A map that plots the potential hotbeds for the Zika virus shows parts of the United States under threat by the virus.
As many as 50 large cities in the U.S. are at risk of Zika outbreaks. The factors taken into account while developing the map included whether a particular city is home to the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the carrier of the virus. Other climatic factors like temperature, rainfall, and a history of other disease outbreaks were considered in the study by National Center for Atmospheric Research and NASA and published in PLOS Currents: Outbreaks.
As a result of their warmer temperatures, South Florida and Texas have been found to have moderate to high risks of Zika outbreak during the season of winter.
Meanwhile, a resident of Sonoma County was diagnosed with the county’s first case of Zika virus, as reported by CBS San Francisco. Sonoma County Department of Health Services spokesman Scott Alonso said that the person had visited Central America “many weeks ago” and had been bit by the mosquito, commonly found in the Caribbean and Central and South America. The virus can be transmitted from a mother to her unborn child and from an infected male to their partners.
Amesh Adalja, senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Health Security, said, “We have long known where Aedes mosquitos flourish in the U.S.” He added, “While locales in Florida and Texas may appreciate the risk of Aedes mosquitoes, many other cities may not.”
As reported by USA Today, poverty as a factor significantly enhances the chance of Zika virus. Impoverished people will be less likely to have windows and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of their homes. Disposable cups and plastic tires can collect rain water that enables the breeding of mosquitoes. Flooding is another factor that can increase the chances of mosquito breeding.
“The best Aedes aegypti maps we have to date indicate that Zika will be mostly a Gulf Coast problem, especially in the areas of extreme poverty that are far more severe than almost anywhere else in the U.S.,” Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said.
Fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis are some of the signs and symptoms caused by the infection. The virus can also cause neurological syndromes such as early pregnancy loss, microcephaly, and inadequately and/or poorly developed brain structures.
In a news release, Sonoma County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Karen Hollbrook said, “We anticipate more cases. Even though there is no risk for local transmission, our residents could be exposed to Zika virus through travel, sexual contact with travelers, and from mothers to their unborn babies.”