The Zika virus already has spread swiftly across the island territory of Puerto Rico. And now, Miami is reporting its first cases in people infected by local mosquitoes. This week, Reveal takes us to the front lines of the battle against the disease.
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In Puerto Rico, about 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, we tour one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Juan. It borders a polluted river that serves as an ideal breeding ground for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, carrier of the Zika virus. We meet a woman living next to the river who has lost all hope of attempting to keep the bugs out of her house. Down the street, an 18-year-old neighbor is pregnant and Zika positive. We learn about her journey, from her diagnosis to her new treatment at the Hospital Universitario, Puerto Rico’s public university hospital. There, one of the territory’s most renowned doctors describes a crisis that’s not just growing, but exploding.
Next, we head to a neighborhood called Wynwood, just north of downtown Miami, where more than a dozen people have been infected by local mosquitos. It’s the first time the virus has been transmitted by insects domestically, and now this community is ground zero for Zika at home. We talk with the head of mosquito control in Miami-Dade County, who’s doing his best to keep Zika from spreading, and a virologist with more troubling facts to share.
Reporter Amy Walters continues her Zika journey to one other high-risk area: Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley, one of the poorest regions in the country. She meets one pregnant woman who’s facing the possibility of Zika head on. The community clinics are ill-equipped to handle this crisis, and they aren’t alone – Texas is short on doctors. According to one study, Texas needs 12,000 more physicians to meet our per-capita national average. And about half the state has no OB-GYNs. It’s an ominous report. And Zika hasn’t even arrived – yet.