More than 102,000 people in Colombia have been infected with Zika virus since October 2015—when their epidemic began—and more than 18,000 of those are pregnant women. In the U.S., 731 women have been diagnosed with laboratory evidence of possible Zika infection, as have 1,156 in U.S. territories.
To help keep those numbers from rising, the CDC and Colombia’s Instituto Nacional de Salud have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on Zika virus response in Colombia. The collaboration—including surveillance and epidemiology—will provide “critical scientific information to help the United States, Colombia, and other countries prepare for the unprecedented challenges posed by Zika,” says CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD.
Colombia has been a “superb partner” in efforts thus far, Frieden says: Since 2016, the CDC and the Instituto Nacional de Salud have worked together on Proyecto VEZ (Vigilancia de Embarazadas con Zika) to enhance surveillance of women infected with Zika during pregnancy in 3 sites in Colombia. To date, the project has enrolled more than 900 women.
The 2 agencies are also beginning a prospective study, ZEN Colombia (Zika en Embarazadas y Niños en Colombia) to investigate the long-term effects of the virus infection in pregnant women, their male partners, and their children.