With at least one Zika virus case in Massachusetts, the head of the Massachusetts Public Health Department, Monica Bharel, and homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) discuss the risk here and whether talk of canceling the Rio Olympics should be taken seriously.
Bharel explained the basic facts of the virus but acknowledged that "the science behind this is evolving." While the vast majority of cases are transmitted from mosquitos to humans, there have been "rare cases" that are sexually transmitted. There is no vaccine for Zika at this time and the vast majority of people have no symptoms, but a smaller number of people, about 20% have a rash, fever, and/or pink eye.
The people most at risk for the Zika virus are pregnant women.
"The good news," said Kayyem, "is this impacts a very small pool of the population." But the bad news is that those cases are "horrible."
There will be "some changes in policies" in the areas most affected by Zika, which are Central and South America, says Kayyem. These nations have strict reproductive and abortion laws. Kayeem believes that the reproductive public health issues will play a large role in fighting Zika in these areas.
But Kayyem reassured viewers, "there is no reason to panic." Bharel echoed the sentiment. "This is not Ebola," she said.
Both expressed concern about the Rio Olympics, as Brazil has been greatly affected by the virus. "If I were the IOC I would be beginning to call London," said Kayyem.
Where can I get more information?
Your doctor, nurse, or health care clinic, or your local board of health (listed in the telephone directory under local government)
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at (617) 983-6800 or toll-free at (888) 658-2850, or on the MDPH Arbovirus website at www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito