By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Researchers announced two major developments
Tuesday in the battle against the zika virus.
One group of researchers said that two
vaccines being tested now on mice have proven
to be extremely effective.
University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers
said that their work shows that a single zika
infection provides later immunity. They tested
the disease on monkeys.
Both research reports have been published in
Dan Barouch, a professor of medicine at Beth
Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard
University and an infectious diseases
specialist, said the two vaccines stimulate
the production of immune system antibodies
that protect mice from infection by the zika
virus. One vaccine has been engineered from a
single zika viral protein, and the other is a
purified inactivated, or killed, virus, the
same technology used to make the original
polio vaccine, according to wire service
Nelson Michael of the Walter Reed Army
Institute of Research in Maryland, a co-author
of the article, said that the two vaccines are
in production now, and researchers hope to
begin human trials in October, the wire report
The team of University of Wisconsin and Duke
University scientists have been working with
infected monkeys for months. The studies have
shown that one infection with zika virus
protects against future infection, though
pregnancy may drastically prolong the time the
virus stays in the body, according to a report
from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
David O’Connor, a professor, directed the
research along with Emma Mohr, Matthew Aliota
and Dawn Dudley, the university report said.
The research is good news for some coastal
residents here. The Ministerio de Salud said
that there are at least 107 reported cases of
zika in the country, but about 8o percent of
those who have the virus do not show symptoms.
So the real total is much more.
If the University of Wisconsin research is
correct for humans, these individuals will
have immunity in the future.
That also happens with dengue, but the dengue
virus is found in at least five different
varieties, and immunity to one does not
provide immunity to the others. In fact,
infection by a different variety can be much
The Wisconsin researchers infected monkeys
with the type of zika virus causing an
epidemic that first became apparent in South
America in 2015, and found that those monkeys
resisted infection by the same zika strain 10
weeks later, said the university.
“This is good news for vaccine design,”
O’Connor was quoted as saying. “It suggests
the sort of immunity that occurs naturally is
sufficient. If you can mimic that in a
of Wisconsin–Madison/Jeff Miller
A vacuum tube
holds a blood-fed strain of Aedes
aegypti in place under a microscope in
a research lab.
you’ll likely have a very
But the university reported
that their findings also uncovered a stark
contrast in the length of infection of
pregnant monkeys versus males and non-pregnant
females. Though non-pregnant animals in the
study were found to be free of zika virus
within 10 days of infection, the virus
persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for
30 days to 70 days.
Zika infection has been linked in pregnant
women to microcephaly, which causes an
abnormally small head, but a news story Monday
The news story was based on research that
pointed out that nearly all of the
microcephaly cases were in Brazil and there
were very few in Colombia where there also are
many pregnant women with zika. The report
suggested the cause might really be a
Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., Tuesday after
months of prodding majority Republicans to act
on zika, Democrats banded together to defeat
$1.1 billion in emergency funding. The measure
needed three-fifths backing to advance, but it
received just 52 votes in the 100-member
Democrats objected to what Republicans
inserted into the legislation, including cuts
to Planned Parenthood, a non-profit women’s
health care organization and the nation’s
largest provider of abortions, according to
wire service reports.
The zika virus in Costa Rica hit the area
around Jacó the hardest and even jeopardized
the August World Surfing Games that are
expected to bring in more than $30 million to
the community. But residents have mobilized
and are making efforts to reduce places where
the zika mosquito breeds.
The Ministerio de Salud is coordinating
another collection of trash and obsolete
electronic gear today and Thursday at the
Gollo store in Jacó from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Also participating are Holcim Costa Rica and
Coopeservidores, as well as the resident group
JacoZikaSafe. Holcim and its subsidiary
Geocycle said they will carry off any old
tires that are collected to a plant in Cartago
where they will be processed.
The latest statistics on zika, dengue and
chikungunya infections are expected to be
released later today.