Are you concerned about the Zika virus? Do you think that enough precautions are being made to prevent its spreading?

Robert McGrew ‘18: “Yes, I am concerned about the Zika virus, not because it poses any serious threat to me, but because of how easy it can spread and the dangers it presents to pregnant women and their children. There isn’t too much else that the CDC can do to help prevent the spread of the virus short of spraying for mosquitoes in countries they don’t have access to. Something they should continue to do is continue media exposure so that people become aware of the virus and the danger it presents.”

Geoffrey Church, Health Science Advisor: “I think the pace that it became a global issue was pretty astounding. It was very fast for our CDC — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — to come out in sync with The World Health Organization and say that this is an issue for people in the U.S. I understand that even some folks in Congress are trying to see if there’s anything they can do to force airlines to refund tickets to women who are pregnant or who are trying to get pregnant, who had booked vacations in areas affected by Zika. So the response has been really quick. So, the first thing you can do is to try and have people not get anywhere near the areas near the mosquitos that carry Zika. But then the other thing you want to try to do is limit the mosquito population where the virus actually exists, so there’s no real evidence of Zika circulating in the U.S.; but, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t get here. So I think right now, any sort of preventive measures are trying to encourage people maybe not to go to areas where there’s Zika and maybe have some of our experts work with folks on the ground in Brazil and other places where Zika has shown up in the past or is active right now to help them mount effective strategies. A lot of it would just be public health awareness campaigns — stocking enough mosquito repellant, providing condoms in adequate supply because there’s been some evidence of sexual transmission and a lot of the things that you would want to try and fight it are off the shelves in some of the countries, certainly in Brazil. So one thing that we could do — I don’t know that the U.S. is doing it — is we could supply some aid in the form of either money to pay for those things or just the materials for basic prevention of mosquito bites. The longer term thing is to figure out more about the virus itself and how to combat it or potentially develop a vaccine, but that’s a much longer way off. The first thing is to isolate people away from the mosquitos that carry it and then do as much as we can to fight the mosquitos. If you’re not trying to get pregnant or you’re not currently pregnant, the risk of an infection if you’re in an area where you find Zika — I mean, the symptomatic risks are essentially what you’d associate with [the] flu — so aches and pains, fever, maybe some rash. You know, not drastic symptoms. But certainly microcephaly and some of the other developmental defects that we think are linked to Zika are certainly a big deal for pregnant mothers and mothers who have delivered. I don’t have concerns for folks in the U.S. until I see something about the Aedes mosquito population that carries Zika carrying it in the U.S., but lots of other viruses have spread … so things like Dengue fever and other mosquito-borne viruses haven’t really made their way into the U.S. in any significant way. So, while it’s certainly a concern for a lot of people, I don’t know that it’ll become a concern for folks living in the mainland U.S.”

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