How is the CDC Working to Protect Americans from Zika?
Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS), Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains how the CDC is working to protect Americans from the Zika virus.
Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS), Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains how the CDC is working to protect Americans from the Zika virus.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability):
“Zika [response] has a couple of different elements there. One is that the place where the problem has been most intense is where the mosquito vector is in greatest abundance in tropical and sub-tropical countries [such as] Brazil, Colombia, the countries of South America and Central America, in the United States right now in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa there is intense transmission. We don’t have mosquito-borne transmission to this point in the United States, but we are preparing for the possibility of isolated transmissions, similar to the way that [the] Dengue and Chikungunya [viruses] have been identified in the United States.”
We were part of that original recognition of the association of the birth defect with Zika virus infection. In January , in the laboratory, we examined brain specimens from fetuses that had died of Zika virus and saw evidence of virus infection in the brains of [these fetuses]. Within 72 hours we issued guidance for pregnant women to avoid travel to countries that were having [active] Zika virus infection.
So, the first thing is individual measures for women who are pregnant or who might be pregnant to avoid the Zika virus and be protected against the Zika virus. Travel [is the] main individual measure right now.
For people who are living in those areas where you can’t avoid the vector, [it is important to utilize] individual mosquito-avoidance measures [such as] insect repellent, long sleeves, and long pants to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
At a larger level, vector-control measures, which can be even be at a household-level, there are a lot of things that can be done and we are working on the evidence-base for which methods are the most effective. We know how these mosquitoes breed [and] they require very little water, and so removing [even] debris that could harbor small amounts of water is a key measure. There are larvicides, things that kill the larva of the mosquitoes that can be effective. There are methods to kill adult mosquitoes with insecticide that can be done with very low volumes of insecticide and so that’s something that is being examined as well.
At this point, for places where the mosquito-vector is active, [we are putting in place] all measures to prevent pregnant women from being infected and then sorting through which measures are most effective so that we can put the most effort where there will be the most value.
Another individual measure to protect pregnant women is for their significant others to use condoms. It’s not for birth control, but for the barrier protection in case the partner is infected to prevent sexual transmission to a pregnant woman.”