Sunday, July 31, 2016

Zika Cases in Puerto Rico Are Skyrocketing

The following excerpts are taken from the NY Times article "Zika Cases in Puerto Rico Are Skyrocketing"

>> SAN JUAN, P.R. — The Zika epidemic that has spread from Brazil to the rest of Latin America is now raging in Puerto Rico — and the island’s response is in chaos.

The war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying the virus is sputtering out in failure. Infections are skyrocketing: Many residents fail to protect themselves against bites because they believe the threat is exaggerated.

Federal and local health officials are feuding, and the governor’s special adviser on Zika has quit in disgust.

[...] Just four cases of infection were confirmed last week in Florida. But in Puerto Rico, officials believe thousands of residents — including up to 50 pregnant women — are infected each day.

[...] Obstetricians ... are quietly urging their infected pregnant patients to have regular ultrasounds and to consider abortion if brain damage turns up.

And damage is turning up.

In an office at the University of Puerto Rico Hospital, the gentle curves of the graph on Dr. Alberto De la Vega’s computer screen trace a horror story. They are the head circumferences of dozens of fetuses whose mothers have been infected with the Zika virus for at least a month ...

[...] “What worries me is not 100 kids with microcephaly,” said Dr. De la Vega, chief of ultrasound diagnosis at the university. “What worries me is a lot of kids affected in some way we cannot determine yet.”
“We may be facing a generation with learning and behavioral disabilities,” he said.

On the scan of a patient who had fled his office fighting back tears, he pointed out three large white spots — clumps of dead cells.

[...] Cases of Zika infection are expected to keep rising through October, and by year’s end, a quarter of the island’s population of 3.5 million will have been exposed...

[...] So, as a last resort, the C.D.C. on July 6 endorsed aerial spraying to eliminate mosquitoes with an insecticide called naled.

[...] Puerto Rico rebelled. Protest marches drew hundreds wearing gas masks and carrying bee puppets. Top radio personalities, already angry over Congress imposing a control board to run the territory’s finances, accused federal officials of “colonialism” and reminded listeners that the military tested Agent Orange on Puerto Rico’s jungles before deploying it in Vietnam.

Medical groups joined the opposition, including the largest, the Puerto Rican College of Physicians and Surgeons ...

[...] On July 21, a local TV station revealed that the C.D.C. had quietly imported naled. The next day, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla accused the agency of “blackmail” and emphatically killed the idea. The agency apologized, saying it was only trying to be prepared. But it was too late. [...] <<


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