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UT Researchers Create Computer Model To Track Zika Spread In Real Time

Tom/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Mosquito season is looming large in Texas, and with it, renewed fears of mosquito-borne illnesses. Several Zika cases have already been reported this year in the Rio Grande Valley.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have come up with a new tool they hope can curb the spread of the disease. They have created a computer model that can predict in real-time the risk of a Zika outbreak if there are two Zika cases in the same area.

“For Zika to be detected in Texas, three things need to happen,” says Spencer Fox, a co-author of the study and a PhD student.

First, Zika must be transported to Texas by an infected individual. A mosquito must then bite that individual and transmit the disease to another person. Finally, either of these infected people must go to a doctor and receive a diagnosis, which is then reported to public health officials.

“It’s that third factor that makes tracking Zika very challenging because only about 6 percent of Zika cases are reported,” Fox says.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How the model takes into account these three factors\

– Why locally contained epidemics are more likely than Zika transmission across multiple counties

– Why the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the Houston metropolitan area are at high risk of an epidemic


Written by Molly Smith.

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