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Zika Virus: Medical Countermeasure Development Challenges
AuthorMalone, Robert W.
Callahan, Michael V.
Schneider, Adriano De Bernardi
Cobb, Ronald R.
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Introduction Reports of high rates of primary microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome associated with Zika virus infection in French Polynesia and Brazil have raised concerns that the virus circulating in these regions is a rapidly developing neuropathic, teratogenic, emerging infectious public health threat. There are no licensed medical countermeasures (vaccines, therapies or preventive drugs) available for Zika virus infection and disease. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) predicts that Zika virus will continue to spread and eventually reach all countries and territories in the Americas with endemic Aedes mosquitoes. This paper reviews the status of the Zika virus outbreak, including medical countermeasure options, with a focus on how the epidemiology, insect vectors, neuropathology, virology and immunology inform options and strategies available for medical countermeasure development and deployment. Methods Multiple information sources were employed to support the review. These included publically available literature, patents, official communications, English and Lusophone lay press. Online surveys were distributed to physicians in the US, Mexico and Argentina and responses analyzed. Computational epitope analysis as well as infectious disease outbreak modeling and forecasting were implemented. Field observations in Brazil were compiled and interviews conducted with public health officials.