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Major Zika Outbreak Considered Unlikely in the United States

Higher standard of living reduces odds the virus-carrying mosquitoes will thrive

microscopic view of zika virus

TUESDAY, Jan. 3, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The Zika virus is not likely to gain a foothold in the United States as it did in Brazil and other Latin American countries, according to a report published in the Jan. 3 issue of the Journal of Medical Entomology.

The prevalence of mosquito-transmitted diseases like Zika in developing countries today "is very likely not only due to the suitable climatic conditions in the geographical areas that these countries occupy but also, and probably most importantly, to the low socioeconomic conditions and associated cultural practices prevalent in such countries," lead author Max Moreno-Madrinan, Ph.D., an assistant professor with the Indiana University-Purdue University Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis, told HealthDay.

Moreno-Madrinan and coauthor Michael Turell, Ph.D., an independent research entomologist based in Frederick, Md., came to this conclusion by examining past outbreaks of three other mosquito-borne diseases -- yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya -- throughout the Americas. "Increased standard of living has played a major role in eliminating these viruses," Turell told HealthDay.

However, small-scale localized outbreaks remain an ongoing concern in the United States, particularly in the southern states, the authors said. Those states feature a longer warm season and pockets of poverty, which make mosquito exposure more likely. There's also more travel between the southern states and countries where Zika is present, which increases the likelihood "of importing the viruses from those countries into local populations of mosquitoes," Moreno-Madrinan said.

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