Herd immunity likely keeping Zika numbers low this summer

Florida has reported significantly fewer Zika infections this year, which may be the result of growing immunity to the virus, according to a HealthDay report.

Florida reported 1,122 cases of travel-related Zika infections and 285 locally acquired Zika cases in 2016. The numbers for 2017 are significantly lower with 108 cases of travel-related infections and just nine locally acquired infections. The nine local cases also carry a caveat — infected individuals tested positive for Zika in 2017, but exposure occurred in 2016, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Countries in South America and the Caribbean — the regions hardest hit by Zika last year — have also experienced a substantial decline in Zika cases this year, according to HealthDay. Previous research suggests those infected with Zika virus may cultivate an immunity that bars future infections.

"If a large enough proportion of the herd — be it cows or mice or people — are resistant to a disease, it's very difficult for the disease to spread," Uriel Kitron, PhD, chair of the department of environmental sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, told HealthDay. "We think a large proportion of the people have been infected, many of them without symptoms, and have lifelong immunity. There has been very little transmission since."

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Zika linked to increase in life-threatening neurologic conditions among adults in Brazil 
Florida identifies 1st case of sexually transmitted Zika for 2017 
Texas sees 1st case of locally acquired Zika for 2017

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