CDC director Tom Frieden discussed the fight against Zika at the CityLab 2016 summit in Miami. C2 Photography

That and other insights on the fight against Zika from CDC director Tom Frieden.

MIAMI—Over the last few months, Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood came to be known for something other than its cute cafés and swanky art galleries: Zika. In July, the very first locally transmitted U.S. case of the virus was reported in the neighborhood. Soon after, the number of such cases in Miami-Dade County multiplied. By August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory.

Local authorities scrambled to get things under control. Solutions considered to cut down the population of Aedes aegypti, the type of mosquito that spreads Zika, ranged from bats to genetic modification to newfangled mosquito traps. Eventually, the city settled on aerial and ground-sprays of mosquito-killing chemicals. It worked; for now, the number of locally transmitted cases of Zika in Florida has been capped at 137.

There’s a reason that Wynwood became a breeding ground for Zika in the first place, CDC director Tom Frieden explained at the CityLab 2016 summit Tuesday in Miami. “From a mosquito standpoint, Wynwood is a great place,” Frieden said. There’s construction sites and vacant lots, outside dining, lots of people discarding coffee cups and bottles of water. In other words, lots of standing pools of water, however small, and lots of food.

We already know that dense, heavily populated urban areas are at particular risk for mosquito-borne and other infectious diseases. But there are steps cities at higher risk for Zika can take. Frieden mentioned some effective solutions here in Miami have included focusing on elevator shafts in buildings, cemeteries, construction sites and other mosquito-friendly spaces. An investment in public health as a preemptive, not reactive measure, is key, Frieden said.

But at the end of the day, the problem of new infectious diseases is not just a local one. With rising migration and urbanization, a concerted, global effort is required to effectively battle emerging public health threats. “A weak link anywhere is a risk to us everywhere,” Frieden said.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A man carrying a young boy on his shoulders amid the fall foliage of New York's Central Park.
    Life

    Which U.S. Cities Have the Most Families With Kids?

    Spoiler alert: It’s simply not the case that families with kids have disappeared from urban America.

  2. A man charges an electric bus in Santiago, Chile.
    Transportation

    Do Electric Buses Have Enough Juice?

    As cities experiment with battery-powered electric buses, some are finding they struggle in inclement weather or on hills, or that they don’t have enough range.

  3. Equity

    Hope You Aren't Counting on Getting a Tax Refund This Winter

    Millions of low-income households rely on the Earned Income Tax Credit to help them get through the winter. Too bad most IRS workers are furloughed.

  4. Two men plant a young tree in a lot in Detroit.
    Environment

    Why Detroit Residents Pushed Back Against Tree-Planting

    Detroiters were refusing city-sponsored “free trees.” A researcher found out the problem: She was the first person to ask them if they wanted them.

  5. Inscriptions on a Confederate monument in Linn Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
    Equity

    Alabama Can’t Make Birmingham Display Confederate Monument

    The legal decision was monumental both for its dismantling of a pro-Confederate law and the implications for cities’ rights in the face of states’ rights.