Roundup: White House, CDC to Hold Summit on Zika Virus; Binge Drinking Linked to Heart Disease, Study Says

The White House is inviting experts in mosquito control and public health to a one-day summit on the Zika virus on April 1 at the Atlanta headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State and local officials will also attend to coordinate efforts in the coming months in controlling the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus, Obama Administration officials said Friday.

The Zika virus has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than normal.

So far, all confirmed Zika cases in the continental United States are related to persons travelling to cities and towns in Latin America and the Caribbean where the mosquito carrier species, Aedes aegypti, currently thrives.

By June or July, the beginning of the summer rainy season in South Florida, federal health officials say they expect that the continental U.S. will see its first locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus, which has been responsible for thousands of suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil.

The disease is already a serious problem in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Participants at the White House/CDC summit will be briefed on the latest scientific data about Zika, including implications for pregnant women and strategies for controlling mosquito outbreaks throughout the most susceptible U.S. regions.

As of March 4, there have been 47 confirmed Zika cases in Florida (22 in Miami-Dade and 6 in Broward). All cases are travel-related.

Based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several pregnant women who have traveled to countries with local-transmission of Zika have received antibody testing, and of those, four have tested positive for the Zika virus in Florida.

The Florida Health Department has set up a Zika Virus Information Hotline at 1-855-622-6735.


Binge Drinking Increases Heart Disease Risk

Just in time for spring break, here’s a Harvard University warning about binge drinking and heart disease. Within a week after a binge-drinking episode, drinkers face a higher risk of a heart attack, stoke or other cardiovascular complications, according to study about binge drinking and heart disease from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Binge drinking consists of six or more cocktails consumed by a drinker in one evening.

“People who binge drink are 72 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who don’t,” the study reports.

As part of the study, researchers reviewed data recorded from interviews with about 4,000 heart attack patients nationwide who were hospitalized over a three-year period during the 1980s and participated in the study.

The researchers analyzed the drinking patterns, including how much alcohol the patients drank 60 minutes before the heart attack and during the previous year. The results showed a link between binge drinking and heart disease. Those who drank small amounts of alcohol did not face the same risk, the Harvard study said.

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