Professor & Preeminent Scholoar
University of Florida
This RAPID award will develop estimates of the transmission capability and potential global burden of infection of the Zika virus. These estimates are urgently needed but difficult to obtain because of inaccuracies in blood tests and under reporting of infections. Using existing serum samples together with mathematical modeling, the project will fill knowledge gaps about i) transmission parameters for Zika, ii) the consistency of surveillance approaches, and iii) the global risk of Zika transmission. This approach will also capture information about other viral infections (e.g., chikungunya and dengue) and the potential for future spread. Results from this project will be relevant to the Zika public health emergency, and the researchers have set in place mechanisms to share quality-assured interim and final data as rapidly and widely as possible, including with public health and research communities. This project will use mathematical models informed by sample serology to estimate the transmission potential for Zika across the globe. Currently, the utility of inference is limited with surveillance reports alone and traditional serological methods, the latter because of cross-reactivity between arboviruses. This project will use a new low-cost, high throughput assay to test for the historic exposure of different antibodies for Zika and other arboviruses. It will compare the rate susceptible individuals in communities that acquire different arboviruses over time. From these results, geostatistical models to predict the force of infection will be developed and risk maps for Zika and other arboviruses will be validated. This knowledge will be used to characterize the shared epidemiology of arboviral diseases around the world.