“The nation’s highest ranking infectious disease expert delivered some sobering news on Zika to a Miami audience on Tuesday, telling them that the mosquito-borne virus is more widespread than Florida health officials have reported and that the rapid spread of pathogens such as Zika represents ‘the new normal’ in an age of global travel and trade, booming cities and climate change.
“’Here’s the plain truth: that Zika and other diseases spread by Aedes aegypti [mosquito species] are really not controllable with current technologies. So we will see this become endemic,’ Tom Frieden, a physician and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a group of about 100 people gathered at the InterContinental Miami hotel for The Atlantic magazine’s CityLab conference.
“Frieden’s takeaway advice for public officials tasked with protecting the public from disease outbreaks: ‘Invest in public health,’ he said. ‘It pays off.’
“Unprecedented in its ability to spread by sexual contact as well as mosquito bites, and to cause birth defects — most notably microcephaly in children born to mothers infected while pregnant — Zika took health officials by surprise this year, Frieden said, noting that there’s still a lot that scientists do not know about the virus’s effects.
“’Zika has surprised us,’ he said. ‘It’s been difficult to predict. It’s had characteristics that we have not seen with other diseases before. What we anticipate will happen is that this season will calm down within the continental United States. We hope that Miami-Dade will stop having cases, but we can’t promise that. … We will see parts of the hemisphere where it will be endemic. It will come back every year.’
“And though Florida has reported 1,064 Zika cases, including 190 mosquito-borne infections, Frieden said the real number likely is much higher.
“’A rule of thumb,’ he said, ‘is for every case you diagnose you’ve probably got 10 more.’
“On Tuesday, Florida health officials reported two additional mosquito-borne Zika infections in Miami-Dade, including one in Miami Beach and a second that will require an epidemiological investigation to determine the source of exposure.”
Source: Miami Herald