Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus, firstly identified in Uganda and responsible for sporadic human cases in Africa and Asia until recently, when large outbreak occurred in Pacific Ocean and the Americas. Since the main vectors during its spread outside of Africa have been Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti mosquitoes, which are widely distributed all over the world, there is urgent need for a coordinated response for prevention and spread of ZIKV epidemics.Despite clinical manifestation of Zika virus infection are usually mild and self limiting, there are reports suggesting, during the recent epidemic, an association of ZIKV infection with severe consequences, including fetal/newborn microcephaly, due to vertical in utero transmission, autoimmune-neurological presentations including cranial nerve dysfunction, and Guillain-Barré Syndrome in adults. The primary mode of transmission of Zika virus between humans is through the bite of an infected female mosquito of the Aedes genus, but also sexual and blood transfusion transmission may occur. Moreover, a case of non-sexual spread from one person to another has been described, indicating that we still have more to learn about Zika transmission.Biological basis for pathogenetic effects are under investigation. Laboratory diagnosis is challenging since, so far, there are no "gold standard" diagnostic tools, and the low and short viremia in the acute phase, and together with the high cross-reactivity among the members of flavivirus genus are the most challenging aspects to be overcome.
- Journal Article