The threat of Zika in the US has been known about for months. Has enough been done to fight it?
Susie Gilden and her husband did not think they could have any more children when she “magically got pregnant” with their second baby four months ago.
The couple from Florida were delighted with the news, she says. But the outbreak of the Zika virus in the state has unsettled them in what should be a period of excitement.
“For me this pregnancy is filled with anxiety and stress, even though I’m not typically like that,” says Gilden.
“It was one thing worrying about whether I was going to have a healthy baby, and whether I could carry the baby to term.
“Now I have to be concerned about whether I’m covered up enough in long sleeves and long pants – not an easy thing in 90F (32C) heat – and covered in Deet [insecticide]. It’s added another level of anxiety to the whole experience.”
The World Health Organization has said there is a “strong scientific consensus” that Zika causes a birth defect called microcephaly, in which infants develop with abnormally small heads, and the US Centers for Disease Control says the causal link “is now clear”.
A baby born in Texas with microcephaly died earlier this month after his mother contracted Zika in Latin America. But health officials say the Wynwood neighbourhood of Miami is so far the only place in the country where mosquitoes are transmitting the disease locally.
After the first case was reported in late July, at least 25 people have now contracted the virus in the area.
The authorities are encouraging people in Florida to protect themselves from bites by draining standing water and covering their clothing and bare skin with insect repellent. Planes have been spraying pesticides to target adult mosquitoes, and tablets of larvae-eating bacteria are being dropped into drains.
Meanwhile pregnant women have been told to avoid transmission through unprotected sex, stay away from the Wynwood area and take a blood or urine test if they are concerned they may have the virus.
SOURCE: Jasmine Taylor-Coleman