In an effort to contain the Zika virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is holding a series of teleconferences regarding concerns that were raised during the Zap Zika conference held in early April. The fifth conference in the series discusses Zika epidemiology.
Thus far, the CDC has held Zika preparedness teleconferences regarding communication
and infection-related birth defects
, among others.
The Zika virus has been circling the Americas since 2015, with the first locally-transmitted case reported in Brazil in May of that year. From May 2015 to June 2, 2016, local transmission of the virus has been reported in 39 countries and territories in the Americas. On the teleconference, Marc Fischer, MD, MPH, chief of Surveillance and Epidemiology activity in the Arboviral Disease Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases of the CDC warned that “further spread of the virus to other countries in the region, is likely.”
Countries with local transmission of the Zika virus have been reporting the number of cases to the Pan American Health Organization since January 2015. From January 2015 to May 2016 the highest number of cases, a total of 194,263 suspected and confirmed cases which would account for 47% of all cases in the region, was reported by Brazil, the site of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Recently, both healthcare professionals and athletes have expressed concern
over the spread of Zika through the Games.
During the teleconference, Dr. Fischer discussed state and local department of health (DOH) preparedness. Thus far, there has been no local transmission of the Zika virus in the United States; however, there have been many travel-related cases, most of which have been identified in New York City and the state of Florida, with 146 and 143 cases respectively. Retrospective reporting may change these trends, according to Dr. Fischer.
Since surveillance is the key to controlling the virus, and preventing outbreaks, the CDC has broken down surveillance into several phases: