Zika epidemic likely over in 2-3 years

Researchers suggest the current Zika epidemic will burn itself out in 2-3 years. The researchers from Imperial College London, United Kingdom predict Zika is unlikely to resurge on an epidemic scale again in Latin America for 10 years or more.

The lead researcher, Professor Neil Ferguson explains that :

“This study uses all available data to provide an understanding of how the disease will unfold – and allows us to gauge the threat in the imminent future.”

The model predicts the current epidemic will be over in 2-3 years for the main reason that people who have already been infected with Zika are unlikely to be infected with it again.

He says the reason is because of something called “herd immunity”. When a person is infected with a virus like Zika, their immune system makes antibodies against the virus, which protects them against infection next time they are exposed to the virus.

From their analysis, it show that the virus cannot resurge until there is a new generation of people who have never been infected and the model predicts this will not happen for at least 10 years.

The researchers conclude that any large-scale government measures to target the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry Zika are unlikely to contain the epidemic. It is very difficult to control the spread of the mosquitoes.

Prof. Ferguson says to stand a chance of containing such an epidemic, you have to start implementing control measures very early – but in the case of Zika, “by the time we realised the scale of the problem, it was too late,” he notes.

In fact, there is a good chance that trying to slow Zika spread at this late stage could prolong rather than curtail the epidemic.

While having the end of the epidemic in sight is good news, it raises problems for vaccine development. The model predicts Zika cases will have dropped substantially by the end of 2017. This means by the time vaccines are ready to test, there will not be enough uninfected people left for trials to be viable.

Prof. Ferguson suggests one way to overcome this is to be ready with “sleeper sites” around the world. Having already sought and been granted the legal and ethical approvals involved in running vaccine trials – a lengthy and laborious process – sleeper sites would be ready to launch a vaccine trial immediately when a new Zika epidemic breaks out in their area.

Source :- MedicalNewsToday

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