CDC's Director Visiting Puerto Rico to Assess Zika Response

Public health experts fear the outbreak could result in hundreds of thousands of infected people in Puerto Rico during 2016 based on past experience with dengue and chikungunya, which are transmitted by the same mosquitoes.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will visit Puerto Rico during March 7-9 to assess in person CDC's support for the Zika response there. As of March 3, 103 cases of Zika virus infection in Puerto Rico residents had been reported to ArboNET, a surveillance system managed by CDC and state health departments, and public health experts fear the outbreak could result in hundreds of thousands of infected people in Puerto Rico during 2016 based on past experience with dengue and chikungunya, which are transmitted by the same mosquitoes, according to CDC.

There is increasing evidence that Zika virus infections in pregnant women cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect.

CDC is collaborating with the Puerto Rico Department of Health on the public health response to the outbreak. Frieden, M.D., MPH, is traveling to the island to emphasize the need for preparedness and prevention to reduce the public health impact, and he will meet with key public health officials and local leaders to assess how CDC and other U.S. government agencies can best support Puerto Rico's response to the outbreak. Frieden also will meet with CDC staff on the island and visit CDC's dengue lab, where Zika testing is under way, and will tour the Emergency Operations Center at the Puerto Rico Department of Health in San Juan.

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