Zika cases in New York City continue to be on the rise, many New Yorkers find themselves in a perplexing state.

Zika cases in New York City continue to be on the rise, many New Yorkers find themselves in a perplexing state. The confusion surrounding the disease rises and is directly correlated with the number of cases reported.

Zika is now viewed as the next Ebola or Swine flu in the sense that it is quickly becoming both a local and a global health problem. Both WHO and the CDC remain wary with what the best solution is. Many Americans are still not sure what the disease is, and believe that they are untouchable due to the fact that it has mainly been linked with Brazil and the Caribbean. However, as the disease spreads to Miami, and most recently New York City, ignorant people are in the biggest danger of contracting Zika.

What is Zika?

Zika has been defined by the CDC as an infectious disease caused by the Zika virus. Surprisingly, most cases do not have any symptoms, however, if they are present they are very mild. The Zika virus is carried by the Aedes species of mosquitos, which can also be carriers for the dengue and chikungunya viruses. It is transmitted by both an infected mosquito bite and it also operates like an STD. By having no apparent symptoms and its transmittance being so easy, Zika has become the silent disease.

Modern Day Plague

Like the Plague in medieval Europe, Zika is contracted quickly through the bite of an infected mosquito or sexual activity with an inflected person. As recently as in the beginning of August, over 500 New Yorkers have contracted Zika. What remains astonishing is how the city has continually brushed these cases aside. It has become a silent disease, sometimes showing no symptoms.

This poses the biggest risk to pregnant women due to the fact that if infected their babies could be born with a deformity known as Microcephaly. As the number of infected continues to rise in New York, we are left questioning our defenses to diseases that are so easily acquirable. Especially due to the fact that almost ten percent of those infected in New York City are pregnant women.

Although the majority of the cases can be traced back to international travel in countries struggling with the Zika epidemic, some of them have been traced back to sexual behavior with an infected male. Mayor Bill DeBlasio continues to turn a blind eye to Zika. By believing that this disease can only be contracted in countries like Costa Rica or Brazil, ignorance grows.

Fundamentals of Change

The struggles with containing the disease leads back to education. New York has rather bizarre sex education policies in place at public schools. Although it is not an abstinence-based education, there continue to be many gaps of missing information.

Being a native New Yorker, I have been able to see the Zika crisis unfold. As I ride the subway or walk down the street, city endorsed posters do not reflect what is currently unfolding. In fact, they remain ironically hypocritical in how they address city government as a well-oiled machine.

For example, despite City College having had detrimental budget cuts over the past 18 months, subways continued to be splattered with posters of smiling students enrolled at CUNY schools. By continuing to release what is essentially falsified propaganda about various elements of New York City schools and ignoring health problems it is not a shock that the number of Zika cases continues to rise. It is ridiculous that the CDC has more information regarding Zika splattered around Manhattan than 311 does.

If City officials continue to believe that the answer to this epidemic is to ignore it then they are mistaken. New York has already made the mistake once with the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s. Clearly ignoring the problem is no solution.

All about Reaction Time

Miami, like New York City, is suffering from lack of local government involvement, as well as lack of education. Since the county waited too long to take proactive measures against Zika, they are now struggling to keep up with the rising number of infected patients. Many have now had to use their own resources in order to properly spray for mosquitos.

It is evident that it is too late to take preventative action, but it is not yet to late to try and stop it. With summer winding down and the winter season approaching, mosquitos will soon die off. However, if people remain uneducated about the issue the disease could potentially continue to flourish via sexual transmission.

Chasing the Cure

As with any epidemic, a crucial component is having readily available cures. Zika is slightly more complicated in that there is no cure. The CDC recommends “rest, nourishment, and supportive care.” However, if a pregnant woman is infected there is no way to try and reverse the damage on the fetus.

Due to the fact that WHO has recently called an international health emergency, the battle with Zika is not yet over. It will require both overhaul from the UN and from various federal governments and their entities. New York City will not benefit from the main solutions implemented by other states and countries. Since the main problem is not spraying for mosquitos, or keeping pregnant women inside, New York government officials should be more creative in how to properly address the issue.

The CDC should not be held responsible for plastering warning signs about travel all over JFK and LaGuardia Airports; the city should take more responsibility. It is up to the local government to release more educational material in order to teach more people about the true consequences of Zika.

Even in the city that never sleeps, where there always seems to be another issue to fix, it is up to local officials to streamline efforts in order to come up with an efficient and plausible solution. The answer is not to simply raise the annual budget, but it is to come up with creative ideas that can be implemented into everyday lives of New Yorkers.

Elizabeth Brewer is an Associate Editor for Naked Opinion. She is Yale Young Global Scholar 2016. In her free time, she enjoys competitively swimming, debating, and discussing current events with her peers....

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