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Integrated Research On Zika Virus, Other Arboviruses, Needed To Stop Future Pandemics

New England Journal of Medicine: Zika Virus in the Americas — Yet Another Arbovirus Threat
Anthony Fauci, director, and David Morens, senior scientific adviser, both of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

“…With its recent appearance in Puerto Rico, Zika virus forces us to confront a potential new disease-emergence phenomenon: pandemic expansion of multiple, heretofore relatively unimportant arboviruses previously restricted to remote ecologic niches. To respond, we urgently need research on these viruses and the ecologic, entomologic, and host determinants of viral maintenance and emergence. Also needed are better public health strategies to control arboviral spread … With respect to treatment, … broad-spectrum antiviral drugs effective against whole classes of viruses are urgently needed. … Zika is still a pandemic in progress, and many important questions about it … remain to be answered. Yet it has already reinforced one important lesson: in our human-dominated world, urban crowding, constant international travel, and other human behaviors combined with human-caused microperturbations in ecologic balance can cause innumerable slumbering infectious agents to emerge unexpectedly. In response, we clearly need to up our game with broad and integrated research that expands understanding of the complex ecosystems in which agents of future pandemics are aggressively evolving” (1/13).

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