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Researchers Conclude: US Southern States Need to Prepare for Possible Zika Outbreak

APR 26, 2016 | BRIAN P. DUNLEAVY
The risk for Zika virus transmission in regions of Latin America and the Caribbean has been firmly established; however, its status as a public health issue here in the United States—other than as a consideration for travelers to areas where incidence rates are high—remains open to debate.
 
Recently, a multidisciplinary team of researchers that includes climatologists, public health specialists, epidemiologists, entomologists, mathematicians, and even mental health professionals, attempted to establish what they describe as “a baseline risk for local Zika virus transmission in the US and [recommendations for] the optimal timing of vector control activities” nationally. Their findings were published online on March 16 by the journal PLOS Currents/Outbreaks.
 
Of course, the ongoing Zika virus pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean has led many federal, state and local government agencies in the United States—including most recently, the New York City Department of Health—to establish protocols for reducing the likelihood that travel-related introduction of Zika virus could initiate local transmission. The Zika virus has been particularly problematic in Brazil, where its primary vector, the mosquito Aedes aegypti, is prevalent. The virus has been associated with multiple complications, including microcephaly in newborns born to pregnant women who contract the virus.
 
Rohit Bhalla, DO, Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases at the University Medical Center of Princeton, explains why the Zika virus is “scarier than [the CDC] originally thought.”



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