CDC prepared to deploy rapid response teams when Zika becomes transmitted locally

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

Federal health officials at the CDC plan to send a rapid-response team to any mainland community and communities in Hawaii that report local transmission of the Zika virus, according to the Miami Herald. The organization is closely monitoring six states — Florida, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — for local transmission.

The multi-level response plan will include case monitoring to curtail infection spread, testing, timely investigation and prompt communication with the public.

Officials are expecting local transmission in those six states specifically because the primary vector behind Zika proliferation is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can be found throughout the southern U.S.

"We don't think this is going to be a very common problem, but we do think it's going to be a very high-profile problem," Tom Frieden, MD, told the Herald. Because Americans generally have more access to air conditioning and window screens and live in less dense population environments than individuals in other Zika-affected regions, the U.S. is likely to see scattered individual cases, not clusters or wide-ranging outbreaks, according to Dr. Frieden.

However, a major issue of concern is managing the general anxiety that could be incited by local transmission. Local governors have expressed concern about lab testing capabilities and adequacy of mosquito control, which is locally funded.

"One of the things they're concerned about, if they had local transmission, is they might have huge demand for testing that isn't really clinically indicated," said Dr. Frieden. "That could overwhelm lab capacity."

Contention over the allocation of funds to bolster the CDC's and other federal health organizations' Zika response has been a common theme in recent political news.

See where Zika has been reported in the U.S. as of June 10 here.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Accidental Zika infection at Pittsburgh lab  
WHO recommends delaying pregnancy in areas hard hit by Zika  
Researchers on a medical road trip through Brazil are using mobile labs to track Zika 

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