Tackling Zika virus: Challenges ahead

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Health officials, drug companies, governments and the public are scrambling to understand and combat the Zika virus. The virus was first identified almost 70 years ago, but little is known about it. And now, officials suspect it could be related to a rise in microcephaly cases in affected countries. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, details the scientific challenges ahead.

Bethany Halford, a senior editor at C&EN, reports that officials face several obstacles when studying Zika, which is a flavivirus in the same family as dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. A major factor complicating efforts to track, diagnose and treat the virus is its stealth. Only 20 percent of people infected with it show symptoms, and doctors currently do not have an easy test approved by the Food and Drug Administration to prove someone is infected with Zika.

Pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. have quickly responded to the outbreak by ramping up vaccine research. Testing and approval could take three to five years, however. At the same time, some experts say this strategy, which focuses on an individual virus, does not make the most of available resources. They argue instead that scientists and drug companies should develop vaccines and therapies that target whole categories of viruses. In addition to addressing the current emergency, this broader approach could potentially help protect us against future outbreaks.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
COVID-19 associated with higher risk of erectile dysfunction