Im­mu­nity slows Zika’s spread in Florida

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

MI­AMI — The wan­ing of Zika out­breaks in the Caribbean and South Amer­ica has helped slow the spread of the mos­quito-borne virus in Florida this year, ac­cord­ing to health of­fi­cials.

Herd im­mu­nity, when enough peo­ple in an area are in­fected with a virus and de­velop re­sis­tance to it, likely has con­trib­uted to Zika’s de­cline out­side the con­ti­nen­tal United States, Dr. Henry Walke, the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion’s in­ci­dent man­ager for Zika re­sponse, was quoted as say­ing in the Mi­ami Her­ald.

“Peo­ple that were in­fected be­fore can’t be in­fected again. That’s our un­der­stand­ing,” Walke said. “So you don’t have as much of the virus cir­cu­lat­ing. That’s true not only in Puerto Rico but through­out the Caribbean and through­out South Amer­ica.”

How­ever, ex­perts warn that herd im­mu­nity else­where won’t stop the virus from re-emerg­ing in the U.S. That has hap­pened in Florida with other mos­quito-borne viruses in re­cent years.

By the end of 2016, state health of­fi­cials had con­firmed 1,456 Zika in­fec­tions in Florida, in­clud­ing 285 cases spread by mos­qui­toes in Mi­ami and Mi­ami Beach. The in­fec­tions caused the CDC to is­sue an un­prece­dented do­mes­tic travel ad­vi­sory warn­ing preg­nant women to avoid Mi­ami-Dade County be­cause the virus can cause se­vere birth de­fects.

There is no vac­cine or treat­ment for the virus, which can also spread through sex­ual con­tact.

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