President Barack Obama requested $1,9 billion to combat the Zika Virus (spraying potential mosquito areas, research on the virus and a vaccine, and other protective measures). The disease has now spread to Continental U. S, as well as Puerto Rico. Ever the fiscal conservatives, at least when it suits their ideological purposes, the Republican Majority is asking where the budget cuts will come from to pay for this heinous public health concern. But, haven’t we seen this movie before, a couple of years ago, when the Ebola Virus was raging in West Africa?
The GOP response to the Ebola Virus was a combination of: stop all of the flights from West Africa to the U. S, of which there were none; some proclaimed that Obama has a plan to cause harm to make America suffer like Africa, where his loyalties are; they blamed the doctors and nurses who volunteered to go help, and quarantined them upon their return (Governor Chris Christie R-NJ); and one even tweeted that Obama should apologize to the American people and resign (Donald Trump, of course).
Luckily, President Obama tasked the Centers for Disease Control and Preparedness (CDC) to join with the U. K, France, the World Health Organization, Doctors without Borders, Samaritan’s Purse and other organizations, to help some very poor nations (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) fight the Ebola Virus, and keep it from spreading. The President also deployed 3,000 military to help in various non-medical capacities. Unfortunately, the final death toll in West Africa was 11,300; however, that number would have been much higher if the region had to deal with the Ebola by itself. Additionally if it had spread, Ebola could have caused a worldwide pandemic—killing millions.
But this time around, the Zika Virus is spreading through the Americas—right in our backyard. So far, it has primarily come on shore in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and some Southern states, primarily along the Gulf Coast. Puerto Rico, which has already been reeling from its debt problems, has had 925 cases of Zika, one death and the first case of microcephaly—in a fetus, which tested positive for Zika. Florida has also had over 100 cases, the most of any state, as might be expected—since it is often a destination for people traveling from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and South America.
Where symptoms of the Ebola virus last once they appear, the Zika symptoms only last for a short period of time (perhaps a week, at most), according to the CDC. Accordingly, a woman with no symptoms may infect her baby, and the impact might be a exceptionally small head and considerable brain damage. Besides travel to the already exposed area, Zika can also be transmitted through intercourse.
So far, the Zika Virus has been transmitted primarily by people returning from the Caribbean and Latin America. The Aedes mosquito itself is infected when it feeds upon an infected person. So, since the disease can spread by the mosquitos, as well as males transmitting it to their partners, it might just be a matter of time before the Zika Virus Disease becomes even more prevalent in the U. S.
For additional information, please review the CDC web site, linked as follows: http://www.cdc.gov. Unfortunately, as the CDC states: there is just so very much that we do not know about the Zika, and there is not a vaccine for it. The primary risk, it seems, is for pregnant women; however, even there, we do not know at what stage in the pregnancy the fetus might, or might not, be at risk.
NOTE: This past week, in an unusual show of cooperation, the Republican Governor of Florida, and the State’s full Congressional Delegation, made an appeal to the House and Senate to pass President Obama’s full $1,9 billion to eradicate the Zika Virus.