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Zika virus (ZIKV) that was less known for decades suddenly became a global health emergency at the beginning of 2016. The virus was first discovered in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947, and the first confirmed human infection was reported in Uganda between1962-1963. From its origin in East Africa, ZIKV then spread to West and Central Africa with a limited occurrence in North Africa. ZIKV has been circulating in Africa for over 60 years, but less attention had been given, not until its recent outbreaks outside Africa and its discovered association with adverse congenital disabilities. ZIKV is known to cause several debilitating neurological complications, including microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) in adults.
This review thus aims to highlight the epidemiological evidence and distribution of ZIKV in Africa with a focus on determinants, complications as well as management. We used literature searched from key databases such as Google Scholar, Web of Science, among others, to collect relevant current information about ZIKV in Africa.
Climate, sociodemographic factors, and increasing human density impact the spread of ZIKV in Africa, as in other areas. Furthermore, ZIKV transmission is affected by several unique factors, including the potential risk of sexual transmission, as well as vast numbers of refugees and other travellers from ZIKA endemic areas across Africa, and all over the world.
The review identifies the need to improve surveillance mechanisms and focusing on vector control as critical steps to enable prompt detection and avert potential outbreaks of the disease in the continent.
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