Jessica Sieff | February 8, 2017
It’s been one year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a public health emergency.
The virus, transmitted through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, has since been declared to be a long-term problem rather than an emergency, but Zika continues to concern health professionals. At the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame – a global leader in the study of Aedes aegypti – the vector-borne illness is one researchers hope to better understand.
Professors in Notre Dame’s Department of Biological Sciences and members of the Eck Institute reflect on the outbreak, the challenges presented by the virus and the work yet to be done to help health professionals and key decision makers protect their citizens.
Are we in a better place today? Has Zika stopped spreading?
Nicole Achee – research associate professor, specializing in medical entomology and global health: Certainly, the WHO declaration of Zika as a public health emergency of international concern drove a near immediate global response to coordinate efforts to control the spread of the virus, as well as greater awareness from the public. Global human movement, vulnerability and exposure to mosquito vectors all influence the spread of Zika virus — these components for an outbreak have not changed. However, should an outbreak occur in the future, the ability to respond may be facilitated by new control strategies being developed due to changes in funding for research including a potential Zika vaccine.