The Price of Zika? About $4 Million Per Child
TO TALK ABOUT Zika virus control is to talk about money. Vaccine development, mosquito abatement, and even the distribution of DEET repellant takes (and currently lacks) major federal dollars. When, last week, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared Zika a public health emergency in Puerto Rico, it was in part a means to a better-funded end.
But the real price of Zika, and the reason the disease has gone from arboviral nobody to world-wide bugaboo, is the devastating birth defects that can appear in children born to infected women. While it’s hard to predict how many children will be born with Zika-related neurodevelopmental disorders, it is clear caring for these children will take a toll. And experts are already calculating the cost of a generation of US babies impacted by Zika.
It starts with the price of being pregnant with Zika. The cost of a regular, healthy pregnancy in the United States is already high, sometimes as much as $50,000 for those who deliver via C-section. But in states with Zika outbreaks, that number will climb when you figure in the two rounds of Zika testing and monthly serial ultrasounds the CDC recommends for monitoring. Right now, Zika is limited to southern states where the virus-spreading Aedes aegypti are most abundant, and that’s where monitoring will stay concentrated.
- Health Care