Zika Virus: A Basic Overview of an Emerging Arboviral Infection in the Western Hemisphere

Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2016 Oct;10(5):707-712. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2016.43. Epub 2016 Mar 29.


Since February 2015, Zika virus has spread throughout the Western Hemisphere, starting in Brazil. As of March 2016, autochthonous transmission has been reported in at least 31 countries or territories. For countries in the Americas, the spread of Zika virus, a previously unfamiliar disease, follows similar emerging infection introductions of West Nile virus and Chikungunya virus and their spread throughout the American continents and the Caribbean nations. The Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization have issued alerts and a Public Health Emergency of International Concern announcement related to the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders in Brazil that are temporally associated with Zika virus, which highlights the possible adverse impact of viral infection. This article provides an overview of the Zika virus infection and presents the historical background of the virus, a description of the pathogen, the epidemiology and clinical spectrum of Zika virus infection, diagnosis and treatment approaches, and prevention and control measures. Understanding what is known about the virus and its clinical presentation will assist in prevention, detection, and response measures to reduce and control the spread of the virus throughout the Western Hemisphere. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;page 1 of 6).

Keywords: Zika virus; arbovirus; epidemic.

MeSH terms

  • Americas / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / standards
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Health / methods
  • Zika Virus / pathogenicity*
  • Zika Virus Infection / diagnosis
  • Zika Virus Infection / epidemiology*