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Local Transmission of Zika Infection is Feasible in Non-endemic Developed Countries but has Limited Potential to Reach Epidemic Proportions

In the opening months of 2016 Zika infection is drawing considerable global media attention and the spread of misinformation has perhaps understandably caused public alarm. At a time shortly before the eyes of the world will turn to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Zika virus has a strongly suspected causal link to more than 4,000 recent cases of microcephaly among newborn infants in Brazil. Moreover, Zika has spread rapidly through over 25 Latin American nations and, with increased globalization and in an era of mass international travel, it is uncertain where it may establish next. It is quite possible that this epidemic may extend as far as North America, Europe and Australia, continents that are at present unaffected except for an occasionalclinical case of a traveler returning from an endemic area. However, in these more developed countries local transmission of infection should be containable through adherence to existing robust measures to suppress mosquitoes, which include the Aedes spp. vector of transmission. Thus, there is limited potential for Zika to reach epidemic proportions in currently unaffected industrialized nations.


Andrew W Taylor-Robinson

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