How the U.S. Can Proactively Prepare for the Zika Virus

by Christine Hockett, Epidemiologist with Consilience Software, A Xerox Company

On February 2, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency, signaling the seriousness of the outbreak and putting an emphasis on the tools needed to fight it. Since its detection in Brazil in May, the disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, has spread to more than 20 countries in Latin America, along with reported cases in Costa Rica and Jamaica. Healthcare organizations have seen locally-acquired cases in U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as travel-associated cases appearing in the continental U.S. Now that Zika is labeled an international emergency and public concern is growing, what can U.S. health agencies and providers do to prepare?

Surveillance is one of the key components to protecting citizens from outbreaks. Electronic surveillance includes data collection and reporting and can ultimately help agencies and healthcare providers detect, respond to and prevent further outbreaks. The technology opens the lines of communication between vital parties. This way, they can accurately and quickly collect data to analyze patterns and trends in order to characterize unusual activities and monitor how the disease spreads in different geographical areas.

For example, Maven Outbreak Management Software is a case management tool that helps local and state health departments monitor and analyze disease and health data to track viruses like Zika or birth defects like Microcephaly. Rapid communication across multiple jurisdictions to update agencies as threats emerge, change and grow is critical to success. Maven technology integrates with electronic reporting to ensure no update or information is lost in the scramble.

Recently, I’ve been interviewed by Healthcare IT News to talk about the Zika virus and how the U.S. can prepare with technology like case management and outbreak management solutions.

Stay tuned to learn more about the technology and the Zika virus. We’ll keep you posted as the situation continues to evolve.

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