The Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus (Aedes), similar to other arboviruses, first identified in Uganda in 1947. Few human cases were reported until 2007, when a Zika outbreak occurred in Yap, Micronesia, even though ZIKV activity had been reported in Africa and in Asia through virological surveillance and entomological studies. French Polynesia has recorded a large outbreak since October 2013. A great number of cases and some with neurological and autoimmune complications have been reported in a context of concurrent circulation of dengue viruses. The clinical presentation is a "dengue-like syndrome". Until the epidemic in French Polynesia, no severe ZIKV disease had been described so far. The diagnosis is confirmed by viral genome detection by genomic amplification (RT- PCR) and viral isolation. These two large outbreaks occurred in a previously unaffected area in less than a decade. They should raise awareness as to the potential for ZIKV to spread especially since this emergent disease is not well known and that some questions remain on potential reservoirs and transmission modes as well as on clinical presentations and complications. ZIKV has the potential to spread to new areas where the Aedes mosquito vector is present and could be a risk for Southern Europe. Strategies for the prevention and control of ZIKV disease should include the use of insect repellent and mosquito vector eradication.
Keywords: Aedes; Arbovirus; French Polynesia; Polynésie française; Virus Zika; Yap; Zika virus.
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