Zika virus: a public health perspective

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Purpose of reviewZika virus’ impact on pregnancy became widely known in 2015 with a dramatic increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly in Recife, Brazil. A mosquito-borne virus resulting in congenital anomalies is unique, and Zika's ability to cause neurological defects on a large scale was a grim reminder of the Rubella epidemic in the 1950s. Over the past 2 years, studies have provided insight on how Zika virus (ZIKV) infects cells and causes disease, but much remains unknown about the long-term risks of Zika exposure on infant growth and development.Recent findingsThe impact of ZIKV on pregnancy extends beyond microcephaly and may only first be identified in infancy. The virus has a long latency in semen and can be transmitted sexually. Transplacental passage occurs through infection of Hofbauer cells in the trophoblast. A major difficulty in management of ZIKV disease is that most infections are asymptomatic and the diagnostic methods are not ideal, making both diagnosis and ascertainment of timing of infection problematic. Several different types of vaccines are in development. Large studies are ongoing to determine the risk and total spectrum of anomalies based on the timing of infection and other environmental exposures.SummaryThis review will summarize the epidemic, what we have learned, what we hope to learn, and current recommendations for care and management.

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