Experts: Prepare Now for Zika

There’s no reason to fear. That’s the message we’re hearing from both State and Federal health experts when it comes to the threat posed by the Zika Virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health does expect mosquitoes in the United States–particularly along the Gulf Coast–to at some point be spreading the virus. However, he also expects the illness–like many others–to cool off and ramp down over time.

“Yes, I think that will happen–but, meanwhile a considerable amount of damage to pregnant women and their fetuses can occur” Fauci told KTSA News, imploring Congress to stop fighting–and start funding a program designed to combat the mosquito-borne illness linked to birth defects in the babies born while their mothers became infected while pregnant.

Fauci fully expects a vaccine within a couple of years–with testing to begin in a few months. All in all, he does not expect that vaccine to become a staple outside of Zika “hot zones” such as Latin America.

“In those circumstances, you may see more universal use of a vaccine–but, I don’t think it’s going to be one of those general childhood vaccines that we see with measles, mumps, and rubella here in the United States” Fauci said.

Complete Interview with Dr. Fauci

Minus the availability of a vaccine, State health leaders want you to be proactive in the fight–though they admit it will take plenty of work. Texas Health Commissioner John Hellerstedt said that begins with clearing away all standing water possible around your home.

“Once hose are gone, if it rains again, you’ve got to repeat it” Hellerstedt told KTSA News, adding “There’s just no repeating that.”

Hellerstedt also sad it’s as important as ever for each and every one of us to do all we can to protect ourselves from mosquito bites.

“That would be long clothing. That would be insect repellent… screens and netting and things like that” Hellerstedt said.

Complete Interview with Commissioner Hellerstedt

Meanwhile, one San Antonio Congressman will tell you the Obama Administration is clearly not doing enough to protect you from the Zika Virus.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith opened a hearing Wednesday pointing to the hundreds of Americans who have returned from trips to Latin America infected with the mosquito-borne illness.

“At the least, pregnant women should be told to avoid non-essential travel to Brazil and Colombia. Anything less is putting political correctness ahead of the well-being of American women” Smith said, adding “These dangers raise serious questions about the Administration’s handling of travel alerts.”

The Zika Virus has been linked to birth defects in the children of women who become infected while they are pregnant.

Several experts testifying before the Committee agreed more needs to be done to make people aware of the danger.

“I believe stricter travel restrictions or advisories should be implemented” said Texas Tech University’s Dr. Steven Presley, an expert in Environmental Toxicology.



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