The number of cases of Zika in 2017 is much lower than 2016, which is seemingly great news, but let’s not stop being diligent in preparing for another wave. Zika made headlines across the whole world in 2016. It ravaged areas such as Colombia and Brazil, and it even came to the U.S. It left birth defects amongst many children in the Western Hemisphere.
Although the news has long since turned to other topics, researchers are still terrified of Zika. First, there is no evidence that a Zika outbreak will not return. According to a medical entomologist that works at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute, Zika can really come back any day now. So far, there is some optimism with laboratory work on Zika, as researchers have learned more on how the virus enters a host cell.
This is critical information to be able to come up with an efficacious vaccine in the future; however, one important caveat is the mode of transmission of Zika virus. It can actually be transmitted due to sex, having the ability to be in semen for up to 3 months. Therefore, very little is known on the persistence of Zika virus throughout a long-term timeline.
But, there is some good news. One vaccine developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has made to a second round of human clinical trials. In addition, other researchers are earnestly working on developing vaccines to combat Zika. Thus, a sustainable effort and communication among governments is needed to quell Zika from being a threat again.