Transmission potential of Zika virus infection in the South Pacific
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Objectives Zika virus has spread internationally through countries in the South Pacific and Americas. The present study aimed to estimate the basic reproduction number, R0, of Zika virus infection as a measurement of the transmission potential, reanalyzing past epidemic data from the South Pacific. Methods Incidence data from two epidemics, one on Yap Island, Federal State of Micronesia in 2007 and the other in French Polynesia in 2013–2014, were reanalyzed. R0 of Zika virus infection was estimated from the early exponential growth rate of these two epidemics. Results The maximum likelihood estimate (MLE) of R0 for the Yap Island epidemic was in the order of 4.3–5.8 with broad uncertainty bounds due to the small sample size of confirmed and probable cases. The MLE of R0 for French Polynesia based on syndromic data ranged from 1.8 to 2.0 with narrow uncertainty bounds. Conclusions The transmissibility of Zika virus infection appears to be comparable to those of dengue and chikungunya viruses. Considering that Aedes species are a shared vector, this finding indicates that Zika virus replication within the vector is perhaps comparable to dengue and chikungunya.