At NC State, we seek innovative solutions to emerging problems. In 2016, that means pursuing interdisciplinary research to better understand and combat the spread of the Zika virus.
Zika isn’t a new disease, but the mosquito-borne virus has been making headlines since February, when the World Health Organization highlighted its connection to birth defects in newborn children. With that announcement, Zika became a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The virus is spread by Aedes aegypti, a tough and adaptable species of mosquito found throughout the tropical and subtropical Americas. The good news is that only one-fifth of those who contract the disease exhibit its mild symptoms: headache, fever, skin rash, and muscle and joint pains.
The bad news is that the virus can transfer from a mother to her fetus — and that Zika in infants is linked to neurological diseases including microcephaly, a defect in which babies are born with smaller-than-normal heads.
NC State researchers are fighting the disease on multiple fronts. They’re designing innovative, mosquito-proof fabrics; developing mathematical models that describe and predict the spread of infections; genetically engineering mosquitos to suppress their transmission of disease; and drawing attention to missed opportunities for better biotechnology regulation. And they’re working on a one-shot vaccine that could grant lifetime immunity against the virus.
In the following stories, you’ll learn how colleges across NC State are tackling the Zika epidemic.