CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, traveled to Puerto Rico earlier this week to assess the Zika virus situation on the island and presented some information based on his firsthand account at a telebriefing on Thursday.
“The bottom line here is that Puerto Rico is on the front line of the battle against Zika and it is an uphill battle. We need urgent action to minimize the risk to pregnant women. And everyone has a role to play.
“Rainy season is around the corner and funding from Congress is urgently needed. I was both encouraged by the progress i saw and by the many actions that have been taken, but also aware of the enormous challenges that remain.
“There is nothing about Zika control that is quick or easy. In fact, the only thing quick about Zika is the mosquito bite that can give it to you and the only thing easy are wrong answers. We are learning more about Zika every single day.
“The link with microcephaly and other possibly serious birth defects is growing stronger every day. The link with Guillain-Barre syndrome is likely to be proven in the near future. The documentation that sexual transmission is possible is now proven. Never before have we had a mosquito-borne infection that could cause serious birth defects on a large scale. I’m very concerned that before the year is out there could be hundreds of thousands of Zika infections in Puerto Rico and thousands of infected pregnant women.”
Frieden said that about 100 CDC staff are on the ground in Puerto Rico working on the Zika response. The Director also noted that both PCR and IGM testing are increasingly available.
Dr. Frieden also discussed mosquito control in depth and the protection of pregnant woman prompting him to say concerning travel, “I would also like that say that Puerto Rico remains a great place to visit as long as you’re not pregnant. ”
He closed saying, “Time is of the essence. We anticipate in the coming weeks and month we will see large increases of cases in Puerto Rico.”
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