Zika and chikungunya: mosquito-borne viruses in a changing world

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences


The reemergence and growing burden of mosquito-borne virus infections have incited public fear and growing research efforts to understand the mechanisms of infection-associated health outcomes and to provide better approaches for mosquito vector control. While efforts to develop therapeutics, vaccines, and novel genetic mosquito-control technologies are underway, many important underlying ecological questions remain that could significantly enhance our understanding and ability to predict and prevent transmission. Here, Courtney Murdock and her team review the current knowledge about the transmission ecology of two recent arbovirus invaders, the chikungunya and Zika viruses. They introduce the viruses and mosquito vectors, highlighting viral biology, historical routes of transmission, and viral mechanisms facilitating rapid global invasion. In addition, they review factors contributing to vector global invasiveness and transmission efficiency. They conclude with a discussion of how human-induced biotic and abiotic environmental changes facilitate mosquito-borne virus transmission, emphasizing critical gaps in understanding. These knowledge gaps are tremendous; much of our data on basic mosquito ecology in the field predate 1960, and the mosquitoes themselves, as well as the world they live in, have substantially changed. A concerted investment in understanding the basic ecology of these vectors, which serve as the main drivers of pathogen transmission in both wildlife and human populations, is now more important than ever.

  • Shragai, T., B. Tesla, C. Murdock, and L. C. Harrington. 2017. Zika and chikungunya: mosquito-borne viruses in a changing world. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. [online]