Is the United States Prepared for a Major Zika Virus Outbreak?

Journal of the American Medical Association, 2016, doi:10.1001/jama.2016.4919

Posted: 21 Apr 2016

See all articles by Lawrence O. Gostin

Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

James G. Hodge

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Date Written: April 13, 2016

Abstract

Zika virus has emerged as a global public health crisis with active transmission in the Americas and Caribbean. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and recently WHO reported there is a scientific consensus that Zika is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). In the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its emergency operations center at its highest capacity. President Obama requested $1.86 billion in emergency funding. Shamefully, Congress has yet to appropriate the funding needed for Zika preparedness, and the President has had to reallocate Ebola funding for Zika prevention.

Although none of the continental states has reported local mosquito-borne transmission to date, federal authorities are amplifying the potential for Zika to affect national security. The virus already severely threatens Puerto Rico. Travelers visiting or returning to the U.S. could escalate the spread of Zika via sexual transmission. The virus may spread across a majority of states including large cities where Aedes species mosquitos are active. Is the U.S. prepared for Zika? America's highly functioning health system will help, but signs of unpreparedness remain due to insufficient resources and variable legal authorities.

Keywords: Zika virus, preparedness, legal, public health, ethics

Suggested Citation

Gostin, Lawrence O. and Hodge, James G., Is the United States Prepared for a Major Zika Virus Outbreak? (April 13, 2016). Journal of the American Medical Association, 2016, doi:10.1001/jama.2016.4919 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2764361

Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9038 (Phone)
202-662-9055 (Fax)

James G. Hodge (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
111 E. Taylor Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4467
United States
480-727-8576 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://law.asu.edu/degree-programs/public-health-law-policy

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