Zika Virus Update

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 

The escalating Zika situation in the Americas has prompted a fair amount of work this week. This is a quick note to draw your attention to my publications and media on Zika. As always, if you use Twitter, you can follow a timely flow of Zika information @Laurie_Garrett.

Zika Virus Likely to Spread to Most of Western Hemisphere,” interview on NPR’s To the Point, January 25, 2016

The Zika Virus Could Take a Huge Toll in the Americas,” Huffington Post, January 27, 2016

Zika Virus Is ‘Spreading Explosively’ Says the WHO,” interview on NPR’s To the Point, January 28, 2016

The Zika Virus Isn’t Just an Epidemic. It’s Here to Stay,” Foreign Policy, January 28, 2016

It is reasonable to assume that media attention on Zika will intensify as winter yields to spring in the United States and mosquitoes carrying the virus are discovered here. We hope that many of the uncertainties about Zika biology will be sorted out by then, and diagnosis improved, so as to minimize hysteria in the United States.

It would be dreadful if Zika, abortion law, and the U.S. presidential election became intertwined. A similar discussion occurred during the primary elections of 2014, when a debate raged over travel restrictions on individuals from Ebola-hit nations. During the 2011 presidential primary campaign, candidate Michelle Bachman famously insisted that HPV vaccines caused mental retardation. And in 2009, some voters were dissuaded from going to the polls by fear of contracting H1N1 influenza. 

None of this is helpful, from a public health perspective, though it may be politically predictable. All I can say to readers outside the United States is, “Sorry, but so it goes.”


Laurie Garrett
Senior Fellow for Global Health
Council on Foreign Relations

Link to archive HERE