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Research Priorities to Inform Public Health and Medical Practice for Domestic Zika Virus: A Workshop

The rapid spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil and its presence in more than 25 countries have raised concerns about U.S. outbreaks.  Although a majority of those infected with the virus develop only mild symptoms or none at all, an association between Zika infection in pregnant women and babies born with microcephaly or other severe neurodevelopmental birth defects prompted the World Health Organization to declare “a public health emergency of international concern.”  The virus has also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurologic disorder that can cause temporary weakness or paralysis.

At the request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene a Feb. 16 workshop to identify basic research priorities that could be implemented in real time to help minimize the likelihood of local Zika virus transmission in the U.S. and inform public health responses.

At the workshop, invited experts and stakeholders will discuss topics including:

  • clinical management,  public health resources, and guidance that may be needed to inform prevention, mitigation, detection, and treatment efforts;
  • current research efforts to better understand the virus and research gaps;specific risk factors for the babies of pregnant women who have been infected with the Zika virus and periods of particularly increased risk during pregnancy;
  • burdens associated with microcephaly and other neurological disorders in babies and the resources need to care for them and other affected individuals; and
  • risk factors for developing Guillain-Barré syndrome after Zika infection and appropriate medical care.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using  #ZikaResearch. Register to attend in person.

DETAILS: The workshop will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST at the National Academy of Sciences building, 2101 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. Reporters who wish to attend must register in advance with the Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail news@nas.edu.  Reporters who cannot attend in person can watch a live webcast at www.nationalacademies.org. For more information, including an agenda when it becomes available, visit iom.nationalacademies.org/Activities/PublicHealth/ZikaResearch/2016-FEB-16.aspx