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In recent years, Zika virus (ZIKV) has expanded its geographic range and in 2015-2016 caused a substantial epidemic linked to a surge in developmental and neurological complications in newborns. Mathematical models are powerful tools for assessing ZIKV spread and can reveal important information for preventing future outbreaks. We reviewed the literature and retrieved modelling studies that were developed to understand the spatial epidemiology of ZIKV spread and risk. We classified studies by type, scale, aim and applications and discussed their characteristics, strengths and limitations. We examined the main objectives of these models and evaluated the effectiveness of integrating epidemiological and phylogeographic data, along with socioenvironmental risk factors that are known to contribute to vector-human transmission. We also assessed the promising application of human mobility data as a real-time indicator of ZIKV spread. Lastly, we summarised model validation methods used in studies to ensure accuracy in models and modelled outcomes. Models are helpful for understanding ZIKV spread and their characteristics should be carefully considered when developing future modelling studies to improve arbovirus surveillance.

Original publication




Journal article


Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date



ZIKV, arbovirus, mobility, surveillance, vector-borne