Published online Nov 12, 2016. doi: 10.5501/wjv.v5.i4.135
Peer-review started: April 12, 2016
First decision: June 12, 2016
Revised: June 29, 2016
Accepted: August 11, 2016
Article in press: August 15, 2016
Published online: November 12, 2016
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus (Flaviviridae family) transmitted mainly by Aedes mosquitoes. The virus was restricted to the African continent until its spread to south-east Asia in the 1980’s, the Micronesia in 2007, the French Polynesia in 2013 and, more recently in the Americas in 2015, where, up to date, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated about 3-4 million total cases of ZIKV infection. During outbreaks in the French Polynesia and Brazil in 2013 and 2015, respectively, national health authorities reported potential neurological complications of ZIKV disease, chiefly an upsurge in Guillain-Barré syndrome, which coincided with ZIKV outbreaks. On the other hand, the emergence of ZIKV in Brazil has been associated with a striking increase in the number of reported cases of microcephaly in fetus and newborns, twenty times higher than in that reported in previous years. While investigations are currently assessing whether there is an actual association between neurological complications and ZIKV infections, the evidence was enough worrisome for WHO to declare a public health emergency of international concern. Here we present an updated review addressing what is currently known about the possible association between ZIKV infection and the development of severe neurological disorders.
Core tip: Zika virus (ZIKV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus, was restricted to Africa until its spread to south-east Asia, the Pacific, and, finally, to the Americas, where an estimated 4 million cases of ZIKV infection have been recorded, and where a worrisome possible association of ZIKV with the development of severe neurological disorders, such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome and microcephaly, have been reported. In this contribution we present an updated review addressing what is currently known about the possible association between ZIKV infection and the development of severe neurological disorders, remarking the urgent need for further investigations to clearly resolve this point.