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Zika Update: Gulf States are at Risk for Zika, NIH Warns

Aug 23, 2016 06:52 AM EDT
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The Gulf Coast states like Texas and Louisiana are the most susceptible to Zika outbreak, a National Institute of Health (NIH) official said.

Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Gulf Coast states are most at risk of a new Zika virus outbreak because they are located in a semi-tropical region. Fauci also said that Louisiana is more susceptible due to the recent flooding.

"Well, the ones that are most at risk, George, are those along the Gulf Coast. I would not be surprised if we see cases in Texas, in Louisiana, particularly now where you have a situation with flooding in Louisiana," Fauci said in the ABC interview.

"When you have a sub-tropical, or semi-tropical region with the right mosquitoes, and individuals who have travel-related cases that are in the environment, it would not be surprising that we will see additional cases, not only in Florida, but perhaps in other of the Gulf Coast states."

The mosquito-borne virus, which is associated with birth defects and abnormalities, has spread through Florida and affected the Miami Beach area, with 36 cases of Zika virus reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel warning on Friday following the confirmation of five Zika cases in Miami-Dade County.

According to the CDC, people living or traveling to the area should increase their efforts to avoid mosquito bites. Pregnant women were also advised to postpone "nonessential travel" to Miami-Dade County.

Fauci maintains that while a widespread Zika outbreak is unlikely to hit the U.S., people should still take the threat of Zika seriously.

"I do not think, although we need to be prepared for it, that we're going to see a diffuse, broad outbreak in the United States because of a number of issues, particularly the conditions in our country ... would not really make that a very likely happening," Fauci said.

According to Fauci, Americans will have to deal with Zika for "a year or two."

"Hopefully, we get to a point to where we could suppress it so that we won't have any risk of it," Fauci said.

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