Potential for Zika Outbreak

Zika is now in the United States. Sort of. There has been a birth of a baby in the United States with microcephaly (born with a smaller head and underdeveloped brain) due to the virus, but the virus was contracted in the Honduras.

This article highlights that baby’s poor prognosis and uses the circumstance as an example and reminder of how not to contract Zika.

This article relates to what we discussed in class about biological epidemics and the SIR, or SEIR, or SIS epidemic models. It is unclear what type of model would be best suited for Zika because, as this source articulates, there is a lot we are uncertain of. The probability of having a baby with microcephaly by a women who contracted Zika during her pregnancy is about 1 in 13. Despite this specific population and not crazily frightening probability, the branching process seems pretty straightforward. However, we don’t know what the long term effects of Zika are, meaning that out of those 13  infected women, there is a possibility of other abnormalities if their exposed children are infected as well. The branching process of Zika is probably more complex because the uncertainty of being exposed and or infected or even susceptible or removed is uncertain.

Moreover, will Zika become contractable in the United States by this mother and child? Hopefully not, as its transmission is mainly through mosquitos and sexual contact…but again, there is a lot we do not understand about the spread and and effect of Zika. The CDC recommends that women who are pregnant or who are looking to become pregnant do not travel to Latin America or the Caribbean and to also avoid mosquito bites in those areas. Men can also contract and spread the virus, so using condoms if your partner has traveled to those areas is recommended as well.

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