Zika virus transmission is now a global pandemic, for which the WHO has declared an international emergency. In the U.S., Florida is “ground zero” for Zika, with already hundreds of locally-transmitted cases in multiple counties. While this disease can cause illness and paralysis in adults, it is linked to a variety of devastating birth defects, including brain deformities (microcephaly), frequent seizures, and skeletal abnormalities. However, there is no cure for Zika, and a vaccine is years away. Thus, the only method to reduce the spread of the disease is through timely surveillance and targeted mosquito control.
Therefore, we are developing an early warning system for Zika virus. A collaboration between Prof. Ryan Carney, Prof. Sean Ahearn (CUNY), and several international institutions, this geospatial model will build upon our team’s previously successful results predicting and controlling epidemics of similar mosquito-borne viruses: dengue and West Nile. This model will be implemented in Florida and Brazil, for the early and accurate identification of areas at high risk for Zika virus transmission. Real-time risk maps will be generated and supplied to local agencies, in order to target mosquito control, surveillance, and public education campaigns. Plans also include developing this predictive model into a free, open-source software solution to fight the spread of Zika virus around the world.
Carney RM, Ahearn SC, McConchie A, Glaser C, Jean C, Barker C, Park B, Padgett K, Parker E, Aquino E, Kramer V. 2011. Emerging Infectious Diseases 17(8):1445-54. PDF
Carney RM. 2010. Masters Thesis, Yale University. PDF
Theophilides, C. N., Ahearn, S. C., Binkowski, E. S., Paul, W. S., & Gibbs, K. (2006). International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 20(1):103-115. Link
Theophilides, C. N., Ahearn, S. C., Grady, S., & Merlino, M. (2003). American Journal of Epidemiology, 157(9):843-854. Link
Theophilides, C. N., E. S. Binkowski, S. C. Ahearn, & W. S. Paul. (2008). International Journal of Geoinformatics 4(3).
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