Overreaction to Zika virus threat could affect psychological well-being of U.S. citizens

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Vector biologist Laura Harrington and chair of the Department of Entomology at Cornell University says overreaction to the threat of Zika virus in the continental U.S. could be harmful to citizens' psychological well-being, as well as the environment as it may lead to mass spraying of insecticides that may not be effective in controlling the mosquitos.

Harrington says:

"I'm very concerned that people are overreacting to the threat of Zika virus in the U.S. It is very disappointing to see the maps and information that the CDC has distributed showing unrealistic range distributions for both vectors - Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus. This is really doing a disservice to the public and vector surveillance programs.

"I am concerned that there will be efforts to mass spray insecticides that will not be very effective in controlling these particular mosquitoes and could potentially be harmful environmentally. I am also concerned that the hysteria diverts attention and funds away from other serious health issues in the U.S.  

"There is a serious need to support new translational research efforts for collaborative teams that include university researchers and government/private industry. That funding should have the explicit goal to rapidly develop outcomes that control this vector in an effective way and reduce the burden of disease.

"While it is likely we will have some Zika cases within continental U.S. borders this year; we are unlikely to see an outbreak of the magnitude seen in South and Central America.

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