A Public Health Emergency

First discovered in 1947 in an African forest, it has been creeping around the globe for decades, jumping from continent to continent and now settling into the United States.

Carried by a most agreeable host–the Aedes aegypti mosquito–the Zika virus has spread rapidly due to the globalization of travel and trade, along with an expanding habitat for vectors caused by a warming planet.

More than a year before the first locally acquired case of Zika was discovered in Miami in July 2016, scientists at the University of Miami were already knee-deep in research and study about this perplexing virus.

Much more work needs to be done, experts say, because the Zika virus is not going away anytime soon.There is agreement that communities are now dealing with a public health crisis, and South Florida will remain front and center.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is no stranger to scientists. It’s been around for centuries and is commonly known as the yellow fever mosquito, but is also responsible for the spread of other ailments such as dengue fever and chikungunya.

Research and study underway on Zika by UM scientists, doctors, and faculty covers a spectrum of areas, from improving testing procedures and diagnostics to treatment and care for pregnant women and babies suffering from the debilitating impacts of the virus to examining mosquito control methods and policies and transmission patterns.

To battle the pathogen, the University of Miami created the Zika Global Network to engage in concert with peers at other universities and health professionals in agencies near and far to find solutions to help control and eradicate the virus.

Researchers are also working with local communities to better understand transmission patterns and effective mosquito control options.

By UM News

Video Credit: iStock.com/crewcut

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