The Atlantic got an exclusive interview with the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, about the current status of our fight against the Zika virus, which he is in charge of eradicating, and his outlook wasn’t incredibly bright. In answer to the question of whether he thought we have the virus under control he answered, “Here’s the plain truth. Zika, and other diseases spread by Aedes aegypti, are really not controllable with current technologies. So we will see this become endemic in the hemisphere.” Pretty heavy stuff, huh?
Don’t panic because of this doomsday prophecy just yet, though. He’s not saying that we’re completely doomed to be wiped out by the Zika virus. He’s simply saying that our current technology that we’re using to fight against it is simply not good enough. Basically, unless we develop some better way to fight the mosquito, pockets of the Zika virus will pop up around the country until there is either a vaccine developed or we completely eradicate the Aedes eagypti mosquito from our country. The current method used to fight the virus is aerial spraying for mosquitos. This method works to eradicate the virus in one area where it has sprung up, after local transmission has been detected. However, this method will not prevent more transmission pockets from popping up, and so we will be playing an endless game of “whack-a-mosquito” until better pest control technology is developed. We are going to be experiencing the negative effects of the Zika virus such as birth defects and disrupting our travel and personal lives for years to come. Not the best news.
Dr. Frieden is a fan of wiping out the Aedes aegypti mosquito species for good. He sited the fact that they are an invasive species that spread some of the worst diseases in the world, killing millions of people every year, and that they really just need to be completely wiped off the face of this earth. While this may hurt their predators a slight bit, there are still plenty of other species of mosquitos to take their place in the food chain. He also said that he expects us to see the cases die down in the country as winter approaches, but that it will simply pop up again once the weather warms up, and there will likely be some cases even during the colder months. Dr. Frieden says that currently our best defense against the virus is prevention through wearing insect repellent and getting rid of all standing water around our homes.
Do you think Dr. Frieden’s prediction is correct? Will cases of the Zika virus continue to pop up until we develop better pest control technology?