The majority of us spent last August fangirling over everything Rio 2016 Olympics. We mean — Simone Biles, need we say more? But one major worry heading into the games was the outbreak of Zika in South and Central America and what it means for pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant women across the globe, other than delaying Caribbean vacations. Then, Zika hit Florida, sending some in the US scrambling to prepare for a potential outbreak.
Now, information from a new study is showing that the odds of a widespread outbreak of Zika or really any other mosquito-borne disease probably won’t happen in the US. According to the research, recently published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, the climate conditions in the US are pretty good for mosquitos, but other factors, like access to clean water and air conditioning, make large-scale outbreaks unlikely.
After evaluating existing studies, researchers actually argued that factors that lead to low socioeconomic status like lack of AC, screened windows or plentiful household water storage, which are all more common in underdeveloped countries like the ones being hit hard by Zika than in the US, are actually what leads to an outbreak, rather than temperature and climate.
“It seems clear that the main factors keeping outbreaks of these diseases from occurring today are socioeconomic, such as lifestyle, housing infrastructure and good sanitation. While such conditions are maintained, it seems unlikely that large scale local transmission will occur, especially in northern states,” writes Max J. Moreno-Madriñán of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and independent research entomologist Michael Turell.
Sounds like great news, yeah? Well it is, but (there’s always a “but,” isn’t there?) isolated outbreaks in certain parts of the country remain a concern. The southern states, which get that long warm season, have pockets of lower socioeconomic conditions and more travel between other countries where Zika is present, contributing to the risk of an isolated, localized outbreak.
Researchers argue that these findings strengthen the case for supporting developing countries’ access to clean water and investment in infrastructure and disaster planning.
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(Photo via Getty)