Following the recent flooding of the Louisiana area, there are rising concerns that the Zika virus may spread throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast area states.
The flood has affected nearly 60.000 homes across 20 parishes. So far, 13 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the catastrophe.
The virus is spread primarily through mosquito bites, and the increased heat and humidity makes for the perfect breeding ground. The virus is known to cause microcephaly in infants and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults. This is a neurological syndrome that can lead to temporary paralysis.
The recent flooding might affect the spread of the virus. This is not only because it creates a breeding ground for mosquitos, but because it also makes it more difficult for people to protect themselves against them.
People who are now homeless as a result of the flood will be exposed to the elements, and probably will have limited access to preventive methods, at least for a while.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has stated in a recent interview with CNN that the Red Cross has been slow to receive donations, and that the state of Louisiana needs all the help it can get to allow people to move back into their homes.
Last month, officials announced the first confirmed case of locally transmitted Zika in the Miami Wynwood arts neighborhood, in the Miami-Dade county of Florida, a popular tourist destination.
Zika Virus Facts: World and US Overview
The effects of the Zika virus first became apparent last fall, in Brazil. There are now around 1835 cases of microcephalic infants, that are believed to be the result of this virus. Microcephaly impedes the development of the infant’s head, which can lead to severe neurological and developmental issues.
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced earlier this week that there are now 5 cases of people infected with Zika, which may have contracted the virus in Miami Beach.
What makes this virus particularly hard to control is that it spreads not only via mosquito bites, but through sexual contact as well.
Research is still ongoing, but the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) has already develop a Zika prevention kit for pregnant women. They also offer advice on how to protect yourself against the virus as home.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is the director of the allergy and infectious diseases unit of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was first to warn against the spread of this disease. Dr. Fauci also argued that it is unlikely the U.S. will meet with a widespread epidemic.
According to him, the virus will probably attack in a diffused pattern, in short bursts. Still, U.S. citizens are advised not to take this threat lightly, as it can escalate.
The CDC has warned pregnant women from traveling to the Miami area that has confirmed cases of the Zika virus.
Authorities are doing all they can to reduce the mosquito population. However, high-rise buildings, and the fact that people tend to leave their skin exposed, make controlling the spread of the virus difficult.
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