A Boston resident has been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the Boston Public Health Commission confirmed Thursday.
And it won’t take much, Gostin said, for the Zika virus to arrive on our shores: just one mosquito needs to get on a plane and head to the U.S. And a native mosquito could pick up the virus if it bites an infected person.
On Monday, the World Health Organization predicted the virus would spread to all countries across the Americas except for Canada and Chile. No cases of Zika virus have been reported as locally transmitted in the continental USA, but cases have been reported in returning travelers and the virus has been reported as having been locally transmitted in the US territory of Puerto Rico.
In a conference call with reporters Thursday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention principal deputy director Anne Schuchat was asked about a recent New York Times report on the subject.
Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Herminia Palacio and Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, both medical doctors, convened a meeting with City Hall reporters on the day the head of the World Health Organization warned that the virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas.
The apparent link between Zika and severe birth defects in children in Brazil still hasn’t been definitively proven but Chan says the threat is so high that she’s calling for an emergency committee to advise her on “the appropriate level of worldwide concern and for recommended measures that should be undertaken in affected countries and elsewhere”.
The agency was “supporting the scaling up and strengthening of surveillance systems in countries that have reported cases of Zika and of microcephaly and other neurological conditions that may be associated with the virus”, it noted in the statement. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.
Zika cases have been identified in at least 11 states, but all were people who had traveled to affected areas.
The Zika virus – once considered a mild threat – is now alarming people across the globe.
Drawing a contrast with Ebola, Espinal stressed that Zika needs a carrier to spread and that controlling the mosquito was therefore crucial to controlling the outbreak. “So, that’s part of the reason we are trying to get the information out to countries that have got the vector but may not yet have the virus – look now for the virus”, he added.
The virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, has been spreading rapidly in Latin America.