Money

Zika in U.S. Gulf Coast Could Cost $1.2 Billion

A 1% attack rate of Zika on the Gulf Coast would “have a vast economic impact of more than $183 million, including $117.1 million in direct medical costs and $66.3 million in productivity losses” (Lee) according to a computational model developed by Bruce Y. Lee, MD, associate professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues.

These are tremendously high numbers for America to worry about.

Once birth defects were discovered to be caused by Zika, President Barack Obama requested a $1.9 billion to fund, and after a stalemate lasting months, the U.S. Senate approved $1.1 billion in Zika funding as part of a stopgap bill to keep the federal government running.

J. Hotez, MD, PhD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics, was disappointed to write in his Infectious Disease News, “This is part of an ongoing series of disappointments coming out of Washington,” referring to congress not being able to protect pregnant women from the Zika virus.

Lee and Hotez did conduct a study, but they believe they do not have enough support for their argument on the Zika funding.

“For their study, they developed an economic model to estimate Zika-related costs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas for an epidemic lasting 230 days – a duration that was based on the outbreak of Zika-related microcephaly in Northeast Brazil. They based their estimates on calculations of costs associated with clinical outcomes, medical and Medicaid costs and productivity losses. Importantly, because the economic impact of microcephaly is not well studied, the researchers substituted estimates for autism, which they said are likely to be lower. According to their estimates, the economic impact of $1.2 billion for an attack rate of just 1% — far lower than attack rates observed for Zika outbreaks in French Polynesia and Micronesia — would include $268 million in in direct medical costs and $919.2 million in productivity losses” (Lee).

“Given the tremendous uncertainty surrounding potential attack rates for Zika in the U.S., our model and study demonstrated how various outcomes and costs would vary based on attack rate and other circumstances,”

“Without details regarding the Zika-prevention measures that would be implemented and how effective these may be, it is unclear what percentage of these costs may be averted.”

After these studies, it is very clear that Zika will cost America a lot of money unless something is done to prevent the spread of it.

The most effective way to prevent this disease today is to avoid a mosquito bite altogether. An EPA registered insect repellent is highly recommended to avoid bites, as well as a repellent using the main active ingredient IR 3535 as it is much safer than a Deet product.

(Original Article: http://www.healio.com/infectious-disease/emerging-diseases/news/in-the-journals/%7Bd82e204d-d6ec-4d5c-880a-103304497d21%7D/gulf-coast-zika-epidemic-with-1-attack-rate-would-cost-12-billion)

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