Just like the global panic that gripped the world in October 2014 when the Ebola virus had spread from western Africa to many nations around the globe, including several isolated cases in the US, so a year and a half later, the world is urgently scrambling to unleash a sense of panic surrounding the Zika virus which, just like Ebola, came out of nowhere and is fast becoming the latest scapegoat for collapsing global commerce this year’s invisible bogeyman.
Here are some of the latest developments.
There are at least 54 people infected with the Zika virus in the U.S. In all except one case, the infection was acquired while out of the country, according to health officials. In one case in Dallas, Texas, the virus is believed to have been transmitted through sexual contact from an infected traveler to a partner.
Florida has the highest number of cases in the U.S., with 12 people infected. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in five counties and ordered thousands of tests that will help identify the disease.
Use a Condom to Avoid Zika, CDC Tells Travelers
According to the Centers for Disease Control, men who have traveled to Zika-affected zones should use a condom if they want to be absolutely sure they don’t infect sex partners, federal health officials advised Friday.
And men with a pregnant sex partner who have been to Zika-affected zones should just use a condom or abstain from sex until the baby is born, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
“Our priority here is to prevent a pregnant woman from becoming infected with Zika,” CDC chief Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters. “The bottom line for most people in the U.S. is that pregnant women should postpone travel to Zika-affected areas. Our new guidance is that pregnant women should use condoms during sex or abstain if their partner has traveled to an area where Zika has been spreading.”
The U.K. is to order airlines flying from countries affected by the Zika virus, which has been linked with birth defects, to spray insecticide inside plane cabins. As currently happens on flights leaving countries affected by malaria, attendants will use the spray with the aim of killing any mosquitoes that might have joined the flight.
“I want to reassure people that the risk to the U.K. population is extremely low,” Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said in an e-mailed statement Friday. “We advise people traveling to affected areas to reduce the risk of themselves being bitten by wearing mosquito repellent, long sleeves and trousers. Pregnant women should consider avoiding travel to countries with the Zika virus.”
Brazilian health officials have confirmed two cases of transmission of Zika through transfusions of blood from donors who had been infected with the mosquito-borne virus that is spreading rapidly through the Americas. Marcelo Addas Carvalho, director of the Blood Center at the Sao Paulo state University of Campinas, said genetic testing confirmed that a man who received a blood transfusion using blood from a donor with Zika in March 2015 became infected with the virus, although the patient did not develop symptoms.
Earlier, the health department of Campinas, an industrial city near Sao Paulo, said a man with gunshot wounds became infected with Zika after multiple blood transfusions in April 2015 that included blood donated by an infected person.
The World Health Organization will seek $25 million for a six-month program to fight the Zika virus linked to birth defects, including studies on whether it is spread by sex or by blood transfusion, a senior WHO official told Reuters on Friday.
New Zika Virus Cases Include Pregnant Woman, Man With Paralysis Syndrome
In Puerto Rico, a pregnant woman in her first trimester was diagnosed with the disease, health officials said. In addition, a man has also been diagnosed with Zika and has developed a rare paralysis syndrome sometimes associated with viral or bacterial infection.
Called Guillain-Barre syndrome, it is an immunological reaction that has been associated with influenza, among other illnesses. At least 22 people who have been reported to have been infected with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico, health officials said.
Puerto Rico Declares State of Emergency
Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency due to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak. The U.S. territory has at least 22 people who have been reported to have been infected with the Zika virus, health officials said.
The State Emergency and Disaster Administration is creating a task force for both federal and state officials to deal with the crisis. Additionally, a price freeze has been ordered for products needed to prevent the disease, according to government officials.
And so on.
But the highlight of the panic push comes from the outbreak epicenter Brazil, where the website of the central bank has not only three flying “mosquitos” but a solemn warning to eradicate the Zika plague.
Guess who will be blamed in a few months when global trade, commerce, and growth – not to mention stock markets – all tumble.