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.

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