Zika Virus In Palm Beach County?

zika-virus-alert-palm-beach-floridaPALM BEACH GARDENS, FL: Updated 08/09/16: A localized mosquito transmitted case of The Zika Virus has not now been reported in Palm Beach County according to the Palm Beach Post.   The news about the Zika virus has been very disconcerting to many people, especially those of us living in Palm Beach County where a major outbreak may be possible at any time and may have already started.  This concern has led me to write this blog post regarding the topic taking a look at the history, news, and my own personal perspective.  Please note that my background is in Accounting and that I am not a doctor or medical proffesional and am relying on the same sources reporting on the outbreak in my post that are readily available to anyone with a computer, smart phone, tablet, and the internet.  Please draw your own conclusions from all available data and consult your physician or medical professional for any medical advise regarding Zika.

Zika-Historical-Transmission-Palm-Beach-County

The History of Zika:

The history of the Zika virus as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO),2016 noted that it was first noticed through an increase in case of microcephaly and Guillan-Barre syndrome.  This occurred in Uganda in 1947 in monkey’s and later in humans in 1952.

The first large outbreak of Zika was reported on the Island of Yap in 2007.    “An estimated 73% of Yap residents are infected with Zika virus. The Yap Island outbreak also suggests a lack of immunity in the island’s population. Regular exposure to infection by populations in Africa and Asia may have prevented the large outbreaks seen on Pacific Islands and in the Americas. Under-reporting, due to the clinical similarities of (mild) illness symptoms associated with Zika, dengue, and chikungunya infections might also account for previous Zika outbreaks being overlooked.” (WHO, 2016)

In October of 2015 Brazil reported an unusual number of microcephaly cases among new borns.  As a result, the WHO issued an epidemiological alert asking countries to report an increase in these cases in November of 2015 and sent a mission to Brazil to review the epidemiological information and clinical data.

By February of 2016, Samoa, Bonaire, Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago, Sint Maarten, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Argentina all report cases of Zika infection.  The United States reported it’s first case of sexually transmitted Zika infection in Texas.

You can find more information regarding the History of the Zika Virus at the WHO.

In the Wynwood community of Miami on July 29, 2016 Florida Gov. Rick Scott confirms four cases of locally acquired Zika.  As of writing this post on August 3, 2016 the count is now up to 15 cases of which 13 are in Miami-Dade and 2 are in Broward Counties.

How it can impact us?

The human impact: As a new father, I understand the complete terror accompanied with pregnancy and the constant worrying that something may go wrong and the baby will not be healthy.  The prospect of microcephaly occurring to any family is horrifying and the potential for a full blown outbreak in Palm Beach County is very frightening.

If you really look at how bad microcephaly can be, it becomes an even more concerning issue.  Reviewing the Facts about Microcephaly from the CDC microcephaly is a condition where the baby’s head is much smaller than normal.  Depending on the severity some of the symptoms can include:

-Seizures
-Developmental delay, such as problems with speech or other developmental milestones (like sitting, standing, and walking)
-Intellectual disability (decreased ability to learn and function in daily life)
-Problems with movement and balance
-Feeding problems, such as difficulty swallowing
-Hearing loss
-Vision problems

The jobs impact: The possibility of this outbreak to devastate tourism in Palm Beach County is a very real threat to the area’s economy and job market.  This threat is real and the local and state officials need to take action now.  CNN Money outlined some concerns in it’s article Could Zika pose a problem for Florida’s Tourism industry? where it addressed the fragility of Florida’s economy and its reliance on tourism and the money and tax revenues it generates.  Accounting for all of the jobs in Florida including those in hotels, resorts, amusement parks, and restaurants one needs to be very concerned of a potential mass scale outbreak of the Zika Virus in Palm Beach County.

Palm-Beach-Gardens-930x363The real estate impact: The massive impacts on real estate values could be catastrophic.  If the spread of the virus is not controlled home values will plummet as those who are pregnant or looking to get pregnant will push families to relocate to ensure the safety of their unborn children.  This migration will flood the market with available homes.   Working in parallel to mass exodus, those who may have moved into the state of Florida at a current approximate rate of 1,000 people per day net (State of Florida, 2016) will decline drastically resulting in even less demand for housing.  The, we could see a fallout from the snow birds who look elsewhere to spend their winters and money through fears of Zika for themselves and their visiting families.

After the first case of mosquito transmitted Zika was announced in Miami, one neighborhood produced another 13 cases.  Less than a week later 2 more cases have been confirmed in Broward county outside of the initial outbreak zone.  Although any movement or infection rate cannot be accurately predicted one could infer the potential threat is real and our ignorant bliss through non-exposure to the Zika virus in Palm Beach County may be over very soon.

Many of these may be worst case scenarios but panic and fear of the unknown has a real impact on our daily lives in Palm Beach County especially when so much of our economy is dependent on elective vacations when so many other “safer” options are out there.

As the situation changes I will continue to add to this post with more information and details.

Updated Links 08/24/2016:

Second non-travel related Zika case confirmed in Palm Beach County
Report projects about 400 non-travel Zika cases in Florida by mid-September

Updated Links: 10/14/2016:

Florida IDs new Miami neighborhood as Zika zone

Updated Links: 11/18/2016:

WHO ends Zika Public Health Emergency

Author: Jason Bloom, in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, and all of Palm Beach County

Sources:

World Health Organization (WHO), 2016, The History of Zika Virus

CNN Money, 2016, Could Zika pose a problem for Florida’s tourism industry?

Miami Herald, 2016, Zika virus spreading in Miami as new local case reported outside of Wynwood

ABC News, 2016, Zika Outbreak Timeline: How Our Understanding of the Disease Has Changed

CDC, 2016, Facts about Microcephaly

State of Florida, 2016, Florida Quick Facts

 

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