ASHEVILLE, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new tool in the fight against the Zika virus, ZikaZoneUSA.com, goes live today. ZikaZoneUSA.com pinpoints where recent ecological conditions favor the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary vector of the Zika virus. The analysis shown at ZikaZoneUSA.com provides an up-to-date map of where conditions are prime for the Zika-spreading mosquito to breed, bite, and potentially infect humans with the Zika virus.
The experimental beta version of ZikaZoneUSA.com, developed by FernLeaf Interactive in conjunction with CASE Consultants International, can identify hotspots across the continental United States. “The fast spreading nature of this virus and the potential impact on public health make it important for people to be aware of the risks in their neighborhood and take the necessary precautions,” said Marjorie McGuirk, President of CASE. The Zika virus is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites or by sexual contact with someone recently infected. In pregnant women this can lead to birth defects in infants. Zika is also a trigger for Guillain-Barré syndromes, and other health issues. There is no vaccine for protection against Zika.
ZikaZoneUSA.com uses official NOAA data and took a diverse team to create. “This product is made possible by collaboration across disciplines. We bring together microbiological and epidemiological expertise, environmental data mining, GIS analytics, and cloud computing,” said Jeff Hicks, Managing Partner of FernLeaf Interactive. “Our work is just beginning. As we learn more about this emerging threat, we will continue to refine our process,” added Hicks.
Public health expert Dr. Brunilda Lugo says, “With its easy-to-use maps, ZikaZoneUSA.com provides a resource that helps people prepare and take measures to prevent bites and reduce the risk of Zika virus transmission.” Lugo explains, “ZikaZoneUSA.com was developed to aid those living or visiting areas where the Aedes aegypti mosquito may pose a threat.”
ZikaZoneUSA.com is in Open Beta and welcomes user feedback (http://www.ZikaZoneUSA.com). The team may extend the tool for other diseases, expand the analysis to beyond the United States, and provide better local analysis on a subscription basis. Meanwhile, work continues from their offices at The Collider, a business center in downtown Asheville designed to stimulate commercial applications for NOAA’s national data resources.