“Zika Outbreak Could Last 3 Years, Scientists Estimate”
The outbreak will likely end when enough people are infected to create widespread immunity to the virus. The Zika virus outbreak spreading through the Americas could go on for three years, according to a new studypublished in the journal Science.
Scientists from Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimate that the currentZika epidemic will be “largely over” in Latin America in three years. That’s because so many people are being infected, and therefore become immune to the virus. “Herd immunity will likely then cause a delay of over a decade until further large epidemics are possible,” they write in the study.
“Like Ebola, Zika is a public health crisis in which policymakers have had to make decisions in the presence of enormous uncertainty,” the study authors conclude. “The current epidemic is not containable; at best, interventions can mitigate its health impacts. More optimistically, the natural dynamics of the epidemic are now likely to give a multiyear window to develop new interventions before further large-scale outbreaks occur.”
Read the full Time article here.
Read the study published in Science, entitled "Countering the Zika epidemic in Latin America," which features work by many renounced scientists, including Johns Hopkins' own Justin Lessler, PhD.
Abstract from Science:
As evidence grew for a causal link between Zika infection and microcephaly and other serious congenital anomalies (1), the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Latin American Zika epidemic a public health emergency of international concern in February 2016 (2). The speed of spread [see the figure, top, and the supplementary materials (SM)] has made effective public health responses challenging. Immediate responses have included vector control (3) and advice to delay pregnancy in a few countries (4), followed by an extended recommendation to all affected countries by WHO in June 2016. These have merits but are likely to have limited effectiveness (5) and may interact antagonistically. Fuller understanding of dynamics and drivers of the epidemic is needed to assess longer-term risks to prioritize interventions.