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Cristina Possas 1 Article
Zika: what we do and do not know based on the experiences of Brazil
Cristina Possas
Epidemiol Health. 2016;38:e2016023.   Published online May 31, 2016
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2016023
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Abstract
OBJECTIVES
Zika virus, which was first discovered in 1947, has become a global threat to human health as it is rapidly spreading through Latin America, the Caribbean, the US and Asia, after causing a large outbreak in the Northeast region of Brazil in 2015. There is ample evidence to support that Zika virus is associated with neurological complications such as microcephaly. The review aims to provide an overview on the complex issues involved in the emergence of Zika virus’s neurological disorders and to discuss possible explanations of Zika virus introduction and dissemination in Brazil. We also suggest national and global strategies to adequately respond to the Zika virus emergence.
METHODS
We provide an analytical evaluation of the main issues related to the Zika outbreak in Brazil, based on available scientific literature, including government documents, and on epidemiological information from national surveillance databases.
RESULTS
The studies on the clinical manifestations of the Zika virus infection coupled with the epidemiological surveillance information in Brazil have provided significant evidence that the Zika virus is associated with neurological disorders such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Based on phylogenetic and molecular analysis, the hypothesis regarding the introduction of Zika virus in the country is that it took place following international events in 2013 and 2014, when many foreign visitors could have brought Zika virus into Brazil. The immunologically naïve status of populations in the Americas, previous infection with dengue virus, and the increased activity of Aedes aegypti might be the contributing factors for such an outbreak in Brazil. The Zika virus emergence emphasized the importance of cross-disciplinary perspective. Besides the scientific-based vector control strategies, it is important to understand the nature of the evolutionary processes involved in the viral evolution in complex ecosystems and to have social and anthropological knowledge on the conditions related to the spread of the disease in order to properly respond to the spread of the Zika virus.
CONCLUSIONS
The experiences of Brazil have demonstrated the significance of multi-disciplinary approach in response to new and resurgent arboviral diseases and provided important lessons that could be applied to other developing countries.
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