The Zika virus continues to pose threats to the United States. On Feb. 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it has activated its highest alert level due to risks of possible Zika virus transmission in the country.

The decision signifies that the health problem that has plagued South America is turning into a more serious concern for the U.S.

Activating The Highest Alert

CDC has increased its Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) to Level 1 to amp up its response to the Zika virus outbreak. This means that the agency has deemed the need for increased readiness to gather experts and make them focus and work against the possible invasion of the Zika virus in the U.S.

EOC Responsibilities

EOC is at the core of monitoring and coordinating emergency interventions. The centers unite experts in the field of reproductive health, arboviruses and birth and developmental anomalies.

CDC activated EOC on Jan. 22 and has since performed various responsibilities such as developing diagnostic tests, analyzing the link between Zika and neurological disorders microcephaly and Guillain Barré syndrome, monitoring the virus all across the U.S. and its territories and extending on-the-ground assistance to Colombia, Brazil and Puerto Rico.

Over 300 CDC staff members consider EOC as their second home. They work with national, local and international response groups to study, verify and exchange data about Zika.

Aside from being the center of experimental work, EOC may also be considered a huge and reliable tool kit when needed. "EOC has resources to rapidly transport diagnostic kits, samples and specimens, and personnel," the press release reads.

So far, there have been no cases of Zika virus in continental U.S. yet. However, cases have been documented among returning travelers. Now is definitely not the time to lose grip. CDC advises that this number may likely increase among people traveling to and from the U.S., considering the trend of the recent outbreaks.

Activating the EOC to Level 1 is not entirely new. CDC also raised the highest alert due to the H1N1 virus, the Hurricane Katrina and Ebola virus.

Photo: John Tann | Flickr

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