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Applying to Zika the Forgotten Lessons of Ebola

Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
 

(The Wall Street Journal) – With the Rio Olympics six months away, Brazil is battling an outbreak of Zika virus that has infected an estimated 1.5 million people. The infection is linked to microcephaly, a congenital condition in which babies are typically born with underdeveloped brains. The World Health Organization has declared the Zika outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern,” and Brazil’s president has called for a nationwide “mega-operation” on Feb. 13 to destroy the breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the virus.

The fear of a world-wide explosion in Zika infections carried by Olympic attendees who return from Brazil with the virus has all the makings of a Hollywood disaster movie. The 2014 Ebola pandemic stemming from an outbreak in West Africa showed how unprepared the world was for biological threats. The swift spread of the Zika virus—which seems to have arrived in Brazil from French Polynesia and has now been identified in Europe, Asia and all of the Americas—underscores how exposed we remain.

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