The rapid spread of the Zika virus has made many aware of which countries to avoid in order to limit potential contact with the aegypti mosquito. But what about the countries that could be hit in the future?
A new study from Canada published Thursday revealed that Africa, Asia and the Pacific may contain the next crop of at-risk countries, although the virus has largely been affecting countries in the Americas.
CTV News reported that the study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, stated that local transmission of the virus was confirmed in Cape Verde, Africa, Singapore and some islands in the Pacific. With the noted locations, scientists predict that 2.6 billion people may be at risk.
The Washington Post recently reported that Singapore alone confirmed at least 151 cases, two of which involved pregnant women.
Researchers conducting the study — including Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto — included scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Toronto and Oxford University. The study reported findings that took into account climate conditions, population density and the volume of travelers that would be returning from other areas with known Zika outbreaks. Using that criteria, the study confirmed that eight countries would be at the greatest risk for Zika transmission. The countries were India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Dr. Khan told CTV News that their team chose to focus on Africa, the Pacific and Asia because of the continents’ humid climates that were favorable to the spread of the disease. In addition, the countries from those continents would be the least equipped — both financially and technologically — to deal with the prolific nature of the virus.
“Hopefully we will not see the same kind of situation as occurred in Brazil,” Dr. Khan told CTV News, referencing India in particular.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as of Wednesday, a total of 35 cases of locally acquired cases of the virus were reported and 2,686 travel-associated cases were confirmed. All cases of local transmission have come from the state of Florida.