Zika Virus Infection Study

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The World Health Organization Research on Zika Virus

The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted research in 2006. The Zika virus was shown to be the primary cause of Guillain–Barre syndrome (GBS), a neurological condition. It was later discovered that the virus was the source of microcephaly and other serious brain defects. The study's primary goal was to describe the mechanisms and include expert opinions on the proof of causality. Second, the WHO released an update to the study and conducted a reassessment of the data on causality by conducting swift and systemic reviews of the similarities that existed between Zika virus infection and brain disorders. The research carried out by WHO had three major components that led to the finding of the Zika virus infection.

Development of Causality Framework

First, in 2006, they developed a causality framework which would define all the questions on the relationship between Zika virus infection and the two clinical outcomes in ten dimensions some of which include biological plausibility and analogy.

Systematic Review

Secondly carried out a systematic review whereby they searched multiple online sources with the aim of finding studies which addressed outcome or any causality dimension, quality assessment and data extraction.

Expert Panel Assessment

Thirdly WHO convened a panel of experts whose work was to assess the findings from the review. They reached an agreement and gave out their findings.

Expert Findings and Recommendations

The experts suggested that from the evidence that was provided to them by the Zika virus infection, Zika virus infection during pregnancy was the main cause of congenital brain abnormalities such as microcephaly. (Friendich, 2016). Secondly, they concluded that Zika virus Infection is the main trigger for GBS. This was from the evidence provided. However, they went ahead to note that Zika virus Infection may not be enough to cause GBS or congenital brain abnormalities. (Smith & Mackenzie, 2016) They, therefore, insisted on the evidence that was provided it enough to push for public awareness of the virus. The findings also meant that due to emerging public health threats there was the need to update the public more frequently on these threats. This led to the publication of the report for public awareness.


Avelino-Silva, V. I., & Martin, J. N. (2016). Association between Guillain-Barré syndrome and Zika virus infection. The Lancet, 387(10038), 2599. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(16)30843-1

Friedrich, M. J. (2016). Zika Can Cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome. JAMA, 315(15), 1554. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.3397

Krauer, F., Riesen, M., Reveiz, L., Oladapo, O. T., Martinez-Vega, R., & Porgo, T. V. (2016). Zika virus infection as a cause of congenital brain abnormalities and Guillain-Barre syndrome: systematic review. doi:10.1101/073098

Krauer, F., Riesen, M., Reveiz, L., Oladapo, O. T., Martínez-Vega, R., & Porgo, T. V. (2017). Zika Virus Infection as a Cause of Congenital Brain Abnormalities and Guillain–Barré Syndrome: Systematic Review. PLOS Medicine, 14(1), e1002203. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002203

Smith, D. W., & Mackenzie, J. (2016). Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome: another viral cause to add to the list. The Lancet, 387(10027), 1486-1488. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(16)00564

January 20, 2022

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