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Zika and public health Understanding the epidemiology and information environment

Because Zika is a newly emerging infectious disease with little previous information known about it, there are many epidemiologic and clinical questions. The complexity of providing care to those who are at risk for infection or are already infected with Zika in this evidence-scarce environment cannot be understated. In this article, we provide an overview of the Zika virus (ZIKV) in the context of public health and pediatric health care. A broad public health focus is used to provide relevant information for addressing important questions about the epidemic and to facilitate communication with patients, parents, and caregivers within the current information environment. We explore issues regarding the epidemiology of the virus (including why ZIKV outbreaks are occurring), what has changed since the sporadic case reports before the outbreaks, why the true incidence is difficult to estimate, why attack rates vary by population and geography, and why the association between Zika and congenital Zika syndrome and Guillain-Barré syndrome have only come to light recently. Additionally, challenges related to the current information environment, traditional and informal information sources about the ZIKV, and examples of Zika public health communication campaigns are discussed. Importantly, we review the existing findings regarding the US population's Zika-related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior by highlighting variations and gaps. We conclude by identifying related research questions that remain critical.


MacDonald, P. D. M., & Holden, E. W. (2018). Zika and public health: Understanding the epidemiology and information environment. Pediatrics, 141(Suppl 2), S137-S145. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2017-2038B

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