Zika has only just now hit American shores in a legitimate sense. Last week’s 3 Stories in 15 Minutes episode detailed how the first US based infections have arrived in Miami this month. This follows the US Congress failing to come to an agreement to extend federal funding for defense against zika. Another report suggests that the US military may be facing their own threat from zika with as many as 30 service members based abroad already confirmed infected. Zika can be transmitted sexually. And of course it can be transmitted directly from the mosquito that is carrying the disease. zika crisis puerto rico
South of the continental borders though the threat has already reached new stages. This article from the New York Times informs how Puerto Rico zika cases are skyrocketing. While fourteen residents of Florida have been infected with home grown zika, in Puerto Rico that number is in the thousands. In the last couple of weeks, 2% of blood donors there have been found positive for zika. Pregnant women testing positive for the virus have risen seven fold. While a wave of microcephaly is expected in the coming months as many infected pregnant mothers give birth, many other women have stopped having babies. A rise in abortions due to zika and an overall avoidance of pregnancy due to the same threat have resulted for the first time in Puerto Rico having more deaths than births this year. By the end of the year a quarter of the island’s population will have been exposed to zika.
But in the face of all of this another trend is also rising. In spite of the constant warnings and actions of the government, many in Puerto Rico believe the threat is exaggerated. Gridlock and dysfunction in the government has led to cabinet members and public health authorities resigning in protest. Similar to what I wrote about in The Broken Trust, in the face of terrible threats and crisis, people are not trusting their leaders and government to be either honest or competent to address these issues. This leads to either a further skyrocketing of the virus’s impact or these people being proven right in their cynicism.
Society is thus potentially impacted from two sides. The deadly virus is growing in its spread and impact while the authority and ability of the people assigned to protect the public welfare is diminishing. This has the makings of a great disaster looming in our fast approaching future.
zika crisis puerto rico