Zika crisis – more serious than previously thought

The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) has recently established a clear link between the Zika virus and microcephaly

The new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine warns about the disastrous effects that the virus can have over normal development of the brain. “Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” commented Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy director at CDC.

30 US states are affected by this threat. So far, officials have registered 700 Zika cases, including 69 pregnant women. Apart from causing abnormal brain sizes in children, the virus carrier, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is also responsible for dengue fever, chikungunya and West Nile virus. Besides affecting newborns, the virus was observed to cause severe neurological disorders in adults.

Due to the outstanding number of infections, Zika is considered to be a global threat to public health. Brazil only reported so far 1.113 cases of microcephaly, as The World Health Organization forecasts 3-4 million new future infections in Latin America.

Nevertheless, despite the public health threat, poverty and social inequality of the affected communities, the US Congress did not approve a request for $2 billion to manage the Zika crisis. Cities like Puerto Rico, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans and Houston are considered to be extremely exposed to the Zika threat, especially when it comes to socially disadvantaged classes. If the US government continues to be indifferent, the virus spread can have terrible consequences over the above-mentioned social infrastructures.

“This could be a catastrophe to rival Hurricane Katrina or other recent miseries that disproportionately affect the poor,” Peter Hotez, head of the Baylor College of Medicine National School of Tropical Medicine, declared for the New York Times.

To address the devastating epidemics, governments all over the world need to coordinate their efforts and find resources to create vaccines, as well as eradicate poverty and social oppression. The capitalist system needs to focus on health care, as the confronting of the Zika outbreak can also be seen as a political strategy to meet the immediate and most important social needs.