Author: Ahsan Choudary | Category: Beyond The Bench | Translational Science (Ph.D.) | May 15, 2017
Zika is a global threat to public health. In no particular order, here are critical actions that must be undertaken to combat the threat:
- Increase surveillance; Zika is asymptomatic in most carriers.
- Since Zika is asymptomatic, development of field-hardy, specific/sensitive, cost effective rapid test kits is of paramount importance.
- Development of effective vaccine treatment. Though Zika has been sequenced, scientists still need to fully understand its different serogroups to develop an effective vaccine. Cost effective measure: develop a vaccine for specifically for pregnant women.
- Containment and prevention of spreading; there must be effective solutions in place to mitigate spread of disease, especially in the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.
- Limit vector availability by destroying breeding grounds by using insecticides that are deemed safe and effective by scientific research. The same mosquito species that spread Zika also spread dengue fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and malaria. Curtailing insecticide use will only increase risk of Zika and other diseases.
- Raise awareness and overall education to prevent both pseudo-science and preventable mosquito bites.
- Continue studies to verify the link between maternal Zika infection and microcephly in progeny; brain autopsies have shown a link but further research must be done to solidify circumstantial to conclusive scientific evidence.
- Continue and further facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration between scientists, physicians, nurses, public health experts, pharmaceutical chemists, government officials, and civic leaders to combat Zika.
- Global Data Report – Zika: Short- and Long-Term Approaches to Successfully Combat the Outbreak, February 2016
Ahsan Choudary is a student in the Translational Science Ph.D. program. He was also the 2016 Presidential Ambassador Scholar for the Graduate School. The "Beyond The Bench" series features articles written by students and postdoctoral fellows at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.
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