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What Can the Ebola Outbreak Teach Us About Managing Zika?


Jean-Paul Gonzalez, MD, PhD, Deputy Director, Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD), Kansas State University, Adjunct Professor, Kansas State University, discusses the parallels between past Ebola outbreaks, and how they can help us manage the current Zika pandemic.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“Ebola is kind of an exemplary disease [for the management of Zika]. Ebola, again like Zika, came out from the darkness of the forest and emerged close to a village, or city, in central Africa. It was circulating as [was] Zika [without any notice] for years and years, probably for at least a century in the forest, and then emerged [as a threat] in 1976. But imagine, for 20 years the Ebola virus did not show up. It was circulating [in a] cryptic [manner], hiding in its natural cycle, and then we have this successive outbreak of Ebola.
What we learned from Ebola, [is] we learned to be ready. We learned [this] too late during this late outbreak in West Africa, but we learned to be prepared, be responsive, be ready [for] any type of outbreak in the middle of nowhere. So, this is what we learned, and this is a type of lesson we [have that we can use] to now fight the Zika virus. But the scale of the severity of the Zika virus, the severity [when comparing] Ebola and Zika is totally different. [With Zika] we are facing a rapid pandemic extension of the virus. This is kind of parallel, [as] I said, [with] Ebola, but all the viruses are acting like that.
The reason Zika is a model now for us is that it’s an arbovirus, so it’s associated with mosquitoes, [which] are everywhere. This is a very important pattern of this pandemic of Zika now, because the vector reservoir now is a mosquito.”
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