How much Public Relations is Needed For The Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which has been found commonly in several of the southeastern states of the U.S. New York also seems to have a few colonies of them as well. Outside the U.S., the epidemic was first found in Brazil and has moved to several other Latin American countries.
If a pregnant woman gets the virus, the results can be horrific – but on the other hand, there may be no negative results as well. Most adults who have the virus have little or no symptoms according to the experts. But, as mentioned, the possibilities of major birth defects are scary. And let’s face it, social media loves a good scary story, so though the worst possible outcomes are widely reported, the chances of it happening, even when the virus is present, often just doesn’t make the news.
In New York, Mayor de Blasio recently said regarding their plans for dealing with the Zika virus “We are … building the capacity to respond to every possible scenario, no matter how unlikely.” It’s a good soundbite, but that kind of vigilance is expensive and may be far beyond what is needed. New York’s plan has a budget of $21 million for three years covering the five boroughs. Some of it is great – others parts are not only expensive but could cause alarm well beyond the danger. Their plan involves the use of 100K tablets to kill the larvae of mosquitos, bilingual public service announcements, and large warning signs that will be applied to many of the City’s large service vehicles, such as garbage trucks.
Advice given includes telling people exactly what they’d see if they looked it up on the internet of how to keep mosquitos from breeding and other preventive measures to take – get rid of standing water where the mosquitoes might breed; use insect repellent; and pregnant (or likely to become pregnant) women should stay clear of the zones where these mosquitoes are confirmed.
Josh Greenberg, an expert in risk and crisis communication, said, “Zika virus is certainly an imminent threat to Americans because the mosquito known to carry the virus – Aedes aegypti – is present throughout the southeastern United States.” He continued to point out that the U.S. was unlikely to face “an epidemic of babies born with severe birth defects, or adults who develop serious autoimmune disorders” at the level alluded to by the media.
It should be noted that if a person has the virus, they can transmit it to others sexually. In the U.S., CDC officials feel what will most likely happen with the virus will be small, local outbreaks with impoverished areas and the South being most affected.
At this point, the people most likely making money off this virus are those spreading the stories in the most extreme ways, and those who offer a “quick fix” to the problem. Of course, money is not the only way to “profit” from a situation. Scandal rags and sites breaking big news may have more sales, increased advertising, and more notoriety.
Zika is serious business with serious outcomes for some … but like many health issues that are very serious and possible, Hepatitis, HIV, even Malaria – the best way forward is learning how to keep the risk under control and not allowing fear mongering to control our lives.
About Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.