The Summer of Zika

9780393609141_bd793On Fresh Air yesterday, host Terry Gross held a 30-minute conversation about Zika with Donald G. McNeil, a science reporter for The New York Times and author of the new book, Zika: The Emerging Epidemic (Norton; Random House Audio).

The two talk about how Zika is transmitted, its odd scale of danger, the Olympics, and the timeline for a vaccine.

McNeil says Zika is a mild infection in 99.99 percent of the cases. Only women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are at risk and the infection carries grave danger in those cases. This year is excepted to be the worst for infections as no one in the US has yet developed antibodies.

McNeil says that the scientific community is split on cancelling the Olympics due to Zika, pointing out that August is actually a low season for the insects.

The best way to prevent bites while sitting outside is simply to have fans blowing, says McNeil, the bugs have to expend a great deal of energy to fly and fans make it even more difficult for them.

The interview makes clear why this is likely to be one of the summer’s major topic of conversation.

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