Zika Risk for Iowans Very, Very Low

Feb 4, 2016

An Iowa State University entomologist says he and other experts are keeping an eye on the Zika virus, but he is not too worried that it will be spread in Iowa.  The mosquito-borne virus has been found in about two-dozen Central and South American countries and has been linked to birth defects in Brazil.  

Ryan Smith is an assistant professor at Iowa State University and says Iowa’s cold winters will likely keep the mosquitoes that spread the disease away from this part of the country.

"I don’t think it’s a place that naturally harbors these mosquitos that have been implicated in disease transmission, and I think that mosquito transmission here in Iowa itself is probably pretty rare," he says. 

People in several states who’ve recently traveled to Central and South America have tested positive for the virus.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges pregnant women to postpone travel to countries where the virus has been confirmed, and the University of Iowa's Dr. Andrea Greiner says pregnant women should be cautious when traveling to tropical areas. 

"Be cautious and think about, is it more important to take your tropical vacation, which always sounds good in Iowa in February, but think about the potential long-term consequences to a fetus.”

During this River to River show, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dr. Greiner and Smith about the Zika virus.

Then, during the second half of the show, Kieffer talks with Craig Andersen, a psychologist at Iowa State University who recently published a study about how media coverage of Muslims in the U.S. can influence public support for ideas that limit civil rights of Muslims. Imam Taha Tawil, who is with the Mother Mosque of American in Cedar Rapids also joins the conversation.