Potential for treatment and a Zika virus vaccine

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Zika virus (ZIKV) has only recently been exposed as a significant public health threat, and much of our limited knowledge of its pathogenesis and triggered immune responses were discovered in only the last few years. There are currently no ZIKV-specific therapeutics or vaccines available. This review seeks to bring the reader up-to-date with the latest developments in finding a way to combat this emerging infectious disease.

Recent findings

Current strategies used for developing ZIKV vaccines or treatments follow proven methods used against other flaviviruses. Unfortunately, ZIKV carries many unique challenges, such as the need to target drugs and vaccines towards immunocompromised populations (pregnant mothers and fetuses), the risk of stimulating harmful immune responses (either autoimmune or antibody-dependent enhancement of infection in those with previous flavivirus exposure), frequently silent infection that may delay treatment and increase risk of transmission to others, and multiple routes of transmission (arthropod vector, sexual, bloodborne, and potentially other body fluids).

Summary

Current medical recommendations are directed towards resolving symptoms and not the actual infection; however, ZIKV treatments and vaccines are in development. Vector control and travel restrictions to endemic areas may remain our only available interventions for some time.

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