Continuing the Fight Against Zika

Posted on by Olga L. Henao, MPH, PhD, Epidemiologist
A team in Peru heading out for field work and preparing for mosquito collection.
A team in Peru heading out for field work and preparing for mosquito collection.

Zika virus continues to spread in many countries and territories around the globe. Because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, the virus and its associated health outcomes will remain a significant and enduring public health challenge.

The Danger from Zika

Although many people infected with Zika experience mild or no symptoms, infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Areas affected by Zika have also reported increased cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells.

Working together to understand the threat

Experts in CDC’s Global Disease Detection (GDD) program around the world continue their work to track and understand Zika virus. CDC and its global partners – which include ministries of health and agriculture, universities, and U.S. government agencies – are conducting various surveillance and research activities around the world to:

  • Monitor the spread of Zika virus
  • Determine the range of effects of Zika infection during pregnancy
  • Identify potential risk factors for severe Zika-related consequences
  • Evaluate the different tests available to diagnose Zika infection in the field

Although, at this time, animals other than mosquitoes do not appear to be involved in the spread of Zika virus to humans, CDC’s work will also investigate the ecology between Zika-carrying animals, including mosquitoes and people.

These activities are ongoing with multiple CDC country offices. CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection is also collaborating with the Naval Medical Research Unit-Six in Peru and CDC colleagues from the Division of Vector-Borne Disease in Ft. Collins, Colorado, to conduct ecological studies in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil.

Critical studies moving forward

CDC’s ongoing surveillance and applied research studies will allow a better understanding of Zika infections, how they are spreading, and where they are occurring.

To date, more than 450 pregnant women have been enrolled in ongoing cohort studies in Guatemala and Kenya. More than 1,000 samples from various animals have been collected for the ecological study; all participating countries have received training on new diagnostic tests for Zika; and surveillance activities have led to detection of Zika cases in various countries.

About CDC’s Global Disease Detection program

CDC’s Global Disease Detection program provides critical surveillance and research data as a foundation for a sustainable global protection strategy. The reach of the GDD network helps countries quickly identify and respond to diseases within their region. GDD surveillance systems focused on one or more diseases or syndromes cover more than 109 million people in 10 countries.

In 2017, the GDD program conducted surveillance at more than 288 unique sites, tracking deadly threats like flu, fevers, and antimicrobial resistance. Below is a snapshot of disease syndromes tracked this year by GDD surveillance systems across the globe.

Posted on by Olga L. Henao, MPH, PhD, EpidemiologistTags , , , ,

2 comments on “Continuing the Fight Against Zika”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Is there any hope that a vaccine for Zika will be ready soon? It seems this should be a priority.

    While there are multiple groups working diligently to develop a Zika vaccine, many steps and several years are required to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine before it is available for public use.

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Page last reviewed: May 11, 2021
Page last updated: May 11, 2021
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