CDC Urges Spraying Chemicals to Rid of Zika Virus in Puerto Rico

fogging
Science & Medicine

US Health officials have become increasingly concerned by the rate Zika is spreading in the territory of Puerto Rico. The disease is spreading so quickly, that it is claimed as many as 50 pregnant women a day are becoming infected. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control is urging Puerto Rico to spray the affected area with pesticides.

The number of pregnant women with the Zika virus particularly concerns officials, as studies have linked the infection with microcephaly, a condition that causes a child’s head to develop at an unnaturally slow rate and causes cognitive impairment.

New studies also suggest that children born to mothers infected with Zika may also suffer cognitive delays even if their heads are of “normal” size. While adults typically do not display symptoms, the grave consequences on the next generation are what have spurred officials to ask for fumigation of the area.

However, the plea to spray the area with Naled, an insecticide, has sparked intense debate as well as protests in Puerto Rico. Locals are concerned that it has not been sufficiently tested to determine the impact on both human health and wildlife.

The CDC has promised a $1.1 billion initiative to help Zika-infested areas in Puerto Rico set up so-called mosquito control units while also spending $500,000 to help Puerto Rico get rid of old tires where the Zika-infected mosquitoes often breed. [1]

At present, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa are the only parts of the United States where Zika infected mosquitoes are indigenous. The some 900 cases of Zika that have been recorded elsewhere in the United States are all from travel-related cases, or the infected person having sexual relations with someone who recently traveled to a Zika-infested area.

At this point, there have been 2,400 people in Puerto Rico infected with Zika, though no woman has yet to give birth to a child with microcephaly. Forty-four people have been hospitalized due to Zika-related complications; one person has died; and 16 have been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre in relation to the virus. Officials warn that the epidemic is a silent one, as most people do not display symptoms. [2]

Sources:

[1] The Washington Times

[2] Washington Post