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Mac Margolis

The Economic Cost of Zika Virus

Start the calculations with the impact of dengue.
An expensive critter.

An expensive critter.

Photographer: Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images

People are scrambling as the scary, mosquito-borne virus Zika winds its way through 26 (and counting) countries and territories in the Americas. The commotion is understandable: The virus may be linked to an alarming spike in microcephaly, a birth defect, in Brazil, and a neurological disorder elsewhere, and there's nothing like the prospect of a generation maimed to trigger panic.

But amid alarm over the public-health emergency is a quieter menace -- economic loss and hardship. There's an important, albeit still crude, question underlying Zika's spead: How much will the virus cost?