Animals in the Zika virus life cycle: What to expect from megadiverse Latin American countries

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Future laboratory, field, and eco-epidemiological research should focus on wildlife hosts to elucidate their role in Zika Virus (ZIKV) epidemiology in the Americas and enhance the epidemic’s control.

The review aimed to describe ZIKV infection in host animals and its relationship to biodiversity, rapid environmental changes, and the impact on human health in megadiverse Latin American countries. 47 animal species from three orders (mammals, reptiles, and birds) were identified with the potential to establish a sylvatic cycle. One study showed that New World primates in Northeast Brazil were infected with ZIKV, the genome sequence of which was 100% identical to that of ZIKV circulating in humans in South America. Studies are needed on ZIKV in wild and domestic animals in the Americas, both to understand their potential role as hosts in the natural cycle and to target surveillance for enzootic ZIKV transmission. Driving forces in the spread of diseases apply to the ZIKV epidemic, including: anthropogenic activities, climatic change, intense human movement, loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction, land use change, introduction of invasive species, urban development, lack of knowledge on the role of animals in maintaining the sylvatic cycle, clinical manifestations, and wildlife trafficking. Several databases were searched but review methods were not otherwise reported nor was risk of bias.

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