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From: donpat6/3/2016 10:14:58 AM
   of 12851
 
Zika may be transmitted by ORAL SEX: French woman caught the virus after her partner returned from Brazil, doctors warn


24-year-old tested positive for Zika after suffering a fever and rash


Her 46-year-old partner had returned from Rio de Janeiro 10 days earlier


Couple had sex seven times but the man only ejaculated during oral sex


French doctors believe woman may have caught the virus from his semen

By MADLEN DAVIES FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 09:55 GMT, 3 June 2016 | UPDATED: 13:38 GMT, 3 June 2016

A woman may have caught Zika virus from her partner during oral sex - or perhaps even through kissing - doctors have warned.

The 24-year-old, from France, was struck down with the illness after her partner returned from Brazil – where there is an epidemic of the virus.

In light of the extraordinary case, doctors have called for guidelines regarding the possibility of transmitting the virus orally through semen.



Now, medics from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale - the French Institute of Health and Medical Research - in Paris, have written a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine describing the case.

They say the 24-year-old woman developed a fever, muscle and joint pain and an itchy rash on February 20.

The rash spread to her abdomen, arms and legs – and she was unwell for around a week.

The woman had never travelled to a region where Zika is rife – nor had she had a blood transfusion – other known ways the virus can be transmitted.

Researchers looking into fighting Zika with bacteria

In light of the extraordinary case, doctors have called for guidelines regarding the possibility of transmitting the virus orally through semen.

But her 46-year-old partner had just returned from Rio de Janeiro – where Zika is rife.

During his last week in Brazil, he had suffered fever, headache and a rash - known symptoms of the virus - but his illness had ended when he arrived back in France on February 10.

Between February 11 and February 20 the couple had sex seven times – with each time involving vaginal sex – but without ejaculation – and oral sex with ejaculation.

After the woman fell ill doctors suspected Zika and the pair were both tested for the infection.

The man was found to have high levels of the virus in his semen and saliva.

The woman had Zika in her urine and saliva, and antibodies - cells which fight disease – in her blood.

But a swab of her vagina was negative.

The doctors added guidelines are needed to advise couples on how long they should use condoms for after the man has returned from an area where Zika is rife

In the letter, the doctors said the data supports the theory that the virus was Zika was transmitted sexually – either orally or during intercourse.

They added it may have even have been passed from the man to the woman through kissing.

They wrote: ‘We cannot rule out the possibility that transmission occurred not through semen but through other biologic fluids, such as pre-ejaculate secretions or saliva exchanged through deep kissing.’

In light of this couple’s story, the doctors called for better advice on Zika transmission for people who are sexually active.

‘Recommendations regarding the possibility of oral transmission of the virus through semen are needed.

They added: ‘Guidelines regarding how long men who are returning from an area where active Zika transmission is occurring should continue to use condoms during sexual contact with pregnant women and those of child-bearing age are lacking.’

'SEXUAL TRANSMISSION OF THE VIRUS IS MORE COMMON THAN FEARED'

Zika is primarily transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito - but scientists have discovered it can also be spread sexually and possibly in saliva

Sexual transmission of the Zika virus is more common that health experts first feared, the World Health Organisation warned last month.

Health experts now suggest women abstain from sex, or use protection and delay conceiving for at least eight weeks after they or their partner returns from areas where Zika is rife.

The recommendation, which doubles the abstinence period the WHO had previously advised, comes after scientists found the virus lingers longer than previously thought in blood or other body fluids, spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a news briefing.

If the male partner in a couple planning pregnancy has symptoms of the Zika virus, the period of safe abstinence should be six months, he added.

'People should practise safer sex or abstain for at least eight weeks if they are returning from Zika-affected areas,' he said. 'The previous recommendation suggested a period of at least four weeks, so we're upping (it).'

'DON'T KISS STRANGERS - OR SHARE CUTLERY AND PLATES'

And earlier this year health officials in Brazil warned pregnant women to refrain from kissing strangers, or sharing cutlery and plates with them earlier this year, amid fears the Zika virus could be spread via saliva.

The Brazilian government health institute, Fiocruz, confirmed scientists have discovered active traces of Zika in saliva and urine.

Officials said they have launched an investigation into the possible transmission of the mosquito-borne virus through bodily fluids.

President of the agency, Paulo Gadelha suggested pregnant women avoid kissing people other than a regular partner or sharing cutlery, glasses and plates with people who have symptoms of the virus.

Though he added: 'This is not a generalized public health measure, for the love of God.'

dailymail.co.uk

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From: donpat6/3/2016 10:18:20 AM
   of 12851
 
Obama administration releases information on Zika virusExpress-News staff

June 2, 2016 Updated: June 2, 2016 5:36pm

CORRECTED VERSION: WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 26: Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) (C) joins fellow Democratic members of Congress to call on Republicans to postpone the Memorial Day holiday recess on the steps of the House ... more

The White House released new details Thursday to help prevent the transmission of the Zika virus as the Centers for Disease Control urged members of Congress to alert officials in their home states and districts about the significant public health threat posed by the virus.

Obama administration officials are seeking $1.9 billion in emergency funds for ongoing domestic and international efforts to fight the spread of the virus, and released a web site to provide local health providers information about the disease: www.cdc.gov/zika

In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the secretary of Health and Human Services urged lawmakers to reach out to local public health officials to provide information about the Zika virus.

“Zika is a significant public health threat,” said Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Burwell said congressional approval of the emergency funding would help with measures like mosquito control, identifying vaccine candidates and providing clinical trials.

As of May 20, Burwell said there were 1,400 laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika in the United States and its territories.

There have been seven cases in San Antonio as of May 26, among 40 in the state, according to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

San Antonio officials will be briefed on the issue by CDC on Friday, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, who will take part in the briefing.

Among those being briefed are Dr. Vincent Nathan, Metro Health interim director, other Metro Health officials and Erik Walsh, deputy city manager.

“Texans are at a heightened risk for Zika given our climate and recent heavy flooding,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio. “Taking preventative measures now, before a crisis hits, is absolutely essential.”

The Zika virus usually causes mild symptoms, but poses special risks to pregnant women and unborn babies. The virus is suspected of causing severe birth defects in areas where the virus is more prevalent, like South America.

Metro Health reminds residents to frequently remove standing water from containers inside and outside their homes, including buckets, birdbaths, vases, pet bowls, tires, trash cans and swimming pool covers.

expressnews.com

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From: donpat6/3/2016 10:26:36 AM
   of 12851
 
Congress acts as if Zika virus isn't a problem; infected mosquitos arriving in July | Editorial

Why is Zika virus spreading so quickly?

on June 02, 2016 at 7:17 PM, updated June 03, 2016 at 7:23 AM

The Zika virus has arrived in New Jersey, another reminder that the time for vigilance is short. As mosquito season looms, the pathogen could spread throughout the country, and when it infects a woman during pregnancy, the result can be devastating: It feeds on the prenatal brain of children, affecting lobes that control vision, hearing, and cognition.

This condition, known as microcephaly, is so alarming that the Pope has suggested that Catholics in some regions can use contraception.

There are 157 pregnant women who have been found to have the virus in the States – all of them are associated with travel to infected areas – but Centers for Disease Control director Tom Frieden warns that the prospect of local transmission is very real.



Follow the spread of Zika cases in NJ with this tracker

On a regular basis this summer, we will be updating and expanding our interactive graphics to detail how and where the Zika Virus is spreading.

That's because the estimated range of these mosquitoes that transmit the virus after biting an infected person covers most of the U.S., with Puerto Rico and the South especially vulnerable. There were 14 confirmed Zika cases in New Jersey(all travel-related) before the birth of the microcephalic baby at Hackensack University Medical Center Tuesday.

Yet despite this epic challenge, Congress is, to borrow a phrase, low energy.

On Feb. 22, President Obama asked for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat Zika. You can see the details online: It specifies what is needed for research, prevention, emergency assistance, the fortification of health systems, development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics, and Medicaid funding for Americans in problem areas like Puerto Rico - where there are 1,072 cases, 97 locally acquired.

The Congressional response has been slack-jawed indifference. The Senate passed a compromise bill, but Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders in the House said the health experts are seeking a "slush fund," and only allocated $622 million – most of it transferred from the funds earmarked for Ebola.

This is not something that invites procrastination. Zika has no vaccine. And short of funding the long-depleted Public Health Emergency Fund – an unlikely action for a Congress that governs from crisis to crisis – there is no legislative urgency to find one.

One of the five Republicans to vote for the $1.9 billion allocation was Sen. Marco Rubio, whose state of Florida could face an outbreak.

"We are going to face the Zika problem in this country this summer and fall," he warned his colleagues. "You're going to have to explain to people why it is that we sat around and did nothing on something of this magnitude."

The National Governors Association warned Congress that the nation is "on the threshold of a public health emergency." Frieden was more blunt: "Speed is critical. A day can make all of the difference."

But funding likely won't come before July.

It is a shameful and reckless delay, from the branch of government with a 9-percent approval rating, and it is playing roulette with a possible public health catastrophe. Apparently, concern for the protection of the unborn doesn't cover fetal neural defects.

nj.com

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To: donpat who wrote (6854)6/3/2016 10:28:20 AM
From: donpat
   of 12851
 
Even Nero couldn't beat this!

A Dilbert cartoon is indicated - this is getting so bad it's funny!

Trump to the rescue!!!

At least he would do SOMETHING!!

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To: donpat who wrote (6854)6/3/2016 1:37:42 PM
From: Savant
   of 12851
 
Mosquito Info
mosquito.org

I feel the govt is underestimating the range during the spring, summer, fall time periods.

Granted, the distance is traveled in normal conditions, however, if a storm front moves through, that distance can be extended by hundreds of miles....anecdotally, up to a thousand, in some cases.

Fortunately, areas further north can benefit from winter kill.

"
How far can mosquitoes fly?
Mosquito species preferring to breed around the house, like the Asian Tiger Mosquito, have limited flight ranges of about 300 feet. Most species have flight ranges of 1-3 miles. Certain large pool breeders in the Midwest are often found up to 7 miles from known breeding spots. The undisputed champions, though, are the saltmarsh breeders - having been known to migrate up to 100 miles in exceptional circumstances, although 20 to 40 miles are much more common when hosts are scarce.

When caught up in updrafts that direct them into winds high above the ground, mosquitoes can be carried great distances. "

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From: donpat6/4/2016 9:39:40 AM
1 Recommendation   of 12851
 
First injectable nanoparticle generator could radically transform metastatic breast cancer treatment
Posted: Jun 03, 2016

(Nanowerk News) A team of investigators from Houston Methodist Research Institute may have transformed the treatment of metastatic triple negative breast cancer by creating the first drug to successfully eliminate lung metastases in mice. This landmark study appears in Nature Biotechnology ( "Biomimetic proteolipid vesicles for targeting inflamed tissues").

The majority of cancer deaths are due to metastases to the lung and liver, yet there is no cure. Existing cancer drugs provide limited benefit due to their inability to overcome biological barriers in the body and reach the cancer cells in sufficient concentrations. Houston Methodist nanotechnology and cancer researchers have solved this problem by developing a drug that generates nanoparticles inside the lung metastases in mice.In this study, 50 percent of the mice treated with the drug had no trace of metastatic disease after eight months. That’s equivalent to about 24 years of long-term survival following metastatic disease for humans.

Due to the body’s own defense mechanisms, most cancer drugs are absorbed into healthy tissue causing negative side effects, and only a fraction of the administered drug actually reaches the tumor, making it less effective, said Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D, president and CEO of the Houston Methodist Research Institute. This new treatment strategy enables sequential passage of the biological barriers to transport the killing agent into the heart of the cancer. The active drug is only released inside the nucleus of the metastatic disease cell, avoiding the multidrug resistance mechanism of the cancer cells. This strategy effectively kills the tumor and provides significant therapeutic benefit in all mice, including long-term survival in half of the animals.

vimeo.com
Watch a video with Mauro Ferrari


This finding comes 20 years after Ferrari started his work in nanomedicine. Ferrari and Haifa Shen, M.D., Ph.D., are co-senior authors on the paper, which describes the action of the injectable nanoparticle generator (iNPG), and how a complex method of transporting a nano-version of a standard chemotherapy drug led to never before seen results in mice models with triple negative breast cancer that had metastasized to the lungs.

“This may sound like science fiction, like we’ve penetrated and destroyed the Death Star, but what we discovered is transformational. We invented a method that actually makes the nanoparticles inside the cancer and releases the drug particles at the site of the cellular nucleus. With this injectable nanoparticle generator, we were able to do what standard chemotherapy drugs, vaccines, radiation, and other nanoparticles have all failed to do,” said Ferrari.

Houston Methodist has developed good manufacturing practices (GMP) for this drug and plans to fast-track the research to obtain FDA-approval and begin safety and efficacy studies in humans in 2017.

“I would never want to overpromise to the thousands of cancer patients looking for a cure, but the data is astounding,” said Ferrari, senior associate dean and professor of medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine. “We’re talking about changing the landscape of curing metastatic disease, so it’s no longer a death sentence.

”The Houston Methodist team used doxorubicin, a cancer therapeutic that has been used for decades but has adverse side effects to the heart and is not an effective treatment against metastatic disease. In this study, doxorubicin was packaged within the injectable nanoparticle generator that is made up of many components.

Shen, a senior member of the department of nanomedicine at Houston Methodist Research Institute, explains that each component has a specific and essential role in the drug delivery process. The first component is the nanoporous silicon material that naturally degrades in the body. The second component is a polymer made up of multiple strands that contain doxorubicin. Once inside the tumor, the silicon material degrades, releasing the strands. Due to natural thermodynamic forces, these strands curl-up to form nanoparticles that are taken up by the cancer cells. Once inside the cancer cells, the acidic pH close to the nucleus causes the drug to be released from the nanoparticles. Inside the nucleus, the active drug acts to kill the cell.

“If this research bears out in humans and we see even a fraction of this survival time, we are still talking about dramatically extending life for many years. That’s essentially providing a cure in a patient population that is now being told there is none,” said Ferrari, who holds the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Presidential Distinguished Chair and is considered one of the founders of nanomedicine and oncophysics (physics of mass transport within a cancer lesion).

The Houston Methodist team is hopeful that this new drug could help cancer physicians cure lung metastases from other origins, and possibly primary lung cancers as well.

Source: Houston Methodist

LINK

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From: donpat6/4/2016 10:03:03 AM
   of 12851
 
Could dietary fiber be key to successful aging?

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Published: Friday 3 June 2016

Findings from a new study that followed older adults for 10 years supports the idea that eating a diet rich in fiber - such as found in breads, cereals, and fruits - is key to aging successfully; that is, reaching old age free of disease and disability.

The researchers found participants who had the highest intake of fiber were nearly 80 percent more likely to age successfully over a 10-year follow-up.


A paper on the study, by researchers at the Westmead Institute in New South Wales, Australia, is published in The Journal of Gerontology.

Lead author Bamini Gopinath, an associate professor in the Institute's Centre for Vision Research, says the study is the first to look at the link between carbohydrate intake and successful aging. She notes:

"Out of all the variables that we looked at, fiber intake - which is a type of carbohydrate that the body can't digest - had the strongest influence."

Dietary fiber is an indigestible substance found in plants like fruits, vegetables, and grains and is an important part of a healthy diet. There are two forms: soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel. It slows digestion and there is evidence it lowers cholesterol, which helps prevent heart disease. It is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, lentils, and some fruits and vegetables.

Insoluble fiber appears to speed up passage of food through the gut and adds bulk to the stool. It is found in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains.

Prof. Gopinath and colleagues defined successful aging as reaching old age disease-free and fully functional - that is, with "absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases (e.g., cancer and coronary artery disease)."

Fiber had the biggest impact on successful aging
For their investigation, the team used data from the Blue Mountain Eye Study (BMES), the first large population-based study to assess visual impairment and common eye diseases in a representative older Australian community sample.

Fast facts about fiber

On average, Americans eat about 16 grams of fiber per day

The daily recommended intake of fiber for older children, teens, and adults is 21-38 grams

Because it makes you feel full faster, fiber can help with weight control.

Learn more about fiber

The data covered a total of 1,609 adults aged 49 years and older who were free of cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke when the study started and who were followed for 10 years.

The dietary information came from food-frequency surveys filled in by the participants, while information relevant to successful aging came from interviewer-administered questionnaires completed at regular follow-up visits.

At the end of the 10 years, 249 (15.5 percent) of the participants achieved what the researchers defined as successful aging status.

Of all the dietary factors they examined - such as total carbohydrate intake, total fiber intake, glycemic index, glycemic load, and sugar intake - the researchers found fiber had the biggest impact on successful aging, as Prof. Gopinath explains:

"Essentially, we found that those who had the highest intake of fiber or total fiber actually had an almost 80 percent greater likelihood of living a long and healthy life over a 10-year follow-up. That is, they were less likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional disability."

She and her colleagues note that participants who remained consistently below the mid-range of consumption of fiber from breads, cereals, and fruit, compared with the rest of the group, were less likely to age successfully.

They add:

"These findings suggest that increasing intake of fiber-rich foods could be a successful strategy in reaching old age disease free and fully functional."


The researchers were somewhat surprised to find this strong effect from fiber - if anything, they were expecting to see sugar exerting a greater influence. However, Prof. Gopinath says the absence of a link with sugar could be due to the fact consumption of carbonated and sugary drinks was quite low in this group of older adults.

The team suggests the findings should prompt similar studies in other groups to see if they find similar links, or discover which mechanisms might explain the connection.

Discover how studying birds led scientists to conclude inbreeding might accelerate aging.

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD

LINK

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From: donpat6/4/2016 10:08:46 AM
   of 12851
 
Zika virus may cause birth defects in thousand of babies: WHO experts

In an editorial published in a WHO bulletin, experts cautioned against the alarming and fatal ill-effects of the Zika virus.

By: Reuters | New York | Updated: June 4, 2016 12:46 pm


Health officials had previously concluded that Zika infection in pregnant women was a cause of microcephaly in babies, a rare birth defect characterized by unusually small heads and potentially severe developmental problems. (Source: AP file photo)World Health Organization officials on Friday cautioned that “many thousands” of infants infected with Zika virus could suffer neurological abnormalities.

The experts further warned that nations dealing with an outbreak need to watch for problems beyond the widely reported cases of microcephaly. These include spasticity, seizures, irritability, feeding difficulties, eyesight problems and evidence of severe brain abnormalities.

Health officials had previously concluded that Zika infection in pregnant women was a cause of microcephaly in babies, a rare birth defect characterized by unusually small heads and potentially severe developmental problems. They now believe the range of potential neurological problems in infants could be much wider.

In an editorial published in a WHO bulletin, experts said 37 countries and territories in the Americas are now dealing with Zika, which is mainly spread by mosquitoes, as well as unprotected sex with an infected man. In Brazil, the country hardest hit so far, authorities have confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly believed to be linked to Zika.


In Brazil, authorities have confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly believed to be linked to Zika. (Source: Reuters)“With such spread, it is possible that many thousands of infants will incur moderate to severe neurological disabilities,” the editorial said.

“Existing evidence and unpublished data shared with WHO highlight the wider range of congenital abnormalities probably associated with the acquisition of Zika virus infection in utero,” stated the editorial.

The organization called for routine surveillance systems and research efforts to be expanded to include a larger population than simply children with microcephaly. U.S. officials are girding for local outbreaks, especially in southern states such as Florida and Texas, as summer mosquito season gets under way.

Local transmission is already present on the island territory of Puerto Rico, where officials have predicted there will be hundreds of thousands of cases. Other reported U.S. cases have involved people who had traveled to Zika-hit areas.

WHO has also said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that can cause temporary paralysis in adults.

- See more at: indianexpress.com

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From: donpat6/4/2016 10:11:27 AM
   of 12851
 
WHO emergency panel to meet in June on Zika Virus and Rio 2016 Olympics

A public letter was issued last week signed by 150 public health experts and scientists calling for the Olympics to be delayed or moved over.

By: Reuters | Geneva | Published:June 4, 2016 11:50 am

Rio Olympic Stadium during the Men’s 3000m steeplechase final Athletics test event. (Source: AP)With debate growing over the safety of holding the Olympics in Brazil amid the ongoing Zika virus outbreak, the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee on Zika will meet in the coming weeks to evaluate the risks tied to going on with the Games in August, a WHO spokeswoman said on Friday.

“The Emergency Committee meeting will consider the situation in Brazil, including the question of the Olympics,” WHO spokeswoman Nyka Alexander told Reuters in response to a query.

WHO makes risk assessments of a public health issue and it would be up to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to decide on holding the event in Rio de Janeiro, due to start on Aug. 5, she said.

“It is not within our mandate” to make decisions on holding the Olympic Games, Alexander said.

A spokesman for Rio 2016 said they continue to follow WHO recommendations on Zika.

Athletes will have to make their own decisions as to whether to risk Zika for the potential glory of Olympic gold. Cyclist Tejay Van Garderen this week withdrew from consideration for the U.S. team over concerns that the virus could present risks for his pregnant wife.

The virus can also be transmitted via unprotected sex with an infected man.

Dr. David Heymann, chairman of the WHO committee of independent experts, told Reuters on Monday that postponing the Rio Olympics because of fears it could speed the spread of the Zika virus would give a “false” sense of security because travellers are constantly going in and out of Brazil.

It will be winter in Brazil when the Olympics begin, so the mosquitoes that carry the virus will be less abundant, WHO experts said.

A public letter was issued last week signed by 150 public health experts and scientists calling for the Olympics to be delayed or moved over fears that the Games could speed up the global spread of the Zika virus.

Top U.S. health officials agreed with WHO experts that Zika did not pose enough of a risk to postpone or move the Olympics. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last week said travel to the Olympics would represent less than one quarter of 1 percent of all travel to Zika-affected areas, and that the risk was low except for pregnant women.

For women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, the recommendation is to stay away from areas with Zika outbreaks.

It has been determined that Zika is a cause of microcephaly, a rare birth defect characterized by unusually small head size and potentially severe developmental problems.

World health officials on Friday expressed concern that Zika may cause a far wider range of severe abnormalities in babies and called for broader surveillance beyond microcephaly of infants born in the 37 countries and territories in the Americas, where Zika has been spreading.

In hardest hit Brazil, authorities have confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly believed to be linked to Zika.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen had asked WHO to examine whether the Games in Rio de Janeiro could accelerate global spread of the mosquito-borne virus.

Alexander said the date for the next meeting of the WHO Emergency Committee was still being decided, but that it would be held this month.

Heymann told Reuters that it was tentatively set for June 21. The panel of independent experts meets every three months and its last meeting was on March 8.

Heymann also said national health authorities should advise their respective athletes and citizens of child-bearing age to protect themselves against mosquito bites with repellents while in Brazil and to practice safe sex on return for at least three weeks.

- See more at: indianexpress.com

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From: donpat6/4/2016 10:17:14 AM
   of 12851
 
Couple’s Travel Insurance Doesn’t Include Zika Virus Concerns

June 3, 2016 6:40 PM

By Melissa Garcia

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – An expecting husband and wife who cancelled their trip in the Caribbean due to concerns over the Zika virus, feel frustrated that their travel insurance is refusing to reimburse them.

Toby and Autumn Titone had planned on taking a nine-day family vacation to Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of an island just east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. They booked the trip in April and found out in May that they were pregnant.

Sint Maarten had been hit by Zika, and was on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of countries restricted for travel by pregnant women.


Toby and Autumn Titone (credit: CBS)

The mosquito-borne virus causes severe birth defects in unborn babies.

The Titones cancelled their beach vacation, and thought they would receive reimbursement from their travel insurance company.

“The immediate thought was, ‘no big deal.’ I mean, we’ve purchased the travel insurance before for big trips and figured, ‘Oh we’re covered if something goes wrong,’” said Toby.

But they were not covered. They soon found out that the money they paid for airlines tickets would be a loss.

The Titones received a denial letter from the travel insurance company stating that their decision to cancel the vacation due to Zika was not a reason covered under their policy.

“When I saw the part that said it’s a choice, I was like, ‘What? Are you kidding me? That this is not a medical concern?’ It just really made me mad,” said Autumn.

Travel industry experts said that some people purchase travel insurance on their own without knowing exactly what it covers.

“Sometimes you just click that button that says add insurance, without really knowing what you’re getting,” said Wave Dreher, spokesperson for AAA Colorado.


CBS4’s Melissa Garcia interviews Wave Dreher, spokesperson for AAA Colorado (credit: CBS)

Dreher said that AAA agents can help travelers get the right insurance to fit their exact needs and help explain the fine print.

Travel insurance comes in a wide range of coverage levels. The level a customer chooses can make a big difference.

She recommended that women who could become pregnant buy a plan that includes “normal pregnancy” which covers trip cancellation for any pregnancy-related reason.

Dreher said there were also full-coverage plans that allow travelers to cancel at any time for almost any reason. The pregnancy and full coverage travel policies cost more than a basic policy.

Dreher said that the extra cost was worth the benefit.

“When you’re looking to spend $5,000 (on a vacation), I’d rather spend a little bit more, and make sure I’m not going to lose that investment,” said Dreher.

Many policies, even full-coverage ones, have various exclusions, including exclusions for epidemics.

Thus, Dreher said that if Zika becomes classified as an “epidemic,” it may not be covered at all.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

denver.cbslocal.com

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