There was no call to action.  Instead there was a pall of pessimism.  As Mr. Maddox trashed Alabama’s constitution, he conveyed despondency.  The Democrat downplayed the strong state economy that has a record number of Alabamians working in the state. Dismissed Governor Ivey’s 2019 education budget, the largest in Alabama in a decade.  He seemed disinterested in Alabama’s historically low unemployment.  But he did want to teach felons how to work their new iphones….so there is that.  Seem’s Mayor Chicken Little is afraid of a leaf falling on his tail.

LCDR Greg “GW” Keeley, USN (ret) is the Managing Partner of Dreadnaught. Keeley is a contributor to The Hill, Washington Times, Daily Caller, Fox News. He is a veteran of Iraq and, Afghanistan and served in the U.S Congress as Senior Advisor to the Vice Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Chairman of the Republican Senate Policy Committee.

6 hours ago

The “October Surprise” in the governor’s race is something we heard about a year ago?

If this is really the final push for Walt Maddox to get his campaign’s “Kay Ivey is sick” narrative into the news, they may want to try again.

The Alabama Political Reporter published a “bombshell” is just a regurgitation of an old story. Their report includes comments from the former head of ALEA, Spencer Collier, who is currently suing former Governor Robert Bentley and is probably unhappy that Governor Ivey’s office has spent money defending Bentley because the law requires it.

Again, we already heard all of this, from this same outlet, in 2017. Ivey denied it then, too, Collier was part of this denial.

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Pretty damning? I guess.

Or not. Kim Chandler from the Associated Press used the APR report as a jump-off into a story on Ivey’s health. The big takeaway? Ivey’s doctor calls BS.

Ivey said she had altitude sickness during the trip and released a letter from her doctor saying he saw no evidence of a mini-stroke when he examined her a day after her discharge and that hospital tests in Colorado were also negative.

I guess the Collier angle is new, but is this it? The Governor is sick, trust us? Her opponent says she is too sick to be Governor, so vote for him?

There are no public incidents, except clear deception by APR’s Josh Moon and NBC’s affiliate in Mobile portraying some meltdown. There have been no spills, no stumbles, and don’t pretend she not out there on the trail because she is.

If I believed she was too sick to be Governor, why would I vote for a guy I disagree with on most things instead of voting for her and a Lieutenant Governor from the same party with the same general views?

This is Roy Moore 2.0, she must be viewed as unacceptable so you have to vote for the other guy regardless of what he believes.

To further highlight how sad this all is, al.com’s Kyle Whitmire finally got around to writing about how disastrous Walt Maddox’s first campaign ad was and declaring the gubernatorial election over. Whitmire used the APR story in his piece, too, talking about how it is all too little too late.

Don’t bank on that. This is literally the only thing Maddox and his media allies have going for them.

This will get much worse.

Yes, it is October, but this is hardly a surprise.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

6 hours ago

Company seeking to fill 850 jobs between two South Alabama locations on Thursday

According to a press release published by NBC 15, one company is seeking to fill a massive amount of jobs between two of its locations in southwest Alabama on Thursday.

Alorica, “the largest provider of customer experiences to North American consumers,” will attempt to hire 550 employees at its site in Saraland and 300 employees at its Mobile facility.

This comes as a part of the company’s first “National Recruiting Day” spanning more than 80 sites across the United States and Canada on Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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The expansive initiative will focus on growing Alorica’s existing global workforce of more than 100,000.

For those who are unable to attend the hiring event this Thursday, prospective employees can still apply for a position online or by using the company’s walk-in hours Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Alorica’s two Mobile-area locations are:

  • 727 US Hwy 43 (Saraland Blvd.), Saraland, AL 36571
  • 5441 HWY 90 W Suite 1, Mobile, AL 36619

Find out more about the company here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

Ivey’s doctor confirms the governor is in good health

The primary care physician for Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday released a letter confirming the governor is in good health and refuting a report alleging that she had suffered a ministroke in April 2015.

Dr. Brian Elrod of Montgomery, who has been Ivey’s doctor for “many years,” wrote that the governor had indeed been hospitalized at a conference in Colorado that month in 2015, however “extensive” tests conducted at the hospital “were all negative.” Additionally, Elrod himself examined Ivey the day after she was released from the hospital, saying that “I saw no evidence of a transient ischemic attack (ministroke).”

More tests later that year, including an EKG and echocardiogram, were deemed “unremarkable” and “normal.” Then, a cardiologist visit in December 2015 “also showed no new concerns” and “her nuclear imaging study in January of 2016 was likewise unremarkable and suggested ‘a relatively low risk of cardiovascular events.'”

Elrod added that he could not comment “on what condition may have led to her hospitalization in April of 2015,” but that the governor’s health since then “has remained good with no indication of increased cardiovascular risk.”

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In vintage fashion Tuesday night, Ivey responded to a question on the allegations about her health with gusto while hitting at her Democratic opponent, Walt Maddox, who is trailing in the polls by 20 – 25 percent.

“The letter I released today from my doctor clearly confirms what I’ve been saying all along: I’m in good health,” Ivey said.

On the timing of the allegations against her, she added, “It makes me have to assume that Mayor Maddox is desperate because his liberal record is not connecting with Alabamians. Besides, y’all covered this issue a year ago.”

The allegation that Ivey had suffered a ministroke in 2015 was first published last year by the Alabama Political Reporter (APR), with it gaining little to no traction. Now, with Tuesday marking exactly 21 days until the November 6 general election, APR republished the same allegations.

When questioned directly whether she had experienced “stroke-like symptoms,” Ivey responded by saying “altitude illness, they called it.”

The reporter then asked Ivey if she is confident that she is in good health.

“You’re right about that, friend,” Ivey quipped. “No step too high for a high-stepper.”

This comes after Elrod in May released a general letter about the governor, writing that “Governor Ivey has had physicals for the past 15 years, and she is in excellent health.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn