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.
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.