Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2018

Summer Infestation

As Numbers of Cases Rise,
Efforts Aim to Limit Spread of Zika Virus

Government agencies, including some states and U.S. territories, are working overtime to stay on top of the Zika virus’s spread, especially since summer brings an increase in mosquito infestation.

Just over two months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elevated its response to “Level 1” — the agency’s highest response — CDC scientists confirmed that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. It is also linked to increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

As of June 10, Florida recorded 137 travel-related cases in 20 counties, with an additional 38 cases involving pregnant women; 8 of the cases were still exhibiting symptoms. CDC reported 1,259 locally acquired cases and 3 travel-related cases of Zika virus in Puerto Rico. The numbers are steadily climbing.

As of June 8, CDC reported the latest numbers in the United States for:
— Travel-associated Zika virus cases: 691
— Locally acquired vector-borne cases: 0
Of total 691 cases:
— Sexually transmitted: 11
— Guillain-Barré syndrome: 2
In U.S. Territories:
— Travel-associated cases: 4
— Locally acquired cases: 1,301
Of total 1,305 cases:
— Guillain-Barré syndrome: 7

In a significant reporting change, CDC started two registries to monitor pregnancies and congenital outcomes for women infected by the Zika virus (with or without symptoms and through laboratory evidence) — the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry (USZPR) in all states and territories except Puerto Rico, and the Zika Active Pregnancy Surveillance System (ZAPSS) in Puerto Rico. The change resulted in higher numbers than previously reported: As of June 2, 206 pregnant women showed evidence of Zika virus infection in the U.S. and 166 in territories. And Puerto Rico reported the first baby born with microcephaly linked to a Zika infection that was acquired in the United State.

Meanwhile, a host of bills proposed in the Senate and House of Representatives address the virus. The most pressing need was for supplemental appropriations for FY 2016 to combat the spread of Zika virus — $1.9 billion in emergency funds requested by President Barack Obama. House (H.R.5044) and Senate (S.2843) bills differed considerably at press time.

The Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes) lasting for several days to a week. Go to cdc.gov/zika for information on Zika virus prevention as well as its transmission, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. — Maxine Golding

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