Monday, August 01, 2016

SOUTH FLORIDA - The Zika Scare

"What you need to know about South Florida Zika scare" PBS NewsHour 7/28/2016


SUMMARY:  The Food and Drug Administration asked two South Florida counties — Miami-Dade and Broward — to immediately halt blood donations as what looks like four cases of locally transmitted, mosquito-borne Zika virus are investigated.  Hari Sreenivasan talks with Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health, about the virus, which can cause birth defects.  Fauci says the FDA is taking “prudent steps.”

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The U.S.  Food and Drug Administration today asked blood centers in two in Florida counties to suspend blood donations until each unit can be screened for the Zika virus.

This comes as state health officials investigate four non-travel-related cases of Zika, which may mean the first cases of local Zika virus transmission by mosquitoes in the United States.

For an update on all this, I spoke earlier this evening with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

I'm joined now by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH.

Thanks for joining us.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, National Institutes of Health:  Good to be with you.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  All right, first of all, this change in status almost, what does this warning in Florida mean?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:  Well, the warning from the FDA is saying that in the regions in Miami-Dade and Broward County where you have what looks like local transmission of cases, namely, cases that are not travel-related, don't appear to be sexually transmitted, and very likely mosquito-transmitted locally, mainly because those people never left the continental United States, so they didn't get infected elsewhere, given that, what the FDA is doing is, they're saying there may be more cases out there.

So, in order to protect the blood supply and to be very safe and to keep it safe, they are suspending the collection of blood from those two areas until they can implement either testing of the units as they are donated or decontaminating of any potential units that might be potentially contaminated.

So, they want to be quite safe about it and very prudent, so that we don't get contamination of the blood supply.  That's what their particular order is regarding collection of bloods.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Now, halting the collection of blood, that is a pretty extreme step.  That has got to affect local hospitals that use it, other places that use blood.

Is there some evidence that you would base a significant move like this on, an idea that there are local mosquitoes there that would be carrying Zika?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI:  Well, there's no doubt that the mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting Zika are in that area.

This is the Aedes aegypti mosquito that's extensively seen along the Gulf Coast, the Gulf Coast states, and up across in part of the East Coast and a little bit out towards the West, but certainly along the Gulf Coastal states.

We know that we have now more than 1,600 travel-related cases, which is the reason why one would have predicted that, sooner or later, you're going to see some local transmission.  And the local transmission that we're seeing now is the kind of thing that makes one want to make sure we do what we can to prevent that local transmission from becoming sustained and from becoming disseminated.

And the answer to that is by very aggressive mosquito control.

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