Zika cases confirmed in Prentiss County travelers

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As United States policymakers debate how to devote money and resources to the Zika virus outbreak, understanding the potential economic impact of the virus in the USA is key. A more severe outbreak could cost $1.2 billion or more, researchers found.

Gimenez told commissioners the county conducted almost 51,000 mosquito inspections after the Zika infections were confirmed.

There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika.

Credit Stu Johnson WEKU News
Credit Stu Johnson WEKU News

"Anytime there's a lot of rain, and there's really nice warm temperatures like we're having right now, you have to be on the look out for mosquitoes", said Erin Mordecai, an assistant professor of biology at Stanford. It is unclear how many people in the USA have already been infected and how many more cases will occur this summer, but the findings, they say, are further evidence that the costs of any Zika outbreak would be high. Pregnant women are advised not to travel to areas where the virus is being actively transmitted.

Lee said the estimates can help planners and policy makers understand the potential costs for spending on prevention.

Adults can also suffer from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a nervous system disorder that can lead to temporary paralysis, among other problems.

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The Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) is confirming a previously suspected case of Zika for a traveler returning from a Zika affected area.

Across the six states, they calculated that an attack rate of 0.01% would cost society $183.4 million, including both direct medical costs and lost productivity. They were able to calculate economic costs to the country under different infection rates, and determine what infection rates would be needed to reach certain cost thresholds.

These attack rates would be substantially lower than those observed in French Polynesia (66%), on Yap Island in Micronesia (73%), and in the state of Bahia in Brazil (32%), where the current Zika outbreak is believed to have originated. "But our model shows it is very likely that preventing an epidemic--or at least finding ways to slow one down--would save money, especially since epidemics like Zika have hidden costs that aren't always considered".

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"County governments use this grant funding to identify and control mosquitoes associated with West Nile and Zika virus using the safest, most effective integrated pest management practices available". Lee believes far more money may be necessary, given his estimates for medical care.

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