The head of the CDC has weighed in on the Zika virus threat, and has a major warning for 2017 and beyond.
The rise of the mosquito-borne Zika virus has been rapid and frightening, resulting in 60 travel alerts and major concerns for athletes and tourists traveling to the Olympics in Rio. But even though the threat from Zika has died down, there is much work remaining, and it would be unwise to estimate the threat Zika still presents, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a Reuters interview.
Frieden won’t be around to help out, as he plans on resigning on Jan. 20, when Donald Trump takes over the presidency. He urged vigilance in dealing with threats like Zika, noting that there is no telling where the nexxt global health threat will come from, but there will definitely be one at some point.
And the fight against Zika is not over. Frieden said U.S. health officials should continue to warn pregnant women about Zika risks and take measures to protect themselves from contracting the virus, which involves avoiding Zika-prone areas and preventing mosquito bites. Scientists will need to continue to study the long-term effects of Zika exposure, he said.
The CDC said in a statement highlighting the past 12 months: “Seventy years after CDC was founded to fight mosquitoes that carried malaria, CDC found itself entrenched in combat with another mosquito-borne illness, Zika virus. CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to fight Zika on January 22, 2016, after a widespread Zika outbreak in the Americas was linked to a large increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly. As the emergency response approaches one year, CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlights 10 critical contributions towards the fight against Zika virus this year.”