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Opinion Pieces Discuss Zika Virus, Response Efforts

The Guardian: The Zika virus is a public health emergency. Here’s what we must do now
Celine Gounder, internist, infectious diseases and public health specialist, and medical journalist

“…If there’s anything we’ve learned from the last three global public health emergencies — polio, H1N1, and Ebola — it’s that hi-tech solutions like new vaccines aren’t fast enough to stop an epidemic. Yes, we must invest in research with a view to the future. But so long as poverty, population growth, and climate change fuel the emergence of new infectious diseases, we will be playing catch up with our hi-tech solutions. We need to address these diseases at the source” (2/1).

Financial Times: Zika virus shows that fear is more contagious than any infection
Peter Sands, senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and chair of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine’s Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future

“…In a media-saturated world, fear is much more contagious than any infection. Fear of infection drives people to change behavior, cancelling holidays and business trips or avoiding imported products. It is this behavioral change rather than the disease itself that determines the scale of the economic effect. … [E]ffective communication of the risks and potential mitigants should be central components of any response. … While containing the spread of Zika is the immediate priority, we also need to break the pattern of responding to each pandemic as it occurs. A more robust framework for protecting humanity from such threats is required. That will involve strengthening public health systems at the national level and more effective global responses led by the WHO…” (2/1).

The Lancet: Zika virus outbreak in the Americas: the need for novel mosquito control methods
Laith Yakobemail, lecturer, and Thomas Walker, lecturer and society fellow, both in the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

“…An important benefit of these environmentally friendly, species-specific approaches [to vector control, such as genetic modification or infection with Wolbachia bacteria,] is the reduced dependence they pose for insecticides — an increasingly important feature of future disease vector control. Moreover, suppressing the mosquito population, or rendering it arbovirus-resistant, holds great potential in the simultaneous control of [Zika, dengue,] chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses. 150 countries presently have A aegypti [mosquitoes] and are vulnerable to future outbreaks with all of these viruses. The costs of implementing these novel technologies in Brazil and across the tropics must be considered in the context of the multifaceted benefits they pose in controlling several emerging infectious diseases” (2/1).

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