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I'm Stephen Morse, a Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. I work to understand the factors leading to emerging infectious diseases like Zika, and can answer your questions on the current outbreak. AMA!
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From 2009-2014, I was co-director of PREDICT, the part of the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats Program for identifying potential emerging infections and their sources. I’m the founding chair of ProMED—the nonprofit international Program to Monitor Emerging Diseases. In 1994, a few colleagues and I created ProMED-mail, an international network for outbreak reporting and disease monitoring using the Internet, a free service available to anyone interested. A bit about the Zika virus: Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes. The World Health Organization is meeting today discuss emergency response to the spread of the disease. I will be answering questions starting at 11am ET (8am PT). Ask Me Anything! EDIT: Hi everyone, I’m going to start answering questions now. EDIT: Thanks everyone for the terrific questions! I’m signing off now. Good health!