Understanding and Combating Zika in the Dominican Republic
The MAMI Prenatal Clinic in La Romana, Dominican Republic, has been affiliated with Columbia University since its inception in 2008. Annually, MAMI cares for about 700 pregnant teenagers. We urgently seek funding to create a Zika education and surveillance program to help reduce the likelihood of infection for these young women in an area heavily afflicted with the Zika virus.
Through the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of Zika-related data, we will more clearly understand the:
- prevalence and incidence of Zika infection in pregnant women at MAMI;
- percent of infected women who develop symptoms;
- rate of mother-to-infant Zika transmission; and
- spectrum of disease in infected babies.
This information is critically needed for planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practice and appropriate patient care. The program will help to monitor and clarify the epidemiology of Zika infection during pregnancy and early childhood, assist the setting of priorities, and help inform health policy and strategies, while helping the young women we serve at the MAMI Prenatal Clinic.
What we know:
- Since May of last year, mosquito-borne Zika virus infection has been reported for the first time in Brazil and 38 other countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean
- The infection, which can also be transmitted sexually and from mother-to-baby, has rapidly spread northward through the Caribbean region and reached the subtropical areas of southern United States
- Over 2 billion people in the Americas live in areas where Zika-infected mosquitoes conceivably could thrive
- Zika infection has been declared to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern
- This is only the fourth time that the World Health Organization has used such a designation, reserved for the world’s most dire health threats
- The Dominican Republic is one of 21 countries where Zika Virus disease in pregnant women has been confirmed
- Infection rates in the Caribbean countries are on the rise and likely to peak before year’s end
- Over 4,000 babies with microcephaly have been reported in Brazil, and cases have also been reported in Colombia, Martinque, Panama, and Puerto Rico, with two cases confirmed in the United States linked to travel elsewhere
- Very likely Zika also causes a whole range of less obvious but nonetheless serious developmental and neurologic conditions in infected babies
- In the United States there have been 13 reported cases of Zika virus-associated Guillain-Barré syndrome and, as of September 29, 2016, 22 live-born infants and 5 pregnancy losses with birth defects associated with Zika virus disease
- As of October 5, 2016, 3,818 cases of Zika virus infection have been diagnosed in the United States, including 30 cases of sexually-transmitted infection
- Of the 837 identified cases in New York, 51% were acquired in the Dominican Republic
We have an important opportunity to protect women and babies and better understand how Zika affects their health. With your help, we can move forward with this project immediately.