The Zika Virus epidemic continues and will impose costs into the future. The World Health Organization has moved Zika off its “Emergency” list and onto its chronic problems list. Hopes of a quick containment have been replaced by a long term strategy.
Zika can be transmitted in blood products in addition to mosquito bites. The FDA has mandated that all blood donations be screened for Zika. To date, over a half million blood donations have been screened. 36 donations tested positive in initial screening and 13 were confirmed by subsequent tests. The cost of the additional testing is about $100 million. The high cost and low infection rate have led some to question the expenditure. However, the FDA stresses the importance of testing to confidence in the blood supply.
Meanwhile in Miami, Florida, a travel advisory from the CDC is still in effect as of 11/22/16. Pregnant women are warned to avoid the area. This has detrimental effects on tourism and the local economy. Mosquito control efforts are still in operation: another added expense. Several cases of birth defects in infants born in the US have been reported. That number may rise given the number of pregnant women positive for Zika. Zika and its costs demand a reevaluation of our mosquito vectored disease control efforts now and in the future.