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Congenital Abnormalities: Consequence of Maternal Zika Virus Infection: A Narrative Review

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Background: Zika virus (ZIKV) is a deadly flavivirus that has spread from Africa to Asia and European countries. The virus is associated with other viruses in the same genus or family, transmitted by the same mosquito species with known history of fatality. A sudden increase in the rate of infection from ZIKV has made it a global health concern, which necessitates close symptom monitoring, enhancing treatment options, and vaccine production.

Objectives: This paper reviewed current reports on birth defects associated with ZIKV, mode of transmission, body fluids containing the virus, diagnosis, possible preventive measures or treatments, and vaccine development.

Methods: Google scholar was used as the major search engine for research and review articles, up to July, 2016. Search terms such as “ZIKV”, “ZIKV infection”, “ZIKV serotypes”, “treatment of ZIKV infection”, “co-infection with zika virus”, “flavivirus”, “microcephaly and zika”, “birth defects and Zika”, as well as “ZIKV vaccine” were used.

Results: ZIKV has been detected in several body fluids such as saliva, semen, blood, and amniotic fluid. This reveals the possibility of sexual and mother to child transmission. The ability of the virus to cross the placental barrier and the blood brain barrier (BBB) has been associated with birth defects such as microcephaly, ocular defects, and Guillian Barre syndrome (GBS). Preventive measures can reduce the spread and risk of the infection. Available treatments only target symptoms while vaccines are still under development.

Conclusion: Birth defects are associated with ZIKV infection in pregnant women; hence the need for development of standard treatments, employment of strict preventive measures and development of effective vaccines.
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Keywords: Birth defects; ZIKV; infection; microcephaly; review; vaccine

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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