Op-Ed

Zika and Rick Scott’s climate change denial

Gov. Rick Scott speaks about Zika during a press conference at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Doral.
Gov. Rick Scott speaks about Zika during a press conference at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Doral. mhalper@miamiherald.com

Dr. Esper Kallas shared a prediction about Zika with me earlier this year. And I could have made big bucks betting that unfortunately he’d be right.

Kallas, a leading Brazilian medical researcher at the University of São Paulo, told me back in January he expected Zika — the tropical mosquito-borne disease that has marauded through Brazil and South America — would soon be locally transmitted in the continental U.S.

“Global warming is something we can put in this equation,” Kallas said. “The increase in temperature may set the stage for the Aedes aegypti [mosquito] to spread northbound. I wouldn’t be much surprised to find in one year a local transmission of this virus.”

And the first site, he said, would most logically be Florida.

Kallas was borne out in just six months: The U.S.’s first four locally contracted Zika cases hit South Florida late last month.

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Tim Padgett is WLRN’S Americas editor.

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