Epidemiologic and spatiotemporal trends of Zika Virus disease during the 2016 epidemic in Puerto Rico.


Suspected cases of arboviral disease reported to Puerto Rico Department of Health were tested for evidence of infection with Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses by RT-PCR and IgM ELISA. To describe spatiotemporal trends among confirmed ZIKV disease cases, we analyzed the relationship between municipality-level socio-demographic, climatic, and spatial factors, and both time to detection of the first ZIKV disease case and the midpoint of the outbreak. During November 2015-December 2016, a total of 71,618 suspected arboviral disease cases were reported, of which 39,717 (55.5%; 1.1 cases per 100 residents) tested positive for ZIKV infection. The epidemic peaked in August 2016, when 71.5% of arboviral disease cases reported weekly tested positive for ZIKV infection. Incidence of ZIKV disease was highest among 20-29-year-olds (1.6 cases per 100 residents), and most (62.3%) cases were female. The most frequently reported symptoms were rash (83.0%), headache (64.6%), and myalgia (63.3%). Few patients were hospitalized (1.2%), and 13 (<0.1%) died. Early detection of ZIKV disease cases was associated with increased population size (log hazard ratio [HR]: -0.22 [95% confidence interval -0.29, -0.14]), eastern longitude (log HR: -1.04 [-1.17, -0.91]), and proximity to a city (spline estimated degrees of freedom [edf] = 2.0). Earlier midpoints of the outbreak were associated with northern latitude (log HR: -0.30 [-0.32, -0.29]), eastern longitude (spline edf = 6.5), and higher mean monthly temperature (log HR: -0.04 [-0.05, -0.03]). Higher incidence of ZIKV disease was associated with lower mean precipitation, but not socioeconomic factors.

After Zika virus (ZIKV) emerged in the Americas, laboratory-based surveillance for arboviral diseases in Puerto Rico was adapted to include ZIKV disease.

During the ZIKV epidemic in Puerto Rico, 1% of residents were reported to public health authorities and had laboratory evidence of ZIKV disease. Transmission was first detected in urban areas of eastern Puerto Rico, where transmission also peaked earlier. These trends suggest that ZIKV was first introduced to Puerto Rico in the east before disseminating throughout the island.

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