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Zika virus outbreak and related research


The School is actively involved in responding to the current Zika virus outbreak in the Americas, which is thought to be linked to an increase in cases of the birth defect microcephaly, as well as other neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Video: What is Zika? And how can it be prevented and treated?

Professor Jimmy Whitworth is coordinating the School’s response and staff are involved in studies on Zika and associated conditions, research collaborations with a number of universities in Brazil, and advising governments and international agencies.

Professor Laura Rodrigues is working with the Microcephaly Epidemic Research Group in Brazil, a collaboration between the School and key academic institutions in Pernambuco. Funded by the government of Brazil and The Wellcome Trust, she is conducting a case control study of newborn babies to characterise the link between Zika infection and microcephaly. She is also preparing cohort studies of pregnant women who develop Zika, to establish the risk of microcephaly associated with infection at different stages, and of babies born with microcephaly, to track their development.

Professor Rosanna Peeling is part of the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization consultation on the development and assessment of Zika diagnostic tests.

Mathematical modellers at the School are analysing previous Zika outbreaks in order to better understand the transmission dynamics of the virus.  Researchers in vector biology and mosquito-borne diseases are providing guidance on mosquito control strategies and how people can protect themselves from bites, as well as mapping areas of risk.

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