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February 21, 2017

Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases: The Dichotomy Between Acute Outbreaks and Chronic Endemicity

Author Affiliations
  • 1Office of the Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA. 2017;317(7):691-692. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.21079

Toward the end of 2015 and well into 2016, Zika virus dominated the attention of the public as well as international and regional health authorities. The World Health Organization declared Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. Yet as 2017 begins, public attention to Zika virus has waned considerably as incident cases have decreased in the Americas, particularly in Brazil, the most severely affected country. With this decrease in attention comes the danger of complacency and failure to appreciate the potential scope of the disease. For example, many unanswered questions remain regarding the pathogenesis of Zika virus and the acute and long-term sequelae that make accurate risk assessment and public health recommendations difficult. Therefore, it is imperative that research and public health communities continue to focus on Zika virus as the acute phase of the epidemic subsides and endemicity ensues.