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Feb 2016 16
Time: 12:00 AM

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Where: National Academy of Sciences Building (Auditorium)


Zika virus, a single-stranded RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family, transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, is endemic to parts of Africa and Asia, and has recently spread to South and Central America, and the Caribbean. In the Americas, the Zika virus first emerged in Brazil in 2015 and has since spread rapidly across the region, with local transmission in 26 countries in South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Given the rapid spread of the Zika virus throughout the Americas and the presence of its vector mosquito species in parts of the U.S., concern is growing across the country.

Although an estimated 80% of people infected with the Zika virus never develop signs or symptoms, and symptoms for those that do are usually mild—rarely requiring hospitalization—there is a growing concern about the association between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and babies born with microcephaly and other severe neurodevelopmental birth defects. Questions have also been raised about the potential link between Zika virus infection and Guillain Barré Syndrome
(GBS), a rare neurologic syndrome where the body attacks the nerves and can cause temporary weakness or paralysis.

There is an urgent need for additional research to better characterize the Zika virus, especially those issues related to infection during pregnancy. Additional research of the real-world environmental characteristics and behaviors of Zika virus could provide additional evidence-based information to inform medical and public health efforts to protect those at-risk. Such research could also provide much needed answers to questions about health risks and appropriate public health and medical interventions.

This proposed workshop will bring together key stakeholders and experts to discuss the research priorities needed to inform medical and public health practice that can be implemented under real-world conditions to better understand the true risk that the Zika virus poses to the public in the U.S. and adequate prevention efforts and interventions to mitigate that risk.

Workshop Objectives:

  • Discuss the key themes (e.g., epidemiological characteristics, surveillance and diagnostics, virus reservoirs/vectors/transmission, disease pathogenesis and sequelae, and clinical management and public health interventions) and strategies to reduce the likelihood that local transmission of Zika virus is established within the U.S.
  • Identify and discuss areas of insufficient knowledge related to the key themes and prevention strategies and identify research questions that address the areas of insufficient knowledge of specific concern to affected and potentially affected U.S. communities.
  • Discuss and prioritize research questions and needs critical to providing public health officials, providers, and the general public with the relevant, evidence based  information about level of risk and risk factors, prevention, transmission, health consequences, and measures that should be taken to minimize the number of infections and prevent spread of Zika virus in the U.S.


For more information, contact the Zika Research Priorities Workshop Team:
Email: zikaresearchworkshop@nas.edu


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