HONOLULU (AP) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning parents and school officials that the Zika epidemic is threatening Hawaii’s public schools and teachers.
In an email to educators, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the virus has killed about 4 million people worldwide, including more than 2.5 million in the U.K., and more than 500,000 in the United States.
Hawaii’s population is about 70,000, making it the second-largest state in the country.
Hawaiians have had the Zika infection for at least a year, and some experts are concerned that a large part of the state’s population could get infected during a pandemic.
Homes are being washed down the Mississippi River from Louisiana to Texas.
The outbreak is now affecting about 6 million people in the Pacific, mostly in the West and Southeast.
In Hawaii, the state has no vaccination for the virus, but the CDC says a vaccine has been developed that has been tested and is effective against it.
The CDC has warned that the virus can be spread through the air and by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids.
The disease has also caused miscarriages, low birth weights, infections and deaths in pregnant women.
In addition to the vaccine, the CDC recommends the use of hand sanitizers, hand sanitizing equipment and gloves for washing hands and avoiding direct contact.
In the United Kingdom, where the outbreak is especially severe, the public health authority is now asking people to wash their hands with soap and water, and use masks to prevent spreading the virus.
The British government said it will distribute hand sanitisers and other hand sanitary items to public schools in England starting Friday.