Did Zika Virus Mutate to Cause Severe Outbreaks?

Shannan L. Rossi, Gregory D. Ebel, Chao Shan, Pei Yong Shi, Nikos Vasilakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Zika virus (ZIKV) has challenged the assumed knowledge regarding the pathobiology of flaviviruses. Despite causing sporadic and mild disease in the 50 years since its discovery, Zika virus has now caused multiple outbreaks in dozens of countries worldwide. Moreover, the disease severity in recent outbreaks, with neurological disease in adult and devastating congenital malformations in fetuses, was not previously seen. One hypothesis is that the virus has acquired mutations that have increased its virulence. Indeed, mutations in other arboviruses, such as West Nile virus (WNV), chikungunya virus (CHIKV), and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), have enhanced outbreaks. This possibility, as well as alternative hypotheses, are explored here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-885
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Zika
  • Zika virus
  • adaptive mutations
  • evolution
  • outbreak

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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