Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Predicting Zika Virus in the U.S.

PostedMarch 20, 2016

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Anchor Lede: Researchers looking at conditions that make it ripe for spread of the feared Zika virus have mapped when and where the risk might be in the U.S.

Randy Atkins: Of course, summer is mosquito season…but does that mean we’ll get Zika virus outbreaks here? Andy Monaghan, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says it’s hard to predict.

Andrew Monaghan: We had a number of different experts from various disciplines collaborating to try to take a first stab at this problem.

Randy Atkins: Using computer simulations, they factored in weather, international travel, even poverty levels and access to indoor air conditioning. Other diseases spread by this particular mosquito also provide a clue.

Andrew Monaghan: The highest risk would be in areas where we’ve seen previous outbreaks of dengue and chikungunya.

Randy Atkins: That’s southern Florida and southern Texas, where the mosquito can survive year round. Monaghan says the time is takes for mosquitos to become infectious probably make Zika spread less efficient as they move north. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.