Zika is here to stay and is related to poverty according to experts presenting at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2016 Annual Meeting.
Delegates heard that more than 800 pregnant women in the United States are infected with Zika, and most of these infections are related to travel or sexual transmission. In Puerto Rico and the other territories, more than 1800 pregnant women are infected.
With no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment available, the current goal is to treat the symptoms.
Rubens Belfort Jr, Head Professor of Ophthalmology at the Federal University of Sao Paulo said Zika is related to poverty. “And we as ophthalmologists should emphasize the importance of addressing the social aspects.”
Often what the whole family receives per month is less than what they need to purchase their milk
Care for affected children is complex and expensive. “Often what the whole family receives per month is less than what they need to purchase their milk,” he reported.
A camera to scan the retina currently costs more than US$100,000, which points to the need for affordable equipment options.
It is premature to expect a vaccine, Professor. Belfort said a vaccine for Zika in the short-term was unlikely.
The development of a Zika vaccine and testing for the virus are complicated by the fact that human antibody responses after infection with the dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya viruses are highly cross-reactive to Zika.