At Least 33 US Troops Have Contracted Zika

The Aedes Aegypi mosquito is one of two found in tropical climate countries which is capable of carrying the Zika virus.
CDC Photo by James Gathany

At least 33 U.S. troops, including a pregnant woman, have tested positive for the Zika virus, U.S. military spokesmen said Wednesday. Ten of those troops are men who answer to the Southern Command, the Pentagon subsidiary with oversight of troops in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Southcom spokesman Jose Ruiz said those 10 got infected in five locations — Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Martinique. They serve in all five branches that answer to Southcom, he added, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines.

The 10 “are all asymptomatic now,” said Ruiz, meaning they’re not currently sick. All were tested between February and July to make the list of confirmed cases. In addition, a woman relative of a U.S. service member working for Southcom got the infection in one of those five countries, he said. She is not pregnant and is asymptomatic, too, he said.

Southcom has liaison troops in four of the five nations. They generally work out of U.S. embassies on cooperation agreements such as military exercises or providing humanitarian relief. In the instance of Martinique, Ruiz said, a Coast Guard Cutter docked there as part of its anti-trafficking work with Southcom’s Joint Interagency Task Force and someone got sick.

One of the other 23 is a pregnant female service member, said Air Force Maj. Benjamin Sakrisson, a Pentagon spokesman. He declined to divulge where they are based or got sick. “At the moment it’s protected health information,” he said.

The Military Times first reported the figure of 33 on Monday.

Sakrisson added that the figure of 33 confirmed infected military members disclosed by the Pentagon on Wednesday was the tally as of last week, and was already counted in the global figure reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A week earlier, the military had 27 confirmed cases, meaning the figures could have already risen by Wednesday’s disclosure.

Because Southcom personnel account for only 10 of the cases, the gap leaves at least two possibilities. Some service members may have contracted the virus while on leave or vacation in the Caribbean or South America, and returned to home bases with it. Other Florida-based troops who do not answer to Southcom could be among those infected.

Guantanamo spokesmen said no one was infected there.


© 2016 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.

In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.

"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.

Read More Show Less
Erik Prince arrives for the New York Young Republican Club Gala at The Yale Club of New York City in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., November 7, 2019. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, walk in what could be mistaken for another planet. Kandahar, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2011 (Army photo/Sgt. Ruth Pagan)

(Reuters Health) - While army suicides have historically decreased during wartime, that trend appears to have reversed in recent decades, a new study of U.S. records finds.

Researchers poring over nearly 200 years of data found that unlike earlier times when there was a decline in suicide rates among U.S. Army soldiers during and just after wars, the rate has risen significantly since 2004, according to the report in JAMA Network Open.

Read More Show Less
Cmdr. Sean Shigeru Kido (Navy photo)

The Navy relieved a decorated explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer on Thursday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy announced on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis (DoD photo)

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led a Marine task force to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said the Washington Post's recent reporting about the U.S. government's pattern of lies about the war over the last two decades is not "revelatory."

Mattis, who was interviewed by the Washington Post's David Ignatius on Friday, also said he does not believe the U.S. government made any efforts to hide the true situation in Afghanistan and he argued the war has not been in vain.

Here are 10 key quotes from Mattis regarding the Washington Post's reporting in the 'Afghanistan Papers.'

Read More Show Less