Zika virus: As summer approaches, authorities work to prepare, counter misinformation

Public health officials continue to work to stem the spread of both the Zika virus and potentially dangerous misinformation about it, and they can learn numerous lessons about containing the outbreak from the 2014 Ebola response.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called for a summit on the virus this week at the White House to make sure all public health officials are prepared for an outbreak, according to Marketplace. "The core of the public health response is to prevent, detect and respond," said Anthony Fauci, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health. As mosquito season approaches, federal officials will likely coordinate containment plans to safeguard against the virus' continued spread, according to the article.

This week, the CDC updated its guidance on Zika to reflect the latest research suggesting a strong link between the virus and microcephaly. The new guidance recommends women diagnosed with the virus or manifesting symptoms such as fever, rash or joint pain to wait at least eight weeks to get pregnant, and for men with symptoms or a diagnosis to forgo unprotected sex for at least six months.

Meanwhile, much like the Ebola panic before it, the spread of misinformation about Zika remains a problem, according to USA Today. While nearly 90 percent of Americans know mosquitoes can spread the virus, about 1 in 3 erroneously believe it can be transmitted via coughing or sneezing, according to a survey of 1,275 adults.

"These misperceptions about Zika virus transmission could lead people to take unnecessary or inappropriate precautions, as we have seen in other kinds of outbreaks," Gillian SteelFisher, director of the poll and a research scientist in the department of health policy and management at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the publication.

In Texas, the site of the first confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S., health professionals this week discussed other lessons from the 2014 case that are applicable to Zika prevention efforts, according to Everything Lubbock. The Lone Star State was overly reactive in supporting local prevention efforts in 2014, waiting until October, when multiple cases had been confirmed, to provide additional funding for public health conferences, said Katherine Wells, director of public health for the City of Lubbock. Georgia officials are striving to be similarly proactive, according to 11Alive, Atlanta's NBC affiliate, particularly after the city was named the nation's top city for mosquitoes.

To learn more:
- here's the Marketplace article
- read the USA Today article
- check out the CDC update
- here's the Everything Lubbock article
- read the 11Alive article

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