Journal of NeuroVirology

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 255–272 | Cite as

Zika virus outbreak: a review of neurological complications, diagnosis, and treatment options



Zika virus (ZIKV) is an arbovirus transmitted mainly by mosquitos of Aedes species. The virus has emerged in recent years and spread throughout North and South Americas. The recent outbreak of ZIKV started in Brazil (2015) has resulted in infections surpassing a million mark. Contrary to the previous beliefs that Zika causes mildly symptomatic infections fever, headache, rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis, the recent outbreak associated ZIKV to serious neurological complications such as microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and eye infections. The recent outbreak has resulted in an astonishing number of microcephaly cases in fetus and infants. Consequently, numerous studies were conducted using in vitro cell and in vivo animal models. These studies showed clear links between ZIKV infections and neurological abnormalities. Diagnosis methods based on nucleic acid and serological detection facilitated rapid and accurate identification of ZIKV infections. New transmission modalities such as sexual and transplacental transmission were uncovered. Given the seriousness of ZIKV infections, WHO declared the development of safe and effective vaccines and new antiviral drugs as an urgent global health priority. Rapid work in this direction has led to the identification of several vaccine and antiviral drug candidates. Here, we review the remarkable progress made in understanding the molecular links between ZIKV infections and neurological irregularities, new diagnosis methods, potential targets for antiviral drugs, and the current state of vaccine development.


Zika virus Microcephaly Zika vaccine Aedes mosquito Antiviral chemotherapy Neuropathogen Flavivirus Guillain-Barre syndrome 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors are full-time employees of MedImmune, Gaithersburg, USA.


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© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Bioassay Development and Quality, Biopharmaceutical Development, MedImmuneGaithersburgUSA

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