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UHealth/Miller School Physician-Scientists on the Frontlines of Zika

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MosquitoPhysicians and scientists at UHealth – the University of Miami Health System and the Miller School of Medicine are playing a leading role in caring for Zika-affected adults and infants, controlling the virus, and developing antibody-based vaccines and rapid, cost-effective diagnostic tools. The information on this page is intended as a resource for patients, community physicians, health writers other health care professionals. See UM’s Special Report on Zika.

A Public Health Emergency

First discovered in 1947 in an African forest, Zika has been creeping around the globe for decades, jumping from continent to continent and now settling into the United States.

Carried by a most agreeable host–the Aedes aegypti mosquito–the Zika virus has spread rapidly due to the globalization of travel and trade, along with an expanding habitat for vectors caused by a warming planet. More than a year before the first locally acquired case of Zika was discovered in Miami in July 2016, Miller School scientists and researchers were already knee-deep in research and study about this perplexing virus.

Much more work needs to be done, experts say, because the Zika virus is not going away. “Everyone agrees this is a public health crisis,” J. Sunil Rao, Interim Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences and Director of the Division of Biostatics at the Miller School. “South Florida is likely to be the epicenter, year in and year out.” Read more.

UHealth Physicians Respond to the Zika Virus

Dr. Chris Curry and patientInfectious disease experts, obstetricians, and pediatricians at UHealth – the University of Miami Health System are caring for Zika-affected patients and using screening guidelines and recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Florida Department of Health (DOH).

We have developed new hospital protocols and are coordinating clinical care with our partners at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the VA.

Healthcare System, disseminating that information to all UHealth physicians and providing support and guidance to community health care workers.

Based out of the University of Miami Health System and Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, the Zika Response Team provides acute diagnostic, preventive, and treatment expertise for expectant mothers, fathers, newborns, infants, and family members affected by the pandemic insect-borne disease. Pulling from the broader Zika Global Network, multidisciplinary and comprehensive Zika Response Team of obstetricians and pediatricians provides the most expert care possible. Meet the Zika Response Team.

UM’s Zika Research Team

Dr. Mario StevensonBuilding upon relationships in Brazil and elsewhere, our scientists are on the front lines of developing vaccines and diagnostic tools, field-testing mosquito control strategies, and helping families cope with unknowns about epidemics like the current spread of the Zika virus. Faculty and staff are well versed in the public health, geographic, and societal effects of pandemics, such as Zika, and can speak to some of the lesser-known effects such as the legal and ethical implications of mitigation strategies as well as the business and economic impacts on communities. With an ever-increasing globalized world, including the interconnectivity of people, biodiversity, and the environment, interdisciplinary approaches are needed to help solve some of society’s most pressing problems. Read more on UM’s Zika research.

UM’s Zika Global Network

The Zika Global Network represents a cross-section of UM experts—in fields ranging from medicine and public health to mathematics and business— who are examining and predicting the spread of vector-borne diseases, developing effective testing and treatment of the Zika virus, establishing protocols for care, and measuring the impact of the epidemic on individuals and communities.
Read more on the Zika Global Network and UM’s September 8 Zika Forum.

Resources

For the latest news reports on the Zika virus, including affected areas and cases within the U.S., including Florida, please check with the following agencies:

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