Ndashe et al., 2016 Zika Virus and Congenital Microcephaly in Zambia, What are the Chances?

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Keywords: Zika Virus, Congenital Microcephaly, Aedes spp, Zambia


Background: In 2015, Brazil experienced an increase in the incidence of microcephaly cases, 20 times higher than preceding years. Epidemiological and experimental data suggest that microcephaly cases in Brazil might be associated with the introduction of Zika virus. We reviewed literature correlating Zika virus to microcephaly, epidemiology of the virus and its genetic, occurrence and possible transmission in Zambia.
Methodology: We searched online databases such as PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database and ISI Web of Science and critically reviewed appropriate publications to extract consistent findings, identify knowledge gaps, and suggest future studies.

Results: After the screening process, 44 articles and bulletins were critically reviewed. In outbreak studies, pregnant women were either living in areas of ongoing transmission, had resided in, or travelled to ZIKV-affected areas during pregnancy. In the case of the Zambian Study, serology tests were conducted on selected residents in the Western and North-western Provinces to detect Zika virus antibodies. Aedes spp. which are vectors of the Zika virus were reported in Zambia as well. There lies a strong correlation between Zika virus infection and microcephaly as proven epidemiologically and experimentally through mice experiments. Genetically the Asian lineage of Zika virus has undergone adaptive changes in the genome resulting in improvement of the NS1 translation in humans.

Conclusions: With globalisation and modern transportation, the presence of Aedes spp. in Zambia and strong correlation of Zika virus to microcephaly, the risk of having an outbreak with microcephaly manifestation is very high. Routine Zika virus antigen surveillance in Aedes spp. and infants born with microcephaly is highly recommended.