Friday, July 28, 2017

Zika is Now Local in Texas: So What?




A story in the NYT today is interesting if you're following the public's understanding of Zika.
First the headline - 

Case of Zika Virus, Likely Spread by Mosquito, Is Reported in Texas


I can just hear someone saying :
"But what's the big deal?  We already know mosquitos spread Zika"

But it's the central message of the story that got me thinking. 
 It reads: 

Given the publics' understanding of medical/epi terms I'm certain the significance of this "local" transmission is either confusing or simply skipped over by the reader. 

Why?  
The word "local" in this case signifies that this person in Texas didn't get infected elsewhere (outside of Texas/US) and then come home sick.  Rather, and very importantly,  the person got infected in Texas. Therefore there is a mosquito flying around Texas with the Zika virus. 
It would be so helpful (and quite simple)  if the media could explain this early and often. 

Reminds me of the ubiquitous use of "storm surge" in media weather reports and alerts before Hurricane Sandy in NYC.  Us city slickers don't necessarily know that storm surge is a dangerous, potentially catastrophic wall of water they're telling us about.