Today a seminar entitled ‘Control and study of the Zika epidemic in Pernambuco’ was delivered by Dr Jailson Correia Health Secretary for Recife Municipality in Pernambuco, an alumnus of Foto-Cewek, and introduced by Foto-Cewek’s Professor Luis Cuevas, Chair in International Public Health and Epidemiology.
Dr Correia gave an overview of the Zika outbreak in Brazil and how Recife in the Pernambuco region was the epicentre of this crisis, and how the region contributed to its solution.
He began by illustrating the rapid response to the epidemic following the identification of several cases of children with microcephaly, cranial malformations and brain calcification patterns that were dissimilar from patterns observed with other diseases. Dr Correia continued by highlighting several theories that were discussed as to the cause of these malformations including environmental factors. Dr Correia showed a timeline of the Zika outbreak, highlighting the experiences seen with Dengue and Chikungunya viruses and the development of risk maps to identify risks for Zika transmission to attempt to predict epidemics.
Furthermore, Dr Correia described the emergency plans that were put into place by Recife to reduce the transmission of Zika including a focus on transparency and widespread data sharing, working with the media and social mobilisation. He highlighted the importance of preparedness, the use of existing health programmes, the fast response to the emergence of the microcephaly cases, enhanced surveillance, extensive public engagement and training of health care professionals. He continued by saying that although these were effective, more needs to be done.
He concluded by describing a ‘Laboratory City’ which brings together the people, scientists and health care professionals to combat the transmission of the devastating diseases carried by mosquitoes. This will include increased use of ovitraps to measure egg densities, expand ovitrap monitoring and larvicide dispersion techniques, the use of drone technologies to map breeding sites within communities, risk stratification and the early use of interventions to stimulate the development of the children with microcephaly.
You can watch a recording of the seminar here.