Flaviviruses, an expanding threat in public health: focus on dengue, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis virus

J Neurovirol. 2014 Dec;20(6):539-60. doi: 10.1007/s13365-014-0285-z. Epub 2014 Oct 7.


The flaviviruses dengue, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis represent three major mosquito-borne viruses worldwide. These pathogens impact the lives of millions of individuals and potentially could affect non-endemic areas already colonized by mosquito vectors. Unintentional transport of infected vectors (Aedes and Culex spp.), traveling within endemic areas, rapid adaptation of the insects into new geographic locations, climate change, and lack of medical surveillance have greatly contributed to the increase in flaviviral infections worldwide. The mechanisms by which flaviviruses alter the immune and the central nervous system have only recently been examined despite the alarming number of infections, related deaths, and increasing global distribution. In this review, we will discuss the expansion of the geographic areas affected by flaviviruses, the potential threats to previously unaffected countries, the mechanisms of pathogenesis, and the potential therapeutic interventions to limit the devastating consequences of these viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Americas / epidemiology
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Culicidae / virology*
  • Dengue / epidemiology*
  • Dengue / physiopathology
  • Dengue / transmission
  • Dengue / virology
  • Dengue Virus / drug effects
  • Dengue Virus / pathogenicity
  • Dengue Virus / physiology
  • Encephalitis Virus, Japanese / drug effects
  • Encephalitis Virus, Japanese / pathogenicity
  • Encephalitis Virus, Japanese / physiology
  • Encephalitis, Japanese / epidemiology*
  • Encephalitis, Japanese / physiopathology
  • Encephalitis, Japanese / transmission
  • Encephalitis, Japanese / virology
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors / virology*
  • Prevalence
  • West Nile Fever / epidemiology*
  • West Nile Fever / physiopathology
  • West Nile Fever / transmission
  • West Nile Fever / virology
  • West Nile virus / drug effects
  • West Nile virus / pathogenicity
  • West Nile virus / physiology


  • Antiviral Agents