Assessing Zika transmission dynamics and mitigation strategies
Since its detection in Brazil in May 2015, the Zika virus has spread rapidly throughout the geographical range occupied by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The association of Zika virus infection with microcephaly (babies born with abnormally small heads) and other neurological disorders led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2016. In November 2016, in view of the decrease of the outbreak in Brazil, WHO ended the international alarm but noted that Zika transmission and its severe consequences will continue to represent a top public health challenge. Knowledge gaps remain in the ecological transmission dynamics, or the factors that affect the spread of the Zika virus at the interface of humans, mosquitoes, and their environments, and in the effectiveness and costs of interventions.
Zika virus transmission presents a unique and urgent challenge that compels a multidisciplinary response. This project will develop multidisciplinary and international collaborations involving Canadian and Latin American researchers in cooperation with the University of the Andes. These partners will conduct field studies in Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador aiming to characterize the ecological transmission dynamics of the Zika virus and to predict areas at risk in each country and across the LAC region. They will design and assess integrated Zika control strategies using computer simulation based on the data collected in the field studies, as well as other data from collaborators and the literature. They will then propose interventions in the areas of transmission in the three countries. This research will address critical Zika research priorities identified by the Pan American Health Organization, assess mosquito control measures, and provide decision-makers with a tool to rapidly determine optimal intervention strategies.