Zika Update

Author: David R. Kotok, Post Date: March 8, 2017

We open this commentary with a link to a column by Nicholas Kristof entitled, “However Much Trump Spends on Arms, We Can’t Bomb Ebola”:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/opinion/however-much-trump-spends-on-arms-we-cant-bomb-ebola.html.

We can’t bomb Zika, either.

We continue to track all types of shock risks, including Zika. Right now I am traveling to three places in South America. All meetings are private.

As budget priorities are realigned by the Trump administration, we continue to track non-military shock risks. Years ago I chaired a worldwide dialogue on food, water, and health that took two years to complete and involved five continents. The Global Interdependence Center was the convening organization, and its policy position is simply to convene a neutral forum for dialogue.

Lessons learned during that multiyear study suggest that Kristof’s warnings have validity.

Now here is an update on Zika. I’ll be back in the US on March 12. Between meetings I will try to say hello to a friendly Patagonian rainbow trout.

We last reported on the Zika situation back in early October 2016, (see www.cumber.com/zika-cuba-american-politics). In the US and its territories at that point, the number of pregnant women who had been positively diagnosed as carriers of the Zika virus was 2298. Now – in spite of the fact that we have been in the “off” season for mosquitoes that carry the virus – the number stands at 4759, a 107% increase. And the total number of US citizens infected with Zika has grown from 25,694 to 43,380, an increase of 69%. (All current figures are as of Feb. 21; data from the Centers for Disease Control [CDC].)

Most critically, the number of babies born with microcephaly and/or other birth defects in the continental US has climbed from 21 last September to 47 now (counting only live births). (Data on Zika-related birth defects in Puerto Rico was hard to come by last October and remains so. All we could turn up was an August 2016 estimate by US health experts that as many as 270 babies in Puerto Rico might be born with microcephaly. That estimate was developed at the point when the number of Zika cases in pregnant Puerto Rico women was only about 60% of what it is today.)

But along with the alarming increases in Zika statistics in the past half year, there have been important advances in our understanding of Zika.

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