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Zika Virus Impacting More Than Public Health

To date, Dr. Schuchat said, there have been more than 20,000 confirmed cases of Zika virus infection reported in US states and territories; of these, more than 3,000 have been identified in the 50 states and Washington, DC. In all, more than 730 cases have occurred in pregnant women, and there have been 25 cases of “adverse birth outcomes,” according to Dr. Schuchat, including birth defects and “birth losses” (ie, death).
At present, Florida is the only state that has confirmed local transmission of the virus via the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Most of the nearly 80 locally transmitted cases thus far reported in the state have been concentrated in the Miami area, with many specifically identified in the Wynwood neighborhood. Owen Bale, director of the R House Restaurant, which opened in the neighborhood in January 2014, told the media on the call that he had been running a very successful restaurant and that customers “told us it was almost impossible to get a reservation” prior to the CDC’s travel advisory, but that “Zika brought an end to that.” He said his revenues have declined 75% since the advisory, and that he has had to lay off one quarter of his staff, with those remaining taking reduced salaries. He urged Congress to include “emergency funding for small businesses” in any Zika-related legislation, although it’s unknown how much of the $1.9 billion proposed by President Obama included monies for affected business owners.
“The worry about the virus has hung like a cloud over the neighborhood,” added Adi Kafri, owner of NOA Catering, which also runs a restaurant in the area. Kafri added that she has had close her outside seating due to concerns over the Zika virus. Although they emphasized that they supported the CDC’s decision to institute the travel advisory, both she and Bale said they had spent significantly to fumigate their facilities and provide repellent to customers.
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition.
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