Friday, August 12, 2016

Miami Zika Map Tells Partial Story

Readers are drawn to dynamic        (moving) pictures. So the dynamic map on the Miami Herald site caught my eye.  

Problem - it's hard to work with. It took me a while to figure out that I could pause the timeline. But the real challenge comes when you have to "guess" how the size of the circle translates into actual number of new Zika cases. You can't hover over the circle to get a count. 

In sum the map clearly shows that Zika is spread - and in what Fla counties. But that's about it.

To learn more about using health literacy best practices in your public health messages visit

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Puerto Rico bans pesticide Naled - Miami sprays.

I'm not a toxicologist, and I don't have time to become one this week.
But I am following the Zika outbreak and I'm trying to make informed choices.

If I were living in Miami ( or not)  I know I'd be very focused on Zika.
But I'd also be worried about what I don't know about the pesticide Naled.

Puerto Rican officials, health and environmental experts, farmers....voiced their opposition to using Naled.

As early as Spring 2016 residents of San Juan and other areas of Puerto Rico were actively protesting Naled's use.  (Photo taken by Raul Colón)

And Puerto Ricans with the help of petitioned against its use.

Just last week CDC dropped its efforts to spray with Naled in PR.

This week the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami was sprayed...using Naled.

What have I missed here?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Why did the Zika mosquito cross the road?

You wake up this morning and you hear that there is a travel warning from the federal gov’t (CDC specifically) warning pregnant women “should not travel to this area.”

Here’s just some of what you’re likely to hear from average folks today:

Look at that.  I wonder why the mosquitos picked that neighborhood?

They must have something in that neighborhood that those mosquitos really like.  They better find out what it is.

These must be very smart mosquitos.

Maybe they leave a lot of garbage out there and water all around. 

Those people better not have sex.

They need to stop those people from coming here!

That's the kind of travel ban we need!

More than 1,650 cases of Zika have been reported in U.S. states.  And up until this week these were the result of either traveling to a Zika infected country or having sex with someone who was infected outside the US. Local transmission is a game changer.

However over ½ of the adults in the US have low health literacy. Far, far more have a poor understanding of science.   This means that the science of insect borne transmission is not well understood by millions.

As a short animated video on the Washington Post websitethis morning states,
“A mosquito bites and infects a person and then passes along the virus.”

But this one statement can’t do the heavy lifting when it comes to clearly explaining transmission. 

If it is true, as public health officials in the US believe, that “cluster” outbreaks rather than a full scale outbreak will occur, we can anticipate more localized bans.

That’s why it’s very important for public health officials to tell a clear transmission story – early and often.