With the Zika virus spreading rapidly through South and Central America – and with more than 30 cases found in travelers returning to the U.S. – this is an important moment to look back on some global public health lessons that we’ve learned in recent years.
While there are certainly comparisons with Ebola, Zika is a very different disease: it’s transmitted by mosquitoes – not people – and affects pregnant women and their newborn infants.
As the World Health Organization and CDC officials organize the global response to combat Zika, there are a few recent big-picture public health lessons on how we can effectively respond to new outbreaks of diseases. How have investments in public health benefited both the international community and America’s safety?
The spread of Zika is a threat – especially with the Rio Summer Olympics approaching – but it’s important to note that the only cases now in the U.S. are travelers who were infected by mosquitoes overseas. Click here to read more on the CDC response to Zika.
Going forward, we need to mobilize a rapid response, deploy preventative measures, and strengthen American leadership. Given our underinvestment in Latin America, now is a critical time to step up, not step back, in our support. Our nation’s investments in global health ensure outbreaks are prevented and contained in the future.
Distribution of Zika virus, photo source: Wikimedia