Project Spotlight: Zika Research in Infants and Pregnant Women in Colombia

The Problem:

Zika Virus (ZIKV) was declared a global health threat in 2016.  Although most of the cases can be attributed to infected bites of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, a proportion of new Zika infections are due to sexual transmission from infected males to their partnersZIKV infection features general symptoms such as mild headaches and fever.  However, consequences of infections during pregnancy can be catastrophic. ZIKV infections during pregnancy are causally linked to microcephaly in new born babies (small heads) and other negative pregnancy outcomes.

Learn more about Zika from the CDC.

The Work:

The project Zika en Embarazadas y Ninos (ZEN) targets the population who were exposed to ZIKV.  ZEN has been executed in two phases.   During the first phase, the project staff followed a cohort of pregnant women, their partners, and their newborn infants, in the regions of Atlántico, Valle, and Santander in Colombia to better understand the association between ZIKV during pregnancy and the spectrum of possible adverse outcomes related to infection during pregnancy.  During the second phase, the babies from the first phase-cohort are followed to further explore functional deficits, their magnitude, and their association to other deficits later in life.  For this purpose, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Instituto Nacional de Salud in Colombia proposed the recruitment and follow-up of 5000 women and their 1250 children, until children reach 4 years of age.

The Vysnova Impact:

Vysnova provides comprehensive project management support for the scientific research of the ZEN study. We help our client meet their objectives by managing international purchases, human resources, technical requirements, and logistics, all while controlling costs and providing risk management.

Through crucial partnerships and subcontractors, Vysnova ensures high quality research and procures the technical skills needed for the study. We partner with academic institutions conducting similar research in Latin America to increase the study’s sample size of women who have or have been exposed to ZIKV. Vysnova also works closely with local companies to provide digital data storage and management for the samples collected from the field. This allows our client to easily analyze and access the data, which will be utilized for years to come. Vysnova also recruits and hires technical experts in child psychology that train field staff to assess babies with specific tools. These assessments analyze motor skills, psychological capacity, and other developmental patterns found within the children being studied. These skills are easily transferable to other ZIKV studies and enhance specialization of Colombian medical staff that will be used long after the study concludes.

The success of our clients’ projects is at the forefront of our efforts here at Vysnova. Our greatest contribution to that success lies in the relationships that Vysnova fosters through partnerships, subcontractors, local staff, vendors, and consultants. Vysnova looks forward to continuing to support public health projects within Latin America and globally.