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Study shows that it works against both Asian and African strains of virus

South Asia despite decreasing rates of infectious disease, accounts for a significant proportion of their global burden. The sub-continent is also in the midst of rapid economic growth; large scale changes in land use, access to water and sanitation, and agricultural production; environmental degradation; and technological transformation, all against a background of uneven health system capacity. South Asia, defined by the World Bank as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, is home to a quarter of the world’s population.

In early 2016, Zika was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to its association with a surge of birth defects. Zika has since spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, with local transmission also reported in parts of the USA, Asia and Africa.

Zika is, and will continue to be, a disease of the urban poor. Slum-defining characteristics—poor water and sanitation infrastructure, crowding, and poor structural quality of housing—offer ample opportunities for mosquitoes to breed and spread the Zika virus. It was recently estimated that 1.6 million childbearing women and 93 million people will be infected in the Americas’ first epidemic wave. From this reservoir of infections, the world is witnessing the largest epidemic ever of a congenital complication—microcephaly.

Zika is an emerging virus whose rapid spread is of great public health concern. Knowledge about transmission remains incomplete, especially concerning potential transmission in geographic areas in which it has not yet been introduced. To identify unknown vectors of Zika, we developed a data-driven model linking vector species and the Zika virus via vector-virus trait combinations that confer a propensity toward associations in an ecological network connecting flaviviruses and their mosquito vectors.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in March 2016 that there was scientific consensus that the mosquito-borne Zika virus was a cause of the neurological disorder Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) and of microcephaly and other congenital brain abnormalities based on rapid evidence assessments. Decisions about causality require systematic assessment to guide public health actions.

In Brazil, more than one woman out of two may be postponing pregnancy in response to the Zika outbreak, researchers have said.

The report presents the Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index as a method for identifying the most vulnerable countries to such outbreaks so that they might be higher priorities for technical and funding support. The index was designed to help inform decision making for the mitigation of potential outbreaks.

Zika virus (ZIKV) can cross the placental barrier, resulting in infection of the fetal brain and neurological defects including microcephaly. The cellular tropism of ZIKV and the identity of attachment factors used by the virus to gain access to key cell types involved in pathogenesis are under intense investigation. Initial studies suggested that ZIKV preferentially targets neural progenitor cells (NPCs), providing an explanation for the developmental phenotypes observed in some pregnancies.

The objective of the study was to examine the diagnostic performance of real-time reverse transcription (RT)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for Zika virus detection.

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