San Diego area may offer glimpse of how Zika could gain foothold here.
It looks like Zika virus is truly the new Ebola.
Concerns about the Zika virus have grown to the point that Utah Congressman Chris Stewart wants to divert funding from the fight against Ebola to use against this latest epidemic.
Stewart says his bill, which would unlock more than a billion dollars for the CDC and National Institute of Health, would ensure the agencies had the resources they need to research and combat the virus.
“Congress has already allocated funding to fight many of the world’s infectious diseases, like Ebola, and I want to make sure this funding can also be used to combat the Zika virus,” Stewart said.
The Zika Response and Safety Act would allow federal agencies to use funds allocated for Ebola research in the fight against the Zika virus, according to a press release from Stewart’s office. Stewart states that of the $2.4 billion allocated for Ebola research, about $1.4 billion was unused as of September of 2015.
Dallas County Health and Human Services has confirmed acase of Zika infection that occurred on American soil…through sexual transmission.
“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson said. “Next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually transmitted infections.”
Health officials cautioned that sexual transmission of Zika is still likely to be uncommon in the U.S., and the greater infection risk will come from mosquitoes who bite infected individuals and pass the virus on to others.
The American Red Cross is also beginning to quarantine blood from donors who have recently been to infected regions, and is asking potential donors to refrain if they have recently been in those areas.
In response to the Zika outbreak, the American Red Cross is asking people to avoid donating blood if they traveled to Latin America or the Caribbean in the past 28 days.
Blood donors who develop symptoms of Zika, which is spread through mosquito bites, should contact the Red Cross within two weeks so their blood can be quarantined, the organization said in a statement Wednesday.
And while transmission of the virus through blood or sexual activity is possible, infection via mosquito bites is likelier. We San Diegans got some grim news regarding Zika from a local official:
The Tijuana River Valley could become a Zika virus stronghold unless it’s cleaned up immediately, according to Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.
The valley is already home to several species of mosquitoes, including the Asian Tiger mosquito, considered to be the primary carrier of the Zika virus.
…Dedina, who is also the Executive Director of environmental conservation firm Wildcoast, insists the biggest problem are the thousands of tires strewn around the valley that accumulate water and act as breeding grounds for the virus-carrying mosquitoes.
“Those breeding grounds are areas with lots of waste water, tires, and plastic and we seem to have that in profusion here, in addition to the two species of mosquito — yellow fever mosquito and Asian tiger mosquito — that can transmit Zika,” Dedina told FOX 5.
His concern is justified. San Diego has been having problems with another pathogen, West Nile Virus. This is mosquito-borne virus can cause a variety of symptoms, and the worst cases can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, and death. San Diego County reported 31 cases last year, and 5 of those infected died of the resulting illness.
Dedina concluded with chilling warning: “This can’t be like Flint and it can’t be like Brazil, where everyone knew what was happening and no one did anything about it.”
He’s requesting funding and assistance from the EPA for a clean-up project that begins next month.
Given the EPA’s recent history of success, I anticipate we will be seeing more cases of homegrown Zika in addition to the one in Texas.
And my hometown may be the next epicenter.