Zika Virus Epidemic: 50 U.S. Cities At Risk For Large Zika Outbreak This Summer

Zika Virus first spread across the Carribean and Latin America and has since made its way to the United States. Now that the virus has arrived, there are 50 U.S. cities, believed to be at greater risk for outbreaks. Surprisingly, this projected epidemic is not for a single region, but instead, will stretch throughout the entire country, with the exception of the Northwest and Midwest. So which cities are in trouble?

The virus is expected to infect the hottest regions first, specifically, Texas, California, and Arizona. As the United States nears summertime, most states are at risk. Making the list of 50 U.S. cities that will see the most of the Zika Virus epidemic are as follows: In California; Sacremento, San Diego, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Los Angeles will come face to face with the Zika Virus epidemic. In Arizona, cities like Yuma, Phoenix, and Tuscon will be among the first to experience the Zika Virus epidemic. The 50 at risk cities includes all of the major cities in Texas and Florida, as well as big cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC on the east coast.

The virus outbreak is turning out much differently than the United States first expected. In a March study of the Zika Virus outbreak, researchers revealed that the virus first inspired a travel warning but now, the United States may be a travel warning to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

“As of 22 February 2016, all cases of ZIKAV reported in the contiguous United States were associated with travel or sexual transmission. Given the potential link between exposure to ZIKAV during pregnancy and microcephaly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended pregnant women consider postponing non-essential travel and urges all travelers to take enhanced precautions in areas where ZIKAV is circulating. The risk for local transmission of ZIKAV has been discussed widely in the media and scientific and public health communities. Sporadic outbreaks of DENV and CHIKV have already occurred in the United States and there is concern that local outbreaks of ZIKAV could follow.”

Zika virus may lead to microcephaly in infants. [Image via Mario Tama/Getty Images]

With summertime just around corner, it’s a wonder how long it will take for science to catch up to the virus. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has begun significant research, which may help decrease the spread of Zika Virus this summer, depending on how soon the organization can complete its studies. Here’s what WHO is looking into.

The organization is studying two experimental ways to stunt the development of the Zika Virus within the mosquitoes that carry it. Another tactic is to prevent the mosquitoes from hatching more eggs, causing them to die off, thus, getting rid of the Zika Virus epidemic. Unfortunately, based on recent statements about how Zika Virus is spread, killing off the Aedes mosquitoes won’t kill the virus for good. According to National Geographic, Zika Virus is “spreading explosively,” and because it’s now sexually transmitted, humans may continue to pass along the virus long after the Aedes mosquitoes are extinct. So instead of waiting for the science, some local governments in the United States are taking matters into their own hands.

A lab technician tests Aedes mosquitoes for Zika Virus [Image via Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg/ Getty Images]

In states like South Carolina, where the epidemic is suspected to reach, counties have begun to prepare for the Zika Virus similar to the way they prepared for the West Nile. According to spokesman Jim Beasley of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC’s preparation involved partnering with the federal government to ensure the safety of its residents.

“Our public health and environmental officials work together to help identify and track the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. This effort includes partnering with the CDC to ensure mosquito populations are tested for viruses.”

Throughout the United States, especially in warm climate areas, local governments are gearing up to fight the Zika Virus.

[Feature image via Brazil Photo Press/CON/Getty Images]