Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Taiwan CDC: Imported Zika Case With Travel History To Miami

Credit CDC


Coming on the heels of a report two days ago  (see NBC News Zika Spreads From Florida to Texas) of a Texas man who returned from Miami with the Zika virus, we have a statement from Taiwan's CDC on a Taiwanese traveler who was diagnosed with Zika after returning from a trip to Miami.

Taiwan confirms sixth imported Zika case in Taiwanese traveler who visited Miami, Florida

On August 17, 2016, the Central Epidemic Command Center for Zika Virus (CECC for Zika Virus) announced the sixth imported Zika case identified in Taiwan. The case is a 44-year-old female who resides in New Taipei City and visited Miami, Florida, US during July 31 and August 11, 2016 for business. After she returned to Taiwan, she sought medical attention after developing rash on her legs and abdomen. Infection with Zika virus was confirmed in the case by the Taiwan for Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) laboratory.

The case is not pregnant and all her symptoms have subsided. She is currently in good health. The case has been asked to stay home, prevent mosquito bites, and isolate herself till August 23 and follow the “2226 Principle” to prevent further spread of the virus. None of the other two colleagues who went on the business trip with her to Miami and her family members who reside in the same household have developed symptoms. The local health authority has promptly implemented various prevention measures, including cleaning of vector breeding sites, investigating the mosquito population density around the case’s residence, and providing the case’s family members with relevant health education.

According to the epidemiological investigation, after the case returned to Taiwan on August 12, she developed sore in her distal phalanges on her right hand. On the following day, she sought medical attention after developing rash. During the incubation period, the case was in the U.S. and visited Broward and Miami-Dade counties, Florida, both of which Taiwan CDC has issued a travel notice of Level 2: Alert for Zika virus for. Hence, it is determined that the case contracted Zika virus in the U.S. As of August 15, 2016, a cumulative total of 30 non-travel related Zika cases have been confirmed in Florida, U.S. and Texas has reported one Zika case who traveled to Miami. 

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While I suspect there will be a good deal of hue and cry and gnashing of teeth over this latest revelation, it isn't at all surprising.

This is how Zika spreads; via viremic travelers.   And while mosquitoes may spread it locally, it is primarily through international air travel that viruses like Zika jump continents.

This is undoubtedly how Dengue arrived in Key West in 2009, how Chikungunya invaded the Caribbean in late 2013, how Zika jumped to the Americas in 2014, and how it ended up in Miami this summer. 

The reality of life in this second decade of the 21st century is that disease threats that once were local, can now spread globally in a matter of hours or days.  Vast oceans and prolonged travel times no longer protect us against infected travelers crossing borders. 

And despite the media hype over airport screening, we have no technology that can realistically, or reliably detect most infected individuals and prevent them from entering a country (see  Head ‘Em Off At The Passenger Gate?).

It is for this reason that the Yellow Fever epidemic in Angola, or Ebola in Western Africa, or MERS in the Middle East, and avian flu in China are all viewed as greater threats global today than ever before.  

But don't just take my word for it.  Take some time to peruse the  CDC’s  GLOBAL HEALTH WebsiteYou'll find a small excerpt below:

Why Global Health Security Matters

Disease Threats Can Spread Faster and More Unpredictably Than Ever Before

People are traveling more. Food and medical product supply chains stretch across the globe. Biological threats (such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV) and drug-resistant illnesses pose a growing danger to people everywhere, whether diseases are naturally occurring, intentionally produced, or the result of a laboratory accident. In today’s interconnected world, poorly treated cases of TB or pneumonia in Asia and Africa have shown up in U.S. hospitals within days.
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