The Zika virus epidemic – which has been linked to more than 1,600 serious birth defects – has impacted 60 countries around the world. At the beginning of the year, estimates suggested that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes could infect as many as three to four million by the end of 2016. As the virus spreads across the Americas, many Latin American governments told impoverished women to avoid getting pregnant for a few years, while failing to provide them with access to contraceptives or family planning information. And as doctors try to find a cure and learn more about Zika, some of the findings are grim. “I’m afraid the more we learn the nastier the Zika virus is,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News. “It’s quite evident that the Zika virus, if it gets into a pregnant woman, can get into the placenta and into the baby and it gets right into the brain cells.” Even children born without microcephaly – which causes babies to be born with small heads and underdeveloped brains – could still have severe brain damage.
Given the severity of the virus, the unfair burden it places on impoverished women, and the uncertainty many families face, it seem unwise to use it as an angle for your summer vacation listicle. And yet, StyleCaster published a piece titled “15 of the Most Stunning Zika-Free Beaches Around the World.” From the very first line, the article seems flippant. “It’s hard to imagine a bigger vacay buzzkill than stressing about whether every passing mosquito is going to give you the ever-terrifying Zika virus.” This “vacay buzzkill” is somebody’s reality.
— @annayelli (@anna_yell_i) June 30, 2016
This particular article also doesn’t take into consideration all the ways Zika can be transmitted (mosquito bites, mother to child, sexual encounters, blood transfusions and laboratory exposure), meaning you can be infected with the Zika virus anywhere. According to CDC, many people who are infected with Zika won’t experience any symptoms.
While StyleCaster uses its #ZikaZero article to drive traffic to its site, it’s also a good reminder that currently the Zika epidemic is underfunded. According to Bloomberg, the World Health Organization has $7.9 million to fight the virus – which is less money than what advertisers have spent on the three-month Olympic torch relay. The WHO looked to raise $25 million from February until August, but governments and organizations have only pledged $4.1 million. The remaining $3.8 million WHO borrowed from another emergency fund.