ISSUE ADVISORY - Infectious Disease Outbreaks: How Should We Keep Our Communities Safe? (Downloadable PDF)
Hundreds of Americans traveling in South and Central America have recently become infected by the Zika virus currently prevalent in many of those countries and spreading rapidly in others.
Adding to this worry, the Aedes aegypti mosquitos that carry this frightening disease are widespread in the southern and central United States, and are extremely difficult to control.
It is not the first time we have been threatened by “emerging viruses” that have swept across the globe in recent decades, and it will not be the last. Few will forget the looming threat of the Ebola virus in 2014. Zika, once again, raises the concern among many Americans about how to respond to international outbreaks of potentially deadly diseases for which vaccines are not yet available.
Compared to the United States, many hotspots for emerging viruses have limited public-health infra- structures and often lack modern sanitation systems. But despite our relative strength in these areas, waves of viruses in recent years have left people wondering how we can keep our communities safe from a global pandemic.
This issue advisory presents three options that represent different ways of responding to this concern, along with downsides for each approach.