Zika virus, a disease-causing pathogen spread to humans through mosquito bites, has been the subject of great concern and scrutiny as human cases from people who have recently traveled to affected areas outside the U.S. are being confirmed in states across the country. The need to curb local transmission within the U.S. is paramount as we continue to learn more about the effects of this disease. For example, Zika poses a significant risk in pregnant women, as there is now a definitive link to microcephaly, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development in infants.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel alerts for people planning to travel to countries and territories (in the Americas) with active Zika virus transmission and pressed Congress for federal funding to prepare and help develop a vaccine against the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern after identifying clusters of microcephaly and other neurological disorders in connection with the virus.
At the time this article was written, there have been no known cases of local transmission in the U.S., but with the looming threat of an active mosquito season, the conversation has shifted from protecting U.S. citizens traveling to Zika-prone countries to the possibility of local transmission here in the states, placing the government and industry groups alike on high alert.
By Cindy Mannes, Executive Director of PPMA and Vice President of Public Affairs for NPMA