Chaos Reigns, Cases Spike As Puerto Rico’s War On Zika Crumbles
Thousands of people — including up to 50 pregnant women — are being infected every day. But, health officials are feuding with each other, the governor’s special adviser on Zika has quit in disgust and residents aren't protecting themselves because they think the threat is exaggerated.
The New York Times:
Zika Cases In Puerto Rico Are Skyrocketing
The Zika epidemic that has spread from Brazil to the rest of Latin America is now raging in Puerto Rico — and the island’s response is in chaos. The war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying the virus is sputtering out in failure. Infections are skyrocketing: Many residents fail to protect themselves against bites because they believe the threat is exaggerated. ... There are only about 5,500 confirmed infections on the island, including of 672 pregnant women. But experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they believe that is a radical undercount. (McNeil, 7/30)
The Washington Post:
Zika Is Spreading Explosively In Puerto Rico, Report Says
CDC officials said the rapid rise could lead to hundreds of infants being born with microcephaly or other severe birth defects in the coming year. Noting the "widespread and accelerating increase" in cases, the report provides several indicators that show how quickly infections are spreading, especially among pregnant women, who face the greatest risk. As of July 7, Zika had been diagnosed in 5,582 people, including 672 pregnant women, the report said. (Sun, 7/29)
In other Zika news —
Senate Dems: Cancel Recess To Deal With Zika 'Emergency'
Senate Democrats urged Congress on Friday to cut short its seven-week recess to pass a federal Zika aid package following confirmation of the first four locally-transmitted cases of the mosquito-born disease in the continental U.S.. "Zika is public health emergency that requires immediate bipartisan action," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tweeted. "Americans can't afford to wait until Congress' vacation is over." (Narea, 7/29)
In Florida Zika Probe, Federal Scientists Kept At Arm's Length
The state of Florida, the first to report the arrival of Zika in the continental United States, has yet to invite a dedicated team of the federal government's disease hunters to assist with the investigation on the ground, health officials told Reuters. Coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since the state reported possible local Zika transmission on July 19 has been conducted largely at a distance, they said. That is surprising to some infectious disease experts, who say a less robust response could lead to a higher number of infections. (Steenhuysen, 7/29)
The Fiscal Times:
How To Protect Yourself From The Zika Virus
The virus, which can cause certain birth defects when pregnant women are infected, has no cure or vaccine. Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned pregnant women against traveling to areas with Zika. But that is no longer enough. While pregnant women and their unborn children face the worst consequences of the virus, everyone should take steps to protect themselves because Zika’s side effects aren’t completely known or understood. Partners of pregnant women should also be vigilant since health experts have determined the virus can be transmitted sexually. (Herron, 7/29)