Public health experts say Zika shouldn’t be a major concern for the US, because of widespread use of air conditioning.
But there’s still an uneasy feeling in southern coastal areas like Houston, Texas.
“Obviously we are very concerned since we know what’s happened in Brazil and in Latin America.”
In a skype interview, Dr.James Versalovic said mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus live in coastal communities and their population will ramp up starting in April.
Versalovic said these states need the same type of help as Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Help controlling the mosquitoes, help testing both mosquitoes and people who may be infected with the Zika virus and help in getting rid of debris like old tires and standing water.
The question is how much help can the centers for disease control, the nation’s public health agency and state agencies provide ?
There is no question the need is urgent.
“There’s enough evidence now to state clearly that the Zika virus is definitely associated with microcephaly,not only small heads but underdeveloped brains, and unfortunately, those babies are dealing with a lifetime of disability.”
The Obama administration asked for nearly two billion dollars in special funding in February.
But congress has not yet approved it and state agencies have limited funds.
“Keep in mind that after the 08-09 recession here in the United States, the crash in the recession it was experienced fully 25 percent of American public health personnel at the state and local level were laid off,their budgets were slashed and they lost their positions, and those have not, those positions have not been renewed. We’re operating from a depleted capacity.”
But the money has to come from somewhere because mosquito control is expensive.
Testing must be in place and public education campaigns like those in Latin America need to begin to protect pregnant women and their unborn children.
Carol Pearson,VOA News, Washington.