Modeling Disease – Tracking Zika

Modeling Disease – Tracking Zika

The Zika virus currently poses a serious threat – particularly to pregnant women, but what are the chances of this disease effecting our population in the future? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Eubank: In the case of Zika, while it might be a short lived tragedy, it’s unlikely to be a long lasting plaque on mankind like smallpox or something like that.

Stephen Eubank is a professor at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. He and his team track the spread of diseases like Zika worldwide.

Eubank: People talk about diseases burning through a population sometimes, and that’s a really good analogy. The faster the fire burns, the faster it burns out of material and the less likely it is to smolder and sit around for ages and ages. Zika is kind of like that. If all the people who we think are being exposed and getting ill are actually being infected by Zika, then there’s just not going to be anywhere for it to go; sooner or later and it will burn itself out. Even if it doesn’t completely burn itself out, what happens with a disease like this is that as people are born, they become infected fairly quickly. So 15 years ago, a two year old in Brazil would not have gotten infected with Zika because it wasn’t there. It is now, so it’s likely that the two year old will get bitten by a mosquito and get sick. That’s sad for the two year old, but it’s unlikely to have any severe consequences for the two year old. Whereas, if the two year old had grown up to be 18 or 20 or 24 before they were infected, then they might have had an exposure while they were pregnant.
The two year old who gets bitten and infected by Zika is likely to develop an immunity that will prevent her from getting sick later on when she might be pregnant, and that means that the biggest, the worst consequences of a Zika epidemic will be avoided.

I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Modeling Disease - Tracking Zika

Will the Zika virus burn itself out?
Air Date:05/11/2017
Scientist:
Transcript:

Modeling Disease - Tracking Zika

The Zika virus currently poses a serious threat - particularly to pregnant women, but what are the chances of this disease effecting our population in the future? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Eubank: In the case of Zika, while it might be a short lived tragedy, it's unlikely to be a long lasting plaque on mankind like smallpox or something like that.

Stephen Eubank is a professor at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. He and his team track the spread of diseases like Zika worldwide.

Eubank: People talk about diseases burning through a population sometimes, and that's a really good analogy. The faster the fire burns, the faster it burns out of material and the less likely it is to smolder and sit around for ages and ages. Zika is kind of like that. If all the people who we think are being exposed and getting ill are actually being infected by Zika, then there's just not going to be anywhere for it to go; sooner or later and it will burn itself out. Even if it doesn't completely burn itself out, what happens with a disease like this is that as people are born, they become infected fairly quickly. So 15 years ago, a two year old in Brazil would not have gotten infected with Zika because it wasn't there. It is now, so it's likely that the two year old will get bitten by a mosquito and get sick. That's sad for the two year old, but it's unlikely to have any severe consequences for the two year old. Whereas, if the two year old had grown up to be 18 or 20 or 24 before they were infected, then they might have had an exposure while they were pregnant.
The two year old who gets bitten and infected by Zika is likely to develop an immunity that will prevent her from getting sick later on when she might be pregnant, and that means that the biggest, the worst consequences of a Zika epidemic will be avoided.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.