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August 4, 2016: Researchers Make New Projections for Spread of the Zika Virus

William G. Gilroy reports that “New research from the University of Notre Dame places a new upper limit on the total number of people who could become infected by the Zika virus in the first wave of the current epidemic.

“The team of researchers, led by Alex Perkins, Eck Family Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, projects that as many as 93 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean, including 1.6 million childbearing women, are at risk of infection over the next two to three years of the epidemic. Because these totals reflect the sum of location-specific estimates across the region, the researchers stress that it is important to note that these numbers represent a worst-case scenario.

“’In other words, we think these projections may be pretty good for a location where Zika shows up and starts an epidemic, but at the same time we acknowledge that due simply to random chance and the fact that some places are relatively isolated and sparsely populated, the virus won’t make it to every single corner of the continent,’” Perkins said.

“Perkins also pointed out that it is very important to note that the numbers that the researchers report are infections, which are not the same as clinical cases.

“’Only about 20 percent of people who are infected develop any symptoms whatsoever, and even fewer than that will seek medical care and show up in government statistics,’” he said.

Source: University of Notre Dame

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