Zika has been in the news for the last several months. A new outbreak of 5 cases in Miami Beach this week has caused many new concerns. The CDC in Atlanta has recommended that pregnant women not travel to Miami Beach (which has a yearly tourist economy estimated at $24 BILLION). Even so, the odds of contracting the virus while visiting Florida are very low.
Everything in life involves risk, including the act of traveling to cities and countries where Zika has been found. It helps to keep things in perspective. Although Zika is currently in the news, you have to consider the risks of travel, and the odds of being adversely affected by other things such as crime, gastro-intestinal illnesses, etc.
So—should you consider canceling your trip to Cuba because of Zika fears? Let’s look at the numbers: As of a week ago, Cuba (with a population of about 11 million) has confirmed exactly 3 people who were infected by local mosquitoes. The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico (with a third of the population) recorded over 8700 confirmed similar cases during the same period. (Oh–by the way–last month the U.S. Senate failed to pass a Zika funding bill before leaving for a 7-week vacation. Republicans and Democrats are both at fault, but for different reasons.)
These numbers speak for themselves. What’s the difference? Cuba had rapid-resonse teams on stand-by to tackle such problems, and military units were mobilized. Puerto Rico will have to wait for the U.S. Senate to reconvene after a seven-week vacation to eventually vote to fund the War against Zika. Now that Zika cases in the Miami area are rapidly increasing, perhaps something will be done.
My biggest immediate concern is for the people of Louisiana. Thousands of square miles have flooded. As the water slowly recedes, millions of new ponds and puddles will be created, in the suburbs and in remote areas. These will provide perfect breeding areas for Zika-carrying mosquitoes. There is a strong possibility for further wide-spread disaster, in addition to the massive flooding. Thank you, Senators—we hope you enjoyed your vacations.
For more information about how Cuba fought the Zika virus, click on the Scientific American article link below: