GIS software from Esri is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office (HHS) of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) effort to combat the growing health risk worldwide.

"Prevention is the first course of action in protecting public health, but people need information to make decisions about what preventive actions to take," says Este Geraghty, chief medical officer and health solutions director at Esri. "Using GIS technology to locate the most vulnerable populations is a first step in educating people on the risks of the Zika virus and about actions that can protect health and curb the spread of disease."

The health impacts of the Zika virus are reported to be greatest on developing fetuses. Drawing on U.S. Census data, Esri is showing experts at the ASPR and other agencies within HHS where best to target information and reach women of child-bearing age and their partners. To plan for the domestic assistance that states may need, ASPR also is using Esri software to monitor the spread of the Zika virus across the U.S. and in 34 other countries where infections have been found.

Using Esri software, ASPR created a publicly available interactive map that shows the number of cases in each state. The information is automatically updated each week.

The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bites of infected mosquitoes; however, the virus has also been found to be transmitted sexually. The virus can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults and children and can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly.

About Esri

Since 1969, Esri has provided customers worldwide tools to think and plan geographically. A market leader in GIS, Esri software is used in more than 350,000 organizations including each of the 200 largest cities in the U.S., most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. Esri applications run on more than 1 million desktops and thousands of Web and enterprise servers. Esri provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server and Internet platforms.