Miami University professor develops forecasting method for Zika virus

Dhananjai Rao was invited to a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy meeting.
Dhananjai Rao was invited to a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy meeting. | Contributed photo

Dhananjai Rao, an assistant professor at Miami University of Ohio, developed a forecast model on the threat of the Zika virus and believes the United States is a low risk country.

“There is currently only a low risk the Zika virus will become a major problem in the United States or Canada,” Rao said.

Rao, who works in the department of computer science and software engineering, developed an initial forecast model for several countries in South America and submitted it to a government agency. He previously won $10,000 in May for developing a computer model that forecast another mosquito-borne virus called Chikungunya.

Rao was also invited to a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy meeting in September to discuss forecasting methods for Dengue fever, which is yet another mosquito-borne illness.

The World Health Organization recently declared an international emergency due to the Zika virus, which it stated was “spreading explosively” in the Americas. The virus could be linked to pregnant women having microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with defects such as abnormally small heads and neurological disorders.

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