When it comes to what will drive the epidemic, Dr. Wilder-Smith explained, “Clearly because Aedes
are climate-sensitive mosquitoes, climate and ecological factors will drive and will determine where Zika will move to." Another factor to take into consideration is that Zika can be transmitted sexually from human-to-human and viral RNA can persist in semen
for a number of months. Sexual transmission of Zika contributes to only 3% of the overall number of cases. However, between this and the fact that Zika can be spread through travelers going to infected areas and bringing the virus back home with them, infections are likely to also occur in countries that do not have Aedes
According to the research
, there are many unanswered questions pertaining to Zika virus that need further investigation:
- What is the true attack rate of congenital Zika syndrome (CZS) by gestational week for asymptomatic and symptomatic ZIKV infections in pregnant women?
- What is the full clinical spectrum of CZSD at birth and at five years of age?
- What long-term complications will appear in those with minimal CZS, or as a result of infections late in pregnancy?
- Will population immunity in endemic countries (particularly Asia and Africa) confer protection against the epidemic strains of Zika currently circulating in Latin America and the Caribbean?
- What will be the impact through due to spill over from sylvatic cycles to human populations?
- What are potential post-invasion epidemic scenarios given that even low numbers of CZS are a tragedy?
Dr. Wilder-Smith concluded, “Zika is here to stay and the WHO’s response is here to stay. We all know that the response to the Zika epidemic is probably one of the most difficult responses ever because it requires expertise ranging from reproductive health, birth defect surveillance, contraception, communication to mothers, neurology—and neurology is more complicated than you think—vector control, best practices for vector control, diagnostics, vaccine development, and policies around travel. This is an incredibly difficult outbreak and I’m really looking forward because we need to address these problems. So, Zika is here to stay, our duty is to [provide] a robust technical response; we owe it to these patients.”
First International Conference on Zika Virus
Opening Session: Keynote Lecture
Evolution of the Zika Outbreak
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