- By Deb Balzer
Infectious Diseases A-Z: Top public health threats
Zika virus and antibiotic-resistant bacteria are among the top infectious disease concerns of health officials, says Dr. Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. Dr. Poland's research team is developing a vaccine for Zika. There is currently no cure or vaccine for Zika. He offered these thoughts on the ongoing crisis.
"Just last month, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that Zika was out of control, and we don't have a way to completely control Zika in the U.S. Our response plan is too little, too late. And I think what he was acknowledging by that is that not that there aren't effective things to do, but this virus came fast, and it had been ignored because the initial outbreaks in Africa and the Pacific had been relatively very minor outbreaks pretty much up until 2014-2015. We now have local transmission in Florida. We have just recently learned of local transmission in Texas, and we have about 30 or more U.S. states that are at risk. We are in the winter-time right now, but I expect that other than the very Southern rim of U.S., we won't see a lot of activity. But, come spring, I think we are going to be in for a rude awakening in terms of damage this virus can do."
The second major infectious disease public health issue, says Dr. Poland, is "the complications of bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics, and particularly as it occurs in hospital settings then diffuses out in the community. We have some very bad bugs that are the result of misuse of antibiotics, primarily in other areas of the world but it occurs in the U.S., too. Anything that occurs anywhere else in the world is only a 12-to-24 hour plane ride to us in the U.S. Some of these bugs, for example Clostridium difficile, can be very difficult to treat. We now have a great option: fecal transplants. Terrible concept, but it is almost like magic in terms of how this works."
Antibiotic resistant bacteria refer to bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics that once were commonly used to treat them. In the U. S., at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year, according to the CDC.
What you can do to protect yourself from Zika and antibiotic resistant bacteria
- The best defense against Zika virus infection is mosquito bite prevention.
- Understand that common viral infections do not benefit from antibiotic treatment so avoid taking antibiotics unless necessary.
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Review related Zika posts from 2016:
- Infectious Diseases A-Z: The evolving Zika virus and GMO mosquitoes (Nov. 28, 2016)
- Infectious Diseases A -Z: The fight against Zika (Oct. 24, 2016)
- Zika concerns after Hurricane Matthew (Oct. 12, 2016)
- Mayo Clinic offers Zika antibody test via Emergency Use Authorization (Sept. 1, 2016)
- U.S. to screen all blood donations for Zika (Aug. 30, 2016)
- Zika: What you need to know about the CDC travel advisory (Aug. 3, 2016)
- Pediatricians central to Zika patient care (July 25, 2016)
- Non-travel Zika case spurs concerns: Tips for protection (July 22, 2016)
- Mayo Clinic Minute: Inside a Zika vccine research lab (July 14, 2016)
- Mayo Clinic Minute: Zika-endemic areas (April 22, 2016)
- Zika virus: Four myths and what you need to know (April 18, 2016)
- Zika virus news: Birth defect link confirmed (April 14, 2016)
- Mayo Clinic Minute: Protect yourself from Zika virus (April 8, 2016)
- Zika Virus: CDC guidelines and pregnancy (April 1, 2016)
- Should women wait to get pregnant if traveling to Zika-endemic area? (March 15, 2016)
- Developing a vaccine to protect against Zika virus (March 8, 2016)
- Mayo Clinic begins development of Zika virus vaccine (March 7, 2016)
- Further investigation needed on Zika link to Guillain-Barré Syndrome (March 3, 2016)
- Zika virus and Microcephaly: Need for more research (Feb. 22, 2016)
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Zika: Is there a connection? (Feb. 17, 2016)
- Zika virus impacts blood donations (Feb. 5, 2016)
- Transmission of Zika virus and dangers of mosquitoes (Feb. 4, 2016)
- WHO Says microcephaly-Zika virus link international emergency (Feb. 1, 2016)
- Mayo Clinic Minute: Zika virus (Jan. 21, 2016)
Related antibiotic posts from 2016:
- Mayo Clinic Expert Explains 10 Things You Should Know about Antibiotic Resistance (August 18, 2016)
- Understanding Drug-resistant Superbugs (July 7, 2016)
- Antibiotic-resistant Superbug in U.S. (May 27, 2016)
- Resist Overuse of Antibiotics (May 4, 2016)
- Do Ear Infections Always Need to be Treated with Antibiotics? (Jan. 26, 2016)
- Mayo Expert Discusses Antibiotics Overuse and Misuse (Jan. 19, 2016)