Gulf States Are Next at Risk for Zika Outbreak, NIH Official Says

The virus could "hang around" the U.S. for another year or two.

ByABC News
August 21, 2016, 11:34 AM

— -- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), warned that Gulf Coast states are the most susceptible to a new Zika outbreak.

"Well, the ones that are most at risk, George, are those along the Gulf Coast. I would not be surprised if we see cases in Texas, in Louisiana, particularly now where you have a situation with flooding in Louisiana," Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."

"When you have a sub-tropical, or semi-tropical region with the right mosquitoes, and individuals who have travel-related cases that are in the environment, it would not be surprising that we will see additional cases, not only in Florida, but perhaps in other of the Gulf Coast states," he said.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel warning after five Zika infections were confirmed in Miami-Dade County.

The CDC recommended that those living or traveling to the area increase their efforts to prevent mosquito bites and advised pregnant women and their partners to postpone "nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.”

The head of the NIAID said Americans should take the threat of Zika seriously, although he does not believe there will be a widespread outbreak across the continental United States.

"I do not think, although we need to be prepared for it, that we're going to see a diffuse, broad outbreak in the United States because of a number of issues, particularly the conditions in our country ... would not really make that a very likely happening," Fauci said.

He added that he anticipates Zika to stick around for "a year or two."

"Hopefully, we get to a point to where we could suppress it so that we won't have any risk of it," he noted.

Fauci overseas research to prevent, diagnose and treat established infectious diseases, as well as emerging diseases like Ebola and Zika.