We’re reading about a year of Zika responses, new outbreaks on the horizon, and why the only certainty is the need to meet the next challenges faster and better

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Zika Virus – 10 Public Health Achievements in 2016 and Future Priorities – From last January, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control issued its first warnings to pregnant women on travel to Zika-endemic areas, to July when the agency for the first time warned against travel to a destination within the continental United States, to mid-December, when the number of Zika-prompted travel warnings at home and abroad totaled 60, the threat posed by the virus grew steadily throughout 2016. At the same time, so did knowledge of the dangers posed by the disease, which is both vector-borne and sexually transmitted, and is now confirmed to cause devastating neurologic birth defects and the paralyzing Guillain Barre syndrome. This CDC details the emerging public health needs and the agency’s responses throughout the last year, and warns that the threats to global public health that the virus presents are far from over.

More work lies ahead to fight Zika, other threats: CDC chief – This Reuters interview with CDC head Dr. Thomas Frieden also revisits the dawning awareness and demands of Zika in the last year, and looks forward to an uncertain future. Frieden, who like other federal appointees will turn in his resignation letter to the new Administration, doesn’t address his own plans, but does speak of his hope for a public health emergency fund to speed the responses that will certainly be needed in the future, noting: “We’ve dealth with Ebola, H1N1 influenza, MERS, fungal meningitis. . . ” along with present threats posed by drug-resistant bacteria.

Five little-known diseases to watch out for in 2017 – This piece from Derek Gatherer of Lancaster University describes the causes and effects of some of the diseases that might be rolling off the tongue this time next year. Some — Leishmaniasis, Rift Valley Fever — ring a bell, but, the author posits are on the way to becoming more widely known. Some — Oropouche, Mayaro — are just beginning their move from obscurity, and one, Elizabethkingia, has already made a name for itself worldwide, but is lately showing more strength, and resistance to antibiotics that have been used to treat it.

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