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Posts Tagged ‘disease’

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Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.11.19 PMFlorida’s first three Zika infections were reported yesterday, and along with the horrible damage the virus can do to babies, another rare disease may be connected to the the mosquito-borne Zika.  CDC and Brazilian health authorities are now trying to figure out how Zika may be triggering or causing the Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes nerve damage, paralysis, and in rare cases, death.  Cases of the rare disease have increased significantly in the past few months, and who knows what other nastiness this little bug may be capable of?

Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Jamaica have all officially asked women to delay becoming pregnant until more can be learned about Zika, while in the US, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and Hawaii have confirmed Zika infections involving returning travelers who were likely bitten by mosquitoes while abroad.  While the Olympics is the last thing anyone with a baby on the way is thinking about, Zika threatens to do the impossible and overshadow even the ongoing media scrum around Guanabara Bay’s pollution.

With Rio 2016 already scrapping bleachers and stands for sailing, swimming, and paddling events, plans for permanent facilities thrown in the trash, and ticket sales moving at a snail’s pace, much of the Brazilian public is wishing its government had stayed away from the 5-ring circus.  And perhaps the biggest antidote for those seeking to host more super-events like the Games is this: Some scientists believe the Zika outbreak in Brazil can be traced to African tourists who came over in 2014 to watch the FIFA World Cup.

One SA reader told us there is no screwing around.  We’ll share his full e-mail:

Good job presenting the scare factor.  Yes, Zika is scary shit.  So are you ready for an article about the ONLY thing that sailors can do…Get self-protection against mosquito bites with modern, effective mosquito repellents.  We call it Personal Protection.

Signed:  David A. Carlson, Ph.D.  [World expert on mosquito protection, 200 publication in scientific papers, Research Chemist (Ret. after 37 years) at USDA, Center for Medical Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, FL]

 

January 22nd, 2016 by admin

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With all the noise about corruption, recession, and pollution coming out of 2016 Olympic venue Brazil recently, you might have missed a little story last May focusing on a few cases of something called Zika in the deep jungle that now threatens not only any chance the Games had of helping Brazil’s wrecked tourism industry, but international health.  Since those early May cases, the mosquito-borne disease has turned into an international epidemic effecting potentially millions of people and damaging the brains of the most vulnerable of all of us: Newborn babies.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 10.55.44 AMThe virus is generally unremarkable when a healthy adult picks it up, and it’s far less dangerous and damaging than the mosquito-vectored illnesses tropical sailors are most used to; malaria, dengue, and most recently, chikungaya.  But to an unborn fetus, Zika has life-threatening consquences, and while scientists don’t yet understand exactly how, the virus zeroes in on the skull of the fetus.  The resulting conditions is called Microcephaly, and it’s a heartbreaking one that results in a smaller-than-normal skull and prevents proper brain development.  In just a few months, Brazil has gone from essentially zero cases of microcephaly to over 4,000, with estimates of around a million infections of Zika.  And some locals say the beleaguered government doesn’t give a shit.

If you’re not pregnant or intend to become pregnant soon, there’s very little to worry about.  But if you are, or someone back home is, this disease is not to be trifled with, and it’s not just in Brazil anymore; like most diseases spread by the nasty and ubiquitous Aegypti skeeter,  it’s spreading, and fast.  The first suspected case of Zika-connected microcephaly in the US was reported last week in Hawaii, and the virus has been found in several southern states.  Further afield, it’s exploding.

The CDC advised pregnant women to “Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
Women who are trying to become pregnant: Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection. Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time.”  Their full info sheet is here.

As of Thursday, the following countries have been impacted: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname and Venezuela, as well as Puerto Rico.

More info from the Wash Post here.

 

January 21st, 2016 by admin

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MosquitoBack in January we told you about a new mosquito-borne illness in the Caribbean, and while we haven’t heard reports of any yacht racers being stricken by Chikunguya this winter, we expect next year to be a different story for the Dengue-like disease. The latest report from the Associated Press says that there are ”currently more than 4,000 confirmed cases of the fast-spreading chikungunya virus in the Caribbean, most of them in the French Caribbean islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Martin. Another 31,000 suspected cases have been reported across the region of scattered islands.”   From 3 cases in December to up to 35,000 in May…and that all happened during the dry season.

The good news is that, like Dengue, Chikunguya is rarely fatal and generally only knocks you down for a week.  But like Dengue (and Malaria), even if you get off quickly, victims may suffer lasting pain and other effects for months or years.  International health authorities are doing what they can to stave off an epidemic, but as anyone who has spent any time in the tropics knows, it’s impossible to ‘wipe out’ mosquito diseases, so this one is here to stay, at least at some level.

So wear your long shirts and pants and hose yourself down with the DEET next time you’re down in the Islands (especially the French ones), and be thankful there’s no malaria!

 

May 5th, 2014 by admin

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