The sad human toll of Zika

There was a brief flurry of media coverage regarding Zika after the discovery that it was spreading within Florida last month. Over the last couple of weeks, however, it seems to have receded from the headlines. Some recent coverage, however, really provide a sense of the human toll of Zika. Reveal is a new podcast from the Center for Investigative Reporting, which provides long-form coverage based on work in the field. Their report, “From A to Zika”┬ádocuments how people in Puerto Rico are experiencing the virus, and attitudes towards the outbreak in South Florida. It also describes the scale of the challenge that officials face fighting the virus during a deep financial crisis in Puerto Rico.

I also want to recommend Nick Brown’s article in Fortune, “What It’s Like to Have the Zika Virus.” This well-written piece of first-person reporting foreshadows, I fear, the experience of thousands of other Americans in coming months. Similarly, the CBC article “Zika virus in Florida: ‘No one can give you a straight answer,’ says pregnant Canadian”, captures the experience of pregnant women is South Florida, as they struggle with the lack of medical knowledge to inform their decisions.

Finally, I recommend Michaeleen Doucleff’s article “Does Asia Have A Secret Weapon Against Zika?” on NPR. This report highlights the uncertainty that exists regarding the epidemic’s future. Does previous exposure to the virus in Asia generate antibodies that will be effective against the currently dominant strain? Or has the virus evolved sufficiently that there will be a new outbreak in Asia and other continents? At this point, we don’t know the answer to this question.

Shawn Smallman, 2016

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