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Zika, chikungunya and dengue: the causes and threats of new and re-emerging arboviral diseases
  1. Enny S. Paixão1,2,
  2. Maria Gloria Teixeira3,
  3. Laura C Rodrigues4
  1. 1 Epidemiology and Population Health, London Schoolof Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, Uk
  2. 2 Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
  3. 3 Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
  4. 4 Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and tropical Medicine, London, uk
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laura C Rodrigues; Laura.Rodrigues{at}


The recent emergence and re-emergence of viral infections transmitted by vectors—Zika, chikungunya, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, yellow fever and others—is a cause for international concern. Using as examples Zika, chikungunya and dengue, we summarise current knowledge on characteristics of the viruses and their transmission, clinical features, laboratory diagnosis, burden, history, possible causes of the spread and the expectation for future epidemics. Arboviruses are transmitted by mosquitoes, are of difficult diagnosis, can have surprising clinical complications and cause severe burden. The current situation is complex, because there is no vaccine for Zika and chikungunya and no specific treatment for the three arboviruses. Vector control is the only comprehensive solution available now and this remains a challenge because up to now this has not been very effective. Until we develop new technologies of control mosquito populations, the globalised and urbanised world we live in will remain vulnerable to the threat of successive arbovirus epidemics.

  • arboviruses
  • dengue
  • yellow fever
  • control strategies
  • public health

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors EP wrote the first draft of the article. LR and MGT conceived the study. All authors revised the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding EP was funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq-Brazil). LCR is partially funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Zika-PLAN grant agreement number 734584; however, the funder of this study had no role in writing of the report.

  • Disclaimer The author(s) is(are) staff member(s) of the World Health Organization. The author(s) alone is(are) responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the views, decisions or policies of the World Health Organization.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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