WALL STREET JOURNAL — WASHINGTON–Mosquitoes carrying the dangerous Zikavirus are expected to begin infecting Americans within the U.S. in the next “month or so,” the government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday, as officials race to prevent a widespread outbreak of the virus that is believed linked to birth defects.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC that more than 500 Americans already have the Zikavirus. But he said all those cases are travel-related, meaning the individuals were either infected while outside the U.S. or contracted it from someone who traveled.
And there are “several hundred” cases that he described as “locally transmitted” in American territories in the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico.
But the landscape will change soon, Dr. Fauci said, as infected mosquitoes enter the U.S. mainland.
“The concern is that we will have local transmission,” he said. “In other words, people who get infected in the United States, get bitten by a mosquito, but who have never left the continental United States.”
The two primary species of mosquito believed likely to carry Zika in the U.S. are estimated to have a wide reach. Experts believe one will blanket the southern U.S. and reach as far north as San Francisco and New York City. Another species could spread widely along the East Coast and into New England.
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