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K-State Today

March 8, 2016

Higgs participates in National Academy of Sciences Zika virus workshop

Submitted by Sarah Hancock

Stephen Higgs, associate vice president for research and director of the Biosecurity Research Institute, served as a discussant at one of four breakout sessions at a National Academy of Sciences workshop last month.

"Research Priorities to Inform Public Health and Medical Practice for Domestic Zika Virus" was Feb. 16 in Washington, D.C. Panel discussions covered topics such as the origin and spread of the virus, vector distribution and control, viral genetics and how the disease affects people. Breakout sessions were held afterward; Higgs' session was called "Virus Reservoirs and Vectors." Breakout session representatives then reported highlights and research priorities to other workshop attendees. Read a report from the workshop.

The purposes of the workshop were to bring together key stakeholders and experts to discuss the research priorities needed to inform medical and public health practice, to understand the risk Zika virus poses to the U.S. public, and to explore how to mitigate that risk. Specific objectives were to identify, discuss and explore key factors to reduce the likelihood of local transmission of Zika virus in the U.S.; areas of insufficient knowledge related to prevention; research questions of specific concern, such as exploring causality between Zika virus and microcephaly; and critical communication needs of evidence-based information for public health officials, providers and the general public.

Higgs is the president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and editor-in-chief of the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. 

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