Mérieux Foundation event

Arboviruses: A Global Public Health Threat

June 20 - 22, 2018 - Les Pensieres Center for Global Health, Veyrier-du-Lac (France)

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Background

In retrospect, announcements of a dengue pandemic in the 1990s were a sentinel call to action in the fight against a range of emerging and re-emerging arboviruses.

With the recent outbreak of neurological disorders and neonatal malformations associated with Zika virus in Latin America, the yellow fever outbreaks in Angola and Brazil, West Nile Virus in North America, the not-too-distant emergence from sub-Saharan Africa and global spread of chikungunya virus with a relatively recent arrival in the Americas, and the on-going and deepening dengue pandemic in the tropics and especially Asia, arboviruses and specifically flaviviruses are in the news and at the top of social, political and public health agendas.

These events establish an urgency and raise awareness of the need for integrated control and prevention strategies. These strategies focus on vector control, environmental management, personal protection, social mobilization and political will, case ascertainment and management, surveillance including laboratory confirmation, and vaccination.

It is widely recognized that no single strategy alone can fully address the problem. Timely access to clinical services and appropriate care can reduce mortality dramatically. Vaccines are widely available to protect against japanese encephalitis and yellow fever. The first dengue vaccine was licensed in 2015 and several more candidates are under development. Zika vaccine candidates are in early stages of development and progressing with full support. While diagnostics are available for surveillance and research, recent events have highlighted the need for differential diagnostics, and the need for point-of-care rapid diagnostic tests. Following the application of rigorous evaluations, there is increasing awareness of the efficiency of various prevention strategies against disease. Progress is being made.

Urbanisation, poverty and international trade and travel are widely recognized as contributors to these emerging and re-emerging arboviruses and the diseases they cause. The impact of climate change is also widely touted, although the relationship is complex.

The aim of this meeting is to raise awareness and advance the discussion on these topics.

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Cindy Grasso

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