The nation’s top health official is warning that homegrown Zika may be impossible to eradicate in the U.S., a news report says.
Zika and other diseases spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito “are really not controllable with current technologies,” says Dr. Tom Friedan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The “plain truth,” about the disease was that it is likely to become “endemic,” meaning impossible to completely eradicate, Friedan told a gathering on Tuesday in Miami, according to a report in NPR.
The Aedes Aegypti mosquito also spreads dengue fever and chikungunya, two other diseases that have been reported in the U.S.
Health officials in Miami have been struggling for months to eradicate local mosquitoes that are spreading the virus, but so far they have only been successful in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, the first Zika zone designated in Miami-Dade County.
Homegrown Zika virus transmission is still spreading in a 4.5-square-mile portion of Miami Beach and, most recently, a one-square-mile area of Miami known as the Little River neighborhood, the county’s latest Zika hot spot.
The CDC’s frustration stems from the intensive mosquito eradication efforts in Miami Beach that have failed to stop local transmission of the virus.
The operation has included the controversial aerial spraying of Naled, a highly toxic insecticide, as well as ongoing ground use of less toxic agents that target both adult mosquitos and larvae, along with door-to-door inspections to stamp out breeding grounds.
As a result, the CDC last week upgraded its Zika-related health advisory for Florida, nothing that it now believes there’s a risk of local transmission in all of Miami-Dade County.
The agency is advising pregnant women (as well as those who wish to become pregnant and their partners) to avoid areas in the county where local transmission is taking place and to consider postponing travel to all parts of the county.
Pregnant women are considered most at risk for Zika, because it has been linked to microcephaly, which causes brain damage and other birth defects.
What makes Zika so hard to control is the mosquito that carries it, the article says.
After many centuries of living in proximity to people, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have adapted. They hide in closets and under tables and in foliage — places where spraying often doesn’t reach, the article adds.