Threats of Zika virus transmission for Asia and its Hindu-Kush Himalayan region

Meghnath Dhimal, Sushma Dahal, Mandira Lamichhane Dhimal, Shiva Raj Mishra, Khem B. Karki, Krishna Kumar Aryal, Ubydul Haque, Md Iqbal Kabir, Pradeep Guin, Azeem Mehmood Butt, Harapan Harapan, Qi Yong Liu, Cordia Chu, Doreen Montag, David Alexander Groneberg, Basu Dev Pandey, Ulrich Kuch, Ruth Müller

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Abstract

Asia and its Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region is particularly vulnerable to environmental change, especially climate and land use changes further influenced by rapid population growth, high level of poverty and unsustainable development. Asia has been a hotspot of dengue fever and chikungunya mainly due to its dense human population, unplanned urbanization and poverty. In an urban cycle, dengue virus (DENV) and chikungunya virus (CHIKV) are transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus mosquitoes which are also competent vectors of Zika virus (ZIKV). Over the last decade, DENV and CHIKV transmissions by Ae. aegypti have extended to the Himalayan countries of Bhutan and Nepal and ZIKV could follow in the footsteps of these viruses in the HKH region. The already established distribution of human-biting Aedes mosquito vectors and a naïve population with lack of immunity against ZIKV places the HKH region at a higher risk of ZIKV. Some of the countries in the HKH region have already reported ZIKV cases. We have documented an increasing threat of ZIKV in Asia and its HKH region because of the high abundance and wide distribution of human-biting mosquito vectors, climate change, poverty, report of indigenous cases in the region, increasing numbers of imported cases and a naïve population with lack of immunity against ZIKV. An outbreak anywhere is potentially a threat everywhere. Therefore, in order to ensure international health security, all efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to ZIKV ought to be intensified now in Asia and its HKH region. To prepare for possible ZIKV outbreaks, Asia and the HKH region can also learn from the success stories and strategies adopted by other regions and countries in preventing ZIKV and associated complications. The future control strategies for DENV, CHIKV and ZIKV should be considered in tandem with the threat to human well-being that is posed by other emerging and re-emerging vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, and by the continuing urgent need to strengthen public primary healthcare systems in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalInfectious Diseases of Poverty
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 May 2018

Keywords

  • Aedes aegypti
  • Aedes albopictus
  • Chikungunya virus
  • Dengue virus
  • Hindu Kush Himalayas
  • Mountain
  • Poverty, Zika virus

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    Dhimal, M., Dahal, S., Dhimal, M. L., Mishra, S. R., Karki, K. B., Aryal, K. K., Haque, U., Kabir, M. I., Guin, P., Butt, A. M., Harapan, H., Liu, Q. Y., Chu, C., Montag, D., Groneberg, D. A., Pandey, B. D., Kuch, U., & Müller, R. (2018). Threats of Zika virus transmission for Asia and its Hindu-Kush Himalayan region. Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 7(1), [40]. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40249-018-0426-3